Game of Thrones: “The Laws of Gods and Men” (Season 4: Episode 6) Recap/Analysis | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Game of Thrones: “The Laws of Gods and Men” (Season 4: Episode 6) Recap/Analysis

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May 12, 2014 Web Exclusive
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[Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones, “The Laws of Gods and Men,” then read no further.]

From here on out, this episode shall be forever remembered as “the one where Peter Dinklage acted the hell out of his ‘confession.’” Game of Thrones is known for some pretty hefty monologues, but I can’t remember immediately when one of them was so crucial to the standout, explosive, water-cooler scene of the week.

And it caps off such a flawless episode, too. Perhaps knowing that its second half would be confined to a potentially dull courtroom setting, the producers wisely open the episode with our first stunning view of Braavos. We finally get a glimpse of the Iron Bank, who promptly deny Stannis Baratheon a loan—that is, until the Onion Knight agrees to cosign, proving Stannis is true to his debts by showing off his missing fingers.

We also get a chance to catch up to Theon—ahem, Reek—who is so badly gone at this point he literally runs away from his Ironborn rescuers. Ramsay proves his status as sadistic madman as he takes on a small army, shirtless and bloodied, and wins. After hearing his newest request of Theon—that he is to pretend to be himself—I can’t help but wonder if it will work, or if Theon will finally step out of his trance, or of the psychic stress will break him completely.

Back in Meereen, Daenerys is forced to deal with the terror she’s brought across the land she’s conquered. I imagine it must be a monumental task to reign in her dragons, but once word gets out that she’ll pay out threefold to anyone whose herds are eaten by them, farmers will start lining up at her pyramid with roasted goats.

She’s already faced with a glaring judgment error, however, as she discovers one of the men she crucified fought tirelessly to rid the city of slavery. In a scene taken straight from Greek tragedy (seriously, it’s almost the exact plot of Sophocles’ Antigone), she must allow his family to bring his body inside the city and give him a proper burial. She does so, but it’s apparent that the consequences of her rise to power are quickly catching up to her.

“The Laws of Gods and Men” sees the return of Varys, whose behind-the-scenes string-pulling rivals Littlefinger’s. We’ve known it for some time, but given Littlefinger’s recent revelations, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the two work as opposing chaotic forces in the realm. If we’re to take Varys at his word, then every move he makes is for the good of the realm, while Littlefinger serves only his own interests. Yet neither owes allegiance to anyone, and their influence reaches farther than anyone else in Westeros would suspect.

Yet there seems to be a bit of regret in Varys’ assurance to Tyrion that he will never forget him. Varys sells out Tyrion because to defend him would strip him of power. Tyrion is of course burned by the betrayal, but his heart withstands only to be shredded by Shae’s bitter witness. With nothing left to lose, Tyrion spews a hateful rage at the citizens of King’s Landing, speaking the only bit of truth in the whole episode.

“The Laws of Gods and Men” is a visually stunning entry into this season’s run, but its strengths rely on Tyrion’s futile battle with justice. Jaime is willing to negotiate with his father for his brother’s freedom, but his efforts, while noble, are in vain, due to Tywin’s ceaseless plotting. Ironically, for a moment it looks like Tyrion’s birthright will be his saving grace, in an apparent abuse of justice that would have set things right, sort of. And yet Tyrion is so disgusted by the world he inhabits that he gives up his only chance of survival to shout truth at his accusers and liars. He demands a trial by combat. In the solitary, nasty, and brutish reality that Tyrion lives in, there is no justice, only survival. For him, it’s the only moral option left.

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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