Another Game of Thrones episode, another hodgepodge of stories for the first half, followed by thirty minutes of one sustained story. I suppose this works for the show. We get a chance to check in with people we haven't seen for a while (What up, Yara!), before getting into the episode's "real" story, which in this case was Tyrion's trial.
At least all of the story lines did manage to make sense under the theme of the night (even if my recap doesn't): The laws of gods and men. Let's check in with who we checked in with.
Stannis: He's dealing with the laws of numbers, as created by men -- the men of the Iron Bank of Braavos. These dudes walk in unison and they've set up their conference table like they've been taking classes at the Jack Donaghy School of Negotiation, so they're badass.
Stannis is in Braavos because Davos got the bright idea that he could talk the bank into backing Stannis over Tommen. Stannis has so many things going for him. He's for sure related to Robert Baratheon because they were both definitely pushed out of the same woman's birth canal (Happy Mother's Day!). He's young(ish) and determined. He means what he says. If he says he's going to cut off all your fingers on one hand for being a smuggler, that's not just talk. He really does that.
Also, everyone knows that Tommen's a super sweet kid, but he's not the real ruler of Westeros, his grandfather is. And what happens when Tywin eventually succumbs to the disease of begin a crusty old jackass? Who rules Westeros then? Cersei? Jaime, the Kingslayer? Mace "I wanna be Master of Ships" Tyrell? There's really no good option lurking around King's Landing. The only correct answer is Stannis. Stannis takes a backseat to no Lannister. Stannis, Stannis. He's our man. If he can't do it...the Lord of Light will birth more shadow babies until everyone believes he can.
The bankers fall for it and they decide to give Stannis some gold coins, which Davos uses to pay one of his pirate friends, Salladhor Saan, in order to help make Stannis's ship fleet appear a little less paltry.
Ramsay: Ramsay Snow makes his own rules. He's been charged with helping his father gain power in the North, and he takes that very seriously. That's why he has to blow off steam by sexing up the young ladies in his camp, ladies who probably don't live beyond that singular act of fornication, judging by the amount of blood on Ramsay's post-coitus body.
When Reek/Theon's sister, Yara, shows up to save her brother, Ramsay is pleased that Reek/Theon shows so much loyalty in choosing to stay with Team Ramsay and not return to the Ironborn. Ramsay is a big fan of loyalty. It's what he likes about dogs. To show his appreciation, Ramsay gives Reek/Theon a bath and a special task -- pretend to be Theon and take back a very special castle (Moat Cailin? Winterfell? Where are we in this story? Who am I? Why am I here?)
Yara: For her part, Yara cares about the laws of nature, and therefore the laws of the gods. She's not the biggest fan of her brother, generally, but she'll be damned if she's going to sit back and watch someone else torture him into being unrecognizable. Only Yara is allowed to do that! If someone messes with one of the Ironborn, they are messing with all of the Ironborn. Until someone sics a pack of dogs on her. Then all bets are off. Then she's grabbing her crew and hightailing it back to their ship and telling everyone her brother is dead.
Daenerys: It ain't easy being queen, FINALLY. Things have been going swimmingly for Dany since she decided to free all the slaves in the Summer Isles, but no more. She's set up camp in Meereen and her new subjects have a few complaints. They don't like how her dragons are eating all the livestock. And they really don't like how she unilaterally crucified the slaveowners in the city and then left them all hanging up along the roads to rot. They'd like to bury their family members, thanks. She gives the grieving son, Hizdahr zo Loraq, permission to cut his father down and give him a proper burial, and she offers the sheepherder three times the value of his lost sheep. What happens when everybody starts knocking at her door, demanding equal treatment? Does she have the money to pay for all the dead sheep in triplicate?
Varys: The laws of men say he's not a lord, but everyone treats him as such. He demands that kind of respect. He is someone who has never let any distracting desires (i.e. boning, which, admittedly, would be hard for him to do) get in the way of his true goal -- ruling the Iron Throne. Methinks he wants to be the little bird whispering in Tommen's ear. He knows he'd never rule outright, but he could take steps to make himself an irreplaceable cog in the smooth-running Tywin Lannister machine. That's why he decides to turn on Tyrion and testify against him at the murder trial. Varys is all about looking out for number one, and Tyrion has nothing left to offer his old pal.
Tyrion: He's the person whose future most depends on the laws of gods and men. The laws of men say that Tyrion must be put to trial for the murder of his nephew. The laws of men also state that, when the king recuses himself from the trial, the Hand gets to sit the Iron Throne and preside over the spectacle. Following the laws of men means that Tywin can use his position to air his grievances against one son and use blackmail to get his other son to do his bidding. Tywin has always wanted to be rid of Tyrion, whose birth proved too much for Tywin's wife and who has always been an embarrassment to the family. Tywin also uses his other son's love for his brother to his advantage, getting Jaime to agree to leave the King's Guard and go back to Casterly Rock to start a family, if only Tyrion is allowed to beg for mercy and be sent to Castle Black as punishment.
Tywin has it all figured out. He has character witnesses that rival the parade that marched through the courtroom in the series finale of Seinfeld. He brings in Meryn Trant and Grand Maester Pycell and Cersei and Varys and, finally, Shae, Tyrion's whore and Sansa's lady's maid. She sells Tyrion down the river, and she's yet another person who chooses to bet on the favorite. (She ask Tyrion to remember that she's a whore. Once a whore, always a whore. Whore.)
Tyrion just can't take it anymore, and he stands up to confess. But he doesn't confess to Joffrey's murder. He confesses to being a dwarf, and he confesses to wishing he had killed Joffrey, because that guy was the worst. And then he asks to leave his trial up to the laws of the gods. He wants a trial by combat. He survived one of these at the Eyrie, when Bronn fought for him, and now he wants to press his luck again. May the odds be ever in his favor.
- This episode had me missing the shenanigans at the Eyrie, as well as the stuff happening at the Wall. We don't need to check in with Dany every week, do we? Give us more Littlefinger, Sweetrobin, and Ghost! Oh, and Hodor! Hodor!
- Davos is seriously one of my favorite characters in the book, and I feel like they're finally giving him a chance to be awesome in the show. Go, Davos! Get that Braavosi money!
- Salladhor Saan can sure spin a yarn, even if it's the same one over and over.
- I am grateful that the director opted not to show us Theon's wangless body as he got in the tub. But I was fine with seeing Davos's CGI-ed missing fingers.
- More special effects kudos: That dragon. Holy mother of, well, dragons.
- I was worried for a second that they'd show us all 212 of the remaining supplicants waiting for an audience with Daenerys. I wouldn't put it past them.
- Lord Tyrell is so the Peter Pettigrew of Game of Thrones. What a dork.
- Also, Grand Maester Pycell reading the list of poison ingredients sounded something straight out of a Harry Potter potions class scene.
- Tyrion: "Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores." Cold as ice.
What did you think of the episode? Which story lines are you most enjoying this season? With which characters would you like to spend less time?
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