“Justice” is the theme of the week for this round-up of critics’ recaps and reviews for the Bryan Cogman-penned episode. Peter Dinklage’s chances in next year’s awards circuit are alluded to, and examinations of Tyrion’s plight in this episode are covered in nearly every article.
These are the pieces that were live by the time this post goes up; latecomers will be included along the way.
Tyrion takes the stand and steals the show in a powerful episode
I find this episode guilty! Guilty! I say, of being hugely entertaining and plenty heartbreaking too.
Tyrion Is Among The Least Skilled Players Of The Game Of Thrones
As “Game of Thrones” has taught us all too well over four seasons, there is almost nothing that can constrain human behavior…So there is something almost odd about an episode of “Game of Thrones” in which people are frequently decent to each other, or try to be. “The Laws of Gods and Men” invokes the formal requirements that compel such goodness. But despite its title, the episode suggests that kindness comes from stranger, more informal places entirely.
B+; If Game Of Thrones is always asking questions about power, then this season of the show is increasingly interested in the flipside of power: justice.
More book readers review and Unsullied react under the cut:
“The Laws of Gods and Men” was, in one way or another, beginning to end, about supplicants. Stannis and Davos went hat in hand (or half-hand, in Davos’ case) to the Iron Bank. Theon pleaded for mercy from Ramsay Snow for the crime of being present while his sister tried to free him. Daenerys sat the throne in Meereen and heard entreaties from peasants and lords. And in King’s Landing, Tyrion Lannister stood in chains before his judge and father, conceded defeat and confessed…
Until he didn’t.
Interpretation is at the heart of law, of course, and of the men and women who enact it. Although the majority of the episode is taken up by an actual trial, the storylines that precede it show the reverberations of other forms of justice, in which similarly cruel acts are taken for fundamentally different reasons. The question becomes whether history will interpret them differently.
It’s a lesson that a lot of characters learn in this episode, one that Henry Ford summed up long ago: “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”
The theme of the episode was reckoning, and these scenes of calculation and consequences took place in well-defined gathering spaces: the conference room of the Iron Bank of Braavos, the receiving hall of Meereen (where all those massive right angles suggest the clarity, precision, and forcefulness our young queen is struggling to convey), and the throne room of King’s Landing. In each of these scenes, there is a recitation of the ruler’s long string of formal titles. This is formal, performative stuff — until the last moments of the episode, when the big show breaks down and takes a surprising turn.
A great episode of Game of Thrones tonight with “The Laws of Gods and Men,” though admittedly one carried by the amazing second half that took place in King’s Landing and involved the twisted trial against Tyrion.
A heartbreaking episode, and a tense one too, as Game of Thrones returns to its well-worn theme of the gap between myth and reality
“The Laws of Gods and Men” is a welcome return to form for Game of Thrones after a pair of uneven efforts, and just as we hoped the trial of Tyrion Lannister proves every bit as compelling as we thought it could be. Bryan Cogman’s excellent adaptation work—some of his best on the series to date—provides a platform for one of Peter Dinklage’s very best performances to date on the series, and gives returning director Alik Sakharov a framework to present a few more masterpieces of direction and visual composition. All in all, this episode is mostly a return to top form for the show, and suggests that the back half of this season may merit all the excitement that was generated in the run-up to the season.
“The Laws of Gods and Men” deals with Tyrion’s trial for the murder of King Joffrey, and it’s structured almost identically to the episode in which Joffrey died: the first half bouncing around the globe, often visiting characters we haven’t seen much of this season (these two episodes are, in fact, the only appearances so far this year for Ramsay Snow and Theon), before the entire second half takes place in King’s Landing.
A-; Episodes like “The Laws Of Gods And Men” make me realize that there are increasingly two Game Of Thrones airing every Sunday night. There’s the first 30 minutes of the show, which collects short vignettes from throughout Westeros and parts beyond, followed by a half-hour of meatier, more concentrated storytelling from King’s Landing. By crafting episodes along this divide, the show runs the risk of bisecting itself, of doing more to isolate its teeming droves of character than geography ever could. But Game Of Thrones is smarter than that, and as “The Laws Of Gods And Men” demonstrates, David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and crew are working hard to find the threads that connect the many disparate elements of their show.
When attempting to describe Game of Thrones, the adjectives we tend to reach for would be better suited to a Clegane brother: enormous, epic, monumental, sprawling, huge. But the reason the show triumphs as a series and not just as spectacle is because showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss never lose sight of the fact that it takes a lot of extremely small moving parts to add up to something so impressive.
“Game of Thrones” is a mighty fine medieval fantasy epic, and with “The Laws of Gods and Men” it proved it could be a very compelling courtroom drama. After Joffrey’s fateful wedding, this episode’s final scene stands as the most memorable (and lengthy) of the season to date. After a rare episode in which Tyrion wasn’t seen at all, he returned to center stage with his regicide trial and more than makes up for last week’s absence.
Things started off with such promise this week before lapsing into self-parody at the very end, concluding with the sort of overwrought melodrama a “Thrones” detractor might assume is typical of the series.
We’re in the thick of season four, and so episode six, “The Laws of Gods and Men,” gave us blood, boobs, dragons, and a final act that was full of shocking reveals and one of the greatest monologues the series has yet showcased.
Phew, I’m still all riled up after that one. Money, sex, power. That’s what we love about Game of Thrones, and that’s what we got. And while we welcomed the return of the boob alert (a-WOO-ga! a-WOO-ga!), it was the balls that really stood out.
That’s right, we’re talking stones so big they’d make ancient henges feel inadequate. They were everywhere this week, and by no means restricted to our favourite fellas. Some of our ladies showed such fortitude that testicles should rightly be renamed “outside ovaries”.
A welcome return of a few MIA characters and a gripping courtroom scene made this week’s episode feel like a reboot of the whole season.
Which critics nailed it this week with their recap? Sound off in comments!