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Game of Thrones



Episode 6 - The Laws of Gods and Men

14 May 2014

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Yara makes an unsuccesful attempt to rescue Theon. Stannis and Davos get some funding from the Iron Bank. Daenerys deals with the aggrieved children of the Masters of Meereen. Tyrion's trial begins and Jaime steps in to offer his King's Guard place in exchange for his brother's life. Tywin takes it but when Shae testifies against Tyrion he calls for Trial by Combat.

The Good: Despite its flaws the introduction of Shae into the trial definitely made things more emotive. He could accept his own family working against him to spin this web of lies as it suited their purposes. But for them to co-opt his lover was too much. They clearly didn't need her testimony to convict him and so it was a deep wound to see her there. Even worse was her willingness to take revenge on him in this way. And she was only in that position because he had been dutiful to his family (and new wife) and tried to honour the new commitments he had made. So in the light of that and years of pent up frustration his railing against the whole of King's Landing was a fabulous moment. The injustice of his existence poured out of his mouth and he used the one lever he had at his disposal to ruin his father's carefully laid plans.

And carefully laid plans they indeed seem to be. The swiftness of Tywin's acceptance of Jaime's offer suggests that this was the plan all along. Did Tywin really wink at Joffrey's murder because he could see the possibility of forcing both Tyrion and Jaime into roles he would prefer them in? Or did he just take advantage of the situation to get what he wanted? Either way I was pleased to see Jaime finally confront his father and for the revelation of Tywin's real motivations.

Across the Narrow Sea even more of my questions were being answered. Stannis admits he has only four thousand men left (which they should have told us after Blackwater) but thanks to a fantastic speech from Davos gets the loan he requires. Braavos looked fantastic by the way. Then we had Dany discovering that some Masters in Meereen did indeed speak out against the slave crucifixion (as I suggested) while also learning that dragons be hungry and being Queen can be tedious. All of those lessons are ones she will need to learn so I appreciated the economy of running them all together.  

The Bad: The attack on the Dreadfort was ok. The point was well made that Theon is so broken that even the sight of rescue only makes him more terrified of some Ramsay trick. However, as with Theon's own capture of Winterfell (206) I don't think medieval castles should be so easy to break in to. The fight sequence in the kennels was unconvincing as our main characters dodged any damage and Yara somehow managed to escape back to her boat. Surely the whole castle should have been awake at that point and rushing in to capture her?

The Unknown: As with Tyrion's first trial (106) the absence of explanation for how court procedure operates hurt those scenes. Is the accused not allowed to defend himself? Tywin allows him only one question for Varys. Why only one? I'm perfectly happy to accept an unjust legal system but you need to tell me that. Because it removed a real edge from those scenes. Tyrion attempts to cross examine a couple of witnesses but is shouted down. If he really can't defend himself then we are just waiting around for a verdict, the statements given were somewhat irrelevant.

Then of course he calls for Trial by Combat. At this stage I am happier to accept that given that both Tyrion and the Hound have called upon it as a divinely sanctioned means of settling disputes. However it remains a slightly unconvincing tool given the power it allows Tyrion over what is meant to be a show trial. i.e. surely in this world Tywin could make up some crap about how killing the King forfeits your right to call for such a measure. Within the narrative though it's a compelling scenario. If they would let him Bronn would make an excellent candidate at this point. But if he is barred from entry then only Jaime would accept this right? In which case are we about to witness his first left handed victory or is George R R Martin about to have both Lannister brothers killed in what would be suicidally brave writing? Or perhaps Tywin won't allow this somehow? It's a good cliffhanger.

I don't know how to feel about Shae. If it turns out she was heavily coerced into giving "evidence" then I can hardly blame her. But if she willingly offered to condemn him to death because of the pain of being jilted then I'm cold to the story. She was presented as someone with real intelligence. Since she came to King's Landing she's become increasingly foolish and I have no respect for someone who couldn't see that Tyrion was trying to save her pain and responds instead by helping to dig his grave.

I've been missing Varys this season and finally he addresses his own potential sexuality claiming he has no interest in it at all. He even claims to have no desire before awkwardly nodding at the throne when Obe ryn presses him on what he wants. We've heard him say he only wants to look after the Realm before but his glance at that chair of Iron can only be interpreted ominously. I hope he's not doing a Little Finger and admitting openly his desire for power. Back in "The Wolf and the Lion" (105) Arya overheard Varys seemingly discussing when it would be best for Dany to invade Westeros and the thread has never been tied up. Was this a hint to Varys' real plans?

