Across its three seasons, ‘Game of Thrones’ has taught us many lessons, but there a few that reign supreme: winter is coming, a Lannister always pays his debts and never, ever attend a wedding in Westeros. Ever. Last season’s penultimate episode “The Rains of Castamere,” gave us the now infamous Red Wedding which resulted in the death of Robb Stark, his wife and unborn child and his mother Catelyn. But last night’s episode “The Lion and the Rose,” written by series creator George R. R. Martin, took the action up a notch by sending a popular, yet loathsome character to his grave. Most of the characters from the premiere were absent this time around, but it made for a tighter and all around enthralling episode. Read on to find out why Purple is the new Red.
Former Stark ward and turncloak, Theon Greyjoy makes his season debut as Reek, the castrated slave to Roose Bolton’s bastard son Ramsey Snow. He tags along dutifully as Ramsey and a lover chase a frightened girl through the forest. Her crime? Making the lover jealous. Hounds nip at her feet as Ramsey and company shoot her with arrows. Unfortunately things don’t go well for the girl. She is eaten alive by the dogs and Theon stands helplessly by.
Roose Bolton eventually shows up to Dreadfort, fresh off his murderous stint at the Red Wedding. Ramsey shows him Reek, whom he loving refers to as his plaything. Bolton is unhappy with his son’s actions. Theon was a valuable hostage. He had hoped to trade Theon for Moat Cailin, which would help him secure the North. Ramsey doesn’t seem bothered by his father’s disappointment and instead proceeds to show off his work by having Theon—or Reek—shave him. During the procedure, Ramsey tells Theon that Robb Stark is dead. In return, Theon admits that he did not kill Bran and Rickon. Bolton sends men out looking for them and asks Ramsey to take Moat Cailin.
The action returns to King’s Landing, where Tyrion and Jamie are finally reunited over breakfast. It’s been a long time since the brothers were in the same room together. In fact, Tyrion and Jamie haven’t shared a scene since season one. So it was a welcome surprise to have the two brothers casually conversing. Jamie confides in Tyrion about his insecurities in regards to his missing hand. He is afraid he will not be able to protect the king. Tyrion assures him that with practice, he can be just as effective using his left hand. He sets up a training session between Jamie and his sellsword Bronn, insisting that the knight will not breathe a word about it to anyone on King’s Landing.
We are then treated to a wonderful little scene between Jamie and Bronn. These two characters have had little to no screen time together and though their scene was brief—Bronn assured Jamie he would keep their training secret—it was a nice break from the tension to come.
Though Jamie is back, Tyrion’s happiness is short lived. Varys informs him that Cersei knows about his relationship with Sansa’s handmaiden Shae. Thanks to his sister’s silver tongue, Lord Tywin is in on the secret as well. Tyrion is left with no choice—he must end things between him and Shae. He calls her to his chambers and explains that he has arranged for her to travel Pentos. There she will have a house and servants. Shae doesn’t want that. All she cares about is her “little lion.” Her rejection forces Tyrion to be cruel. He reminds Shae that he has a duty to his wife. Shae cannot bare his children because she is nothing more than a whore. This scene was quite difficult to watch. For the past few seasons, we’ve seen Tyrion fall in love with Shae. She is the source of the little happiness he has and he will do anything to protect her—even telling her lies to get her to leave King’s Landing. Reduced to tears, Shae storms out of the room.
While King’s Landing prepares for a wedding, Stannis Baratheon is still smarting over his loss at the Battle of Blackwater Bay. In order to win the favor of the Lord of Light, he allows Melisandre to execute those who do not share his faith—even his relatives. Not much else happens in this scene. I think it served as a reintroduction of Stannis and Melisandre.
Somewhere Near the Wall
Bran is back! Has anyone missed him? No? While tedious at times, I find Bran’s story to be refreshing. It’s nice to have a break from all the drama of King’s Landing and the war. We begin this sequence with Bran using his powers to embody his direwolf Summer and hunt a deer. His friends awaken him and remind him not to get lost in these visions. They need him and Winterfell needs him. Bran asks Hodor to take him to the godswood tree and there he has some intense visions including a dragon flying over King’s Landing and snow falling on the Iron Throne.
And so it begins. Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Purple Wedding. After Joffrey and Margaery get married, the rest of the episode focuses on the reception. Citizens and family members alike shower the newlyweds with gifts. Tyrion gives his nephew a book about kings of the past which he hopes will help Joffrey become a better ruler. The king expresses his gratitude and practically lights up when Lord Tywin presents him with a new sword. To break in his new weapon—which he ironically calls Widow’s Wail—Joffrey unleashes his wrath on Tyrion’s present. Clearly Joffrey doesn’t know the meaning of manners. If you dislike a gift, you wait until the party is over to return it.
