"I saved you, I saved this city, and all your worthless lives." Poor Tyrion Lannister, standing on trial for a crime he did not commit; tormented and ridiculed despite his valiant efforts protecting King's Landing at the Battle of the Blackwater. Unfortunately for him, the people of the capital have rather short memories.
Any Game of Thrones viewer who shares the same flaw must feel increasingly adrift, as the first half of episode six dwindled on two storylines that have barely appeared this season, that of Stannis and Davos trying to receive funding from the Iron Bank of Braavos, and Yara Greyjoy's efforts to rescue her brother Theon from the malicious hands of lunatic Ramsay Snow. Whilst this sideways storytelling could have done with a bit more narrative propulsion, it was redeemed by a brilliantly melodramatic finale in which Tyrion finally received, and dished out in return, all the hatred that has been festering towards him for so long.
Playing the Game
It can be frustrating when the writers appear to be spending more time filling out the canvas rather than focusing on the focal points of the show, and it certainly felt that way in this episode's sluggish first half. Stannis and Davos arrive in Braavos, a mix of medieval Venice and ancient Rhodes, as they ask the Iron Bank to fund the Baratheon's planned conquest of the Seven Kingdoms.
Mark Gatiss, known best as co-writer and star of the wildly popular Sherlock series, curls his lip once more as the smarmy and frugal bank representative Tycho Nestoris, who immediately dispels their plans by pointing out that Stannis has nowhere near the resources for such an endeavour. Luckily for Stannis, his trusty hand of the king is there to make an impassioned plea on his behalf.
When Daenerys is clearly signposted as the saviour of the Seven Kingdoms, you really don't want to see Stannis succeed. But by having Davos, easily one of the most likable characters of the show, by his side, it's hard to want to see him fail either. Convincing Tycho of the Lannister's faults, and bringing in Salladhor Saan once more to his cause, it's clear that the Onion Knight is more valuable than anything the Iron Bank can offer.
Daenerys also found out the difficulties of ruling in Meereen. She generously recompenses the goat herder who saw his precious livestock incinerated by her dragons, but the proposal from Hizdahr zo Laraq (Stylax from Plebs), to honour the dead slave masters, is a lot harder for her to stomach. The Khaleesi hopefully won't be stuck on that throne for too long.
Yara Greyjoy injects some action into the episode when their band of fighters raids the Dreadfort to rescue Theon. But Theon doesn't exist anymore, there is only Reek. Holed up in the kennels with the dogs, he bites Yara when she tries to free him, and says that they are only another trick by Ramsay. Credit to Alfie Allen again, whose twitchy, tormented performance is almost unbearable to watch, and Iwan Rheon, who actively revels in the role vacated by Joffrey in being the show's biggest bastard. It leaves Yara to flee disconsolate, saying, "My brother's dead".
Jaime's brother is not dead yet, but is close to it. He pleads with Tyrion to take a plea of mercy so that his life can be spared, but when the trial turns from accusation to ridicule, the Lannister decides he will no longer play his father's games.
The Sept, with Tywin pointedly sitting on the Iron Throne, is the perfect stage for the melodramatic finale in which Tyrion's enemies, and even friends, come out to damn the former hand as the murderer of King Joffrey.
He glumly takes the scorn, until his former love Shae is brought in as witness. Her caustic lies and revealing of their intimate moments humiliate him and shatter their relationship, causing Tyrion to holler out his pent up fury at everything in King's Landing.
"I'm guilty of a far more monstrous crime. I'm guilty of being a dwarf. I've been on trial for being a dwarf my whole life."
It's a barnstorming speech from Peter Dinklage, and I only hope these words don't spell the end for his character. Demanding trial by combat as he did back in the first season, something tells me than even Bronn won't step in to save him now.