Game of Thrones Season 4 Review “The Laws of Gods and Men”

game of thrones The Laws of Gods and Men

Within all of us lies a certain selfishness. Everyone believes their troubles and worries trump that of everyone else. No matter how big the world gets or how much we know about it, there’s still a feeling that the personal trumps all. As a result, it can be quite humbling to step out into the real world and expect it to care about our problems. It’s the reason why I enjoyed the exceptional craftsmanship of last night’s Game of Thrones. Most of the first 2/3rds of the episode centered around various people who are all under the impression they are truly ruler of Westeros. Naturally, none of the people claiming to be the King/Queen of the Andals and the First Men are even close to being the most powerful people in all of Westeros. More importantly, whether they’re visiting the Iron Bank of Braavos, or they’re traveling the fringes of Westeros, no one cares.

I found it refreshing to find the Iron Bankers in Braavos have no interest in who sits on the Iron Throne. Anytime someone of Westerosi privilege is made to wait like a commoner (Kings: They’re just like us!) for a group of people with no title is delicious television. Stannis’ titles hold no relevance: All the Iron Bankers are interested in is money. They’re the moneyballers of Game of Thrones. I love the continued conflict between Stannis’ belief in abstract concepts, and Davos’ belief in the value of what he can see. In a place with nameless bankers and faceless assassins, all that matters is the almighty dollar gold dragon.

Though the loan is approved, the point made by the Iron Bankers still stands: The most powerful man in Westeros remains Tywin Lannister. He’s certainly well past the average life expectancy of a person born in Westeros, but the man’s power and influence don’t seem to waning. He still inspires terror with the words “Fetch my quill and paper”. The show keeps hinting at a potential end to the Lannister dynasty, but it seems hard to imagine at the moment. Even if the dynasty lasts thousands of years, Tywin is leaving quite a debt at the feet of his heirs, and the Iron Bank is more than happy to collect.

Though the world stretched out a bit this week, it was the insular moments that packed the biggest punch. The trial of Tyrion Lannister has been brewing for awhile now, and watching it play out over the last 1/3 of the episode showed what Game of Thrones is capable of when it stops to focus on one thing. The show has really excelled with extended sequences this season (Joffrey’s wedding, the Battle of Craster’s Keep, etc.), and this one was no different.

Watching the show slowly build the drama over the course of the extended sequence was a masterclass in making television. We start with Tyrion not putting forth an effort in his own defense because he recognizes the trial for the giant farce that it truly is. However, it takes Jaime a little longer to come to that realization, but now that he does, it should be interesting to see what he chooses to do. No matter how you feel about Tyrion, standing against Tywin and Cersei Lannister is never good for business (which is why Varys is willing to testify against Tyrion).

Of course, the big moment in that scene comes as a result of Shae’s testimony. You can feel the venom and bitterness packed into every word spoken by Tyrion’s former lover, and you can feel how deep the testimony cuts into Tyrion. What comes afterwards is Peter Dinklage unleashing his Emmy nomination speech and performance. He absolutely sells out for the scene, and his monologue is spectacular. After a few slow moving episodes, this moment feels like the highwater point of the show’s midpoint. Just don’t expect anyone outside of the throne room to care all that much.