Our long national geek nightmare is over! Game of Thrones has returned for 10 weeks of fantasy awesomeness and this is the sixth installment in our lively talk-backs and reviews of each episode. A warning, and the only one before we dive in, this column is specifically for people watching the show live week-by-week so if you don’t want spoilers, don’t continue.
Wow. If last week was a decompressed episode, this week was the polar opposite, with so much plot packed into 55 minutes that I could barely believe an hour passed. While the star of the episode was Tyrion’s trial, we did have several notable developments in three other locations across Westeros before the courtroom.
Yara and her men stormed the Dreadfort to try to rescue Theon from his imprisonment at Ramsey Bolton’s hands only to find just Reek left. Any thought we might have had that Theon was just playing a role waiting for rescue is gone after he rejects his sister’s offer for help. He’s truly dead and Reek’s all that remains. His creepy bath reward with Ramsey shows you just how pathetic and lost he’s become. It almost makes you feel sorry for him.
We got this glory shot that we’ve been waiting for since the trailer months ago. Drogon has grown into quite the reptilian war machine and that machine isn’t content to wait for thrown pieces of meat anymore. In this vignette we see him torch an entire herd of goats. Dany pays the farmer three times their worth, but she’s clearly losing any control she had over her children. In the book they chain them up after this episode, we’ll have to see if she follows suit. She’s also forced to confront the monstrosity of her justice in crucifying the masters of Mereen as one of their children begs her to allow him to bury his father. One of the things GoT does so well is show consequences. The world is run by the consequences of actions and fiction often removes that rule. Martin’s world, like the real one, is a very consequential place (as we’d see again at Tyrion’s trial).
Again, as with the City of the Walkers, we get to see a place in the TV show we’ve never actually gotten to see in the books: The Iron Bank of Braavos. Davos and Stannis meet with them and ask for a loan to essentially put down the Lannisters (who owe the Iron Bank quite a lot of money). Stannis owes Davos big time for his speech to the Bank, slapping them across the face with the reality of just how weak House Lannister is under the surface of Tywin’s iron rule and if they want a future in dealing with a ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, they’d be wise to support Stannis. The Bank agreed and we got a quick reunion with the pirate Sallador Saan. It will be interesting to see Stannis’ play now that he has ships, money and power once more.
The real meat of the episode, though, was Tyrion’s trial before the appointed court of his father, Mace Tyrell and Oberyn Martell for the murder of Joffery. For a character as likable and fundamentally decent as Tyrion, it was more than a little heartbreaking to see his past as the Hand of the King come back to bite him in twisted ways. Little daggers were stuck in the Imp over and over until, during a recess, Jaime begged Tywin to let Tyrion take the black and join the Night’s Watch to try to save his life. Tywin exacted a promise from Jaime that I doubt he’s going to collect upon before producing his most potent dagger: Shae. This is again a departure from the books. Shae betrays Tyrion in a very different way in the books (and may still so I’ll shut my mouth), but here she shows up and completely throws him to the wolves. Hell hath no fury….
Well that’s not quite true, though, because Hell itself would be jealous of the venomous rage that finally erupts from Tyrion at the people he gave his face to save at Blackwater Bay, at the woman he loved, at his family for a lifetime of torment and at the world for being born a dwarf. Tyrion, since it worked out pretty well for him three seasons ago, demands a trial by combat and it’s there the episode ends.
So Tyrion’s going to need a champion. Will they follow the books? Will they surprise us again with another curveball? I think we’re on a collision course with a final four episodes of action packed, GoT goodness and this was a fantastic, fantastic example of why this is the best show on TV.