GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

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The chaos of Westeros has always created interesting dynamics among its players, major and minor, but never more so than in a post-Purple Wedding world.   Game of Thrones revolves around a jockeying of power, but at the center of that are ideas of loyalty.  It’s of such importance because the wrong allegiances can (and usually do) get one killed.  Choosing sides and casting lots is like casting a die most of the time, but what makes episodes like “The Laws of God and Men” so good is that they take the time to explore more deeply the motivations and machinations of those torn between staying alive, and living with purpose.  Hit the jump for why it’s surprisingly comfortable in the kennels.

game-of-thrones-recapLoyalty has been a key factor this season, and in the wake of Joffrey’s death, it’s been interesting to see what that means — when it comes to brass tacks — for the major characters.  It’s also intrinsically tied to family, because of course in Westeros, families form the basis of society and life.  And yet, so much in Game of Thrones challenges that notion, like in “First of His Name,” where we saw Bran struggle between destiny and family, and choose the former.  But the Starks have no monopoly on difficult family politics; the Lannisters are surely the most emotionally chaotic of all of the major houses.  “The Laws of God and Men” also showed that family is what you make of it.  Surely, few men are more loyal to anyone than Davos is to Stannis, and Dany’s coterie are to her.

The hour was also devoted to the idea of steadfastness.  As Stannis and Davos’ trip to the Iron Bank of Braavos showed, logically, Stannis has no chance to claim the throne.  He doesn’t have the men or the resources at Dragonstone (they didn’t bring up the Red Woman and the Lord of Light though, it should be noted).  Davos’ emotional plea didn’t, at first, seem to move the bankers, but ultimately, he sells them on futures.  The chaos of Westeros can be profitable, if you choose the right person to back.  Isn’t that indeed the whole idea of the series?  And currently, it seems like the Iron Bank considers Stannis a worthy competitor.

Dany, too, is committed to her cause, but her zeal has caused more problems than she foresaw.  Though Varys makes a great appeal to Tywin of Dany’s power (regarding her army, her counsellors, and of course her dragons), her actual position is far more tenuous.  The nobleman Hizdahr zo Loraq tells her she wrongly crucified his innocent father.  She counters on behalf of the slain children, but his argument echoes Ser Barristan’s caution to Dany before she embarked on killing the masters: do you answer one crime with another?  Her generosity to the farmer whose goats were toasted and eaten by her dragons also made Barristan pause.  This doesn’t end with these goats.  200 more waited to ask for her favor in various matters.  Her desire for justice is being tempered by a very confusing and complicated reality.  Is her loyalty to the Iron Throne, which she hopes to reclaim, or on the slave cities — with whom she has no intrinsic loyalty or family times — whom she has freed?

game-of-thrones-laws-gods-men-peter-dinklageFew loyalties have been as consistently divided as those within the Greyjoy family.  Having had their rebellions squelched and been forced to bend the knee to those they hate for so long, with their family torn apart, their future lies with a loyalty only to themselves.  And yet, Theon growing up with the Starks put him in a position where he had no family — he felt estranged from Pyke, but ungrateful towards Winterfell (and ultimately, betrayed the person who trusted him most, and to whom he was the closest in the world).  His hubris and betrayal have been rewarded through his transformation to Reek, Ramsay’s frightened pet.  Though the raid on the Dreadfort by Yara seemed sudden and a little forced to pack into one episode, it at least served to solidify Theon as Reek, so far gone in his Stockholm Syndrome that he rejects (and even bites!) his flesh and blood so as not to upset Ramsay.  But it was also part of Yara’s story, that she upheld the Greyjoy loyalty to attempt to rescue Theon despite everything between them.  His choice to stay with Ramsay, though, has now seemingly cast him out of the Greyjoy house forever.

The most complicated and most compelling scenes though belonged to that Lannister clan, which played out through the lens of Tyrion’s trial.  Tywin has always hated Tyrion, but now he has the opportunity not only to get rid of him, but to use him as a pawn.  Tywin is no fool, and saw Jaime’s appeal for his brother’s life coming from a mile.  It’s a win/win for Tywin either way, with the added bonus of keeping Cersei loyal and in check by allowing her to manipulate the court regarding Tyrion’s guilt.  Still, the kangaroo court went from blatant to excruciating.  Cersei, Pycelle and others who Tyrion had always been on the outs with were of no surprise when they came up twisting the truth in order to implicate him.  But Varys’ appearance stung because of his supposed former loyalty to Tyrion (which of course he brings up).  The Spider has many motivations though, and staying alive and in the favor of whomever is in power is paramount.

