With the executioner’s axe looming, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) stands trial for the murder of King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) on “The Laws of Gods and Men,” Episode 36 of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Neither Tyrion nor his teen wife Sansa (Sophie Turner) poisoned Joffrey. But a string of witnesses testify otherwise. And heading the panel of judges is evil patriarch Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), who has hated his dwarf son since birth.
Tyrion’s only ally, it seems, is his older brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
“This isn’t a trial. It’s a farce,” Jaime says to father Tywin during a recess. And what happens to the Lannister dynasty if Tyrion is beheaded?
“What happens to my dynasty if I spare my grandson’s killer?” Tywin counters.
Then Tywin and Jaime reach an agreement. Tyrion will be found guilty but he’ll live out his days at the Wall as a member of the Night’s Watch.
In exchange, Jaime will resign from the Kingsguard, rule the family stronghold of Casterly Rock, wed a suitable woman and start making Lannister babies.
Before the trial resumes, Jaime informs Tyrion about the secret arrangement.
“Keep your mouth shut. No more outbursts. This will be over soon,” Jaime promises.
But the appearance of a surprise witness, Tyrion’s former mistress Shae (Sibel Kekilli), throws the proceedings into turmoil.
“I know that he’s guilty,” Shae falsely claims, saying Tyrion killed Joffrey at Sansa’s urging to avenge the brutal deaths of her father, mother and brother.
Shae’s betrayal infuriates Tyrion, who now regrets protecting King’s Landing from Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and his mighty armada in the Battle of Blackwater Bay.
“I saved this city and all your worthless lives,” Tyrion growls. “I should have let Stannis kill you all!”
Realizing he’ll find no justice in this court of men, Tyrion wants the gods to decide his fate.
“I demand a trial by combat,” he declares.
As for wannabe king Stannis, he travels with advisor Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) to the Iron Bank of Braavos. If a loan is forthcoming, Stannis will assemble an army of mercenaries and launch another assault on King’s Landing.
When a trio of bankers denies the funding request, Davos vigorously defends Stannis as the only reliable leader in Westeros.
Tywin, the true power behind the Iron Throne, is in decline at age 67, Davos points out. And just-crowned King Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) is a half-grown boy born of incest.
By contrast, Stannis is in his prime, he’s a rightful heir to the throne and he’ll pay back what he owes, Davos insists.
Elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms, Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) sets sail for Dreadfort Castle to rescue her brother Theon (Alfie Allen). But Theon is reduced to a crazed, broken man because of relentless torture by sadistic Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon).
“They skinned our countrymen and they mutilated my brother – your prince,” Yara tells her warriors, who storm the castle and mercilessly fight their way to where Theon sleeps.
Yara abandons the rescue, however, when cowering, rag-clad Theon doesn’t recognize her.
“My brother’s dead,” she announces, leading her men back to their ship empty handed.
Finally, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) discovers that ruling the city of Meereen is more complicated than conquering it.
She listens to the pleas of her new subjects, including a man whose goats were torched by a dragon and a former slave master who seeks a proper burial for his crucified father.
Compensate the goat herder three times over, Dany decrees, and remove the father from his cross.
That’s two down for Dany and only 212 more subjects to go!