There’s an essential question at the heart of this episode: Why live? Especially in a world as brutal as the one George R.R. Martin has created, why fight so hard to stay alive if life’s just going to turn around and kick you in the face . . . or slice off your hand…or sew your dead direwolf’s head to your decapitated body? (Speaking abstractly, of course.)

If you’re Daario Naharis, you live for “war and women”; if you’re Lysa Arryn, you live for the love of one really duplicitous man (that turned out real well); and if you’re Hot Pie, you live for the gravy. (“See, a lot of people give up on the gravy. You cannot give up on the gravy! No gravy, no pie. Simple as that.”)

But not everyone in Westeros is a nobleperson, a sexy swordsman or a happy-go-lucky baker; most poor saps are just on the receiving end. “Mockingbird” gets in a word from the common man in a bleak little scene that could have come straight from Waiting for Godot, in which Sandor Clegane and Arya encounter a dying peasant. “Why go on?” Arya asks the man, who’s slowly bleeding out in the smoking ruins of his house. “Habit,” he replies.

Joining the existentialist fight against nothingness is poor, condemned Tyrion, on the hunt for a champion to represent him in his trial by combat. Unfortunately, no one was too keen to face off against Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, who is approximately 500 feet tall and whose idea of fun is random disembowelment. Thankfully, there’s Prince Oberyn and his Inigo Montoya–style quest for vengeance.

And Lysa…oh, Lysa. This is why we don’t marry chaos-worshipping sociopaths and then stand on the edge of gaping chasms, honey.

THE RUNDOWN

Locations visited: 7. In the dungeons of the Red Keep, Tyrion was holding out for a hero (’til the end of the night); in the Riverlands, Sandor and Arya killed some people together and then bonded about it (awww); at Castle Black, Jon Snow came up with a plan, only to be shot down by Ser Allister “All I Ever Do Is Shoot Good Ideas Down” Thorne; in Meereen, Dany got some advice from Ser Jorah and got a little sumpin’ sumpin’ from Daario; on Dragonstone, Melisandre schemed in the buff; at a roadside inn, Brienne and Podrick got a lead on Arya’s whereabouts from good ol’ Hot Pie; and in the Vale, Sansa made a snow castle and Littlefinger put a brutal end to his marriage.

Deaths: 7. The Mountain casually offed 3 random prisoners; elsewhere, his brother the Hound mercy-killed the wounded peasant and then took out Night’s Watch escapee Biter with his bare hands; Arya dispatched Biter’s buddy Rorge with a sword to the heart; and Littlefinger shoved Lysa Arryn out her own Moon Door.

game-of-thrones

Swordfights: 0—unless you count that dick-measuring contest between Jorah and Daario when they ran into each other outside Dany’s chambers. HEYO!

Boobs n’ butts: 2 boobs: Melisandre’s, plus 2 butts: Melisandre’s and Daario’s, in quick succession.

Moment of badass: In a show where men nearly always take the lead in the bedroom, Dany ordering Daario to strip for her was pretty wonderful. “Very well. Do what you do best. Take off your clothes.” Get it, girl!

Effed up thing of the week: Turns out Cersei’s had it in for her little brother since before he could even remember: According to Oberyn, lil’ Cers tried to pinch Tyrion’s junk off when he was only a few days old, because she blamed him for their mother’s death and figured he would die soon anyway. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Those Lannisters, man.

Insult of the week: Brienne to Pod: “You’re not interesting enough to be offensive.”

What we liked: As Game of Thrones careens toward the sure-to-be-explosive season finale, “Mockingbird” offered a sort of State of the Seven Kingdoms. We got to hear a lot of characters’ perspectives on how to move forward in a world that only ever seems to grow darker. “Knocking things down isn’t fixing them, it’s ruining them!” Sansa shouts at Robin Arryn after he destroys her fragile snow effigy of Winterfell. Littlefinger offers an alternate perspective: “If you want to build a better home, first you must demolish the old one.” Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is on the same page when she plans to murder anyone in Yunkai who won’t get on board with her no-more-slavery plan: “They can live in my new world, or they can die in their old one.” When two characters as different as Dany and Petyr see eye to eye, you can bet we’re in for some shit.

What we didn’t like: This show generally does an admirable job of juggling its many characters and locations, but we’re having more and more trouble caring about what’s happening at the Wall or on Dragonstone. Every scene at these two spots has been the same all season: Jon Snow does something blandly heroic and gets knocked down a peg by Ser Allister; Melisandre vamps and says something cryptic and sinister to Stannis and his fam. Yawn.