Game of Thrones S4E2 “The Lion and the Rose”
If at this point in the story, you were still hoping that bad guys get what’s coming to them, your faith was rewarded for the very first time in the history of Game of Thrones, and it only took thirty two episodes for it to happen. The king we all love to hate bites the dust in “The Lion and the Rose” as someone has poisoned King Joffrey Baratheon. The obvious question is now who did it? Caught up in grief and hatred of her brother, Cersei has Tyrion arrested for the crime despite the fact it’s near certain that he didn’t do it. Even before the shock ending, the wedding of Joffrey and Margaery was a lengthy and excellent scene so we’ll talk about the wedding in its entirety and also get to the other plot lines that were visited in the episode including a father son reunion at The Dreadfort, and some clarity for Bran and friends. Let’s begin.
The episode started at the Dreadfort (technically just outside of it) so that’s where I’ll begin as well. Ramsay is partaking in a hunt along with his hounds, his bed warmer Myranda, and Theon, who now goes by Reek. We know full well that Ramsay is sadistic so while it may be upsetting to watch, no one is really surprised when it turns out this hunt isn’t for an animal, it’s a hunt for a person. The unlucky lady doesn’t make it very far and after Myranda wounds her, Ramsay lets the hounds feast on her. The party heads back to the Dreadfort. Not too long after their return, Roose Bolton, the lord of the Dreadfort also comes homes. Roose introduces his wife Walda to his bastard son, Ramsay. Roose asks to see Theon and is very much upset to see what Ramsay has done to Theon. Roose had to sneak into his own home because the Ironborn still hold Moat Cailin, a very strategic castle that is the only convenient way to enter the North. Roose was planning on trading Theon to Balon Greyjoy in exchange for the removal of the Ironborn from Moat Cailin so the rest of Roose’s still stranded in the south army can return home. Ramsay says he tried doing that himself before maiming Theon (which is a lie, he did all of that beforehand) but that just makes Roose upset he sent Balon negotiation terms without asking him first. Ramsay instead shows Roose how useful Theon is too him as Reek, seeing that his reasoning isn’t winning his father over. In a tense scene, Reek shaves Ramsay and Ramsay tells Reek of how Roose stabbed Robb through the heart, all the while Theon has the razor blade to Ramsay’s neck. Ramsay seems to have sufficiently broken Theon because he shows no real reaction to the news of losing Robb and finishes the shave. Roose then tells Ramsay to take Reek and try to take back Moat Cailin themselves, and maybe Roose will have him legitimized and become Ramsay Bolton instead of Ramsay Snow.
Beyond the wall, Bran gets his first cool scene in a while. Bran spends most of his days warging into Summer and hunting as his direwolf. Hodor wakes him up from his warging session and the Reeds warn that he can’t spend too much time in Summer as he’ll slowly begin to lose himself. Afterward, Bran spots a weirwood tree and asks Hodor to take him too it. Bran touches the tree and has several visions, including the fall that crippled him, his father in a dungeon cell, the three eyed raven, the rubble and snow filled throne room that Dany saw in “Valar Morghulis”, dragons roaring over King’s Landing, and a voice. The voice tells Bran to look for him beneath the tree, north. The vision ends and Bran tells the group he now knows where they have to go. I’m glad he does because this story line can often times be one of the more confusing ones to follow, it could definitely use some direction and it looks like we’ve finally got some.
To the capital we go, for yet another wedding gone wrong. The morning of the wedding, Tyrion is walking to the royal breakfast when Varys interrupts him with some important news. That handmaiden that eavesdropped on he and Shae’s conversation has already told Cersei about it and it’s only a matter of time before she tells Tywin. Tyrion doesn’t see the big deal at first but realizes he has to act when Varys says that he can no longer do anything to protect Shae. After the royal breakfast, Tyrion returns to his chambers and is surprised to find Shae waiting for him. Tyrion then has his turn to be the surpriser and tells Shae that their relationship is over and she needs to leave. He has a ship waiting at the docks that will sail her to Pentos where she will live comfortably with a big house, gold, and plenty of servants. She can’t believe what she’s hearing but ultimately gets the picture when Tyrion repeatedly calls her a whore. Bronn escorts her to the ship and we have seemingly seen Shae in the capital for the last time. And so true love comes to an end.
Now onto the wedding itself which took roughly the last twenty minutes of the episode (an unheard of run time for a scene in Game of Thrones). The ceremony is held in the Great Sept of Baelor and its then on to the wedding feast and all the festivities that a wedding feast entails. Before long, Joffrey stops the festivities and announces that his wife has something to say. Margaery then tells the crowd that all of the leftovers from the feast will go to feeding the poor, much to the applause of the wedding guests. Cersei, mad that Margaery is queen and has a hold on her son, goes to Pycelle and orders him to go to the kitchens and demand that the food be given to the hounds instead of the poor. Spiteful move from Cersei there in more ways than one.
Quite a few interesting conversations take place during the feast, the first of which is between Olena and Tywin. The stakes are much lower than their last conversation which dealt with the marriage of Cersei and Tywin but any conversation between these two is welcome. They talk about wealth and the crown’s debt to the Iron Bank. We are reminded yet again that the Iron Bank always gets its due so I imagine we’ll be seeing them soon. The second conversation of note is between Jaime and Loras. Jaime tells Loras that him marrying Cersei will only end with him being killed but he need not worry because that will never happen. Loras quips that Jaime will also never marry Loras and leaves the conversation, point to Loras. Lastly we have Prince Oberyn running into Tywin and Cersei. Oberyn reminds the audience that Cersei’s daughter is in Dorne to marry his nephew, while also defending the Dornish way of life and throwing shade at the Lannisters. Not your typical wedding small talk, that’s for sure.
