Game of Thrones 4.06: The Laws of Gods and Men


Well, if Peter Dinklage’s rant at the end of this episode wasn’t Emmy bait, I don’t know what is …

Hello and welcome once again to the Great Chris and Nikki Game of Thrones co-blog! I am your host, Christopher Lockett (Lord of the Pulled Pork, Keeper of the Sacred Clarence, Pretender to the Heisenberg Goatee), and I am yet again joined by Her Ladyship Nikki Stafford (Queen of the Buffy Rewatch, Most Prolific High Priestess of TV Posting, Scourge of Sparkly Vampires Everywhere).

But what I am prattling on about? To the episode!

Fun fact: the line from Julius Caesar "He doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus!" scans precisely the same as Darth Vader's line "You are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor!" Seriously, try it.

Fun fact: the line from Julius Caesar “He doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus!” scans precisely the same as Darth Vader’s line “You are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor!” Seriously, try it.


Christopher: Judging from a lot of the discussions I’ve been reading, the writers are making fans of the books increasingly nervous with this season’s deviations … and this episode will likely only serve to ratchet up that anxiety, given that essentially its first half comprises storylines that do not appear in the novels. I remain fairly sanguine, as I simply cannot imagine that the series will change the overarching story in any substantial ways. These narrative doglegs are interesting, however, for the simple question of how the writers will get us back on track. Certain things have to happen, and some of these departures make me wonder just how the writers will unknot the threads down the line.

Sorry to be cryptic, but that’s about as spoilery as I’m comfortable getting.

Let’s talk first about Stannis’ visit to the Iron Bank of Braavos, but before I say anything about that I need a little moment to geek out about seeing Braavos appear in the opening credits. This city is one of GRRM’s most intriguing inventions, modeled on late medieval Venice, and about as close to an egalitarian society as one is able to find in that world. Like Venice was in its heyday, Braavos is a hub of commerce, a city run not by hereditary nobility but by its moneymen and merchantmen. And we meet the most powerful of the former. Stannis and Davos cool their heels in an impressively austere room while Stannis paces and complains about being made to wait. Davos is more patient, observing that this is the Braavos way, and starts to relate a story of his smuggling past … and stops, presumably thinking that it might not be the time to remind his king that he used to be a criminal. And then the doors open and in walks … MYCROFT HOLMES! My, but that fellow does get around in the corridors of power. (If only Tyrion could have hired his brother later in this episode).

One does not simply borrow money from Mycroft.

One does not simply borrow money from Mycroft.

As mentioned, this entire sequence does not appear in the novels. Stannis does ultimately have dealings with the Iron Bank, but that comes much later, under rather different circumstances. I find it interesting that the series is choosing to make the Iron Bank more prominent: not just because they’re having a major plot point pivot on whether or not Stannis will get bankrolled and hence have the resources to renew his war with the Lannisters, but because they’re emphasizing that crucial aspect of GRRM’s writing I mentioned last week: the pragmatic logistical component. Stannis is a man of unwavering principle, but his legal claim on the Iron Throne holds absolutely no water for the bankers (something Stannis should have understood in the first place when Mycroft bluntly dismissed the title of “lord,” and then further repeated all of Stannis’ titles back to him in a bored voice). He points out the fact that patrilineal right has counted for little in Westeros’ history, that its history books are littered with such words as “usurper,” and that the question of who is the rightful king is always open to interpretation. “Here our books are full of numbers,” he tells Stannis. “Much less open to interpretation.” And again, the question of logistics: he makes Davos list all of Stannis’ forces and resources, which amounts to a whole lot of not very much. “You can see why these numbers don’t add up to a happy ending.”

I like that it was Davos who convinced them—Davos, the pragmatic man, who points out in no uncertain terms why the Bank’s current arrangement with King’s Landing is a losing bet: Tywin is rock-steady and reliable, yes, but he is also old (sixty-seven, apparently), and he is the only stable presence there: Tommen is just a boy, Cersei is crazy, Tyrion’s on trial for killing Joffrey, and Jaime is a king-killer.