The final blow came though with Shae, whose betrayal cut Tyrion deep enough for him to lash out at the entire court.  Game of Thrones being Game of Thrones though, the outcome is never as clear-cut as it seems: he will have a trial by combat.  The looks on the faces of those who falsely implicated him were suddenly afraid.  The most mysterious power in the realm was then invoked: to whom would the gods choose to be loyal?

Episode Rating: A-

game-of-thrones-laws-gods-men-trialMusings and Miscellanea:

– Not surprised to find this was a Bryan Cogman episode.  Very well-written.

– The direction by Alik Sakharov was also a little more stylish than usual, particularly in the choice of camera angles during the trial and with Dany.  The power dynamic was always expressed through scene positioning.

– Loved that we got a new set piece to the opening credits.  The statue reminded me of Jason and the Argonauts.

– I really can’t even discuss the book, Dany and Theon’s stories are so far into A Dance with Dragons it’s kind of ludicrous at this point.  However, I just don’t understand why certain things are changed, like the circumstances of Shae’s betrayal.  We’ll see how it plays out next week, they might still incorporate some of the original setting … remind me though, in the books was it as provoked as it was here?  On the show there’s clearly a case of cause and effect.

Mark Gatiss running the Iron Bank of Braavos … I basically just assume that’s Mycroft in disguise.

– All of that random sex and nudity this week, Game of Thrones.  Wow.  Particularly Ramsay’s sex scene.  We get it, it’s a premium channel.  Calm the literal tits.

– I was so nervous for Theon’s “bath.”  I was certain Ramsay was going to do something terrible to him (“you’re going to put that rag where?!”)

– Tywin shaming Mace Tyrell is pretty hilarious.  Speaking of Tyrells, I did like that they showed Marg having some conflict about letting Tyrion take the fall for a murder she knows neither he nor Sansa committed.

– So, in case you forgot, DRAGONS! (one, anyway) And naturally it had to eat *the cutest goats.*




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  • Grayden

    Yes, we get it. You hate seeing boobs. So much that you have to bring them up in every recap.

    • Leo Spaceman

      Try reading her Sons of Anarchy recaps, every review had her complaining about violence against women.

      This isn’t TheVaginaMonalogues.com. I am willing to bet that this sites core audience is 75% male based on genres they cover and the comments of the readers. As such, I say every Game of Thrones should have count similar to The Walking Dead reviews where they track certain numbers of things every episode. One of the Game of Thrones things they should track is number of titties each episode. It has reached the point that I have seen so many on this show, that I normally don’t even register them.

      • eternalozzie

        wow … just wow … welcome to the 17th century Leo.

    • http://www.scifihistory.net/ E. Lee Zimmerman

      Good God, man! Who could EVER be opposed to boobs?

    • agent777

      There is plenty of nudity and sex in the books. The complaint is that they cut that and just make up there own perversions to add in.

    • justkiddingnobutseriously

      Anyone who takes issue with sex and nudity in this show at this point in the series really has no excuse. This isn’t Masterpiece Theatre.

  • Matheus Mafra

    Wonderful episode. Give all the awards to Dinklage. Give’em all.

    • the king of comedy

      I agree, as a bookreader I had huge expectations for Tyrion`s trial, and this episode lived up to them. One of the best episodes of the season.

      • http://twitter.com/reddevil09 Thizzle

        agreed. Absolutely fantastic episode and brilliant acting by Peter.

  • http://www.ciudadanosmundo.com Luka Nieto

    “All the random sex and nudity”? Are you kidding? There was a single sex scene, with Ramsey, and it showed nothing explicit; it was surprisingly tasteful for the show, and also rather short (which may make it gratuitous, but… it’s not explicit or long-winded!). And the other scene doesn’t even have a sex scene! It’s just a couple of nude men and women at a bath. I counted literally two pairs of tits. It was just a conversation in a bath! Jesus. If seeing a bare ass, two people kissing, and two pairs of tits equals to “all the random sex and nudity”, I wouldn’t want to know how you describe the actually rather gratuitous and explicit sex scenes from the first couple seasons.

    • http://www.scifihistory.net/ E. Lee Zimmerman

      There seems to be a random complaint against GoT’s usage of sex and nudity amongst folks who consider themselves “intellectual elitists.” There have been occasions wherein the inclusion of sex into a particular storyline appears gratuitous; all I can say to these “reviewers” is they really don’t understand the meaning of the word “gratuitous.”

