4.6 “The Laws of Gods and Men”
Written by Bryan Cogman
Directed by Alik Sakharov
Commentary by Byran Cogman and Alik Sakharov
Much like last week, this episode is made up of several big pieces, but the minor traveling character moments are missing this time. That’s kind of okay because we needed a lot of time for Tyrion’s trial.
Before we get to Tyrion’s trial, though, we get more faffing about from Stannis and Davos, who head over to Braavos to get a loan. I kind of dislike this whole sequence for two reasons: one, I feel like seeing the Titan of Braavos before Arya gets to Braavos steals a lot of her thunder; and two, I liked it better in the books when Davos is like “if you want to be king, defend your kingdom” and next thing we know Stannis is breaking the siege on the Wall and everybody—Jon, Mance, the readers, everybody—is surprised. This bit telegraphs the whole thing. I understand not wanting to have Stannis and Davos just disappear for a whole season, blah blah, but if they’re going to not show Bran’s story because it’s not “cinematic,” I would have been fie with them not showing this part, because frankly it’s boring, doesn’t do anything for character development (Stannis is stubborn; Davos believes in him; Salador is a pirate), and only kind of adds to the worldbuilding (we’d have gotten it later anyway).
Except that we get Mark Gatiss, which almost makes up for it.
Yara and the Ironborn make an attempt to rescue Theon, which fails miserably because Theon is completely broken and doesn’t want to be rescued. I really don’t understand why/how Benioff & Weiss restructured the whole Ironborn storyline, because it a) doesn’t make a lot of sense this way and b) takes away a lot of Yara/Asha’s character development. The show has a serious problem (that reaches a critical mass in season six) of taking away women’s power and handing it to the men in their lives, and having Yara wander around until Theon frees himself before actually setting in motion the Kingsmoot and Euron plots steals a lot of her thunder. While Theon’s off-page being tortured in the books, Asha’s visiting with her family (most of whom they cut from the show, including her mother and uncle) and working to consolidate support for her bid to the Seastone Chair after Balon’s mysterious death. Instead, Asha’s entire story revolves around Theon and it can’t move until Theon’s free of Ramsay.
Daenerys holds court and we see two of the 214 petitioners she has that day. The first is a goatherd bringing the burnt bones of one of his goats left over after Drogon torched his entire field. Daenerys, with the air of one conferring a great favor, promises to pay him three times what his goats were worth and then looks super pleased with herself when the goatherd is grateful. This ruling thing isn’t so difficult! Look at me nailing it! Then we get Hizdahr zo Loraq, who deflates her bubble a bit by asking for permission to take down the masters from the crosses, including his father, who spoke out against nailing up the children. She agrees to allow him to give his father a proper burial, and again there’s a bit of self-congratulation for being a kind and merciful ruler, though it’s not as clear as the earlier one. Missandei tells her she has 212 more people wanting her judgments on things, and she takes a deep breath and continues with the hard, drudgery part of ruling.
The entire rest of the episode occurs in King’s Landing, starting with a bit of power-jockeying and moving into Tyrion’s trial. First there’s a Small Council meeting, which Oberyn starts off by asking if he gets an actual title now, like Master of Coin or something. Varys demonstrates that he has eyes all over, even in the war-ravaged Riverlands, by giving an update on the Hound and then Daenerys. Tywin has a plan to break her before she can come to Westeros, but we’ll have to wait to see what that is.
Oberyn and Varys have a super interesting meeting at the throne that establishes that Varys was asexual even before being castrated, which Oberyn of course has no idea how to deal with. (Remember, Oberyn likes sex and hates Lannisters, and gods forbid that characterization gets complicated or expanded on at all.) One thing this scene does is contradict Tyrion’s constant insinuation that Varys is/was gay or a pedophile, as Varys denies ever having been sexually attracted to anyone ever. Now, some of this might be because he spent time as a sex slave and has some residual trauma, but it’s just as likely that what he tells Oberyn—that he never had any desire for anyone and witnesses how desire has broken entire nations—is the exact truth of it and Game of Thrones, of all shows, has a positively-portrayed asexual character.
Trial time! Tyrion’s chained, to his irritated disbelief, and hauled into the throne room, where Tommen recuses himself from the trial and leaves Tywin in charge. Tywin then proceeds to parade in a series of witnesses who talk about all the times Tyrion said bad things to or about Joffrey, as well as the times he hit him, all completely without context, of course, and often with just enough of a lie to make the testifier look completely blameless in any incident while Tyrion comes off as a monster. Meanwhile, Jaime clearly doesn’t understand why Cersei hates Tyrion so much that she wants him dead.
They take a break, and Jaime demands that Tywin put a stop to the trial because it’s clearly a farce and Cersei’s own personal vendetta, and nobody really believes Tyrion killed Joffrey. He points out that he also killed a king, specifically to save Tywin’s life, and this isn’t how he’d like Tywin to be using it. He says if Tywin will save Tyrion’s life, he’ll give up the Kingsguard and go back to Casterly Rock to be Tywin’s heir, which Tywin agrees to, though he’s not above rubbing Jaime’s nose in the fact that he already planned to send Tyrion to the Wall rather than have him killed. So everybody gets what they want, but especially Tywin.
The trial resumes with Shae being called as a witness and flat-out lying to the court about Tyrion and Sansa plotting Joffrey’s murder, as well as Tyrion forcing Shae to have sex with him. This whole thing just about breaks Tyrion, and he tries to get her to stop, but she throws his words about her being just a whore back in his face and the lies keep coming. It’s at this point that Tyrion decides—despite Jaime’s quick word with him about keeping his mouth shut and accepting sentencing to the Wall during the break—that this is all a bunch of bullshit and he’s not going to accept it. He demands trial by combat, because it worked once before. What could possibly go wrong?
Next week: Gregor (Mark III) returns. Arya crosses another name off her list. Dany takes what she wants. Brienne gets a lead.
All images from screencapped.net; gif from imgur.com