4×06: “The Laws of Gods and Men”
So this episode was about a few different things, but let’s be realistic here: nobody cares about anything that’s not Tyrion’s trial. That being said, I have a certain responsibility to tell you what happened, so I’m gonna do that before I get all up in the trial’s business.
Let’s start with Daenerys, because she’s my favourite. She’s holding court, listening to over 200 people airing out their grievances and asking for stuff, when a shepherd comes in. Apparently her biggest dragon, Drogon, decided that this shepherd’s flock was lunch, flambéed the lot of them, and ate them. And because Dany is a wise and kind leader, she pays the shepherd three times the value of his sheep.
Then comes Hizdahr zo Loraq, a young Meereenese nobleman whose father was crucified as justice for the slaves who met the same end. He asks permission to bury his father’s bones. And after some deliberation, Dany agrees, even though the slaves who the slavemasters killed had no such consideration.
But here’s the interesting thing: as a reader (spoilers ahead), I know that Hizdahr has a larger role to play in Dany’s story. This is going to become a slippery slope that results in enormous changes for everyone, not to mention a fair amount of carnage before it’s all through. And it all started here, with a single act of familial loyalty and a corresponding act of compassion. But I’ll circle back around to that.
Then there’s Theon. Yara has gathered up a small army to rescue him from Ramsay Snow’s keep. They sneak inside in the dead of night — Ramsay is, ahem, otherwise occupied — and track down Theon. But when they find him, he claims that he’s Reek, not Theon, and refuses to leave. This results in a fight between Yara’s Ironborn and Ramsay’s soldiers. Yara is forced to leave, and at that point she declares that her brother is dead.
Ramsay rewards Theon’s loyalty with a bath, and it’s just as uncomfortable as you’d expect — even more so given the fact that Ramsay wants him to pose as “Theon Greyjoy” to take a castle for him. It’s pretty hard seeing Theon right now, because I think he honestly doesn’t recognize Yara. I mean, I get that he only saw her a few times as a grown woman, but he doesn’t know his own sister. He sees her as a stranger and looks to Ramsay for protection, even though he’s terrified of him, because he’s just that broken.
In Braavos, Davos Seaworth and Stannis Baratheon pay a visit to the Iron Bank for money to fund their war. They kinda get their asses handed to them by Mark Gatiss — which, let’s be honest, had to make the ass-handing far less unpleasant, because Mark Gatiss — and get shamed for not having any money, any means of support, or any real power in King’s Landing.
But then Davos speaks up on his king’s behalf, showing off his maimed hand as he so often does. He talks about justice and power and mercy and all that kingly stuff, not to mention the fact that Tywin’s only got about twenty years left by any reasonable math. (Spoilers: the math is not reasonable.) That means the throne will be controlled by A) a boy king, B) a cranky madwoman, or C) a small council who can’t get their butts in gear. So by the end of that conversation, it sounds like the Iron Bank might just consider supporting Stannis’s cause.
That’s just the first half of the episode. The second half is entirely focused on Tyrion’s trial. There’s a lot of damning evidence delivered, all of it out of context and twisted to fit the situation. Every awful thing Tyrion ever said is thrown back in his face; Cersei has manipulated the entire trial to suit the outcome she wants, and she herself comes up with outright lies to support her case.
Jaime sees right away that the trial is going to end badly, so he goes to his father Tywin to make a deal: if Tyrion is sent to the Wall, Jaime will leave the Kingsguard and return to Casterly Rock to take care of things. Of course Tywin immediately agrees, because he’s manipulated events, too. So even though it’s obvious that Tyrion’s going to be found guilty of Joffrey’s murder, it looks like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Until they bring out Shae.
Every intimate moment, every loving thing they said to each other, all the special things in their relationship are brought out into the open and smashed to pieces in front of an eagerly scandalized audience. Shae makes out like she’s the victim, like Tyrion abused her, like he didn’t try to save her life, like she wasn’t playing a dangerous game and doing it badly because she’s too careless to see how it’s done in King’s Landing. She may be a whore, one of the most untrustworthy people in all the Seven Kingdoms, but they all believe her — because being a whore is better than being a dwarf.
