‘Game of Thrones’ Does Courtroom Drama Westeros-Style

Published 12 months ago by

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 6 Game of Thrones Does Courtroom Drama Westeros Style

[This is a review of Game of Thrones season 4, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]


The trial of Tyrion comes late in ‘The Laws of Gods and Men,’ a move that allows the episode an opportunity to end on a high note, wherein the accused demands a trial by combat. For all intents and purposes, this was a chance for Game of Thrones to demonstrate the inner workings of the legal system in King’s Landing – with the added benefit of the trial itself being quite scandalous – but it was not without its surprises.

So, perhaps it came as something of a revelation that, in the middle of a trial, the defendant can simply opt out of actually being tried (especially when the cards were so plainly stacked against him) and move straight to rendering a more decisive conclusion regarding the crime he is accused of committing.

For one thing, Tyrion’s decision frees the show from having to parade in more witnesses to recount his various quips, barbed remarks, and sometimes unpleasant interpersonal dealings with people, so that Varys, Pycelle, and Shae can twist them in such a manner that the former hand of the king looks like little more than a bitter assailant hell bent on assassinating his boss.

But after Tyrion’s speech, wherein he essentially tells those present he’s not the monster they think he is – which, if he were guilty would ironically be a monster who ostensibly freed them from living under the rule of an actual monster – it is plain to see that there is no chance of a fair trial. There can only be one judgment and, if Tyrion plays his cards right, it will be mercifully swift, regardless of which decision is ultimately favored.

Tyrion’s decision and realization that he was found guilty long before he even entered the courtroom has to do with the way in which he is perceived. And with that realization, there comes a throughline of people not being who or what they claim to be, or are claimed to be by others. And although the episode is somewhat light on the progression of the narrative, this particular throughline does provide further intriguing insight into the way the world of Game of Thrones is responsive to the power of perception, and the way in which the notion of how or who a person is can often times work to ultimately define who he or she actually is.

Lena Headey Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 6 Game of Thrones Does Courtroom Drama Westeros Style

In the end, it’s all about that which is claimed. Claim to a title, claim to a name, claim to a deed, or, more importantly, claim to the Iron Throne. Ser Davos makes a compelling argument to the members of the Iron Bank on behalf of “the one true king,” Stannis Baratheon, by first correcting their claim that he was a thief, by explaining all he did was transport stolen goods, and then pay for that action with the fingers from his hand.

He then goes on to explain that Stannis’ claim is significant for reasons more persuasive than merely his name. Tywin is the true power in King’s Landing, and with his advanced age and lack of significant authority to follow in his footsteps, the logical choice for the Iron Bank would be to back the most viable candidate.

Davos is insisting that Stannis is something many would argue he is not – which is not simply the rightful heir to the throne, but also the only one capable of leading on the off chance something happens to the real power in King’s Landing. In that sense, the bank is backing a suitable stand-in based on their altered perception of one previously thought unsuitable for their money. That altered perception is also seen in Ramsay Snow asking Reek to pretend to be Theon – or the person he was but is no longer– while Daenerys finds her perception of Meereen’s former rulers altered when a supplicant requests those who were crucified in the name of justice be given a dignified burial.

The episode nicely ties these elements into the larger theme of the episode that perception is a game of multiples and endless variable; it is one that results in a man like Varys being referred to as “Lord” and being wrongly classified by Oberyn as desirous of boys over girls, when he would claim to be free of such desires.

Ultimately, it is one where there can only be one unifying conclusion about any single man or woman: Whether they are alive or dead. Knowing this, and being a lifelong victim of erroneous perception, it is no wonder Tyrion has chosen the most definitive course of action to end his trial.


Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘Mockingbird’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview below:

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  1. Great episode as always. Loved Tyrion’s speech at the end.

  2. Greatest show ever.

    They (mostly Shae) tore Tyrion down to the point of him fighting back.

    As the final shots of the episode showed, it all came back to the epic battle of wills and wits between Tyrion and Tywin.

