Game Of Thrones Season 4 Episode 6 recap

Sometimes I complain that there’s action without consequence.  This episode is not that. In fact, this might be the actual exemplary episode of GOT – there’s violence and sex and cunning plots and most importantly, really getting to spend time with the masterminds of everyone’s fate. The Lannisters still run things, in the sense that half of being successful is acting like you are. But before we get there, we have to visit some of the further-flung lands…

Davos & Stannis have twin stares of steel as they sail somewhere, slowly. Through an awesome man who doth bestride the world like a colossus. Oh wait – they’re in Braavos, waiting for keepers of the Iron Bank. There is an earnest plea to three men - including a redheaded one -  to see Stannis as the true heir to the throne and one deserving of support. Redhead talks turkey. “How many men do you have? How many ships?” When Stannis admits he can’t support his own effort, Redhead is smug. Davos does a Hail Mary pass: He outlines all the terrible character flaws of everyone we know on the show who’s near to the throne  – Jaime, Cersei, etc – and says Stannis is the only reliable leader left. 

It appears he’s persuasive. Because at a spa/baths thing, Davos’ friend is telling what might be a joke or a war story in the kind of pool I’ve heard referred to as “tit soup” [Sorry , Mad Men viewers]. He’s relatively surprised to see Ser Davos out and about. Davos flings some gold at him and gets all Ocean’s 11 about how they’re getting the gang back together. Dude is less than impressed because of the women attached to the boobs in question but nonetheless gets the message to suit up.   Stuff’s happening!

Oh man, Yara. This devoted sister thing really gets me somehow, even though she, like everyone, thinks Theon is basically an idiot. On her ship, she reads aloud Ramsay’s note about Theon’s torture while Ramsay himself gets it on. Then suddenly she’s climbing up over the walls of Ramsay’s castle, as his girl makes it over the top…I don’t mind what they did there. Yara and her dudes kill a few guards and then demand to be taken to Theon in the dungeon, but that’s not where he is.

…Kennel. He’s cowering in a crate. It’s gross, and I mean, we kind of get it already, you know? Nonetheless, Yara unceremoniously breaks Theon out, and I think this is the first time we’ve seen Alfie Allen’s full face in about a season. Theon is screaming that he’s Reek, he’s always been Reek, fighting hard not to go with the Iron-born, when Ramsey shows up shirtless. There’s a merry swordfight, and this is what I like.   All the action, up front. But Yara’s f-cked when Theon runs back into his cage. And then Ramsay lets loose one of the dogs…

Cut to Yara climbing into her boat. “My brother is dead.” Ouch.

Ramsay has a reward for Theon/Reek – he’s going to get a bath. The look of disbelief on Theon’s face is actually hurtful. Even though I know this scene is about to go sadistically wrong, I still feel gross at how happy Theon and his scarred body are.  Also, every other review will mention that Ramsay grinned at the sight of Theon’s lack of penis, so there you go. Consider it mentioned. Anyway, to further mess with Theon’s head, Ramsey tells him – that is, Reek - that he’s going to have to go out and pretend to be Theon in the world. Sounds like a Buffy episode.

Daenerys. Meereen. A humble shepherd brings her some goat bones, which are completely charred, due to ever-bigger dragon appetites. Daenerys is merciful and says she’ll give him three times the value of his goats. She almost giggles at how great it feels to help him, but it’s notable that she doesn’t apologize for her brat dragons’ behavior, eh? Next it’s Hizdahr zo Loraq. Uh oh. His father is one of the ones who was crucified. And he’s all if you’re going to kill him, fine, but can’t we bury him? I’ll ask you to mark this date and this episode, because this is the first time Daeny looks even a little unsure of herself. Should she have let these men have proper funerals? She says yes, and whatever they’ve done to make her look like a child this episode is working.   

Is it possible that it’s truly never appeared to Daenerys that she might not be the most skilled natural leader with zero training and zero understanding of war beyond “compassion”? That she is only for the first time realizing that she might not be infinitely wise? Let’s wait for Daeny’s angsty years, when all Jorah’s pleading won’t bring her out of her room…

You know who’s having a better day than Daenerys? Oberyn. In fact, he’s about to have a string of them. After bringing needed levity to the king’s council meeting (Cersei continues not to think Daenerys is a threat), Varys meets Oberyn by the Iron Throne. Yammer about how Varys isn’t actually a Lord. Oberyn accuses Varys of being from Essos. There’s banter about accents but Oberyn’s is so thick it’s hard to get the jokes. Then a side note about how Varys is totally asexual and then a pointed look at the Iron Throne. Like, we’ve now learned Littlefinger has been playing everyone all along, but there’s some twist that points out he’s been played by Varys?   Best ever. See, this is why I don’t feel bad for not having read the books. I like not knowing. I like wondering what’s going to happen next. 

