May 12 2014

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

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

laws1

This may have been the least globe-hopping we’ve seen out of Game of Thrones in a while, with only a select few locations being visited this week. We checked in with a few long lost parties, and concluded with the trial of the century. More on that later.

First, we’ll start with Davos and Stannis, who have made the journey across the Narrow Sea to Braavos to…secure a bank loan?

It does seem rather odd in the world of Game of Thrones that a would-be king literally sits down with essentially a customer service rep to try and procure a loan that might win him the kingdom. But that is how the world works, as evidenced by the fact that Tywin Lannister has essentially done the same thing.

Davos pitch for Stannis was absolutely amazing, and perfectly tailored for his audience, portraying Stannis as the most level-headed potential king in the land, and far more likely to pay his debts than the Lannisters, despite their eternal motto.

I wondered when Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss was going to show up this season, and I actually thought he’d be paying Tywin a visit personally to try and collect his debt. I suppose there’s still time for that in the future. Expect the Iron Bank to be a big player in the future, and now that Stannis has enough gold for an army, he’s back in the game. The question is, what’s his next move?

I was less than impressed with Asha’s failed attempt to invade the Dreadfort to rescue Theon, now Reek to the point where he can’t even imagine NOT being Reek, and he thinks the rescue is some elaborate trick by Ramsay to test his loyalty. I just think the scene was poorly set up, with the entire raid coming down to a brief hallway conflict and Asha being chased away by dogs. I guess I understand her rationale for leaving her clearly psychotic brother behind, but from all her tough talk I just find it hard to believe that she’d leave his tormentor alive because of a few hounds. The whole sequence was just awkward. I am curious as to what Ramsay has planned for Reek now. What castle is he trying to take?

laws2

Wait, why is he all bloody before the battle even starte….oh.

Dany is learning the hard way that being a queen kind of sucks, having dragons is expensive, and being ruthless can be shitty. She has to wade through a million requests of the citizens of Mereen, and though she laughs off having to pay the goat herder for his goats, if those dragons get much bigger she’s going to have to start paying a lot of goat herders.

The more pressing exchange was between her and that guy whose name I am in no way going to be able to pronounce or spell. In her slaughter of all the masters, it turns out she killed a few good apples too. The actor playing the son in question did a fantastic job more or less shaming her despite having no actual leverage. Someone from such an important family in the city and so charismatic could be trouble…

It always seemed like out of everyone trying to sit in the Iron Throne, she was actually the best candidate. But now? Her weaknesses, a quick temper and a lack of experience, are really revealing themselves as she just tries to rule over a single city. How can she be president when she can’t even be mayor?

The bulk of the episode was devoted to Tyrion’s trial for Joffrey’s murder, where every high ranking member of the court he’s ever screwed over came back to bite him in the ass. And actually, most of them were telling the truth. Tyrion had made a huge number of threats against Joffrey, and the physical evidence of Sansa’s necklace isn’t forged or falsified. He couldn’t look more guilty, and his father didn’t even have to set him up.

But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t going to.

laws3

“Oh come on!”

As many predicted, we saw the return of Shae, back with a vengeance to completely lie her ass off and bury Tyrion for good. This was less well set up in the book and it was sort of inexplicable why she turned on him, but on the show we saw them have several huge blowout fights including the one where he essentially banishes her. He’s doing it for the right reasons, but I can see how it’s a terrible betrayal from her perspective because he didn’t tell her anything at all. Therefore, her appearance here to stab him in the back makes sense (and likely comes with bonus gold and prizes from Tywin/Cersei as well).

Peter Dinklage absolutely demolished his final speech as Shae’s testimony made Tyrion snap completely. He had a way out, but even as rational as he is, his father using Shae against him sent him over the edge. Now, Tywin has essentially screwed himself because he likely had the idea from the beginning to exile Tyrion and have Jaime return to the family fold to sire some heirs. Now, Tyrion has demanded yet another trial by combat, and that option is out the window.

This whole scene was like a much darker, much more intense version of his impromptu trial at the Vale for attempting to murder Bran Stark. But this time who will be his champion? And who will they face? If you want to peruse through future episode titles, you may be able to guess the answer.

