Order! I'll have order here! Settle down or I'll declare this recap a mistrial! First item on the docket: Yes, this week's recap is shorter than usual, due to all the broadcast upfront madness coverage. But I'm supplementing my commentary below with an in-depth interview with this episode's writer Bryan Cogman, and he knows this stuff far better than I do (the link is at end of recap). Second: I find this episode guilty! Guilty! I say, of being hugely entertaining and plenty heartbreaking too. So let's take the witness stand and testify to this week's Game of Thrones, "The Laws of Gods and Men."
Braavos: Stannis' ship sailing across the waters. Gorgeous opening scene of CGI-rendered fantasy-kingdom beauty. On deck, Stannis looks grim and unhappy -- just like Stannis, in other words. His ship sails between the open legs of a massive fearsome warrior statue in a kilt/skirt. I bet everybody who sails under that statue for the first time can't help but look up. They enter the City of Dangling Man Parts -- or as they know it, the free city of Braavos, a place we have long heard about but never before seen. Thankfully, the Red Woman stayed home rather than tag along to burn a few of Stannis' sailors along the way.
Stannis and Davos wait for the bank representative, apparently for hours. We suspect Stannis has been pacing the entire time. Why does this guy want the Iron Throne so badly? He seems equally miserable no matter where he is or what he is doing. The stone doors open and the bank executives enter, led by actor Mark Gatiss as Tycho Nestoris (Gatiss is awesome -- plays Mycroft on PBS' Sherlock, in addition to co-creating that show and writing for Doctor Who). The bank reps have high-backed chairs; Stannis and Davos have supplicant stone benches. The bank reps look at the self-proclaimed rightful heir to the Iron Throne as just another schlub asking for a home loan.
Stannis wants the Iron Bank to back his war against Lannisters, arguing the crown isn't repaying its massive debt to the bank but he will if he's in charge. Except he's a dreadful negotiator with zero social skills. Stannis expects everybody to just bow to the logic of his claim. Tycho rolls over him, focusing on numbers, not seeing Stannis as a good investment given how little resources Dragonstone has. If Stannis ever actually got the Iron Throne, he would probably be a relatively fair and just king, but he's so terrible at social game and incapable of seeing a situation from another person's perspective, I suspect he would screw the job. Say what you will about Tywin, he at least knows what other people want and can use that to his advantage (as we see later in this episode, in fact).
Davos, whose neck is on the line here, saves the day. Davos argues that Stannis is a man who can be trusted to do things like, say, mutilate his friends if they don't follow the rules. Davos' shortened fingers make for a compelling visual aid.
Later Davos goes to meet his pirate buddy Salladhor Saan. And what exotic Braavosi location do we see to experience the local color of this newly introduced city? Why, Davos meets Saan at a brothel, of course! We can add this to the list of previous brothels that we've visited in King's Landing, Mole's Town, and near Winterfell. Watching Thrones is like following a tourist who travels all over the world yet always stays at a Hilton. At least this one is an aqua-brothel, so it feels a little different and watery. Davos throws some vague money at Saan to buy his pirate team. The coins are held in these neat casings. The Iron Bank really knows how to present its money in style.
NEXT: Enter the dragon