Oh man. Oh MAN. Oh man, oh man, Oh man.
No, not a crap TV game show from the Nineties, but that episode of Game of Thrones.
TYRION! Am I right, beloved Throners? AM I RIGHT?!?!
Phew, I’m still all riled up after that one. Money, sex, power. That’s what we love about Game of Thrones, and that’s what we got. And while we welcomed the return of the boob alert (a-WOO-ga! a-WOO-ga!), it was the balls that really stood out.
That’s right, we’re talking stones so big they’d make ancient henges feel inadequate. They were everywhere this week, and by no means restricted to our favourite fellas. Some of our ladies showed such fortitude that testicles should rightly be renamed “outside ovaries”.
That’s pretty much going to be the tone from here on in, so let’s gird our loins for another thigh-slappingly fun Raven On Game of Thrones recap.
Reminder: spoilers will be included below, so only read on if you’ve seen the episode. We’re discovering the storyline through the TV series (reading the books after each has finished), so no dropping important future plot points in the comments, or we’ll demand TRIAL BY WOMBAT! Er, I mean COMBAT! Although trial by wombat would be amazing, can you imagine? Those squat, stocky little buggers going at it tooth and claw to prove Tyrion’s innocence… look, please don’t report me to the RSPCA).
I can’t be held completely responsible for being nads-obsessed this episode. They set it up from the very beginning, as Stannis’ arrived in Braavos to plead for finance from the Iron Bank to raise an army. The opening shot was Stannis Baratheon sailing merrily through the spread legs of giant Colossus - truly a “look-up, hello-boys” situation.
Showing Game of Thrones has real world relevance, Stannis and Ser Davos were kept waiting by the Iron Bank of Braavos for longer than sanity and/or a full bladder can tolerate. No doubt the Iron Bank too has closed branches and offshored its customer service to the Summer Isles or something to make a bit of extra coin.
Doctor Who fans had a minor geek-out when Mark Gatiss appeared as the branch manager who demonstrated that, after amassing unfathomable fortunes, what the Iron Bankers appeared to value most was impeccable posture.
Stony-faced Stanny let his Onion Knight do most of the negotiating, which wasn’t going very well as 32 ships and 4000 hungry soldiers didn’t seem to be enough collateral for the moneymen. It was only when Davos decided he’d rather risk rudeness towards some gittish bureaucrats than face Stanny’s wrath that the gloves came off. Literally.
Ser Davos flashed his stubby fingers, removed as punishment for smuggling, to show them that the Lord of Dragonstone was a man of his word. He also pointed out that while Stanny may only have 32 working ships and 4000 hungry soldiers, Tywin Lannister was getting on a bit and his dynastic legacies were less than desirable. It was a display of big salty ... courage.
As we waited to see if the Iron Bankers would deliver Stannis his war chest, chests of a different sort were being liberally splashed about in another part of town. Salladhor (Cellar Door) Saan (the most beautiful name in the common tongue), was regaling a couple of water nymphs with a daring tale of bravery in the face of danger.
I laughed as I realised the joke he was telling - I heard it as a girl from my own merchant seaman father, although in his version the protagonist was Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. Turns out my Dad was a shameless joke thief as well, as Ser Davos arrived in time to berate his old smuggling compadre for unoriginality.
Ser Davos’ sparklingly good mood and fat wad of gold indicated that his diplomatic skills had won over the Iron Bankers (hopefully he negotiated a good deal on repayments and read the fine print about fees, because that’s where they get you). Cellar Door must now leave his mermaids and haul his ... anchors off to battle again.
Someone who has been taking her sweet time getting battle ready is Yara Greyjoy, back for the first time this season. I suppose it takes a long time to sail from the Iron Islands to … actually I’ve got no idea where Ramsay Snow was. White Harbour, maybe? I know he was on his way to Moat Cailin, but I don’t think they were there yet.
Anyway, the point is, Yara revs up her men by reading aloud Ramsay’s letter about lopping off her brother’s mainsail, and they’re all too keen to follow her on a surprise raid on the Bolton bastard’s bailey.
I loved watching Yara in action - Balon had referred to her as a badass in series two, but we’d never seen it. The bit where she axed a patrolman in the head? Impressive. And the bit where she held a servant at axe-point, demanded to be taken to Theon, then when he did said “Thank you” and slit his throat as casually as you might shut a door? Classic.
