Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 6 “The Laws of Gods and Men”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

It’s been a long time since the last episode. I’ve had a lot less free time since we got our puppy, Scully, and TV was one of the things to fall by the wayside. But things are returning to normality now and we had time to watch a new episode.

Meereen: A goatherd is herding goats, when a huge dragon appears and scorches his flock, carrying a burning goat off for tea. Later Daenerys is holding court for supplicants inside a grand pyramid. Ruling like a Queen, as she stated last time we saw her.

The goatherd approaches humbly, choosing his words carefully. He says he really, really likes dragons, but now that one has eaten his goats he has nothing and his family will starve. Daenerys generously says she will repay three times the value of the goats. The goatherd backs out in a flurry of genuflection and thank yous.

Next is a noble, one of the sons of the former city rulers. He begs to be able to take down the corpse of his father from the crucifixion stakes, where it is rotting in the sun, and give it a decent burial. Daenerys is defiant, saying that the rulers crucified children and let them rot in the sun, so they deserve no better. But the guy is the right mixture of flattering, humble, and appealing to her mercy, and says his father was actually against killing the children. Daenerys relents and lets him go bury his father. Daenerys, tired of seeing supplicants, asks how many more, and is told over 200. She sighs and calls for the next one.

Not much to be gleaned from this scene, except that this new noble might be catching Daenerys’s eye. Also perhaps Daenerys might get bored of ruling like a queen and decide sooner or later that she should go do some more conquering.

Braavos: Stannis is on a ship, sailing beneath the legs of an enormous statue of an armoured man, into an impressive harbour surrounded by a large city. We haven’t seen this place before. It turns out that it’s Braavos, home of the Iron Bank that we hear so much about – the bank that funded Tywin’s armies, which he cannot now repay.

Stannis has an audience with some of the men who run the Bank. He asks for a loan to finance his army. The main Bank guy asks how many men and ships he has, and Stannis answers. Then he asks how much food Stannis grows on the bare island of Dragonstone, and Stannis admits none. The Bank guy denies his request. We see the Bank’s disdain for the trappings of power and foreign kings. Here in Braavos, money is the only ruler. THe man has no title, but dismisses Stannis and his claim to the Iron Throne with almost contempt.

Ser Davos intervenes and makes the point that Tywin is old, and Tommen too young. When Tywin dies, there will be a power vacuum, and the only man with a valid claim to the throne and the strength to take it will be Stannis. This seems to be enough for the Bank guy to reconsider. It seems they want to back a winner, but they don’t have the full story of what is happening in Westeros or the savvy to interpret the winds of change without being told. This seems like a weakness for the Iron Bank, perhaps a serious one. Personally, if they were really on top of things, I reckon they’d be backing Daenerys. So I see this as the Iron Bank not being as all-powerful as reputed.

Later, Davos approaches an old friend who is relaxing in the city baths with several women of apparently easy virtue. He invites him to join their fleet. It seems Stannis now has money, and more men. I guess he’ll consider mounting another attack on King’s Landing some time soonish. We’ll have to see what Melisandre has to say about that.

Wherever it is Ramsay Snow/Bolton is: Yara Greyjoy gives a rousing pre-battle speech to a squad of men rowing boats along the river to the castle where Ramsay has Theon captive. She invokes the name of Greyjoy and says they won’t leave without Theon. Meanwhile, Ramsay is inside getting sadomasochistic pleasure from a woman.

On the battlements, a guard listens to the drifting sounds of Ramsay and the woman, when a grappling hook appears over the wall. He investigates and gets an axe in the face for his effort. Yara’s forces overrun the castle. She grabs a hostage and demands to be taken to Theon in the dungeons. THe hostage says he isn’t in the dungeons and leads her to… the kennels! Theon is caged next to the dogs. She releases him, but he doesn’t want to leave the cage. Ramsay’s brainwashing has been effective, and he fights against Yara to stay, and denies being Theon, saying his name is Reek.

Ramsay and some guards arrive, triggering an all-in fight. Ramsay takes part bare-chested, with dozens of scars visible all over his upper body – presumably from his weird predilections. With everyone else in armour, and swinging hard steel weapons, Ramsay is either suicidal or stone cold crazy, or both. Despite his lack of armour, he is one of the last standing, in a stand-off with Yara. But Ramsay has the key to the dog cages, and releases the hounds, sending Yara fleeing. Retreating back on the river, the men ask her what happened,, why are they leaving without Theon. She answers that Theon is dead.

