Half way through this week’s episode I intended to write a piece about how there are two side to every war: The Front and the Back Dealings. I was going to write about how Dany, while easily moving from city to city freeing all of the slaves, was inconsistent and weak in her ruling. She also slaughtered seemingly good people in her raids. (Great dragon effects too.) Davos and Stannis attempted to convince Mycroft Holmes of Braavos Savings and Loan to financially back their power play for the throne. Theon/Reek’s sister stealth attempt to save him, after she was baited by Ramsay Snow. Tywin discussing Dany and the Hound with his council, followed by his bartering with Jaime to effect the outcome of Tyrion’s trail.
But I’m not.
I’m not because I can’t stop thinking about the last ten minutes of the episode.
We’ve seen great extended scenes before, of course. The show is most effective when they dedicate most of an hour to those sequences. Ned’s death, the Battle of Blackwater Bay, the ‘Red Wedding’, and Joffery’s demise are examples of spending longer amounts of time in one specific place in order to be more effective. While this doesn’t involve an amazing set piece or extravagant death, I believe that it is the best the show has executed to this point. The editing was spot on, the underlying context of Tywin successfully manipulating Jaime, while taking down his least favorite child, was brilliant, the change in Tyrion’s demeanor once Jaime told him the deal was moving, and the reveal of Shae was a shock.
As fantastic as these were (and still are as I re-watch this sequence), they pale in comparison to what Peter Dinklage brings to this scene as an actor. Shae’s testimony, while probably Lanister coached, comes from a place of pure malice towards the imp. While most of the trial plays as a “best of” from seasons past, Shae’s words cut deeper then the sword that caused Tyrion’s facial scars. He transforms from the apathetic doomed defendant to a seething hopeless creature who won’t go down on a lie from his mistress. He’s on trail for who he is, not what he’s done.
What kind of duel will he be fighting? Will Jaime fight for him or will Bronn? Will he fight for himself? Who will he face? Those are questions for another time. Here, I only ask: how has Dinklage only won one Emmy? (I know the answer: Jesse Pinkman and Co, but still.) I mean, if this isn’t his submission episode, I don’t know what is. His power, change, sincerity, anger, and charisma radiate off the screen, memorizing. How does this show keep getting better?
Keep on Watchin’!