As we enter the latter half of Season 4, “Game of Thrones”
eases us into the action with episode 6 “The Laws of Gods and Men” that both
sets the stage for the big things to come, and brings the pain for a select
few. Director Alik Sakharov balances both bloody action and one-set, dialogue-heavy scenes with a stylish aplomb, maintaining the high-wire tension throughout, and showcasing a bravura performance from a series favorite. And I’m burying
the lede here, but we also got a whole NEW LOCATION in the credit sequence!
That’s right, after much, much foreshadowing, we finally put Braavos on the
map. And that’s where we begin.
Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Stannis Baratheon (Stephen
Dillane) sail right through the legs of the very huge Braavosi soldier statue
that heralds the land of Braavos. While Davos and Stannis wait for their small
business loan meeting, Davos tries to make small talk, but Stannis ain’t having
it. They are finally greeted by some Iron Bankers, led by Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss) to discuss the financials.
While Davos claims Stannis’ kingly status, the Braavosis have heard otherwise,
pretty sure that Tommen is actually the technical king right now. Tycho tells Stannis that ledgers filled with “usurper,” “madmen,” and
“blood…right” ain’t going to fly in their bank. They want the cold, hard
numbers! And right now, the numbers just aren’t in Stannis’ favor. Loan denied.
Stannis shoots crazy eye daggers at Davos, and as they are
about to leave, Davos flashes his handful of chopped off fingers at the banker, as
evidence of Stannis’ honesty (okay…), calling it both an “honest payment” and “an honest accounting.” Davos goes to the mat for Stannis, claiming that his king is the best
bet for Westeros when Tywin (age 67) kicks it (Tommen and Cersei just won’t
do). If it doesn’t convince the Braavosi bankers, it sure as hell gives Stannis
pause about ditching Davos (who is such an underrated character, for the
Cut to: a steamy spa filled with naked ladies and Salladhor Saan (Lucian Msamati),
Davos’ smuggler comrade, telling some maidens a well-known pirate joke. Davos
sneaks up on the little ménage, and asks him to sail with him at dawn, and
sweetens the deal with a rack of coins. He also says that he’s left a chest of
the good stuff at his house with his wife. Does this mean that they actually
got the loan thanks to Davos’ speechifying? He does seem rather pleased with
himself, for once.
Iron Islands/The Dreadfort
Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) has got some vengeance and some brother
rescuing to get up to, and she’s rounded up her best salty characters, reading
Ramsay Snow’s (Iwan Rheon) message banishing the Iron Born and exhorting them to
protect and rescue their prince, Theon (Alfie Allen). This speech is intercut with a scene of
Ramsey having some very intense and creepy-eyed sex with a maiden. As
they climax, the Iron Born breach the Dreadfort with grappling hooks. Yara
quickly finds Theon/Reek with the dogs, but he
doesn’t even recognize his sister, saying “you can’t trick me,” and he doesn’t
want to leave with her, fighting her all the way.
Soon enough, Ramsay shows up, all shirtless and hairless and
artfully splattered with disturbingly bright red blood. He quickly jumps into
the mix, weapons flying, dogs barking, in the dark and narrow dungeon. Theon
runs back into the cage, and the two sides come to a stand off, before Ramsay
unlocks the dog cage and the Iron Born quickly retreat. Yara’s given up on
Theon, her brother now dead for her.
As a reward for staying loyal, Ramsay has drawn a bath for
Theon/Reek, and demands he remove his clothes, revealing his scarred and
traumatized body (Ramsay gives him one hell of a creeptastic once over as he
drops the britches). In the tub, Ramsay tenderly sponges at Theon/Reek’s body
and asks him if he loves him, which Theon/Reek quickly affirms (truly the most
fucked up relationship in this show full of fucked up relationships). Of
course, it only matters because Ramsey needs Theon/Reek to pretend to be Theon
Greyjoy in order to get to the castle that Ramsey’s been tasked with taking (Moat Cailin).
A goat herder and his son preside over a peaceful flock at
the side of a waterfall. Soon though, they are visited by one of their Queen’s
dragons who makes off with a quick snack of BBQ goat. The herder takes up the loss of his herd with Queen Daenerys (her title has
gotten so much longer with all of her conquering too, btw) in her pyramid. She
promises him to pay for the flock three times over, because Dany is a big ol’
The second person waiting to see her is Hizdarh zo Loraq (Joel Fry),
a nobleman, who requests to be able to take down his father’s body and have him
properly buried since the new queen had him crucified. Daenerys is kind of
shady to him at first, and pushes back on the whole crucifixion thing, since
she’s still pissed about the slave girls (Hizdarh claims his father was against
it, which, WHOOPS, D, whiffed that justice thing there). And because she’s a
big ol’ softie, she allows him to bury his father. After that, there are 212
more supplicants waiting. This whole “ruling” thing is hard.
