Game of Thrones: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

Everybody hates Tyrion.

Everybody (really) hates Tyrion.

This fourth season of Game of Thrones has felt a little different, and I think it’s because we haven’t seen as much of Tyrion Lannister, probably the show’s most recognizable character to a casual fan. Sure, Sean Bean’s face was all over the first season’s promotional campaign, but it’s been Peter Dinklage hitting the late-night talk-show circuit and racking up all the acting awards amid a super talented cast.

This week’s episode, “The Laws of Gods and Men,” features a worthy return of Tyrion in all his exasperated, sharp-tongued glory.

Davos and Stannis visit the Iron Bank of Braavos

Was this the first week that included Braavos in the opening credits? Honestly, how are we supposed to believe that these medieval (or whatever) people built that gigantic soldier statue thing? (It immediately reminded me of that four-toed foot in Lost, which I thought I’d forgotten about.)

Nobody in Braavos gives a shit about “Lord” Stannis (burn), who has to wait around like a commoner because he only has a measly 4,000 men and 32 ships to his cause…until Davos makes a pretty good case for his king, while also pointing out why Tommen, Cersei, and Jaime are screwed once 67-year-old Tywin kicks the bucket. (And while Stannis wouldn’t be my king of choice, he does have the greatest claim to the Iron Throne, in my opinion—at least until Dany comes into the picture.) Plus, he seems pretty Lannistery, per Davos, who holds up his stunted fingers: Stannis always pays his debts!

Next thing we know, Davos is interrupting his pirate friend Salladhor Saan in a bathhouse with two naked ladies, informing him, “We sail at sunrise.” So those numbers-obsessed bankers must have come around, right?

Yara heads to the Dreadfort for Theon

What was the point of this?

Don’t get me wrong; I welcome more scenes of Yara/Asha. Her badassness was shining bright as she rallied the ironborn by reading aloud Ramsay Snow’s letter that further threatened her brother. Unfortunately, when Yara finds him, she realizes that he’s no longer Theon but Reek: Reek, who sleeps with the dogs in the kennel and refuses to go back home and bites his sister when she tries to save him. That bastard Ramsay stops whatever he’s doing with Myranda (in yet a totally pointless sex scene) to unleash the dogs on the intruders, and Yara tells her men, “My brother is dead.”

So Yara goes home, brother-less, which is exactly how this episode started. What was the point?

Later, Ramsay rewards Reek for his unwavering loyalty with a bath. Of course, this isn’t totally selfless: Ramsay totally checks out his Reek’s eunuch-ness, and he reveals that he needs his prisoner’s help in getting a castle back by “pretend[ing] to be someone you’re not.”

“Who?” asks Reek, but absolutely no viewers. Theon Greyjoy (duh).

Dany starts taking Ser Barristan’s advice

So the Meereen subplot begins with a father-and-son goatherding duo. They’re rather peaceful-looking, plus they’ve got white-as-snow goats SO YOU KNOW THIS WON’T END WELL. Sure enough, Drogon shows up, dracarys everything, and takes a goat.

In the pyramid, Dany is doing her queen thing so when the father goes before her with his kid’s bones, she announces she will pay the goats’ value three times over. Easy peasy, I guess, until Hizdahr zo Loraq—a son of one of Meereen’s oldest families—shows up.

Turns out that his dad, in addition to overseeing the restoration and maintenance of Meereen’s many landmarks (including the pyramid), was one of the men that Dany had crucified. Dany warns him that her treatment of the slavemasters was no crime, but Hizdahr argues that his dad was actually an advocate for the slave children. He requests to bury his father’s body, and she finally relents—and then wearily asks Missandei how many more are awaiting an audience with her.

This, of course, raises the question: Does Missandei repeat Dany’s ever-lengthening titles for each of those 212 supplicants? (I like to think that this is David Benioff’s shout-out to NYC.)

Fun fact: The goatherd was speaking Low Valyrian, according to the closed-captioning.

