If there is one piece of advice in the land of Westeros, it is DO NOT ACCEPT AN INVITATION TO A WEDDING. Also, don’t get married, don’t participate in weddings, just never go anywhere or do anything. I’m starting to wonder if George R.R. Martin is an anti-marriage advocate or something. I do think that “The Lion and The Rose” (directed by Alex Graves) one-ups “The Red Wedding” in terms of sheer shock value, and I will get into that later, but let’s check in with the rest of the gang before we delve into the wedding business.
A damsel is pursued through the woods in a game of Sadistic Tag, which just so happens to be Ramsay Snow’s (Iwan Rheon) favorite pastime. The poor gal seems to get away...before she’s taken down with an arrow and devoured by dogs. Cool game! In tow with Ramsay is his new pal Reek, aka the shell of the former Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), who has been flayed and emasculated into the twitching, fearful mess that is Reek.
Ramsay welcomes his father, Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), and new stepmom, one of the more unfortunate Frey gals, back to the Dreadfort. Roose is not totally happy with how Ramsay has been running things, especially since the Theon Greyjoy he'd hoped to use as a bargaining tool with his father Balon basically doesn’t exist anymore. This isn’t a prince, this is a quivering slave. He reads Ramsay down, reminding him that he’s not a Bolton, he’s a Snow (the last name of all the bastards in the North) and scolds him for his tactics. He underestimates Ramsay’s psychopathic cunning though, and his bastard demonstrates just how much power he exerts over Reek by having him give him a straight razor shave, during which he has him tell Roose about the farm boys he killed to pass off as Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson), meaning that Roose isn’t quite the ruler of the North just yet. While Reek’s razor is at his throat, he casually explains that this is because Roose just planted a knife in Robb Stark’s chest. It’s one of the most tension-filled scenes in this series of tension-filled scenes. Roose makes a quick plan to find the remaining Starks, starting with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) at Castle Black, his faith renewed in Ramsay’s abilities, who is given the task of taking Moat Cailin from the Greyjoys.
Over at ol’ Dragonstone Island, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), his witchy mistress Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) and others are having themselves an infidel-roast, torching up some former compatriots who dare to worship gods other than the Lord of Light. The night is dark and full of terrors, indeed. Later, at the worst dinner party ever (bad meat), Stannis’ wife Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) reminisces about the good old days when they were under siege and starving, eating grilled seagull. She worries about their daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), and asks Melisandre to talk to her (this polygamous relationship is just all kinds of messed up). Never one to pass up the opportunity to proselytize, Melisandre visits the dear girl in her tower, where she poo-poohs her trauma at watching an old family friend go up in flames, and reminds her that the only hell to worry about is “the one we live in now” (she does have a point…).
In the North
Bran and his bunch—Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick)—are on the road in the North, heading to… Castle Black? Beyond the Wall? This is what you get for following a psychic tween! Stuck wandering the snowy woods for a season and a half! Bran is warging himself into his direwolf Summer like crazy, enjoying the fresh deer meat he’s getting into, which is a lot better than the no meat they have. Jojen and Meera warn him against warging too much, as he’ll forget his whole life (Bran is probably like, yes, that’s the idea, my life sucks).
Bran is drawn to a God tree in the forest and, when he touches it, he has a crazy vision of the three-eyed raven, his father, the sword, dragons over King’s Landing and a bunch of other crazy stuff along with the message “Look for me, beneath the tree.. the north.” Suddenly Bran knows where they should head.
Preparations are afoot for the wedding of Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). Batten down the hatches, motherfuckers.
Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) have come to some sort of brotherly bond, as Tyrion seems to be the only one that Jaime can feel comfortable talking to about his new disability. And Tyrion, ever the giver of the benefit of the doubt, reaches out to Jaime, even offering Bronn (Jerome Flynn) as a discreet trainer in swordsmanship.
At a pre-wedding event, Joffrey is presented with a wide array of gifts, including a book from Tyrion and the other Valyrian sword from Tywin (Charles Dance), which he promptly uses to destroy the book. JOFFREY HATE READING. Poor Sansa (Sophie Turner) has to watch this whole thing as he names the sword Widow’s Wail and crows about cutting off Ned Stark’s head (you just gave the order, boo).
Tyrion’s also really got to make some moves about Shae (Sebill Kekilli) as she’s been found out and, as Varys (Conleth Hill) warns, Tywin is in the mood for whore-hanging, especially if it means Tyrion is spilling his seed NOT in Sansa. He arranges for her passage to Pentos via ship, where she’ll have a house and all that, but Shae refuses to go, saying they should fight his family. I continue to not buy any of Shae’s actions, ever. No self-preserving working girl would act like that. Tyrion does his best “John Lithgow telling Harry to leave” and tells her all sorts of awful stuff in order to make her mad and go away. Bronn is tasked with making sure she gets on the boat, and later, at the wedding, he assures Tyrion that she’s gone.
