The War of the Five Kings may be over, but conflict still thrives in Westeros. This week’s episode focuses on resolving some of the tensions that have been building for in regards to purpose and intention. By resolve, I mean make things ten times worse. These resolutions come with very real consequences, which our most beloved and most hated characters will not doubt reap. With a child-king on the throne, dragons growing larger by the year, brothers choosing sides and fighters moving forward, Westeros is no closer to a long-term king than in season one. Did you notice we heard 3 would-be rulers introducing themselves as rightful ruler of Westeros? Yeesh. These are the Seven Kingdoms, friends.
Stannis and Davos sail to Braavos from Dragonstone to meet with the leaders of the Iron Bank. And then I’m all ermergerd Mark Gatiss!! Finally, we find out that Mark Gatiss’ role is as Tycho Nestoris, the gate keeper of funds for the Iron Bank. While Stannis is his usually, unfriendly self, Davos continues to be the champion for his king even as the bankers refuse to hand over gold to fund a war that is considered over. While the pragmatic banker declines to give Stannis funds initially, it seems he may have been swayed. In the scene directly following, Davos finds his pirate friend, Sallhador Saan, and asks for his help. When Sallhador jokingly laments that his friend Davos is no friend at all but an enemy who wants him dead and poor, Davos throws down an impressive amount of gold, which I’m assuming means the Iron Bank is now backing Stannis instead of the Lannisters. It is nice to see Davos working to unify these dueling parts of his personality represented by Stannis his just King and Sallhador, Davos’ smuggler friend. Audiences may have forgotten how Davos came to be so true to Stannis, but Davos has not. Stannis is just and honest and Davos does not question Stannis’ intentions (except with the Red Woman) because he trusts his King’s judgement and is quick to say when he does not. I do appreciate Stannis’ claim to the throne and Davos’ arguments for his right, but Stannis is such a surly man, will the funds of the Iron Bank be enough to buy him loyalty?
Speaking of loyalty, Yara/Asha Greyjoy sails to Dreadfort to rescue her brother, Theon, after Ramsay Snow writes to threaten her family to give up any claim on the North. Unfortunately, when Yara attempts to get her brother, the newly named “Reek”, to leave with her, he has no desire to exit the cage his new master has given him. Yara fights bravely, but eventually flees when Ramsey releases the dogs on her and her remaining men, leaving her brother and declaring him dead. Reek seems to have lost his mind, but remains loyal to the sadistic Ramsay, even after the mental and physical abuse at his hand. After the Iron Born run back to the Iron Islands, Reek is given a bath by the hands of Ramsay and a request. The psychopath asks Reek to return to the Iron island and “pretend” to be Theon Greyjoy for the love of Ramsay Snow, Reek’s true master. If he returns to his home is yet to be seen, but for Reek to refuse escape with his sister in lieu of staying in his cage at Dreadfort speaks volumes as to what this man has become.
Across the Narrow Sea
In Mereen, Daenerys has become Queen and she participates in her royal duties, beginning by seeing supplicants. First, it is a goatherder who lost his flock to one of her dragons. Dany relates well to people in need and so she promises him three times the value of his goats. Second comes a Mereen nobleman to ask for the body of his father, who was crucified when Daenerys stormed the castle.
“Is it justice to answer one crime with another?” –Hizdahr zo Loraq (nobleman of Mereen)
The Khaleesi does not like being questioned about her actions, but ruling an empire is not always simple black and white decisions. Loraq claims his father abhorred the practice of crucifying slave children, and for the first time this season, Daenerys looks uncertain. She grants Loraq the request to bury his father, and then reluctantly begins to move through over 200 subjects from Mereen who have asked to be seen by the Queen. While she is cruel yet just, Daenerys Targaryen is also young and inexperienced in the ways of ruling a kingdom. It seems time stationed in Mereen can only help her become a stronger contender for the Iron Throne.
Back at King’s Landing, the Small Council is meeting and preparing as Tyrion begins his trial for regicide. At the Small Council, we see Varys, who has been gathering information on Daenerys from his “little birds”. While Cersei quickly dismisses the Khaleesi as a child with baby dragons, her father understands the power behind the name Targaryen as well as the practical power Daenerys has with her Unsullied and Second Son army. Prince Oberon, a new member of the Small Council, finds Varys after the meeting and has a discussion about desire and sexuality with Varys–who admits to being asexual. Varys claims even before his castration, he had no desire for men or women, because he has seen what desire can do to the country of Westeros. Without it, Varys claims, he can pursue “other things”. The question remains, what is it that Varys hopes to get out of playing the Game of Thrones? Although he glances somewhat longingly at the Iron Throne, what sort of claim could a eunuch hope to have to the kingdom?
Later on in the throne room, Jamie brings his brother to trial shackled at the request of their father, and while there are many who want him to die, there are others who realize Tyrion is innocent. Still, as often is at King’s Landing, innocence is less important that long term intentions. Tyrion did not like Joffrey. He recognized his nephew as a monster and said so at numerous junctures. It just happens that the same people whom Tyrion punished as corrupt when he held the position of the King’s Hand are the witnesses to his threatening outbursts, and they want retribution. When confronted with a question of the truth in her statements about Tyrion, Cersei lies to the judges in order to secure her brother’s execution. Even Shae testifies against him, reminding audiences that yes, Tyrion called her a whore, but, to be fair, she was at one point. Although Tyrion has been the only Lannister (besides Tywin) who has legitimately attempted to do good for his family and for Westeros, his good intentions are not good enough. Even Jamie recognizes that his brother will be convicted of Joffrey’s murder if things continue in the same way, and so he barters with his father for his resignation from the Kingsguard for Tyrion’s life at the Wall as a Crow. The only hope on the judges panel is the Dornish Prince Oberon, who is shrewd and honest, yet as a stranger to the city. He cannot know the deep seated rivalries within the Lannister household and has no way of knowing who is telling the truth. With a seat on the Small Council and a stake in King’s Landing, it seems he could possibly be swayed to believe the lies against the younger Lannister brother, but we GoT fans carry a torch of hope that someone we love will make it out of this story alive, or else we wouldn’t have gotten this far, am I right?
The scene in the throne room has to be one of the most well shot scenes so far this season. The body language of Maergery, Cersei, Tyrion and Oberon (among others) create an atmosphere of building tension, and as Shae finishes telling the blatant lies against her ex-lover, Tyrion has had enough and says as much.
AND FOR THIS SCENE, GIVE PETER DINKLANGE AN EMMY.
Tyrion tells the room that he is not on trial for killing Joffrey, because he is innocent of that. No, he is on trial for being a dwarf, and the pain in Dinklage’s face at this speech is raw and powerful. Tyrion has never been good enough for his father, his sister or the kingdom. He spent all of season 3 working his ass off as the King’s Hand to a psychopath, only to be quickly demoted and never thanked, as soon as Tywin returns to King’s Landing. Tyrion cannot find love outside of the brothel, and so, when he falls in love with a whore, he is shunned and chastised by his family, his wife killed, his lovers threatened. Even Cersei acknowledged to Margaery Tyrell that Joffrey was a monster, and yet she bribes and cajoles everyone she can to ensure her brother’s execution for a crime there is really no evidence he committed. Tyrion decides he will not be judged in such an unfair fashion and prefers to be judged by the gods and so he asks for his right for a trial by combat. Whether he will actually fight or be denied this right by his father, we do not know. What we do know is that, in Westeros, truth and justice are less valued than money and power, and there are consequences for every action, however fair.
xoxo The Collectiva Diva
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