Later, Ramsay offers Theon a reward for his loyalty – a bath. Theon is reluctant at first, but settles in. Ramsay says he’s happy with Reek, and has a job for him. They need to capture another castle or something, and Ramsay needs Reek to pretend to be someone he isn’t: Theon Greyjoy. I’m not sure what this new place is, but presumably it’s somewhere loyal to the Greyjoys, who might be fooled by Theon.

King’s Landing: Lord Varys has news from his little birdies. He says Sandor “The Hound” Clegane is on the loose (remember, he’s taking Arya to the Eyrie to meet her aunt Lysa). Tywin asks how much it would take to capture him, and Varys says nobody would consider taking on The Hound for less than 10 gold. Tywin sets the bounty at 100. Varys also says Daenerys has now conquered Meereen, and Tywin should be careful of her growing power.

Tyrion’s trial for the murder of Joffrey begins, with Tommen recusing himself, leaving Tywin, Prince Oberyn, and some other old guy as judges. A bunch of witnesses give evidence, including Maester Pycelle testifying rather naively about his store of poisons being raided, Cersei telling stories about how Tyrion always hated Joffrey and more or less suggesting it would be nice if he died, and Varys conveniently omitting some truths to make Tyrion sound more guilty. Pycelle is naive, Cersei is out for (misguided) revenge, but I don’t know what Varys’s motivation here is. Stir the pot and watch the world burn? No, Varys seems smarter than that – what he wants is stability so he can manipulate things from behind the scenes. I guess he thinks Tyrion is a wild card and best dealt with.

It’s not going well for Tyrion. In a recess, Jaime pleads with Tywin not to execute Tyrion. He says that if he commutes the sentence to exile to Castle Black and Tyrion joining the Nights Watch, Jaime will renounce his position as King’s Guard and take up the hereditary title of the Lannisters, and go produce an heir. I guess he half doesn’t expect Tywin to accept, but Tywin accepts all too readily, backfooting Jaime somewhat. Tywin says Jaime must depart for Casterly Rock and look after the Lannister lands there. Jaime suddenly realises this means leaving Cersei, but he manfully agrees.

Jaime goes to tell Tyrion to plead for mercy when the verdict is announced, saying that Tywin has agreed to send him to Castle Black rather than execute him. But the next witness is a shocker. Shae appears, saying she was Sansa’s handmaiden, and overheard Tyrion and her plotting to kill Joffrey. Then she reveals she was his whore, and Tyrion had depraved desires that Sansa didn’t satisfy. Basically, she sticks the knife in and twists it.

Well! We knew a few episodes ago when Tyrion sent Shae away for her own safety that she might come back to haunt him in a tragic fit of misunderstanding. And here it is. And looking back on my notes of that episode, I see again that it was Varys who masterminded the split between Tyrion and Shae. Hmmmmm. It becomes much clearer that Varys really wants to get rid of Tyrion – that’s blatantly obvious now. It makes me wonder again just what Varys’s end game is.

Tyrion can’t take much more of this. He breaks down and launches into a tirade, denouncing Tywin and Cersei, and saying he’s always been picked on because of being a dwarf. He denies killing Joffrey, says he refuses to be judged by men, and demands that the gods judge him, in trial by combat.

Well! The end of the episode leaves us dangling here. I presume this demand must be accepted. Which opens the question of who will be chosen to fight against him. The obvious answer is Jaime. Which places Jaime between a rock and a hard place. He’s the only Lannister who genuinely knows what Tyrion is really like and doesn’t want to see him killed, but taking a dive and letting Tyrion win would be virtual suicide, figuratively if not literally. His reputation and position at court would be eroded badly by losing to a dwarf.

And there we are! I look forward to another new episode soon.

One Response to “Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 6 “The Laws of Gods and Men””

  1. Glen Barnett says:

    If I remember the episode correctly, “some other old guy” would be Margaery’s dad, Mace Tyrell. He doesn’t speak much but he’s in a lot of scenes.

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