Contains spoilers, naturally.
When the previews for Season 4 of Game of Thrones appeared, they came with a memorable tag line: Valar Morghulis. All men must die. Tell us something we don’t know. But this line wasn’t just in memory of the last three seasons of slaughter. It was a warning for Season 4. No one is safe. Not kings, not the ‘good guys’, and not your favourites.
This brings us nicely to ‘The Laws of Gods and Men’. Fan favourite, Tyrion Lannister is on trial for the killing of King Joffrey. Instead of being given a parade, a statue, and enough honours to fill Blackwater Bay, his life is on the line. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t do it, the realm needs someone to blame. Who better than an outcast?
However, before we get to the trial, we have other issues to address. Stannis ‘the Mannis’ Baratheon needs money; that giant army doesn’t come cheap, you know. So, he’s off to the Iron Bank in Braavos. Let’s talk for a second about Braavos, because you’re going to be seeing more of it later in the season. Braavos is a free city – that is, not under the rule of the Iron Throne. It is also visually stunning. I’ve waxed lyrical about how beautiful the scenery of Game of Thrones is, but they outdo themselves here. The famous Titan, that greets visitors to the Essosian equivalent of Venice, is everything I visualised and more. It is perfection. The flaming crimson of Stannis’s sigil against the water city… eyegasm!
Side note: I wonder if the Titan has a fully sculpted cock and balls under his kilt. Imagine sailing under it. You’re going to look up, you can’t help yourself. Do you see a Ken doll stone crotch? Or fully sculpted stone balls? This has to be answered, Game of Thrones. The people want to know.
Let’s be honest here. Stannis may be the Mannis, but he is not a people person. Trying to persuade people to give you money requires a certain je ne sais quoi. Tywin Lannister could sell ice to the Wall with his charm and persuasion. Stannis couldn’t – he’s as cold and intimidating as the Iron Throne. So, it’s up to Davos to… wait… is that Mycroft Holmes from Sherlock? Yes, viewers, it is – and Davos manages to persuade him that Stannis is the Mannis to give money to. I love Davos, and you should too. He is so loyal, and so honest, that you have to admire Stannis for winning this man over. I may be cursing the man to say this, but if anyone makes it out of Game of Thrones alive, I hope it’s Davos. He represents all that is good in this show.
Hey, look, viewers. It’s a brothel scene, and there isn’t even a hint of rape. There are pirates, there are… is that Ros? My alter ego, @GameOverRos, nearly resurrected herself with joy. Not to be, unfortunately. What is dead, in this case anyway, is going to stay dead.
At the end of last season, we saw Asha/Yara Greyjoy vow that she was going to rescue her brother from the clutches of Ramsay Snow. She was going to bring him home. The preview of ‘The Laws of Gods and Men’ promised an almighty fight. The fiery warrior queen going up against the icy monster. Yet, it wasn’t to be. I’ll confess a huge disappointment in seeing Asha/Yara retreating. The build-up, the potential, the hope of seeing Ramsay getting his sadistic little ass handed to him… for nothing.
Yet, there is a point – and it breaks my heart. Theon Greyjoy, that smiling, arrogant boy from the first two seasons, is dead. The man that lives on in his place is Reek. The game of thrones is a cruel game, and Theon is certainly paying for his sins. The scene with Ramsay shows a man whose body is marked with scars. Don’t get me wrong, the scenes are beautifully written but they are unbearable, as a Theon fan, to see.
Then it is time for the trial of Tyrion Lannister. Time for the man to face ‘The Laws of Gods and Men.’ We all knew that the trial would make compelling viewing. Tyrion Lannister is everyone’s favourite Lannister. He’s the witty, sharp character who we all admire and, secretly, wouldn’t mind being like. However, he is not popular in Westeros. He’s the hated dwarf, the outcast, the misfit – the perfect scapegoat for regicide.
We watch in horror as, one by one, the witnesses takes the stand. A series of witnesses with their own vendetta, or their own agenda. Not a single word is raised in defence of Tyrion. Except Jaime Lannister. After some consideration, I’ve decided to pretend That Scene didn’t happen. Jaime is still on his redemption arc, and the display of love for his brother is beautiful to see. This man would give up his Kingsguard dream so that his brother may live. This is the one glimmer of hope in an agonising episode.
Until it is dashed. The big witness was just being kept until Tywin got what he wanted – Jaime as the heir to Casterly Rock. Cue the drum roll. The big witness to seal Tyrion’s fate is… Shae. To quote The Simpsons, you can see the exact moment when Tyrion’s heart is shattered. Bedecked in one of Sansa’s old dresses, Shae is the image of virginity and honesty. She takes her place on the stand, and she tells the sweetest little lies of how Tyrion and Sansa conspired to kill Joffrey. Then she twists the knife, mocking Tyrion’s words of love. ‘I am a whore,’ she declares. Take it from a girl who knows – treacherous whores don’t last long in Game of Thones. Valar Whore-gulis.
Then, the moment that will, if there is any justice in the world, win Peter Dinklage another Emmy. The ‘guilty’ speech. ‘I am guilty of being a dwarf,’ he declares to a shocked throne room. To Cersei, he says ‘watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores.’ If Tyrion is going to die, he’s going out with a blaze of glory. ‘I want trial by combat.’
Trial by Combat. We’ve seen this a few times. Last time Tyrion chose Trial by Combat, we were introduced to Bronn. Will he choose Bronn as his champion again? Or is the twinkle in a certain Oberyn Martell’s eye hinting at something else? In Trial by Combat only one man can survive. All men must die in the game of thrones. The question is – who is it going to be? Whatever happens, it is going to be awesome.