It comes as no shock to everyone who has seen this week’s episode, “The Lion and The Rose,” that despite the laws of hospitality that even the sacred tradition of guest right doesn’t always promise, this is one Westerosi wedding they would gladly attend.
It’s only the second episode in to season four, and one of the major plot points of George R. R. Martin’s third book, A Storm of Swords, is out of the way. I honestly thought HBO was going to drag it out and we’d have to wait til at least, say, episode five for the Purple Wedding, but this week’s title of “The Lion and The Rose” let the book readers and show watchers in on one thing – the Lannister/Tyrell houses are coming together a lot sooner than anticipated.
It’s interesting to note that this episode was written directly by Martin himself, so he is well aware of a lot of the television adaptions that book purists tend to harp on. Most of episode two stays planted firmly in Westeros, with only a few excursions out of the Red Keep itself, and the Lannister clan brooding away the majority of the screentime. Everyone around Tyrion is sullen, his wife, his mistress, his sister, and now it’s his brother Jaime, still stinging from his father’s lecture about the uselessness of a one-handed knight as he knocks his glass on the table and refuses any help. “It’s only wine.” Tyrion states. Remember this, it’s crucial later.
In a deviation from that guy who wrote all those spoilerific things called the books this show is based on, Bronn becomes Jaime’s new sparring mate as Jaime takes his little brother’s advice and relearns how to swordfight, this time as a lefty. This change is for the better, as it serves for giving the viewers more Bronn screen time – which, with his clever little quips making him a fan favorite, can’t actually be a bad thing. This is the first of many source changes in this episode, and in my opinion, the one that works the best on screen.
After a few trips north of The Wall for babyface Bran to whine a little and a hop over to Dragonstone while Melisandre kills it all with fire, the entire second half of the episode stays in King’s Landing, as the wedding of the century is about to go down in the Red Keep. As the Rose of Highgarden prepares for the ceremony, Good King Joffrey is off getting his early wedding presents from his family and you see the tiniest of glimpses at what a good king minus the sarcasm he would make. Joffrey takes his uncle Tyrion’s gift of “Lives of Four Kings” with a graceful disappointment. It’s a wonderful gift, but he is a 14 year old boy that managed to hide his distaste in reading with the same kingly grace that a lot of show viewers even lack. But as with all other things, our favorite product of twincest manages to spoil the moment as Grandpappy Tywin gives him a more age appropriate gift, the second Valyrian steel sword made from Ned Stark’s original, Ice, and one of two Valyrian swords in all of Westeros, both now belonging to the Lannister family. And the moment is gone for the bastard-now-King, who promptly uses his shiny, new toy to hack the boring, old one to pieces as book lovers around the world hold each other and weep.
Tyrion knows that Westeros is no longer safe for his bed warmer, Shae, who notices his sister Cersei telling tales on them to Big Daddy Lannister, and has already threatened to kill her once. In yet another deviation from the aforementioned text, Tyrion takes the advice of Varys and breaks things off with her, and Bronn takes Shae’s slap without a word of complaint. Shae will be bound for Pentos without any further delay, and will be safe from her delusions of taking on Cersei and Tywin. Because, really Shae? How did you plan that to go down?
Some surprisingly abrupt nuptuals are had and, ta-dah, the Lion and the Rose are wed. Olenna comments on the length to Tywin, as they continue their geriatric rich people flirting on their way to the party. As we make our way towards the main event, few brilliant things happen on our way . Firstly, the twins and their brief exchanges with Loras Tyrell and Brienne of Tarth. While Ser Loras makes eyes at the tall dark and handsome from Dorne, Jaime pulls him back to courtly realty by reminding Loras of his own upcoming wedding to Cersei, and how he will play the Rains of Castamere for Loras himself. Loras responds with a snap and a bitch please as he points out not marrying Cersei is something they have in common. Boom. Please excuse me while I cackle at Jaime’s face and gush about loving Loras even more now that I’ve seen him on screen. Cersei decides to take some simple pleasures and torture Lady Brienne a little by simply tearing her down, like most insecure people are prone to do. Unfortunately for her, Brienne responds with grace and poise while she reminds Cersei that there are some experiences that these twins didn’t share.
Cersei is out and about for someone to enjoy her frustrations, zeroing in on Maester Pycell and demanding that he tell the kitchens the scraps from the wedding feast will not be distributed as charity but will go to feed the dogs instead. Even resting bitchface can’t hide the sour note Pycell hits when he reminds Cersei that Margaery, who as of a few hours ago is the new reigning queen, gives the orders around Westeros now. Cersei dismisses him to the kitchens with a barely concealed threat, effectively removing his presence from the reception and undermining Margaery’s first act as Queen. Sending away Maester Pycell is another one to asterisk in your heads for later.
