Previously on Game of Thrones: Dany decided to hunker down in Meereen to learn the business of ruling, Tyrion moved ever closer to going on trial for Joffrey’s murder, and Davos appealed to the Iron Bank of Braavos on Stannis’s behalf.
Oh, God, another new location? As if my sleep-deprived, baby-addled brain isn’t about ready to explode just trying to remember all the people and places we currently have on this show? All right, guess we’re going to Braavos.
Right away, in fact. Davos and Stannis sail towards the city, passing underneath an enormous statue of a man in armour on the approach.
At the Iron Bank, Stannis paces and complains about how long they’ve been kept waiting. Davos explains that time works a bit differently in Braavos, and everyone’s on their own schedule. Stannis doesn’t care. At last, a door opens and three men enter and take their seats at a long table. The main Banker welcomes them and invites Stannis to sit, which he does before Davos elaborately introduces him, including his hoped-for titles of Lord of the Seven Kingdoms etc. Banker points out that Tommen currently holds that particular seat and Stannis repeats the rumour that Tommen’s no Baratheon at all. Banker’s heard it, as well as a story that Stannis just wants the throne and will do whatever it takes to get it. He asks how many men and ships Stannis has and how much food Dragonstone produces. The answers Davos gives are not impressive enough, and the loan is denied. Stannis is ready to stomp off in a snit, but Davos is more persistent and shows them the hand that only has half fingers, explaining that this was the punishment Stannis meted out for Davos’s crimes, and he considers that fair. He adds that Stannis is the bank’s best chance of getting back the money they lent the crown for the war, because eventually Tywin will die, and there’ll be a power vacuum. He insists that there’s only one reliable leader left in Westros, and that’s Stannis, a man who’s proven himself in battle and actually does what he says he will. Banker looks thoughtful.
At some Braavosi bathhouse, a man is telling an extended joke to two prostitutes who’ve both heard the joke so many times they ruin the punchline for him. Davos strolls in and catches the end, and it quickly becomes clear that the man in the bath is an old friend of his (it sounds like he calls him Robert, but I can’t swear to that). Davos tells him he’ll be accompanying Stannis back to Dragonstone, and gives him a whole lotta gold to convince him. Guess the loan got approved after all.
Aboard her ship, Yara’s whipping up her men by reading aloud the message Ramsay sent with Theon’s private parts. She reminds the men that Ramsay mutilated their prince, and now it’s time to get some revenge. They’re totally down with that. While she reads, we get scenes of her intercut with scenes of Ramsay having sex with his creepy girlfriend, for no other reason than because HBO can do that. Seriously, there’s no purpose to having a sex scene here at all.
The Ironborn invade, and Yara grabs a man on the wall and demands to be shown to her brother, assuming he’s being held in a dungeon. He’s not, of course, he’s being housed in the kennels. Yara busts in, thanks her guide, and slits his throat, because she’s hardcore. Can we have her sit on the Iron Throne? She approaches Theon’s cage, busts the lock, and reassures him he’s all right. He thinks this is some sort of trick and doesn’t even know who he is anymore. Yara and one of her men try to drag him out, but he’s completely freaking and won’t go quietly. In comes Ramsay, covered in slashes (from his girlfriend, I guess?) and some of his men. He’s rather pleased to have a chance to spill some blood, and a close-quarters fight breaks out. Theon breaks away from Yara by biting her and dashes back into his cage. She dispatches some more of Ramsay’s men and tells him to hand over Theon and she won’t slaughter anyone else. He comments, correctly, that she’s got bigger balls than Theon ever did.
Cut to Yara and her remaining men returning to the boats on the shore. She orders the men to row back to the ship, and when a guard left behind asks where Theon is, she says he’s dead.
Which he is, in a sense. He’s Reek now, through and through. Ramsay brings him up to his bedroom, where there’s a bath waiting for him. Theon’s so terrified and addled he’s sure this is some new torture (fair enough) and it takes a little persuading on Ramsay’s part to get him into it (Ramsay, of course, smiles creepily as Theon takes off his britches, revealing Ramsay’s handiwork). Once Theon’s in the water, Ramsay starts to wash him and says he needs Theon to pretend to be Theon Greyjoy and help Ramsay retake a castle held by some bad men.
