GAME OF THRONES 4.02 ‘The Lion and the Rose’
Episode Title: "The Lion and the Rose"
Writer: George R.R. Martin
Director: Alex Graves
Previously on "Game of Thrones":
Twitter and Facebook are currently exploding because of tonight’s episode of “Game of Thrones.” And clearly it’s because Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) finally had a truly hilarious comeback to the taunts of Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). “Neither will you” was just a classic line within the context of that scene.
Oh… and there may also have been some epic death and upheaval at the largest wedding that King’s Landing has seen in a generation. That also happened.
Before we dive into the meat of “The Lion and the Rose,” it should be acknowledged that great villains are hard to come by. Not only in terms of characters, but in actors who can portray them with such ruthlessness that the audience hates them for all of the right reasons. We lost one of the best villains on “Game of Thrones” tonight. But what a way to go out. Only chaos will come from this; which will probably play right into the hands of the forces moving against the seven kingdoms.
There are full spoilers ahead for “The Lion and the Rose,” so this is your last chance to stop reading this review before you get a chance to watch the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.” Or perhaps you just want someone to save you a slice of pie and a cup of wine from the ceremony.
Spoilerphobes, you’ve been warned.
A few weeks back on twitter, I was unfortunate enough to see someone spoil the death of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) that closes out this episode. But that major spoiler carried with it some big unanswered questions: including who did it? How did they do it? And why? Well, I suppose “why” is fairly obvious. Joffrey was a monster and he was in rare form tonight while tormenting his uncle Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). Even Margaery (Natalie Dormer) had trouble hiding her disdain for Joffrey when he brought out a group of dwarves to mockingly reenact the War of Five Kings.
That’s where Gleeson excelled as Joffrey. His performance showed no hidden dimensions or reflective thoughts within the King. Joffrey was just pure and destructive Id and he didn’t bother hiding it anymore. If anything, Joffrey was becoming even more cruel as he humiliated Tyrion in front of the wedding guests.
But Tyrion isn’t blameless here. Tyrion is commendable for standing up to Joffrey, but he goes just a little too far when refusing to join the dwarf performers. As a result, Tyrion looks very guilty when he’s holding the cup that apparently poisoned the King. Or was it the wine? The dead birds inside the pie made it look like the delivery system of the poison.
So many people hated Joffrey that his murderer could have been almost anyone. Was it a vengeful Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal)? Is the Tyrell family clearing the way for their own rise to power? Did Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) remove his idiot grandchild from the throne? Or has Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) finally taking her revenge on the man who ordered the death of her father?
Instead it’s… the King’s Fool, Dontos Hollard (Tony Way)? That seemed like an out of left field choice. But Dontos certainly had the least to lose. If Dontos wasn’t the poisoner, then he was at least in on the plan. The good news is that Sansa may finally have a way out of King’s Landing if she went with Dontos. The bad news is that Cersei (Lena Headey) is looking particularly vengeful as she orders the arrest of her brother, Tyrion.
Earlier in the episode, Cersei essentially orchestrated the execution of Tyrion’s estranged lover, Shae (Sibel Kekilli) by informing Tywin about her. To save Shae’s life, Tyrion essentially tossed her aside while pretending not to care for her feelings. However, Shae was apparently incapable of reading Tyrion’s true intentions or of comprehending the danger that she found herself in. If Shae somehow managed to slip away from Bronn (Jerome Flynn) then she may not have much longer to live.
It’s hard to believe that Tyrion and Jaime haven’t had any scenes together since the second episode of the series, given how close they are. We’ll see if they’re still close after Joffrey’s death. For all of his faults, Jaime clearly cared for his bastard, inbred son. As Joffrey lay dying, it was Cersei and Jaime who cradled him.
