I read the GoT books a long while ago, and while I do remember some good plot developments, I really disliked A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in the series after being captivated by the first three; nor did I care what George R.R. Martin had to say about it. Luckily for the HBO series, they have omitted much of what didn't work, so season four has been good so far. 'The Laws Of Gods And Men' isn't as powerful as previous episodes, except for Tyrion, but it continues pushing the plot lines forward and it's interesting nonetheless. It focuses on a few major players who have power, those who want it, and those who do not have it.
Oh, and there's a Dragon sighting too.
(Here's a full recap of Season 4 Episode 5: 'First Of His Name' Recap)
Stannis Baratheon has been decimated after losing the battle at Blackwater and with almost no ships, money, supplies or soldiers, it's practically impossible to keep on fighting the Lannisters for the crown. But Ser Davos came up with a simple plan inspired by his daughter Shireen in 'Breaker Of Chains.' He brings him out to the far east to the city of Braavos to meet with the mighty Iron Bankers to ask for a loan. (It was very cool seeing the great Mark Gattis as the loan officer.) The Bank is not impressed with Stannis or his tales of Lannister incest, so he shoots him down in a typical banker fashion.
"Here our books are filled with numbers, we prefer the stories they tell."
As Stannis turns to leave, Ser Davos makes an impassioned but good case for the Iron Bank to back Stannis' request. He points out the inherited weakness that rules King's Landing now because of King Joffrey's murder. That is the age of their true leader, Tywin Lannister. When he eventually falls and it will be sooner rather than later, there will be no one left capable to lead the Iron Throne except Stannis Baratheon, and like good loan sharks they take a bet on the underdog to protect themselves and their entire board.
Back in the North, Theon Greyjoy, now named Reek, has been brutally tortured into blind obedience by the savage Ramsay Snow and is, in a few words, utterly powerless. Ramsay sends Yara and the ironborn a gift of Reek's private parts as a warning to them, but this infuriates her so much that she leads a raiding party to free her brother. What she finds is a broken man, more dog than human, who refuses to leave his cage. In the end she flees from Ramsay's dogs rather than fight for him any longer.
My brother is dead.
Ramsay is quite smitten with his own power over the savaged Greyjoy, and revels in his conditioned refusal to leave him for his sister so much so that he rewards his loyalty with a bath. It's probably his first one in a very long time.
Do you love me, Reek?
The bastard of Bolton then begins to scrub his back and outline a plan that he needs Reek to help him out with. He has to impersonate Theon Greyjoy.
Have you noticed how those dragons are growing like weeds? It would be nice to see more of them instead of brief glimpses this season has given us so far.
Dany recently acquired all the power in Meereen and she decided to wield it mightily when she crucified 163 masters as justice for the children they murdered. Now she's holding court as the Queen of Meereen and she decides to wield a more merciful justice this time. She meets Hizdahr zo Loraq, who begs to bury his dead father, a Master that she had crucified and after he passionately begs her, she allows him to bury his father.
Vary meets with prince Oberyn privately next to the Iron Throne and is shocked that the prince discovers that he's originally from a city in the east called Essos, which is a secret that Varys valued deeply. He then admits to Oberyn that even before he was castrated he lacked any form of sexual desire because he knew how those desires destroyed many things. That lack of sex drive gave him a powerful weapon to help him play his own "game of thrones."
The most powerful segment in this episode by far was the trial of Tyrion. After Joffrey's murder, Tyrion has been mostly a bit player, seething in a dungeon with almost no scenes and nothing to do. He finally has his day in court and even if he knows it's a rigged trial, it's better than just sitting there waiting to be executed. Peter Dinkage is a wonderful actor and has made Tyrion into an award-winning character; his acting skills Sunday carried the episode to its conclusion. He knows the hatred his father and sister have for him and expects the worst for himself as witness after witness lies about what he did and said leading up to Joffrey's death.
Jamie is distraught over the charade his sister/lover has orchestrated against Tyrion, and in a wonderful sense of love and loyalty bargains with his father not to kill his brother. He tells him that if he spares Tyrion's life he'll leave the Kingsguard and become a rightful son to him and heir to the Lannisters. Tywin immediately agrees to his terms as if that was his plan all along and says he'll allow his brother to join the Night's Watch to live out his life after he begs for mercy after he's found guilty.
Before the trial resumes, Jamie quickly tells Tyrion about the deal he's struck and tells him to shut his mouth and beg to go the Wall after the verdict. Tyrion remembers that Ned Stark had the same deal too and isn't so certain he'll be spared, but Jamie begs him to trust him. All of that gets washed down the drain when Tywin calls Shae, his former lover, as a witness against him.
She testifies that Lady Sansa wanted revenge against Joffrey all along and Tyrion was all too happy to help her since he hated Cersie, Tywin and most of all Joffrey, and wanted to bed her. Seeing his beloved testify to such vile lies was too much for Tyrion to take, and he explodes at the staged proceedings. His father has hurt him many times, but using Shae against him when she was supposed to be far away from King's Landing melts him. He yells that he will confess. When his father asks if he's confessing to murdering the King, he says no.
I'm guilty of being a dwarf.
I wish I was the monster you think I am.
Then he lashes out with so much hatred that his face contorts toward the entire courtroom. He reminds them how he was their savior at the battle of Blackwater, but he should have watched them all die instead. As he vents his rage at all those present, he abruptly ends his soliloquy with a demand for a trial by combat.
His demand ends the trail where it stands. And as we know already, Tyrion would be spared if he's victorious, but the chances at that happening again are slim and none.
The Rains of Castamere play during the end credits.