Welcome to the Fresh Prince of Westeros, a Game of Thrones Recap. Needless to say, MAJOR SPOILERS lie within these walls. Enter at your own caution. This week, we recap ‘The Laws of Gods and Men.’

Does Stannis Baratheon have Asperger’s? I really think he does. If not, he’s at least got the worst case of Chronic Bitchface that I’ve ever seen. This Game of Thrones episode opens in Braavos, one of the Free Cities. The Free Cities are a frequently-mentioned, rarely-seen collection of cities across the gulf known as the Narrow Sea on the continent of Essos, and are ungoverned by the Iron Throne. This is the first time we’ve gotten a good look at one of them since Dany first met Khal Drogo in another of the cities, Pentos, in the show’s pilot. Pentos’s graphic appeared on the Game of Thrones show-opener map for literally one single episode, so you can be forgiven for forgetting it. For now. Forget it again, and – JESUS, Davos, I forgot about that hand of yours. “Rocker, shocker, show stopper!” Watch your language.

In Braavos…

Stannis and Davos are in Braavos – namely, at the premonitioned Iron Bank – to take out a loan that would fund the Westboro Baptist War Effort. When you realize that that’s probably how most people in the Game of Thrones universe perceive Stannis (add cold, unyielding, and likely a Hufflepuff), it’s no wonder that the Iron Banker – played by Mark Gatiss, known better to some as Mycroft Holmes in the BBC series Sherlock – is reluctant to fork over any gold. Again, Stannis is unyielding, and again, it is his advisor who saves the day, as Davos uses swashbuckling logic to win over the banker. Without the Red Woman and Ser Davos, it’s hard to imagine Stannis getting very far.

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It will be interesting to see what unfolds in Braavos. Syrio Forrel and Jaqen H’ghar, both important characters in Arya’s story, are both Braavosi,  and the latter has given her a coin that serves as a one-way ticket to get her there. The crown is in colossal debt to the Braavosi bank, and now Stannis has put in an appearance. And you don’t put that much work into CGI for a city that isn’t going to show up again. You canread an interesting snippet here, in which George R.R. Martin talks about the bank’s origins.

Oh yea, and then there’s that scene which’ll make it awkward to watch this episode with my parents. Thanks.

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At The Dreadfort… *shudder*

Erstwhile (oh hey, autocorrect didn’t fix that), Yara Greyjoy seeks out her brother Theon, finds him at the aptly-titled Dreadfort, and discovers that he’s alarmingly unwilling to leave.

Yara is a badass, the only one of the Ironborn we’ve met that I haven’t actively wished death upon. Yara Greyjoy cuts through red tape and human skulls with an Axe of Doom. With a well-delivered speech, she rallies her men to her aide in the rescue of their prince, a man they once laughed at. Unfortunately, the rescue attempt is a failure, and Yara and the Ironborn are driven away, hopefully to return before this season of Game of Thrones concludes. #ironborn #ironbank #ironthrone #ironironiron

In Meereen…

Speaking of women who dole out murder, Daenerys now sits on her throne as Queen of Meereen, and must adjudicate such menial matters as unfairly-barbecued livestock and crucified slave masters. Her biggest, most-potentially-unruly dragon jukes the viewer by almost eating a child, and then going instead for a goat, which it immolates in swift fashion. Those things are growing fast…

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Naturally the shepherd is a little miffed, and in recompense is paid threefold for his losses. And then who should show up again, but Lenny Kravitz? His name is Hizdahr zo Loraq, but no one is ever going to be able to pronounce or spell it, so he’ll probably be known to fans as either ‘Loraq’ or ‘that slave master with the Iron Man rings.’ Hizdahr’s father was one of the masters that Dany crucified, against the advisement of Ser Barristan. Dany’s notion of ‘justice’ is again called into question, and she doesn’t like it, but seems to yield a bit at his emotional appeal. She then officially updates the Targaryen slogan: ‘Rulin’s A Bitch!’ It lacks the sexy zing of ‘Fire and Blood,’ but smacks of gritty reality and hard truths.