    Round 1 goes to Tyrion.

  3. Tyrion’s speech at the end…dear god. Bravo Peter Dinklage, bravo. You sir are a hell of a thing to watch.

    Oh, and Shea has quite possibly become the most hated person in the show now.

    • He cinched an Emmy right there.

      • *clinched*

    • Best 3 minutes of any show ever…that and the last 3 minutes of the last episode of the first season of The West Wing. And possibly all of True Detective.

      Anyways, Dinklage. Emmy clip. Got the chills.

  4. Peter Dinklage has always been a good actor, but in this episode he was out of this world.

    Shae just replaced Joeffry in the most hated person category

    • Why would she be “the most hated”? Because her role was to push Tyrion’s fate to the Wall? The whole trial was staged so that Tyrion would eventually end up there but his father didn’t quite expect him to retaliate with the other final trump-card left to him. As always, he completely underestimated his son.

      • Having never read the novels, I get the amazing joy of watching this all unfold with eyes wide open. And this much I wonder: At what point does Tywin realize the strongest, most viable option to keep power in his family is his shortest son?

        Excellent episode. A good focus on my 2 favorite characters: Tyrion and Daenerys.

        • I could answer that question, but alas that would require me to commit the nefarious deed of spoiling.

          • No, you could probably answer that question, just be considerate to other visitors and place a spoiler warning at the top of your comment. It’s not a hard concept, you see other posters do it throughout this site and it works well.

  5. terrific how tyrion illustrated how much smaller everyone in his presence really was in comparison to him. mass outrage over joffrey’s killing, save that noise…

  6. Pretty sure Shae was forced to say those things. I don’t know why (I’m sure she’d probably die before she spoke against Tyrion) but I still believe that she was put up to say those things. She seemed distraught and seemed to be reciting a script. Just my guess

    • She loved Tyrion and refused to leave King’s Landing, despite his pleas to go before she was found and killed, stating that she wanted to stay with him. It’s obvious she’d never willingly say what she did about Tyrion and probably did it on Tywin’s promise that both of them will be sent away rather than be executed.

    • Hmm, weird, my reply to you disappeared so I assumed I was being silenced for whatever reason but I guess the L word that rhymes with “dove” can’t be spoken around here without causing offense.

      • Oh Dazz. I was caught using the same 4 letter discrimination.

    • Actually, she did all this out of spite, to avenge him for breaking her heart. Tyrion kicked her out of the palace a long time ago, so she had plenty of time to escape King’s Landing and do whatever – I doubt Cersei found her or captured her especially for the trial. I think she came back by choice just to return a small part of the pain he caused her.

      • Eh, no. I doubt that Tywin would endanger his plans by placing his “trust” in a spiteful revenge-trip. It is a lot more reasonable to think that he got hold of shay and told her plain and simple that she will tell all those things before court or Tyrion and herself will die right there. Tywin does NOT want Tyrion to be executed because of the shame on his house. Having Tyrion resign to the Wall would be a noble redemption that would put a favorable light on the House.

        Name, merit, reputation and claim. Those are the most important things. Tywin wouldn’t take chances.

  7. Long live Tyrion!By far my favorite character on this show! I haven’t read the books so I have no idea what happens to him in the future but I hope he is around until the end.

    • Deleted

      • Gee, don’t ruin it for everyone all at once…

        Friggin jagoff’s have no respect for other peoples wishes not to know what happens in the future. I know you feel as though you’re ‘more special’ than everyone because you’ve read the books, but have some class.

        I, too, know what happens in the future of the show, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to spoil it for everyone on a public forum.

        • This is the same person who did this last year and was spoiling a lot of things for people. He/she gets a lot of joy doing this.

          • The good thing is oft-times the show doesn’t follow the books so who knows what or whom ends up where.

