Game of Thrones: The Children (Episode Review)

Warning: Full Spoilers for Season 4 Episode 6 to follow.

Episode 6 saw things ramp up in a pretty major way for a pretty major character. Whilst the episode saw many characters make advancements, Tyrion’s story, more so than usual, dwarfed everyone else (excuse the pun). Though there’s never a dull moment for the Lannisters, this season in particular seems to be taking their house in a particularly chaotic direction, one that I welcome with open arms.

The episode opened with Stannis sailing eastward on one of his few remaining ships, through two rather large legs and into the city of Bravvos. In four seasons, Game of Thrones has made more than a few references to the city, yet this was our first glimpse thus far. And it certainly looked the part, with a monumentally huge statue guarding the bow of the Venice-esque city. Although the glimpse was short, I’m glad it was Stannis who brought the show to this new location. It seems that since his defeat during the Blackwater battle in season 2, his story has remained somewhat stagnant. But his visit to Bravos and the Iron Bank in this week’s episode raised some questions as to the future of the character and his excitingly ambiguous intentions, giving his story a confident shove in the right direction.

And with the introduction of the Iron Bank saw Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss make his first appearance as one of its head honchos (or so it seems). Whilst initially unimpressed with Stannis’ odds, the stumpy Onion Knight, Sir Davos, did a tremendous job of convincing the bank that Stannis Baratheon was a man worth investing in. So good was the speech, that I almost found myself believing in it myself. Davos has certainly earned back his place as the would-be king’s right hand man, for now.

Episode 6 also saw the return of Yara Greyjoy, who was last seen promising to bring back her mutilated brother, Theon. This week she took a band of the toughest iron born over the walls of Roose Botlon’s hold, and to her younger brother. Little did she realise the shear amount of emotional damage Ramsey Snow has inflicted upon him, to the point that he no longer welcomed rescue. Though it did provide pretty much all the action highlights of the episode, the scene seemed to do little else than to reaffirm Theon’s terrified allegiance to Ramsey.

Dany spent the episode taking some of her first steps in learning how to rule. She’s spent the majority of the show so far learning to be a woman, mothering dragons, taking cities and talking of ruling, but now we get to see what she’s really like as a Queen. Now, with more titles than anyone can care to remember, the Kahleesi heard from a local farmer after a short but particularly awesome scene involving her biggest dragon hunting his herd of goats. After agreeing to pay a generous sum for the cost of the lost herd, she received the son of one of the slavers she had crucified. Though it’s all well and good watching Dany become Queen and overthrow the slavers as she moves from city to city, this moment provided a real insight into the way she might rule the Iron Throne, given the opportunity. It dealt with more complex issues than what we’ve seen so far from the show surrounding slavery, and it was good to give her some morally grey choices to test her ruling power.

But let’s get into the real meat of the episode, and that was, without a doubt, the trial of Tyrion Lannister for the murder of King Jeoffrey. Watching all the sides at play, be it Lannister, Tyrell, Martell or other during the testimonies was at times delightful and others nail biting. Each of his acts against the late King Jeoffrey from seasons past, no matter the intention, was brought up against Tyrion. In fact, the way the whole case was presented was so convincing it had me seconding guessing Tyrions innocence, if only for a second.  One by one, the cases against him came. His own sister Cerci spoke out against him. Varys, who was seemingly on his side, condemned Tyrion too.

As the court adjourned, Jaime met with his father to strike a deal on Tyrion’s behalf that would see him as head Lannister at Casterly Rock in return for his brother’s life. Not one to haggle, Tywin snapped up the deal with a simple “Done” faster than a speeding bullet. The swiftness of his response is such a small detail, but it really begged the question of whether this was some sort of master plan by Tywin Lannister all along. It’s one of the genuinely delights of Game of Thrones, to keep you guessing episode after episode; even though we might not learn the certainty of it, the constant quest for the truth is what gives Game of Thrones an added dimension.

But back in the courtroom, things heated up in a major way. Enter Shae. Tyroin’s lover had appeared to have left the series and sailed away, or so we had believed. The look on his face as she entered the court was at first shock, and then heart break. As she lied and lied, you could see Tyron’s will break, until we saw a side of him not yet seen on the show. What came next was pure Game of Thrones gold. All the hate and everything this man has had to put up with since the show started came pouring out in a speech filled with venom and hostility for the entire courtroom. The fast quips, the cunning, good intentions, everything we’ve come to know Tyrion for was gone in this moment. He wasn’t being funny, it wasn’t a clever move and it certainly wasn’t for any good, but it was immensely satisfying and tremendously performed. It looks like it’s Emmy time again for Peter Dinklage.

“The Laws of Gods and Men” was a very back loaded episode, with most of the character progression seemingly coming at the end during Tyrion’s emotionally heart wrenching trial. The first half was, as usual, great. But there is no denying that what came after managed to completely overshadow the prior events. Now all Tyrion needs is a champion…