      • Redjester

        I’ve never considered those who have an issue with the nudity and sex intellectual elitists at all. Far from it. Perhaps religious elitists.

      • http://www.scifihistory.net/ E. Lee Zimmerman

        Erm … methinks you missed the point.

      • http://www.scifihistory.net/ E. Lee Zimmerman

        Erm … methinks you missed the point.

      • Redjester

        I’ve never considered those who have an issue with the nudity and sex intellectual elitists at all. Far from it. Perhaps religious elitists.

      • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

        I don’t consider myself as an intellectual elitist, and I found the boobs flood somewhat aggressive in GOT.
        It’s like the producers need to keep the sex ratio at a high level, to make sure the audience will keep speaking about it.
        When You cut a sex scene and it doesn’t remove anything essential in the story, then it must be considered as a screenplay bloat.

      • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

        I don’t consider myself as an intellectual elitist, and I found the boobs flood somewhat aggressive in GOT.
        It’s like the producers need to keep the sex ratio at a high level, to make sure the audience will keep speaking about it.
        When You cut a sex scene and it doesn’t remove anything essential in the story, then it must be considered as a screenplay bloat.

    • agent777

      So a pointless scene then. Because any Ramsay sex will have him biting, beating or skinning some one. Another HBO FAIL.

  • Brown4eva

    I’m just baffled by last season Greyjoy sister says she is taking the fastest ship in the fleet and after 4 or 5 shows deep into this season they finally arrive to the keep ? WTF !! It took less time for Theon to go to the Grey Islands get back on a boat get to land and take over Winterfell ….All the while SIS gives the big speech about honor and men killed and her brother ..only to high tail it out of there because of dogs ? Again WTF ..Jumps back in their little boats and says my brother is dead ? Again WTF !! So much for honor and really a waste of our time watching this waste of time inserts since last season ..wow

    • Leo Spaceman

      My question was, why didn’t she just kill the Bastard before he unlocked the cage. He seemed unarmed and outnumbered.

      Also why did Varys spies not mention the little girl that was accompanying The Hound? It would be a long shot that the Lannisters even considered that it could be Arya, but they wouldn’t expect The Hound to give a damn about some random girl, so they maybe could have derived a possible clue as to the whereabouts of Arya, at least one worth checking out. They have no leads on the girl and even if it is grasping at straws, it might be worth it. Hell he is paying 10 times value for the Hound, he could afford a scouting party for an off chance.

      • ftdgdfgfg

        Maybe they thought Arya was a boy, especially since she grabs a sword and slowly kills one of the guys. Maybe they thought she was his squire.

      • Lance

        Had the same thought about killing the Bastard.

        Also, with Theon — when he resisted, why didn’t they do what you always see people do in movies, and knock him unconscious by hitting him with a pommel of a sword, or something?

        Finally, anytime you see a person on this show wield two swords or daggers, you know he’s the bad guy!

      • agent777

        Because HBO pulled this crap out of there rump and they arn’t as talented as Geroge R.R. Martin maybe?

      • http://www.dpsinfo.com LaurieMann

        If Varys suspects that Arya is with the Hound, he might feel that she may be safer with the Hound than with almost anyone else. Varys also doesn’t always tell everything he knows.

    • Grayden

      The Iron Islands are of the west coast of Westeros, the Dreadfort lay in the northeast. It’s a months ride from King’s Landing to Winterfell, for examples sake. It likely would still take his sister a month or so to sail all the way around to the south and then north again to make it to the Dreadfort.

      Perhaps there were things holding her up. I know there is a bit of family plot stuff involving the Greyjoys that they haven’t addressed on the show yet, and it’s pretty important, at least as far as Yara/Asha is concerned.

    • the king of comedy

      It`s because her brother is no longer her brother, he truly became someone else, he`s completely broken and has reduced himself to being Ramsay`s pet Reek, no longer the proud heir to the Iron Islands Theon Greyjoy. She truly wanted to save him but he didn`t want to be saved, he`s just loyal to his master now, and she didn`t have the men or the resources to take him away against his will. And those dogs were terrifing, they`re Ramsay`s dogs, used to tear people appart, Ramsay uses them in human hunts, and feeds them the flesh of his preys.

