Monday, April 14, 2014

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 2: The Lion and the Rose

The Dreadfort with all it’s interesting decorations: Creepy Ramsay and Broken Theon

Time to catch up with some characters we didn’t see last week – starting with Ramsay, his terrified, beaten-down captive Theon, his friendly, sadistic sidekick Myranda and the girl they hunt with dogs and bows for sport. Because Ramsay is, remember, very very very very creepy.

He returns to the Deadfort in time to see his dad, Lord Roose Bolton newly returned from the Freys with his new wife, Walda – who the very evil Ramsay quickly charms, greeting her as his mother. He also has a happy reunion with Locke, Bolton’s huntsman and fellow sadist (who cut off Jaime’s hand). Roose isn’t thrilled that Ramsay has damaged Theon as much as he has since it makes him pretty useless as a bargaining chip to drive the rest of the Iron Islanders from the North (particularly from the fortress if Moat Cailin) – he even reminds Ramsay that he’s only a bastard which really really bothers Ramsay. So he proves Theon’s loyalty – by having Theon shave him, hold a razor sharp blade to Ramsay’s throat while Theon tells him how his father murdered Robb, who was like a brother to Theon. Theon is so broken and afraid, he doesn’t even nick Ramsay – and does tell Roose about Bran and Rickon still being alive (meaning the Starks could rally support back from the people). I think even Roose is a little intimidated- he sends Locke to hunt the boys – and Ramsay to take Moat Cailin.

Did I mention creepy? I think we may need a new word – creepy doesn’t come close.

The Dragonstone, Stannis the also-ran, Mellisandre and lots of fire.

Wannabe-king Stannis burns some people alive for his new Lord of Light religion and his wife, Selyse, has gone all in for the Lord of Light. Ser Davos, the curmudgeon conscience, is less pleased about Stannis burning his loyal allies to death for not giving up their old faith. Selyse is desperately, hopelessly in love with Stannis and brimming with unappreciated fawning loyalty. She doesn’t have the same loyalty and love for their daughter with her birthmark; but at least Stannis loves Shireen.

At Selyse’s suggestion, Mellisandre goes to see Shireen who has a lot of sense and isn’t buying what Mellisandre’s selling.

In the North, beyond the wall Bran, Hodor, and the spooky ones Jojen and Meera

Bran likes to ride around in Summer’s mind though Jojen (weird spooky seer guy) warns him it’s dangerous and he could forget everything (which is bad, apparently). They find one of the trees sacred to the old religion and Bran touches it – getting a range of visions telling him to go North. Take that Jojen, Bran can out-spooky you any day!

Kings Landing, with the Lannisters, Tyrells, Sansa and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

At Kings Landing, Tyrion is trying to convince his brother Jaime to eat and be happy and Tyrion sums up the Lannister kids “the dwarf, the cripple and the mother of madness.” Tyrion reassures the despairing Jaime presenting many options for what he can do with one hand – and getting Bron to help teach him to use a blade again (since he’s discreet and won’t tell the gazillion people who want Jaime dead that he can’t defend himself).

Tyrion’s troubles grow as Varys tells him that he was seen with Shae (after Tywin ordered Tyrion to get rid of her). Tyrion assumes Varys will lie for him – Varys adamantly refuses but does offer to get Shae out of the city to safety before Tywin hangs her (he has sworn to hang the next prostitute Tyrion sleeps with).

There’s wedding breakfast with lots of presents and the long absent Lord Mace Tyrell appears – if you look carefully you can see Olenna’s puppet strings on his wrists and ankles and Cersei is quick to tattle on Tyrion and point out Shae to their dad. Joffrey’s normal nastiness is restrined by Tywin glaring at him, but Sansa, for one, doesn’t buy it (my gods… is Sansa being… SUSPICIOUS OF SOMEONE!?! Every time Sansa side-eyes someone, a butterfly dies). Well, briefly – Joffrey really is too vile for even Tywin to control and he merrily destroys wedding gifts because… he’s Joffrey.

Meeting Shae later, Tyrion tries to convince her to take Varys’s out and when she refuses and talks about fighting his sister and father, he insults her, calls her a whore, calls her unfit, sneers at the men she has slept with; leaving her crushed and tearful and leaving after slapping him.