I love this bit, even if it does feel a little disingenuous—one has to assume that Mycroft has already worked all this out for himself. Then again, it may be that he’s just taking the measure of this would-be king. A bird in the hand, after all … Tywin might be a thin thread to hang the bank’s investment on, but until Davos’ impassioned speech, he has no reason to think Stannis is anything more than just another usurper. And Davos speaks Mycroft’s language in terms of payment and debt, showing him his mutilated hand, his punishment for years of smuggling as the price for entering Stannis’ service. A Lannister may always pay his debts, but as we gleaned from Jaime’s discussion with his father, Lannisters are as dwindling a resource as their gold.

After Davos re-hires Salador Saan, we cut to Yara’s raiding party, as she reads Ramsay’s letter to her crew and riles them up. This raid on the Dreadfort is odd on two fronts: one, it’s geographically problematic; and two, it is a complete deviation from the books. What did you make of Yara’s abortive attempt to rescues Theon?

I found myself wondering whether Ramsay had sustained those wounds on the way to the dungeon, or whether he got them from having sex. Then I decided I didn't want to know.

I found myself wondering whether Ramsay had sustained those wounds on the way to the dungeon, or whether he got them from having sex. Then I decided I didn’t want to know.

Nikki: I too loved it when the doors opened and freakin’ Mark Gatiss strode in. I’m sure there was a huge audience of cult TV that squeed in that particular moment. He played it so straight, never wavering from that pasted-on smile until Davos began challenging him, and then we saw that confidence begin to waver. I, too, was thrilled with that scene (Stannis never would have been the one to say anything to convince him; that guy seems to be trapped in an arrested development where he requires everyone around him to do and say everything on his behalf) but it was brilliant.

And yes also on Braavos making it into the opening credits model. Just as my husband moaned, “Does this 28-minute opening sequence ever CHANGE?!” they showed it and I sat right up and exclaimed, “Ooh!! New city!! Ooh!! Back it up!! Big statue!!” Fantastic.

The Theon “rescue” sequence was heartbreaking. As Yara climbs back into the boat after failing to capture Theon, she bluntly says, “My brother’s dead,” and we know that’s the story she’ll take back to the Iron Islands and her father.

And the sad thing is, she’s absolutely right. Theon is dead. Now we have Reek, a quivering, shivering, shadow of his former self, who thought his sister was nothing more than another trick by Ramsay to make him think he was about to be rescued, rather than his actual rescue party. Yara’s departure means there’s no more rescue coming for him, and Reek’s complacency and actions in that moment solidified that he was 100% Ramsay’s puppet. As viewers, we internally beg Reek to go with Yara, to just be Theon again and run away rather than hinder the rescue mission. And yet… the writers oh so cleverly pull us in on the whole ruse in the following scene, when Ramsay tells him he’s drawn a hot bath for him and wants him to get in. Now we’re right there with Reek, shouting no, no, don’t get in there, he will drown you. And just as Ramsay has brainwashed Reek, he’s brainwashed all of us. He doesn’t do anything at all to Reek when he climbs into the tub; he simply begins washing him. Notice how Reek grabs the edges of the tub, almost to brace himself for the expectation that Ramsay will try to dunk his head under the water. Notice also the sadistic smile that creeps over Ramsay’s face when Reek drops his britches and one can only imagine the scarred, mutilated absence between Reek’s legs that Ramsay stares at. Now that Ramsay has his total loyalty, he tells him it’s time for Reek to pretend to be someone he’s not: Theon Greyjoy.

I thought the cutaway here to the Daenerys story was utterly brilliant. As I’ve been saying on here for a few weeks now, Daenerys (my girl, always my girl, please don’t take any offense to what I’m about to say oh First of Your Name, Mother of Dragons) has been “freeing” the slaves and punishing the slavemasters, but that opens up a whole new host of problems. Last week Ser Jorah told her that in Astapor and Yunkai she’s left more of a mess behind than perhaps was there to begin with AND she took the city’s armies from them, so now they’re utterly defenseless. She pulls the slaves on side and makes them love her, but it’s only so they’ll follow her into battle where most of them will be slaughtered. She expects their love and loyalty, but she’s freed them from one master only to control them herself. Cutting away from Theon’s story — where Theon has been beaten into submission, to the point where he now loves Ramsay, who seems to be freeing him from the life of torture he’d received from . . . Ramsay — reminds us that Daenerys frees them from one hell only to plunge many of them into another.

