It's no secret that Game of Thrones has graced us with some great opening scenes over the years, but I honestly can't remember the last time one was so beautiful as last night's vision of the stag-in-the-burning-heart bright on the sails of a ship as it sailed under the Titan of Braavos. It almost kept me from rolling my eyes over the fact that Stannis himself sailed across the Narrow Sea to beg the Iron Bank of Braavos for money....almost. Seriously guys. Book!Stannis wouldn't have done this, and personally I feel that they Show!Stannis is being written/portrayed as even more of a hardass, so come on, what gives?
As for the ensuing conversation...hey, we've got a Tycho Nestoris already! While I felt that this portion of the episode was more than a bit drawn out, I have to admit that it was exciting to catch a glimpse of Braavos and meet this particular Iron Bank representative. I can only hope that his having been named and featured in such a lengthy scene means that they'll keep him around for scenes that have actually been derived from the books.
While I'm uncertain about the changes to Stannis' character (especially the last two seasons), I'm consistently pleasantly surprised by Show!Davos. I've always loved Davos, but I know a lot of book readers complain of his chapters being boring, that he never does anything, etc. etc. They've beefed him up a bit for the show, and for once I think it's been well done. Not only did he give a rousing 'Vote for Stannis!' type speech, but he got to have an amusing little conference with that guy who shows up about once each season, Salladhor Saan. And hey, their meeting also gave us a pirate joke and the episode's titty quota! You go, Game of Thrones.
And then, SURPRISE!
Look, no offense to Gemma Whalen, but she just doesn't look anything like the Asha I've pictured all this time. I've tried to set that aside, and I just...can't. It's not that she's a bad actress or even that she's bad at this part...I'm just not that into her. And dangit, I called her Asha again. I know they changed her name because they thought Asha was too close to Osha and people wouldn't get it, but honestly - in my opinion - that being the only reasoning behind it is stupid when Yara is so close to Arya.
But I digress. What in the name of the Seven was this scene all about? It's already been cemented in our heads that Theon is now Reek and that Ramsay is crazy. It was cool to see Yara (::shudder::) again, especially as we also got to see her fight, but I feel like this season the show is making a lot of these changes that just get wrapped back up in their original packaging in an episode or two. At the moment it's more annoying than anything, but it also seems like they are getting more and more flippant with their deviations. At what point does Game of Thrones become less of an adaptation and more of an AU fanfic (or something along those lines)?
Not to mention the fact that I still can't decide what's creepier - Ramsay's sex scene, him showing up to attach Yara & Co. shirtless and covered in blood, or him giving Theon a bath. So on that note, yeah, I still basically can't stand all of this Theon/Reek and Ramsay stuff.
It's probably a good thing that The Laws of Gods and Men didn't follow up that mess with Drogon killing more than just goats. When he rose up in front of that boy I was wondering if they would be so brazen, and even after we saw him carry off a goat I was waiting for the shepherd to tell Daenerys that her dragon killed his son. But hey, instead we got Hizdahr zo Loraq pleading to be allowed to bury the body of his dead father...who apparently voted against the slave child mile markers. Is he already playing games and lying to her, or is the show simply trying to make him more likeable? I'm certainly intrigued (and no, it doesn't hurt that the actor is pretty).
About halfway through the next scene of a King's Landing small council meeting, I realized that this episode was slow. Not boring, exactly, but there was very little action and a hell of a lot of dialogue. I promise that I'm not exactly complaining - that dialogue was very well-written and acted - but The Laws of Gods and Men relied on it very, very heavily, and at times it grew a bit tedious. For example, the small council meeting was repetitive at times. It could, and probably should, have been nipped and tucked.
Like Littlefinger, on the show Varys is a lot more open about who he is and what he wants. Certainly not to the extent of Creeper Baelish, thankfully; Varys has a much thicker filter. Which is why his conversation with Oberyn on last night's episode threw me for a loop. The acknowledgement of his asexuality was an interesting little twist, considering earlier the series had other characters (at least one) imply that Varys was gay. I suppose it was the roundabout conversation that led up to this reveal that leaves me at a loss in terms of whether I liked or disliked the inclusion of this particular scene.
And then, poor Tommen! First his brother terrorizes him, then his sister is sent away. Later his mother almost poisons him, his brother dies, his sister-in-law is paying him secret midnight visits, and now he has to make a show of turning his uncle's trial (which is of course about his brother's death) over to his grandfather? Just give that kid some kittens and some jousting lessons with Ser Loras, already!
Other than Tommen, the trial scene was almost eerily close to the book...at least for the first half. Thankfully the whole thing seemed almost effortlessly perfect.
Up until Jaime struck a deal with Tywin to save Tyrion. Seems to me like Tywin had this planned all along, and unfortunately Jaime fell right into his trap. I was waiting for the show to really throw a wrench in things - maybe just to drag the trial out for another episode - but as soon as they got back into the throne room, Tywin called one last witness.
I have to admit that I was shocked when Shae 'took the stand', as it were. The show molded her character into something quite different from that in the books, built up her and Tyrion's relationship, and had her form a relationship with Sansa. When Shae supposedly left, I assumed that she would reappear in a Ros-type situation, and that would be the catalyst for the crossbow situation. So what is Game of Thrones doing here? Are the writers really just that stupid? Or will Shae's actual plight be revealed later?
Her testimony certainly got Tyrion's fires stoked. I know that people are already crying EMMY along with Peter Dinklage's name, but for my part I was a bit overwhelmed with his entire speech. Perhaps it was like the small council scene and just needed to be trimmed up a bit; maybe I'm just never going to get used to Dinklage's fake accent. The scene was certainly stirring, and the end result put Tyrion right where he needed to be...so now I guess we just wait for a certain Viper to pay him a visit ;)
Yes, I had some issues with The Laws of Gods and Men - but one thing I can't call it is 'just another filler episode'. Other than the seemingly unnecessary scenes at the Dreadfort, the constant beat down of some pretty important people (Stannis, Dany, Tyrion) kept it chugging along. For an episode that had a noticeable lack of action, the writers handled this one quite well.