Weddings in Westeros are Really Terrible, Aren’t They?
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
They did it. They finally did it. After nearly thirty-two episodes of suffering from King Joffrey Baratheon’s (or Lannister’s) sheer barbaric cruelty, he is dead. Like, D E A D. Dead. This magnificent episode, penned by George R. R. Martin himself, is one of the most magnificent episodes ever of Game of Thrones, even though Arya and Daenerys do not appear. It is a tight, focused hour, with the overwhelming majority of the episode taking place in King’s Landing and a little over half of it just focused on the wedding and the reception that followed it. Everything about The Lion and the Rose was brilliant, from the aforementioned writing, Alex Graves’s direction, Ramin Djawadi’s score, the acting, the entire art and costume department, et cetera. Other things happened in this episode were significant, but the wedding took center stage here. The game has forever been changed and it seems that in complete juxtaposition to Tywin’s opening scene of melting Ice, the Lannisters are headed for disaster this season. I can’t say I don’t want to see some awesome payback for the Red Wedding of Season 3.
We begin with the other psychopathic asshole, Ramsay. There are few people in Westeros as hated as Joffrey was, but Ramsay looks as if he is readily approaching to take that spot. His lover Myranda shares his bloodlust and I can’t even imagine how their sex life must be. On the other hand, I apologize for that mental image. Roose Bolton isn’t that impressed with Ramsay’s torture of Theon, reminding him callously that Ramsay is a bastard and nothing more. Roose, as cold and calculating as ever, makes a note that Theon’s castration makes it difficult for him to effectively rule the North as the Ironborn have rooted themselves in Deepwood Mot. But Roose was nevertheless impressed with Theon’s (Reek’s) taming and Reek is stupid enough to reveal that Bran and Rickon are still alive. Ramsay, for all of his psychopathic tendencies, makes the acute observation that if any of the Starks were discovered to be alive, then the North would rally to their side. If Ramsay wanted to become a true Bolton, all he had to do was go and rid of the Ironborn. That sounds easy enough, right? Right?
Tyrion and Shae. Damn you, George R. R. Martin. Ygritte and Jon Snow broke up violently. Now Tyrion was a dick to get Shae to leave King’s Landing and sail away to Pentos along the lines of Varys’s original offer. At this point I’m just waiting for Gilly to stab Sam to death or something. Tyrion learns that Cersei has discovered Shae and he decides to send her away once and for all. Shae is naturally upset and slaps Bronn on the way out. Tyrion tasks him with ensuring that Shae leaves and he ensures him that she did. But considering Tywin wanted to see Shae in the Tower of the Hand, I’m not quite sure that happened. But, R.I.P. to that relationship, no? Poor Shae. Poor Tyrion. It’s going to get so much worse for our Halfman.
Jamie has a better episode for the most part, especially in comparison with the premiere. He trains with Bronn ferociously, trying to make up for the loss of his sword hand by training the left. So far he hasn’t done a decent job, but hey, the first day’s always difficult, right? He confronts Loras at the wedding about not marrying Cersei, to which he responds coolly, “Neither will you.” Loras: 1. Jamie: 0. Jamie’s lot gets a whole lot worse by the end of the episode, but that’s reserved for the death coverage below.
Stannis has one redeeming quality after all. He cares about his daughter. His wife Selyse, on the other hand, is downright terrifying. She watches her brother be burnt alive by Melisandre for not believing in the Lord of Light with the joy and calmness one would have when devouring an almond croissant at the local coffee shop. He’s getting salvation, though, you see. Selyse makes a point of potentially burning her daughter for her sins that gave her the greyscale disease, but maybe that’s because Shireen didn’t give her a Mother’s Day card? But Stannis puts his foot down, horrified at the thought. And we learn that Melisandre’s childhood sucked even more than we already knew. So there’s that.
Bran’s journey is reaching significantly into A Dance With Dragons territory, which is a consequence of the adaptation and Isaac Hempstead-Wright hitting puberty and not looking like he’s nine anymore. His visions at a Godswood tree were exciting for a few reasons. The shot of him falling and hearing Cersei and Jaime’s voices was incredible, but what does that mean for the future? Was that Coldhands at the very end? What do the shots of Eddard in the dungeons mean for Bran? There was a crucial shot of a destroyed King’s Landing straight out of Daenerys’s vision in the House of the Undying in the Season 2 finale Valar Morghulis. Could there be a link between Bran and Khaleesi coming? But arguably the most incredible shot was of the giant dragon shadow over King’s Landing. Was it a flashback? Is it a prediction? Bran’s storyline is picking up incredibly and I cannot wait to see how those flashbacks tie together in a complete circle. Also, Hodor.
Finally. The Wedding Ceremony. Combined with the reception, Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery takes up half of the episode, which is forever in the land of Game of Thrones, which generally likes to jump around to every character for roughly about five minutes apiece. The decision to give this critical wedding so much time and space worked well, playing up the tension right before Joffrey gets the ax. Yes, my friends, Joffrey Baratheon (or Lannister), the King Whom Everyone Hated, got killed off in the closest instance on Game of Thrones villains getting their comeuppance. But before that, let’s discuss the actual wedding. Stunningly shot, the ceremony of Joffrey and Margaery’s nuptials was gorgeously shot in the Sept of Baelor, with their kiss being quite cringe-inducing. Alex Graves did some amazing direction here and hats off to Michelle Clapton’s costume designing for the stunning wedding attire. Margaery’s white dress of roses and thorns was quite apt, no? But everything was perfect for the wedding and not a single beat was missed by anyone in the cast and crew. Well done. The sequence of the wedding in a single shot is one of the most stunning creations in the series’s history. Mace Tyrell, Margaery’s father, is apt to the Queen of Thorns’s description of her own son and he presents a giant, fine goblet as a wedding gift. Joffrey is surprisingly restrained. Tyrion presents him with a book about the fine rulers of Westeros. Emphasis on the word “fine”. Tywin presents him with the second “half” of Eddard’s sword Ice and Joffrey aptly names it “Widow’s Wail”. He then proceeds to chop Tyrion’s book into pieces. What a charming fellow.
The reception is as gaudy and over-the-top as anyone would expect it to be. It is so grand, tacky, and bursting with largesse, it is sickening. The Lannister lion and the Tyrell rose are everywhere, covering the entire reception with an explosion of color. There are giant walkers, fire-breathers, jugglers, you name it. The banquet is exquisite, lavishly gilded in every color imaginable. The extravagance is expertly laid in by George R. R. Martin’s pen and rendered in the smallest of details. Tywin and Cersei run into Ellaria and Oberyn, who not-so-thinly makes threats against the Lannisters and reminds Cersei that her daughter Myrcella was still in Dorne. Speaking of Oberyn, he makes very suggestive eyes at Loras, who looks more than willing to drop a few piece of clothing here and there. Cersei confronts Brienne about Jamie just as he had confronted Loras before. They really should be more discreet about this, no? But the thing that the reception got the most right was by displaying Joffrey at his most terrible before his demise. As entertainment, Joffrey has a giant lion’s head open up to reveal a company of dwarves who were ordered to perform the War of the Five Kings in the most disgusting way possible. Renly was a dwarf with a fake, open arse to make the point of his homosexuality. Robb is displayed with a wolf’s head and the pain in Sansa’s eyes expertly portrayed by Sophie Turner is heart-wrenching. Naturally “Joffrey” wins. But the expert writing on Martin’s part and Graves’s direction make a point of noting how disgusted everyone is besides Cersei. Even the perfect politico Margaery can’t hide how much she loathes the display presented in front of her. As the dwarves’s act wraps, up, Joffrey begins to torment Tyrion by making him his cupbearer. The disgust amidst nearly everyone else grows tremendously but Joffrey doesn’t care. But Margaery breaks the tension by noting the largest pie ever made or something close to that (someone check with Guinness) and Joffrey cleaves it with Widow’s Wail, unleashing a crowd of fluttering pigeons into the sky while leaving a bloody pigeon in their wake. It is worth noting quickly here that that the pigeon is the only thing that Joffrey killed with a sword. What a badass. Sansa asks Tyrion to escape the horrid reception, but Joffrey doesn’t stop there. He orders his uncle to fill his goblet and the choking begins.
No one really pays attention until Margaery cries out in a panic that Joffrey was choking. He tumbles forward and collapses upon the ground, vomiting his guts out. Jamie and Cersei rush to his side but it was too late. Joffrey’s nose and eyes begin bleeding out as his face turns the infamous hue of purple. Veins pop out in his skin as he claws at his throat in desperation. He raises his hand to Cersei for help and then points at Tyrion, labeling him the culprit. With a last shudder, his hand falls limp. Cersei screams in grief and then yells at the guards to capture Tyrion, who foolishly was examining the goblet. He gets captured as Sansa makes her escape with the help of Ser Dontos. The King is dead and the Lannister power takes its first plunge. Now King’s Landing is left in chaos, with Tommen the presumed heir. Tyrion will be in chains. Game of Thrones has never been a fan of stability and the status quo, but upending it in Episode 2 was a bold choice, even though the chronology would suggest it be there. But a standout ovation to Jack Gleeson, whose memorable performance as one of television’s most hated villains comes to a close. I hated Joffrey, and I will miss hating him. Best of fortune with life, Jack, and thank you for your performance.
Title: The Lion and the Rose
Written By: George R. R. Martin
Director: Alex Graves
Image Courtesy: Game of Thrones Wiki