This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Game of Thrones, including last night’s Season 4, episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose.” Enjoy!
It’s official. “Rains of Castamere” is the worst earworm ever. If you hear it, grab your wine and leave the wedding at once. Also: In Westeros this season, purple is the new red for weddings.
We start with Ramsay Snow trying to beat out Joffrey for most disgusting human being in the kingdom. He’s hunting a servant, Tansy, who was kind to “Reek” (Theon Greyjoy) but was just following Ramsay's orders, and while the first arrow is put in the girl's leg by Ramsay’s jealous squeeze, he’s the one who releases his hunting hounds to tear Tansy to pieces.
Back in King’s Landing, Jaime and Tyrion are sharing a meal, or at least Tyrion’s trying to eat, while Jaime’s feeling all sorry for himself because he can’t handle a sword sufficiently well with his remaining, left hand. Little bro Tyrion says he’s got the answer, and dispatches Bronn to train Jaime in the art of (dirty) fighting, left-handed style.
If you were hoping we were done with Ramsay Snow, no such luck. A troop of horesemen ride up to the Dreadfort, including Roose Bolton and his new wife, Walda Frey. Bolton’s not happy with his bastard son Ramsay’s taking pieces off of a valuable hostage like Theon Greyjoy, but Ramsay convinces his father he’s got “Reek” broken. I’ll say this for Ramsay Snow—he may be a psycho wack-job, but he’s got guts, letting Reek put a razor next to his neck. Ramsay shares intel from Reek with Lord Bolton that the two remaining Stark sons, Bran and Rickon, are alive and a threat to all their plans. Ramsay is dispatched to do something about that.
In King’s Landing, Varys, a.k.a. “The Spider,” tells Tyrion that Shae’s life is in danger, reminding him that his father Tywin’s sworn to hang any whores he finds in Tyrion’s bed, and Shae’s loud outbursts have notified Cersei et al. that Tyrion has a girlfriend. What follows is a wrenching scene in which Tyrion brutally rejects Shae, says he can’t have a whore in his life now that he’s a married man, and sends her off across the water where he’s bought her a house and supplied her with money.
At Dragonstone, Melisandre is turning people into crispy critters for the glory of her god, The Lord of Light, cheered on by Stannis’ queen, Selyse. Ser Davos chastises Stannis, reminding him that one of the human torches is Selyse’s brother. Stannis brushes Davos off, but stands up to Selyse when she says their daughter Shireen should be beaten for being stubborn. He does agree, though, to let Melisandre speak to her. The priestess leaves the child, already suffering from greyscale deforming her face, with the cheery thought that there’s only one hell—“the one we live in now.” Lemony Snicket has nothing on this storyteller.
Bran Stark is being all warg-like again, inhabiting his direwolf Summer to roam the woods and hunt game. Jojen and Meera Reed remind the little lord that it’s easy to lose oneself in the wolf, especially when the animal can run with such freedom…and the boy can’t walk. Bran spots Summer standing beneath one of the sacred weirwood trees and he asks to be taken to the tree. When Bran touches it, he has a vision of many scenes, but the final one is a voice saying “North,” giving the group's quest more direction.
And now we come to the wedding of the season. Margaery and Joffrey are tying the knot before the assembled guests in the cathedral. Margaery looks stunning in yet another low-cut gown, reminding Joffrey that she brings more than Tyrell gold to the marriage. When the new couple kisses, the guests applaud, with Tyrion giving a little “golf clap” as he reminds Sansa, “better [Margaery] than you.” One hopes Sansa is coming to appreciate the husband she has.
After the ceremony, those two old plotters Oleanna and Tywin stroll the grounds while talking politics and economics, and it’s a delight to see such seasoned schemers show the youngsters how it’s done.
At the elaborate outdoor reception, Ser Loras is making eyes at Prince Oberyn (who we already know swings both ways, and who seems to return his interest). But Loras Tyrell's yearnings are interrupted by Jaime Lannister, who warns Loras that if he marries Cersei, she’ll murder him and murder any children they might have. He ends by telling Loras it doesn’t matter, because he’ll never marry Cersei. After a pause, Loras gets in the best zinger of the episode by telling Jaime that neither will he.
Oberyn and gal pal Elia Sand stroll up to Tywin and Cersei (who’s been acting over the top, even for her), and Oberyn needles the Lannisters, particularly Cersei, remarking on her advancing age, her fading looks, her lack of the title “Queen,” her daughter's forced residence in Dorn, and other things guaranteed to make that woman lose it.
Groomzilla Joffrey’s becoming restless, never a good thing. Margaery is trying desperately to distract him, but Joffrey insists on mounting a farce about the Five Kings, lewdly acted by dwarves, with many a pointed glance at his uncle Tyrion. The camera picks out the unsmiling faces of Varys, Oberyn, Oleanna, Loras, Margaery, Tyrion, and especially Sansa, looking more queenlike than ever as the farce continues. When it finally ends, Joffrey demands Tyrion be his cupbearer, kneel, and serve him wine. Tyrion refuses to kneel, and it’s looking ugly until Margaery again distracts Joffrey with something bright and shiny, this time the entrance of a giant pie filled with doves.
But Joffrey’s not done trying to humiliate Tyrion. After pouring wine over his head, he demands his uncle refill his goblet and serve him again. Tyrion serves him, Joffrey drinks…
And the Twitterverse explodes as hashtag #PurpleWedding takes off. This is the moment viewers have yearned for since Joffrey had a butcher’s boy murdered and Sansa’s wolf Lady destroyed: Joffrey starts to choke, drinks some more, clutches his throat, continues to choke and cough... And while people panic and Cersei screams, it’s clear to all that the little piece of crap has been poisoned. He dies ugly, and a hysterical Cersei wastes no time demanding justice, accusing Tyrion of poisoning the king. The episode ends with Joffrey dead and Tyrion surrounded by the Kingsguard.
There are many “Hmmmmm….” moments surrounding the poisoning: Why did court fool Ser Dontos warn Sansa to leave right now? Those faceless guards ringing the area—do we know who’s really beneath the armor? Varys has stated his loyalty is to the kingdom, not an individual king. Wouldn't “venom” be a natural weapon for someone nicknamed The Spider?
Joffrey’s death illustrates once again that in the Game of Thrones, everyone’s a potential corpse.
Darlene Marshall is a life-long sf & fantasy fan. Back in the day she wrote apazines, a Stone Age version of blogging via snail mail. Now Marshall writes award-winning historical romance about pirates, privateers, smugglers and the occasional possum. Her latest release, The Pirate's Secret Baby, is available in ebook and print.