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


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.


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.


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.

lion rose

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.


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.

lion rose2

– 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.



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  1. I do have to correct myself from last week. I was wrong about the actor playing Ilyn Paine having died. Apparently he has terminal lung cancer, and only has a few months left to live.

    I would say that Joffrey isn’t much better than Ramsey. At least Ramsey gave that poor girl a chance to get away, whereas Joffrey tied up Ros and shot her for sport.

    I imagine that they won’t do away with the Tyrion/Penny storyline. The whole reason she meets Tyrion is more because her brother gets killed due to the whole dwarf lynchings that happen after Tyrion escapes. Her being part of the wedding “festivities” is a minor plot point in the grand scheme of things.

    It also makes sense that the Mountain hasn’t shown up yet, because in the books he only arrives at the behest of Cersei and the Lannisters after Joffrey dies so that he can be her champion in trial by combat (should the trial come to that).

  2. ******* AVERT THY EYES, NON-BOOK READERS ********

    – Olenna was indeed the poisoner in the books. It’s revealed that Littlefinger subtly spread rumors about Joff’s nature among the staff in Highgarden while negotiating the Tyrell-Lannister pact. This led to Olenna asking Sansa about Joffrey. She poisons him to (a) keep Marge’s bro Loras from becoming a Kingslayer if/when Joffrey pushes things too far, (b) ensure Tommen comes to the throne, thus giving the Tyrells time to push Cersei out of the kid’s life and (c) save her granddaughter from Joffrey. They have the Lannisters by the balls and know they can force the Marge-Tommen wedding.

    – Tyrion can still meet Penny later in the show. Having the dwarfs re-enact the war instead was a great way to show just how many people hated Joffrey. In the books, only Tyrion is offended by the act.

    – Much like Renly & Loras’s little tryst, The Red Viper’s sexual preferences were hinted at in the books but never shown quite as overtly as the TV show has done. Kudos to HBO.

    1. I assumed Margaret knew, because the poisoned cup was the wedding chalice so she would have known not to drink from it.
      Oberyn’s sleeping around with men and women is consist with the book. I think it was Jaime who said Oberyn’s been with more men than woman. Oberyn also told Tyrion that his girlfriend wanted to bed Cersei.

  3. BOOK SPOILER, BOOK SPOILER, BOOK SPOILER. Regarding LS; I have been thinking about this too much. We definitely wont see the resurrection (at the river) itself being that it took place three days after The Red Wedding. It has now been weeks since TRW so I imagine LS is already wondering about. So I am wondering what or how would be the best way to introduce that character. It will be a bigger surprise for the audience when she shows a up with a veil and a pasty looking face (no one expected this at all) than it would have been to witness the resurrection itself. Also what about Shae? Is she really gone? If she is that means only one death (you know who) OR will she appear as a witness shocking Tyrion at her and Bronns (because maybe he never put her on the ship and delivered her to Tywin) betrayal? IDK

  4. I didn’t feel as satisfied about Joffrey’s death as I think non-book readers would have been. I’ve known that Joffrey gets his comeuppance for a long time so most of Jack Gleesson’s great performance was lost on me. The hatred for Joffrey stems not just for the terrible things he does, nor the s**t-eating grin he has on his face while doing it. It’s mostly because the viewer thinks he’s doing all this with impunity. So if you know otherwise the effect isn’t so great.

    So not for the first time, I regret reading the books. A moment like this, or the Red Wedding, would’ve been better revealed on the show than the books.

  5. Book Spoiler

    I don’t like how they have recast Tommen even when he was in the first and or second episode all the way back at the start of season 1 I thought they had got the age wrong. In the books he is still a very young child who thinks and acts like one, if the new guy acts like he does in the books he will come off as being soft in the head and not as the child who throws a tantrum because he does not eat his beets and says he is going to outlaw them.also it will effect the plot of his marriage to Margaery as the fact that he is to young to consummate the marriage is one of the cards Cersei uses to stay in power.

    A Part from that the episode was done brilliantly, although i found it shame that they left out the conversation during the gift giving between Joffrey and Tyrion which indicates that it was Joffrey who sent the assassin with the Dagger to kill Bran while he was in his coma, not that people needed more of a reason to want to see him dead but its nice to have all the facts.

    I did like the way Margaery was eying the bard before Joffrey threw coins at them, it sets up the future plot nicely

    I think they are making the whole ‘particular betrayal’ (I’n still trying to avoid spoilers) a bit too obvious this season. I think it was better in the books when it turned out what was happening in the trial with no warning.

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