A brilliant episode with a blazing second-half and an impressive performance. There is no Wall here but the focus shifts to a new location- Braavos is finally on the GOT map, rolling coins and a gargantuan swordsman statue announce the new locale.
“You can see why these numbers seem to add up to an unhappy ending from our perspective”
A CGI shot of Stannis and Davos sailing through the gates of Braavos opens the latest GOT episode. Stannis and Davos request the faceless, merciless Iron Bank of Braavos for a loan. Mark Gatiss has been cast as the bank representative. Cunning and cleverness he portrays well but falling into the skin of an Iron Banker did not come across as his strongest point to me. Nevertheless, Davos manages to point out quite convincingly that since Tywin is the real brains behind the King’s Landing farce, his death would create quite an un-fillable void with a pre-teen king, his wicked and despised mother, a dwarf on trial for king-slaying and a man who is a proven kingslayer. He puts up a strong case for Stannis. This is followed by a generous display of unnecessarily nude women but that is necessary for GOT of course.
“As long as they can hurt our prince with impunity, the word Ironborn means nothing”
Elsewhere, Asha Greyjoy sets out to bring back her brother from the hands of Ramsay (now Bolton). She shakes up her men into action but on confronting Theon, who keeps chanting ‘I am Reek’ and refuses to accept that this could be anything but another ruse meant to test him, she realizes how far gone he is. Although she wouldn’t have left him to his own fate, Ramsay’s entrance compels her to take leave. ‘My brother is dead’, she declares, once out. And Reek remains with Ramsay.
“I need you to play a role. To pretend to be someone you’re not. Theon Greyjoy.”
The strongest competitor for Most Evil Game of Thrones Character, Ramsay Bolton and Reek share another scene that was almost painful to watch. Ramsay draws out a bath for Theon, something the poor creature has been denied throughout his long and painful imprisonment. You would think this was a good thing but it is hurtful to watch Ramsay’s taunting glare as he makes Theon strip and then looks him over, lingering at where his man-parts were supposed to be. It is a physical relief to watch Theon sink into the tub and imagine how it must feel to have your filthiness washed away after so long. But Ramsay’s torture does not stop there. He brings out a wet cloth and proceeds to rub it down the trembling Theon’s back before crooning on about how he wants Reek to do something important for him. Storm a stronghold. The Stockholm syndrome-affected Theon is more than eager to follow any orders his lord gives him.
“Your Grace, I cannot defend the actions of the Masters. I can only speak to you as a son who loved his father.”
In Meeren Daenerys has set up court to deal with the grievances of her new subjects. Even as civilians seek repayment for the goats her dragons seem to devour, we are introduced to Hizdahr zo Loraq who begs to have the right to bury his father with dignity. Daenerys is faced with a long and tedious line of applicants with problems that need to be settled and as a queen, she squares herself for the daunting task, simultaneously still refusing to accept any wrong in the act of ordering the masters’ crucification.
“Lord Tyrell, be a good man. Fetch my quill and paper.”
Perhaps the funniest part all episode was the dignified and sycophanous Lord Tyrell relegate himself to the role of Lord Tywin’s personal assistant during a council meeting where Tywin is most definitely starting to worry about Daenerys and acknowledges the need to take some action to deal with her appropriately. Prince Oberyn looks on with twinkling fascination (his dark eyes swim with wit and sarcasm) while the exchange occurs.
“Besides, the absence of desire leaves one free to pursue other things.”
Glimpses into the workings of characters such as Lord Varys and Littlefinger are always interesting because they plot the most and say the least. The tiny exchange between Varys and Oberyn was interesting for the very same reason, even though it was redundant to the plot.
“Yes, father. I am guilty. I am guilty of a far more monstrous crime. I am guilty of being a dwarf. I have been on trial for that my entire life.”
I wish I was the monster you think I am.”
The most wonderful bits of the episode came out of Tryion’s trial- the whole thing is staged by Cersie, all the witnesses are hers and Tyrion seems to have given up before he started. While the trial keeps fishing out one insult after another against the best, kindest and most mature character in all of Westeros, the real shock for Tyrion comes when Shae walks in, distorting the truth into a horrible misshapen rubble by taking his words and twisting them around.
Jamie makes a good case for Tyrion, trying to protect him by offering his father the thing the man has desired for years- his resignation from the King’s Guard, his subsequent transfer to the seat of Casterly Rock, marriage to a suitable woman and grandsons who can carry on the Lannister name. Tywin is well pleased with this deal as long as Tyrion is ready to make a full confession and promises to pardon his dwarf-son and allow him to don the black of the Night’s Watch, in that case. Tyrion agrees to this although he realizes that this same futile deal had been offered to Ned Stark. But Jamie points out that Tywin is not Joffrey. However, he does hate his youngest-born and thinks of him as a deformed monster who stole his wife from him.
But Tyrion breaks down under the list of lies Shae spits out at him. That is finally when, broken beyond belief, he delivers an astounding performance to a courtroom full of people who hate him.
The irony of GRRM’s fantasy is that is forever persecutes the one character who can be the deliverance of the entire kingdom. The fact that this irony makes me love Tyrion all the more is because this is exactly how the real world works too. That is why Tyrion continues to be my favorite character on the show.
“I will not give my life for Joffrey’s murder and I know I will get no justice here. So I will let the Gods decide my fate. I demand a trial by combat.”
Until next week. Looks like next week is going to see some good Sansa-action. I hope!