Thursday, July 18, 2024

Game of Thrones 4×06 Rewatch: The Laws of Monologues and Boobs

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Welcome one, welcome all to our Game of Thrones rewatch project, The Wars to Come. You see, our rather negative attitude towards the show over the past few seasons has been rather significantly in the minority. So we thought it’d be fruitful to dive back into the older seasons—which we rather liked—to understand how we came to feel the way about David Benioff and Dan Weiss’s (D&D) masterpiece as we do today. Last week, some of us were pleasantly surprised by the writing…at least most of it. This week, Bryan Cogman takes over in “The Laws of Gods and Men.” Kylie, Julia, Musa, and Bo are here to break it down.

Episode Recap

Stannis and Davos have made it to Braavos, where the Iron Bank keeps them waiting. When at last the representative shows up—Tycho Nestoris—it’s made clear that without any assets to actually offer, the bank views Stannis as a bad investment. Davos counters with a speech about how Stannis is a man of his word, and that the Lannisters really only have Tywin keeping everything together, so the odds that their family ever makes good on their debt are slim. After this meeting, Davos finds Salladhor Saan at a Braavosi brothel, and reveals that his meeting went well. They were given a loan, which means they can now buy sellswords.

Over in Meereen, Dany’s rule has gotten more complicated. She sits in her throne room, allowing the denizens to make requests of her. The first is that Drogon ate a farmer’s flock of goats, so she decides he needed to be compensated for three times the value. After that, the son of a former master, Hizdahr zo Loraq, asks Dany if he can bury his father, since he was one of the masters she crucified. Dany is at first unsympathetic, though Hizdahr makes it clear that his father was a master who opposed the children being murdered on the mile markers, and insists that he be allowed the tradition of funeral rite. Dany reluctantly agrees, with many others still waiting to see her.

Across the Narrow Sea, Yara and her men finally reach the Dreadfort, where they stage a rescue of Theon. They fight their way into the kennels where he’s kept, though Theon insists he is “Reek,” and refuses to go with them. They try to drag him out, but Ramsay and other Bolton men arrive. Ramsay opens the kennels to release the dogs, and Yara orders her men to leave. She tells them that her brother is “dead.”

Ramsay later draws up a bath for Theon, as a thank you for his loyalty. He then says that he needs Theon’s help—referring to him as “Reek” the whole time. There is a castle that is full of “bad men,” and Ramsay needs “Reek” to pretend to be “Theon Greyjoy” to get it back.

Down in King’s Landing, all preparations are being made for Tyrion’s trial. Beforehand, Tywin holds Prince Oberyn’s first Small Council meeting. They have received word about Sandor fighting Polliver and his men. It’s decided that they should put a bounty on his head to encourage anyone who runs into Sandor to go after him. After that, they discuss news from the east about Dany now ruling Meereen as the queen. Tywin seems concerned about her having both Barristan Selmy and Jorah Mormont as her advisers, and asks Varys if he can possibly get a message to his birds within the city.

After the meeting, Varys and Oberyn discuss Essos, where Oberyn spent five years. Varys is very tight-lipped about his own past. Oberyn invites Varys to come by the brothel sometime, but Varys tells him that he has no interest in sex. He then alludes to the fact that this has allowed him to focus on other pursuits, such as the Iron Throne.

It’s finally time for Tyrion’s trial. Jaime arrives at his cell and apologetically has him handcuffed to be taken to the Red Keep—Tywin’s orders. Once there, Tommen formally recuses himself from the trial, naming Tywin, Mace, and Oberyn the judges. Witnesses are called, and an impressive case is built against Tyrion. First is Meryn Trant, who recalls Tyrion threatening Joffrey. Next, Pycelle explains how his stock of poisons was taken away by Tyrion, and that Sansa’s necklace from the wedding was found with trace amounts of poison on it. Cersei testifies about the time Tyrion threatened her in response to her capturing and beating Ros. Finally, Varys recalls the time that Tyrion threatened Joffrey during a Small Council meeting after receiving word of Robb’s death. Tyrion is shut down when he tries to explain the circumstances for these testimonies, though he does ask Varys if he had forgotten the time he told Tyrion that he saved the city during Blackwater. Varys replies that he never forgets a thing.

