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television -> Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 6 review

Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 6 review

The Laws of Gods and Men

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Although it dipped in ratings by almost 800,000 viewers (and we aren’t counting downloads), director Alik Sakharov’s first “Game of Thrones” episode this season treated followers to what was perhaps the most satisfying moment televised in 2014.  Peter Dinklage’s performance as Tyrion Lannister proves nothing short of another Golden Globe victory.  Dinklage never misses a note as Tyrion, bringing the page to life more than any other performer on the show. (Kristian Nairn’s Hodor is a close second.) We missed Tyrion last week more than we ever possibly imagined.  However, we’re missing quite a few primaries: Arya & the Hound, Sansa & Littlefinger, Jon & Sam, and Bran’s outfit in favor of secondary characters such as Stannis & Davos, Reek & Ramsay, and Yara. This episode continues the seasonal theme, “Valar Morghulis—All Men Must Die,” with another long, epic end sequence featuring Dinklage as Tyrion stands trial accused by his sister, the Queen Regent Cersei Lannister (a lights out, flawlessly cold Lena Headey), for murdering the former King Joffrey.  Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys appears as the only other primary character.

The episode begins with Stannis’ flag depicting his “Baratheon stag in a burning heart of R’hllor” sigil. Stannis and Davos’ ship sails into Braavos as the two men wait for the untimely Tycho Nestoris (the stoic, disagreeable Mark Gatiss- “Sherlock,” writer of “Doctor Who”). Stannis demands a loan from the Iron Bank as a blood right being the true claimant following Robert’s death. Nestoris disagrees until Davos points out just how poor of a decision a Lannister investment looks on paper with an aging Tywin and unpopular heirs in Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion. The Onion Knight then removes the glove on his fingerless hand and presents his lack of digits to demonstrate just how serious Stannis gets about paying debts.  Did Tycho agree? Davos drops in on pal Salladhor Saan to re-recruit him with some serious coin. My only question is: Who is Stannis’ heir? He isn’t a spring chicken himself and doesn’t appear in a hurry to conceive a male heir. Perhaps an oversight by the Iron Bank?  Although Tycho comes to Stannis in the books, the change of scenery to Braavos certainly looked more than welcome.

Tycho

Cut to Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) and a small band of Iron Islanders in row boats off the coast of the Dreadfort.  She reads Ramsay Snow’s letter to her crew in an effort to motivate them as they attempt to break Theon (oh, she had no idea) out of prison.  They find what was once Theon Greyjoy in a cage among the dogs.  Reek instinctively distrusts Yara like a trained dog—always loyal to the master because his trust has been completely removed in favor of fear.  Reek’s fear of Ramsay has eliminated Theon Greyjoy. He bites his former sister. A fight completely original to the series breaks out among the Bolton men and Iron Islanders. As Yara and a couple more Iron Islanders stand to fight, Ramsay makes a rather obvious comparison between Theon and Yara.  Roose’s bastard releases the dogs. Exit Yara as she declares, “My brother is dead,” onboard her rowboat as she escapes to Pyke. Presumably for a potential Kingsmoot?

Ramsay presents Reek with a “treat” shortly after the sneak attack in the form of a bath.  Reek cautiously approaches the bath, expecting a trap from the sadistic bastard. However, like a trained pet, Reek is far more fearful of the repercussions for disobeying an order.  As he bathes Reek, Ramsay asks his pet if he loves him? Reek says he does. Ramsay then tells his pet to play “Theon Greyjoy” for him next.

Yara

A boy goatherd gets the surprise of a lifetime when a dragon rises above a cliff, torches a goat by breathing fire, and absconds with the goat in its jaws.  We jump straight to the boy’s father presenting Daenerys with a legitimate complaint; she pays him thrice what he believed he was owed. Hizdahr zo Loraq makes his first appearance following the goatherd, asking for the bones of his father who was the architect of the Khaleesi’s very throne room. Selmy and Jorah hang out and look cool in the background.

After a small council meeting introducing Oberyn Martell and Mace Tyrell as new members, old news is discussed about The Hound being alive & hating the king and “the Targaryen guhl” as everyone in Westeros calls her beside Varys.  Varys and Oberyn then discuss the Unsullied, asexuality, and the evident throne before Jaime gathers Tyrion and King Tommen steps down in favor of a jury made up of Tywin, Mace, and the Red Viper.  I could go on about the questioning, witnesses surprise (Shae and Varys) and kneejerk (Cersei, Meryn Trant, Pycelle), and the following, terrific scene where Jaime and Tywin negotiate Jaime’s retirement to Casterly Rock so he can father “Lannister” children as Tywin specified.  All Tyrion has to do is confess and join the Night’s Watch to take the black and he’ll survive the Crown’s justice, however I don’t suspect Tywin ever intended to kill Tyrion beyond his agreement with Jaime.  

Tyrion

Instead, and all that really matters, is that Tyrion Lannister becomes humiliated to a point of mental and moral liberation.  He airs grievances like it was Festivus in King’s Landing.  Peter Dinklage owns Tyrion Lannister as he takes credit for saving their lives at the Battle of Blackwater, wishing he let Stannis kill them all and had killed Joffrey himself. He admits that he has no knowledge of Sansa Lannister/Stark having any involvement in the murder.  All Tyrion confesses is that he’s guilty of being a dwarf and has been on trial for it his entire life.  Tywin shrugs it off, but his son knows all-too-well.   Instead of ignoring Jaime’s advice to take the unproven, deadly Ned Stark method of confessing a crime he didn’t commit so as to take the black, Tyrion calls for the gods to decide as he won’t die for Joffrey’s sake and demands trial by combat. Quick cut to an interested Oberyn, then a shocked Jaime. Hmm. Lots to ponder. 

Peter Dinklage chews up the last two and a half minutes of the episode.  Although Tyrion’s trial is over a period of days in A Storm of Swords, an entire season’s worth of material unravels in one ending sequence. The trial for Joffrey’s murder was more fulfilling and entertaining than watching the death itself all thanks to Tyrion.  All men must die—whose turn is next? We hope it isn’t Tyrion Lannister in a show beginning to take much more liberties with the broad strokes of “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R. R. Martin’s material.

Keywords: The Laws of Gods and Men, Game of Thrones, HBO, Peter Dinklage, Tyrion Lannister
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