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Monday, May 12, 2014

Game of Thrones Recap: Law and Order, Westeros Edition

Posted by Joe Streckert on Mon, May 12, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Tyrion Lannister is, understandably, everyone's favorite character on Game of Thrones. He's smart, he's charismatic, and everyone likes to root for an underdog. Last night, though, Tyrion kind of biffed it. He had an opportunity to get out of a bad situation and, well, he didn't take it. In the name of idealism and passion, everyone's number-one dwarf screwed himself over in last night's episode.

Fake politics! International loans! Goats! All of this and more after the jump.

Tyrions in trouble. If only Jaime could lend him a hand.
  • Tyrion's in trouble. If only Jaime could lend him a hand.

Welcome to Braavos, where even kings have to wait for the next available teller. I am unreasonably excited when new locations show up in the Game of Thrones intro, and last night we were introduced to the financially powerful city state of Braavos. Stannis and Davos headed to the Iron Bank to ask for a loan. They got rejected. Davos, though, was able to make an impassioned speech about how Stannis was the best bet to be king, and saved the day. Stannis and Davos now have cash, and they’ve already made their first hire: Salladhor Saan, Davos’ old pirate buddy. The least charismatic Baratheon seems to be back in business.

Yara to the rescue! Or not! I’ve had enough of Ramsay Snow. He’s one-dimensional, he’s silly, and he ultimately doesn’t have a lot going on other than simple sadism. Theon’s storyline of getting brainwashed and (presumably) recovering is somewhat interesting, but spending time with a guy who would be at home in an Eli Roth movie is far less so. The Dreadfort scenes are a drag on the show.

However, we did get to check in with Asha/Yara Greyjoy who mounted an attack on Castle Torture Porn, almost rescued Theon and then… didn’t. Because Ramsay had some scary dogs. Okay. That didn’t seem to work. Yara Greyjoy and her band of axe Vikings were able to kill break into a castle, kill dudes, and almost rescue Theon. But, as soon as Captain Castrate threatened to release the mean doggies, they booked it. That does not make sense. I am pretty sure that axe Vikings can handle dogs.

Yara, seeing Theon’s intense Stockholm syndrome, declared her brother dead. Ramsay congratulated Theon/Reek on resisting the rescuers, and is sending him off on a secret assignment to go undercover as… Theon Greyjoy! Dun-dun-duuuuun!

(Can we please just be done with this storyline? Please. That would be great.)

Do not let the dragons anywhere near Belmont. Or Lents, I guess. They are easily the most feared and loved creature in all of fantasy. The winged beasts inspire awe, terror, and also a bunch of other stuff that leads to bad van art and dubious tattoos. These mighty creatures of the imagination have been a mainstay of human storytelling for centuries, and last night we got to see one of these mighty creatures do battle with the most fearsome of opponents: a goat!

It actually was sort of cool. Daenerys later compensated the goatherd for his stolen goat, which was a nice thing to do. However, she also just created a weird incentive system for people to just show up at her place with charred goat remains.

She also dealt with a noble guy whose dad she crucified. He wanted to bury his father properly, as opposed to just having the dude’s bones rot in the sun for all to see. Dany said sure, yeah, why not, and got on with her long list of 212 supplicants. Ruling in Game of Thrones is like working for the DMV.

(Again, I’m impressed by how rapidly HBO is condensing the storyline. The Daenerys scenes we saw last night were from A Dance With Dragons. This TV show is going to wrap up way before the books do.)

Oberyn! He didn’t do much in last night’s episode, but I need to spend a few moments on how fabulous and perfect Oberyn Martell is. Pedro Pascal is excellent in the role, and he seems to be the only one in King’s Landing who’s actually enjoying himself. Last night Westeros’ number one man-crush had a telling conversation with Varys in which we found out, unsurprisingly, that Varys is asexual. “When I see what desire does,” said the Spider, “I am very glad to have no part in it.” Varys’ dour asceticism clashed with Oberyn, a guy who’s all about desire and the satisfaction thereof. Then they looked at the Iron Throne ominously. Characters look at the Iron Throne ominously a lot on this show.

The case of Tyrion versus His Evil Scheming Family will now come to order. Tyrion was put on trial for the death of Joffrey and it was, obviously, all a show. The witnesses, such as Maester Pycell, were clearly in the pocket of the Cersei and Tywin, and their stilted, unnatural delivery of “evidence” against Tyrion made it clear that they were just delivering lines that had been given to them. The whole thing was transparently a joke. Notably, Sansa’s necklace which held the poison (that was administered by the Queen of Thorns) was presented as evidence. Was Tyrion set up by the Tyrells/Littlefinger? Probably! Does Tywin Lannister suspect that. Maybe! Does Tywin not care because he gets to get rid of his dwarf son that he never liked? Oh yeah.

None of that was lost on Jaime Lannister who, last night, learned how conniving his father actually is. Jaime confronted Tywin about the sham trial, and offered to quit the Kingsguard and become the Lannister heir if Tywin spared Tyrion’s life. It was a brash offer, made in the heat of anger. Tywin thought that was a fine deal, and announced that Tyrion would be allowed to join the Night’s Watch after he was inevitably found guilty and pled for mercy. Jaime, then, would have to go get himself properly married and have lots of babies who were not bastards. It was everything that Tywin wanted, and Jaime walked right into it.

Later, Jaime explained the deal to Tyrion. Initially, everyone’s favorite dwarf seemed resigned to going North, up to the very large wall that he peed off once. He might have gone along with the plan, had Shae not come in as a witness. Earlier in the season Tywin made an off-hand remark about having her brought to the Tower of the Hand, and this was obviously the results of what was probably a really gross affair of Shae being manipulated and abused. After being betrayed by his girlfriend, Tyrion lost it.

He started yelling about how this was all just a setup and he was being blamed because he’s a dwarf (totally true) but that he wished he’d killed Joffrey. He reminded the assembled nobles that he saved King’s Landing, thankyouverymuch, but that he wished that he’d just let Stannis kill everybody. The outburst was a dumb, idealistic thing to do, and just like that Tyrion’s hopes of going north to pal around with Jon Snow were gone. Instead of the show trial, Tyrion demanded trial by combat. Trial by combat may be archaic, silly, and kind of a stupid way to run a legal system, but at least the combat itself isn’t a sham. On the whole, though, Tyrion kind of screwed the pooch. When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die, and this was clearly an “or you die” kind of thing to do.

See you next week!

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