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Season 4 Spoilers Premiere Discussion 4 06 The Laws of Gods and Men gameofthrones

Reddit discussion of 4x06 "The Laws of Gods and Men" :

Will add gifs and memes to this page as I find them.

The Grantland article explains why we're in the trenches now:

It was a change in focus that felt both welcome and surprising — though in retrospect it probably shouldn’t have caught me off guard. As always, Benioff and Weiss twin the types of stories they want to tell with the way they tell them. The first few years of Game of Thrones advanced the plot in great, slashing strokes: Wars were declared, battles waged, cities sacked, heads rolled. But this fourth season began with a different sort of lesson. Remember the long scene in the brothel when Prince Oberyn of Dorne, as fluid with his movements as he is with his sexuality, educated some preening Lannisters? When faced with an unknown outsider, they rested on their privilege and reached for their weapons. Before they could unsheathe anything, Oberyn had a dagger through one man’s wrist and a threatening laugh ringing in the ears of the other. Long swords were well and good during the early days of the conflict, when noble crusaders like Ned and Robb Stark were rallying citizens under the flag of fair play and villains like Joffrey wereliterally threatening to skin a cat. But Game of Thrones is in the trenches now. If you’re not playing dirty, you’re not playing to win.

Or maybe you’re not playing at all. Ever since communing with Ghost Drogo in Dean Pelton’s nightmare labyrinth back in Season 2, Daenerys has rolled through Essos like a Category 5 hurricane. But conquering isn’t the same thing as ruling — it’s not even the same language. The Unsullied are intentionally a faceless mass — they’re the long sword she has used to cut a swath through every city in Slaver’s Bay. Now, thanks to either her vanity or her decency, Daenerys has made the same mistake Orpheus once did: She turned around. Instead of losing a lover, she lost her momentum — and, hopefully, her lingering naïveté. There’s very little that’s noble about the chaos and destruction left in her wake. To quote a wooden puppet: Freedom ain’t free. Now that she has decided against sailing ahead to her supposed destiny, Daenerys appears ready to sink into a quagmire entirely of her own making.


Don’t get me wrong: If the rest of Game of Thrones concerned itself solely with Meereenese municipal board meetings and Braavosi bank holidays, I’d be plenty disappointed. (I’d also be kind of impressed!) But for now it’s a fascinating detour into the game behind the Game, the one with rules that aren’t so easily bent. All told, free lollipops were the only thing lacking from Stannis and Davos’s trip to the imposing Iron Bank — a visit that was established with some of the show’s best use yet of CGI (though I imagine HBO got a discount on the pre-owned mystical statue). Casting the wonderfully supercilious Mark Gatiss (Mycroft Holmes on the BBC’s brilliant Sherlock) as Tycho Nestoris, the lead teller, was equally inspired. No actor alive is better at basting his speechifying with equal measures of authority and disdain. I haven’t heard such a scintillating conversation about commodities futures since the Duke brothers were still alive.

More revealing than Tycho’s words, though, was his behavior. Only a man with numbers — not soldiers — on his side can afford to treat a regal visitor like a schmuck trying to renew his driver’s license at the DMV. Tywin Lannister is constantly referred to as the most powerful man in the world, and he certainly carries himself that way. But the Hand of the King looks as foolish as Ser Dontos compared with the Wallet of the East; he’s an old man whose quill keeps writing checks his barren mines can’t cash. It brings to mind the words of a certain former Master of State who once led a country into an unplanned invasion of a desert nation: If you broke it, you bought it. Fair enough, but what if you can’t afford to pay for the mess you’ve made? What will get broken then?

The business in Braavos was the best illustration yet of the unsentimental “reality” that undergirds George R.R. Martin’s more soaring flights of fancy. Game of Thrones isn’t necessarily contrarian; it doesn’t seek to demonstrate how evil will always outfox good. What it does is show, with increasing specificity, how notions like “good” and “evil” mean little in a universe prone to greed and chaos. As the weeks pass, it becomes more and more clear that the title of the series is meant as a joke. These incestuous ponces with horns on their heads and animals on their banners are playing their games on someone else’s dime — and, often, with other people’s lives. That’s why it was so important to travel from the bank tower all the way down to the bathhouses, where an overdressed Ser Davos paid a visit to his old friend Salladhor Saan, the sex pirate.

