Seriously, have you been watching Game of Thrones? If you have not, what the hell are you waiting for? Go! Watch it! Yes, I know. A Song of Ice and Fire is a great series of books, but the show definitely adds to the original narrative and definitely worth the time and effort of its investment.
The focus of this particular post will be on episode six of season four titled “The Laws of God and Men” and there will be some SPOILERS for the lessons of the episode to make sense, so you have been warned. Also, quick note that this will not be a review of the episode merely a use of a few key scenes.
Frankly, like many episodes and chapters in the Game of Thrones saga, “The Laws of God and Men” provides a smorgasbord of potential lessons and ideas to analyze, dissect, and discuss. First up, the conversation between Jamie and Tywin Lannister:
Did you notice it? The quick response and the knowing smile from Tywin after Jamie makes his plea. This trial has been a complicated and perfectly executed ploy by Tywin. He appeases and entertains the people, who have greatly suffered due to the ongoing war and the “leadership” of the previous king. He ensures his presence and position by being the head judge in the trial sitting on the Iron Throne. Most importantly, he created a situation in which Jamie takes his rightful place as his heir and that the son who he detests lives out his life at the Wall with no claim on titles, coin, or even the Lannister name.
In essence, Tywin played chess while nearly everyone around him is confused by the perplexity of flipping a coin. This is the first lesson: a mind is more powerful than a blade, an army, or even a dragon. So far, the few characters who have truly gained power and influence in this series are not the strongest, the bravest, the richest, the noblest, or even the ones that wield their power in front of the masses. The only common threads of the puppeteers have been intellect, cunning, wisdom, and ambition. While everyone else has been concerned with petty vengeance and insults, those few, like Tywin, have been moving pieces into the right places to continue his reign and rule, even if the crown will never be placed upon his head.
There have been various conversations about power and influence throughout the course of Game of Thrones. Tywin demonstrates in this scene why he is one of the key players in the Game. He manages to get everything he has wanted and more with a simple move. Granted, he did not want the death of his grandson, but he uses it to fit his needs without missing a beat. In fact, this plan would have been beautifully complete if it had not been for the next scene:
Tyrion would have agreed to his father’s terms and accepted his fate. He knew he had little to live for and it would have been the only opportunity to keep his head. However, for Cersei and Tywin, it was not enough to condemn Tyrion. They wanted him to suffer and to be humiliated. They wanted him broken down and miserable, but they gravely underestimated the diminutive lion. By throwing Shae in his face, they reignited his hatred for his family and made him think nothing of his life as he had done so before. This is the second lesson: know and respect your enemy whether it be a person or a thing. I am not saying to succumb to it or to fear what impedes your progress. Never do such a thing. Understand your obstacles. Acknowledge their strength. Face them with nothing less than your best.
Tywin overplayed his hand believing his youngest son to be weak and unworthy of his lineage. He never truly understood Tyrion’s strengths and potential and considered him a disfigured tool with limited uses. Unfortunately, Tywin’s pride and misunderstanding of his son toppled his well crafted plans and put into jeopardy his machinations. The audience sees this in Tywin;s reaction to Tyrion near the end of the clip. His anger and resolute face say it all. As well, he creates a formidable enemy in Tyrion when he has so few true allies. Who knows what outcomes Tywin has set in motion with his actions? (Yeah I know the readers of the series probably…)
So, what did we learn today? Never underestimate an ambitious mind and respect the obstacles and enemies before you. Thus ends today’s lesson.
(As a quick aside, I really hope Peter Dinklage wins an Emmy for this episode’s performance because DAMN!)