Tywin making Mace his cup bearer (or paper fetcher in this case) doesn't seem like a wise way to treat ones valued allies. A telling moment or just comic relief?

Best Moment: Tyrion spitting venom at a world that prejudged him on appearence and rarely stopped to check the facts.

Conclusion: It was good to catch up with some of our less visited characters. And it was a good conclusion to the trial but in between there were more of those adaption weaknesses I'm forever grumbling about.



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  • The accused has no witnesses in this case and so since the judges direct the trial it is their decision to allow him to speak or not. This is not an adversarial system where both parties are equally involved with the judges taking a backseat. This resembles more a continental system than anything else.

    Plus, it's a kangaroo court, the lst couple of seasons could have shown you that it was an unjust legal system...oh wait, they did in season 1 at the Vale.

    Given that Tommen gave Tywin the possibility to represent the Crown, and Tywin's own interest in wrapping up this event without breking alliances (which is why blaming Tyrion works well into his plans and reflects his prejudice against his son as well). Tywin trods Shae out there just to hurt Tyrion and shame him in front of evrybody. See, this is why people say that Tywin hates his son. Who does things like this, whic is why I cannot feel bad for Tywin at any moment. he kills, has people kiled, humiliates nd bullies his son and uses him whenever it's necessary for him to do so, which was the only reason Tywin named Tyrion Hand of the King: he knows Tyrion is useful but he's a tool to Tywin and nothing else, and the trial demonstrated that.

    Shae has been somewhat jealous of Sansa going back as far as season 3 so throwing Sansa under the bus when Sansa has fled the city seems logical and the fact that she took the break-up badly is probably at fault here also.

    Also, I wonder, with so many hypocrites on the show, whether the 'for the realm' thing is just something that Varys tells everyone to conceal his true intentions....

    Posted by Great Eagle, 29/03/2015 10:43am (3 years ago)

  • Thanks for your reply, Robin. I got a more of an understanding now.

    About why Tyrion wasn't given the message earlier, unless Tyrion will also be told that Shae will be on as a witness and be prepared to be humiliated with the lies she will be telling, I think don't think it will help on how early he was told that he live if he confess. Tyrion was doing pretty well considering the whole trial was a farce, it wasn't till Shae came on and the whole court was laughing at him that he lead to his emotional outburst.

    Posted by Dave, 19/05/2014 10:35am (4 years ago)

  • Thanks so much for the Ilyn Paine update.

    My whole issue surrounding the trial and Joff's death is about Tywin and his level of influence / control. Through the Red Wedding etc we get the impression that Tywin is always in control of a situation as far as he can be. So with Joffrey dying in front of him surely Tywin would be frantically concerned with his own safety and that of Tommen.

    Instead he's been very relaxed about it. So I assume he must have known about Joffrey's murder. And therefore is pinning the blame on Tyrion to kill two birds with one stone. But that hasn't been confirmed in the story yet. So my point about investigating alternatives is that if Tywin doesn't know who did it and doesn't really think it was Tyrion shouldn't he be investigating it further? If he genuinely believes that Tyrion did it, I find that a bit unconvincing. I feel like Tywin should understand Tyrion better than that.

    If you assume it's all a show trial then why risk that Tyrion would call for a Trial by Combat? Why not get him a message at an earlier stage saying
    "You are as good as dead, accept the Wall and you will live." Why take any chances?

    Posted by The TV Critic, 18/05/2014 1:27pm (4 years ago)

  • Just some post podcast comments.

    Please clarify what you mean by investigating alternatives, apart from questioning the two main suspects, Tyrion and Sansa, who else that Tywin and Cersei suspect of killing Joffrey? You might say the Tyrells and Martells, but they have no concrete proof either of them poisoned Joffrey. Also, the Lannisters are afraid to insult the Houses whose support they need. Or is it more like a detective-like character in Westeros should be introduced and questioning various characters in the wedding questioning them?

    As for Tyrion or Jaime not seeing Tywin, if I got to guess, the accused don't usually have access to the judges because it might sway their decisions. With this trial being farcical, Tywin could have simply refuse to see either of them, until the trial preceded and Jaime saw that Tyrion is screwed and he made the offered that Tywin wanted all along. I'm just speculating, of course.

    I wonder what you and Roberto mean that Tywin should anticipate that Tyrion will go to a Trial by Combat? Apart from getting Jaime to tell Tyion he will be spared if he confession, how else would Tywin be prepared for it? You guys mentioned that Tywin can somehow overrule the Trial by Combat. I'm not saying it can't happen, but even the likes of Lysa Arryn and Beric Dondarrion didn't overrule when their respective accused demanded a Trial by Combat, but will Tywin be different? We just have to wait and see.

    Roberto, I understand what you mean about the difference between Shae in the book and TV. I don't necessarily wanted her to cry, but it's more that the delivery of her lines by the actress wasn't so flat. It's the character's most pivotal scene, but I wasn't convinced by the performance.

    Your question to what happened to Ser Ilyn Payne, sadly the actor, Wilko Johnson, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in early 2013 and was given less than a year to live. So it's why he left the show. Good news is he's still alive and past the deadline he was given and went to have a successful operation to remove a tumor. Will he be back on the show? Who knows, it's probably the last thing on his mind right now after going through all that.

    Posted by Dave, 18/05/2014 8:09am (4 years ago)

  • This has been an interesting discussion by everyone. It’s left me thinking of this mini list I came up with just putting various things together from people’s comments:

    Certain things:

    • Tywin has been granted by Tommen ultimate overall control of the proceedings
    and verdict, so he has the power to say what happens.
    • The deal Tywin made with Jaime can only work if both Jaime and Tyrion live.
    • Tywin 's first priority is to House Lannister and securing its longevity.

    Uncertain things:

    • (As Roberto has mentioned) Can Tywin overrule or deny a Trial by Combat?
    • Can the High Septon overrule a Trial by Combat as well? (Since it is god related?)
    • If someone fights on your behalf and they are defeated in Trial by Combat are you executed or can you ask for mercy?
    • If Tyrion is found guilty, will Tyrion beg for mercy? If he doesn't will he be executed?

    Based on these things as Robin and Roberto mention all kinds of outcomes are possible.

    It’s pretty clear though that neither Jaime or Tyrion can die for the Lannister line to continue the way Tywin wants.

    Posted by Fluids, 15/05/2014 2:27pm (4 years ago)

  • Nothing was going to change the way I felt about how the trial was set up.

    And by set up I mean the fact that Tyrion was instantly imprisoned after Joffrey choked. At that point someone needed to address why no one was investigating alternatives? Or why Tywin was so casual about the King being murdered on his watch or equally casual about his son being put on trial. One of Tyrion or Jaime had to ask to see Tywin at that point before things got out of hand. It's a deal breaker for me. I don't buy that either of them could think that it would be a fair trial or that Tywin wouldn't already have an outcome in mind. Even a character like Oberyn could have voiced some of these concerns but no one did.

    From that position I was never going to be emotionally engaged in the trial. Because it was a means to an end. It was just preamble before the real plot point revealed itself. And when Shae appeared it did. It doesn't really matter what others argue about the story. That's just how I felt watching it.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 15/05/2014 12:29am (4 years ago)