In this episode we see that the dragons are roaming the countrysides and fields, looking for herds of goats that they first barbecue and then eat. The goatherder approaches Daenerys on her throne and tells her what they’ve done, and she promises him three times what the goats are worth, and he backs away happily, grateful for his queen. (Did anyone else think that was his son’s bones in that blanket? When he first opened it I was horrified until I realized he was saying that was one of the goats. Apparently I didn’t notice the giant HORNS when I watched it the first time.) Daenerys looks thrilled that she’s made someone happy, and excitedly calls in the next supplicant. And… yeah, it’s not as happy as the first one. This guy is the son of one of the masters whom she had crucified (against Ser Barristan and Ser Jorah’s advice) and now she realizes the world isn’t black and white, with slaveowners being bad and slaves all being good: sometimes the slaveowners are good people, who fought against cruelty to the slaves, who treated the slaves well. In attacking the city and doing what she did, she looks like a despot who is forcing the people to trade one cruel monarchy for another. We know Daenerys wants the best for people, wants to be loved, and cares about her people, which sets her apart from other rulers, but this job ain’t as easy as she thought it was going to be.

What did you think of the Daenerys scene, Chris?


“The last time I was in Mereen and I saw someone putting herself above everyone … we disagreed.”

Christopher: I thought it was very well done, and unlike much of this episode, more or less hewed to the novel (more or less—there were a few deviations, but it got the gist of things). Dany has placed herself in a difficult spot, insofar as that she wants to be a liberator, but in order to do so, she has to be a conqueror too. And she faces a quandary we see through much of history: in liberating one segment of a population, it is necessary to overturn the customs and structures of another, and however much the revolution might be guided by moral imperatives, chaos and injustice are inevitable. In the case of something like slavery, there are no neat solutions, as the institution of slavery itself deforms a society in myriad pernicious ways.

One of the things that is admirable about A Song of Ice and Fire is that GRRM doesn’t shy from this basic fact, but places it front and center. There is a lot in the depiction of Daenerys’ “liberation” of the slave cities that is cringeworthy—first and foremost being the image of an extremely white person playing magnanimous saviour to pitiable people of colour (the final shot from last year’s season finale exemplifies this)—but on the level of storytelling, the degree to which the entire process is shown to be fraught is well done. Hizdahr zo Loraq’s entreaty reminds us of the grey areas, that not everyone is as deserving of punishment as others. On the other hand, I wanted Daenerys to remind him that, whatever his father’s opposition to the crucifixions, he was still complicit in the institution of slavery. The defense “well, I didn’t want to go as far as the others did” isn’t really a viable one when it comes to war crimes.

The fates of Astapor and Yunkai are also poignant for us because they resonate with so much of what has happened in the past hundred years in terms of the legacies of colonialism and wars of choice like Iraq. Daenerys’ blithe assumption that those cities would become peaceable simply because she ousted their tyrants and liberated the oppressed reminds me of nothing more than the neocons’ naïve belief that all you have to do is overthrow a dictator and say “you’re a democracy now,” and suddenly there will be a Starbucks on every corner (yes, I’m oversimplifying). But to her credit, Dany at least recognizes her mistakes and attempts to come to grips with them. Will she succeed? I actually can’t say, because GRRM hasn’t gotten that far in the novels. But I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that things get much, much worse in Mereen before they gat better.

