This episode was pretty fast-paced and built to an even more epic crescendo than ever before. Stannis Baratheon and Ser Davos leave Dragonstone for Braavos to seek funds from the Iron Bank. In a struggle to convince a perfectly cast Mark Gatiss, as the face of the bank in question, Davos courts the wrath of his king as the pair face rebuttal after rebuttal as they plead for money in order to kick-start their campaign to take the Iron Throne. Interestingly, this scene does not bode well for the Lannisters; the Iron Bank may be hedging their bets following Davos’ speech and their faith in the Lions seems to be faltering. When the Bank begins to collect, which side will they seek their dues from first?
Alfie Allen has really come into his own following his torturous transformation and mutilation (at the hands of Ramsay Snow) from Theon Greyjoy into Reek. Every wince, tremor and whine is believable. The wick nature of his presence on screen threatens a total breakdown at any moment. As uncomfortable as it is to watch, it tells how great an actor Allen has become as he embodies the changing nature of his character. His distrust and fear at his sister’s failed breakout attempt is startling as the audience realizes how far Theon has fallen.
Daenerys continues to face her own challenges as the citizens of Meereen bring their problems to her door. Once again, saving the special effects budget for the dragons, Game of Thrones unleashed a terrifying creature on a flock of goats, torching the flesh from their bones before plucking one from the ground for lunch. The Targaryen Queen faces unruly subjects, both human and dragon, and there’s a tangible falter as she questions her own abilities – and her patience.
And then we arrive in Kings Landing...
The Laws of Gods and Men has already given us a rousing battle between the Iron Born and the Flayed Men and an incredible looking, adolescent dragon before launching into the political intrigue that sets the scene for, what I’m sure will become known in television history as, the Trial of Tyrion Lannister. Oberyn Martell begins to dance around the Kings Council, sparring against its streamlined membershipas he goes. The interchange between Varys and Martell is particularly thrilling (any scene that features The Spider is rarely anything but).
Tyrion is on trial for the murder of his nephew, the maniacal Joffrey. The trial itself is a sham. Everyone who Tyrion has ever sad a bad word to, double crossed or even given a negative glance, stands to testify against him in front of his father, Tywin, who despises his son. Cersei gets the opportunity to call out her brother, Pycelle takes revenge for his treatment at the hands of Tyrion and blames him as a poisoner but it is the appearance of Shae - his spurned lover - that really twists the knife.
She destroys Tyrion’s world in a series of exchanges that seem to physically wound him.Whether it is purely just bitterness or something more on Shae’s part remains to be seen but it is Tyrion’s response that chills, exhilarates and truly sets the episode apart from those that have gone before. Dinklage raises the bar here. At first appearing completely heart- broken and anguished, he refuses to have his character ripped apart any further by these traitors, sycophants and conspirators. Turning on his father and the crowd, he brings a tirade of anger that instantly drives the audience to rally behind the character and elevates him far above his peers. It is this speech that many will take with from the show for this year as Dinklage’s performance brings Tyrion more to life than he ever has been before.