The small council meeting has gathered, and Oberyn Martell
(Pedro Pascal) is being very, very Oberyn Martell (he’s cranky the meeting is
early, because he was up late, doing you know what, obviously). But hey, Mace
Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) is just happy to be invited. Tywin (Charles Dance) arrives and they
get on with the meeting, aka listening to the latest gossip from Lord Varys
(Conleth Hill)—the Hound has been spotted, he said “fuck the king” and killed
some guys, Daenerys is ruling Meereen in the East with her dragons, and her
knights. Cersei (Lena Headey) is pretty dismissive of Daenerys as Queen, just
like she was dismissive of Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney), who’s now off advising Daenerys. Tywin writes off that decision
as “insulting and stupid,” as only he can. Oberyn makes a crack about the
Unsullied Army’s talents on the battlefield, but not in the bedroom, because,
Varys and Oberyn have a small chat in the throne room—Oberyn susses out that Varys is from Essos, despite the lack of accent. Oberyn
invites Varys to come to the brothel, have some Dornish wine and a chat with
Ellaria Sand, and Varys reveals that he doesn’t care for boys, girls, or desire
at all, blaming the downfall of the country on all that lusting. Varys has only
got eyes for the Iron Throne, you see.
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) goes to collect Tyrion (Peter
Dinklage) from his cell. Of course, Tyrion’s got some good cracks in there,
sarcastically ruing the fact that his father had him brought to the trial in
shackles and chains. At the trial, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) recuses
himself from the trial and cedes the seat to Tywin, less than pleased to even be going through with this. Let the trial begin.
They call the witnesses to recount every time Tyrion said
something mean to Joffrey: Ser Meryn (Ian Beattie), Cersei, Varys, and Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) to read his inventory of poison. Pycelle also pulls out the necklace that belonged
to Sansa (Sophie Turner), which was found on the fool Dontos’ body with traces
of The Strangler poison. Pycelle adds in that Joffrey was “the most noble child
the Gods ever put on this good earth,” and everyone else is like, um, I
wouldn’t go that far.
In general, it’s a very awkward laying out of dirty family
laundry in a trial format. Poor Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Loras (Finn
Jones) are listening on like, what the hell fam are we marrying into, goddamn
you Grandma (Loras is also sporting an interesting asymmetrical curly hairdo as
well, very fashionable, Loras). Tyrion pushes back on a few, questioning or calling out
Varys and Meryn, but it doesn’t work in his favor.
During the recess, Jaime approaches Tywin eating lunch and
begs him to spare Tyrion, at least to preserve his own dynasty (which they keep
pronouncing as “dinnisty” and I was very confused). Jaime offers a deal to
Tywin—he will renounce his position as King’s Guard (those guys can’t
make official babies/carry on the house name) and go to Casterly Rock if Tywin lets Tyrion live, and
Tywin takes that deal so fast Jaime can’t believe it. He says he’ll allow
Tyrion to beg for mercy and join the Night’s Watch if Jaime marries someone
and fathers children “named Lannister.” #SHADE #QUEENOFSHADE
Back in the throne room, Jaime informs Tyrion of the deal.
Tyrion’s like, that didn’t work out so well for Ned Stark, dummy, but Jaime
asks him to trust him and keep his mouth shut. That goes out the window when the next witness to the stand is none other than Tyrion’s ex, Shae
(Sibel Kekilli). She promptly testifies that Tyrion and Sansa conspired to kill
Joffrey. She describes the nature of their sexual relationship (Oberyn’s like
tell me more … because Oberyn), and she describes it in a way that erases all of
the love between them, making it seem like Tyrion was a horrible sexual tyrant.
Tyrion asks her to stop and she tells him, “I am a whore … remember?” Shae
claims that Tyrion promised Sansa to kill Joffrey because Sansa wouldn’t let
him in her bed.
At this point, Tyrion starts whispering, “I wish to
confess,” with Jaime giving him the “stop right now” eyes. Tyrion turns to the
peanut gallery and seethes “I saved all of you, I saved all your worthless
lies, I should have let Stannis kill you all.” While Tywin tries to get him
back on task, Tyrion growls that he’s innocent of killing Joffrey, but that
he’s “guilty of a far more monstrous crime. I’m guilty of being a dwarf.”
Tyrion is seething with rage at everything and everyone who’s ever wronged him.
His rage flies in every direction, uncontained, finally set free from his masterful control, and Dinklage rips into one hell of a speech, looking
right at Cersei to say that he wished that he had killed Joffrey, that “watching
your vicious little bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying
whores.” He spits at the crowd
that he wishes he had enough poison for them all, before turning back to Tywin,
refusing to give his life for Joffrey in this sham trial and requesting the
gods decide his fate. That’s right, he demands a trial by combat. Tyrion came
Thoughts? Did Peter Dinklage earn his Emmy nomination
tonight or what? Who’s going to fight for him? Jaime or Bron? Does Varys have a
snowball’s chance in hell at the throne? Why is Oberyn always perving out? What’s
up with that Braavosi loan? Really, what is going on with Jaime’s character and how are we supposed to feel about him? So many questions, so little answers.