a change in the opening credits! It was great to see Braavos, and what a killer
reveal it was as Stannis and Davos sail under The Titan. It felt like a very
Iron Bank of Braavos. They keep the books. The books have numbers. The numbers
Seaworth delivers a nice impassioned plea for Stannis Baratheon as the rightful
King of Westeros, it seems that Stannis always pays his debts too. Davos has an
interesting take on things, including a foreshadowed image of Westeros without
Tywin Lannister as the most powerful figure.
scenes are better with Salladhor Saan, my friend.
Iron Islanders assault on The Dreadfort is a thing of dark visceral beauty,
from Yara dispatching her tour guide without a second thought, to the mental
status of Reek, to the emergence of Ramsay Snow. It made me wish for a heads up
fight between Yara and Ramsay, and the image of the shirtless bastard also made
me feel like he’d make a good low budget Wolverine. Not sure why Ramsay wouldn't just kill the Ironborn though, and how'd they outrun the dogs back to the boat?
straight up steamrolling her way through several cities, it was nice to see
Dany get a hard lesson on the political nuance of actually ruling, that she’s
got to win over the “middle class” of these cities, and not just the freed
slaves. Jorah Mormont shoots her a priceless look, as if to say “hey, you
wanted to do this, sister!”
Small Council Meeting is one of the three best scenes in this episode. Varys
running down an accounting of Dany’s military assets is great, and it’s clear
that Tywin, Varys, and Oberyn all “get it,” they’re all on the same page, while
Cersei is blind, and poor old Mace Tyrell is completely out of his league.
Oberyn’s casual smarts (his refusal to stand when Tywin enters is pure psychological
power play) are so charismatic.
was fun to see Varys get a new verbal sparring partner in Oberyn, especially
with Littlefinger away from the capital. Oberyn is particularly good at reading
people, and he susses out a new appreciation for Varys and his abilities, right
along with the audience.
we see that the first half of the episode was basically all lead-up for
Tyrion’s trial. It becomes obvious fairly quickly that the entire deck is
stacked against him, in a confounding mixture of truth, distortions, and
outright lies, from witnesses recounting out of context moments that stretch
and Tywin’s scene is one of the three best moments in the episode. Jaime’s
incredulity at the entire trial being a sham, followed by a display of pure
love for his brother, followed by the speed with which Tywin pounces on Jaime’s
unexpected offer is just a triple threat of emotion. This is another example of
the show (especially for non-book readers) totally juking the audience and
lulling them into a momentary false sense of security, since neither Jaime or
Tywin anticipate what Tyrion will do, essentially invalidating their little
knows this is a kangaroo court, but it doesn’t negate the raw emotion he’s able
to pull out of the scene. If Varys broke his heart and betrayed their brief
friendship, then Shae comes along and stomps all over that heart, then eats it
like she was the bride of a Khal. It demolishes him to such a degree that it
literally knocks him off his feet. He just wasn’t ready to see Shae reappear,
and then be coerced to testify to incriminate him, revealing their most
intimate moments in the process.
of the themes that emerges in this episode is a string of people pretending to
be something they’re not. Stannis acts like he’s the King at the Iron Bank,
Theon assumes the role of Reek (and is then asked to “pretend” to be Theon
while he’s Reek – mindfuck!), Dany plays at being Queen, Mace Tyrell pretends
he can hang with the real power players on The Small Council, Jaime pretends
he’s ok with being the heir to Casterly Rock, Shae pretends she was under
duress during her entire relationship with Tyrion, Grand Maester Pycelle pretends he has the poison necklace when we last saw it with Littlefinger (I guess? Or did Olenna have *several* copies made?), etc. This includes Tyrion’s
end monologue, which is of course THE other of the three moments in this week’s
episode. He wants to pretend to be the monster that nearly everyone in Westeros
believes him to be, not because he truly wishes ill of anybody, but because it
would simply be easier to just be the monster, than to continually try to prove
himself to people who are predisposed to hate him.
culmination of the trial is Tyrion proclaiming that he demands trial by combat,
which is a stirring moment, but the most interesting bits past his monologue
are the reaction shots. Tywin is incredulous that Tyrion has found a 50/50 shot
at escaping his King’s Justice – ditto Cersei, Jaime is startled and pissed
that Tyrion couldn’t keep his mouth shut long enough to take the mercy of The
Wall, shoot, even Loras Tyrell has a quick look of recognition as to what this
means since he’s a seasoned knight, and of course, Prince Oberyn Martell of
Dorne certainly admires Tyrion’s craftiness and has his curiosity piqued.