The cut-aways in this episode are quite good: from Ramsay to Daenerys, and from Daenerys’ struggles ruling to a meeting of the Small Council, with Oberyn taking up his new position there. His presence, as Tywin intended, is symbolic of the Seven Kingdoms finally resuming something resembling equilibrium … but for how long? The obvious antipathy between Mace Tyrell and Oberyn reminds us of long-standing feuds, and Oberyn’s own vendetta against the Mountain sneaks in with the mention of the Mountain’s brother. And of course we hear tell of a new threat—Daenerys and her army and dragons. There is a palpable anxiety in the room when she is mentioned, in spite of Tywin’s attempt to dismiss her with the oddly (for him) naïve comment that dragons have not been a factor in war for three hundred years. Really, Tywin? What, do you think she’ll arrive on the shores of Westeros and the people will collectively say, “Oh, dragons are SO three centuries ago”? It’s tempting to think of that line as a stumble, but I’m more inclined to think of it as a betrayal of Tywin’s actual nervousness. After all, if “that Targaryen girl” does in fact return, Tywin Lannister becomes public enemy number one. He’s trying to reassure his people … but he’s also trying to reassure himself. And am I alone in sensing a little bit of goading glee in Oberyn when he tells everyone just how formidable the Unsullied are?

Oberyn is more and more becoming an intriguing character. Obviously Tyrion’s trial is the most spectacular part of this episode, but I loved the little exchange between Oberyn and Varys. It was very reminiscent, deliberately so, of Varys’ verbal fencing with Littlefinger. But where Baelish and Varys were politely implacable enemies, we don’t entirely know Oberyn’s intentions … and he doesn’t know Varys’, as we see in his somewhat clumsy attempt to feel him out. It is made very clear just why Varys is such a formidable player: like Littlefinger, Oberyn is ruled by desire. Where Littlefinger’s is focused, Oberyn’s are more diffuse and hedonistic; but in both cases, neither person can quite understand Varys, who is not ruled by his passions.

Oberyn: Everyone is interested in something.
Varys: Not me. When I see what desire does to people, what it’s done to this country, I am very glad to have no part in it. Besides, the absence of desire leaves one free to pursue other things.
Oberyn: Such as?
Varys: [looks significantly at the Iron Throne]

This exchange is wonderfully cryptic. He is after the throne itself? Isn’t that a direct contradiction of what he has just said? Or is there another, subtler meaning in that look?

What do you think, Nikki?


Nikki: One thing I love about doing these back and forth discussions with you is that almost every week, we write down exactly the same dialogue exchanges to be used later. The Varys/Oberyn (I can’t help but think of them as Dr. Evil and Mr. Sofia Vergara now… thank you Gay of Thrones) one I have written down word for word in my notes, just as you did. I, too, am intrigued by Oberyn and think he’s the best addition to the cast this year. He’s someone with his own ideas, who, like Tyrion at the beginning of season one, chases his passions and often gives the finger to political behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing that everyone else takes so seriously. For Oberyn, life is about joy and passion; he’ll sit on the Small Council and seems happy to do so, but only for him to get an inside view of the goings-on, and then toss out a bon mot or three (my favourite in this episode being when he comments that the Unsullied are powerful on the battlefield, not so much in the bedroom, ha!).

The scene between the two of them sizzles because every time we learn the tiniest little tidbit of Varys’s past life, it feels significant. Here he keeps his hands hidden inside his sleeves as always, and occasionally gives a little nod or quiet word to either affirm or deny Oberyn’s leading questions. But that nod to the throne at the end… wow. It certainly looked like he was admitting he was the dark horse who’d lately thrown his hat in the ring, but we know he’s been playing it all along. But does he actually want to sit on the throne, or be the trusted advisor to the one sitting on the throne? The line “the absence of desire leaves one free to pursue other things” is such a loaded one. Could he be referring to Tyrion: with Shae out of the way and stuck in a loveless marriage, there’s no passion or desire in his way. Or Jaime Lannister, who, post–rape scene, seems to have lost all desire for Cersei? Or does he mean himself? While everyone else is giving in to the very passion that Oberyn deems significant — including Lord Baelish, who despite his cunning, is still ruled by his unrequited love for Catelyn — Varys just slowly and quietly keeps his eye on the prize. The question is, what prize, exactly? And for whom?