During a break in the trial, Jaime finds Tywin and tries to tell him that Cersei has manipulated everything. Tywin is unsympathetic. Jaime then pleads with his father to let Tyrion live. In exchange, he’ll resign from the Kingsguard and take up his place as the Lord of Casterly Rock. Tywin agrees; if Tyrion doesn’t have any more outbursts, then once he’s found guilty, he can enter a plea for mercy and get sent to the Wall to serve in the Night’s Watch. Jaime lets Tyrion know this as everyone is called back into the throne room.

The final witness is called: Shae. She upsets him with her testimony, which implies that she was coerced into having sex with him and fulfilling the role of his “girlfriend.” She also lies about him stealing the poison from Pycelle, saying that he promised Sansa he’d kill Joffrey for her. Tyrion breaks and says that he wishes to confess, before beginning to yell at the entire room. He insists that all he is guilty of is being a dwarf, which is truly the reason he’s on trial. He then declares that since there is no justice he can find here, he has no choice and demands a trial by combat.

Initial, quick reaction

Kylie: I think this episode has the saving grace of closing with the trial for 20-some minutes. The Dreadfort sequence was worse than I remembered it being, Meereen once again is “competent” without necessarily being good, and the Iron Bank just felt lacking in whatever stakes we were supposed to care about. The trial itself…mostly holds up, though Shae’s about-face (particularly where Sansa is involved) makes little sense. I will say though, this was dragged to the finish line by Peter Dinklage.

Bo: Definitely in agreement with you. The trial works very well and goes a long way toward saving a middling episode with a couple of really stupid parts. We’ve officially journeyed from season 1’s “this is good but there’s always that one scene that sucks” to “this is dumb but there’s that one scene that’s good.” Aaron Paul definitely deserved his Emmy for the final season of Breaking Bad, but I totally understand why people wanted Dinklage to win for this episode.

Julia: I think I’m less impressed by Mr. Dinklage’s performance that everyone else here. I don’t doubt his talent one bit, but something about the shouty-anger thing made me think of Lindsay Ellis as Jon Malkovich as a disgruntled Olive Garden patron. (Am I the only one to remember the Man in the Iron Mask review that disappeared from YouTube? Please say not.) But it did make me think that he could have played book!Tyrion’s vindictive streak quite well if he’d ever had the chance again.

It was good, I guess. I just have no soul.

The whole episode altogether, though, was a terribly painful slog that only slightly became less painful when we got to King’s Landing in the back third. I broke slightly when Oberyn casually mentioned that he had sex workers on retainer. I can’t even with that.

Musa: I have thoughts on the trial sequence that I’ll get into more in the adaptation section, but overall, the episode was largely serviceable, with a few regrettable instances of the characters continuing to warp to suit the needs of the narrative rather than the narrative moving to the pace of the characters.


Kylie: I’ll happily give credit where credit is due: Tyrion’s monologue at the end really does live up to the critical acclaim I remember it seeing, at least in delivery. I also want to say how great it is that a 20-minute trial sequence is gripping enough to a TV audience that it can be the shining star. For all of D&D’s smashy battle spectaculars (this season included), this was what the heart of the show really should have been. Maybe they tried to recreate that with Littlefinger’s trial?

My lowlight was unquestionably the Dreadfort sequence. I remember at the time being less critical about Yara cutting her losses and running, but this time around, it was utterly ridiculous. What was with God-mode Ramsay, who is such an amazing fighter that he can be shirtless with two tiny daggers and take everyone down? Why the hell did this whole thing open with a Ramsay/Myranda sex scene? Who even are the mooks he killed off-screen; weren’t the Ironborn all traveling together? What was the point of any of this? Sympathy for Yara? So that Theon has a reason he needs to “make it up” to her? To show how far-gone he was (like that wasn’t clear already)? GAH.

Bo: Tyrion’s monologue was definitely my highlight, too, but I’m tempted to list Mace as my ironic favorite. He gave me so much joy. But seriously, the whole trial is really good outside of Shae. You can feel Tywin’s manipulative hand behind it all, culminating in Jaime’s offer that Tywin obviously set him up to make. This is one of the few times where an intelligent character feels genuinely intelligent without making everyone around him uncharacteristically stupid.