  • Hey robin, i just listened to the podcast and i understand your complaints and I agree with a few of them but i just wanted to note that i'm not a book reader nor am i someone who loves every episode and was one of the people very positive on this. After reading your review I was a little bummed out you werent as high on it as me and i wanted to see what some other people were saying. i read reviews by alan sepinwall and andy greenwald, also non book readers and neither are critics that eagerly throw praise on every episode, and they were also very impressed. Not at all trying to say that you are wrong, i just don't think how you felt about the episode was entirely determined by your book knowledge. i was thoroughly engaged during the entire episode and felt it was really building tension, and i had a different take on certain scenes. For example, I see Jamie in a transitional period of his life where he is questioning what are the things that are most important to him now and struggling with what kind of man he wants to be. It is a difficult decision for him to go to tywin because he knows what he'll most likely have to offer, and it will mean he'll have to give up entirely on his relationship with Cercei, the only woman he has ever been with. He cares deeply for his brother and it seemed to me in the episodes prior, he was half heartedly trying to convince himself it would be a fair trial and Tyrion would have the chance to defend himself. I think his feelings for Cercei allow him to cloud his judgement at times when it comes to the true nature of his family, in particular how much his sister and father despise Tyrion. It's only when the trial begins that he is forced to accept the cold reality, Tywin and Cercei are running the show and they will see to it that Tyrion is doomed. At this point he can no longer stand by and watch and is finally compelled to stand up for his brother, which is exactly what his father was counting on. I saw this moment as one his character arc has been building towards for several seasons and a pay off that was very satisfying and emotive to watch. If he hadn't been conflicted between his own desires and Tyrion's fate and had gone to Tywin right after joffreys death, i think it would have been less satisfying and not consistent with the character i know him to be. Seeing what Tywins real intentions were with this trial was a pretty brilliant answer to a question thats been lingering for a little while now. I also see Roberto's theory about Shea to be very plausible. It's possible that since tywin clearly had this planned out for some time that he told her of his plan to send Tyrion to the wall, but convinced her he'd only have the power to that if Tyrion were found guilty, so she had to ensure he couldn't see any possible opportunity to reason his way out of it. And as for Tyrion seeming resigned, I think he was waiting to see if Jamie would find some way to help him, but Shea's testimony crossed a line for him and he lost it. It reminded me very much of the lion and the rose in structure, especially the second half set entirely in kings landing and Tyrion being tormented as a focal point. In that episode you spoke of the helplessness of being beside the one with all the power. I think this episode reflected that until the final moment, when Tyrion can take no more and grasps at the only power he has left. Sorry for going on and on, I hope I haven't been too annoying and i really hope i havent sounded disrespectful, I was just very passionate about this episode. If you have any thoughts I'd love to hear them and I greatly enjoy the work you and Roberto do as always.

    Posted by Dan B, 14/05/2014 10:33pm (4 years ago)

  • One more thing, I understand the issues some people have taken with the dreadfort scene, but what made it fascinating to me was Alfie Allen's performance. I really buy into the person he's become, and I'm starting to give a lot of credit to the creators for putting me through all those awful scenes last season because without them or any type of inner monologue I don't picture myself being sold on this story. But as Theon fights his saviors and then later, terrified, inches his way into the tub, I really understood that this man will do anything not to be tortured anymore. I am really curious to see if being tasked to act like himself once more will have him begin to come back to the Theon we once knew or if he is now Reek forever. I am sure it will be more uncomfortable viewing, but it has the potential to be a powerful story, which I really didn't expect after last season.

    Posted by Dan B, 14/05/2014 4:45pm (4 years ago)

  • Thanks Dave, what you said makes sense. I have heard that in history there have been societies that have had things that were similar to trial by combat, I guess just from my own modern sensibilities the idea of a duel determining guilt or innocence just seems crazy, as how skilled a fighter someone happens to be has little to do with whether or not they committed a certain crime, and even in a place like westeros it feels like most people would know that. But, there are plenty of other laws or traditions that exist to this day that are bonkers, so I don't have a real problem with it. And as you can see, I gave the episode a 91 and I consider the courtroom scene to be one of the most powerful moments in the shows history, so I never had a too big of an issue with it. :) just the way we've gotten to know the lannisters so well and they're relationships with each other, the way that scene put such a strain on those relationships and we got to see Tyrion, Tywin, Jamie and Cercei all reacting to each other, ahhhhh it was brilliant.

    Posted by Dan B, 14/05/2014 4:36pm (4 years ago)

  • Great comments Alex L. It looks like we saw things similarly with the Dreadfort scenes.

    I personally was expecting Yara to get to the Dreadfort only to find
    that Ramsay and Theon already were on their way to Moat Cailin.
    I was confused by seeing Theon there when she arrived.
    I also was anticipating Roose capturing Yara and using her as a weapon against Balon (demanding him to desert Moat Cailin.)

    "I did wonder about the lack of witnesses for the defense; did the defendant not have the right to call any witnesses? Or was there simply nobody for Tyrion to call on?"

    In S4E3, Podrick tells Tyrion he has the right to call witnesses. Tyrion asked Pod about using Sansa, Varys, Jaime and Bronn as witnesses for his defense. However he's told Sansa is missing; Varys is already a witness for Cersei; Bronn is seen by the Crown as a known cutthroat and is currently under investigation himself so he can't use him.
    Tyrion was allowed to see Jaime and that was it. Interestingly enough Jaime has not stepped up yet to speak on his brother's behalf.
    Other than that Tyrion says everyone else hates him, so I don't
    get the impression as a TV only person that he has anyone else
    he can call on because no one else likes him.

    Posted by Fluids, 14/05/2014 2:15pm (4 years ago)

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