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GAME OF THRONES Re-Throned: “The Laws of Gods and Men” (S4, E6)

GAME OF THRONES Re-Throned: “The Laws of Gods and Men” (S4, E6)

Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly re-watch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what’s to come and—therefore—more information about the unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though: that means this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.

Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.

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Season 4, Episode 6: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

Original Air Date: May 11th, 2014
Director: Alik Sakharov
Written by: Bryan Cogman

“The Laws of Gods and Men” is best remembered for the incredible, and ultimately Emmy-winning performance that Peter Dinklage gave during Tyrion‘s trial for murdering King Joffrey. The sequence brought to the surface a lifetime of anger and sadness from having been treated like a monster, the lot of which exploded in a powerful courtroom “confession.” All this notwithstanding, it’s the behind-the-scenes actions of Tywin that stand out on a re-watch of the episode. That’s because we know that his cunning, seemingly expert manipulation of his children will soon lead to his death, and possibly the complete annihilation of House Lannister.

Whether Tywin ever believed Tyrion really did poison Joffrey is not clear–he repeatedly says he killed “his king”–but he’s also smart enough to know that Cersei’s accusation and evidence don’t stand on their own merits. But his stance on Tyrion’s guilt doesn’t matter. Tywin doesn’t care about his youngest son, only about whether this situation is something he can use to achieve his greater goal: the continuation of his family line.

tywin-lannister

After the first portion of the trial, which sees a litany of Tyrion’s past enemies giving testimony where they distort past incidents to make him seem guilty (and they really make him seem guilty!), Jaime goes to see his father, the lead judge, to barter for his brother’s life.

Earlier in the season, Tywin had failed to convince Jaime to resign as Lord Commander, a position that prevents him from taking lands or marrying and siring children, and to return to Casterly Rock to take his rightful place as its lord. Jaime, much to Tywin’s disgust, turned him down, swearing to uphold his sacred vows as a member of the Kingsguard. During this brief break in the trial, Jaime asks his father what will happen to the family if Tyrion, the only son who could extend Tywin’s own line, is executed. Tywin doesn’t back down, rebutting with a question about what might happen if he lets his grandson’s killer go free. That’s when Jaime offers his honor, and the chance to be with Cersei, for his brother’s well being.

“It survives through me. I’ll leave the Kingsguard. I’ll take my place as your son and heir if you let Tyrion live.”

jaime-lannister

The word “done” comes out of Tywin’s mouth instantly, because the outcome Tywin cared about achieving here had nothing to do with Tyrion and justice, but with Jaime abdicating his position and doing what Tywin wanted all along. Tywin gives a self-satisfied smirk because this has been his grand plan, the ultimate manipulation by Westeros’ greatest strategist. We know he doesn’t consider Tyrion a worthy heir (possibly because he’s actually the son of the Mad King), so risking Tyrion’s life wasn’t an issue since it possibly meant House Lannister would come out ahead, and Tywin sees Jaime’s acquiescence as the only way to ensure it will. Jaime knows he’s been played by his father, too, but is willing to pay the price to save Tyrion.

For a man who only speaks about doing what is best for his family, Tywin has never worried about whether his decisions make his children happy. In fact, they often directly lead to their misery. Cersei is a pawn to be married off when an alliance needs to be made, Jaime’s own self-worth means nothing if it doesn’t serve the family, and Tyrion is an inconvenient nuisance to be used and discarded when the situation calls for it.

tywin-lannister

For years, Tywin has believed this mentality benefits House Lannister, even if the cost was the happiness of the people that make it up. This trade with Jaime is his greatest achievement, because it undoes the intentional slight of the Mad King (who knew naming Jaime to the Kingsguard would hurt Tywin), all while exiling his Tyrion problem to the Wall.

But when they return to the court, and Shae is brought out as a witness in a crushing moment for Tyrion, all of Tywin’s mistreatment of his children comes pouring out of his youngest son. A lifetime of hatred from his father leads to Tyrion blowing up Jaime’s deal when he demands a trial by combat. It robs Tywin of his precious control over the situation, and it will lead to Tyrion being found guilty when the Mountain defeats Oberyn.

tyrion-lannister

That leads to Jaime freeing his brother, but that’s not enough for Tyrion, who uses that rescue to go off and find his father. When he sees Shae in his father’s bed (Tywin always abhorred Tyrion bringing whores to his bed, especially when he served as Hand of the King), it’s finally too much. Tywin’s hypocrisy, his hatred, and the misery he has brought to his children, especially his son the dwarf, leads to Tyrion killing both Shae and Tywin.

A terrible father who never cared about the happiness of his children gets a couple of arrows in the gut as payment for a lifetime of being horrible, and the vacuum created by his death leads to his miserable, suspicious, unloving daughter–the ultimate product of Tywin’s lack of love–bringing the whole family to the brink of annihilation, likely at the Hand of the Queen.

Because as much as Tywin only cared about the future of House Lannister, he never cared about his children, and as a result the Lannisters might not have any future at all.

But what did you think of this episode? Swear to the old gods and the new in our comments section below.

Images: HBO

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