Game of Thrones Review: “The Lion and the Rose”

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The Purple Wedding has arrived.

I’m going to go ahead and ward everyone away who hasn’t watched last night’s episode yet, as there’s really no way to start this review without talking about the biggest event of the night, and what will likely be the biggest event of the season.

Are they gone?

Alright then.

OH MY GOD.

It’s hard to remember the last time that SUCH a satisfying character death was delivered on TV, and in Game of Thrones especially, it’s almost always beloved characters dying. The evil ones? They seemingly get to live forever.

But now, one of the most hated characters in fiction or television has met his end. King Joffrey is dead, poisoned at his own wedding. His chalky, bloody, unfocused face will probably be burned into my mind for quite a while. It would have been disturbing for any other character, but for this one? It was just…glorious.

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The death of Joffrey introduces a new dynamic into the show, however. Usually, when a character dies, we know exactly who’s swinging the sword or holding the knife. But this time? The wedding scene was expertly set up to remind everyone just how hated Joffrey was. You saw every stone face in the audience as the dwarves play-acted out the War of the Five Kings. So who did it?

There’s the Martells, the new Prince in town with his bastard lover, who has a very obvious, public, vocal grudge against the Lannisters

There’s the Tyrells, Margaery who just married the King and may want his power all to herself, and her brother who stormed out in anger during the dwarves’ display mocking his beloved Renly.

There’s Sansa, who was ushered away by Ser Dontos before everyone realized he was poisoned, and she has an entire family to avenge.

And of course there’s Tyrion, automatically accused of the crime due to the fact that he was the one serving his nephew wine after being horribly humiliated by him.

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Though Tyrion has talked his way out of many things, this one is going to be the toughest of them all, it seems. This plotline is going to dominate the rest of the season, and leave it to Game of Thrones to insert a monumental event like this into a normally innocuous second episode.

I suppose we have to move on from the wedding, and we got to catch up with the few stragglers who weren’t featured in the premiere. We briefly touch base with Stannis and Melisandre, whose scenes don’t seem important, but the Red Woman’s discussion about the Lord of Light and the god of death and darkness is rather significant for the grander plot of the entire series, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

We see Bran up north as he tries to warg his way…somewhere. He has a vision that tells him to go to a tree, and I’m afraid his storyline may prove to be rather uninteresting for quite some time. Man, that kid has grown up though huh? Like, ten times faster than anyone on this show.

Lastly, we see Reek (Theon) and the Boltons. Ramsay Snow, Lord Bolton’s bastard, makes Joffrey look like Hodor in terms of evilness. Joffrey may be cruel and the world’s biggest dick, but at least he stopped short of HUNTING WOMEN IN THE WOODS FOR SPORT.

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Ramsay is the new villain to hate outside of may be Tywin, and Reek/Theon is one of the most interesting characters the show has now in my eyes. The transformation he’s undergone is astonishing, and even though the wedding was great, I thought that easily the best scene of the night was when he’s shaving Ramsay and learns of his friend/brother Robb Stark’s death for the first time. That was powerful, even with few words spoken.

You may already be able to tell, but the show is setting up Ramsay Snow as a sort of bizarro world Jon Snow. While Jon had all the honor of his father, Ramsay has ten times the wickedness of his. They’re both north-ish, and I’d love to see them meet head to head down the line.

So, who do you think killed Joffrey, and why? If you’ve read the books, that’s cheating, and this is why we have this next section…

Book Stuff

– I thought the wedding was expertly done. It really was set up much more mysteriously than the book, I thought, with a lot more possible suspects. The cup and cake were able to be accessed by everyone, including the eventual culprit.

– In the book, I believe it’s Olenna Tyrell that poison’s him, right? After pulling the stone from Sansa’s necklace. I was always a little confused whether she did it, or passed it off to Margaery. I could never figure out if the young queen had any actual hand in or knowledge of the murder. That was always unclear to me, and perhaps someone with a better memory than I can clear that up.

– Naturally, we all know that the necklace was given to her by Ser Dontos, who in turn is a proxy for Petyr Baelish. The show has been incredibly smart to not show him AT ALL this season so far, though I expect he’ll turn up next week. How can he even remotely be a suspect if he’s not even around, right? Well played.

– The dwarf battle of the five kings confused me. In the book, it was just a joust between a male and female dwarf wearing costumes, but unless I’m mistaken, those were all male dwarves. It matters because the female dwarf becomes a pretty important character in Tyrion’s story later in the books. If she doesn’t exist, are they doing way with that entire plotline? Not that I really loved her character in the books, but it’s interesting if it’s being cut this early.

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– Joffrey being poisoned onscreen is infinitely more satisfying than reading it, I have to admit. Even if we all wished Sansa would just slit his throat, it was still pretty great.

– Other changes: Jaime is being trained to use his left hand for swordfighting A) a lot earlier and B) with Bronn instead of Ilyn Payne, the mute hitman/knight. I wondered if they would recast Payne after the actor tragically died, but I think Bronn stepping up to the plate is a great call. His banter with Jaime is great, and he disappears in the books for FAR too long. He’s definitely a character who was infinitely better in the show than the books, and therefore we should be seeing more of him than we’re “supposed” to.

– They featured little brother Tommen Lannister quite prominently this week, as the role has been recast now that he’s taking the throne. I thought they might refer to him by name to remind people who he is (I doubt most of the audience even realizes Joffrey has a little brother), but that might have given the game away.

– They’re really setting up Shae’s betrayal of Tyrion much more obviously than in the books. I didn’t really understand why Shae turned on him during his trial, but it’s going to make a lot of sense here (and her appearance will still be a surprise given the fact that she’s supposed to have left). She’s hurt, and we already know she’s headed to the Tower of the Hand at Tywin’s command. But does Bronn have some hand in this? Did he really put her on that boat or did he sell her out to Tywin or Cersei? Or was it like, Petyr Baelish’s boat and he brought her back as part of his master plan?

– Still no sign of the recast Mountain, whom I’m really looking forward to seeing battle Oberyn Martell. Also those were cute little sex vibes between Martell and Loras Tyrell, which I’m pretty sure didn’t exist in the book. Was Martell even supposed to be this super omnisexual? That seems like a change.

All in all, very satisfied with how this was handled. Again, the show proves it can actually improve on the book in some ways, even if it loses a few details along the way. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season, and the final in particular should nearly match this in terms of intensity, if it’s going to end where I think it will.

Comments are welcome but please, tag with BOOK SPOILERS when appropriate.

 

 


9 Comments

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