Oh, how happy I was to see my favorite character enjoying a well-deserved schvitz in the company of fine women and awful jokes! And it’s not just Lucian Msamati’s merry performance that charms me. I’ve been arguing for years that the sex pirate is the most relatable character on Game of Thrones because he swears allegiance only to House Party. Last night, his welcome presence suggested something even more profound about the way his awful world truly works. Saan is a pirate and Davos is a smuggler — he was before he lost his fingers and, it seems, he will be soon once again. In other words, they are the individuals who move things from one place to another, who do the grunt work the Highborn are neither interested in nor aware of. Who do you think lugged those jugs of Dornish wine that Oberyn was bragging about in the throne room last night? Who do you think picked and packed the lemons that were baked into cakes for Sansa last week at the Eyrie? Seeing Saan and Davos is an important reminder that Westeros wouldn’t cease to function without kings. There are far too many of those as it is. What the world truly requires to function is humble functionaries — and anyone who seeks to hold power would do well to remember it.

This could have been an awful episode -- full of red tape -- but instead it was awesome.

Thank you PhoneDojo for these gifs:

Dragon coming up on goat herd gif:

Stannis entering Braavos gif:

These gifs are 49M and 37M so I am not including them here.

Reddit comments:

This was the first episode ever that featured no Starks:

Dany with 212 new inbox notifications:

(No, Shae, No.)

They didn't laugh when Pycelle called Joffrey "the most noble boy the world had ever seen" but they do when Shae talks about Tyrion. Worst. Audience. Ever.

How great an actor is Peter Dinklage? Amazing!


He's an AMAZING actor.

Varys, you snake.

It's amazing how this show is basically Varys vs. Littlfinger. Two born from nothing and made to manipulate everything.

That look he gave when he looked at the throne while talking to oberyn.

"Varys, how you gonna do me like that bro?" - Tyrion

You can tell Tywin had this planned out before Jaime even had the idea in his head to give up the Kingsguard for Tyrion's life.

You can also tell that Tyrion figured out Jamie was giving up something to get mercy for him. Between that and Tywin using Shae against him he opts for trial by combat because fuck you "Dad", you're not getting what you want this time. Good stuff, awesome subtext.

Great Grantland description:

Just a few weeks removed from Joffrey’s despicable wedding entertainment, here was another dwarf forced to submit himself to a high-society farce. Everyone played his or her role to perfection, from Oberyn’s crowd-baiting grins to Margaery’s disturbed glances. And it was quite rich, all the well-fed hypocrites hubbub-ing in the aisles, pretending to be shocked by stories of things they themselves dream of doing every night. And Pycelle with his laundry list of poisons! As if the most dangerous venom in King’s Landing were stored in a bottle and not in the Queen Regent’s veins. Yet what stung the most was the cold, Law & Order–like logic of the actual trial. Tyrion wasn’t hoisted on his own petard, he was spit-roasted on it. Every word used to damn him emerged from his mouth over the course of the series, context be damned. (Cersei’s impressive wine consumption clearly has had no ill effect on her memory and uncanny ear for dialogue.)

Jaime’s self-sacrifice was moving — one Kingslayer laying down his life for another — but it was also a trap. The speed with which Tywin agreed to Jaime’s proposal, and the ease with which he referred to the actual parentage of his grandsons (“you’ll … father children named Lannister”), made it plain that once again the Hand of the King was holding all the cards. Instead of killing a son he didn’t love, he gained the son he always wanted. It would have been almost beautiful if it weren’t so cruel. (Also cruel? The instant dismissal of Lancel Lannister, the Frank Stallone of Casterly Rock. Let a dude live!) Like Daenerys, Tywin leaned on the word “justice” like a crutch, a prop to lift himself up even as he stoops into the muck.

It all almost worked, too. Tywin was moments away from having Tyrion banished to the North and Jaime exiled to when someone overplayed their hand. At first it wasn’t clear whether Shae had returned of her own volition, but soon, as the bitterness flew from her mouth like daggers, it was plain that she was there only to hurt Tyrion as much as he had hurt her. In the end, it wasn’t hard. With his heart separated from his body, the Imp no longer cared much for the fate of his head. And in that moment, instead of making a joke, he chose to make himself heard.

Littlefinger was right when he said that everyone in King’s Landing is a liar, but, for a single glorious moment, there was one man in the center of the throne room speaking nothing but the truth. Yes, he wanted Joffrey dead. At Blackwater Bay, Tyrion had saved a vile city unworthy of his largesse. He wouldn’t make the same mistake again, just as he won’t give the backstabbers and social climbers the pleasure of his continued humiliation. If he must face the noose, he’ll take it into his own hands. A trial by combat isn’t about defending your past, it’s about fighting for your life. (Whether Tyrion will actually pick up a sword this time or once again tag out in favor of a more skilled champion — Bronn? Left-handed Jaime? — remains to be seen. I’m hoping for the former.)

I'm hoping for the former, too.

Poor Tyrion:

When Tyrion came to King's Landing, he'd just been appointed acting Hand of the King, and he was suddenly eager to prove that he was smarter than the previous Hand, Ned Stark. But last night's episode shows him facing the exact same fate as Ned, because he couldn't stop being too clever for his own good.