Then you have the Dreadfort rescue. What a stupid, stupid scene. Why does this exist? What is the point? I actually have some thoughts on this but it belongs in the adaptation section.

Julia: Maybe I’ve been hanging out with Caroline too much, but my highlight is two dresses. First, there was Dany’s blue and white number with the pleated under-skirt. Awesome. Then there was Carol’s black and gold wrap dress at the trial. A much better combination on her than the black and silver she’ll wear constantly after season 6. There was also this lady behind her at the trial in Olenna cosplay. First class.

Honorable mention to the speaking-role debut of Hizdahr zo Sansa. You’re already too reasonable for these people, dude.

I’m going to pick the entire opening 15 minutes as my lowlight. First off, this is the beginning of the aesthetic of people standing in silence watching other people walk into a space, then taking tens of seconds to sit down. Then, it was back-to-back padding out the 50 minute episode with sex worker bewb and Salladhor Saan—who we will never see again—followed by Myranda’s sex noises for the whole Dreadfort scene. I can’t believe I survived to get to Meereen.

Musa: Honestly, I’m gonna have to give props to Lena Headey’s performance during the trial sequence. It’s definitely not Cersei that we’re seeing in that scene, definitely peak Carol, but my god is she making me feel things with the tears held in her eyes and the way she’s almost choking on her words as she speaks. I also get ironic enjoyment from the Oberyn and Varys moment in the throne room. With hindsight, it’s clear the scene is entirely pointless because they didn’t do anything with either the Dorne or Aegon plotlines. That, coupled with the most perplexing thing to Oberyn about Varys being his supposed asexuality, made me chuckle.

Lowlight definitely goes to shirtless Ramsay somehow overpowering a whole group of armored Ironborn warriors with sheer sex appeal (and some dogs). I’m also not a huge fan of Jaime nonchalantly mouthing off to Tywin like it’s nothing.

Quality of writing

Bo: The writing was really pretty trash until the trial. It’s like they saved every bit of quality for those moments.

Musa: That’s because so much of it was straight lifted from the books. The testimonies themselves at least were largely unchanged, even if contextually they were very different.

Julia: Yeah, Yara’s “inspiring speech” wasn’t quite in the same league as Tyrion’s, no matter what one thinks of it. I suppose maybe the problem is not the performance or the speech itself, so much that I’m not sure it belongs in this Tyrion’s mouth. Saint Tyrion, as we call him, was upset that he didn’t get the credit he thought he deserved for the Battle of the Blackwater, but that grievance isn’t nearly as pronounced as it is the the books, where it’s a bone Tyrion constantly chews on for all the first half of A Storm of Swords. Also, the audience at the trial didn’t even laugh at Shae’s testimony, which just makes it all seem a bit random. I guess he was that pissed about his obviously terrified girlfriend lying.

Bo: I didn’t even think about the lack of laughter. From what I recall it mostly came because of the “giant of Lannister” part, which they didn’t include? I think we can reasonably conclude that book!Tyrion was upset because of the humiliation, while show!Tyrion was sad because of the betrayal of his loving girlfriend. Ugh. So much lamer.

Kylie: They laughed a little here and there. I believe the biggest laughter was at her recalling him telling her to “f-ck him like it was his last night on the earth.” They had zero laughter for “my lion” and she didn’t even mention “giant of Lannister.” Absolutely no question the focal point was Tyrion and his reaction to Shae on a very personal level. The audience almost felt incidental.

I’d like to give Bryan Cogman a little credit; the Dany scene seemed a lot less formulaic than last week, and actually had a bit of substance to it. Granted, we’re dealing with Drogon hunting sheep goats like he did in the books, rather than Daario stealing a navy that’s going to get retconned away. But it is worth noting that at least Cogman still demonstrates partiality towards the source material when he can; that is 100% not the case on the other side of that writer’s room.

Our 8th grade book report (on themes)

Kylie: Boy was this episode particularly disparate. “Good intentions gone awry” doesn’t even work, since Stannis and Davos were rewarded in this episode. I honestly don’t have anything that I think could run as a through-line. I guess Dany, Jaime, and Yara all made concessions?