He’s not the only one with his eye on the prize, however. Tywin holds many keys in this episode, and while he certainly shows his vulnerability in the Small Council scene when he waves off the dragons like they’re not important, as you pointed out, he’s back in charge when Jaime comes to him to plead for Tyrion’s life. In that scene Jaime comes storming in and thinks he’s trying to strong-arm his dad into a bargain: you let Tyrion go, I’ll step down from the Kingsguard, marry, and have children that will carry on the Lannister name. He thought that was his initial offer and that a negotiation would ensue, until Tywin triumphantly pronounces, “DONE!” and stops Jaime in his tracks. Jaime stepping down from the Kingsguard, Tyrion being banished to the Wall never to be seen again, and the Lannister name being carried on through the most viable genetic line Tywin had? Exactly what Tywin’s wanted all along. How much of this entire trial was simply a means for Tywin to get what he wanted?

The trial (hilariously sent up as The People’s Court in this week’s Gay of Thrones) is definitely the highlight of the episode, for sure, and one of the highlights of the entire series thus far, but it’s split up: we have the initial scene of Jaime walking Tyrion to the “courtroom” in handcuffs as per Tywin’s orders, with Tyrion announcing loudly, “Well . . . we mustn’t disappoint Father!” Note how when they’re walking down the aisle, someone defiantly shouts, “Kingslayer!” from the crowd. We assume the disdain in that person’s voice means the insult was being thrown at Tyrion, but notice the irony that it used to be the compliment they paid to Jaime Lannister. I guess whether Kingslayer is a good or bad word depends entirely on which king it was that you slayed.

In this scene, we get a parade of untrustworthy people lying through their teeth about Tyrion’s guilt, which is brilliantly played out as Tyrion sits small in the prisoner’s dock, the top of his head barely showing above the rail, listening to these people while not being able to defend himself. What did you think of Tywin’s control over the trial and Jaime in that scene I mentioned? Or the group of people who come out in the trial and what they said? How much of what they said do you think was directed by Tywin, or are they all speaking of their own volition?


Christopher: A little from column A, and a little from column B … As I mentioned before, though much of this episode departs from the novels, the trial unfolds practically word for word. And I should correct you on a specific point: the only person who actually lies outright is Shae. Everyone else more or less tells the truth, but tells it in such a way that puts Tyrion in the worst light possible. One interesting deviation from the novels is Pycelle producing Sansa’s necklace and declaring that the missing stone had left “traces” of the poison used to kill Joffrey (in my notes I’ve written “C.S.I.: King’s Landing”). I remember thinking, back when Littlefinger drops the necklace onto Dontos’ corpse, “Aren’t you worried that it will be found when the boat drifts ashore?” (in the novel, they burn Dontos and his boat to destroy the evidence). But on reflection I thought of course Littlefinger wants that damning evidence to make its way back to King’s Landing—so much the better for him to strengthen his hold over Sansa, to make her appear more unequivocally guilty (not that Cersei et al really need more evidence).

The most heartbreaking witness (besides Shae, of course) is Varys, who relates precisely Tyrion’s words to Joffrey after news of Robb Stark’s death, but then also colours his testimony with a little speculation, musing that perhaps Tyrion’s marriage to Sansa had made him sympathetic to the North. That, for me, is always such a painful moment (in the novel as well), specifically because of what Tyrion reminds Varys of—that Varys had been Tyrion’s friend and had thanked him for saving the city. But Varys is in no position to aid Tyrion, as he’s already warned him … whatever power he wields is tenuous, and in spite of his seemingly omniscient capacity to obtain intelligence, he cannot openly thwart powerful people. And so he will have to play Tywin’s game. None of which makes his testimony less damning or less painful for Tyrion, which prompts his question and Varys’ response—neither of which, I should note, are in the books. “Have you forgotten?” he demands. Varys’ answer is as hauntingly cryptic as his earlier discussion with Oberyn: “Sadly, my lord, I never forget a thing.”

How amazing is Conleth Hill in this role? As I’ve observed before, he’s nothing like the Varys of the novels except for his baldness. Oberyn could be excused for making assumptions about the sexual preferences of the novels’ Varys, who plays the part of a simpering, mincing, effeminate castrato. Conleth Hill’s Varys possesses a quiet dignity. I don’t know which version is better: the powdered, fluting Varys, it becomes apparent in the novels, is merely a performance, one mask worn by a master of disguise. We have not yet seen any chameleon-esque tendencies in Hill’s Varys, but that implacable equilibrium he radiates makes him such a compelling character—especially when displayed in contrast to the histrionics of those around him.