The second major exchange was between the Lannisters vs Oberyn Martell and his lovely paramour, Ellaria Sand. Oberyn comes out fangs blazing by reminding Cersei that there is a new Queen in Westeros, and she has been demoted to the Lady of Lannister. Cersei counters by claiming status over Ellaria, as she is a Sand and a bastard of Dorne, implying that it is only because she is on the arm of a foreign prince that she is even welcome at this Westerosi affair. This shakes Ellaria a bit, though the Red Viper doesn’t miss an opportunity to spit some venom of his own by regaling Cersei with the differences in the customs of Dorne – whereas one side of the world harps on lineage, Dorne doesn’t shun based on blood status. Just on murderous rapists, and isn’t it good that her daughter Myrcella is over in that country all safe and sound right now? It’s not technically a threat, but it certainly does wipe the self satisfied smirk off of Cersei’s pretty face.
Back at the wedding reception, there is a very prominent Sansa/Lady Olenna conversation. It’s not surprising that Olenna would feel very grandmotherly to this poor caged bird who has had to endure her family getting slaughtered and torment at the hands of her girlhood crush, but somewhere in the undertone of the conversation is something a little deeper, and it was at this point that I stopped taking notes and simply watched with rapt attention to the details. Olenna consoles Sansa, stroking her hair and fiddling with her clothing in a very grandmotherly fashion. “War is war, but killing a man at a wedding — horrid,” Olenna says. “What sort of monster would do such a thing? As if men need more reasons to fear marriage.” Despite chucking a little at this seemingly offhanded comment, I still made a third mental asterisk for later.
Joffrey decides to blatantly torture his uncle simply because it’s his wedding day, dumping wine over his head, dropping his wine cup for him to fetch, making him his cupbearer and generally being a dick without any sort of remorse. It’s all a blatant show in cruelty that Joffrey’s sycophantic court has to sit through. Enter Queen Margaery, that brilliant little bird. Natalie Dormer plays this wedding flawlessly, and as such, every time I am in an awkward situation from now on I plan to shout, “Oh look! The Pie!”
The crowd is just as quiet as they have been through most of the ceremony, and a few things happen in relative silence. Joffrey is fed the pie by Margaery and drinks the wine from Tyrion; Joffrey begins to choke on a yet unknown substance – pie or wine?; Margaery looks genuinely terrified as Cersei shoves her out of the way; Olenna shouts “Help your King!”; the twincest that created the little sadist rush to help as Joffrey cannot breathe; Dontos tells Sansa that she must leave Westeros immediately; and Joffrey, with his final purple breath, points to Tyrion holding the wine cup as Cersei screams for the guards to take him away.
Joffrey is dead, fuck the king indeed, PURPLE WEDDING YEAH! and Jack Gleeson, you were a wonderful actor.
Those non-book readers who are wondering the obvious first question and haven’t already been spoiled by various news sources (which is kind of a dick move, considering the show timeline has left this to speculation and has NOT revealed anything of the sort – and while we’re on the subject, the culprit is really only HINTED at in the aforementioned text.) have put their heads together and come up with some rather awesome theories about who else has earned the title of Kingslayer. The episode is expertly edited to give you multiple options – even Cersei has motive, as she knows her son has slipped away to that “little Highgarden bitch” and she no longer has control or the crown.
When asked how he thought fans would react, Jack Gleeson replied, “I think it will be 50-50. There will be a delight that the person tormenting their favorite characters is gone, but I would like to think there’s a certain sadness at the loss of the delight people take in hating a character like Joffrey.”
And Gleeson is very much correct in that aspect. With Joffrey out of the way, the question seems to be, “Who are we gonna rally together and collectively love to hate next?” Luckily, the beginning of the episode gave us a few glimpses at the person maybe not next in succesion for the Iron Throne, but who makes Joffrey look like a golden cuddly puppy.
Best Line: “If you’ll excuse me, it’s time I ate some of this food I paid for.” – Lady Olenna Redwyne, because really, everything that broad says is more golden than Cersei’s locks.
Least Missed Character This Episode: Daenerys.
WAIT, WHAT? I know. Even being a pure Targaryen at heart, I don’t feel saddened by not seeing our lovely ex-Khaleesi this weekend. Seriously, why do people still call her that? Her Khalasar is laughable at best. The addition of Michiel Huisman as Daario has stripped me of all desire to see the Mereen takedown. Maybe I’ll feel differently in a few episodes butprobablynot.
If the Purple Wedding was just episode two, who knows what’s in store for the rest of the season, though it’s still considered by Dothraki standards to be a dull affair. Can’t get enough Game of Thrones? Click here for last week’s play-by-play of the season four premiere, “Two Swords”!