So we get Ser Meryn trashing Tyrion for preventing him from abusing Sansa. Pycelle, in full shaky old man performance-mode, pays Tyrion back for throwing him in the Black Cells by accusing him of stealing his poisons. Plus he calls Joffrey "the most noble child the gods ever put on this good earth" -- which is so over the top that even the Lannisters can't take that line seriously.
(Digression: Has Thrones used the word "earth" before? Probably, but the usage did bring to mind this world's whole odd alternate reality otherness. And I don't think we've never actually heard a character declare a name for this world, only names for the continents and countries in it. In fact, I once asked Martin about this very question and he answered, "It’s not another planet. It’s Earth. But it’s not our Earth. If you wanted to do a science fiction approach, you could call it an alternate world, but that sounds too science fictional." There's more to that interview here but fair warning, there are Book 4 spoilers).
Anyway, Varys takes the stand and is disappointingly harsh in his condemnation. The pragmatic Varys does what he must, I suppose. Then it's Cersei's turn and she quotes Tyrion's "joy will turn to ashes in your mouth" line, which really does sound pretty bad. In fact, at this point in the episode, I'm ready to declare Tyrion guilty myself, and I know he didn't do it!
There's a sidebar recess between Jaime and Tywin where Jaime thinks he has a bold and unique plan to save his brother. He offers to leave the Kingsguard and continue the family line, just like dad wants, IF Tyrion can be sent to The Wall instead of executed. Tywin's super-quick "Done!" tells you so much -- this is exactly what he wanted.
Jaime tells Tyrion of their secret deal. When Jaime asks his brother if he trusts him and Tyrion gives this vulnerable little nod, it's a wonderful moment. It gives us a bare glimmer of hope that this might all get resolved, and that Tyrion might join Jon Snow at The Wall. This is totally foolish for us to believe because Thrones loves to tease us with the prospect of characters we love meeting up with Jon Snow at The Wall but it NEVER HAPPENS -- Ned Stark thought he was going to meet Jon. So did Bran and Arya at various points. Forget it. There is no meeting up with Jon Snow at The Wall! The shame of this plan not happening is it would have been fun to watch Cersei totally flip out over being told that Tyrion was going to survive.
Now in walks the final witness, Shae. I assume the ship Bronn put her on was stopped and searched after Joffrey's death. Her testimony is utterly damning, saying she had first-hand knowledge of Tyrion scheming with Sansa to kill Joffrey. But then she goes a cruel step further. She starts revealing their intimate exchanges (like "my lion") and twisting them into humiliating barbs to condemn him. When Tyrion says, "Shae ... please don't" ... he is not trying to keep her from testifying against him. He's trying to prevent his heart from being broken before he dies. It's gut-wrenching to watch.
So now Tyrion has something to say. He says he wants to confess. For a moment we think we're going to have a repeat of his speech at the Vale in season 1 where he sarcastically confessed to all sorts of misdeeds when on trial (it would be fun to see Cersei's reaction to his turtle stew prank). Instead he lashes out with everything he's kept bottled inside all these years. He says he's been on trial for being a dwarf all his life and that nobody appreciates him. "I saved this city and all your worthless lives!" he seethes. "I should have let Stannis kill you all! ... I wish I was the monster you think I am." And to Cersei: "Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores!" (Note he used the word "bastard" there, presumably the first member of the royal family to publicly confirm the rumors everybody has heard, not that they'll necessarily believe him).
Remember how Tyrion told that story in the first season of Tywin abusing and humiliating his young love? Now Tywin has seemingly ruined his relationship with Shae, too. Tyrion so hates his father in this moment, he doesn't care if he's ensuring his own death, he will not be a party to yet another of his father's plans.
Tyrion demands trial by combat. YES! I'm on record as loving the trials by combat. And why shouldn't Tyrion give that option a shot? It worked out for him once. But will Tyrion actually fight for himself? Or will somebody serve as his champion? Or will some new twist intervene?
As rash as it was, trial by combat was probably his best option. What do you think the chances are that Cersei would actually let Tyrion reach The Wall alive? That's a long trip, a lot could happen. Now here's much more on this episod, in this interview with Cogman where he gives all sorts of behind-the-scenes insights. Until next week, I leave you with this: