TV review: Game of Thrones 4.2 — “The Lion and the Rose”

Game of Thrones The Lion and the Rose

It makes sense that Joffrey’s final episode would feature him at his rottenest, one last reminder of what a snotty, irredeemable, punk-ass bitch the recently crowned King of Westeros has been over the course of Game of Thrones. So during this hour we are treated to: Joffrey using the sword Tywin has gifted him for his wedding to slash Tyrion’s gift — a history book — to shreds; Joffrey remarking on said sword that “every time I use it it will be like cutting off Ned Stark’s head all over again” right in front of Ned’s daughter, Sansa; Joffrey violently throwing coins at wedding performers he has no patience for; Joffrey cackling with joy as costumed dwarves re-enact the War of the Five Kings, including the death of Robb Stark (again in front of poor Sansa); and, finally, Joffrey dumping wine on Tyrion’s head and demanding that his uncle refill the cup and present it to him while on his knees.

Just in case there was a viewer or two out there whose hate for Joffrey hadn’t quite reached maximum capacity yet, the first 50 minutes of “The Lion and the Rose” is determined to ensure those few remaining stragglers get there. That way we all can dance in the street together once his wine is poisoned at the hour’s end and Joffrey crumples choking to the ground, blood pouring from his nose and life fleeing from his eyes. I’m not sure a TV death has ever been as cathartic, as joyous and as welcome as this one. And showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with Thrones novelist George R. R. Martin, who penned this episode, made sure we would savor it at its fullest by allowing Jack Gleeson to show us one last time what a glorious asshole he could be. (And let’s make sure Gleeson gets the appropriate props for what he has pulled off on this series. It’s probably not easy to play a villain so universally reviled, but he did it with aplomb and gusto.)

There were other events that happened during this episode, things nobody is going to be talking about tomorrow because OMG JOFFREY’S FINALLY DEAD, YOU GUYS. But we’ll note them here for posterity. “The Lion and the Rose” opens with Theon and some girl running through the woods, being hunted by a pack of dogs and a fellow I had to be later reminded was Ramsay Snow. Last year I could barely muster the energy to pay attention whenever the show dropped in on Theon, and things haven’t started off promising this season either. Theon’s still a captive, neutered in more ways than one, meant to be used as a pawn in Roose Bolton’s bid to secure the North, which involves rounding up the remaining Stark boys to get the other nobles to fall in line. There’s also a moat that’s important for some reason. Things need to get more exciting here in a hurry.

Speaking of the Starks, we catch up with Bran this week after he sat last week out. He’s been spending too much time mind-melding with his Direwolf, which apparently can lead to him getting lost inside the wolf’s mind forever. That bit seemed awfully hokey, though the Bran segment is redeemed by a nifty vision he has when he touches some special tree with a face carved into it. I’m always a fan of Thrones characters catching prophetic visions (like Daenerys’ House of Undying vision in season two).

We also check in with Stannis and Melisandre, who are busy burning non-believers at the stake in service of the Lord of Light. My immediate reaction is always to label these people as batshit crazies (as Davos most certainly does), but then I remember that the Lord of Light has been shown to produce irrefutable results, including making dudes immortal and allowing for the birth of demon shadow babies. So, in all honesty, these Lord of Light worshipers might be onto something.

Additionally, the fact that Tyrion has a girlfriend on the down-low has leaked to Cersei, and Tyrion knows it’s just a matter of time before Tywin has Shae hung. So he does the only thing he can do: Relentlessly disparage her and call her a whore until Shae is too emotionally fragile to protest being put on a ship and taken far away from King’s Landing. Oddly enough, the scene made me think of Walt’s telephone call to Sklyer near the end of Breaking Bad, when Walt unloaded a stream of heart-breaking insults at her … just to get her off the hook with the police who were surely eavesdropping on the call. Sometimes in TV land you need to hurt the ones you love the most to keep them safe. Did it work with Shae? Did she escape King’s Landing? I’m sure we’ll find out soon, but Tyrion has much bigger problems to deal with now anyway. He was one holding the cup from which Joffrey took his last drink, and it’s he who Cersei immediately fingers as the murderer.

To the viewer, it seems obvious that Tyrion is not the culprit. And the episode strongly points toward Sansa and the fool Dontos as the best possible suspects. Whether that’s a misdirect, I don’t know. I’ve never read the books and try to stay as spoiler-free as possible, so I’m not sure if Joffrey’s killer will be revealed quickly or played out as an elongated murder mystery. Either way, Westeros is once more without a king, and there’s certainly not a single person watching at home upset about that fact. Now burn in hell, you little blond shit.

A few more thoughts on “The Lion and the Rose” …

— “If someone follows me without an invitation, I’m the last person they ever follow.” Bronn is the best. It was fun seeing him and Jaime paired up this week, as Jaime apparently isn’t as good a left-handed swordsman as he has led on and needs some training.

— Some wonderful acting this week from Peter Dinklage, in the scene where Tyrion berates Shae and again when he’s humiliated by Joffrey at the wedding, as well as from Lena Headey, whose Cersei starts to fall apart when faced with the fact that she’s about to no longer be the queen and is completely shattered when her baby boy lays dead at her feet.

— Speaking of queens, what does Joffrey’s death mean for the throne? Does the wedding still count? Is Margaery Tyrell officially the queen? It’s unclear if that’s the case, but if so, I can’t imagine the Lannisters would allow that to last for long.

–  Olenna Tyrell on the Red Wedding: “Killing a man at a wedding … horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing?” Foreshadowing, everyone! Isn’t it fun?