[WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season 4.]
It's been two weeks since we last saw Westeros, and fans are anxious to learn the fate of characters left hanging in the balance. As the days tick down toward the Game of Thrones season 4 finale, the stakes will only get higher and the risks greater, meaning not everyone will survive to see season 5.
Game of Thrones season 4 has already broken with tradition when in only its second episode there was the shocking (though not entirely unwelcomed) death of King Joffrey. Up until then, Game of Thrones had made a habit of holding major battles or main characters deaths until the ninth episode (see: "Baelor," "Blackwater," and "The Rains of Castamere").
Season 4's later episodes will no doubt still be the season's most climactic, but before then there's another battle fans are itching to see: Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martel vs. Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane. The showdown is not only a battle to the death between the two, but it will also decide the fate of Tyrion Lannister, who is on trial for the death of Joffrey and chose to have matters decided through combat.
This isn't the first time Tyrion's been accused of murder and, just like before when Bronn fought for him in the Vale, Tyrion is in need of a champion. But with his brother, Jaime, no longer as capable a fighter without two hands, and Bronn's allegiance so easily bought, it was beginning to look like Tyrion would be fighting The Mountain - Cersei's champion - himself.
Enter Oberyn. The Dornish Prince may have been invited to King's Landing for Joffrey and Margaery's wedding, but seeking revenge for his sister, Elia, and her children's deaths (at the hands of Clegane no less) has been his true agenda. Which makes his choice to fight for Tyrion so perfect. Were he to win, not only would Elia be avenged, but the villainous Mountain would be dead and Tyrion cleared of all charges.
If he wins, that is. Because as any viewer of Game of Thrones knows, the good guys rarely win. Check out a few photos from this week's episode, "The Mountain and the Viper," below:
Besides the rumble in King's Landing, there's another trial happening in the Vale to decide who was responsible for the murder of Lysa Arryn; in the North, Ramsey Snow is sending his pet, Reek, to take Moat Caitlin posing as Theon Greyjoy; further north at The Wall, Jon Snow and the Night's Watch prepare for the arrival of Mance Rayder's army; out east, Daenerys struggles to maintain control of Slaver's Bay and juggle the affections of Darrio Naharis and Jorah Mormont.
Were you to place a bet, who would you pick to win this Sunday's duel to the death: Oberyn or The Mountain? Give us your pick in comments below! (But please, book readers - no spoilers.)
Game of Thrones returns Sunday, June 1st with ‘The Mountain and the Viper’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview below: