SPOILER ALERT! Although… what the hell have you been doing the last few days? Anyway, polite period of grace over!
Ah, what a great episode. Well, it was probably just a good episode… but it was made great in my mind because of its brilliant Tyrion-fuelled ending. By Christ, I love that character! But, as they did in the episode, let’s leave discussion of that until the end.
First off, at last, we’re given a glimpse of the Iron Bank. Ha! Yes! Corporations are cold, sinister places that don’t care in the slightest about which Kings or Queens sit on big metal chairs – or, in our world, which established democracies pretend to govern in the name of the people, but that’s another story. So, Stannis goes to the Bank a-beggin’ for gold only to be, initially at least, turned down by the Iron Bank’s religious-order-style, habit-clad CEO, played to smarmy perfection by Mark Gatiss, an actor who in his portrayal of Mycroft Holmes in the BBC’s Sherlock series has already shown himself to be delightfully adept at playing an arrogant, quietly self-satisfied unctuous creep (now there’s a possible name for a new Armani fragrance).
Emasculated Theon’s sister Yara attempts a rescue only to find that Theon doesn’t want to go with her. She is quickly sent packing with her tail – unlike her brother – between her legs. Theon, it seems, is suffering from an acute case of Stockholm Syndrome, so much so that it appears he is prepared to do anything for his tormentor and master, the sadistic Ramsay, including, it would appear, to spy for him. Psychologically, this is fascinating, twisted stuff.
Far away in Mereen, young Queeny D, bitten by the radioactive spider of Rule, is learning that with great power comes great responsibility and that monarching about the place is more than just a nine-to-five job that involves looking lofty and imperious. Holding a personal audience with her new subjects, first she has to sort of make up for the fact that her dragons are roaming the countryside burning goats. Then she has to face the moral consequences of having crucified a bunch of people in the name of justice without first having bothered to ascertain if everyone had actually deserved it. That’s the trouble with righteousness sometimes: it often turns out that justice isn’t so black and white after all! That was just the first two supplicants of the day. Still, responsibility builds character and, let’s be honest here, much as we like her, the pouty, headstrong Khaleesi could do with a couple of lessons about nuance and shades of grey… If she’s going to be a good queen – and simply not another of the land’s crazed and bloodthirsty megalomaniacal nut-jobs – a little perspective might go a long way.
By far the greatest moment though, as already hinted, comes when we finally arrive at the kangaroo court that has been convened for the trial of Tyrion Lannister. In fact, it’s not even the trial in itself that is so thrilling – the trial is what we all expect it to be, a bunch of witnesses pointing the finger at Tyrion ready for the inevitable ‘guilty’ verdict. No, what makes it so awesome is the very last moment, when – HUGE INTAKE OF BREATH! – Shae is called upon as a last witness.
Up until that point, you could see Tyrion sneering with a sort of resignation at the whole thing. But using his former lover Shae against him is too much and – thereby forfeiting a deal his brother Jaime has made with Tywin to let a guilty Tyrion live by sending him to the Night’s Watch – Tyrion gets to his feet and makes a brilliant speech full of fire and rightly pissed off rage, in which he maintains his innocence at killing Joffrey but professes to a profound desire that it had been him, calls everyone out for being dwarfist dick-weeds, and then points his finger at the whole court for their ingratitude – he had after all saved them all. To top the whole thing off, he then throws a massive spanner in the works by denying the court its smug power to decide his fate by demanding trial by combat instead, thus leaving said fate up to the gods.
Man, I can’t wait to see what happens next week.