            • the books have been out for years, stop acting like people are spoiling anything. So annoying when people who read cant talk about anything because heaven forbid i spoil it even though its been out for YEARS. Guys dont tell me who won the super bowl 3 years ago i have not watched it yet! OMFG DID YOU JUST SAY THE GIANTS WON!? WTF I DIDNT WATCH IT YET!!!!

              • @ GizmoduckJP

                If this were a post about the books I’d agree with you but it’s not. This is a post about the TV show and what was mentioned above hasn’t happened yet so it is a spoiler and a pretty big one at that.

                Just because someone hasn’t read the books doesn’t mean that they deserve to be spoiled or shouldn’t be able to comment or read comments about the show. And most of all it doesn’t mean they can’t read.
                Like I said in my post I’m reading the books after each season so I’ve read up until the Red Wedding in book 3 and will finish the book after this season.

                Also, the sports analogy is apples and oranges.
                Nobody knows ahead of time who will win The Super Bowl. People who don’t watch and don’t want to be spoiled will avoid ESPN until after they do or will go on sports sites or talk to people who watched knowing ahead of time that they may be spoiled.

                People who haven’t read the books come here to talk about the show and what may happen. Those who already know are usually are aware of that and if they are going to post a spoiler will post a warning before.
                They way it was done here was an obvious attempt to ruin what’s about to happen for others.

              • Dont be so arrogant, i’ve read all the books so far but you dont see me posting massive spoilers for people who only watch the show. Comparing a tv show to sports is completely ridiculous, especially one based on a series of books. Some people just aren’t readers, it doesnt mean they’re illiterate or anyway lesser than you or me, it just means they dont have any interest in reading novels. If someone wants to talk about the books, go to a forum about it, show watchers dont deserve to have the story ruined just because some tool decides its their fault for not reading the books.

              • @GizmoduckJP…you sir, need a bit of help with the spoilers discussion. Book to movie spoilers are a no. Sports winnings are fine after 24 hrs. Completely different. And if you don’t know better, you’re either a troll or completely daft.

      • I’m still waiting for that nifty shock-button that lets me electrocute lame book-readers spoiling the fun of others.

      • @ weaponX23

        If what you just posted is true I have to ask why?
        Why would you feel the need to spoil certain events for the show just because you can?
        Good for you, you read the books. Some people haven’t though and there are some like me who wait until after seasons to read the books to better appreciate what we saw.

        Do you realize that when people talk about everything that’s wrong with the internet they are talking about people like you?

        Why not just post a spoiler warning? Is it that hard or do you enjoy ruining something for others just because you can?

        I hope the moderator here deletes both your comment and mine.
        Also, maybe it’s time for Screen Rant to start a seperate thread for those who have read the books and for those who haven’t.
        99% of the time I place the responsibility for avoiding spoilers on those who DON’T want to be spoiled but in a case the like this when someone just enjoys ruining the show for others there is no one to blame but the person who posted the spoiler.

        • Exactly, it’s like as if this guy was waiting for someone to mention not having read the books to swoop in and ruin it for everyone. Probably won’t even return to post again, just did their damage and fled.

        • Yep, seems weird that someone can willingly post spoilers and ruin it for people who don’t want to know until they see it happen on the show yet people like me with honest, genuine opinions and comments on TV and film find their comments aren’t posting for whatever goofy reason.

          I demand trial by combat!

  8. Can’t wait for the two combatants to square off, everything is falling into place from the book. Is it just me or Oberyn was the most reasonable council member out of them all?

    • Well yeah, Tywin’s always hated Tyrion and Lord Tyrell was just taking the opportunity to agree with Tywin and act as a firm but fair judge that listens to Tyrion but ultimately will probably have sided with Tywin to preserve the alliance between his House and the Lannisters.

      • Did you notice Tywin tell Mace Tyrell to fetch a quill and paper, a job for a servant, not a jury nor a lord.

        • Yea, I caught that. I also thought Mace Tyrell had his head so far up Twyin’s royal Lannister arse he looked like a poor lost little puppy. He was a total brown-nosing beyatch.

