“The Laws of Gods and Men,” the sixth episode in Game of Thrones’ fourth season, had something missing from it, that up until now, had been a part of every episode—Starks (or half-Starks). For the first time, no Starks (Jon Snow included) appeared on screen, proving that the show has widened its scope considerably since its early days. Rather than watch the lost, wandering Starks come heartbreakingly close to one another, we were treated to a much greater event: Tyrion’s trial. You could almost see Peter Dinklage’s Emmy nomination appear. Tyrion’s deflation when Shae takes the stand serves as yet another cruel reminder that when you play the game of thrones, you either win or die.
Riser of the Week: Tywin Lannister
The most powerful image of the week was seeing Tywin Lannister sit on the Iron Throne. Before Tywin, we had seen Robert, Ned, and Joffrey sit on the throne, and we all know what fate awaited them. (I’m ignoring Tommen, as he’s too young to actually count.) None of those three were properly equipped to endure the responsibility of the throne. Robert was a fighter, not a ruler. Ned was as green as summer when it came to politics. And Joffrey, well you can just plug in whatever your favorite synonym for sadistic is, and that’ll explain why he didn’t work out.
But Tywin is strong where all three of these men were weak. He’s perfectly suited for kingship, but he’s forever forced to rule from behind-the-scenes, manipulating the world to aid his causes. And nowhere was his manipulation highlighted more than in his scene with Jaime, where he barely lets Jaime finish his proposal to return to Casterly Rock and produce an heir. This was Tywin’s plan all along. We’ve known since early Season 3 that Tywin didn’t want Tyrion to inherit Casterly Rock. He’s always wanted Jaime. Tywin might not have killed Joffrey, but he made damn sure to use the trial to his advantage.
Honorable Mention: Reek, for finding love.
Faller of the Week: Daenerys Stormborn, Of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. Killer of Goats and Crucifier of Dads.
It’s been hinted at since the start of this season, but Daenerys is starting to lose control of her dragons. I just recently read George R.R. Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen,” a novella that takes place during The Dance of Dragons, the great Targaryen civil war that resulted in the end of dragons in Westeros. In the novella, Martin gives a lot of info on the behaviors of dragons, and it’s learned that not every dragon can be saddled and ridden. Even further, no Targaryen watched over more than one dragon. Daenerys has three dragons, and as they keep growing, they’re going to become even wilder. I don’t think I was the only one who drew some similarities between Dany this week and her father, the Mad King.
Honorable Mention: Theon Greyjoy, for loving the wrong person.
Backstory of the Week: The Iron Bank of Braavos
As we learned last week, the Lannisters are having some trouble paying their debts. Until now, The Iron Bank of Braavos has been keen to lend out money to the Crown, patiently waiting to collect on its interest. But wars cost money, and as a result, the Iron Bank hasn’t been receiving its due payments. As it’s been made clear thus far, gold carries more weight than words or claim. Stannis might have every right to sit the Iron Throne, but if he can’t win the war, he’ll never have the opportunity to do so. This leads him to Braavos for a personal meeting with the bank. Stannis knows that if he can secure a sizable loan, he can afford to hire sellswords to fight on his behalf.
Unfortunately for Stannis, the Iron Bank doesn’t care who has the best claim to the throne; they only care about who is most likely to pay their loans. That’s where Davos Seaworth and his stubby fingers come in. Davos speaks to Stannis’s ethical code, proving that the man puts honor above all else, making him the ideal loan recipient. The importance of the Iron Bank of Braavos cannot be understated, as they have the ability to directly influence the war. If they were to cut all loans to the Lannisters and instead fund Stannis, this would level the playing field. We don’t yet know what the bank will do, but keep an eye on them.
Object of Power: A Warm Bath
Although I love the permanently-salty Salladhor Saan, I’m not talking about his seductively-blithe bubble bath, but rather Reek’s hard-earned reward. After Yara tiptoed and skull-bashed her way to her brother’s cage, Reek instinctively freaked out on her, clearly scared that this was another one of Ramsay’s cruel tests. Even though this wasn’t planned by Ramsay, his break-em-down, build-em-up torture plan has clearly worked. Ramsay might have inherited the barbarous baton from Joffrey, but he at least rewards his dogs after they obey.
Is there any area of the story you’d like explained further? Do you disagree with something? Let me know in the comments.
Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element who graduated from Marist College. He spends his time obsessing equally over the Game of Thrones series and the New York Giants, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.