Recap Season 4

Written Recap Roundup: Season 4, Episode 6 The Laws of Gods and Men

“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.


Sean T. Collins – Rolling Stone

Tyrion takes the stand and steals the show in a powerful episode

James Hibberd – Entertainment Weekly

I find this episode guilty! Guilty! I say, of being hugely entertaining and plenty heartbreaking too.

Charlie Jane Anders – io9

Tyrion Is Among The Least Skilled Players Of The Game Of Thrones

Alyssa Rosenberg – Washington Post

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.

Todd VanDerWerff – A.V. Club

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:

James Poniewozik – Time

“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.

Myles McNutt – Cultural Learnings

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.

Thomas Fitchenmayer – Esquire

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.”

Nina Shen Rastogi – Vulture

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.

Matt Fowler – IGN

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.

Scott Meslow – The Week

It’s time for all of us to acknowledge that there might be a few problems with the justice system in Westeros. Over four seasons, we’ve seen Tyrion Lannister on trial with a demented 8-year-old as judge. We’ve seen Ned Stark beheaded in violation of a plea bargain he struck. And now, in last night’s “The Laws of Gods and Men,” we’ve seen the ridiculous kangaroo court organized by Tywin Lannister, which was designed to cast Tyrion as the lead conspirator in his nephew Joffrey’s death.

Sarah Hughes – The Guardian

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

Elio Garcia –

“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.



Alan Sepinwall – Hitfix

“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.

Erik Adams – A.V. Club

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.

Andy Greenwald – Grantland

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.

David Malitz – Washington Post 

“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.

Jeremy Egner – ArtsBeat, New York Times

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.

Kristy Puchko – The Mary Sue

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.

Natalie Bochenski – Sydney Morning Herald

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”.

Brian Juergens – The Backlot

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!


  • self-parody at the very end, concluding with the sort of overwrought melodrama

    Really? Thank you for that snippet, there is one article that won’t be getting a hit from me.

  • 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.


  • Really good episode. I am a bit disappointed with how rushed the whole Yara thing felt, though (and I do hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her this season- maybe she’ll go to Moat Cailin?). Anyway, the next episode’s preview… SNOW CASTLE! I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT I DOUBTED D&D ON THIS ONE! Also, looks like the Hound got into a little fight, doesn’t it?

  • Wow. The New York Times really really hate this show. Even the Unsullied have gotten over their initial kneejerk reactions and are lively with positive speculation. But whoever owns the NYT is keen on torpedoing HBO’s flagship.

  • Can someone explain why show Tywin doesn’t care to ascertain who killed joffrey? Show Tywin agrees tyrion Didnt do it but he doesn’t seem concerned that there are forces at work outside of his control willing and able to kill anyone, even his king?!

    Since Book tywin isn’t as present or impressive as show tywin, one never asks or cares what book tywin thinks about joffreys murder.

  • As per ushe, the Times gives this episode 2 stars… along with Christmas, laughter, sunshine, and the actual feeling of love. They prefer the “fresh quirkiness” of 2 Broke Girls on CBS.

  • In that Cogman interview on EW, he says:

    We were not originally planning on going to Braavos this season, but thought the Iron Bank had been teased enough and wanted to put a face on the entity this season.

    So I guess no Arya in Braavos this season? Her last scene will probably be her leaving for Braavos though.

  • Is it only this season that the NYT is doing episode recaps? Why? It’s clear they don’t enjoy the series so why bother to recap it? All I can think is that doing the recaps is a further way for them to disparage the series. Ever since Ginia Bellafante’ s infamous review back in 2011 they have been the show’s foremost opponent. When the nerds rebuffed Bellafante they made it their mission to discredit the series and it’s audience.

  • Except for that one quote, the NYT review had some balance to it & some fun snark (the review describes Pycelle’s listing of the poisons in his cabinet as similar to one of Stefan’s “hottest clubs” on SNL). And the reviewer engaged with readers in the comments (most of them disagreed with his opinion).

  • David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and crew are working hard to find the threads that connect the many disparate elements of their show.

    This is something I’ve noticed too, as watching Season 3 as an unsullied it was kind of sad that the stories in season 1 that were so entwined, seemed all go off on their isolated selves.

    D&D are making it all fit back together, as in.. it just got more isolated in the books… they used Locke to connect the Boltons with Jon early, made Tywin concerned with Daenerys, made Daenerys concerned with King’s Landing, made the White Walker story re-emerge, connected Bran and the Night’s Watch stories. It seems a lot more… together now and that’s before Stannis and Mel go to the Wall :D

  • zod,

    That’s only my opinion of curse, but given the (deserved) reputation that the NYT has when it comes to GoT reviews, I really feel they shouldn’t have a place in this post. I don’t say that as a fan who doesn’t like it when his show gets negative criticism (as long as the criticism has some ground, I’m ok with that), but because I simply think that their reviews are lazy and only negative for the sake of being “edgy”. Why give them room on a fan site for the very show they seem to think is beneath them?

  • Thanks for posting this!

    I think Greenwald’s recaps are high art-great writing.

  • Elio’s review in was spot on this time. Great episode all around except for the Yara debacle. Ironborn running away from dogs *facepalm*. They pay the iron price my ass

  • Zack,

    When it’s not wanky, yes! (I’ve been spoiled in threads here before, so I tend to scroll and look through my fingers. And next week you might get one! Thanks, Zack!

  • Laura Stone,

    (It’s not you. It’s us.)
    (We are the Quiet Fandom.)
    (Nothing ever makes us speak up. Or yell. Or fight.)

