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'Game of Thrones' recap: Murder trial comes to shocking conclusion

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Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) in the dock on 'Game of Thrones' (Courtesy HBO)

The concept of justice has weighed heavily on all of the characters on “Game of Thrones” this season, which makes sense as many of the show’s most popular characters have been murdered for doing what they believed to be the right thing. The weak are always at the mercy of men who may not deserve the power they wield, getting little, if any, input on their own fate.

Tyrion Lannister has witnessed power-hungry kings of the past, and knows better than to trust the system to be fair when he is tried for the murder of his nephew Joffrey. The trial begins with everyone’s favorite imp making his usual quips, but at episode’s end, when he seems all but doomed, Tyrion makes a stunning choice.

Tommen Baratheon has never looked younger than when he’s announcing himself as the judge while his uncle sits across from him in shackles. Witness after witness comes forward, each explaining to the court the various threats Tyrion made to Joffrey over the years. While these moments may have led to Tyrion becoming a fan favorite, they don’t do much to to make him look innocent. Cersei quotes the infamous threat he made to her before the battle at Blackwater, and when Sansa’s poison-filled necklace is brought out, Tyrion seems all but doomed.

When the court takes a break, Jaime pleads with Tywin to spare his brother’s life. Tywin resists until Jaime promises to keep the Lannister name alive by leaving the Kingsguard and producing heirs with a proper wife. Unable to resist this, Tywin tells Jaime that if Tyrion pleads for mercy, he will sentence him to the Wall rather than to death. When Tyrion gets wind of this, he’s less than enthused, noting that the same deal didn’t work out so well for Ned Stark.

The trial resumes and a surprise witness changed everything. A spurned Shae shows up and delivers damning testimony, explaining that Tyrion and Sansa had plotted to kill the king together. Worst of all? She tells the court that she never loved him at all, describing in painful detail the sexual acts he forced her to participate in.

Unable to listen to this any longer, Tyrion interrupts and Peter Dinklage is given a chance to deliver an Emmy-worthy monologue. He confesses the only thing he’s guilty of is being a dwarf and that he wishes he’d just let Stannis kill every last person in Kings Landing. He says that while he didn’t kill Joffrey, he wishes he did. The court is stunned when he announces he refuses to let them decide his fate, instead demanding a trial by combat. This move may have worked once for him in the past, but does the dwarf really stand a chance?

Meanwhile in Meereen, Daenerys is suffering the consequences of her decision to fight injustice with justice. The people of the city she now rules over line up to give their complaints to the queen and while she’s able to appease a man whose sheep and livelihood had been burned to a crisp by one of her dragons, not every problem has such a clear solution. One man begs for a proper funeral for his father, whom she crucified when she took over the slave city. The man explains that his father had fought to free the slaves but had been overruled. The usually confident Dany falters a bit before granting his wish, but her interaction proves ruling a kingdom won’t be as black and white as she originally believed.

Another character who is forced to face disappointment is Yara Greyjoy. She kills many of Ramsay Snow’s men while he engages in some very graphic sexual activity with an unnamed woman. By the time she reaches her brother, who sleeps in a cage with dogs, it seems likely that she’ll manage to grab Theon and get away. Unfortunately Ramsay’s torture has done too much damage. Theon refers to himself as Reek and refuses to go with his sister, who is eventually chased away by Ramsay’s dogs. Reek’s gift for good behavior? Ramsay finally allows him to bathe.

Which brings us to Stannis Barratheon. He’s done very little since his defeat at Blackwater but proves his claim to the throne just might be the most legitimate, with the help of Ser Davos. The pair are initially turned down for a loan by the Iron Bank of Braavos until Davos reminds the bankers of the extent to which they're owned by the Lannisters, explaining that their promise to repay their debt is an empty one. In the end, they’re given the money -- and with it, a new shot at the iron throne.

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