Four Letter Nerd

Game of Thrones 4.2 Review: The Lion and the Rose

Warning: The spoilers for this one will come out and smack you in the face right up front. So if you haven’t seen episode two yet, you should have already stopped reading. I’m serious!!! Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers!!! Here it goes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

The brat king is dead!!! The moment we’ve all longed for, dreamed about, played out in our minds during those boring moments at work. Some religious people may have even prayed for the demise of King Joffrey. But now that he’s gone, some serious questions need to be asked. With our most vile villain in Westoros now gone, who do we root against? The Game of Thrones universe can be morally ambiguous, but it still needs true villains. And while Joffrey Lannis–uhhh, Baratheon did not have a single positive character trait, every other character who could take his place either has redeeming qualities or doesn’t appear enough in the show. And did anyone predict poisoning as the means of death? I always saw him conquered and killed by Robb Stark (until the red wedding that is), fried by Dany’s dragons, or killed by one of his own people with a sword. But the most likely scenario is not how George R.R. Martin thinks (just ask anyone named Stark). And the poisoning creates significantly more complex story lines than a simple conquering assassination would have.

So for this review, I shall save King’s Landing for last since that is where most of the action so wonderfully took place this episode.

The Dreadfort
Do you remember Ramsey Snow? No? How about this: do you remember that guy that cut off Theon’s mini Theon? Oh now you remember. Theon’s, or should we now say Reek’s cruel tormentor shows he is an equal opportunity torturer, using all of his prisoners for amusement. That includes hunting and allowing his dogs to eat one of his female prisoners because a girl named Myranda was jealous of her.

And Theon/Reek is a shell of his former self. The confident, defiant womanizer from the Iron Islands has been replaced by a timid and frightened weakling who does anything his tormentor asks of him, including shaving Ramsey’s face while Ramsey insults him. Roose Bolton, however, is not pleased. He arrives and chastises his son for destroying his bargaining chip for Moat Cailin, land in the north held by the Greyjoys. So Roose sends Ramsey and Reek (previously Theon in case you forgot) to see if Ramsey can conquer Moat Cailin and earn a legitimate family name.

Dragonstone
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we last leave Stannis and company on their lonely island prepared to leave for the wall to help the Night’s Watch defend the realm? This was not mentioned once. Instead, we just waste time with things we already knew like that Stannis’s wife is crazy and his daughter is stone faced and neglected. And did we mention that Davos gave Melisandre another skeptical look? We did get an interesting quote from the lady in red that I will mention at the bottom.

Beyond the Wall
This was a much better use of shortened screen time for a character. We did not spend much time with Bran and company, but what we did see was informative. Bran seems to be making regular use of his new ability as a warg by running around as Summer (which Jojen warns him about). But now he finds himself inside a Weirwood Tree. The backstory here is that Weirwood trees allow a warg to see into the past and into the future. The images Bran sees include Ned Stark, Bran falling from a window, a three-eyed crow (important!!!), the shadow of a dragon flying over King’s Landing, and the Iron Throne under ice. If you’ve been paying any attention the last three years, you know what those last two hint at. And there was that voice saying “Find me North” that wasn’t creepy at all.

King’s Landing
Now to the good stuff!!!! Jamie has a new sword fighting partner. He needs to learn to use his left hand exclusively, so Tyrion recommends Bronn. Bronn was not Jamie’s sword fighting partner in the book, but no complaints here. The dialogue should be fantastic between these two this season.

Despite a little lightheared dialogue in the beginning, the rest of the episode was another depressing turn for the Imp. Though it breaks his heart, he feels he has no choice but to send Shae on a ship for her safety. In a scene reminiscent of “Harry and the Hendersons”, Tyrion refers to Shae as a whore for the first time in a long time, insisting that is all he ever thought of her. Bronn assures him he saw Shae get on the ship. But I have my doubts she is gone for the rest of the season.

King Joffrey hosts a breakfast the morning of his wedding where he accepts gifts from his guests. And despite his best attempt to hide it, the spoiled child comes out comes when Tywin gives him the other sword he forged last week. The ungrateful piece of poop takes the sword and chops up the book Tyrion and Sansa gave him. And while the wedding was beautiful, the fun begins at the reception, where the interactions were just fantastic!!! The Martell/Lannister tension continues as Cersei insults Oberyn for bringing a bastard woman with him. The cultural differences between Dorne and the rest of Westoros are subtly hinted at during the scene. It is considered embarrassing to be seen with a bastard when you are high born in most of the seven kingdoms, but in Dorne, bastards are considered on the same level as everyone else. And the fantastic interactions continue. Loras and Oberyn, Loras and Jamie, Brienne and Cersei, Cersei and Pycelle all have very tense conversations with each other before we get to the main event: Joffrey’s last actions as the rotten spoiled brat king.

As a reader of the book, I was glad to see the use of midgets at the reception. This was an important plot point in the books. But they only insulted Tyrion in Storm of Swords. Using the midgets to imitate the War of Five Kings was so much more effective!!! Loras storms out seeing Renly mocked and Sansa had to relive in her mind her brother’s murder all over again. But Joffrey’s final actions for his uncle were the worst of all, calling him out in front of everyone to kneel down before him and play the role of his cup-bearer.

Now let’s follow the bouncing the cup. Joffrey pretends like he’s going to hand cup to Tyrion, but he drops it and kicks it under the table. Sansa then picks up the cup and hands it to Tyrion, who then fills it with wine. Joffrey takes a small drink before pie is served. He hands the cup to Margery who sets it down as Joffrey gets a piece of pie. He then takes several large bites of pie before commanding Tyrion to hand him the rest of his wine to drink. I love how many different characters made contact with the cup, linking them as potential poisoners.

Then, the coughing begins. Joffrey drinks more, but continues to cough. Concerned looks appear on the faces of all the major characters and guests at the wedding as Joffrey continues to choke and starts to grab his neck. The king falls down and his face begins to change colors. He throws up on the ground as Cersei and Jamie try and help their son. As Joffrey takes his last breaths, Ser Dontos rushes in and sneaks off with Sansa. After he dies, Cersei looks up and sees Tyrion holding the glass of wine and calls for his arrest. But was it Tyrion who killed Joffrey? Was it the wine or pie? And is it worth seeing the show’s worst villain dead if it puts one of the show’s heroes in peril? At least Tyrion did get one last underhanded insult towards his nephew before he died.

 

Notes and Questions for Next Week
-For the first time, Melisandre mentions a Lord of Darkness. She has not talked about who she considers her true enemy until this conversation with Shireen Baratheon.
-I am not sure what I think of Mace Tyrell being portrayed as nothing but an Oaf. One of his nicknames in the books is Lord Oaf, but he is not completely incompetent. The show seems to place the leadership of the Tyrell with Ms. Oleanna, whose was significantly more involved this week to my delight.
-Once again, more token appearances by Lady Brienne. Her interaction with Cersei seemed trivial, except that she (by refusing to deny it) declared her love for Jamie to his sister!!!
-Qyburn reference: Cersei refers a Tyrell servant to the disgraced maester instead of to the creepy perverted intentions of Pycelle. And did you notice his disgust at the mention of Qyburn’s name? Very curious to learn of the “Dark Arts” Qyburn was practicing that got him banished by the Maesters.
-And how about Cersei sending the leftovers Margeary intended for the poor to the dogs. Don’t expect the queen’s catfight to be over anytime soon.

 

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

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