Julia: “Laws of Gods and Men” can be shoehorned most places, I think. Stannis and the bank disagree about what it means to be a lawful king, and whether de jure (of gods) or de facto (of men) lawfulness is more important. Yara wants to correct an injustice by rescuing Theon, and now Ramsay wants to use Theon’s lawful legitimacy for his own ends. (That one is a stretch.) Dany is actually holding court to do justice, so there you go there. And then there’s a trial.

So cohesive!

Musa: You joke, but it’s actually more cohesive than we usually get.

It fits!

Bo: I’ll take it. I don’t have the energy to try and find a theme in this stuff this week.

Kylie: I’d argue that Yara is a stretch there (we can frame anything to be about justice, which is not inherently tied to laws), but it certainly works more than mine.

The Butterfly Effect

Bo: Oh boy, reasonable Hizdahr! I’m sure this doesn’t reflect the Game of Thrones tendency to change characters in ways that hurt the overall point of a storyline, even the point they themselves try to make!

Also, the Shae scene and Tyrion’s monologue afterwards are basically a butterfly turned into a dragon. Shae’s testimony makes no sense with the changes to her character, and Tyrion’s monologue lacks a certain something when he seems like such a good guy done wrong. Maybe this is just an adaptation issue.

Musa: It is most definitely an adaptation issue. And I will be ranting about it a whole lot in that section coming up.

Julia: I agree. You can at least argue that Sibel Kekilli was trying to play Shae as scared and possibly under duress, but we all know where that will lead. Her character is kind of in the same boat as Tyrion, in that they need her to do a thing, but, as Bo said, it doesn’t really make sense for her character anymore. Just like being mad at all the good people of King’s Landing doesn’t really make sense for Tyrion’s character, or the flow of the scene even, but he’s gotta make that speech. So he will.

I’m also having trouble seeing much justification for Tyrion feeling betrayed by Shae here. Given the fact that he knows she was sailing away from the city, so how is she even here, and the fact that this character does not have a pattern of telling him whatever he wants to hear… I guess we’ll talk about it more in episode 10. Can’t wait.

Kylie: I think another aspect that detracts a little from Tyrion’s anger towards the ~people of King’s Landing~ (as a concept), is that there’s absolutely no consistency with the “common” viewpoint, and that only gets worse. Who is even mainly heckling him here? The Tyrell entourage? Are these supposed to be smallfolk?

Time and time again on this show, a monolithic “people” will clap for whoever the plot demands. Here, they were reacting kind of like a studio audience towards evidence they could have had no idea was manipulated or flat out a lie. Tyrion yelling at them just gets swallowed, since we all know where he should be directing his anger: Cersei and Tywin.

Bo: It makes every wasted second with Tyrion feel even worse. They could have spent 5 seconds showing people insult him as he walks the streets or hangs around the castle, and we would have seen why he resents them all in this moment. Instead we get numerous Shae scenes that make her testimony nonsensical.

Julia: I suppose that one guy called him a “twisted demon monkey” in season two, and those two dudes who were going to get sheep turds in their mattresses.

Remember adaptation?

Bo: Oh boy do I have some complaints here. This entire episode feels like its filled with missed chances and questionable decisions. Episodes like this one make me believe D&D plan absolutely nothing beyond the season currently written.

For one, the Small Council scene has multiple moments where Oberyn gives a look suggesting the larger Dornish plot to marry Dany. Did they plan to include Doran’s plans at this point? If not, why put such emphasis on Oberyn reacting to news about Dany? Then you have the scene with Varys and Oberyn in the throne room. Here Varys acts like the Aegon plot is in motion, but we know nothing of the sort happens. So why include this scene? Did they originally include Aegon and then drop it? Otherwise Varys makes no sense here.

They also could have used the Varys/Oberyn scene to suggest the Dornish plot to marry Dany. Instead we get…whatever that was.

Julia: I was convinced at the time that they were teasing us with Varys-as-Blackfyre references too, but that might have been in my head. Now my money is on them having to pad the run time some more, in the tradition of Spy-vs-Spy.