In King’s Landing…

Speaking again of women who dole out murder, Cersei sits a thousand miles away and scoffs at the mention of both Dany’s dragons and the potential threat posed by Ser Barristan, whom she sent packing three seasons prior (Dany is again relevant to the small council? Plots are coming together??). We are reminded again before the council is dismissed that Jorah was once a spy whose mission was to inform the crown on shady Targaryen activity (remember in season one when Jorah hears Dany is pregnant, then mysteriously, suddenly has ‘somewhere really important to be?’).

The council is dismissed, and Oberyn Martell and Varys – the most over- and under-sexed characters on the show – have a very Game of Thrones conversation about the nature of desire. Ooo la la! Everyone wants something: Oberyn wants vengeance for his sister, Varys wants… wait, why is he looking at the throne like that? Always the slippery pickle, that one.

The real crowning (pun!) point of this episode is Tyrion’s heartbreaking trial, where ceaseless insult is added to mounting injury, and every single anti-Joffrey comment that he has made in the past comes back to haunt him. Cersei has stacked a cruel case against him, and things look bleak.

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The trial is similar to the one he faced at the Eyrie, when he stood before Smother Mother Lysa Arryn and Catelyn Stark-who-I-don’t-miss: incorrectly, he is accused of murdering a child, a crime that he OBVIOUSLY did not commit. His accusers are either blinded by emotion or have ulterior motives for wanting him sentenced to death. Glibly, he dismisses the accusations, rather than argue with rational points… which, in fairness, probably wouldn’t do him much good anyway. And all the while, the one person in the room who knows the truth of the murder – Margaery Tyrell – says not a word, but visibly reacts to each mention of poison.

I spoke to someone last week who was still a bit unclear about the how of Joffrey’s death. What better way to help someone on the Internet understand something than with gifs?

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Jamie tries to intervene with his father as the court adjourns, and seems to succeed: in exchange for allowing Tyrion to take the black and join the Night’s Watch, Tywin forces Jamie into returning to the Lannisters’ ancestral home to find a wife and sire children. Jamie very visibly does not love this resolution, but concedes. Jamie chooses Tyrion over Cersei – oh my. He passes this news along to Tyrion, and just as things start to look up (as much as they can, at this point) Tywin calls in the star witness: SHAE THE WHORE.

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Shae decimates any trace of hope Tyrion might have had. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and Shae was scorned hard. It’s difficult to tell if this is her principal motivation, but it surely seems to be. Her speech is stilted, almost rehearsed, but her lies are given credence by the truths concealed within them. Her betrayal very clearly sends Tyrion over the edge; his reaction to her presence is tragic, and his pain at her accusations is almost tangible. Peter Dinklage hasn’t gotten in much screen time this season, and now that he does, he shines. A Game of Thrones episode is better with him in it, and his fury in this episode is frightening:

“I did not kill Joffrey, but I wish I had. Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores.”

OH DAMN! This last bit is very obviously directed at Shae, The Lying Whore. The outburst doesn’t bode well, especially since the three judges in his case are a father who wants him dead, a sycophant willing to do anything that father asks, and a man who is out for Lannister blood. My dad has repeatedly avowed that he’ll stop watching Game of Thrones if they kill off Tyrion, and while I wouldn’t go so far as that, losing Peter Dinklage would certainly mean losing the soul of the show.

At least we have one consolation out of the trial: similar again to his trial at the Eyrie, Tyrion calls for trial by combat, in which he and Cersei will each pick a champion to fight to the death on their behalves.

You win or you die. We gum have a fight.

You’re Welcome:

This is s a mashup of my first pop culture love and one of my newest ones, and it had to be shared. Words cannot. Just watch.

And here are some neat stats on Game of Thrones viewership, which has increased drastically as the show that started as a risky venture skyrocketed to pop culture megalith status (thanks, Wikipedia).

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In Memoriam:

We lost a few extras this week. Also a few goats, but we’ll let them slide.

Previously: 5377

+4 Dreadfort Soldiers

+3 Iron Islanders

+1 Theon Greyjoy

-1 Reek

GAME OF THRONES KILL COUNT: 5384

Game of Thrones is notable in part for its use of violence for purposes other than sating the bloodthirsty masses. That doesn’t mean, though, that HBO is above gratuitous violence for entertainment purposes. I mean, just LOOK at that [estimated] kill count. Do I hope they exceed the 6K mark this season?

You bet!

Since no one will be doing anything between now and next week except jonesing for another episode, here’s a preview of what’s coming up: