One can lose themselves in the incredibly popular series Game of Thrones. The latest episode, The Laws of Gods and Men, was as filled with the callousness between siblings and the wrath amongst countrymen as the book’s title, Ice and fire, would suggest. This week’s episode focused primarily around the charade of a trial instigated by Cersei against her brother Tyrion, who is implicated in the death of former King Joffrey. It is with excruciating pity and unfortunate omniscience that viewers watch as witnesses for the crown successively betray Tyrion.
With what seems to be a tenor of both fury and relief, Tyrion finally bellows his anger across the court. He pleads guilty not to the murder of his sister’s terrible and tyrannical child, but to the crime of being born a “dwarf.” A lifetime of exclusion and anguish swell to the surface as Tyrion pointedly accuses his father of denying him justice. The demonstration ends with Tyrion asking for a “trial by combat,” before the orchestral, ominous music accompanies the screen to credits.
The latter half of Game of Thrones: The Laws of Gods and Men, described above, is the more provoking of the chapters visualized in today’s episode. The courtroom scene evokes relatable family dynamics in an abrasive, thrilling, otherworldly manner. That is not to suggest, however, that the rest of the episode has no entertainment value. In The Laws of Gods and Men, the foreboding “Iron Bank” is introduced via tense bartering between it and Stannis Baratheon. When Baratheon is denied a loan to bolster his army, it is Sir Davos that eloquently pleads with the bank’s representatives. To highlight his emotion and impress the sense of justice in his King, Davos unveils a hand that has been mutilated for an act of thievery by Stannis himself. He then continues his monologue passionately, underscoring that the true strength of the house of Lannister, Tywin, is growing increasingly weaker. The scene cuts to Sir Davos handing the pirate Salladhor Saan a payment for his implicit support in Stannis’ continual war.
Yana Greyjoy gives an inspiring speech to her men as she leads them to the keep of Ramsay Bolton to liberate her brother, Theon. Her brother, now known as “Reek” is discovered barred in a cage along with a pack of Ramsay’s guard dogs. Despite her attempts to rescue him, Reek resists leaving Ramsay’s keep and appears both upset and confused by Yana’s repeated attempts to remind him of his real name. As she departs, Yana proclaims that her brother “is dead.” Ramsay, none adverse to the disturbing, eerily pours Theon/Reek a bath before eliciting Theon’s consent in an ignoble plan of retaliation.
In Meereen, Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi, and now Queen of much of the eastern continent, is made increasingly aware of her inability to control her scaled, fire-breathing children. She is approached by a goat herder whose flock was broiled by one of her dragons. To the discernible dismay of her advisors, she immediately pays him three times the value of his flock. Daenerys is then approached by a man who poses the moral question of whether an eye for an eye constitutes true justice. Alyssa Rosenberg on The Washington Post notes that the show’s creators have cast Hizdahr zo Loraq, the man who questions Dany’s integrity, as a brown-skinned contrast to and interrogation of Daenerys’ “Great White Mother” persona. Often, “The Mother of Dragons” relies on grand, dichotomous narratives of savior/victim to answer ethical problems and falters in matters that require a more nuanced approach to virtue.
The Laws of Gods and Men, the latest Game of Thrones episode, leaves its viewers desperately tallying the moments that pass until next Sunday at 9pm EST. George R.R. Martin’s fantastical novels are visually realized in a television series that has captivated millions around the world and continues to entertain even into its fourth season.
Opinion by James Ryder