Only problem was Ramsay himself, who was roused by a loud banging ... and then the Iron Islanders turned up. Boom! Sex joke!
The bastard confronts Yara in the kennels, where she was trying to persuade Theon to flee with her. But Theon is no more, and his pathetic, grimy, beyond-messed-up replacement Reek doesn’t want to leave his cage.
In a testosterone frenzy Yara and her men kick Ramsay’s men’s asses, but their victory is short lived when he threatens to cry havoc and let slip the rabid crazy dogs of war. Yara escapes by boat, declaring her brother to be dead. Game over, you might think, but apparently not, for Ramsay rewards his creature with a bath, and asks him to pretend to be Theon Greyjoy for a mission. So Reek is still a rook on the Game of Thrones game of chess board …
Drogon, the largest and fiercest of Daenerys’ flying reptilian brood, is seen not only acting the goat, but eating it too. The poor goat-herder who lost his stock in the unexpected fire event pleads with Daenerys for compensation, which she grants three times over. It’s a class move, but that’s the kind of queening Dany could do in her sleep.
Far more of a pickle is the plea by Hizdahr zo Loraq (whose name was obviously invented by George R. R. Martin gaily plucking letter tiles out of a Scrabble kit) to allow the former masters of Meereen to be taking down from those large wooden crosses and given proper burials. It turns out Hizdahr’s Dad spoke out against the crucifixion of slave children as a warning to Daenerys, but was still murdered on her orders.
Echoing what Ser Barristan told her two episodes ago, Hizdahr asks if it is right to answer a crime with another crime. Fairly ballsy thing to do, given what happened to 163 of Meereen’s finest toffs. Daenerys squirms at the idea that the situation isn’t as black and white as she’d like it to be, but she relents and allows him to bury his father.
Missandei confirms that there are still over 200 supplicants waiting to ask Daenerys a favour. A nod from Ser Jorah speaks volumes - this is what queening is all about, love. Sitting around all day listening to boring complaints from ordinary people who wouldn’t even know what an Iron Throne was.
For Daenerys, it’s the realisation that it takes more guts to be a half-decent ruler than it does to be a mighty conqueror. Irony upon ironies, she’s come full circle and found herself in the same position of her formerly hated enemy, Robert Baratheon. Sure, she’s unlikely to start drinking and whoring anytime soon, but still, she’ll need to make some decisions on whether she’s ready for this life.
Across the Narrow Sea, Varys briefs the Small Council on Dany’s most recent movements much to Cersei Lannister’s chagrin. Relations between her and her father, which seemed to soften last week, frosted over again as he slagged her off for dismissing Ser Barristan Selmy back in the day.
Prince Oberyn Martell, one of the new, ahem “members” of the Small Council, watches proceedings with an endearing lack of interest, with a relaxed posture and his mind no doubt lingering on last night’s licentiousness. In every sense, he is a man fond of a leg over. Mace Tyrell, meanwhile, wants to be important but is reduced to fetching quills for Tywin. He’s the Smithers to Tywin’s Mr Burns.
Oberyn and Varys have a very interesting conversation in the Great Hall, where Tyrion’s trial is shortly to begin. The Prince of Dorne may be able to spot an accent, but he cannot understand Varys’ declaration that he is not a sexual being, at all, in any way. For a man like Oberyn, who breathes sex more easily than oxygen, it’s incomprehensible.
For Varys, of course, it makes perfect sense. The way he sees it, balls ruin the world. Sexual desire is a distraction that gives only ephemeral, short-term satisfaction. Far more impressive is the ability to focus that energy into bigger things - and who else but Varys would give such a not-so-subtle nod to the Iron Throne when discussing ambition? For a eunuch, he really has got quite a pair.
Finally it’s trial time, and Jaime and a couple of gold cloaks fetch Tyrion from his cell. Jaime can barely speak to his brother, only to explain that the handcuffs were his father’s orders. Tyrion gives the first of a series of heart-breaking looks that would be enough to make your weep, if you weren’t so excited about how the hell the whole thing was going to play out.
As it turned out, the rest of the show was a legal procedural worthy of Dick Wolf himself. It was so “Law & Order: G.O.T” that I wouldn’t have been raised an eyebrow if Detective Olivia Benson had showed up as a surprise witness.
