May 19 2014, 7:42am CDT | by Forbes
“All Men Must Die.” That’s the tag line for Season Four of Game of Thrones. But if the characters can’t change their ultimate fate, this season has been about the measure of control they have over just how they shuffle off this mortal coil.
We begin the episode with Tyrion in his dank cell, his fate all but sealed. But instead of bemoaning his fate, he seems to be almost reveling in the freedom that it affords him. He can speak his mind, as he did during the trial. And he can plot without fear of reprisal.
“This whole thing is a joke,” he quips. “Just not a very funny one.”
He sees the delicious irony in the possibility of sending an all-but-helpless Jaime to fight as his champion, knowing it would deprive Tywin of the one thing he wants: an heir. (Indeed, extending the family line is, of course, the old man’s own attempt to cheat death.)
“A family name snuffed out with the single swing of a sword,” he posits.
But Jaime isn’t buying. For himself, or his brother.
“I thought you were a realist. I didn’t think you’d die for pride,” Jaime fires back.
And then comes Bronn, whose sheer mercenary bent has always been a breath of fresh air on Game of Thrones. As they grew closer, Tyrion and the man who saved him during his first Trial of Combat developed a real bond. But even bonds of loyalty and friendship have their limits and no one understands the calculus of honor–and survival–better than a mercenary.
Cersei has offered him a sure thing in the form of a pretty new wife and a potentially large inheritance.. And even if Tyrion could double her price, a slice of Winterfell wouldn’t do Bronn much good if he slips up against a formidable opponent like The Mountain.
“All men must die,” the unwardly-mobile swordsman seems to be saying to his old friend. “But not right now.” And Tyrion understands completely. No need to throw good blood after bad.
Which leads to a most unlikely visitor: Oberyn Martell. The smooth talking Oberyn has been on the fast track to fan favorite–he’s a man who appreciates the pleasures of life–sensual and otherwise–but has a strong moral core. One senses, that he, like the Lannisters, always pays his debts.
“My enemy’s enemy is my friend” may be a Chinese (or Arab) proverb, but it rings true in Westeros too. And it’s that concept that lies at the center of Oberyn’s unlikely alliance with Tyrion. He hates the Lannisters and what they did to his sister. And he sees how much the Lannisters–Tywin and Cersei anyway–hate Tyrion. And that’s reason enough for him to risk his life battling the giant who tore apart his family.
“If you want justice, you’ve come to the wrong place,” Tyrion warns his new ally.
How does that play out? We’ve got two weeks to wait and speculate, as Game of Thrones goes on hiatus for Memorial Day weekend.
What are your thoughts about Oberyn and Tyrion’s upcoming Trial By Combat ? The other goings on in Westeros? Share your thoughts in the comments below but if your post contains spoilers from the books, please flag them for your fellow fans who haven’t read the books yet.
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Allen St. John is the author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, published by Ballantine Books
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