Many characters bore witness this week – but the most meaningful testimony came during Tyrion Lannister's trial for regicide. "The Shae testimony is the turning point of the entire season for Tyrion," Peter Dinklage says in a cast commentary on HBO's Viewer's Guide. His former lover's statement "is what really puts him over the edge," D.B. Weiss explains in this week's Inside the Episode: "It pushes him into the kind of immoderate, passionate behavior that he occasionally veers into." The A.V. Club notes that the scene "forces everyone in the courtroom – and by extension us – to look at Tyrion as someone worthy of our sympathy and, indeed, empathy, before it shows us just how deeply the anger and disappointment in his own family run."
The Lannisters are now "the principal family of the show," writer Bryan Cogman tells Entertainment Weekly: "This is the first 'Thrones' episode in our entire run that doesn’t feature a Stark." The dynamics between the members of GOT's leading house are complicated, to say the least. Time describes Tywin "literally judging [Tyrion] from atop a throne of swords" as "an image that Kafka and Freud might have come up with if they scored a joint HBO deal." In an interview with HBO, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau comments on his onscreen father's philosophy: "Love is irrelevant with Tywin. It's all about politics and power."
Equally pragmatic are the heads of the Iron Bank of Braavos to whom Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth make their case. "The bank reps look at the self-proclaimed rightful heir to the Iron Throne as just another schlub asking for a home loan." Entertainment Weekly quips. Critics lauded the efforts of Davos Seawoth, who the Washington Post calls "the most thoroughly well-intentioned character in 'Game of Thrones,' and the most maturely principled." New York Magazine notes that "Davos’ mutilated hand mirrors Jaime’s – except that while Jaime can only ever focus on how his injury diminishes him, Davos’ loss uplifts and refines him." His severed fingers "make for a compelling visual aid," Entertainment Weekly adds: "Davos, whose neck is on the line here, saves the day."
Dany finds that it's too late to save her own constituents from harm: "The pair of supplicants we see – a goatherd whose flock is now dragonfood, a nobleman whose dad was the aforementioned dead restoration specialist – are there to beg for assistance after deaths she herself caused," Rolling Stone recaps. "Dany still has the people in the palm of her hand," The A.V. Club considers, "but that relationship is fragile enough to be easily broken under just the right circumstances."
What are your thoughts on this week's broken relationships? Were you devastated about Tyrion and Shae? Discuss in the comments below.
Icing on the Lemoncake
• Brush up on the Westerosi justice system with New York Magazine's tutorial.
• The Los Angeles Times has created a Death Matrix, which connects 36 character deaths across the four seasons.
• IGN countdowns Littlefinger's "scheme-iest" schemes.
• Fans had a shared reaction to last night's episode: