Crack out the Dornish red or raise a glass of Arbor Gold. Game of Thrones gave its audience something everyone’s wanted last night.
It was great. You know what I mean. Hit the jump for more.
King Joffrey, First of His Name, is finally fucking dead. The Lannisters have won the War of the Five Kings, but at their core they’re still a dysfunctional family whom everyone hates. We’ll get to the juicy stuff, but first:
Ramsay is getting more screen time for some reason. I did not enjoy last season’s extended scenes of torture porn, and if the show is going to dwell on the newly dickless Theon being broken by a crazy sadist, I hope that it can strike more than just one note this time around. We heard a few plinks of that one note last night: Ramsay likes to hurt people, hunt people, and feed human beings to dogs. We also got to see him but heads with his father, though. Roose Bolton has actual plans that involve moving troops around, assaulting castles, and other things that are not torture. So hopefully we’ll see more than just monochromatic misery from that section of the show this season.
Also that bit with calling Theon “Reek?” That’s from book five. This show is moving fast. Also touching on book five:
Bran did some warg stuff. Also, he and his companions met a heart tree, a large plant that Westeros’ old gods were kind of into. Bran had a trippy vision from the tree and it told him “NORTH.” You know, because he wasn’t already going that way. That scene also bled into a few things from book five, and I’m starting to suspect that the show’s writers don’t really care about whether or not GRRM finishes the series. They’re going to go ahead at their own pace. I’m okay with that.
Meanwhile on Dragonstone, Melissandre and Stannis are literally burning heretics at the stake. Stannis points out to Davos that he’s unconcerned with how many ships, men, supplies, etc. a given lord can bring. If they don’t subscribe to his new religion, they’re toast. Stannis, Mrs. Stannis, and Melissandre had dinner together and it seemed like the awkward prelude to the worst threesome ever, and later Melissandre explained to Shireen (and to the viewer) why she does what she does. She believes in a simple world of light versus dark, and has a reductive, us versus them attitude about it. Melissandre would be easy to dismiss as a crazy charlatan if it wasn’t, you know, for the fact that her powers actually work. Her ghost-baby killed Renly, after all.
The rest of the episode was all about Lannisters, Tyrells, and Martells having snippy conversations in King’s Landing, i.e., it was precisely the reason that people watch this show.
Super Lannister Brothers. Tyrion and Jaime had a moment, and they seem to have actual, brotherly affection for each other. That relationship isn’t often explored in the books, so it was nice to see it get a bit of screen time on the show. Jaime enlisted Tyrion’s mercenary Bronn as a sparring buddy, as opposed to the tongue-less Ilyn Payne, whom he trains with over in the dead tree version of the story. That’s probably a good move, as more Bronn is almost always a good thing.
Meanwhile in Tyrion and Shae's relationship, no one is still getting laid. Tyrion’s relationship with Shae is on the rocks due to Lord Tywin’s continued prohibition on his kids canoodling with hookers. Varys offered to have her spirited away to Essos, where she could live comfortably away from the Lannisters. Tyrion wanted her to leave, but Shae seems to actually be fond of him. Without giving too much away, this relationship is looking far more like a tragic romance than what happens in the books. What happens in the books is, let’s say, in keeping with the tone of the series as a whole. HBO seems to be setting us up for something far more gut-wrenching.
I’ll admit to wincing at Tyrion shouting “How many men have you been with” at Shae. Dude, Tyrion. Don’t slut shame. You’re too cool for that. Regarding Shae, Bronn told Tyrion “Go drink until it feels like you did the right thing.” That’s just good advice for life, really.
Tywin muttered something about having Shae brought to the Tower of the Hand, i.e., his place. Uh-oh.
“Not now, Mace, Lord Tywin and I are speaking.” Only now has HBO decided to introduce Mace Tyrell, the bloviating head of one of Westeros’ wealthier houses. It’s okay that he hasn’t shown up until now, though, because he is a total nonentity.
“Killing a man at a wedding. Horrid.” WOW, QUEEN OF THORNS, IRONY MUCH. Olenna, you’re a fabulous character but that was just a touch heavy-handed given that you know damn well how Joffrey is going to end up.
Loras and Oberyn made eyes at each other! Ten thousand slash fictions were just immediately inspired from that brief glance. The newly arrived Martell’s made it very clear that they have no love for the Lannisters. “In other places,” said Oberyn, “the rape and murder of women and children is considered distasteful.” In the world of Game of Thrones brutality is only a short-term solution. Both Martin and HBO make it clear that in the world of politics long memories and deep grudges can lead to, let’s say, complications.
The War of the Five Dwarves. Partly to annoy Tyrion, and partly to revel in a grotesque display, Joffrey had the War of the Five Kings re-enacted with dwarf clowns as an amusement at his wedding. While some members of the audience were laughing, it was clear that many found it repugnant. After all, several members of the Tyrell camp had only recently been flocking to Renly.
Jofrrey died. And he died horribly. I remember reading A Storm of Swords and being very angry when I got to the Red Wedding, and I wondered why I should even keep reading, and who the book was even about at that point. I slogged through and then, maybe two-thirds of the way through the book, Joffrey also died. That was something of a redemption for the horrible actions that had happened a few chapters before, killing off Robb whom I’d mistaken for a hero/protagonist. Joffrey’s death didn’t make up for the sting of the Red Wedding, but it was nice to see a small bit of justice done. He should have known from the Mad King's example that a monarch can't simply do whatever he wants. Westeros may not have legal checks and balances like vetoes or supreme court decisions, but power is balanced from time to time. Usually with death.
Joffrey’s death, though, is also a kind of turning point for the series that’s not necessarily for the better. Up until this point, Game of Thrones has been all about the Lannisters gradually accumulating power. After this it turns into… Something elese. That something else is not executed all that well in A Feast For Crows or A Dance With Dragons. Here’s hoping that HBO will be able to take the mediocre back-end of the series and turn it into something that’s just as good as the early seasons.
But for now, let’s just delight in how dead Joffrey is. Best wedding ever! Valar morgulis, bitch. See you guys next week.