They also could have used to scene to fill out Oberyn beyond the fact that he’s snarky and likes to have sex. Like, maybe talk about what the actual reason he spent those years in Essos was, rather than vauge bullshitery about him wanting to take a gap year. Or have Varys call him on his privilege in a non-superficial way, rather than more sex talk.

Kylie: It actually makes me wonder if Pedro Pascal read the books on his own accord, though we know for a fact he was never asked to by D&D.

Varys is the real head-scratcher though. I can’t imagine they really thought they would include fAegon given what a scope-expansion that would be, but more and more it seems like they didn’t think about Feast/Dance until they actually had to sit down and script Season 5. I guess maybe we’re taking it at face-value; he’s pursuing the Iron Throne for Dany, since he’s such a great Targ loyalist. Or doing it for the realm, or something.

Julia: But if he’s such a great Targ loyalist, making common cause with the Martells seems like an obvious choice here. Like, is that what I was supposed to think they were going for?

Bo: Then you have the completely botched Reek reveal that could have happened here. Imagine if this was the first time we see Theon since Ramsay started torturing him. It wouldn’t have saved the stupidity of the Dreadfort, but it would have helped a lot and at least given it a reason to exist. I even think they filmed it like a reveal scene. Instead there’s literally nothing here. There is no reason for this to happen besides cheating to make the villain look badass, and it’s incredibly dumb.

Julia: The whole Dreadfort scene reminds me so much of the “nab Myrcella” scene is season 5, or the Tower of Joy in season 6. Just laughably immature in this super glossy show. (What they all have in common is bad fight choreography. And also missing the point of entire plot lines.)

You’re so right though, if all we had was the letter at the end of last season, and this was our first sight of Theon since, maybe his failed escape attempt… that could have been something.

Musa: This is where I’m going to have to rant a whole lot about the entirety of Tyrion’s trial. Mainly that, as far as adaptation goes, this is not the trial as it happened in the books. Everything in the show seems to be tailored around making the audience feel bad for Tyrion, whereas in the books it was as much a subversion of audience expectations because all of Tyrion’s past “triumphant” (as far as readers might have seen them) moments come back to bite him in the ass during the trial. There’s also less emphasis on the farcical aspect of the whole thing because the entirety of the emphasis is on how put-upon Tyrion is.

Shae’s testimony is the worst example. It’s not supposed to be about how heartbroken and betrayed he is, it’s supposed to be about him feeling humiliated because his entire sexual history for the past year and a half is being dragged out in front of a live audience that is all too eager to laugh at him. Even the speech, as amazingly well acted as it was from Peter Dinklage’s end, is not the same. All the changes made to Tyrion turn what was him breaking down and laughing hysterically from the absurdity of his situation into a righteous tirade against a world that has wronged him at every turn. It also bears mentioning that Tyrion demands trial by combat in the show without having anyone to champion him, whereas in the books at that same point he already had Oberyn ready to take on the role.

Bo: That’s very true about the book trial. The whole thing basically serves to both condemn some of the worst stuff the audience cheered him for, while also humiliating Tyrion to the point that he breaks. Obviously the farcical nature of it shines through in the Tywin/Jaime scene, but it’s definitely more about how poor Tyrion is framed and betrayed rather than a surprisingly honest accounting of all the problematic things he does.

This of course makes sense for D&D, who probably don’t see anything wrong with anything Tyrion does in the books.

Kylie: Yeah, it was supposed to be the Seinfeld finale.

It also has the odd effect of Tyrion “confessing” simply because he’s heartbroken. Kinda like how he’s going to go on and kill Tywin…for sleeping with Shae? (At least, that’s his stated reason in Season 5, though Season 7 walks it back a bit and makes it about Tywin’s hatred for him.) The lack of a champion already lined up, as Musa pointed out, only furthers this problem. Tyrion pissed away the offer of joining the Night’s Watch—which in these circumstances I’d say is the smart thing to do—to ask for a Trial by Combat, where Cersei is guaranteed to choose Gregor Clegane. He doesn’t have a single idea of who could champion for him, and again, it was done in his haze of love pain.

