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"Game of Thrones'" Purple Wedding: A Symphony in Side-Eye

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire April 20, 2014 at 8:46PM

When you pay the Game of Thrones, you win or you die -- or you shoot piercing glances at your enemies while their backs are turned.
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"When you play the game of thrones," Cersei Lannister famously remarked, "you win or you die." But there's also a third, less frequently mentioned option, which involves shooting poisonous glares at the other players when their backs are turned. The late King Joffrey's ill-fated wedding feast, known to fans of George R.R. Martin's books and the murders of insufferable teenage despots as the Purple Wedding, was the occasion for some of Westeros' finest side-eye, as the assembled guests alternately weather Joffrey's wrath and savored watching others do the same. For reaction shots alone, "The Lion and the Rose" is hard to beat.

As Joffrey maxed out his monstrous douchiness, his doting mother looked on indulgently.

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But his uncle Tyrion and Lady Sansa Stark were not so amused.

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The sword-swinging Brienne, looking only slightly comfortable in a formal gown, tried to play nice with Cersei, whose brother, Jamie, she'd saved from one-handed death in the wilderness. But Cersei saw through Brienne's loyalty to the love underneath, and, wanting no rivals to her incestuous passions, called her on it.

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Meanwhile, Loras Tyrell, widely considered the frontrunner for Cersei's hand in marriage, crossed metaphorical swords with Jamie, who warned him that Cersei would murder him in his sleep, as well as any offspring they might have. But Loras deftly pivoted and used his attacker's threats against him: "I'll never marry her, but neither will you." Sick burn, Ser Loras.

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Joffrey, ever the teenage dirtbag, entertained the guests, but mostly himself, by restaging the War of the Five Kings with costumed dwarves, and he was pretty into it.

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His mom, at least, looked pleased, but grandpa Tywin didn't bother to hide his displeasure.

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And in the crowd, master plotter Varys was all, "Lannister, please."

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Sansa, not surprisingly, was not fond of seeing her father's beheading replayed as farce.

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And Joffrey's bride, Margaery Tryell, was starting to wonder what she'd gotten herself into.

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Tyrion, either feeling for his wife or just unable to keep his mouth shut, cracked wise at Joffrey's expense, and though Joffrey seemed too dumb to get the insult, he certainly knew there was one, and retaliated by dumping wine on his uncle's head.

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If there's one thing the whole Lannister clan can agree on, it's that they love to see Tyrion humiliated.

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Tyrion was stoic.

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Which little Joff did not like one bit.

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Things could have got much worse for the Imp, but hey, look -- pie!

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Everybody loves pie, right, Lady Olenna Redwyne?

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The Queen of Thorns is not impressed. But she's pretty interested in Joffrey's chalice.

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Naturally, I'd say it's the wine.

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"One the one hand, my husband seems to be choking. On the other, I wouldn't mind a slight delay in the wedding night."

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Grandpa Tywin does not seem overly concerned with Joffrey's death. 

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In death, Joffrey was a child again, albeit one whose final agonies we couldn't help but enjoy a little. (He's a fictional character. It's okay.)

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And Cersei? She was pretty sad for a minute there, but now she's mad. Real mad.

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This article is related to: Game of Thrones, Close Reads


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