Considering how Cersei-centric last week's episode was (to say nothing of Lysa and Sansa's little tête-à-tête), it probably would have been a better fit for Mother's Day than last night's Tyrion-heavy installment (his mother died giving birth to him, remember... just thinking of all the moms out there).
Still, we're now past the halfway point of season four and after a couple of somewhat meandering (and Tyrion-less) weeks, things are starting to pick up again. Proving what many of us have been saying from the get-go: More Peter Dinklage is always a good thing.
Locations (* = new): Kings Landing, The Dreadfort, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos*, Meereen
Ser(s) Not Appearing in this Episode: Arya Stark, the Hound, Jon Snow, Littlefinger, Sansa Stark, Lysa Arryn, Brienne, Podrick
We get our first glimpse of the fabled city of Braavos (home of Syrio "RIP" Forel and the Iron Bank) as Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) embark on a new strategy, one that will resonate with modern audiences: combat accounting. The Iron Bank is skeptical of Stannis's ability to deliver (welcome Sherlock's Mark Gatiss as banker Tycho Nestoris), but Davos makes a strong case. He then visits our long-forgotten pirate buddy Salladhor Saan (Lucian Msamati) in a Braavosi bathhouse that would appear to fill our weekly breast quotient. Looks like the bank paid up, meaning Stannis's claim is back in play.
Also for the first time this season, we see Yara (Gemma Whelan), back with a squad of Ironborn to get some vengeance against Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) for gelding her brother. Storming the Dreadfort, she finds "Reek" (Alfie Allen) a trifle unwilling to leave. Yara bails and Ramsay "rewards" Reek. With a bath. We're spared any groin scar shots, but Ramsay apparently has something in mind for him.
In Essos, Daenerys's dragons are getting bigger and stealing/eating goats. One lonely goatherd approaches the Mother of Dragons (by the time Missandei gets through her titles, I'm surprised there's any daylight left to hear grievances), who agrees to pay three times the going goat ("goating") rate for his loss.
Couldn't go a couple of weeks without another new character, so here comes Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry), who is unhappy with the crucifixion of his father (who was apparently the one anti-child crucifixion advocate in the city). He requests burial rites for the nailed up Masters. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) allows it for his dad, and then it's on to the next 212 supplicants. In other words, send in the next goatherd.
Back in Kings Landing, the new Small Council (Tywin, Cersei, Mace Tyrell, Grand Maester Pycelle, Varys and Prince Oberyn) meets. On the agenda: 100 silver stags for the Hound's head, news of Daenerys and Jorah Mormont's apparent reversal of his betrayal (forgot Ser Friendzone was spying on the Mother of Dragons, didn't you?). Tywin (Charles Dance) appears keen to get informers into Meereen, and Varys (Conleth Hill, also appearing for the first time this season) says he'll try, and will no doubt try to select someone who doesn't like blonds this time.
Varys and Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) have a nice chat in front of the Iron Throne (they sure will let anyone wander around in the throne room). Much is learned: Oberyn spent five years in Essos; Varys didn't like boys *or* girls (just what we need; a Westrosi Morrissey).
And finally, the Trial of Tyrion begins. New King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) recuses himself, and the fun begins. A parade of witnesses to "The Imp's" history of crimes take the stand, including Sansa-beater Meryn Trant; creepy Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover), who confirms poisoning and identifies it as coming from Sansa's necklace (listen to the man -- he knows a thing or two about poison); Cersei (Lena Headey), who "exaggerates" her grievances; and Varys, who chooses expediency over gratitude to Tyrion for saving the city's bacon during the Battle of the Blackwater.
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), in what he assumes to be a noble offer that will never be taken up, offers to leave the Kingsguard if Tywin spares Tyrion. Tywin, however, agrees to send Tyrion to the Wall, expertly playing his son and achieving the goal of getting Jaime to return to Casterly Rock.
But that's before the final surprise witness: Shae (Sibel Kekilli). And here we thought she was safely out to sea. As it turns out, she makes a better witness for the prosecution than Wanda Gershwitz. Tyrion throws a monkey wrench in Jaime and Tyrion's plans, demanding -- once again -- trial by combat.
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The final ten minutes of "The Laws of Gods and Men" were powerful stuff, and the episode as a whole was probably the best of the season so far. Tyrion's rage has been simmering for weeks, prompted by Joffrey's abuses, then exploding at the ingratitude of the city he saved. Dinklage's performance, hurling invective at the assembled crowd, was masterful. Let's hope whoever serves as his champion can do him credit.
Because I don't know if you've seen the new Mountain, but...whoa.
Stuff That Will Piss Off Book Purists: The Iron Bank is playing a bigger role early on, and Stannis never actually visited the city; Yara's rescue attempt didn't happen; Tommen is...older, like everyone else; Hizdahr zo Loraq had other initial concerns I assume we'll hear about at some point.
Next Week: Stand up next to [the] Mountain / Chop it down with the edge of my hand.