'Game of Thrones' recap: Not half the kingslayer his brother is

Published on Monday, 12 May 2014 17:15 - Written by Derek Kuhn, dkuhn@tylerpaper.com

 

*CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD*

My man Peter Dinklage — what a performance! This guy can act. Very few actors can so convincingly sell emotional distress, and he put on an acting clinic during his trial — going from sarcasm to frustration to surprise to hurt and finally, to anger.

The scene starts off with Jaime bringing Tyrion to trial on “Father’s orders.” As Tyrion is being led down the chamber, a heckler shouts out, “Kingslayer.” This comment makes Tyrion jump back a little when he realizes that the insult was directed at him and not his brother Jaime. The ironic thing is that Tyrion isn’t half the kingslayer that Jaime is.

A parade of pocketed witnesses is called. In fact, the look back before the show began had shown many of the events that are recalled at the trial (the only witness not shown is Shae — the surprise witness?). The witnesses tell half-truths and some outright lies. When Varys was called, I must admit I was somewhat surprised that his testimony was so one-sided, but because he is the master of whispers, I should have expected it — despite what he had confided in Tyrion in seasons past. Tyrion even calls Varys out. He asked whether Varys remembered who saved King’s Landing from Stannis, and Varys coyly replies that he remembers everything.

Throughout the trial, Jaime seems to be the only Lannister that actually loves Tyrion. His affection for his brother goes so deep that he strikes a deal with his father Tywin. In exchange for Jaime leaving the King’s Guard and carrying on the Lannister line, Tyrion’s life will be spared, but he’ll have to join the Night’s Watch. Jaime’s transformation during the past two seasons has been remarkable. I used to hate the guy, but now I find myself actually liking him.

Jaime informs his brother of the deal he brokered and asks him to admit guilt (like Ned Stark). Tyrion seems resigned to this fate, until his former lover Shae testifies against him at the trial. Shae weaves out-right lies with salacious truths. Because of Shae’s betrayal and condemnation, Tyrion has finally had enough and he wishes to confess. Tyrion’s confession is not for murdering Joffrey, but of being a dwarf. In Westeros, dwarves are despised, and Tyrion said that he has been on trial his entire life because of his stature. He said he wishes he killed Joffrey and that he had enough poison to kill everyone at the trial. Tyrion said, “I would gladly give my life to watch you all swallow it. I demand a trial by combat.” Tyrion demands the trial by combat, because he knows the only shot he has at justice is in the Seven God’s hands. Well-played, half-man.

Going back to the start of the episode, we finally get to see a little of Braavos (and the huge stone statue known as the “Titan of Braavos”) as Stannis and his hand Ser Davos visit the Iron Bank of Braavos. During Stannis’s meeting with the bank, it looks like he may be headed home empty handed. Instead, Davos proves his mettle with some fine negotiating spinning Stannis’ situation into a much more favorable light; he is able to convince the bank to loan Stannis the funds to raise an army. The Braavosi seems to appreciate honesty and Davos frankness works to Stannis’ advantage. With that said, I expect to see Stannis building his army over the next few episodes and then start his journey heading north to the Wall.

Up next, we finally catch up with the ironborn — perhaps my favorite culture in Westoros. I like the Viking like “raid and pillage” aspects of their culture. Yara leads a raiding party to the Dreadfort to free what’s left of her brother Theon, but once there, she only finds Reek. The close quarter combat scene in the kennel was cool. I especially enjoyed the added tension that the vicious war hounds barking and snarling in their cages just waiting to be released added to the fight. The show teased it might be totally changing a storyline from the books, but thankfully doesn’t in the end. I believe the writers were playing a cruel game of chicken with those who have read the books.

Nonetheless, Yara wasn’t able to rescue Theon, so Reek is still with Ramsay. Bolton’s illegitimate son rewards Reek’s devotion with a bath (I guess that would make him “Reek less” — I know bad pun, but I couldn’t help myself). It’s really unnerving to see how damaged Theon is, as he was afraid to take a bath. He is almost like a dog that has been beaten all of its life. During the bath, Ramsay said he needs Reek to play “Theon” to help him retake a holdfast. I assume that Ramsay was talking about Deepwood Motte, which the ironborn currently occupy.

In Meereen, Daenerys is, for the first time, actually having to deal with the mundane aspects of being a ruler. Who knew holding court could be so blandly trying? Apparently, not Daenerys. Such is the life of a just ruler. Oh and her dragons are eating livestock — goats to be exact. I wonder when the dragons will move on to larger fare.

Back in King’s Landing, Prince Oberyn attended his first Small Council meeting. It seems that Lady Ollena was exaggerating when she called her son Mace the “high oaf of High Garden.” He seemed very insecure of his position in regard to Oberyn at the meeting. Tywin cutting Mace off as he was talking was pretty funny. After Ollena cutting him off at the Purple Wedding, and now Tywin’s doing it, I almost feel bad for the oaf — almost.

The Small Council puts a bounty on the Hound’s head as they debate how Daenerys must be dealt with; Tywin decides to write a letter. I wonder to who and what he is writing in that letter?

Before the trial, Oberyn meets with Varys in the throne room, and they have an interesting conversation. The mystery that is the master of whispers continues to deepen. We know what Littlefinger wants (power). But what does Varys want? Only time will tell, though Varys’ glance at the iron throne as he left could be a clue.

 

VERDICT

Best episode of the season so far. There was only one combat scene (a good one I might add), but with acting, such as Dinklage’s, I really didn’t notice. In fact, Tyrion’s trial was roughly a third of the episode. However, it didn’t feel like it — that’s how masterfully shot and acted it was. Finally seeing the ironborn in action was a decent addition. Theon must really be psychologically traumatized to refuse to leave with his sister and her men. Jaime also continues his upward moral arch. It’s amazing how detestable Jaime was in Season 1, but now I think most would regard him as a good, if not, noble character.

Rating: 9.1/10

 

PLUSES

+ Somebody give Peter Dinklage an Emmy

+ Reek is a wreck

+ Return of the ironborn

+ Jaime’s string of good deeds continues

+ Seeing the giant “Titan of Braavos”