'Game of Thrones' Season 4, Episode 6: spoiler discussion

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The night is dark and full of spoilers. Below we'll be talking about the HBO series Game of Thrones, up through and including tonight's episode, "The Laws of Gods and Men." Open discussion of future episodes — or information from the books — is off limits.

After several episodes of set-up, tonight D.B Weiss and David Benioff started tipping over their carefully constructed set of dominos. The big news, of course, was the trial of Tyrion Lannister, but there were several key moments along the way.

The Hand of Davos

Stannis and Ser Davos traveled to the Iron Bank of Braavos, hoping to garner support for Stannis' claim to the throne. Given the reduced size of their armies, the bank was less than enthusiastic about switching sides, until Davos laid down the reality of the situation: once Tywin is gone, the only people left to rule in the Lannister clan are Tommen or Cersei, neither of which are viable long-term options. How did he demonstrate his sincerity and belief in Stannis? He showed off his mutilated hand. Stannis took the fingers from his right hand as punishment for his crimes as a smuggler, in case you've forgotten.

"He doesn't just talk about paying people back," Davos said. "He does it." Apparently that was good enough for the Iron Bank, as soon thereafter Davos was out recruiting with fresh funding in hand.

The fickle heart of Yara Greyjoy

Yara Greyjoy made a pretty quick 180-degree turn when she decided to go after her brother Theon a few episodes back. It wasn't like they had a particularly cozy relationship, and we hadn't seen anything to justify her bucking their father's orders when set off on her rescue mission. Apparently Yara really doesn't know what she wants, as in this episode her crew executed Operation: Rescue Theon — only for her to give up moments later when it was clear he'd been broken down by Ramsay Snow.

Sure, empathy isn't really a valued trait amongst the Ironborn, but lets break it down: Yara defied her father, gathered her best troops, took to the ocean, killed her way into the kennel where Theon was being held... and then gave up after he bit her on the hand? Yes, Theon had the chance to take out Ramsay from behind — and didn't — but was him going full Reek really enough to justify her telling her men that "my brother is dead"?

It looks like the twist is going to set up some great game-playing, as Ramsay later recruited Reek for a secret mission where he'll "play" Theon Greyjoy, but seriously Yara. You didn't even want to see if a change in scenery would bring him around? As you already knew, Theon has been through some, how shall we say, traumatic treatment.

Underestimate Dany at your own risk

Sitting on the throne at Meereen, Daenerys got a taste of how difficult ruling is. Rather than the black-and-white decisions she's been able to make on her liberation march, dealing with actual people requires shades of grey. As a character, she's growing up and learning how to lead, though back at the Small Council, Cersei didn't see what the big deal was about. Referring to Dany as a "girl," she insisted nobody in Westeros really needed to worry about Dany, but Varys and Prince Oberyn disagreed. They recognize she's building a strong army and that her growing dragons could be a real threat.

There was a time in the show where Cersei seemed to be completely in control, but she's been racking up blind spots and poor political decisions ever since Joffrey took the throne. Her attempt last episode at bringing Margaery into the fold was as transparent as it gets, and her single-minded focus on killing Tyrion is starting to look like part of a larger problem than a case of simple payback.

The return of Shae

The last time we saw Tyrion's wife Shae, he said as many horrible things as possible to her in an effort to get her out of the city before Cersei or his father could take capture her. According to Bronn she was safely on her way away from King's Landing, but her appearance during Tyrion's trial proved that she didn't go far enough — if she even left at all.

The trial was a blow-by-blow of people airing their personal grievances against Tyrion, either by telling selective truths or lying altogether. It wasn't looking good, until Jamie sealed a deal with Tywin: he will leave the Kingsguard, return to Casterly Rock, and marry so he can continue the Lannister family bloodline. In return, Tywin will send Tyrion to the Night's Watch rather than execute him, as long as Tyrion asks for mercy. Tyrion was rightly suspicious — Ned Stark made a similar deal, he pointed out to Jamie — but he agreed to go along with it.

And then Shae showed up, telling everyone that Sansa and Tyrion had plotted together to kill Joffrey, because Sansa wanted revenge and Tyrion was sympathetic to his new bride. Tyrion is a master at playing the game and lets all kinds of blows glance off him, but one thing that has always held true is that he is a true romantic at heart, and does not know how to love dishonestly. Devastated by Shae's testimony, he lashed out at everyone, demanding a trial by combat.

Personally, I hope this is leading towards Jamie taking his turn as Tyrion's champion. It would align a number of different storylines, and unite the two brothers in a way we haven't really seen before (not to mention it would increase the chances of the Lannister family tearing itself apart).

Then again, I want Tyrion to live, and Jaime's practices with Bronn haven't been going that great. Maybe I should hope for a different outcome.

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What did you think of tonight's episode? What does Ramsay Snow have in store? What will happen with Tyrion? And wasn't it nice to not hear the name "Hodor" 40 times this episode?