The sad part is, the books spoiled this for me. I could never be invested in her and Tyrion’s relationship because I always knew this was coming. I knew she would turn out to be cold at the end, that she would betray him in front of everyone and break his heart, the heart that he was so cautious about giving away but finally did because he thought she was different. Of course that’s not it for the betrayal, but you’ll see that soon.
Understandably, Tyrion snaps. He knows there’s no chance of a fair trial, not here. He calls out everyone in the audience as selfish and ungrateful and deserving of death — because really, they’d already be dead if he hadn’t saved them — before demanding a trial by combat. And according to judicial laws, apparently making that demand completely nullifies any deals made during the trial process. Jaime is off the hook for Casterly Rock, and now that the verdict will rest with someone else’s sword, there’s no knowing which way this trial is going to go.
So let’s talk about what I think this episode really came down to: loyalty. For Dany, it was loyalty to her people. They were slaves who’d been beaten and abused their whole lives, and what she did to the slavemasters was justice for what had been done to them. Although Dany had no loyalty to the them, she understood family loyalty, which was why she let Hizdahr take his father’s body for burial. Personally I think that sentimentality is going to get her in a world of trouble, but it could be argued that she already got into trouble by crucifying the slavemasters. Dang, girl just can’t catch a break, can she?
For Yara, it was loyalty to her brother, to her family, and to the Ironborn. It was pretty noble, really, and her epic mission was accompanied by an awesome speech somewhere along the lines of “Ramsay sucks and I want my brother back, so let’s go hunting.” For Theon, on the other hand, his own loyalty was twisted and perverted along with the rest of him. The only loyalty he has is to the man who destroyed him, and that loyalty is only going to make his life worse.
Davos is obviously loyal to Stannis, and I think the bankers were impressed by that, if not by Stannis himself. His loyalty manifested itself through a keen mind and a pretty accurate summary of the political climate in King’s Landing. I do like Davos, even if I don’t like Stannis; he’s loyal to a fault, and he never once doubts his king. That’s a pretty awesome thing for anyone to do, let alone a smuggler who lost a hand to him.
And then there are the Lannisters. Cersei’s loyal to her dead son’s memory. Jaime’s torn between his loyalty to the Kingsguard, to his family, and to his brother. Tywin is making a good show of acting like he’s above such things, but all he cares about is carrying on the Lannister family line and keeping the peace between his children. Of course Tyrion has no loyalty to anyone, except maybe to Jaime, because no one else has ever had any loyalty to him.
On that note, Shae. It’s hard to see that her loyalty can be so easily bought. Some people might argue that she really did love Tyrion and that she only became angry when he sent her away. But personally, I think she was just sticking with whatever port was good in a storm. Taking into account a certain revelation that’s due to appear any time now, she has no love or loyalty for anyone except whoever’s paying her.
Time to wrap this up. Overall, the first half of the episode was a bit slow. It set up a few things, but mostly it was just killing time until the trial. But the trial: you guys, I’ve been looking forward to this for ages. And it was well worth the wait, especially because it involved Tyrion. We saw his irritation, his frustration, his near-bemusement at times when the accusations just got too ludicrous — and we saw the exact moment his heart broke for the second time. And then we saw him get mad.
Word of advice to the Lannisters: when the dwarf gets mad, you’d better get scared. Because it all goes downhill for you from here.
Final Grade: A
- That statue in the harbour in Braavos. How do people even build statues that large? It doesn’t seem like it should be physically possible.
- Man, even I’ve heard that joke about the red shirt and the brown pants.
- Seriously, I adore Oberyn. Such sass.
- I always knew Varys was a eunuch (namely because he mentions it every episode he appears in), but I never clued in that he doesn’t have any desires. While everyone else in King’s Landing is controlled by what’s in their pants, he doesn’t have that shortcoming. He’s kinda the lucky one, isn’t he?
- Even Margaery has some loyalty going on! She’s sitting there in the middle of the trial, knowing full well who killed Joffrey, but she doesn’t speak up. That’s either serious disinterest in whether or not someone’s life is ruined, or mad loyalty to a murderous grandmother. Whichever way, I want to smack her.
- Dang, Tyrion sure does demand trials by combat a lot, doesn’t he? I suppose I would, too, if I kept getting stuck in ridiculous courtroom scenarios with crazy people. That is all.