Game Of Thrones Review: “The Laws Of Gods And Men” (Season 4, Episode 6)
One thing Game of Thrones has always had a special knack for is representing a variety of different individual and (fictitious) cultural perspectives on a single occurrence. It’s in a place so few stories attempt to occupy in the first place, which is a number of vastly different places and spaces at once, that gaining divergent insights into things is somewhat inevitable. But there seems to often be a deliberate effort put into this portrayal of perspective and how one’s setting and history shapes that perspective—whether it’s something they’ve inherited or something they’ve gained, or lost, along the way—with one of the best examples being the range of interpretations of the red comet that is observed throughout Westeros and Essos.
In this week’s episode, “The Laws of Gods and Men,” we’re presented a number of scenes where the perspective and interpretation by respective characters is crucial, culminating in the trial of Tyrion Lannister, whose presumed guilt is pretty much a reasonable conclusion for many. Cersei, at least, has plenty of justification for her near-certainty that Tyrion is the one who murdered her son, given that she had witnessed numerous disputes between the two, listened to Tyrion’s open disdain for the king, and even been the recipient of the gravest of threats from her brother himself.
For others, whether Tyrion is guilty or innocent of the crime is irrelevant. Mace Tyrell certainly ought not care about the truth of the events, since he’s happy to be Tywin’s pawn and deliver whatever type of verdict his lord bids of him. Tywin himself doesn’t seem too concerned with whether Tyrion did it or not, but is primarily interested in what convicting his son of regicide will earn him, specifically the sense among the populace that justice has been served, and the sense within Jaime that his father has shown Tyrion enough mercy by sparing his life so that he can leave the Kingsguard and lead the life Tywin has always planned for him.
Everyone, of course, realizes this is a show trial. At least everyone intimately involved. Varys, like Tywin, is always scheming to find ways to remain in the favor of whoever holds the reins of power. Grandmaester Pycelle goes so far as to claim that Joffrey was a good and noble king, which is probably the biggest lie told in the series of testimonies we heard. The biggest surprise comes, however, when Shae takes the stand, and, like those witnesses before her, takes the audience through a sequence of exchanges she had with Tyrion and recounts them with a particular spin—or a genuine perspective—that makes him out to sound rather monstrous.
The implication seems to be that she was coached (presumably by either Cersei, who had learned of her identity, or Tywin, who had called for her to his chambers, in earlier episodes) to pin the deed on Tyrion, who was acting on Sansa’s behalf, or rather in her honor. Like Varys, Shae’s betrayal will need to be judged based on what, if anything, the show does with her in the episodes to come, but her hatred for Tyrion seems almost justified; we see in his eyes that he knows he has treated her badly.
Speaking of those eyes, the MVP of this episode is surely, unanimously, Peter Dinklage. As Tyrion realizes the degree to which this trial is farcical, a show put on by Tywin and company, he decides to give the crowd a real show, and Dinklage tears the house down here. It’s a scene and a speech that has been building since the beginning of the first season and beyond, indeed a lifetime’s worth of pent up rage and resentment Tyrion has for Tywin, for his family, and for the culture of King’s Landing, where the upper class jockey for powerful positions and the lower class is too clueless to rise up against their corrupt rulers. His perspective is the strongest, the loudest, the one we sympathize with the most, and roared with spectacular power and control. It feels like a turning point for Tyrion as a Lannister, as it should. He’s mad as hell at the people that are holding him down, and he’s not going to take it anymore. Now he just needs someone to fight for him.