Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 2 “The Lion and the Rose”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

North of The Wall: We have some point-of-view camerawork of something wild and savage stalking through the snow. It spots a deer, grazing peacefully on some morsel of vegetation found under the snow. The camera lurks and slowly approaches, behind the cover of trees. It leaps, startling the deer, which tries to flee… but too late. It lies dead on the snow, its throat ripped out.

“Hodor!” Hodor wakes Bran from his dream-borrowing of his wolf’s mind. His wolf, Summer, has been hunting for food. Jojen looks scoldingly at Bran, and warns him not to ride in his wolf’s mind too much, lest he become obsessed with the freedom and ability to move on his own legs, and forget that he is a human. It’s all very reminiscent of Granny Weatherwax from Discworld. Bran doesn’t look convinced, and I feel that maybe the temptation is too much and he is in danger of losing his grip on humanity.

They travel on a bit, and come across a weirwood tree, with its distinctive white trunk and red leaves. Bran wants a close look and asks Hodor to sit him next to it. Bran reaches out to touch the tree near its oddly human face in the bark, and is struck by a series of visions. We see the three-eyed raven, what looks like Ned, his father, moving through the tunnels that I think were under Winterfell, some other stuff that happened too quickly to remember, a huge flock of ravens flying through a forest, and then a voice saying something is hidden under a tree in the North. Bran returns to reality with new purpose and says he knows where they need to go.

So again we have this weird vision associating Ned Stark with those underground tunnels. We’ve seen this before a couple of times. I have a feeling that we have not heard the last of Ned Stark somehow. It really feels like this is foreshadowing some ghostly vision. Perhaps Ned’s spirit will return to give Bran advice on how to become the Lord of Winterfell and restore their lands. That would be cool.

Somewhere Northish that I don’t know the name of: There is another hunt. This time a girl runs through the forest, pursued by hounds, and two archers. One is Theon’s captor Ramsay (I said last time that he is Ramsay Bolton, son of Roose Bolton, but later this episode it is revealed that Ramsay is a bastard son, referred to with the surname of Snow), and the other is a woman. She shoots the girl, bringing her down with an arrow in the leg. Ramsay and the woman discuss the finer points of hunting humans, then loose the dogs on the victim.

At a nearby Castle, Roose Bolton arrives with a retinue, including a dumpy woman who he says is his wife. She looks rather simple and a bit overwhelmed by everything happening, including when Ramsay comes over and greets her as “mother”. I don’t quite get what’s going on here. Anyway, Roose has been declared Warden of Winterfell by Walder Frey after the slaughter of Robb Stark and his army, and he’s here to take stock. Ramsay has completely broken poor Theon Greyjoy, and Theon is unable to do much of anything except stare aimlessly and follow Ramsay’s orders. Roose is mad, because he needed Theon as a hostage for leverage against the Greyjoys, to get them out of the mainland and back to the Iron Islands, but in his current state Theon is no great prize.

Ramsay demonstrates how helpful Theon can be, by trusting Theon to shave him with a razor. There is a brief flicker of life in Theon’s eyes as we ponder whether he will recover enough to slit Ramsay’s throat, but he is unable to do it. Under Ramsay’s prompting, Theon confesses that he didn’t kill Bran and Rickon, but instead staged two farm boys as their burnt bodies. Ramsay tells Roose that now he has a reason to thank him – for finding this out, and so he can hunt down Bran and Rickon to stop the people to the North rallying behind them. Roose sends men to search for the Starks, and offers Ramsay a chance to prove himself by capturing a strategic location, Moat Cailin. If he succeeds, Roose will make Ramsay a legitimate Bolton.

Well, Theon is tamed for now, but he could snap back at any point, which would be a disaster for Ramsay, given how much he trusts in his own methods.

Dragonstone: Melisandre leads a human sacrifice service on a beach, with victims burnt alive. This is supposed to be some sort of service to the Lord of Light. Ser Davos is obviously disgusted. Later Stannis is eating with his wife and Melisandre, but the meat is off and Stannis doesn’t eat. He complains about the lack of food and says he’d rather eat fish (since they’re on an island), but his wife reminds him that he hates fish. So this seems to be setting up that they’re running out of supplies in Dragonstone, which will presumably push Stannis to doing something risky and premature in his quest to conquer Westeros.