Book Stuff (Spoilers Ahoy)

– I don’t remember Stannis and Davos actually traveling to Braavos and meeting with the Iron Bank, but it was a great way to bring life to the organization at last, and also set up Braavos as a real place for when Sam and Arya head there later.

– Will Gatiss be the Iron Bank rep that eventually does come all the way to Westeros?

– Was that Asha raid of the Dreadfort in the books? I honestly can’t recall. This season Ramsay is only featured sporadically, but I have a hunch season five will be his year. Far, far more messed up than even Joffrey ever was. I almost thought he was just going to kill Asha then and there, and the whole (terrible) Iron Islands plotline from the later books would be erased completely.

– I’m wondering what they’re going to do to make, I don’t know, everything that happens with Dany from here on out less boring than it is in the books. When there are lulls in the source material (Jon Snow/Bran) the show seems to fill them, and I wonder what they have planned for her.

goats

Who thought he was going to eat the kid?

–  I knew Dinklage was going to nail that speech, but he absolutely murdered it. Some things are just more intense on screen than on the page, no matter how good the writing.

– Wasn’t there something significant about Shae’s necklace?

– Great scene between Varys and Oberyn that wasn’t in the books. I wonder when we’ll learn Varys’s true “origin story” on the show.

– I cannot wait for this goddamn combat trial with Oberyn and The Mountain. Also, calling for trial by combat always feels like cheating. Like what’s the point of having a trial? Wouldn’t you always just call for that if you knew you were obviously going to be convinced?

Tag comments with BOOK SPOILERS please.

 





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8 responses so far

  • Alex W

    Hizdahr zo Loraq is the guy’s name.

    BOOK SPOILERS

    I’m curious to see how Hizdahr will be portrayed moving forward. This intro is a big departure of how he was introduced from the books and paints him a bit more sympathetic than a dude that just wants to open the fighting pits to make money (and marry Dany).

    I do imagine that Mark Gatiss will be the banker that comes to Westeros since he is credited as Tycho Nestoris. My bet is that he travels with Stannis and Davos to the Wall for the battle against the wildlings, in order to have eyes on the Iron Bank’s investments.

    In the books Asha takes Deepwood Motte and holds it until Stannis’s army takes it from her. She’s reunited with Theon there, she never goes on this rescue mission.

    I don’t remember if there is anything special about Shae’s necklace during the trial. When Tyrion finds her in Tywin’s quarters she is wearing a necklace with the symbol of the Hand of the King and that is what he strangles her with.

    I also imagine that the note that Tywin wants smuggled into Mereen will be what clues Dany in on the fact that Jorah was a spy and leads to his exile from her company. Easy work around for the writers since in the show Ser Barristan doesn’t know about it.

    END BOOK SPOILERS

  • Mike

    Shaye is supposed to be wearing the necklace we saw Ros with in season 2 when Cersei thinks she’s the one Tyrion is hiding. I don’t think that was the Dreadfort Asha was at. Roose sent Ramsay and Reek to retake Deepwood Motte so I think this was just a stop along the way.

    • Mike

      After watching the episode again, it does look like they attacked the Dreadfort. My mistake.

  • Nick Ramsay

    I like the trial by combat plotlines. It’s the ultimate last resort – putting your life in the hand of the capricious gods. And the series has shown that the winner isn’t always who you’d think – surely the gods are having their say?

  • Jeff L

    ********* BOOK SPOILERS ***********

    The Asha/Yara going to rescue Theon thing isn’t in the books. The TV show is using it as a way to (a) keep Asha/Yara fresh in the viewers’ heads during a season where she’s mostly off-screen and to (b) show just how mind-f$cked Theon is.

    The Stannis/Davos Go to Bravos scene is new too. They’re pushing the wildling attack back a good ways so it can be the end-of-season big battle and they need to fill that gap up somehow. With Jon it was Craster’s Keep, with Stannis it’s burning people and sightseeing in Bravos.

    • Sargent

      Stannis did burn people in the books.

  • michelle fan

    I did not come up with this theory, I heard it from one of my workmates and it blew my mind. Tyrion will call out Oberyn to fight for him against the crown’s obvious choice, The Mountain, the man he wants dead the most.

  • MegaSolipsist

    Season 2 explained Varys’s origin story. That was the part where he had the guy in the wooden crate.

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