Peter Dinklage fundamentally confirms another Emmy award win for Best Actor with his performance here – he beautifully demonstrates all the intricacies and complexities of his role allowing ‘The Imp’ to shine in ways which we haven’t seen since his heroic actions at the Battle of Blackwater.
Outside of King’s Landing, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) head to Braavos to make a deal with the Iron Bank helmed by Doctor Who’s Mark Gatiss who we can hope to see much more from in the remainder of the season. Plus Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) rounds up her troops and sets off to free her brutally abused brother Theon (Alfie Allen) who now only responds to the name ‘Reek’ after the months of torture he has been subjected to at the cruel hands of Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon).
Rheon once again proves to be a fine performer by making Ramsay such a hateful figure. His bug-eyed expressions only fuel his madness making him a completely unpredictable side character. Every moment he shares the frame with Theon, the spectators assume the worst. Here he ‘kindly’ draws the poor Greyjoy a warm bath; it’s such a simple scene yet it is brimming with intensity and overpowering atmosphere. As ‘Reek’ reacts to the water, he seems somewhere between joyous and mortified – a perfect personification of what Ramsay’s psychical and mental bullying has done to the once noble Northsman.
However the plotting outside Westeros’ Capital seemed somewhat redundant in The Laws of Gods and Men because all the action, suspense, heartache and euphoria came from within the Iron Throne’s court. Tyrion’s trial has arrived; he stands accused of the murder of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) – an act in which he has constantly denied and continues to do so here. Throughout the trial, numerous recognisable faces take to the stand as witnesses or to testify against him and it’s here where the show’s true genius is revealed.
For three seasons, audiences have watched Tyrion grow as a leading screen presence; his promiscuous ways, excessive drinking and resilience against size-related slander has made him a true fan favourite in one respect, but what really allows Dinklage’s character to connect with the viewers is his noble, kind-spirited manner. He might drink, swear and whore around, but he protects the realm, keeps his beloved Shae (Sibel Kekilli) safe and constantly tries to fix the shattered ties between the Lannisters and the Starks. All the aspects and aesthetics that have been the building blocks of Tyrion are used against him here – what was originally screened in humour two seasons ago is retold by another as something embarrassing or grotesque. His behaviour inappropriate and malicious rather than happy-go-lucky and buffoonish.
Not a single witness takes even a shred of pity on Tyrion; they are all quick to judge, belittle and deem him to a punishment which will undoubtedly see his curly haired head upon a spike. Worst of all is Shae’s testimony which is riddled with lies and twisted words; as viewers will know, Tyrion banished her from King’s Landing out of love and protection, not because of her professional nature. Here she paints a vulgar, sordid portrait of our underdog hero and it’s at this point when episode 6 becomes the greatest in the current season thus far.
The closing ten minutes are so dynamically executed that this could have easily been an end-of-season cliffhanger; Tyrion quietly asks his love to stop, uttering “please don’t” before claiming he wishes to confess. However his confession is not to the murder of Joffrey, rather his life. He has been on trial ever since gracing the planet for his size and differences – shunned and labelled a freak and a mistake. Dinklage’s performance surges with equal amounts of fist-pumping fuel as it does tender heartbreak and bruising sorrow. As his teeth gnash and his brow glistens with sweat, the hatred bottled up inside erupts: Tyrion wishes he has killed Joffrey and wishes he hadn’t have been so noble at the Blackwater. Stannis and his men should have taken King’s Landing and murdered everyone in his path.
He closes his verbal assault exclaiming he isn’t going to get a fair trial this way. The only manner he will be justly served is via a trial by battle – a huge turning point in the season and perhaps the greatest wildcard played by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss since the departure of King Joffrey himself. The velocity of Dinklage here completely solidifies why Game of Thrones is the definitive must-watch show as of current; even when you think you have a vague clue of where certain strands are tying, the dragons swoop down and burn the ropes. As we enter the closing stages of this fourth season, audiences should prepare themselves for a game changer because The Laws of Gods and Men just ignited the spark.