They discuss the Lord of Light, and Stannis’s wife questions why their daughter was cursed with her facial deformity – maybe she’s evil or something. Stannis is angry and says their daughter is fine. Later Melisandre goes to speak to the young princess, and talks about the gods. The girl knows the story of the seven gods, but Melisandre tells her it’s a lie, the only gods are the Lord of Light and an opposed god of darkness and evil.

King’s Landing: Jaime and Tyrion are having a meal when Jaime knocks over his wine with his metal right hand. He laments his clumsiness, but Tyrion says, “It’s only wine” and pours his own on the table. Jaime confesses that he can’t fight left-handed. Tyrion, in a surprisingly magnanimous gesture towards his brother, suggests he just needs training and offers to set him up with a sparring partner. This turns out to be Bronn, and he and Jaime start practising in a secluded location. I’m not sure why Tyrion is helping Jaime. Everyone seems to be opposed to Tyrion, and I would assume Jaime is no real exception.

Varys talks to Tyrion about the danger Shae is in. He says a handmaid has worked it out and the news will soon reach Cersei, and then Tywin. Varys reminds Tyrion that Tywin said he will hang the next whore he sleeps with. Varys says Shae’s only chance of survival is to leave Kings Landing immediately. Tyrion then meets Shae and tells her to leave, ordering Bronn to take her to a ship sailing to Pentos. This is quite the scene, with them arguing. Tyrion has to lie to her and break her heart to get her to leave. Shae goes, but under the misapprehension that Tyrion doesn’t love her – she doesn’t understand how dangerous her position is. Maybe this could come back to haunt Tyrion in some tragic misunderstanding later. I can imagine Shae returning to stick a dagger in Tyrion or something, and him gasping that he always loved her with his last breath, triggering some Romeo and Juliet level tragedy. I guess we’ll see.

People are presenting wedding gifts to Joffrey. Tyrion gives him a book, chronicling the lives of four former kings. Joffrey is unimpressed but Tyrion explains that kings should learn from history. Tywin gives Joffrey the second sword forged from Valyrian steel (the partner of Jaime’s). This pleases Joffrey a lot more, and he slices up Tyrion’s book with it. Later, Brienne and Cersei have a conversation, in which Cersei suggests that Brienne is in love with Jaime. Brienne emits only a guilty silence, not even able to deny this. Uh oh, she’s just given Cersei more ammunition.

The royal wedding happens, and Joffrey and the new Queen Margaery attend their wedding feast. Someone suggests to Cersei that she’s no longer the Queen now that Margaery has taken over, and Cersei gives a withering look that says, “I’ll say who’s Queen.” Jaime chats with Margaery’s brother Loras (who is betrothed to Cersei, remember). Jaime warns Loras that if the wedding goes ahead, she’ll have him killed, and concludes, “You’ll never marry Cersei.” Loras snarks back, “Neither will you,” implying he knows about Jaime and Cersei’s relationship.

Margaery announces to everyone that the leftovers from the feast will be given to the poor of King’s Landing, eliciting much applause. Cersei stalks off to find Maester Pycelle, saving a woman from making an appointment to have him “examine” her. She orders him to have the leftovers fed to the palace dogs. He protests that “the Queen” ordered them to be given to the poor, but Cersei’s withering look makes him cower off to carry out her order.

Prince Oberyn from the South is at the feast – the guy who is only here to seek revenge for his sister being murdered by the Lannisters. He meets Tywin and Cersei and makes veiled threats at them, mentioning that he knows where Cersei’s daughter Myrcella is. This is all a bit James Bond villain-esque. I guess he wants them to know that he’s going to take revenge before he actually takes revenge. How this plot thread plays out will be interesting. I wouldn’t put it past Tywin to simply have Oberyn killed in his sleep before Oberyn gets to do anything interesting.

Joffrey is bored at the feast, throwing coins at various entertainers to stop them from boring him even more. He offers a prize to whichever guest can knock the hat off his fool, prompting everyone to start throwing food at the guy. Joffrey then stands and announces some entertainment of his own. He has organised a group of dwarves to portray the five kings fighting for the crown during the recent war: himself, Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy. They wear crude costumes, with Renly’s showing his bare backside protruding from his pants (alluding to his sexual tastes), and Robb with a wolf’s head. They play-act fighting, and “Joffrey” slays the various pretenders, including knocking off Robb’s head, with fake blood everywhere. Sansa, seated next to her husband Tyrion, is mortified. Loras is mortified. Tyrion is mortified. Everyone is in shocked silence, as Joffrey laughs his head off.

