Game Of Thrones: 4.02 - The Lion and the Rose
MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD. If you haven’t seen episode 2 don’t read on.
Just when you think Game Of Thrones has run out of ways to shock, BAM there’s another one. Showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff had teased that something big would happen in the first few episodes and that the shocks weren’t being stocked up for episode nine as in previous seasons, and boy did they deliver.
“Killing a man at a wedding! Horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing?”
Turns out the amazing George R. R. Martin is that sort of monster. The day came that anyone who watches would have wanted since we first met Joffrey getting bested by Arya Stark and then whining about it way back when. Yes, the boy king is dead. King Joffrey the seriously disturbed is no longer. In a brilliantly written final quarter of the episode the focus is fully on the wedding of Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell. Dipping into the games that are played around Joffrey is the giving of the wedding gifts, with Tywin presenting him with the sword of Valyrian steel. A dangerous gift for the erratic behaviour of Joffrey.
Then we’re whisked off on a trip around the wedding with various characters meeting for the first time, Cersei and Brienne, a deliciously menacing meeting of The Red Viper and Tywin and Cersei, Jaime chatting to Loras, and many others. As delightful as some of these meetings are they’re merely the starter for the main course of King Joffrey dastardlyness. As if introducing a play of the War of the Five Kings is not insensitive enough (look Sansa, there’s your dead brother with the wolf’s head stitched on, and look future wife Margaery there's your previous fiance, Renly Baratheon, look how gay he was), the actors are all dwarfs (look Uncle Tyrion, how silly all dwarves are). He then proceeds to embrass his uncle further by tipping wine on his head and making him be the wine bearer. Even Tyrion’s cleverness with words can’t get him out of this.
“Oh look, the pie!”
This final scene is dripping with dread, the time spent on the built up, the hatred between Joffrey and Tyrion, the newly named Valyrian sword ‘The Wailing Widow’, and the knowledge that Game Of Thrones is happy to kill anyone, all ramp up the tension. When it comes the death is shocking. There are also conflicting feelings while watching it, happiness (he deserves it), disbelief (they won't really kill him, someone will Heimlich him), sheer gobsmacked surprise (he really is going to die!), and a genuine sadness (when you realise this fantastic creation will no longer be able to make you feel genuine hatred). Despite being one of the most horrific characters ever to grace the television Joffrey was a key character on the show. Jack Gleeson brought menace, malevolence, and timidity to every scene, his retirement from acting is a loss but also means Joffrey with live on as one of the acting performances of all time.
Before Tyrion has been humiliated at the wedding he’s been bonding with his brother Jaime (“the proud Lannister children -- the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness.”) getting rid of some excess baggage in the form of his mistress, and the love of his life, Shae.
There’s some dull guff in Dragonstone with Stephen Dillane and Liam Cunningham still being the worst best friends around. Hopefully the Stannis storyline will pick up soon as it’s not going anywhere.
We also get our first glimpse of Bran Stark this season and it’s a doozy. His visions are getting stronger and we see glimpses of his father (hello Ned!), as well as a snow covered Iron Throne and dragons flying over King’s Landing. It can only be hoped that these are visions of future to come, that dragon shadow looks huge!
There’s also the opening scene of Ramsay Snow with Reek (aka Theon Greyjoy) in tow, and some discussions of the bastard kind between Roose Bolton and his “son”. If you thought there were no depths Bolton would lower himself to then you’re wrong. But only because he wanted to swap Theon for a key strategic fort. The Bolton’s are probably the most depraved of the Houses, and that’s saying something.
Everything is overshadowed by the final scene though. It’s goodbye to Joffrey the most unpleasant, disturbed, power mad, violent, cowardly, weak, character TV has ever seen. He will most certainly be missed.