    Bwahaha! Thank you for the review and for dropping by! :)

  • Laura Stone,

    Love your reviews. I don’t think Varys wants the throne himself, his glance was an allusion to power I think. He just want’s to keep his place as an advisor to the throne. And when he says “Sadly my lord, I never forget a thing,” like, uhm regretfully for you I remember everything you said to Joffrey in the Small Council. I don’t think he has it out for Tyrion but he clearly stated to Tyrion earlier this season that he would not stick his neck out for him publicly, no matter how much respect/friendship he has with him.

    Definitely do not read this Laura:

    From her review: “Oh, I want Tyrion to make it, want him to systematically snap the necks of those who stood against him (but not Shae!)”


  • Laura Stone,

    I was looking for your review/-cap on the list, so thanks for the link. I love, love, love them!

    Love the Mary Poppins shout out.

  • Having lived in NYC for years, I can smell that smugness from miles away. “Overwrought melodrama”, hah! — all that tells me is that Egner lacks empathy and a sense of justice, never expecting to find himself in Tyrion’s position — at the very least, this disqualifies him from jury duty.

  • MX,

    Thought exactly the same.
    Seriously, why do journalists who obviously blindly dislike the show get to write about it. I mean, Egner does not even understand why Shae turned against Tyrion.
    That was displayed/implied in the show in several episodes now: she was jealous (Sansa) and hurt because she understood Tyrions worries about her safety as lack of interest and was sent away. Not to mention that she could be forced by the Lannisters to speak against Tyrion in the trail.

  • Hexonx:
    Laura Stone,

    Love your reviews.I don’t think Varys wants the throne himself, his glance was an allusion to power I think.

    One that the real Varys would never do to a stranger like Oberyn but it’s ok, they’ve done the same with Littlefinger…dumb them and the storylines down a bit. I guess it’s a way to reach more people.

  • I agree that Ellio’s review was pretty spot on. It points out both the highs and the lows of the episode whilst also giving credit to some non-book material.

    In an recent interview with HBO Netherlands Maisie Williams says (when referring to episode 10): …”It’s such a gripping episode, specifically for my character”…

    What do you guys think? Is this referring to her leaving behind Westeros or to her finding Catelyn’s body?

  • These reviews are almost as fun to read as watching the episode itself. I love how there is so much to discuss regarding the similarities (thematically and visually) of the Stannis/Davos, KL and Meereen scenes. Most of reviewers, like me, are scratching their heads regarding the Dreadfort pros & cons. I particularly enjoyed Elio’s balanced review as well. The NYT reviewer has a few insightful Unsullied comments but the NYT reviewers do seem to enjoy drowning in their own well-ingrained cynicism.

  • Wow! Elio is about as narrow minded as they come. Raves about this episode because it was a close adaptation to the source. Does he ever ejaculate? I think he needs to.

    Thank you.

    Rygars penis

  • Sorry for that. My junk has a mind of its own.

    My two cents on the Yara, yes Yara as she is certainly not Asha, debacle? Nothing, NOTHING out of place with that scene could diminish the gut wrenchingly beautiful performance by Alfie.

  • Duval,

    Catelyn’s body would be alive right now. If not, the body is at the other side of the narrow sea. They will NOT show the resurrection scene.

  • Rygar,

    Yara was great, shut your dickhole. It’s the whole scene that’s a problem, not any specific performance.

  • jentario:

    Yara was great, shut your dickhole. It’s the whole scene that’s a problem, not any specific performance.

    I didn’t say she had a bad performance. Just that Yara is clearly not Asha. Which is a GOOD thing. Asha is Xenas and Kitiaras artificial insemination. Yara is fascinating.

  • Rygar,

    I guess it’s true that Asha is super horny. I am liking Yara a lot. She has a soft spot for her brobeans, which is cool. I hope her role expands next season…

  • Rygar:
    Wow! Elio is about as narrow minded as they come.Raves about this episode because it was a close adaptation to the source.Does he ever ejaculate?I think he needs to.

    Thank you.

    Rygars penis

    So your penis is just as opinionated as yourself! I knew it. And you should tell him this is one of Mr. Garcia’s good reviews. Take what you can…

    Again a heavy style on his review, but like he wrote and several upthread pointed out, I’m of the opinion that Yara’s made little sense though I disagree the point on which the nonsense started. Also I liked how he agreed that should book Jaime have returned to KG for the trial it would have totally be in character to offer his father his KG position and himself over Tyrion’s life and Wall option. I think the same.

    Laughed out loud with Laura Stone’s Unsullied view of it.

    THIS: Oberyn says, “The Unsullied I’ve seen first hand. They’re awesome on the battlefield. Less impressive in the bedroom.” Ahahaha.

    Also discussion between Davos and IBB aka HBC. Hilarious!

  • The thing is, this was a great episode because it was coherent, well written, had great performances, and it nicely directed. The shot of Tyrion slumping down as Shae spewed lies got me slightly damp.

  • Rygar,

    Yeah, except for the Dreadfort scene, it all flowed really well. Only episode 4 tops it on that department.

    Episodes like this (focusing on less characters) are the only way we can survive season 5. It will be a mess, a beautiful mess but still a mess.

  • I hate the Idea that Varys talked with Oberyn face to face and didn’t tell him about Young Griff ): I mean ….. he`s going to die for him ):

  • I always look forward to book reader’s James Hubbard/EW recap and non-reader Andy Greewald/Grantland recap. They are consistently excellent each week.