I get why they did it; they didn’t want to break up Tyrion’s monologue from the meat of the trial. In my mind, this episode could have ended with Oberyn offering to be his champion, but I think in their minds, Tyrion’s monologue is the bang you close an episode on. They might not be wrong about that per say, but under scrutiny, it begins to fall apart a tad.

Julia: They might have had room for the Oberyn scene if they could have dared to make the Dreadfort sequence a little shorter… And for the third time, the fact that he’s heartbroken, rather than humiliated, also makes a speech where he’s angry at the audience of the trial not make much sense. Maybe that’s why I didn’t find the speech compelling, after seven years, good acting can’t cover this shit up any more.

Musa: Amen.

Carol Watch: who is Cersei this week?

Musa: Definitely Carol. Even her hatred of Tyrion feels more Carol than Cersei, where you’d think that’d be the closest she actually gets to being Cersei at this point.

Kylie: It’s these scenes that make me wonder why they bothered to include Maggy the Frog, yet scrap the Valonqar. But in general I agree. She was poised and sad, and actually effective at manipulating circumstances.

Can we talk about Jaime here? Who was actually Jaime, I think? He outright told Tywin that Cersei had “manipulated everything” (which was odd, because it seemed for a second like he found Pycelle’s poison testimony slightly compelling). However, we know that Cersei and Jaime end the season banging in the White Tower, and he loves her so much he’d fling babies from catapults for her for three seasons straight. Are we just supposed to think he views Cersei outright arranging for his brother to be killed this teeny-tiny thing that he can overlook?

It’s almost as if he’s supposed to be having a completely different reaction to her, and possibly end the season in a totally different place!

Bo: There is some stark Jaime/Larry stuff happening in this episode. He looks charmingly befuddled throughout the testimony, but is full Jaime to Tywin.

Julia: Also, it looks like Marg is compelled by the testimony at times? Which is super odd, since she knows for a fact who did it.

Kylie: I can’t tell if she was meant to look compelled or meant to be concerned that these witnesses really were drummed up to declare his guilt when she knows the truth.

Julia: Okay, but to what end? And poor Larry just keeps falling for sad Carol’s evil ways, I think? Though I’m not sure if the episode knows if Carol is manipulating everything or if Tywin is.

Musa: It’s almost as if Jaime is supposed to reveal something to Tyrion, and Tyrion in turn is supposed to angrily tell Jaime about all the other people Cersei has been having sex with that are not Jaime. And THAT in turn is supposed to lead Jaime to becoming increasingly disillusioned with Cersei. Almost as if things that happen matter to the characters……

Bo: Meh, seems better to take a road trip to Porne.

Kylie: Also Carol’s been at least mostly faithful, other than that one sad Lancel f-ck.

Musa: This is what happens when you don’t have Osmound Kettleblack and Moonboy for all I know.

Exposition Imposition: good or clunky?

Bo: The Varys/Oberyn scene was some of the clunkiest exposition to ever clunk. The Iron Bank scene was a little better, but still really hamfisted. I feel like this was a weaker exposition episode.

Musa: Was that really exposition with Varys and Oberyn? What exactly did we learn about either character that we didn’t already know and that is significant to either of them? Oberyn is well travelled, Varys isn’t originally from Westeros. What exactly do either of these tidbits tell us?

Bo: I mean, it was literally putting them in a room so Varys could say, “Hey, Oberyn traveled to Essos and here’s some basic facts about him.” It’s pointless exposition, but still exposition.

Musa: It would have actually had some worth with Varys’ line about how not having sexual desire leaves him time to focus on “other things”, if they’d actually adapted the Aegon storyline and not retconned Varys to suddenly just randomly stanning Dany the whole time all along. Speaking of which, in hindsight it’s even more stupid that Varys was working for Dany behind the scenes because he keeps giving out information about her like candy (mmmm, sugar plums) to the small council in King’s Landing.

Julia: He’s actually helping her more in the books by framing the information about her as far-fetched rumor. But it seems like everyone in Westeros has known details about everything Dany’s has been doing for years.

As for not learning anything significant about Oberyn, might I remind you it was confirmed that he and Ellaria are living in that brothel and receiving official guests there!

Kylie: With sex workers “on retainer.”

Musa: You know those wacky Dornish—all they do is “fight and f-ck, f-ck and fight.”

