Synopsis: We’ve heard a lot of mention of Braavos before, but this is the first time we see it on screen, as Davos and Stannis sail under the giant Colossus of Braavos, or whatever it’s called. Later, they impatiently wait to be seen at the Iron Bank. Three men finally enter and offer them a seat. Stannis thinks his claim on the throne is stronger than the bastard Tommen, but the bank defers to their partnership with Tywin, and his word. The bank won’t support Stannis. He begins to march out, but Davos speaks up on his behalf. He says that Tywin is the true power in King’s Landing, but he’s old and when he’s gone the Lannisters left will not pay the bank back. Davos meets his old friend, Salladhor Saan, and tosses some coin his way to sail with them. Apparently, the bank changed their minds. On another ship, Yara makes her way North with her men, ready to take on Ramsay and get her brother back. As Ramsay is busy pounding it out with Myranda, Yara’s men take the castle. Yara puts an axe to a man’s throat to take her to Theon and he brings them to the kennels where he sleeps. Theon, broken and afraid, is frightened of Yara. He says she can’t take him, he’s Reek now, and he screams until Ramsay arrives. A melee breaks out and Theon bites Yara, and returns to his cage. When Ramsay goes to bring out his dogs, Yara and her remaining men retreat. Theon is dead, she tells them. In the morning Ramsay thanks Theon for staying loyal to him. He gives him a bath as a reward and as he cleans him up, he asks Theon to pretend to be his old self again so he can help Ramsay take the Greyjoys home.
One of Dany’s dragons is out looking for food and when he captures a goat, he ends up burning all the land and goats on the farm. When the man appears before Dany, she apologizes for the loss of his farm and agrees to pay him threefold what he’s owed. Loraq, one of the city’s former leaders, appears before her. He says his father was one of the men she crucified. He spoke out against crucifying the slaves, but was overruled and she still had him killed. Dany agrees to let the man bury his father. Dany awaits more citizens meeting with her. Oberyn joins the small council along with fellow new member, Mace Tyrell. Varys updates on the Hound, and Tywin offers a reward for his head. Varys brings the rest of them up to speed on Dany’s rise to power in Mereen and how much her army and dragons are growing. He also lets them know that Selmy is counseling Daenerys now. Tywin has a message he wants Varys to send along to Mereen. Afterwards, Oberyn and Varys discuss Essos and Varys’ past where he reveals he’s been asexual since before he was a eunuch, and that he covets the Iron Throne.
Jaime arrives to bring Tyrion to court. He puts him in chains, father’s orders and brings him to the throne room, where justice is to be addressed. Tommen recuses himself from the trial, and introduces the judges: Tywin, Mace and Oberyn, before taking his leave. As the trial begins, Tywin asks Tyrion is he killed the king and Tyrion denies it. The first witness is called. Meryn Trant, who recounts Tyrion threatening the king (back in season 2, episode 4) when Joffrey was tormenting Sansa. Next, Pycelle recounts that his store was plundered, and his poisons were stolen by Tyrion. Pycelle says Joffrey was for sure poisoned, and he produces the necklace that Sansa wore, and said that it was recovered on the body of the fool, last seen helping Sansa escape. He says the poison used was one stolen from his shop. Cersei takes the stand and shares Tyrion’s threat to her (season 2, episode 8). Next is Varys, who shares Tyrion’s threat on the King at the small council meeting (season 3, episode 10). Tywin adjourns for a recess. Jaime confronts Tywin about his railroading of Tyrion. Jaime offers to give up the kingsguard and produce Lannister heirs if Tywin ends the farce. Tywin says he will agree to send Tyrion to the wall if he pleads for mercy and Jaime agrees to it. He lets Tyrion in on the plan as the trial resumes. Next witness is Shae. Tyrion is saddened to see her. Shae testifies that Tyrion and Sansa planned the entire thing. When Oberyn questions why she knew so much, she admits she was Tyrion’s whore. Tyrion says he wishes to confess. He attacks Tywin for being against him his entire life. He says he wished he killed Joffrey and he wished he had enough poison to kill the entire town. Tyrion demands a trial by combat.
Comments: With every season’s big moments happening in the penultimate episode, it felt like we were going to have to wait a few more for the trial, but in actuality, it’s not going to be this season’s big moment, despite how well done it was. While having his own words come back to haunt him was one thing, Cersei’s machinations another, having Shae get up there and lie about him was more than he could bear. As Jaime’s eyes pleaded with him to be cool, Tyrion lost it on his father. They never had a good relationship, but this was a moment there’s just no coming back from. Dinklage is so good in the role. Normally, he’s tossing out barbs and proving he’s smarter than he looks, but here he’s all defeated and morose. His affection for Shae was obvious, and while he did hurt her, it was to spare her life, a realization she obviously never came to. With the trial by combat ruling firmly established, when Tyrion demanded it back as Lysa’s prisoner, we don’t need much background to get the importance of the proclamation. Not even getting into the prospect of who will fight for whom. While that was the episode’s big story, the stuff happening in Mereen, Braavos, and Winterfell are also keeping things moving.
Ramsay: This is turning into a lovely evening.
Tyrion (to Cersei): I did not kill Joffrey, but I wish that I had. Watching your bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores.
Foreshadowing: Tyrion’s demand of Shae not to do this, and her continuing on, will lead to a whole bevy of consequences. Dany’s dragons show the first sign of going into their rebellious teen years.
Title: The dueling philosophies of rule, man’s laws, the trial we witness, and Tyrion eventually giving himself up to the laws of the gods with a trial by combat.
Deaths: Yara and Ramsay leave a few corpses in the wake of their battle.