For the second time this season, “Game of Thrones’’ lets the second half of an episode hang out in King’s Landing for a momentous event – this time for the trial of Tyrion Lannister, wrongfully accused of murdering his awful little nephew, King Joffrey. It was a big deal, certainly the most important courtroom happenings seen on television since Jerry, Elaine, George and Cosmo got in trouble for violating the Good Samitarian Law.
Just like that trial, Tyrion Lannister’s contained a murderer’s row of witnesses – Cersei, Meryn Trant, Varys and Maester Pycelle in the roles of the Low Talker, George Steinbrenner, Babu and Mr. Pitt, twisting the knife in Tyrion’s back with every carefully-planned word. It’s not looking good for the youngest Lannister. A break in the proceedings, though, allows Jaime an opening to bargain for his brother’s life, and he strikes up a compromise with Tywin – agreeing to leave the Kingsguard and go out to stud, producing plenty of little, non-incestuous kiddos to properly carry on the Lannister name if the assuredly-guilty Tyrion will beg for mercy after the verdict and agree to head out to The Wall. Foolproof plan, right?
Not a chance. We’ve got a last-second surprise witness! That would be Tyrion’s one-time lover Shae as the Soup Nazi closer to the trial, delivering a picture-perfect account of the little man’s dastardly words and deeds for the court. Poor Tyrion. You can see his heart break like Ralph Wiggum as Shae testifies.
Understandably, the testimony finally causes Tyrion to snap, shredding all those best-laid plans of the Lannister men. Peter Dinklage hasn’t had a lot to do since Joffrey’s death, but he more than makes up for those missed scenes here, delivering a fierce monologue that should secure him a second Emmy (if the old gods and the new are just in the least), cursing out the city in a vengeful hiss and demanding a trial by combat – the same tactic that let him sidestep a moon door drop in season one. But who will he choose as his champion? Hmm … could this be the time for the Red Viper’s revenge?
Oh, there was other stuff happening in the episode, too. We get a brief glimpse into the new council in King’s Landing, with an ever-relaxed Oberyn Martell joining the party and yet another acknowledgment of the dragon-related danger that’s happening over in Meereen. Davos Seaworth and Stannis Baratheon make the trek across the Narrow Sea to go pay a visit to the Iron Bank of Braavos (they trek right underneath the warrior’s skirt of the Titan of Braavos, which I can only assume must be monstrous fodder for the jokes of Essos’ five-year-olds). Shockingly, Stannis’s charming manner fails to persuade the Iron Bank – headed by Tycho Nestoris (played by the incomparable Mark Gatiss, best known as Mycroft from PBS’ “Sherlock’’) – to swing support his way. Davos, though, works his magic, flashing his no-use-for-a-nail-clipper hand to prove Stannis’s mettle and spirit. After they toss some bucks Stannis’s way, Davos interrupts Salladhor Saan in the midst of a watery sex-fest to recruit his navy back into the fold. Seriously, is anyone going to ever get to finish an orgy in this show?
The show’s FX money shot this week took place outside Meereen, where one of Dany’s dragons barbecues an entire flock of a poor herder’s sheep. She pays the unfortunate herder a whole heap of gold as she sits in the capital, in a ruling session that also brings about a new player on the scene – Hizdahr Lo Loraq, a Meereen noble just a little perturbed that his dad is one of those Dany revenge-nailed to the signposts outside the city. Dany lets him take daddy’s corpse back down for burial, a decision which I’m sure in no way will harm her in future efforts.
Thankfully, we seem to be moving into a new scope of the whole Theon storyline. Asha and a group of Iron Islanders storm into the Dreadfort Normandy-style, finding Theon – now completely “Manchurian Candidate’’-d into his Reek personality – jailed in the kennels with the dogs. Rather than face another bloody confrontation with Ramsey Bolton (scratched up to all hell and looking like he just stepped out of “Event Horizon,’’ Asha gives up on her brother and peaces out, presumably back to the warmth and cheer of the Iron Islands. Ramsey, on the other hand, has more mysterious plans for what’s left of Theon / Reek. A return to Winterfell, maybe?
Other thoughts, as I wonder what David E. Kelley would have turned the Westeros courtroom drama into. Would there be unisex bathrooms? Dancing babies?
– Quick shot of the new Mountain, Gregor Clegane, in the preview for next week. This is the third actor to play him in four seasons. Honestly, he should really just be played by Zdeno Chara at this point.
– No ATMs, none of those change machines, not even any free lollipops to be seen at the Iron Bank of Braavos. Do you think they still chain up their pens, too?
– “What? That’s (expletive deleted)-ing horse(expletive deleted)!’’ – my roommate’s reaction when I told her that there was going to be a two-week HBO break in between episodes 7 and 8. Just telling you all now so you can get the anger out of the way.
– Recognize the actor who plays Grand Maester Pycelle? That would be Julian Glover – the man who drank from the wrong chalice in “The Last Crusade.’’
– Charles Dance Fact of the Week, because Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) is awesome: Dance reading from “50 Shades of Gray’’ is supremely amusing (and slightly NSFW).
– “Thrones’’ is the biggest thing for piracy since Johnny Depp slapped on an eyepatch.
– Coming up next week: “Mockingbird,’’ directed by Alik Sakharov and penned by Benioff and Weiss. A name loaded with Westeros symbolism? Or are Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas traveling across the Narrow Sea to return a briefcase full of money from the Iron Bank?