Oh Tyrion Lannister….thank you for this:
“Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores!
My initial reaction to this line was born of pure, unadulterated escapism. It was a simple but satisfying formula:
Bad guy is publicly called-out for his evil ways by a clever and relatable hero. Audience applauds and feels that the scales of moral justice have been properly balanced.
Works every time.
Tyrion’s trial consists of melodrama, grand statements, and twisted grins: the stuff Emmy awards are made of. Despite some clever, silent awkwardness amongst the Lannister clan – the scene is somewhat lacking in subtlety. I mean…come on…the writer even confessed that he couldn’t resist adding a stenographer with a quill in one of his earliest drafts of the scene. Fortunately…this is Game of Thrones…when the drama gets heavy and obvious – it is always based in some bloody and serious history – and we have always been waiting very patiently for the emotional payoff. Tyrion’s trial is no exception. In the end, his moment of emotional collapse and release actually contains quite a bit of that existential nectar I am always so desperate to feed upon.
I believe that Tyrion’s situation is one that all of us are avoiding in our own little ways every day. We may not be heirs to the greatest fortune in Westeros, we may not have power-hungry fathers willing to trade and wager our lives and emotions like currency – but we are all forced to turn a blind eye to the less desirable elements of our lives from time to time. As unwise as Tyrion’s outburst was, I think that we should all look at it as an affirmation of the idea that sometimes existing silently within a flawed system can be just as harmful as being the perpetrator of its evil. We love Tyrion because he sees the fundamental flaws in his family and respects those who have to fight for status and power in the world. Unfortunately…we also let him get away with a lot of hypocrisy. He fights for what is right…but only quietly behind the scenes…he rarely takes a public stand. Only one character on the show has ever really called him out for his quiet hypocrisy: Shae.
In last night’s episode, I found Shae’s testimony just as heroic as it was troubling. In fact, I have been sad to discover that Shae’s role in the episode has only been discussed by reviewers as if she were a powerless pawn or some stereotype of a stinted lover. I can’t accept that. Shae is smart – and has always served as a bit of a guardian angel to Tyrion; a kinky guardian angel, maybe…but a guardian angel nevertheless. Did the Lannisters put pressure on her to condemn Tyrion….yea, probably. Were her demeaning jabs at Tyrion meant to hurt him…HECK yes…but that is how she set Tyrion free.
Before Shae took the stand, Tyrion was ready to, once again, serve as a willing pawn in one of his father’s obnoxiously-clever political maneuverings. He was going to supplicate at his father’s feet and take the long walk of shame to The Wall. So…yes, Shae chose to break him…. but I believe she also wanted to shake that Lannister sand from his eyes.
I believe there was something oddly angelic in that heart-decimating testimony. Shae’s painful words forced Tyrion to accept that he had sent her packing selfishly, just so he could exist as a piece in that never-ending game of thrones. When Tyrion lost it and started spewing-forth violent and vindictive truths – I felt like I was watching a warrior bust out of his cage.
Sometimes difficult truths need to be spoken if we are going to stand up as individuals and take control of our lives.
The morals of this story? Don’t forget to look for angels in strange places, and never be afraid to bust out of your own cage.
Thank you, Tyrion…and good luck with your trial by combat.