Every Monday, our resident Game of Thrones fanatic E. Spencer Kyte will recap the previous night’s episode. Here’s his take on Season 4, Episode 6—The Laws Of Gods And Men.
Warning: what follows is a review and analysis of what happened on Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t watched it and don’t want to encounter spoilers, I suggest you go read something else on this site. Consider yourself warned.
No mincing words this week — the trial of Tyrion Lannister has begun and it was epic, so even though a bunch of other things happened before we moved to King’s Landing last night, it makes a lot more sense to focus on this farce of a trial and touch upon the other elements later.
Before the trial kicks off, we have the first meeting of the new Small Council, with Prince Oberyn jokingly asking whether he’ll be declared “Master of Something” now that he’s been added to the inner circle, only to be told by wet blanket/happy to be included Mace Tyrell that he’s already been declared Master of Ships.
The subject at hand this day happens to be “The Mother of Dragons,” who Varys explains has taken up residency as the Queen of Meereen. Tywin inquires about her troops and gets the rundown, and it goes the way it should have went when Dany asked the same question of Daario, Ser Barristan Selmy and Jonah a couple weeks back: Unsullied, hired goons, some ships and oh yeah three dragons that get bigger and bigger each year.
Tywin asks Varys if his “little birds” can deliver a message to Meereen, which they most certainly can, so The Hand of the King dispatches Mace the Lapdog to fetch his pen and paper.
It’s a brilliant kickoff to one of the most pivotal moments to date in the series, as it sets out the personalities of the two men who will join Tywin as judges in Tyrion’s trial. Oberyn is a free thinker and not one to be controlled by the Lannisters, but Mace Tyrell is happy to be at the right hand of The Hand and will do whatever Tywin wants him to do.
After no scenes with Tyrion last week, this week’s first glance of everyone’s favourite imp is classic, as Jaime arrives with guards to bring him from his cell to the court room, which prompts Tyrion to sarcastically offer, “Let me guess — I’ve been pardoned” or something to that nature. He knows there will be no real trial and he’s readying himself for the mockery of justice that is about to begin.
And that’s just what happens once things get under way.
New King Tommen excuses himself and appoints Tywin to take his place. For the first time in a long time, the man sitting in The Iron Throne looks like he genuinely belongs there. Flanked by Oberyn and Mace Tyrell, Tywin sits powerful in the center as both Ser Meryn and Grand Meister Pycelle offer one-sided stories against Tyrion that just happen to omit the parts where his actions and words were completely justified. Pycelle is particularly convincing in his “I’m a rickety old man” routine, which Tyrion (and we at home) knows it is an act.
Not only does everyone who takes the stand bad-mouth Tyrion, but they sing the praises of the dead tyrant Joffrey as well, further stacking the deck against the accused.
Varys is next and he recounts one of the conversations he observed where Tyrion threatened to kill Joffrey or something, and then Cersei drops the “joy will turn into ashes in your mouth” quote, which gets an “I can’t believe your own brother said that to you!” from Mace Tyrell, who very quickly has ascended to the top of my own “Arya’s Pre-Bed List of Names” list.
They recess and Jaime argues with Tywin to save his brother’s life, offering to leave the King’s Guard and become the rightful heir to Casterly Rock his father has always wanted him to be. Tywin quickly agrees, demanding Jaime produce offspring with the last name Lannister (BURN!) giving Jaime his word that should Tyrion plead guilty and beg for mercy, he’ll allow him to join the Knight’s Watch and banish him to The Wall.
As the trial is about to reconvene, Jaime shares the plan with Tyrion, who correctly reminds his brother that Ned Stark was promised the same deal, and his head ended up on a spike. Ready to remain quiet and test his father’s word, all bets are off for Tyrion when they bring Shae… and she goes hard at her former flame.
She pins the whole thing on Tyrion and Sansa, but adds salt to the wound by revealing many of the intimate details of her relationship with Tyrion. Tywin takes particularly joy in hearing her declare to the court that she was his son’s whore — remember, there was an “I’ll kill any whore I catch you with” promise made way back when.
Shae brings out the big guns, taking their tender exchanges and turning them into daggers meant to wound and punish Tyrion. He somberly asks her to stop, but it’s to spare himself anguish rather than sealing his fate.
Gutted, Tyrion finally speaks up, telling his father he wants to confess. When Tywin asks him if he would like to confess to killing Joffrey, Tyrion says no and unleashes the best courtroom tirade this side of Nicholson condoning the Code Red in A Few Good Men.
Tyrion says he’s on trial for being a dwarf and that he’s been on trial for being a dwarf his entire life. He says he wishes he were the monster everyone thinks he is and lashes out at the onlookers, regretting that he saved their lives when Stannis and his troops attacked.
And then he goes after his sister, Cercei, telling her that watching “your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whored!” Yes, he used the word “bastard” specifically and it is glorious.
Knowing he’s not going to get a fair shake with a trial led by his father, Tyrion does the only thing he can to potentially save himself — he demands a trial by combat!
Welcome to Braavos
Davos and Stannis arrive in Braavos to talk to the folks at the Iron Bank. They’re not too keen on giving Stannis and his reduced army any money, but Davos makes a strong plea for the moneylenders to reconsider.
Next thing you know, he’s in the bathhouse picking up his pirate buddy Salladhor Saan, who is telling his two naked companions the old “Fetch me my brown pants” joke. Davos slides him a pile of coins and tells him they’re off in the morning. Clearly, Stannis has some new financial backers.
Being Queen is Hard
Fire (one of Dany’s dragons) rise up out of a canyon to scorch an entire field full of goats. Back in Meereen, Dany is having her first “meet with the people one-on-one” day, and the goat herder approaches with the chard remains of his animal. Dany apologizes and offers to pay him three-times the price of the flock.
Next into her chambers is Hizdahr zo Loraq, who explains that his father, one of the men Dany crucified on the path to the city, was actually opposed to killing those slave children, but was overruled. He lobbies for “The Mother of Dragons” to allow those slave masters to have a proper burial, but Dany only acquiesces to Hizdahr burying his father.
She asks how many more people are waiting to see her and the number is well over 200, and Queen Dany doesn’t seem all that excited about the prospect of listening to gripes all afternoon.
Theon? Who’s Theon?
Yara sails to rescue her brother, Theon, reading aloud the letter Ramsey Snow sent along with her brother’s manhood last season to inspire the troops. They get inside, kill some people and try to break Theon out of his cage, but he wants no part of it.
Ramsey has complete control of him now, and Theon — or Reek as he’s now known — scurries back into his cage as Team Ramsey and Team Yara throw down. At a bit of a stalemate, the violent bastard son of Roose Bolton tells Yara to run as he releases his vicious hounds, and next thing we see is the princess of the Iron Islands getting back in her canoe, proclaiming that her brother is dead.
Pleased with Reek for remaining loyal, Ramsey draws him a bath and gently sponges water over the wounds of his brainwashed submissive. He asked Reek if he loves him and receives a strong answer to the affirmative, and then explains that he wants Reek to help him acquire a castle by pretending he is Theon Greyjoy.
It was nice to see Yara back in the mix for the first time this year, and there is bound to more from this story in the final four episodes. My guess is that the whole “go and pretend you’re the man you once were” approach is going to backfire on the twisted Ramsey, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
This week was Dany’s first “meh” appearance in quite some time. Not that every episode needs a powerful Dany moment — quite the contrary, actually. It’s good to see her starting to be forced to deal with the realities of her role, rather than just rolling over slave towns with her soldiers and dragons.
Stannis and Davos having some money behind them will surely change things a little, but I feel like it’s still going to be a while before they become truly relevant players on a weekly basis.
By the way: what ever happened to Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s bastard son that Davos set free at the end of last season? An update on his whereabouts or general existence would be nice.
No Starks at all this week — the first time that has ever happen in Game of Thrones.
As for the trial, Tyrion’s final monologue was easily my favourite scene in all four seasons. Peter Dinklage is brilliant — has been from the get-go —and the “Trial by Combat” twist at the close is a perfect cliffhanger because we’re left with so many questions.
Will Tyrion fight for himself? Will Bronn fight for him again? Will Jaime? Who will fight for Tywin and the court?
My assumption is that Tyrion will come out of this alive, but again, that could just be wishful thinking on my part because I can’t picture a Game of Thrones world without him.
For now, we’ll have to just sit here and count down the hours until next week…