Okay, so they’re not separate at all; as "The Laws of Gods and Men" proves, having all power in the realm rest with Tywin Lannister is a pretty crappy deal for everyone not named Tywin Lannister. But, as this show loves to remind us, all men must die.
What will happen when Tywin’s gone? That’s a question Game of Thrones has never considered as explicitly as it has this week.
(Also, if you were wondering whether or not someone’s already made a Game of Thrones-Law and Order mashup, yes, they have.)
Major spoilers below. Proceed at your own risk!
BraavosThe specter of a post-Tywin Westeros is first raised explicitly by Ser Davos during his and Stannis’s tense visit to the Iron Bank of Braavos. The bank, represented here by Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss, are initially unsympathetic to Stannis’s claims, but a impromptu stump speech from Davos – "There only one reliable leader left in Westeros and he’s in his prime!" – does the trick. Who knew flashing your finger stumps would be the Westeros equivalent of "Where’s the beef?"
MeereenElsewhere in Essos, Dany is learning that you can’t be Tywin Lannister and Mother Teresa all at once. Ruling is easy enough when your dragons are burning some poor farmer’s goats – just reimburse him for the error and move on. But what do you do when confronted with the evidence that the horrible slavers you’ve just tortured to death were people too, with loved ones who mourn them?
The appearance of Hizdahr Zo Loraq (much more sympathetic here than the preening dandy of the books), son of one of the crucified slavers, is the first sign that Dayn’s reign in Meereen is going to be more complicated than it seemed at first. It’s one thing to burn the baddies with fire, it’s another to accept them as your subjects, with all the rights that entails.
The DreadfortRemember that plot thread about Yara rescuing Theon? Yeah, that’s reintroduced and finished up in the span of 10 minutes. Turns out Theon doesn’t want to go, an act of loyalty that earns him a rare bath from Ramsay. (And it’s a credit to Iwan Rheon’s performance that such a tender scene could be so terrifying.) In return, the Bolton bastard acts his captive to play a crucial role in an upcoming scheme: his former self.
King’s LandingWe’ve already had several wedding episodes, and this week’s action hinges on that other television standy: a trial! Specifically, Tyrion’s trial, for poisoning Joffrey. As Jaime predicts, the whole thing is a farce; Meryn Trant, Varys and Cersei all give hyperbolic accounts of Tyion’s hatred for his nephew, while Grand Maester Pycelle ponderously reads a long list of poisons that were stolen from his stores.
It’s all unconvincing circumstantial evidence, but as Tywin reveals to Jaime, he doesn’t need an actual conviction; like any modern-day prosecutor, he’s just trying to intimidate the accused into pleading guilty. Once Tyrion does that, he’ll be sent to the Wall and Jaime will quit the King’s Guard, move to Casterly Rock and start pumping out legitimate Lannister heirs. (Cunningly, Tywin lets Jaime think this is all entirely his idea, when clearly it’s been in motion for a while.)
As always, though, the Lannisters overreach; they call Shae in as a surprise witness, and she pays Tyrion back for the events of the second episode with an outlandish tale of how he and Sansa teamed up to murder Joffrey, with with an added dose of sexual humiliation on top.
Seething, Tyrion declares the trial – and all of King’s Landing – out of order: He’ll be taking a trial by combat, please. Tywin Lannister may be the most powerful man in the seven kingdoms, but once again, his need to humiliate Tyrion at every turn proves to be his biggest weakness.