In a field somewhere, a shepherd and his son tend their flock. Suddenly, over the edge of the cliff comes one of Dany’s dragons, which quickly incinerates some of the goats and carries one of them off. Mmmm, barbeque.
Meereen. The poor shepherd comes to see Dany and tells her that her damn dragon just destroyed his livelihood. She offers to pay him three times the goats’ worth. The next petitioner is a nobleman, Hizdahr, who greets her respectfully, sucks up, and mentions his father, who helped restore Meereen’s greatest landmarks. Dany replies that she’d be honoured to meet him, and Hizdahr says she has: he was one of the men she had crucified. Oooh, awkward. Dany defends her brutality by reminding Hizdahr that his father helped crucify children. But Hizdahr insists his father was totally against that idea, and furthermore, responding to a criminal act with another one is really no way to get anything accomplished. He’s willing to put all this aside, though, because all he wants is to be permitted to bury his father properly. After jerking him around briefly, Dany gives him permission to bury his dad. He thanks her and leaves. She finally looks like she feels badly for having committed an atrocity.
The new Small Council is meeting, and Oberyn’s starting off by complaining about the early hour. Tywin arrives and Tyrrell commences brownnosing. Tywin cuts him off so Varys can report sightings of the Hound in the Riverlands. Tywin ups the reward for his arrest. Varys moves on to Dany and how she’s now living in Meereen with an impressive army at her side. Pycelle seems to recall that Jorah was once spying on Dany for them, but Varys says he’s now changed sides. And Barristan took his dismissal from the Kingsguard super personally. Cersei dismissively describes him as an old man who wasn’t fit to protect the king, but her father points out that Joffrey didn’t die on his watch. Because she’s stupid, Cersei doesn’t think that ‘a child halfway around the world’ is anything to be concerned about, but Varys reminds her that this ‘child’ has a massive army, two seasoned warriors advising her, and three goddamned dragons. Jesus, Cersei is an idiot. Oberyn speaks to the skills of the Unsullied, which he witnessed firsthand. Tywin decides Dany will have to be dealt with at some point and sends Tyrrell to fetch some paper and a quill, which he does like this is the most important thing anyone’s ever done. Everyone else adopts ‘man, what a jackass’ looks. No wonder Oleanna hates this guy. Clearly, brains only run in the matrilineal line in that family.
Later, Oberyn runs into Varys, hanging out in the throne room. They talk a little bit about Oberyn’s interest in travel and seeing the wider world, as well as Varys’s history, which Oberyn guesses is fairly interesting. He suggests Vary stop by the brothel to meet Ellaria and to have a little fun, but Varys is not and never has been interested in such pursuits. He tells Oberyn he’s seen what desire does to people and to entire countries and is happy to be free of it. Plus, the absence of desire leaves a person free to pursue other things. He looks meaningfully at the iron throne, then leaves.
Jaime arrives at Tyrion’s cell to bring him up for the trial, which is being held in the throne room and is apparently the social event of the season. Someone calls Tyrion ‘kingslayer’ as he walks past. In that family, I’d have thought that would be a compliment. Tommen immediately excuses himself and leaves things in his grandfather’s hands. The judges take their seats and the trial begins. Tyrion, naturally, pleads not guilty, surmising that Joffrey choked on his pie.
Call the first witness! It’s a kingsguard who tells the court how Tyrion took Joffrey to task after he started a riot by existing the day he saw his sister off to her new home in Dorne (you remember, the day the Hound saved Sansa from being raped?). The man also brings up the time Tyrion compared Joffrey to the Mad King and suggested he’d meet the same fate. Tyrion breaks in and reminds them all that at the time, Joffrey was pointing a crossbow at Sansa and having her beaten and humiliated. Tywin shouts for Tyrion to be silent unless spoken to.
Next up is Pycelle, who starts reading a long list of poisons he keeps, until Oberyn tells him to leave off. Pycelle goes on to say that his poison stores were plundered by Tyrion while Pycelle was imprisoned. He says that Joffrey died from poison, and a rare one at that. Of course. He produces Sansa’s necklace and points out the missing stone, saying that residue of the poison was found on the necklace.
