Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones Season 4 Ep 7 "Mockingbird": The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing

Ross Lincoln | 20 May 2014 14:30
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We rarely see the ground level suffering in Game of Thrones, our view of events restricted to the people who have a chance of actually affecting their outcome. "Mockingbird", however, makes it clear that even after the war finally ends, the country is probably doomed to decades if not centuries of decline.

Lannister thugs keeping the peace throughout the land have devolved outright into roving bands of rapacious killers, and for the smallfolk who have no part to play in the game of thrones, life is misery. So it is that we rejoin Arya and The Hound as they stumble upon one of the war's pathetic victims, an old man whose house has been torched and who has been left to die in agony with a wound to the gut.

"Who did this?", the Hound asks. "I stopped asking a long time ago" says the man. The Hound is perhaps becoming more compassionate as he spends time with Arya, because he clearly feels bad for the old man and offers to give him a quick death. Arya even gets in on the act, counseling the man that even nothing would be better than this. The old man disagrees, arguing that nothing might actually be worse, but he also seems to know he'd rather not suffer needlessly. After a few seconds pause, The Hound stabs him between the ribs, killing him instantly. But lest you think this was pure mercy, The Hound reminds us that he's also teaching her how to be a better killer, telling her "that's the heart."

Arya gets the chance to put her new knowledge to practical use almost immediately, when The Hound is suddenly attacked from behind, as someone attempts to bite a hole in his neck. The Hound fights him off, at which point Arya recognizes the attacker. It turns out he's one of the thugs who grabbed her back in season two and, you might recall, threatened her with rape. This prompts The Hound to ask "is he on your little list?" "He can't be," Arya says. "I don't know his name." The Hound sardonically asks his attacker for his name and, stupidly, his attacker gives it. "Thank you," says Arya, who whips out Needle and stabs the thug right in his heart.

It's an interesting moment, the juxtaposition of The Hound's increasing regard for Arya with Arya's increasing ruthlessness. "You're learning," he says, and though it sounds like he's simply trying to squash whatever naivete she has left, it looks much more like he is beginning to care about her as a human being.

This is further suggested in their next scene together. The Hound is attempting to sew his wound shut by himself, but Arya, who knows a thing or two about these things, tells him he's doing it wrong. Aware that he hates fire but not knowing exactly why, offers to sear the wound shut for him to prevent infection. This severely freaks him out and he lashes out bitterly, but just as suddenly, in a very big deviation from the book, The Hound spills... everything about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his brother The Mountain.

This bonds Arya and The Hound together in much the same way as Tyrion and Oberyn bonded over their shared suffering at the hands of Tyrion's family. Their last scene together ends as Arya begins to stitch him up.

Meanwhile, somewhere relatively close, Brienne is still on her mission to find Sansa Stark and bring her home, wherever home happens to be now that the majority of her family is presumed dead. She and Podrick stop at an inn, where by the most contrived of coincidences, they happen to run into our old friend Hot Pie, last seen being sold by the Brotherhood Without Banners to a baker. Because Brienne has absolutely zero guile, she tells Hot Pie about her mission. The next morning, Podrick counsels her to shut the hell up and stop telling people who she is, but at that moment, Hot Pie sneaks out and tells Brienne that Arya is still alive, and that it's possible she might have ended up with her aunt Lysa, lady of The Vale.

Brienne and Podrick resolve to head there in hopes it might lead them to Sansa. That's serendipitous, but unfortunate, as things have just become untenably awful for Mrs. Tyrion.

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