And then we cut to Tywin and Jaime, and it is a scene that, as you say Nikki, makes one wonder just how subtle Tywin is. Even given how much he hates Tyrion and is shamed by his very existence, it seems unlikely that Tywin would be so eager to see his flesh and blood executed for treason. And yet, that is precisely how the trial appears to be weighted: the deck has been stacked very neatly against him, and every avenue Tyrion might take in his own defense blocked. There seems no chance whatsoever of a not guilty verdict. And so Jaime pleads with his father for a way out, a chance for Tyrion to take the black. As you say, Nikki, Jaime presents his offer of leaving the Kingsguard and returning to Casterly Rock as the opening move in negotiations and is caught flat-footed by Tywin’s immediate acceptance. How much of the trial has been orchestrated by Tywin to arrive at this very resolution? It’s win-win-win for Tywin: the troublesome Joffrey replaced by the malleable Tommen, his despised son humiliated but not dead, exiled to the Wall, and his beloved son brought back into the fold to make a new generation of golden-haired Lannisters. Is he really that clever?

Perhaps not. Perhaps he then overplays his hand. Shae’s testimony is the most damning and the most mendacious, and that which most hurts Tyrion, provoking him to reject the whispered deal about taking the black and demanding trial by combat. There is little doubt that, even without Shae’s “evidence,” Tyrion is doomed. Shae is there to put the final nail in the coffin. Which makes me wonder: at whose behest is she betraying her erstwhile lover? Who brought her back? Did she return of her own accord to revenge herself on Tyrion’s final words? Was she captured, and gives this false testimony in exchange for her life? If so, who put those words in her mouth? Tywin? Is Tyrion’s father doing this to make a perverse point about his whoring? Or is it Cersei’s doing, making absolutely certain that her hated brother dies?

What do you think, Nikki?


Nikki: When the doors opened and Shae walked in, my husband gasped loudly and my hands flew to my mouth, and I moaned, “Nooooo… not Shae!” It was an absolutely devastating moment, and the look on Tyrion’s face speaks volumes. Until then he’d become resigned to whom he was, what was happening to him, and just hoped that Jaime would come through for him. And then… Shae walked in.

You are absolutely correct that the people who come before Shae aren’t outwardly lying; when I said they were all lying about his guilt, I meant exactly that: they’ve taken his words out of context and suggested they were precursors to a murder he didn’t commit. They weren’t lying, but they were providing a misdirection by way of context. Tyrion took the poisons that Pycelle accuses him of, but that was to save the city during the Battle of Blackwater. Cersei quotes him out of context, as does Varys, and the soldier at the very beginning. All of their witness statements add up to a murderer proclaiming what he’s about to do . . . except the context in which each of those statements was uttered, of course.

But Shae . . . ugh. That was just so heartbreaking and painful, and I asked all the same questions you did. The day before the wedding, Shae is serving everyone at the dinner where Joffrey is given the sword, and Tyrion overhears Cersei telling Tywin that Shae is the whore she’d told him about. It’s in that very moment he decides he must save her life and send her away, but to do so he destroys her soul, making her despise him by calling her a whore and telling her she didn’t mean anything to him. I still think Dinklage’s performance in that scene is extraordinary: it’s one of the only times we ever see Tyrion outright lie about something, and every word that comes out of his mouth pierces his own heart even deeper than it pierces Shae’s. His voice cracks and is almost a growl by the end of the scene, and his face is screwed up with sorrow, which she takes to be disgust.

And now, days (weeks?) later, we see that he succeeded: she hates him. Varys whisked her away to another life, and now she’s back to exact her revenge. She never believed him when he told her exactly what they’d do to her if they found out she was his lover, yet she clearly believed every verbal dagger that spewed forth from his mouth in that terrible scene. To me, Varys is clearly at the bottom of this: he’s the only one who knew where Shae had gone to. And when he steps down from delivering his testimony and Tyrion asks him to recall that they were friends, he drops his head and says, “Sadly, my lord, I never forget a thing.” And clearly, he’s remembered Shae, where she went, and that by turning her over to Tywin and Cersei, he makes sure he gets more brownie points than ever before.