Cersei takes the stand and reports how Tyrion warned her that someday she’d suffer a great loss. She claims Tyrion was angry with her because she asked him to get rid of his girlfriend.
Varys is called and shares the story of how Tyrion commented that kings were dying like flies, shortly after Robb’s death. Varys surmises that Tyrion’s loyalties may have changed after he married a Stark. When Varys is excused, Tyrion asks if he can ask the witness a single question. He’s given leave to do so and he reminds Varys that he once said Tyrion saved the city, and though history would never mention it, Varys himself would not forget. So, Tyrion asks, did Varys forget? Varys smiles sadly and says he never forgets a thing. Well, thanks for that, Varys. As he steps down, Tywin adjourns the court for an hour. As everyone leaves, Jaime, who’s been looking really guilty, hurries across the throne room.
He joins Tywin in an adjoining room and asks for leniency on his brother’s behalf. Tywin hides behind the ‘just doing my duty’ excuse, but Jaime’s clearly not ok with this kangaroo court. He offers to do what Tywin likes and leave the kingsguard, marry, and have kids if Tywin shows Tyrion mercy. Tywin readily agrees, because he’d already planned to let Tyrion join the Night’s Watch if he begged for mercy. And while he’s heading up to the Wall, Jaime will be on his way to Casterley Rock to take his place as Lannister heir. Jaime knows he’s been played a bit here, but he gives his word.
He goes back into the throne room and tells Tyrion he needs to change his plea to guilty and plead for mercy, explaining what will happen if he does so. Tyrion reminds him that Ned was promised the same deal and look how that turned out. Jaime insists this will be different and asks Tyrion to trust him.
The court resumes and the next witness is…Shae? The hell? Tyrion’s as shocked as I am. She takes the stand and lies like crazy, telling the court that Tyrion and Sansa planned Joffrey’s murder together because Sansa wanted revenge for her family’s deaths. Tyrion flops down on a chair, defeated. She also claims that Tyrion stole her from another lover and made her his sex slave, forcing her to call him her lion. Tyrion quietly asks her not to do this, but she turns to him and coldly says, ‘I am a whore, remember?’ Jesus. So, this is just some kind of revenge? She’s seriously being the most bitter ex in history? That…doesn’t really work for me. It just doesn’t seem to jibe with her character. It’s incredibly childish and petulant, and while she was prone to some foot-stomping and pouting, this is taking all that several shades too far. Also, one of the things we know about Shae is that she’s not stupid. She really should have been able to figure out what happened and what made Tyrion dump her and send her away. He’d been saying for ages that she wasn’t safe in King’s Landing—they weren’t even able to sleep together anymore because of it. He wanted her to leave, but she kept refusing. It didn’t occur to her that this man–clever, loving, and savvy–would resort to a plan B? It didn’t occur to her that he turned mean and brutal very, very suddenly? And even if she hadn’t figured all this out, why is she coming back to make shit up that will get Tyrion and Sansa executed? She loved Tyrion and was at the very least extremely fond of Sansa. She hates Cersei and all the other Lannisters. So why is she suddenly working for them? Was she always? Was she part of some extremely long con on Tyrion? That’s the only way this whole thing makes any sense to me. Otherwise, it’s just totally out of character.
Anyway, Shae goes on to say that Tyrion offered to kill Joffrey so Sansa would agree to sleep with him. Fed up, Tyrion says he wants to confess. Looking murderous, he turns to the spectators and growls that he saved every last one of them, but as worthless as they are, he should have let Stannis slaughter them all. He turns back to Tywin and says he’s innocent of killing Joffrey, but he’s guilty of being a dwarf, something he’s been on trial for his entire life. Totally finished with this charade, he turns to Cersei and repeats that he didn’t kill Joffrey, but he sure wishes he had, because watching her vicious bastard die gave him more relief than a thousand lying whores. Back to the crowd, he says he wishes he was the monster they think he is and also wishes he had enough poison to get rid of every one of them. He returns to his father and says he knows he won’t find any justice with the court, so he’ll put it in the hands of the gods. He demands trial by combat. Hey, it worked out pretty well for him last time. Will he go with Bronn again, do you think, or take a chance with Jaime one-hand?