And I am rewarded. Because the rest of the episode focuses perfectly, delightfully, stiflingly, on the trial. Tyrion has always been his family’s wild card and this time he actually earns some of the vitriol and the hatred that he spews at everyone who’s ever thought a bad thought about him. It would be much more satisfying if he could ever hurt anyone the way he’s been hurt. But somehow, even though he has no faith in humanity really, and especially in the residents of King’s Landing, he’s heartbroken by the kind of terrible but kind of predictable way this trial goes.

And Jaime looks on from the corner…

The fact that Sansa has deserted him is kind of the best thing going for Tyrion right now since he doesn’t have to worry that he’s covering up for her. With Tywin sitting on Tommen’s throne, there’s no possible way to get around the idea of the trial being unfair to begin with –and by design. I’ve always thought it strange that Tywin doesn’t appreciate Tyrion’s obvious intelligence since it seems like something he would value in others generally – that’s where the blind spot of the dwarfism comes in, I guess.

This is a savage Tyrion. He doesn’t even have it in him to make fun of people to their faces like he usually would. He’s just so furious and so hurt and so tired of defending himself for being a regular person and all his rage comes out. He swallows abuse from Ser Merwyn. He suffers character assassination with Pycelle, who pulls out the necklace retrieved from Dontos that Sansa was wearing. It looks bad, and that’s before we see Cersei testifying with the speech Tyrion spoke about her joy turning to ashes in her mouth. She has the tears and the wavering voice that you know will be a slam dunk in the courtroom, even if some of the jury consists of your father who knows you too well to be susceptible to your charms and tears. 

And then comes a recess, where Jaime yells at Tywin to let Tyrion live, and in the closest approximation of two equals, Tywin is like “OK, here’s the deal. Tyrion to the Night’s Watch. You to Casterly Rock. Hurry and impregnate some actual children named Lannister, on the double.” What can Jaime say? I know this is supposed to be the Jaime I feel close to and warm about, since he’s showed Brienne and Tyrion some kindness, but uh, am I supposed to forget those he hasn’t been so kind to? As recently as two episodes ago? It’s curious, actually, because while most of the characters on the show are complex, Jaime’s one of the only ones who’s an utter contradiction.

Well, almost.  Because guess who steps up to the witness stand?

Oh, it’s Shae. 

Hi, Shae.  

She begins testifying that she knows Tyrion because she’s Sansa’s handmaiden, and then says he and Sansa planned together to kill Joffrey. The last lights of hope go out of Tyrion’s eyes and Shae explains that she knew all these plans because she was Tyrion’s whore. Margaery – perturbed. Cersei – satisfied. Shae does her best to make everything that went between her and Tyrion sound dirty and terrible. And when Tyrion begs her not to imply that all of their love and closeness was false, she’s all “I am a whore”. No comfort there.

So Tyrion goes, “I wish to confess”. All the things that Tyrion says about pleading guilty to being a dwarf – even though Tyrion is meant to be 30 or so – could very easily and with little effort in translation be used in a teen angst movie as a classic for future generations. Daddy never loved him. Those cuts run deep, right, Jon Snow? Right, Ramsay Snow? Hell, right, Samwell Tarly?

Obviously this is the turning point for Tyrion. He sort of treated his family with benign condescension – he did what he had to and didn’t really think his father was going to follow through on his threats. He hated his sister but thought he was able to give her a wide-enough berth. This is kind of the last straw where actually being the last halfway moral person in King’s Landing goes. If he survives (and the over/under on the story getting rid of Tyrion for shock versus the show needing Dinklage’s star power seems about even), how can he ever be the same Tyrion? I thought he’d been knocked down before, but Shae calmly and dry-eyedly reminded him that she was a whore. That she couldn’t have loved of her own free will…

People make lots of choices for those they love. They sacrifice and change. So what do you do when you find out you are not loved? That everything you thought was untrue? Is that worth going on a suicide mission? Shae doesn’t love him. Sansa never did. Cersei despises him and Jaime’s love, such as it is, seems mostly to consist of whispered asides and tortured glances. Both brothers are trapped.  

The action this episode was exactly where it was supposed to be. I was so glad not to be up at Castle Black or anything. But – where are we going to see Theon/Reek in the role of Theon Greyjoy? Because I look forward to this, rather more than I expected.