Was Tywin behind it? Cersei? They could have been in collusion to get her back, but I don’t think Tywin colludes with anyone, and I think Cersei’s been too drunk and in mourning to have actually gotten her act together to have created this conspiracy. I think it was Tywin, working with Varys to get her back.

Regardless of who did it (it was totally Tywin), the impact it has on Tyrion is immediate and horrifying. As her web of lies becomes more and more complicated, and eventually devolves into sordid lies about their sexual acts (which is where Oberyn sits up and starts becoming interested), Tyrion is not only feared and hated, but mocked. He becomes the laughing stock of the courtroom, and if he wasn’t already tiny inside that prisoner’s dock, he shrinks further in this moment. “Shae . . .” he finally says. “Please, don’t.” It’s the only time he begs, the only time he asks for someone to stop torturing him. He stood silent and in shock as Cersei pointed at him at the Purple Wedding and was walked away. He told Jaime and anyone who would visit him that he was innocent, but he never rattled his jail cell bars or screamed his innocence to passersby. He strode into the courtroom, silent, and never yelled, “THIS IS NOT TRUE” when people took the witness stand. But now, quietly, he begs her to stop lying, to stop breaking his heart.

But she’s only doing what he’d done to her. Lying to break his heart, to make him hate her the way he made her hate him. The difference is, he was trying to save his life, and Shae is trying to have him killed. “I am a whore, remember?” she fires back at him. And that’s when he realizes that despite Shae’s betrayal, despite his father’s machinations to get him into this very spot, despite his sister’s coldness and failure to see the truth, despite his innocence… he was the master of his own downfall. For he really DID say the things Cersei said he did. He DID take the poisons out of Pycelle’s store, even if it wasn’t for this and was ages ago. He DID call Shae a whore and turned her against him. He DID regularly use prostitutes and drink himself senseless and was everything his father ever accused him of being.

And it’s in that moment that he suddenly rises up. At first quietly, then in a booming voice, he says that he wishes to confess. “I am guilty,” he pronounces. “I’m guilty of being a dwarf. I’ve been on trial for it my entire life.” Jaime looks shattered, Shae looks like she has second thoughts about what she just did, Cersei remains stone-faced, and Tywin simply looks satisfied. As you said, Chris, he can’t have his son executed for treason, because while he wouldn’t care about losing the son, he wouldn’t want the blot on the family name. Instead he can send him to his certain death on the Wall. But… might Tyrion think he’d somehow won if he didn’t execute him? Hm… can’t have that. So… let’s destroy him from the inside. Tyrion’s outburst at the end of this episode is exactly what Tywin wanted: proof that he has triumphed over the son who was always too smart for his own good.

As Tyrion digs his hole deeper, turning to the disparaging and naïve citizens of King’s Landing, he tells them that he wishes he’d had the guts to kill King Joffrey, that he wishes he’d had enough poison to take out the whole lot of them. Amongst the gasps and oohs and aahs and chatter that rises up from the courtroom, you just see the look of quiet glee on Tywin’s face. And finally, to everyone’s surprise, he turns back to his father and tells him that he’s done with this, and demands a trial by combat. Cut to Jaime and that, “Oh… right” look on his face. Remember when you told Tyrion just a few episodes ago that if you’d been at the Eyrie you would have been his champion? Looks like you’re about to get called out on that.

I am positively giddy about the next episode. The ending of this was SO spectacular, so upsetting when it cut to credits (my “NOOOOOOO!!!” was heard throughout the neighbourhood) I just can’t wait until next week.

Near the beginning of the first book in the series, we are introduced to Tyrion Lannister when he has a conversation with Jon Snow about who has it worse: the dwarf or the bastard. And this is what GRRM writes:

[Tyrion] favored Jon with a rueful grin. “Remember this, boy. All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs.” And with that he turned and sauntered back into the feast, whistling a tune. When he opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king.

In this scene Tyrion once again stands tall, but makes himself the most hated man in King’s Landing. I mean, things can only get better from here, right? 😉

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Filed under Game of Thrones, television

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