8:55pm PT by Aaron Couch
'Game of Thrones' Recap: Tyrion Finds a Champion
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones, "Mockingbird"]
Instead of marching toward exile on the Wall, this week's Game of Thrones finds Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) in a cell, awaiting trial by combat.
But who will be his champion?
During a visit from Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Tyrion learns his brother will not serve as his champion. Tyrion hasn't witnessed the painful training scenes between Jaime and Bronn (Jerome Flynn), so the news takes him by surprise.
Speaking of Bronn, it turns out the sellsword won't be fighting for Tyrion a second time. He's moving up in the world and getting married. (He's got the new clothes to prove it.) Part of his plan involves arranging the death of his sister-in-law so he can inherit her lands. Classic Bronn.
In an eleventh hour visit, Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) comes to Tyrion's rescue — revealing a sad story of meeting him as a baby. Cersei has always hated Tyrion and was physically abusive to him as a baby, pinching his "little cock so hard," Oberyn thought "she might pull it off."
Oberyn, a brilliant man and formidable fighter, is a fantastic choice to fight for Tyrion. He wants The Mountain dead more than any man alive, and he might be the only one able to pull it off.
This episode also gives us this season's first look at The Mountain (a recast Hafthor Julius Bjornsson), doing what he does best — slaughtering people.
Arya (Maisie Williams) and The Hound (Rory McCann) give a dying man mercy — but not before having a conversation about nihilism and the unfairness of the universe (wonky stuff for Game of Thrones). Soon after, Biter does his thing on The Hound's neck and is quickly killed. His partner in crime, Rorge (Andy Beckwith), informs Arya and Sandor that Joffrey is dead and that there's a price on The Hound's head for killing the king's men in the tavern a few episodes back.
Arya kills Rorge for threatening to rape her in season two, stabbing him in the heart just as The Hound taught her. "You're learning," The Hound says with pride. But he's seriously injured by the bite to his neck. When Arya wants to treat it with fire, he gets upset and tells the tale of how his face became disfigured at the hands of his brother, the Mountain.
"The pain was bad. The smell was worse. But the worst thing was that it was my brother who did it. My father protected him. Told everyone my bedding caught fire."
Major kudos to McCann, who absolutely nailed the scene — and really, really makes us want The Mountain to go down in his upcoming duel.
At the Wall, Jon (Kit Harington) butts heads with Alliser (Owen Teale), who first commits the unforgivable sin of insulting a direwolf, and then doesn't heed Jon's advice about sealing the Wall's tunnel. We're guessing that's going to come back to bite the Night's Watch in episode nine. It must be called "The Watchers on the Wall" for a reason.
In Meereen, Daario (Michiel Huisman) escapes the friend zone with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), who orders him to go recapture Yunkai after spending the night with him. Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) is predictably unhappy that his Khaleesi has slept with Daario as he's been struggling with feelings for her for most of the series. He does, however, manage to convince Daenerys to show mercy and not slaughter every master in Yunkai as she had planned. He is also dispatched to tell Daario that Hizdahr zo Loraq (who last episode asked that he be allowed to bury his crucified father) will be dispatched to the city as an ambassador, charged with telling its masters they can live in the new world or die in theirs.
At Dragonstone, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and Queen Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) bond during a bath (that seems to be a trend this season) — with the Red Woman telling the queen not to be jealous of her dalliances with Stannis. Men want what they can't have. The big news, though, is that Melisandre wants to sacrifice young Shireen to her god, and Selyse seems to be on board. We'll see what Stannis has to say about that.
Meanwhile, Podrick (Daniel Portman) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) run into Arya's old buddy Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey), now serving as a cook in an inn. He offers the first confirmation of Arya's whereabouts following Ned Stark's beheading, and this information convinces Brienne to head toward the Vale.
Which leads us to the big action there.
Sansa (Sophie Turner) has made a snow castle re-creation of Winterfell, which Robin (Lino Facioli) ruins. She slaps him and he runs off, leaving her alone with Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen), who ups his creepy level by 1,000 by talking about how in another world, he would have been her father. He goes in for the kiss.
But there's no time to dwell on that. Soon Sansa's by the moon door with Aunt Lysa (Kate Dickie), who witnessed the whole thing and threatens to make her fly. Baelish talks her down, and delivers a great line before pushing Lysa through the moon door: "I have only loved one woman, only one, my entire life … your sister."
Bad news, everyone. We have to wait two weeks to find out what happens next, as Game of Thrones is off next Sunday. What do you think will happen? Sound off in the comments. For more, read our Q&A with the episode's director.