  9. I’ll agree with my brethren posters above, who all say that this episode simply rocks!

    Tyrion finally has the balls, after all these years, to give his father (and the rest of the scum they call Kings Landing) the middle finger. Bravo!

    Truly a standout performance by Peter Dinklage.

  10. I’ve never liked Shae, now I know why! Tyrion’s speech was great, amazing performance from Dinklage! I can’t wait to see him in X-Men.

  11. Man, that was a great episode. Now I can’t wait for the Red Viper vs the mountain.

  12. Bravo, Mr. Dinklage, Bravo.

    Great episode and after seeing the preview for next week I can’t wait to see what may fly out the Moon Door.

  13. THE moment of the entire series for me and possibly the most heartfelt moment in the career and the life of Peter Dinklage. A metaphorical rise to stand taller than anyone else in this world.

    Utterly majestic.

  14. Bravo, Mr. Dinklage! Outstanding performance.

  15. I really like the structure of the episodes this season.
    The first half hour or so catches us up with a few characters and then the last half stays with one setting.
    Part of the reason I enjoyed the trial so much is that we didn’t cut away. We stayed with it and for me it really helped what was happening sink in.

    I also want to echo want others have been saying.
    Peter Dinklage has always been amazing and a standout of the show but his performance last night may have been his best work yet.
    You almost felt a sense of relief that Tyrion could finally say what he was really feeling. All those emotions locked inside for years could finally come out.
    It was absolutely brilliant.

  16. As with everyone else, Tyrion’s speech was tremendous, a real treat for those who have been put down by people who consider themselves bigger and better but actually hide behind rules they implement themselves for their own gains and to hold down “the little people”.

    Aside from that, I enjoyed Dany’s realisation that she can’t do as she likes and call it justice. She looked rather uncomfortable when she heard how she’d crucified an innocent man who had felt the same way about those children as she did, “guilt by association” finished him off and his son’s pleas really affected her.

    Ser Davos Seaworth proved his worth too with his own speech to the Iron Bank of Braavos. Nice to see Mark Gatiss and his naturally smug looking face as leader of the bank, nice casting.

    In fact, the entire episode seemed to be about “unworthy” people standing up to be heard.

    • Great point on danys…realization. It was great to watch her squirm and realize ruling isn’t as easy and straight forward as she thought. She was overshadowed by Tyrion in this episode but I thought that few minutes said a lot about where her character is heading.

  17. Anyone got any idea why my thoughts on the episode and possible theme throughout the hour (of s-called “unworthy” people rising up to make themselves heard) aren’t showing up?

  18. OOOH did i spoil things fer ya, alright! Giggidity Giggidity ! lmao!

    • there is a word for people like you sir, in fact there are many, and none I would repeat in polite company

  19. This episode was great except for the botched Theon rescue scene. The Ironborn had Ramsay cornered and half naked, then stood there and watched as he turned his back on them & unlocked a kennel, at which point all Ironborn were scared off by some dogs & ran back to their boats?? Did I see that part correctly or did I miss something?

    • @cidgrad – It was just added for the show to visually show that Yara thinks Theon is dead. If there had been anything major like the killing of one of the major characters during the raid it could have messed up future plot lines.

      • I get all that but the ending of the raid was scripted quite poorly. The more I think about it, the worse it is. I mean, the whole thing was Yara’s idea to begin with going back to last season and she was very passionate about it. We finally get there, but suddenly it’s, “Oh no! Dogs! RUN AWAY!” And she knows what psychos the Boltons are, so what sort of mental state did she think her castrated & tortured brother would be in?

        Hadn’t they killed all of Ramsay’s men during the fight in the kennel or were there some left? Maybe I saw incorrectly but I thought he was surrounded w/no armor on. Even if Yara decided to leave Theon, I don’t see her walking away without killing Ramsay. I don’t mind when the show diverges from the books, but at least prefer it to be significant when it happens. Don’t tease me with pointless filler scenes that accomplish nothing. That could have been more time devoted to the excellent trial scene.