Tyrion's masterstroke was that he told three different people three different plans, to see which one got back to his sister Cersei: Littlefinger, Varys and Pycelle. Whoever told Cersei, Tyrion would know he couldn't trust. When Pycelle ratted Tyrion out to Cersei, Tyrion had Pycelle tossed in a black cell. And then Tyrion went ahead with his real plan, sending Cersei's only daughter Myrcella away to Dorne to be protected (or to be a hostage.)

Tyrion Is Among The Least Skilled Players Of The Game Of Thrones

There are a few key flaws in Tyrion's cunning ruse, however. First of all, he should have known already who he could trust: nobody. Second of all, the two people he came away deciding he could trust were Littlefinger (who framed him for murder, although he doesn't know that) and Varys (who just testified against him at his trial.) Third of all, he made an enemy of Pycelle, who is only too eager to make up crazy stories about Tyrion stealing every poison on Earth from Pycelle's stash.

This whole business of figuring out who you can trust is only slightly different than Ned Stark insisting on giving Cersei a fair warning before revealing her secret — in both cases, it betrays a misunderstanding of how the world works.

Tyrion Is Among The Least Skilled Players Of The Game Of Thrones

And Tyrion wouldn't be on trial for Joffrey's murder if he'd played his cards even slightly right. He basically did the opposite of the smart thing on every occasion, openly defying Joffrey and mocking the idiot king to his face. He even joked about kings dropping like flies. And meanwhile, Tyrion made an enemy of Cersei, instead of humoring her admittedly bonkers notions.

What's amazing about Tyrion's trial for Joffrey's murder is how much of the testimony is true. There are some distortions here and there, and people leave out stuff — like Ser Meryn Trant doesn't mention what Joffrey was doing when Tyrion defied him in the throne room, and Cersei leaves out why Tyrion vowed to turn her joy to ashes. But a truly skilled player would find ways to get back at people without getting caught, while putting on a smiling face in public.


All the characters' reactions to Tyrion demanding a trial by combat:

Theme: One stands before three.

After reeling from the incredible acting of last Sunday's episode, I noticed a really interesting symmetry in the show's major scenes (discounting Theon/Ramsay):

One character is brought before a panel of three to plead his case and seek resolution. When you get down to the dynamics of power between the one against three, you can see that each scene is actually one against one - the two other "panelists" are really just flanking the decision maker.


The first scene is with Ser Davos before the Iron Bank. Tycho Nestoris is flanked by two other "stones in the temple," as Tywin calls them. Ser Davos presents his case for funding Stannis and is initially getting nowhere. He is forced to play his trump card by literally showing his hand to the bankers, effectively convincing them that they should make the loan. Ser Davos is successful.

Screenshots: One before threeDavos plays his hand.


The next scene is Hizdahr zo Loraq before Daenerys, flanked by Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan. Hizdahr presents his case for letting him bury his father, and is initially getting nowhere. He is forced to get on his knees, bow down to the conquerer, and beg Daenerys to respect their sacred funeral rights. She relents, and Hizdahr is successful.

Screenshots: One before threeanother perspectiveHizdahr begs on his knees


The final scene presents Tyrion before Tywin Lannister, flanked by Prince Oberyn and Lord Mace Tyrell. Unlike the total silence of the bankers and Daenerys's Queensguard, Oberyn and Mace occasionally lend their voices to the back and forth of the case. It's obvious, however, that Tywin wields the real power on the dais. Tyrion "presents" his case for his innocence in regicide, and definitely gets nowhere. He is forced into anger, and realizing he will not find justice in the kangaroo court, must to play his hand and demand trial by combat. Tywin cannot deny him, so he (in a sense) is successful.

Screenshots: One before threeTywin flankedTyrion makes his demand

Although obviously all under different circumstances, the similarities in scene structure, pacing, and direction beautifully parallel each other.

One quick note I'd like to make: I suppose you could arguably say that the presence of Stannis would buff Ser Davos, therefore making their scene closer to two before three. I don't feel like Stannis really did much, though, especially when it came to getting down to iron tacks. However, if you include Stannis, then perhaps it's fair to compare his role to Jaime alongside Tyrion, and whoever that dude is that stands behind Hizdahr.

Although the acting (rightfully) stole the show, I think the writing and direction of this episode also deserves its fair share of recognition.

Reddit comments:

Dragon coming up on goat herd gif:

Stannis entering Braavos gif:

These gifs are 49M and 37M so I am not including them here.

Reddit comments:

"There's only one reliable leader left in Westeros: Stannis. He's got the birthright. He's in his prime. He's a tried and tested battle commander. And he doesn't just talk about paying people back, he does it." ~Ser Davos about Stannis to the Iron Bank

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