Guess who just cemented his position as an Emmy frontrunner this year? If your guess is Peter Dinklage, then you are right on the money.
But aside from the Peter’s stellar performance, this week’s episode of Game of Thrones will go down in history as the first not to feature a member of the Stark family. Who would have thought that we’d be able to go through an episode without Jon, Arya, Bran or Sansa? Bold move, HBO, bold move.
The episode opens with self-proclaimed King Stannis Baratheon and Ser Davos Seaworth making their way to Braavos to meet with the officials of the Iron Bank. The two plan on borrowing from the bank in order to provide sustenance to Stannis’ army of 4,000 soldiers and 32 ships. Anyone else spotted Mycroft from BBC’s Sherlock? Anyone?
Like any logical banker, the officials at first declined and said that the Iron Bank is owned by and faithful to the sitting ruler of Westeros King Tommen Baratheon. But Ser Davos took it upon himself to to convince the men of the Iron Bank and not disappoint his master. He then flashed his right hand with mutilated fingers and delivered a well-articulated case against the Lannisters (Who will rule when Tywin dies? Kinda prescient, don’t you think?).
The next time Ser Davos was shown, he was paying ship owners to join their cause, signifying that they were granted the loan and Stannis’ faction has just gotten stronger.
At the North, Yara Greyjoy (originally named Asha in the novels) planned a rescue mission for her brother Theon after receiving the latter’s severed genitals from Ramsay Snow. With courage unlike any other and a small team, Yara was able to reach the dungeons of Ramsay’s ships where Theon was carefully sequestered. The only problem was Theon did not want to come with them. The trick that did it? Ramsay’s torture schemes! Remember when Theon howled in pain due to Ramsay’s procedures back in season three? Well, it worked.
Not only did Theon not come with the rescue team, he also now answers to the name Reek. To cut the long story short: Yara’s mission failed. But not before realizing what happened to poor Theon and saying: “My brother is dead.”
We later see Theon being offered a bath by Ramsay. But a luxury like that does not come without a high price. Reek must assume the persona of Theon (don’t get confused!) and take the Iron Islands from House Greyjoy. Ramsay Snow, you sneaky bastard!
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys fulfills her duties as Queen of Mereen which include attending to the concerns of her people in her own court. The first person we saw Dany answered to was a goatherd whose animals were torched and eaten by her dragons. Now that man doesn’t have anything at all, Khaleesi’s interpreter explained. Being the just ruler that she is, Dany decided that the goatherd be paid thrice over for the damages brought upon by her pets.
Next, a certain Hizdhar zo Loraq came to Dany’s court and told her about his father who, he explained, was one of the people responsible for the restoration of Mereen’s landmarks, including the pyramid she uses as her court.
Amazed and grateful, Khaleesi told Loraq that she wants to meet his father. But Loraq revealed that the father he is speaking of was one of the city officials Dany crucified upon her arrival at Mereen. Loraq’s father, he claimed, spoke against the crucifying practice of the city as he believed that it is a criminal act and should therefore be halted. All Loraq wanted is for Dany to let him properly bury his father. Khaleesi agreed but was evidently troubled by the consequences of her decisions.
It is at this point that we see the problem with Khaleesi’s governance. Is her absolutist style only suitable for the cities in Slaver’s Bay or is she making a hasty generalization by considering all masters as evil? Fans will hate me for thinking about this but is Dany the kind of ruler Westeros deserves? Just like any other Targaryen ruler who sat on the Iron Throne, she is irascible and mercurial, her judgements are most of the time clouded and her track record isn’t something to brag about either (remember the cities she freed in the past that experienced relapse as soon as she left them?). So why are we rooting for Dany? Probably because she is the rightful heir to the throne. That, and we all like to see a strong woman kicking arse in a male-dominated realm.
Back in Westeros, King Tommen’s small council (with Prince Oberyn Martell) is holding a meeting and discussing how they should deal with Daenerys’ growing army. After agreeing to subdue the Targaryen girl’s forces (by what means, I’m not sure they discussed), the meeting adjourned. Every member of the council left except for Oberyn and the Master of Whisperers Lord Varys.
The Red Viper then invited the Spider to Dorne where they had a supply of boys who know how to entertain. Of course, Oberyn had to assume that Varys is gay just because he was a eunuch. Varys declined the invitation after saying that he does not desire neither boys nor girls. He simply doesn’t desire for anyone – something which Oberyn had a difficulty comprehending.
“The absence of desire leaves one to pursue other things,” Varys said in order to answer Oberyn’s puzzlement. When the Prince asked what thing Varys plans on pursuing, the Spider only looked at the Iron Throne. It really wouldn’t hurt if an asexual eunuch sat on the throne. Should that happen, the so-called “game of thrones” would not anymore involve sex, only wit and strength.
Lastly, we see an uninterrupted sequence of Tyrion Lannister’s trial for the murder of King Joffrey Baratheon.
King Tommen recused himself and left the decision to his Hand Lord Tywin Lannister, Prince Oberyn and Lord Mace of House Tyrell. The trial, as expected, was nothing but a mockery of the justice system. Several witnesses took the stand to charge Tyrion for a crime he did not commit including Ser Meryn Trant, Grand Maester Pycelle, Lord Varys and the Queen Regent herself.
When the trial paused for a break, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Ser Jamie Lannister himself went to his father’s chamber and asked that Tyrion be freed. In exchange, Jamie must break his oath, leave the Kingsguard and father the next generation of Lannisters. If not for Cersei’s rape, Jamie would have been this season’s MVP character. Satisfied with his son’s proposition, Tywin complied, assuring him that will be allowed to take the black after he pleads for mercy.
When the trial resumed, Tywin revealed that another witness will be taking the stand. When Tyrion saw who it will be, his world fell apart. It was Shae, his whore and one true love. But his love and affection turned into bitterness and spite for when Shae took the stand, she put the final name in his coffin. She delivered a rehearsed fabricated story that pinned the innocent imp to the ground.
But Tyrion will not have any of it. He has heard enough and endured so much. As far as he is concerned, the world turned against him and he won’t let any of that happen anymore. After saying that the only crime he is guilty of was being a dwarf and riling the court audience, Tyrion demanded for a trial by combat.
The performance Peter Dinklage gave was worthy of an Emmy nod, to say the least. His brilliant performance stole the entire episode and proved why he’s one of the show’s most prized actors. If Peter isn’t nominated for this, we might as well just boycott the Emmys.
Heads will roll in the next three episodes. And none of them will include Tyrion’s so watch out.
MNL Film Club Score: 1.25
- The remaining major plot points left are: the murder in the Eyrie, the Mountain versus the Red Viper, Arya’s parting from the Hound, the murders in the Tower of the Hand and the wildlings’ attack.
- Anyone heard the audience member who shouted “Kingslayer” when Jamie was escorting Tyrion to his stand? Who between the brothers was he referring to?
- Can’t we get more of Varys?
- Tyrion’s “I did not do it. I did not kill Joffrey but I wish that I had. Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than 1000 lying whores. I wish I was the monster you think I am. I wish I had enough poison for the whole pack of you. I would gladly give my life to watch you all swallow it” wins best line of the episode.