The lovely King Tommen, who I’m growing more and more attached to every week because of his sweet face and kind eyes and yes I know his mum’s his aunty, shut up, he’s still nice, recused himself from the trial, leaving Tywin, Oberyn and Mace in charge.
Accused of killing his nephew, Tyrion utters the first of his courtroom zingers, declaring that Joffrey choked on his pigeon pie, and either the bakers or pigeons could be held responsible, just “leave me out of it”.
A parade of witnesses then roll up to bag out the little Lannister, including the odious gold cloak Meryn Trant, a teary Cersei, and doddering grand maester Pycelle - all of whom want revenge for personal reasons.
(If I may approach the bench for a moment, how did Pycelle come to have Sansa’s necklace? Ser Dontas was shot and left on a dinghy out to sea, and Baelish threw the necklace on top of him after taking it from Sansa’s neck. I guess the boat could float back to King’s Landing and be found, but it all seems too convenient for me. I think Littlefinger’s little finger is stuck in this particular pie too.)
Even Varys, who once took Tyrion’s side, showed no mercy in denouncing him to the court. “Sadly, I never forget a thing” is his reply when Tyrion asks him if he remembers his former praise, shaking his head like a disappointed father. Sometimes I want to hate the Spider as much as I hate Baelish, but something stops me. I think it’s because despite everything, he’s less ... violently creepy.
Tywin calls an adjournment, and is accosted by Jaime while enjoying a spot of lunch. He offers to renounce the Kingsguard and become the Lannister heir at Casterly Rock if his father spares his brother’s life.
Tywin’s reply? “Done.”
The LOOK on Jaime’s FACE! It took him a few seconds to realise that he had just been played like a cheap fiddle. His father was RELYING on his natural sympathy for Tyrion to kick in, and let him make the choice to give up his oath, rather than force him to break it. The cajones on that man to play a long game like that.
All Jaime could do was make the best of it and give his Dad his word. He must have walked out of the room swearing more than Hugh Grant at the start of Four Weddings and a Funeral.
As the trial resumes, Jaime relays the info to Tyrion, who seems confused but accepting - after all, he trusts Jaime.
But then. THEN. The Crown calls one last witness.
NOOOOO WHAT ARE YOU DOING SHAE NOOOOO was my initial, completely rational reaction. In a brutal scene that had me tearing my hair out, Tyrion’s one-time lady dumped a massive bucket of manure over her one-time Little Lion.
Much was the truth - she had been Tyrion’s whore, he had pulled away from her after marrying Sansa - but she also made up the theory that they plotted to kill Joffrey. She knows that isn’t true.
So, my beloved Throners, I’m rather torn as to how this came about. Was Shae found and forced to testify? Perhaps she never left for Pentos after all; maybe Cersei’s goons found her and said it was testify and live, or just die straightaway. Or did she go willingly to Tyrion’s enemies to bust him? Surely Tyrion told her enough that his family posed a deadly risk to his life?
Tyrion’s turmoil during this scene was just epic. His face was an IMAX screen, twisted and turning in heartache, love, hate, despair and finally - rage.
Sweet, sweet, ball-tearing rage.
After whispering that he wished to confess, Tyrion combined about ten years’ worth of “Why does my Dad hate me?” therapy sessions into one beautiful diatribe against Tywin, the court, and the kingdom at large. I adored the disgust he spat at them all, decrying their pretensions at justice and finally demanding a TRIAL BY COMBAT.
It was a sense of deja vu, as Tyrion had previously demanded a trial by combat at the Eyrie in series one. But surely he cannot call upon his one-handed brother Jaime as a champion this time? Bronn is nowhere to be found - surely Tyrion won’t fight himself. No, I have another theory, and that theory involves Inigo Montoya and his quest for revenge. If true, we will see one ballsy showdown indeed ...
Yay! Best Moments
Tyrion going full Michael Douglas in Falling Down batshit crazy. Glorious.
Zing! Best Lines
“I have been to Essos and seen the Unsullied first hand. They are very impressive on the battlefield … less so in the bedroom.”
Yep, Oberyn sure spent his time wisely in Astapor.
Ramsay Snow ordered Reek to take off his britches for a bath, and as he did, Ramsay looked down, smiled, and got a strange light in his eyes. It was the look of someone proudly surveying their handiwork. Ughghghgh.
Shae! Shae! What were you thinking? Shae!