    • http://www.ciudadanosmundo.com Luka Nieto

      Well, in the same speech about taking the fastest ship Yara explained what they would have to do in order go get from the Iron Islands to the Dreadfort: they had to sail from Pyke, which is up North, to the south of Westeros, go past Dorne and then north up the Narrow sea, and then into the Whipping Water, a river that connects to the Dreadfort. They had to literally go around the whole continent.

      Also… if you believe Yara left because of the dogs, you have absolutely no sense of subtext. Heck, I’m not even giving you that; it’s text. Yara sees that Theon doesn’t even know who he is anymore; he even bites her! So Yara arrives to the conclusion that the mission had failed before it’d even begun (hence “My brother is dead”), and so she escapes. When Ramsay threatens her with letting the trained, killer dogs out (many forget that’s what they are, as we were shown in Ep. 2), she’s not only worried about them; she’s also looking at Theon, deciding if he’s worth it after all. And the answer is no, so she flees.

      • agent777

        Yeah, they made all of this really confusing. Theon hasn’t had the time to be fully Reek yet, and one more thing, the whole storyline that set up what Reek even is was cut. So if you don’t know this, it’s just going to appear as random and nonsensical. My friends who have and haven’t read the books are confused. They dropped the ball, so any odd impression any one gets from anything in the show it totally justified. Remember, the producers said Theon is there favorite, so they are trying hard to do these parts well. That’s scary.

        On a purly logical level it’s even stupider to think all that money in supplies and the risk of travelling that far “back then” during a huge war would be wasted to NOT get Theon back.

      • lowest1q

        I agree 100% with you Luka and that is coming from someone who has never read the books. I’ve been told without spoilers by people that read the books,” that didn’t happen like that in the books” specifically with Season 4. I feel alot of people have to be baby fed the information and motives and history of all these characters on GOT.

        Agent777, it’s also purely logical to think that once you see your flesh and blood turned into something that has no relation to the man Theon, you may be thinking on a different level and emotions. Considering the symbol of him going back into the cage to obey his master ramsay to avoid further punishment.

  • Lance

    The Yara storyline has not been served well at all, in my opinion. At the end of the last season GoT got uncharacteristically “heroic” with her talking about how she’d climb every mountain, swim every sea to save her brother — I think they did it because they were worried the Red Wedding was just too much of a downer to end the season on, and they wanted to inject some hope into the show. But it was a bit too forced, and now here we have Yara giving up on Theon pretty quick after that climb every mountain speech — this is the first time we’ve seen her since then!

    • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

      And that stuff is new, as well. Usually, when the show goes off-book it works much, much better.

    • The Destroyer

      And her actual storyline in Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons hasn’t even been hinted at yet. So I’m really confused as to what’s going to happen, or how they are going to do it.

      • Lance

        Yeah, I get the feeling the only reason they had her in this episode at all was to show how far gone Theon/Reek was, and now she’ll just disappear again while Reek goes off and does whatever the Bastard wants him to do.

  • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

    So, who wins in a fight, Bronn or Jaime? -Because that seems to be where this is going, right?

    I’m actually just being coy, I read the books, so I know what’s coming and it’s glorious. But I am surprised how a Bronn/Jaime fight seems to have been set up throughout the season.

    • Jeremy Flores

      glorious indeed. Man, the rest of the episodes this season will be filled with “holy shit” moments; my roommates are going to be yelling FUCK YEAH and NOOOOOOOOO numerous amount of times.

    • Redjester

      The only problem is that wouldn’t they both intend on fighting on behalf of Tyrion or would Jaime be forced to fight for his king? Unless something makes them change their mind of course. Again, I too am being coy. I’m just trying my damnedest not to spoil next weeks episode for the non-book readers.

    • Grayden

      Don’t count on Jaime being able to fight for Tyrion. Not that he wouldn’t, but Tywin wouldn’t let his legacy go up against the Queen’s champion, who I’ll refrain from naming for spoiler’s sake.

    • the king of comedy

      Even tough Jaime is learning to fight with his left hand he`s still not good enough to defeat the best warriors of the seven kingdoms, he wouldn`t stand a chance against The Mountain, The Hound, The Red Viper, Bronn and even Brienne and Loras Tyrell.

    • JoeNiqua

      If you read the books why would you ruin it here? I understand this isn’t the biggest spoiler but why even post something like this. It’s a recap of the show, if you want to go talk about the book comment somewhere else troll.

      • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

        Jesus Christ… Just watch the show, then get back to me. In the meantime, you know… chill. I posted something that I think the TV show is building to, the very shallowest of plot analysis, something that should be obvious to anyone who watches the show, and I said NOTHING about where that actually goes in the books.

      • JoeNiqua

        They intentionally ended the episode on that part so people would wonder who would actually be fighting. At this point I’m more interested to WHO is fighting (not anymore thanks to you). Yes, it’s obvious but there is no reason you should go out and say it here.

        I understand you didn’t do it to be a jerk but maybe you should learn some common sense. If it something that is going to happen in the book, no matter how obvious it is to smart people like you, don’t ruin it for everyone else.

      • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

        Look… Well, I see your point and I apologize. I honestly wasn’t trying to be a jerk, and I don’t think myself especially clever for figuring something out. I was merely making an observation.

        I’m not going to try to explain myself further. I’ll just dig myself deeper into this particular hole I’m in. After the the season is done, maybe we can revisit the topic and I can be clearer about my meaning.

      • the king of comedy

        well as a bookreader I can tell you that there is more to it than what OhDawg just told you, he didn`t spoil that much to you but in order to explain what I mean I would need to go into spoiler territory. Just leave it like that and then come back next week and apologize to OhDawg after you see the next episode

      • the king of comedy

        well as a bookreader I can tell you that there is more to it than what OhDawg just told you, he didn`t spoil that much to you but in order to explain what I mean I would need to go into spoiler territory. Just leave it like that and then come back next week and apologize to OhDawg after you see the next episode

  • Redjester

    I’m surprised Allison has such an issue with the nudity and sex considering her non-issue with the shows gratuitous violence. If her argument was that the show needed to even out the male and female nudity I would say she has a very valid point, but just to single out gratuitous nudity in general seems a little ridiculous.

    Gratuitous violence on this show=acceptable, gratuitous nudity=unacceptable. Gotcha.

    It’s a show for adults for a reason.

    • coach1173

      Yep, feminism at work

  • Royale With Cheese

    Peter Dinklage is Game of Thrones.

  • LEM

    I’m going to calculate the amount of gratuitous boobage on the show….oh damn 80085…get me another calculator!

  • justkiddingnobutseriously

    Does anyone know how Pycelle got a hold of Sansa’s necklace? I thought Littlefinger chucked that into the sea?

    • the king of comedy

      it fell to the boat where they left Donto`s body.

  • Pk

    Allison is just upset she didn’t get to see any cock

    • Redjester

      As I stated in my earlier post, I am fully supportive of them showing equal parts male and female nudity (I’m an adult, I can handle it). But for Allison to bring up nudity in and of itself as a problem with the show is a bit silly, especially considering all of the gratuitous violence on the show.

      If I had a child, for example, and I had the option of them either watching a gratuitous sex video or a gratuitously violent video (outside of my ability to control, of course), I would pick the sex video all-day long. Much rather they grow up thinking sexuality is a normal human trait than murder and hostility.

      To be fair to Allison, she did correct this in that her Penny Dreadful review, stating she was glad that the show evened up the nudity between male and female stars instead of complaining again about the nudity in general.

    • Redjester

      As I stated in my earlier post, I am fully supportive of them showing equal parts male and female nudity (I’m an adult, I can handle it). But for Allison to bring up nudity in and of itself as a problem with the show is a bit silly, especially considering all of the gratuitous violence on the show.

      If I had a child, for example, and I had the option of them either watching a gratuitous sex video or a gratuitously violent video (outside of my ability to control, of course), I would pick the sex video all-day long. Much rather they grow up thinking sexuality is a normal human trait than murder and hostility.

      To be fair to Allison, she did correct this in that her Penny Dreadful review, stating she was glad that the show evened up the nudity between male and female stars instead of complaining again about the nudity in general.

  • Brown4eva

    I didn’t add in theon biting his sister and being scared I get that it was pretty self explanatory, hence I didn’t feel it had to be mentioned my thing is they didn’t make it feel a journey for Yara. And than just to hightail it outta there after seem redundant and a horrible filler that really added nothing but a quickly skimmed over meh /wtf moment

  • eternalozzie

    I am really liking this season … lot’s of interesting stuff going on unlike seasons past. The storylines have momentum instead of just being filler leading up to the finale.

  • Max

    In the books the dragon kills the shepard’s son

  • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

    Yeah, I’ve seen it, but I think it’s interesting how it very much LOOKS like that’s what they’re setting up. The next two eps should be really interesting.

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