Oberyn isn’t a morning person; Cersei scoffs at “baby dragons”

At a meeting of the small council, the ever-knowing Varys updates the crew on the Hound’s whereabouts in the Riverlands, as well as Dany’s growing power in Essos. Cersei dismisses her as “a child halfway across the world,” but Varys points out that she has an army of Unsullied, two formidable Westeroi knights advising her, and three dragons. Tywin, as he should, takes this threat more seriously than his daughter, and requests that Varys get his little birds into Meereen. (Silly Cersei. Hasn’t she admitted that she has thought herself “safe and happy” before her joy turned to ashes in her mouth? Dragons are coming!)

In the Great Hall, Varys and Oberyn (who seems to like traveling as much as he likes sex) discuss their time in Essos, as well as their respective…preferences. Oberyn guesses that Varys may like the boys that he has on retainer, though the Spider comments, “I am very glad to have no part in [desire],” as this has left him free to pursue other things. Like manipulating the game of thrones, which he seems to better than anybody (except maybe Littlefinger).

Jaime loves Tyrion; Tyrion hates everybody

Ah, finally, here we go!

King Tommen recuses himself (thank goodness—my heart would’ve broken to see Tommen have to turn against his uncle) and appoints Tywin to judge in his stead, along with Prince Oberyn and Lord Mace. Tywin wastes no time in asking, “Did you kill King Joffrey?” before calling witnesses (Ser Meryn, Pycelle, Cersei, Varys) to the stand. (It’s like the Seinfeld series finale in the courtroom.)

Privately, Jaime lambasts his father of this “farce” of a trial, and points out that he murdered the Mad King (ahem, which Tyrion did not) to save Tywin. Now, Jaime is determined to save his brother by striking a deal with his legacy-obsessed father to leave the Kingsguard, rule Casterly Rock, marry, and sire more Lannisters—precisely what he had refused to do when Tywin presented him with a precious Valyrian-steel sword—if Tyrion is spared death and allowed to join the Night’s Watch…assuming, of course, that he confesses.

Jaime informs Tyrion of this plan before the trial resumes, but that all goes to shit when a very covered-up Shae enters and testifies that—as a handmaiden to Sansa and a “whore” to Tyrion—she was privy to the couple’s plot to murder Joffrey. Still obviously hurt by Tyrion’s “You’re a whore!” parting words, uttered for her safety (but clearly coerced by a scheming Cersei and Tywin, who had demanded that Shae be brought to the Tower of the Hand before the royal wedding), Shae repeats many conversations between herself and Tyrion (“I want you to fuck me like it’s my last night in this world” et al.) to the mockery of King’s Landing.

Unable to take this last betrayal (I mean, he doesn’t seem to expect any less from his father and sister), Tyrion goes on a, well, tirade, roaring at everybody, “I saved you! I saved this city and all your worthless lives. I should’ve let Stannis kill you all!” before standing up to his father about how he has been on trial for being a dwarf his entire life, and demanding a trial by combat. (Ahem, the June 1 episode is titled “The Mountain and the Viper”—just sayin’.)

And I love that Tyrion gets in one last dig at Cersei, still maintaining that he did not kill Joffrey and publicly calling her son a “vicious bastard.” Eek, I hope Tommen was far away for that.

Discussion questions!

  • Was this the first episode devoid of Starks? No Arya, no Sansa, no Bran—not even Jon!
  • Is anybody else convinced that Lady Olenna told Tywin to get her son Mace to fetch quills and paper? (If the poor guy is scandalized by a “whore,” perhaps this is all that should be required of him.)
  • Will Oberyn’s repeated, correct use of the word paramour (an illicit, inappropriate lover—not just any beau) with regard to his baseborn Ellaria help spread the proper definition across the masses?
  • What other words do Brits (I mean, Common Tongue speakers hailing from Casterly Rock) pronounce so differently from us Americans? I learned dynasty is one, thanks to this episode. (Privacy, strangely enough, I figured out from late-’90s teen sitcom City Guys. My mine was totally blown.)
  • Seriously, how is Margaery sitting through this with a straight face, knowing that her sweet ol’ grandma was the one who gave Joff a permanent heave-ho?

Enjoy “Mockingbird,” kids. I’m going overseas this weekend and won’t have access to my precious DVR for a while. I’m hoping it doesn’t explode while I’m gone.

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