Monday, April 28, 2014

Game of Thrones 4.02: "The Lion and the Rose"

“A toast. To the power of Lannister children. The dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness.”

Well shit. If you take all the seasons of “Game of Thrones” together, it hasn’t been that many episodes since the infamous Red Wedding, which saw the fall (for now) of House Stark, but we’ve already had yet another infamous Westerosi wedding. This one seems to be going by the name of the Purple Wedding, and for good reason. The events of this episode will certainly create consequences far and wide for the remaining characters. Another King is dead, and while there’s definitely a primary suspect, we really don’t know for sure who is responsible. I will say that I enjoyed this death a lot more than the last major death. Robb was fun to watch, but Joffrey was just an ass.

This particular episode was a bit more focused than the typical “Game of Thrones” episode thanks to the major event that is the Purple Wedding, but it wouldn’t be a proper episode of “Game of Thrones” if it didn’t pay service to at least a few of the other ongoing stories. Our brief glimpses at other plots this time around focused on characters mostly focused on characters we haven’t seen yet this season, and we are first reintroduced to Ramsay Snow, Theon’s torturer. He and his lady companion are getting all “The Most Dangerous Game” with a young woman, presumably a whore. The lady companion shoots the whore in the leg, then Ramsay sets some dogs on her. It’s pretty gross, and it shows us that Ramsay, like several other characters in Westeros (one of which will meet his demise in this episode, just likes cruelty for cruelty’s sake.

In other Ramsay/Roose Bolton/Theon news, Ramsay (Roose’s bastard son) is reunited with his father. He presents Theon to his father as a sort of reunion gift, but Roose is not impressed. Theon is a shell of the person he once was. Roose is pissed off because he needs the support of House Greyjoy to implement his plan to take control of the North, and the whole mutilated Theon situation probably isn’t going to help with that. Ramsay tries to argue that the Greyjoy’s don’t really care about Theon much anyway, but Roose doesn’t really care. Ramsay organizes a little demonstration of just how obedient Theon is, but Roose continues to not be impressed. He orders Ramsay to take a strategically important moat, dangling the possibility that if he succeeds, Ramsay might be officially acknowledged as a Bolton.

Joffrey and Margaery’s big royal wedding is immanent, but there’s plenty of other drama going on in King’s Landing. Jaime is still being super emo because of the loss of his hand. For all of his bravado about how fighting with his left hand is an extra challenge, it turns out that his left-handed swordsmanship is actually kind of crap. He admits this to Tyrion, who enlists Bronn to try and retrain him. Also, word has gotten out about Shae’s true identity, and she’s in serious danger. Tyrion ends up having to send her away on a ship across the Narrow Sea, and it’s quite painful for both of them. I’m surprised Shae actually was able to get away, actually. With how brutal this story is overall, I wasn’t sure she would survive.

There are some other random plots to advance before we really dig into the Purple Wedding. First, we pay a brief visit to Drangonstone, where Stannis and company have started burning people at the stake. Including a relative. It’s interesting that Stannis’ wife seems to be one of Melissandre and the Lord of Light’s biggest supporters. They all figure that Stannis’ daughter probably saw the whole burning thing going on and didn’t take it well (one of the victims was a favorite uncle), so Melissandre is sent to visit her. It’s a chance to give some exposition on Melissandre’s religion. She talks about how there are only too Gods – the Lord of Light and the bringer of darkness. We also pay a brief visit to Bran, who is spending a little more time in his visions than is healthy according to Jojen. Bran goes into Summer’s consciousness to “eat,” and he is warned he needs to eat for real, too. Bran is taken into a Godswood, and he starts having a really strange vision when he touches one of the trees.

And now we get to the big stuff – the Purple Wedding. The ceremony itself is lavish and takes place in the Great Sept. It’s interesting to compare it to the other Westerosi (as opposed to Dothraki) weddings we’ve seen on the show. The vows are pretty much the same, but everything is on a much grander scale. The whole thing definitely had the atmosphere of a royal wedding. There’s also the implication that with this wedding, Joffrey has come of age. Which is kind of frightening to think about, given that he’s pretty much a psychopath.

The reception is lively and colorful (although some of the dancers are a bit much). All of the early drama at the reception seems to be about Jaime’s penis. Which is just kind of wrong. Although I do have to say that Nikolaj is looking good this season – I think his current haircut suits him. There’s a little confrontation between Jaime and Ser Loras, where they each try to threaten each other over the fact that Cersei and Loras are supposed to be getting married soon. Cersei and Brienne also have a bit of a tiff over Jaime. Apparently Brienne is in love with Jaime after their big adventure? She swears she isn’t, but everybody seems to think she is. I guess I should start belting “I’m Not At All in Love” from “The Pajama Game” right about now.

Joffrey is, of course, an evil psychopath throughout the festivities. He has commissioned a troupe of little people to perform The War of the Five Kings, which depicts him winning the war entirely of his own merit. It’s pretty gross, and Tyrion is (rightfully) especially offended by it. When Tyrion doesn’t show enthusiasm for the performance, Joffrey decides to take the humiliation a step farther, and he makes Tyrion his cup bearer. Sansa and Tyrion try to leave the reception, but Joffrey won’t let them. All of a sudden, Joffrey starts choking. Chaos breaks out because it’s quickly apparent that this isn’t something run-of-the-mill that the Heimlich can fix. As his parents hover over him screaming, Joffrey turns purple, bleeds from his nose, and dies. It’s poison, and Cersei automatically blames Tyrion for it.

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