Before that, there was some movement on two fronts for Jaime: a very amusing training session between Jaime and Bronn before Cersei confronted Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and accused her of loving Jaime. I hadn’t considered that possibility before, but it makes sense for Brienne. She always falls for the men who are emotionally unavailable to her. The late Renly Baratheon only had eyes for Loras, while Jaime has only ever wanted his sister. Although Jaime did jump into a bear pit to save Brienne last season. I doubt that Renly would have done the same for her.
Almost the entire second half of the episode was focused on the wedding and it was incredibly tense as the events progressed. But it was also filled with terrific character moments including Oberyn introducing himself to Tywin and Cersei while not-so-subtly reminding them why he hates them.
Of course, Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) almost always steals the spotlight when she’s given more than a few lines of dialogue. Before things went crazy, Olenna foreshadowed one of the next challenges to face the seven kingdoms: the Iron Bank of Braavos. Last season, Tyrion mentioned that the kingdoms were heavily in debt to the Iron Bank and to his father. It sounds like that bill is about to come due.
The Purple Wedding wasn’t the only thing happening this week. The episode also caught up with Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), Jojen (Thomas Brodie Sangster), Meera (Ellie Kendrick) and Hodor (Kristian Nairn) beyond the Wall. Hempstead-Wright looks significantly older than he did last season. We’ll see if Bran is ready for adulthood soon enough. Frankly, Bran’s scene was one of the more annoying parts of the episode as he took out his anger on Jojen and Meera for breaking his Warg trance. It was a little too insufferable, but perhaps it was meant to show that too much time in his Dire Wolf’s body is making Bran more savage.
It was more interesting to see the spiritual side of Bran when the Heart Tree triggered some visions of the past and present. One of the images appeared to be the frozen throne room at King’s Landing from Daenerys’ visit to the Warlocks’ tower in season 2. That image may be more important than we initially realized.
The other major sequence of the episode took place at the Dreadfort, as Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) returned to find that his bastard son, Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) had overstepped his authority by torturing and maiming Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) into the simpering wreck known as “Reek.” If you thought that Catelyn Stark was harsh to Jon Snow then she’s mother of the year compared to Roose Bolton.
But Ramsey is beyond any pity from the audience. With Joffrey dead, Ramsey is now the most gleefully sadistic character on the show. Ramsey hunts down a woman for sport and lets the dogs tear at her flesh because he thinks its fun. Ramsey also delights in showing his father just how broken Theon has become. While Theon holds a razor blade to Ramsey’s throat, he casually tells Theon that Robb Stark was murdered by Roose… and Theon simply hesitates for a moment before continuing to shave Ramsey’s chin.
I don’t think this is an act by Theon, as that would require a level of forethought that he’s never really displayed before. Instead, Ramsey’s hold over Theon is so great that he doesn’t even need to chain him anymore. There’s very little of Theon left in “Reek,” but I’d be willing to bet that the tables will turn eventually. Otherwise, what’s the point of keeping Theon around?
If nothing else, the Boltons have been established as the new villains in the North, with Locke (Noah Taylor) assigned to hunt down the surviving Stark children and Ramsey sent to reclaim a vital territory from the Iron Born. How about that? This show has actually put its audience in a position to root for the Greyjoys.
In retrospect, it’s clear why George R.R. Martin chose to write this episode instead of one later in the season. “The Lion and the Rose” is the very definition of a game changing episode, and it’s not clear what will happen next besides a world of hurt for Tyrion. Technically, I think that Joffrey’s death makes Margaery the new Queen Regent. The Lannisters probably won’t stand for that, but the only semi-legitimate heir to the throne would have to be Joffrey’s younger brother, Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman).
Unlike Joffrey, Tommen isn’t a psychopath. But Tommen is largely an unknown quantity and he is far too young to rule. I suppose there’s also the possibility that Tywin will appoint himself as the new Protector of the Realm “until the heir comes of age,” just like the late Ned Stark was supposed to be.
However, Joffrey’s death poses the first serious challenge to the Lannisters’ power in some time. Now if only Daenerys was around to take advantage of it…