The issue of justice is front and center in Essos where Dany is meeting with supplicants who have
issues with her previous actions and the murderous habits of her beloved dragons. In "Breaker of Chains" and "Oathkeeper" we saw Dany respond to the crucifixion of over one hundred slave children by ordering the crucifixion of an equal number of slave masters after the slave revolt she fostered was successful in Mereen. However in this episode we learn that these slave masters had families and loved ones and they do not view what she did as justice, but cruelty. Dany agrees to let one of the supplicants take his father's rotting body out of the sun for a decent burial. This is an indication that actions that seemed reasonable at one point in time can have surprising consequences and be perceived very differently by others.
Back in Westeros the central event is the trial of Tyrion Lannister, as we saw Ser Meryn Trant (of the Kingsguard), Grandmaester Pycelle, Lord Varys, Cersei Lannister and his beloved Shae all give heart-rending testimony against him until The Imp finally loses it and lashes out against the people of King's Landing and anyone who has ever mistreated him for being a dwarf, which is basically everyone, in his eyes. The episode ends with Tyrion rejecting the future his brother and father have prepared for him and instead called for "trial by combat" to decide his fate.
There were many highlights of this week's episode
- Gimme An Emmy! The monologue in the final scene by Peter Dinklage is probably the best thing he has done on the show in 4 seasons, so since he already has an Emmy for his work in Season 1 he really should be rewarded later this year with another.
- Share The Wealth. Dinklage is not the only member of the main cast who is doing work that should be recognized as the best on television. Charles Dance as Lord Tywin Lannister is taking one of the most important characters in the story (as the richest and ostensibly the most powerful man in Westeros for decades, the uber-patriarch) and made every scene he is in (and there are many!) better by his presence and performance. One of the key reasons Game of Thrones is a phenomenon is due to Charles Dance. Hopefully Emmy voters will recognize this fact soon!
- I'll Take Those Odds. The scene where Jaime Lannister realizes that he has been outplayed by his father, again, is a classic moment. Jaime thought he was being gallant by finally agreeing to leave the Kinsguard and renounce his vows of celibacy and rejection of family ties if Tywin in his capacity as chief judge presiding over the court deciding Tyrion's fate will spare his younger brother's life. "Done!" Tywin says and Jaime realizes that he has just played into his father's plan to get Jaime to resume his role as the rightful heir to the Lannister ancestral home at Casterly Rock after all.
- Sexual Deviants Unite! Varys is one of my favorite characters and that's why I complained last week about his extensive absences as we learned more about Littlefinger's role in some of the most important event of the recent history of Westeros. This week we had a curious scene between the known bisexual Oberyn Martell of Dorne and the known eunuch Varys in the presence of the Iron Throne itself. We learned that Varys is not the kind of "sexual deviant" that many have thought. In fact, Varys tells Oberyn that he has no sexual desire at all, instead he channels that urge in to other directions and then glanced at the Iron Throne suggestively.
Nothing is perfect; as usual the episode had some high points and low points. To be specific:
- Do They Not Have Dogs On The Iron Islands? The scene where Theon/Reek's sister Yara finally reaches the castle where her brother has been kept captive and tortured and attempts to rescue him is comedy of blunders and just simply doesn't work. Much to Yara's surprise Theon doesn't want to come with her, since he has truly been brainwashed into submission by the sadistic Ramsay Snow. Worse yet, her marauding party is chased off by a shirtless Ramsay releasing his dogs on the Iron Born, who in the books are renowned for their courage and toughness, symbolized by their near-drowning hazing ritual.
- Why Is Sherlock Holmes' Brother in Braavos? Mark Gatiss, the co-creator of the reboot of Sherlock which stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role and Gatiss as his brother Mycroft Holmes, was cast to represent the face of the Iron Bank in Braavos. One issue that George R.R. Martin and the HBO adaptation have not handled very well are the depictions of race and ethnicity in Westeros and Essos. I think the actor is quite good, but I would have preferred a more ethnic actor to represent Braavosi power.
Overall, S4E06 is a very good episode, down slightly from last week's. The key event of Tyrion's trial is presented quite stirringly and Tyrion's speech to the gallery becomes one of the best moments of the show, if not the season, as it should.