Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2 - "The Lion & the Rose" (SPOILERS)


"Killing a man at a wedding…what sort of monster would do such a thing?”

A major event that may not be a game changer but changes a lot of lives...forever. We get some character development on the littlest man with the biggest heart. Let me know who you think is the killer in the poll to the right. I have a separate post specifically on The Purple Wedding.

Welcome back (or hello if you're a first-timer). I’ll be writing a short, sweet ‘flash review’ of GoT episodes as soon as possible (same day if possible). Here’s a few features, skip down for the review.

1.       There will be spoilers for the episode, but not the books. Mostly because I can’t be bothered reading 5,000 pages of fiction and certainly not if there isn’t an exam at the end of it. This is why we invented TV (this and good grammar is what separates us from the monkeys).

2.       There will be a power chart (see below), where we track how the players’ power is evolving. [I’ll try to guess ‘potential power’ as well as current power, if that potential is very real.]

3.       There will be a count of “Boobs of Thrones” and “Violence of Thrones”. This isn’t as sinister as it sounds, just keeping track.

Dickhead of the week: Ramsay Snow, for having a servant girl mercilessly eaten by hounds.

How long will it take for Oberyn Martell and Ser Loras to get it on? See poll.

Overall impression of the episode: #comeuppance (I've got a special post just about the Purple Wedding, right after this one). Reasonably strong Westerosian episode, ideologically centred around Joffrey and Tyrion Lannister. Shocking event that rocks Kings Landing ahoy! The message seems to be that all the wrong people get to be happy: the wild, crazed maniac Joffrey gets to be King and have a lavish wedding, Ramsay Snow gets to lord it over the North and Melisandre’s religious insanity gets to rule the roost in Dragonstone. Meanwhile the forces of good must scurry and hide - Tyrion, who saved the Lannisters’ bacon at war and is an all-round decent chappie, must banish his true love to another land and accept barbs about being a dwarf. The good guys get nothing. However, Joffrey gets his comeuppance.

I'll do the wedding scenes first, then chronological review.

The Purple Wedding (from the beginning)
I love the way Olenna Tyrell just swatted aside her son when she was speaking to Tywin. There’s some real power there, although it still pales in comparison to the sheer brutal finesse and ruthlessness of Tywin (he’s still my favourite character in GoT, but not because he’s ‘good’ in any way, but just, well, he’s a badass, but a sensible one at that). Every time I see Olenna Tyrell, I just get this image in my head.

We get some more context when we learn that the Tyrells have financed most of the wedding, which presents a rare chink in the Lannister armour. She also manages to forge some solidarity with the ‘Hostage of King’s Landing’, poor ol’ Sansa.

We get a faintly pointless series of exchanges between Cersei and Brienne (Cersei makes it clear that Jaime belongs to her) and Jaime and Ser Loras (“You’ll never marry her”. “Neither will you”). I get the vague feeling that one of these exchanges might become quite important. Cersei suddenly becomes a good person and protects a fair young maiden from Maester Pycelle’s overactive hands. Whatever. What you can hear, by the way, are strains of “The Bear, the fayre and the maiden fair”.

We get an interesting exchange between Oberyn Martell (“the Red Viper”) and the Lannisters, where, if I’m not somehow mistaken, Martell produced a veiled threat to hurt Myrcella Lannister, who had recently been sent to Dorne:

“People everywhere have their differences…in some places, the highborn frown upon those of low birth. In other places, the rape and murder of children is considered distasteful…but the fortunate thing for you, former Queen Regent, is that your daughter Myrcella has been sent to the latter sort of place.”

Tywin gets a look on his face like he’s just stepped in dog poo in his prize sandals and he doesn’t want his date to know. I also had a thought…is it just me or does nobody swear outside of Westeros? It looks like Westeros is the least civilised of all the territories.

And finally, Joffrey. We’re treated to a last orgy of excruciating humiliation and psychological war heaped by the “mad, idiot King”. He manages to offend almost everyone at his table with his little pantomime piece, so much so that even the usually poker-faced Margery looks like someone slapped her in the face with a trout. Long-suffering Sansa gets a good few digs with Ned Stark and Robb Stark references, as does Renly and his nocturnal proclivities. Absolutely nobody enjoys this.

Tywin manages to keep a sly smile on his face the whole time, which makes me think he had something planned. He couldn’t have enjoyed this car-crash of a demonstration of power by Joffrey, surely?! Then, Joffrey starts on his favourite punchbag, uncle Tyrion. Margery tries her best to rein him in with entreaties to join her in welcoming more guests or eating. But Joffrey isn’t quite as ‘manipulable’ as that, which means Margery spends the whole event like this:

That really says it all. Poor Margery - we thought she was a devious, conniving bitch. Turns out she's OUR devious, conniving bitch. The only hope of keeping Joffrey in line. Oh well.

After a protracted sequence in which Joffrey makes Tyrion his personal servant, this happens.

[Oh my god, Tyrion, why are you ACTUALLY HOLDING THE OFFENDING CUP?! Just run!]
And now the internet will break, as people speculate on the killer.

Let me be the first to say...I'm sorry to see him go. He really brought some spark to the proceedings and history is full of "mad idiot Kings". Although actually, he was King in the same way I’m Kate Winslet from Titanic…not at all. Tywin was clearly King. I’ll tell you what Joffrey was - a very real nuisance, to the level where he could publicly humiliate his uncle and bride-to-be and nobody in the arena would dare to tell him to stop.