How was the pacing?

Julia: OMG, it was terrible! All they had was the actual trial scenes and the rest of the episode was all nonsense and padding. The Dany stuff could literally have been in any scene between last week and the finale, the entire plotline with Stannis is filler until he gets to the Wall, and why did I have to hear the whole of the brown pants story?

Bo: I can’t believe this Stannis scene took so long to happen.

Episodes like this always have this same pacing problem, where everything before the extended half-hour in one location feels completely disjointed and awkward. They’re always praised for avoiding the jumpy nature of most episodes, but it just makes the early, jumpy scenes even worse. Especially when those scenes are this bad.

Kylie: This might shock you, but today’s episode is brought to you by the same director as “The Climb”—Alik Sakharov. I’m starting to suspect he might be one of the weaker links. I watch at 110% speed for all these episodes, and the beginning of that Iron Bank sequence was still unbelievably slow.

Bo: I cannot get over the pointlessness of both the Craster’s Keep and Dreadfort raids. They’re both decent concepts but are handled awfully and mean nothing to the story. It couldn’t be more obvious that they only included the Dreadfort here to kill time. Like, it serves zero purpose and moves nothing forward. And they ended season 3 teasing it!

Let’s talk about sex, baby

Kylie: I’m going to ignore Ramsay for now, and instead talk about that wonderful “brown pants” scene in the Braavosi brothel with Salladhor Saan. Didn’t you guys feel like the nudity really enhanced that moment between him and Daavos?

Bo: At least it gives you the impression of two women who have heard this all before and are going through the motions. Better than they usually handle sex workers, I guess?

I’m all for ignoring Ramsay. I honestly wondered if I somehow downloaded porn when the Myranda sex scene started. What is happening.

Musa: Ramsay is evil, so he has evil people sex where the girl gets on top. That’s about the gist of it.

Julia: That scene lasted so long… and clearly only evil people enjoy girl-on-top.

Can we talk about how everyone assumes Varys is both gay and also a pedophile for… reasons. Or are the “boys” Showberyn has on retainer actually grown men and he’s into equal opportunity infantilization?

Musa: In case you’re curious, “boys” is also a term used for grown men (most often they’re sex workers) who are on the receiving end of penetrative sex from other men. And yes, it is really messed up that everyone just assumes Varys has to be deviant from the presumed norms of sexuality because he’s a eunuch (or else its cause he’s not masculine?).

Kylie: At least Varys gave us asexual representation we’ve always wanted! Turns out when you’re not busy lusting for anyone, you’re able to have free time to plot the overthrowing of the ruling monarchs. So that’s the secret!

In memoriam…sheep, some Greyjoy and Bolton men

Bo: Rest in peace, sheep. You had a more personality and characterization than any of the Greyjoys or Boltons.

Julia: They were goats. Dude said he was a goatherd.

Bo: Eh, he’ll have some sheep in a week that “Drogon” burned.

Kylie: I take full responsibility for initially writing “sheep.” But I do feel bummed out for them, and I hope three-times their value is enough for that guy to get by before he has to purchase others and raise them.

In other news, ‘Ramsay is actually kind of a badass. Like Ramsay fights…yeah.’

Bo: Stuff like Ramsay is why I question whether D&D actually read the books sometimes. Who reads A Dance with Dragons and gets this interpretation of Ramsay Snow? Or even worse, who reads it and thinks, “We should make this character the major antagonist.”

Ramsay has always sucked, but rewatching, I don’t think we’ve ever given proper credit to just how much he sucks. He single-handedly drags seasons 3 and 4 down a couple points, at least.

Musa: You just had to end this by reminding us of D&D’s villain worship of Ramsay, didn’t you?

Kylie: Oh naturally. And that’s the perfect place for us to end it too, I think.

What did everyone else think of this episode? Did Dinklage’s monologue hold up, or was it a bit neutered by the implications that he confessed out of love? Did anyone see any value in the Dreadfort sequence?

We can discuss in the comments below. Next time, we’ll get an iconic line of the books utterly butchered. Until then, we wish you good fortune in The Wars to Come.

Images courtesy of HBO and video courtesy of The CW

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