Anyway, the festivities continue. Tyrion and Bronn have a brief conversation in which the loyal sellsword assures the youngest Lannister that Shae was safely delivered to the ship. Tyrion expresses concern, but Bronn tells him not to worry. I don’t know about you but something tells me that Tyrion has every right to be worried, especially since half of King’s Landing is aware of his relationship with Shae.
Olenna Tyrell has two wonderful scenes. First she talks about the Crown’s debt with Tywin and then she comforts Sansa over Robb and Catelyn’s death. “Killing a man at a wedding! Horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing? As if men needed more reasons to fear marriage.” I can practically see Martin chuckling as he wrote this line. It’s an excellent, and quite ironic, example of foreshadowing.
Last week, Cersei and Jamie fought over the state of their relationship and though Cersei rejected her brother’s sexual advances, she still carries a torch for him as is evident in her scene with Brienne. After congratulating Joffrey on his marriage, Cersei pulls Brienne aside and proceeds to threaten her. She is jealous of Brienne’s relationship with her brother Jamie. When she pointedly asks Brienne if she loves Jamie, the knight is left speechless.
Jamie shares a similar scene with Loras Tyrell where he threatens the knight with death if he should marry Cersei. “Lucky for you, none of this will ever happen, because she will never marry you,” to which Loras responds “And neither will you.” Sick burn Loras. Sick burn.
Cersei continues on her warpath by confronting Grand Maester Pycelle. Despite Queen Margaery’s proclamation that all of the leftover food from the wedding feast would be given to the poor, Cersei demands that they feed the dogs instead. This was an obvious ploy to maintain control.
She joins her father Lord Tywin on a stroll through King’s Landing. The duo runs into Prince Oberyn of Dorne and Ellaria Sand. They share a brief exchange that is filled with veiled threats. Oberyn is clearly out for blood.
You think Joffrey would calm down a bit on his wedding day, but the joyous occasion brings his worse traits to light. After throwing coins at a band playing “The Rains of Castamere,” Joffrey announces to the guests that there has been too much amusement at his wedding. So, in true Joffrey fashion, the king decides to make everyone uncomfortable by having midgets reenact the War of the Five Kings. As the actors put on the show, Tyrion, Sansa and most of the other people with half a heart, looked on mournfully. Joffrey and Cersei are among the few who laugh.
Humiliating his family and the court however, was not enough for Joffrey. He once again set his sights on his favorite punching bag: Tyrion. The king orders Tyrion to fight the dwarves. In return, Tyrion challenges Joffrey to demonstrate his skill in battle. The two men participate in a war of the wits. Joffrey does everything in his power to belittle Tyrion like spilling wine on his head and making him a cupbearer. Just when the tension reaches its peak however, Margaery announces that the pie has arrived.
An enormous orange pie is wheeled out and Joffrey uses Widow’s Wail to cut it open, freeing some doves and killing others. Sansa and Tyrion take this opportunity to leave. But before they could get up off their seats, Joffrey calls out to his uncle. He needs a refill of wine. The pie is too dry. Tyrion obeys and just when he thinks he is in the clear, Joffrey begins to cough. It seems like he is choking at first, but when the coughs turn violent and his face reddens, everyone starts to panic. Cersei and Jamie run to his side while everyone else watches in shock. Helpless to save her dying son, Cersei holds Joffrey in her arms and witnesses his last breaths of life.
During the confusion, Ser Dontos approaches Sansa and encourages her to run away with him. Tyrion meanwhile, looks confused as he examines the goblet. When Joffrey dies, all eyes turn to the Master of Coin and Cersei demands that he be locked up. She is convinced he killed Joffrey and with a final shot of Joffrey’s face, the episode ends and the credits roll while “The Rains of Castamere” plays in the background. Now that folks, is a wedding.
The death of Joffrey Baratheon will come as a shock to some fans and a gift to others. While not as brutal as the Red Wedding, the death of the king sparks a series of events that will forever change the Seven Kingdoms. As much as Joffrey was a cruel and sadistic villain, he was fun to watch and his absence will resonate with every viewer.
Tune in next week when we see the fallout from the Purple Wedding and the return of Daenerys Targaryan and Jon Snow.