All I can think of is Olenna Tyrell’s phrase, earlier: “What sort of monster would do this [kill a man at a wedding]?” All things considered, I can only think of two with both motive and temperament - Olenna Tyrell and Tywin Lannister. My money is on Tywin, but then Olenna Tyrell (a) provided the cake and the food and (b) doesn’t want her granddaughter to marry a tyrant who is already insane before he does any real Kinging. Still, an extremely bold move. Lord Varys has the poison knowledge, whilst Sansa is very long-suffering. Dammit, if only Poirot were around!

I've got a separate post specifically on this topic, but let's see what you think (poll to the right). Those who have read the books and (probably) know the answer, this is not for you!

Rest of the episode

Ramsay Snow, his crazy girlfriend and his dogs chase the young lady. The suggestion is that the lady being hunted allowed Roose to have his way with her, and then had her killed anyway. Such is the life of the unlucky in Westeros. Doing the right thing is irrelevant. And Theon has become thoroughly subservient to the sadistic Ramsay (who surely rivals Joffrey as the nastiest character on the show), which is justice of a way, I suppose, for what Theon did.

Then we get some actual plot and strategy: Bolton needs the Greyjoys in order to claim the North proper (Tywin Lannister has left him to it). Unfortunately, Ramsay’s intransigence may have put paid to that. Another titbit of plot: Theon (or “Reek”) lets slip that Bran and peanut-lover Rickon are still alive, which would rally the North if it broke out. And so Bolton, who returns from an outing with a rather large new Frey wife, has 2 plans: (a) kill Bran and Rickon and (b) capture Moat Cailin, which is all that stands between Bolton and the North. Lord Bolton is not pleased.

"How can I protect the King when I can't even wipe my own arse?"

Next, Tyrion and Jaime had a nice scene, where Tyrion was all “I understand your pain because I’m a dwarf”. Yawn. Jaime gets some male bonding time with every GoT character’s man-crush, Bronn.

Then we finally get to see one of my favourite characters on the show, Lord Varys. This time, however, he hasn’t got any bunnies to pull out of his hat, but lets Tyrion know that Shae’s position with Tyrion (ahem) has been discovered. Varys’s detached insistence that he won’t lie for Tyrion is probably for the best, as sooner or later, somebody will try to kill Shae. Later, Tyrion hears Tywin ask to have her sent to the Tower of the Hand before the wedding, which seals her fate. He’s positively beastly to her and then packs her off to Pentos. Executed by Bronn, as usual. I’m beginning to think Bronn and Tyrion are the only functioning duo on this show.

Off we go to Dragonstone, in which we learn that the religious persecution that Melisandre had initiated is beginning to reach fever pitch, so much so that wives are happy to see their husbands burned, in the name of their god. Ser Davos makes the point to Stannis that his ancestors believed in the same gods as the ones being burned. Stannis doesn’t really care, although he knows it’s all bullshit. He doesn’t care about “the lord taking their souls”. But he HAS come under the sway of Melisandre and her admittedly quite convincing sorcery. Davos, ever a practical man, points out that Florent (Stannis’s brother in law, no less) brought him many men and ships. Stannis still doesn’t care. Will he chip away at his army until there’s nobody left? I can’t imagine Davos sticking around too long, especially as Stannis reminds him he brought even fewer resources to the table than Florent, and look what happened to Florent. Stannis still has the remnants of an intelligent, gathered mind, but is almost hostage to Melisandre’s near-total control of the Dragonstone.
In other news, they’re out of food. Then we have an utterly pointless and boring scene with Stannis’s child and Melisandre. Yawn.

Penultimately, we get to see Bran, who sees some vague images of past seasons, including Ned Stark, his father. He understands that they must go North, for a reason that isn’t entirely clear, although I suspect it has something to do with the White Walkers. On a general note, I know a lot of people are thinking that he may control Daenerys’s dragons, but I’m more interested in why he wants to go North. Is there some hidden technology he could use? “Hodor”, as Hodor would sagely note.

Finally, we’re still waiting to hear from (1) Osha and Rickon (2) Lord Baelish / Littlefinger (3) Jaqen H'ghar and (4) the Vale of Arryn.

To finish you off (hur hur), here’s a look at a real-life Joffrey (sort of):

Elagabalus - “The Roman emperor Elagabalus may have taken power at the tender age of 15, but his four-year reign was anything but innocent…he went on to shock the public with his sexual excesses, which supposedly included cross-dressing, prostitution and a romantic relationship with his chariot driver…already viewed by many in the empire as corrupt, Elagabalus caused yet another scandal when he married a vestal virgin—a class of priestesses who were supposed to remain chaste—and proclaimed their union would produce god-like offspring. His debauched behavior eventually alienated the Praetorian Guard, and in 222 the 18-year-old emperor was assassinated and replaced by his cousin, Alexander Severus.” Thanks to History.com

So there you have it. For every Henry III (King of England, 13th century) or Louis the Child (King of East Francia, 900AD), there is always an Elagabalus. For every Robb Stark, there is a Joffrey Lannister, mentally diseased fruit of two sibling loins.

Boobs of thrones: No nudity at all, although some suggested homosexuality.

Margery Tyrell sideboob: 1, sort of. Poor start.

Violence of thrones: Lots of veiled threats, a few burnings and an epic poisoning.

Biggest movers: Joffrey (down to zero), Tommen Lannister (up 4), Cersei and the Tyrells (down 1).

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