At the end, Joffrey suggests Tyrion join the play, as his height matches the pantomime dwarves. Tyrion suggests it woud be better of Joffrey displays his own kingly prowess with the sword. Joffrey ripostes by ordering Tyrion to be his cup-bearer as he gets some more wine, followed by “accidentally” dropping his goblet under the feast table. Tyrion crawls to retrieve the cup, and Sansa grabs it from under the table and gives it to him. Sansa may be horrified by Joffrey, but I think she realises Tyrion at least is on her side. After she passes the cup over, we see the fool approach her and whisper in her ear that she must go with him right now, if she wants to live. I think this fool might be the same guy who we saw give her a necklace last episode, because at some point in the past she saved his life. If so, that’s good, because she has a real ally here.

Tyrion holds Joffrey’s cup and refills it with wine. Joffrey orders him to kneel but Tyrion stands defiantly. Joffrey s about to go ballistic, when Margaery breaks the tension by announcing the arrival of the wedding pie. This is a huge pastry shell, which Joffrey slices with his new sword, releasing white doves into the air. Margaery than feeds Joffrey some of the pie, and he demands his cup from Tyrion to wash it down. He drinks, then starts coughing and collapses on the ground… Joffrey is choking on something. No! It’s poison!!

Joffrey expires dramatically, poisoned at his own wedding feast! Cersei is livid that her son has been killed. Joffrey’s last act was to point accusingly at Tyrion, and Cersei orders him arrested.

Wow. Well, first of all, nobody watching this show will be mourning Joffrey. However, his death raises a lot of interesting questions. First of all, who did it? I would say obviously it wasn’t Tyrion. The most obvious candidate has to be Margaery. She had motive: now she’s the Queen she has, in name at least, usurped Cersei’s role. And I can’t believe she ever really loved Joffrey or wanted him to remain alive as King. She wants as much power as she can get, any way she can get it. Killing her husband immediately after the wedding seems like perfect timing. She had means: I have no doubt someone with Margaery’s resources could find some poison. And she had opportunity. She fed Joffrey the piece of pie immediately before Tyrion gave him the wine cup. It all seems very obvious. Maybe a little too obvious??

Actually, it’s so obvious that I’m boggled that Cersei doesn’t immediately leap to that conclusion instead of blaming Tyrion. Cersei must either be blind or hate Tyrion that much that she can’t see the more obvious candidate of Margaery as Joffrey’s killer. Which makes me wonder if Margaery might actually get away with it. But surely, even if Cersei can’t see it, Varys and Tyrion could figure it out.

Another possibility is Prince Oberyn. He has motive: revenge for his dead sister. He’s already threatened Cersei over her other child Myrcella, so offing Joffrey is a logical extension of that. Opportunity is a little more of a stretch, but perhaps he did something by sneaking into the kitchens, knowing the King would be the first to taste the wedding pie. Or really, who cares if he wasn’t? Killing everyone at the wedding feast would work just as well as revenge.

Sansa no doubt wanted Joffrey dead. But I’m not sure if her naive personality would stoop to actually planning his murder, or the ability to carry it out without being caught. These three are the possibilities that come to my mind, but no doubt there are plenty of other people who would have liked to kill Joffrey. So maybe it’ll be a surprise out of left field. I guess we’ll see.

The other huge issue is that now the King is dead, which means a power vacuum, as he left no heirs. I suppose Princess Myrcella is technically the new Queen Regnant, being the only surviving legitimate child of Robert Baratheon (or at least as much Robert’s child as Joffrey ever was). But this also opens the doors for Stannis’s claim to the throne – and we know from this very episode that he’s desperate to leave Dragonstone. And then there’s Gendry, who actually is Robert Baratheon’s son. And.. I suppose Bran would be the leader of The North, if only anyone else knew where he was. And then there’s the Greyjoys, and Roose Bolton running around trying to claim large chunks of the North as well.

And… oh my… Daenerys. This could be the news she’s waiting for.

One Response to “Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 2 “The Lion and the Rose””

  1. Glen Barnett says:

    Roose’s new wife is Walder Frey’s granddaughter. Might have been easy to forget though — Roose told Catelyn Stark that Frey offered that if he married one of Frey’s granddaughters he’d give Roose her weight in silver — and he deliberately chose the fattest wife he could get (I think this conversation was at the Red Wedding? — he was the one sitting with her that was wearing the armour under his clothing which she subsequently discovered just before the slaughter)

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