“The Laws of Gods and Men” is the episode that moves us full speed into the rest of the season. The previous five episodes had their moments; but sandwiched between those moments were pieces of heavy dialogue that, while necessary to set up future events, didn’t have us on the edge of our seat cheering or hissing. Expect to have these moments frequently from here on out. Battle in the North, battle on the wall, the battle for Tyrion’s life (whoever ends up fighting it), and anything Crazy Lysa on the mountain is capable of doing are all items that will be settled in the next four episodes. We might even get to see more living things devoured by dragons if we are lucky.
Welcome to the show, Titan of Braavos!!! Though it has been in a number of previews, this is the first time we see the giant statue on the actual show. Davos and Stannis sail under the statue on their way to the city across the Narrow Sea to meet with the Iron Bank of Braavos. So not only are these two off their lonely island, but they are bringing us to a new location for the show. They meet with Tycho Nestoris, a representative for the Iron Bank to request a loan to help fund their journey north (in case you forgot since they said they would go at the end of season three but are actually moving away from that goal with this trip). Tycho dismisses their claim as folly, citing their low numbers of men and ships as unreasonable to expect to one day claim the throne. But before they leave, Davos goes to work making the case for Stannis as an honorable man who is proven in battle and will pay back his debts. And there was also that question of what happens when Tywin Lannister dies that likely pushed the argument in Davos’ favor. Davos uses the money to purchase the ships and men of Salladhor Saan (a pirate who assisted in the Battle of Blackwater Bay back in season 2 and rescued Ser Davos from a smaller lonely rock at the start of season 3) to help Stannis make their trip to the wall.
Yara Greyjoy (Theon’s sister) has arrived to take back her brother. We last saw her arguing with her father, Balon, at the end of season 3 whether they should even bother saving Theon now that he is minus little Theon. As it turned out, daddy was right. Yara discovers that Theon is a different person (Reek, to be exact) who is afraid to leave with her. Alfie Allen’s ability to shift emotions from the cocksure conqueror of season 2 to the frail, dependent slave of season 4 speaks volumes to his abilities as an actor. And Ramsey intends to use Reek/Theon to help defeat the Iron Born. But his sister has seen who he is, so will Theon be able to convince anyone from the Iron Islands differently?
Our first look at Slaver’s Bay looks more like the New Testament than anything in Martin’s world. I kept expecting Jesus to arrive and discover a portal into Westeros and wage war on the Lord of Light, the Seven, the old gods, the drowned god, and all the other deities in Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. But instead, we get a DRAGON!!!! It would appear the dragons are not under anyone’s control right now, including Daenerys, and that is going to make things very difficult for her trying to maintain support on Slaver’s Bay.
The dragon was the only thing interesting in Meereen this week. Otherwise, it was Daenerys “ruling” (which I don’t think she thought it would be this boring to rule). She does repay the Shepherd whose flocks were taken by her dragon. Then, Dany addresses Hizdahr Zo Loraq, the son of a former slave owner whose father was crucified the week before. Here’s hoping the Queen of Dragons has more interesting things to do next week.
My greatest disappointment with this week’s episode was the Red Viper’s appearances on councils and juries. I expected lively, confrontational dialogue. But instead, he’s mostly quiet except for a few questions. The discussion at council centers on Daenerys. Cersei does not see her as a threat (Because those dragons are just babies. Cersei, Keep telling yourself that). But the rest of the council is concerned, so Tywin says he will take action to stop her (please, please, please, liven things up out there!!!).
And finally, we arrive at the trial. Tommen eloquently hands over his responsibilities to his grandfather and this sham of trial begins. Every witness comes forward proclaiming Tyrion’s guilt. About half the testimonies are lies. We know the necklace Pycelle brought to trial was a fake because we watched Baelish destroy the real necklace. And Pycelle proclaiming Joffrey a “noble child?” That got an eye roll from Prince Oberyn. But unfortunately for Tyrion, his not so friendly quotes about Joffrey are true and used against him at trial. Most the most damning witness of all appears last when Shae takes the stand!!!
We haven’t seen her since Tyrion thought he put her on a ship crossing the Narrow Sea. But the resentful Shae lies about Tyrion and Sansa, claiming she overheard them plotting to poison Joffrey. She also tells all about her Tyrion’s relationship. While Tyrion almost mockingly looked on at the other witnesses, Shae’s testimony is clearly the most heartbreaking for him. But there is still fight in the Imp!!! He gives a stirring speech, proclaiming himself (rightly) the savior of King’s Landing and requests a trial by battle!!!
Notes and Questions for Next Week
-I love the comparisons between Ned Stark and Tyrion, who take some oddly similar turns in their story arcs. While Ned doubted he could trust anyone but chose to trust people anyway, Tyrion tested out all those close to him when he was Hand just to see who he could trust. And when Ned Stark chose to confess and take the black, costing him his head, Tyrion chose trial by battle, keeping his head on his shoulders for at least awhile longer.
-And speaking of that battle, just exactly who will fight for Tyrion? No one was willing to stand up for him at trial. Who exactly will risk his life for him?
-Shae’s character is slightly different in the books. While it is clear in the TV show that she had feelings for Tyrion, it is never clear until the trial whether she is doing that because she is paid to or whether she really cares for the Imp. But because she did have feelings for him in the TV show, her betrayal was significantly more crushing.
-And what plan could Tywin possibly have for Daenerys? Will he use someone near her to try and betray her? We were reminded at the King’s Council that Jorah Mormount was a spy at one time, but he’s long been loyal to Dany since foiling her assassination plot. Could Ser Barristen prove to be disloyal? Is there a sellsword company Tywin can contact? I don’t care what it is, but Dany and her new kingdom desperately need conflict.
(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)