You know the drill: SPOILER ALERT
Ah, Westeros. Never one to say no to suspense.
In a world where everyone is fighting for power, it appears as though no one is truly in control. This week’s episode is multi-player tug of war between good and bad, rich and poor and justice and injustice.
Stannis Baratheon, at least, is a little bit better off than last week thanks to Ser Davos, who has expertly convinced the Iron Bank to give the hopeful king a loan.
In the series’ first glimpse of Braavos, Stannis enters the city through the massive legs of the Titan statue and meets with a small council of austere men.
The mouthpiece of the group – Tycho Nestoris – politely declines Stannis’ request until Davos embarks on an inspiring speech about birth rights and paying dues. It seems the Baratheons are stealing the Lannister catchphrase.
Triumphant, Davos heads to a local bathhouse to enlist the help of a pirate named Salladhor Saan.
Meanwhile, the female powerhouse that is Yara Greyjoy is on a mission to save her tortured brother from the clutches of evil as she leads an army of Ironborn to lay siege to the dreadfort.
Greyjoy and her men successfully breach the wall and find Theon, a quivering shell of a human no better than the dogs he sleeps with.
Could this be? At last, hope for Theon Greyjoy?
Alas, no. Ramsay Snow turns up to ruin the fun (as per usual) and, faced with Snow’s savage dogs, Yara makes the decision to leave her brother behind.
“Your brother!” one of the Ironborn exclaims.
“My brother is dead,” Yara replies flatly.
It’s true – Snow has successfully tortured the life out of Theon. As a reward for his loyalty, Snow offers his prisoner, who now answers to the name of Reek, a warm bath – something he hasn’t seen in a very long time.
While Snow gently bathes his former enemy, he asks for his help to take back a castle owned by “bad men”.
“I need you to play a role…pretend to be someone you’re not – Theon Greyjoy.” Snow explains to Theon.
This could spell trouble for a number of castles run by “bad men” in Westeros, but we’re putting our money on Northern stronghold Moat Cailin, which Snow’s father Roose Bolton charged him with capturing.
Theon better start preparing for the role of a lifetime because, right now, we’re not buying it.
For all her goodwill and justice, Daenerys Targaryen may have encountered a roadblock. As she meets with the citizens of Meereen to try and quell their troubles (some of which have been caused by her dragons) she comes face to face with her own brutality.
A slave master, Hizdahr zo Loraq, seeks an audience with her and talks of his “old and proud” family and his kind, well-respected father.
“I should be honoured to meet him,” Dany exclaims.
“You have, your grace,” Loraq replies. “You crucified him.”
It is at this point that Dany faces her dilemma. Loraq insists his father was against the crucifixion of children for which she sought retribution yet she refuses to apologise for his death.
Instead, she acquiesces to letting Loraq bury his father properly.
You will recall that Dany’s advisor, Ser Barristan Selmy, counselled her against punishing crime with crime, but she didn’t listen. Perhaps this will come back to bite her.
And now we reach the episode’s climax: Tyrion, taken in chains to his trial and forced to stand in front of his own father to plead innocent to a murder we know he didn’t commit.
We knew this would be good, if not stressful, from the get-go. Tyrion is smart, cunning and capable, Cersei is grief-stricken and bloodthirsty, Tywin has always hated his dwarf son and Jaime is caught up in the middle of it all.
We expected the trial to be a bit of a joke. As expected, a parade of Tyrion’s only enemies take to the stand to decry his honour as the judges – Tywin, Prince Oberyn and Mace Tyrell – look on.
We also somewhat expected Jaime, with what little dignity and honour he has left, to take the fall for his brother. He does not disappoint – begging his father to let Tyrion live out his life on the wall in exchange for Jaime leaving the King’s Guard and starting a family to continue the Lannister bloodline.
What we didn’t expect was the return of Shae, who takes to the stand as one of the long line of witnesses against Tyrion, and whose cruel and painful testimony breaks him.
“I would like to confess,” a noticeably pained and angered Tyrion murmurs, and the court tenses.
“I am guilty of being a dwarf.”
Kudos to the show’s writers for finally, and powerfully, denouncing the discrimination Tyrion faces in every episode, most notably from his own father. Even the stoic, hardened Tywin seems shaken by his son’s statement.
However, the glory of his defiance is short-lived as Tyrion inexplicably demands a “trial by combat”.
Cue collective intake of breath in both the King’s Landing courtroom and lounge rooms around the world.
What will our favourite character do next? Enlist his brother to fight for him? Fight for himself?
Talk about a trial by fire.
What will be Tyrion’s next move? Have your say in the comments section below.