Wedding time! Bells ring throughout King’s Landing as Margaery, wearing at least seven Bump-its under her insane weave (the higher the hair the closer to God!), greets her King Joffrey. Tyrion reminds Sansa that she dodged a serious bullet with this one. The ceremony is over quick and dirty so we can move on to the Cirque du Soleil-themed reception. In the latest episode of “Queen of Shade,” Tywin and Olenna (Dianna Rigg) toss barbs at each other about paying for the wedding, war debts, and she warns that the Iron Bank of Braavos will come a calling for, oh what was that again about the Lannisters?, their DEBTS. Game, set, match Olenna.
The reception is a nightmare, with anyone and everyone squabbling and bitching and being very mean to each other (so… normal family wedding?). Joffrey is being a total asshole and Margaery looks appropriately horrified at his behavior. She keeps trying to distract and neutralize him, announcing that they are giving the leftovers to the poor, and purring and cooing over “my love.”
Finally Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) gets some screen time as he and Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) make sexy eyes at each other (cannot wait for that scene!) and Jaime tries to get into a little tiff with him over their shared lady love. In response to Jaime sniffing that Loras’ll never marry Cersei (Lena Headey), Loras responds “neither will you.” OH SNAP THE SHADE IS STRONG WITH YOUNG TYRELL. Jaime is off of his game.
Cersei, meanwhile, is just burning a swath of raging bitchiness throughout this wedding, sneaking around and calling off the leftovers plan, bullying Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) about being in love with Jaime (Brienne doesn’t deny it), and being totally horrid to Oberyn and his paramour, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma). Oberyn tosses it right back though, mentioning his sister’s demise at the hand of the Mountain. Cersei is grasping at her bitchy straws and she is outpaced on that front by Oberyn.
Joffrey announces some surprise entertainment he has planned and rolls out the red carpet for… five dwarfs reenacting the War of the Five Kings. Thank the gods it’s not some kind of ritual murder, but still, let this be a lesson to us all: NEVER let a teenage boy plan a wedding. Everyone hates the display as the dwarves clobber each other, particularly Renly Baratheon’s ex-wife, Joffrey’s new wife, Margaery, and Renly’s lover, her brother Loras. Sansa’s also not pleased with the sight of a dwarf dressed as Joffrey humping the wolf head symbolic of the Stark clan.
Joffrey digs at Tyrion to join in, cause you know, dwarfs. Funny! Tyrion digs back and essentially suggests that the dwarf playing Joffrey would rape him, and Joffrey reacts by dumping a glass of wine on his head, and forcing Tyrion to be his cup bearer. It’s all extremely awkward and terrible, as Joffrey drops his cup, kicks it, makes Tyrion fill it, etc. Margaery, again trying in vain to put an end to Joffrey’s tormenting Tyrion, announces “look, the pie!”
It works, for a moment, with Joffrey splitting the giant pastry with his new sword (beheading a few of the live doves inside in the process) and chowing down on the pie with his new bride. But as Tyrion and Sansa slip away, he demands his cup again. Tyrion faithfully retrieves the cup and hands it to him, which Joffrey drinks from deeply. Suddenly, Joffrey starts to choke. Oh no… it couldn’t be. Oh. Yes. Yes it is.
As his new bride screams for help, Joffrey stumbles into the middle of the reception, coughing, sputtering, vomiting blood and turning blue. His parents, Cersei and Jaime, rush to his side as his eyes turn an unholy shade and he foams and bleeds from the mouth. IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? Is the little shit the sadistic Joffrey really expiring? Expire he does, with his last act to point at Tyrion who is STUPIDLY picking up the fallen cup, and his mother screams bloody murder that her brother poisoned the king, her son. Goddamn, y’all.
Here’s why I think this event was more shocking than the Red Wedding. Joffrey was in power the entire time at this event, while we knew that the Starks were getting off just a bit too easy in Walder Frey’s house—they were in the vulnerable position while Joffrey was not. I didn’t see this coming by a long shot and was completely shocked by it. We even rewound the scene to see when someone might have tainted the cup—by my numerous accounts, I didn’t see, though initially I thought Sansa when she picked the cup up from the floor. She, by the way, was whisked away by the fool Ser Dontos (Tony Way) while Joffrey was still choking, so money’s on him to be involved.
Let’s play Clue: was it Margaery with the goblet? Ser Dontos with the pie? Sansa with the weird necklace? Let me know your thoughts below (those who have read the books... don't spoil the fun). And leave your best eulogies for Joffrey below too. While he was an insufferable character, I’m only sad to see him go because Jack Gleeson did an incredible acting job in portraying someone so deeply deranged and unlikable. Bravo, Jack Gleeson, and here’s hoping Joffrey doesn’t follow you for the rest of your career.