The wedding continues and Joffrey calls for a pause in the festivities to reflect on the historic value of weddings and of the war of the five kings. To help people reflect on the latter, Joffrey brings out hired dwarves to crudely reenact The War of Five Kings. While Joffrey and Cersei are seen enjoying the event, almost everyone else finds the spectacle in bad humor, the Tyrells, Oberyn, Varys, Tyrion, and Sansa all do little to hide their distaste of the event.
When the event comes to an end, Joffrey calls the winning dwarf up to hand him a champion’s purse, but pauses before doing so. Seeing an opportunity to embarrass his Uncle Tyrion, Joffrey asks him to challenge the winning dwarf to a fight. Tyrion quickly says no and mocks Joffrey with his answer and Joffrey is very much unhappy that Tyrion returned the favor and embarrassed him at his own wedding. He walks over to his uncle and pours a glass of wine over his head. Margaery tries to defuse the situation by saying her father is ready to give his toast. Joffrey seizes this opportunity to again embarrass Tyrion by making him his cup-bearer. Tyrion reluctantly walks over to Joffrey to take his cup to fill it but Joffrey drops and kicks the cup to further embarrass Tyrion. With the help of his wife Sansa, Tyrion retrieves the cup and gives it Joffrey after he fills it with wine. Still not quite satisfied, Joffrey commands Tyrion to kneel several times, each with further anger, and each time Tyrion refuses. Just before we hit the point Joffrey would something stupid again, Margaery again defuses the situation by turning everyone’s attention to the wedding pie. Joffrey puts the filled cup down on the Tyrell’s table and Tyrion returns to his seat at the Lannister table.
Sansa asks her husband if they can go home now and Tyrion looks at his wife like she read his mind. As they leave, Joffrey spots them and tells Tyrion that he and his wife won’t be leaving because he is still his cup-bearer. Joffrey asks for wine and Tyrion retrieves the cup from the Tyrell table. Tyrion serves his nephew the wine and again asks Joffrey if he and Sansa can leave. Joffrey tells him no but starts coughing while doing so. He drinks some more wine to try and calm down his cough but that only makes it worse and it becomes very apparent that he’s choking. In the madness of the scene, Ser Dontos Hollard approaches Sansa and tells her that she will be blamed for this and if she wants to live, she has to leave with him now. Sansa does leave and the scene becomes more and more chaotic as Joffrey starts convulsing and his parents run to him to try and save him but there’s really nothing they can do at this point. The life quickly starts to leave Joffrey and his last action is pointing at Tyrion who is examining the cup. Shortly thereafter, King Joffrey Baratheon is no more and his face has turned a grotesque purple hue confirming this was not a choke, but a poisoning. A grief stricken Cersei orders the guards seize Tyrion and Tyrion gives in without putting up a fight.
If you were like me, you probably watched the wedding scene over and over again, looking for clues to see who was behind the poisoning, my guess is Olena. When Tyrion went to retrieve the cup (which was on the Tyrell table), the camera shot focused solely on the cup and Olena staring at it, looking very tense as Tyrion reached for it. The poison? I would guess it was hidden in Sansa’s necklace. Olena was touching the necklace and when Ser Dontos comes to save her, one of the crystals from the necklace is missing. No verbal clues there but those are some pretty strong visual clues.
I understand that it was a chaotic scene, but it was kind of fitting that Cersei and Jaime were the only ones who came to Joffrey’s aid. At the end of the day, nobody actually liked Joffrey aside from his parents and it really shows when nobody aside from them actually tries to help him.
Tywin’s second Valyrian steel sword was given to Joffrey as a wedding present. Joffrey settles on the name Widow’s Wail and uses the newly named sword to destroy Tyrion and Sansa’s gift to him, a super rare book. That started a long day of tense moments between Tyrion and Joffrey.
The episode name “The Lion and the Rose” mimics the season one episode titled “The Wolf and the Lion”. In both instances, a character from the first house sigil is defeated, Ned got a spear through his knee in “The Wolf and the Lion” and Joffrey obviously died in this episode. I also like how we’re not pretending Joffrey is a Baratheon by calling the episode “The Stag and the Rose”.
After season three’s finale, I wondered if there would actually be any Theon left by the time Yara launched a rescue mission and the answer to that looks like a resounding no. Alfie Allen does a brilliant job playing an absolutely defeated and broken Theon. From here on out, I’ll play along with Ramsay and refer to Theon as Reek because Theon looks truly gone.
Also happening in the episode is Tyrion referring Jaime to Bronn for sword lessons with his left hand. Jaime’s got a long way to go to be decent and Bronn encourages Jaime to fight dirty, much like he does. Jaime needs every advantage he can get now that he’s one handed.
Avoid weddings in Westeros. The uncomfortable wedding between Sansa and Tyrion was the “best” wedding out of the three recent ones. Who would have thought?
There was also a check in at Dragonstone, and it’s more of the same, more human fire sacrificing. I’m ready to see Stannis start his march to the wall.
“The Lion and the Rose” continues the trend of lethal weddings as King Joffrey Baratheon is poisoned at his own wedding and Tyrion is wrongly arrested for it.