It’s time for the wedding! And everyone looks absolutely overjoyed, honest. Never has a groom been scowled at by so many guests. It all seems rather restrained, all things considered. At least the after party is super extravagant, or so Tywin complains. Olenna is there to remind him she’s paying half and how awesome she is and how much the Lannisters owe them and will continue to owe them (she doesn’t yell “dance little puppet, dance for you master!” because she doesn’t have to).

Olenna moves on to her next target, first of all commiserating with Sansa over the Red Wedding (“as if men need another reason to fear marriage”) before throwing in some digs at Tyrion because he’s there and she’s Olenna. She’s awesome like that. And Joffrey is still awful. Of course he is. Margaery declares the leftovers from the feast go to the poor because she’s crafty like that, Joffrey’s nasty smug face actually looks like he thinks he’ll get the credit.

Oberyn and Loras make eyes across the party because when one has a cast of a gazillion and 2 men who like men they will always find each other. It’s a TV rule. Jaime drops in to warn Loras he’ll never  marry Cersei (like Loras wants to) and I’m not sure if Loras’s come back “neither will you” is infantile flailing or a very cutting rebuke. Cersei gets in her own digs at her competition for Jaime’s affections – snarking at poor Brienne for loving Jaime. She seems to have built a full steam of spite since she then laces into Pycelle and has the leftovers given to the dogs, not the poor.

Next on the Cersei hitlist is Oberyn and Ellaria where she makes a thing about Ellaria being a bastard – though Oberyn doesn’t see the issue, Dorne doesn’t see any shame in the illegitimate and he is waaaay better at throwing snark than she or her father. All of this tour of Cersei spite rather confirms that absolutely no-one likes the Lannisters.

Just to remind us that he’s awful (in case anyone forgot), Joffrey has a little mummers band of little people caper around for everyone’s amusement, re-enacting several deaths (including Sansa’s family) – Tyrion is most certainly not amused (he orders Pod to give each actor a copious sum of gold), nor is Sansa. Even Margaery can’t pretend to be amused by the crude antics. Joffrey makes the mistake of trying to taunt Tyrion who manages both to taunt him, malign his courage and goad him to show off his sword skills in one artful speech. Joffrey is nowhere near witty enough to reply so he pours his drink over Tyrion’s head – again, no-one is amused (except maybe Cersei). Joffrey makes Tyrion fill his cup and continually knocks his cup away – Olenna and Margaery can’t even watch him any more. Finally Margaery tries to reign Joffrey in with a  distraction (the second time she’s had to). Thus confirming that, while the Lannisters are all unpopular, they’re kind of rock stars next to Joffrey

Of course, Joffrey doesn’t easily forget his cruelty and keeps making Tyrion pour wine while he eats pie and refuse Tyrion permission to leave

But Joffrey is feeling ill. Terribly ill. He starts to choke. He collapses and people begin to panic – Jaime and Cersei running to their child (while Ser Dontos quietly takes Sansa away). With much oozing and shaking and struggling and suffering, Joffrey dies.


Cersei is upset (she alone) and she accuses Tyrion of poisoning Joffrey (MAKE HIM A NATIONAL HERO!)

Tyrion and Jaime is an interesting byplay. Jaime is perhaps the only relative who likes Tyrion – and Jaime is probably the only relative Tyrion can stand. There’s kindness and respect but also an edge of Tyrion only having so much patience with Jaime being sad over his lost hand – after all, his father has treated him as damaged and disabled from birth.

While I can understand sending Shae away, I loathe the whole meme of "I have to hurt you for your own good" which is damn prevalent and unnecessary. Shae is an intelligent woman, it's kind of ridiculous she can't see the threat herself

It’s also official – NEVER EVER get married in Westeros. EVER. There are battlefields that are safer than Westeros nuptials. Them all gathered together really did highlight the state of affairs we remarked on last week - where each house stands and how much just about everyone hates the Lannisters. They are utterly friendless - and pretty clueless in that friendlessness. While Joffrey torments Tyrion, anyone can see that no-one is entertained, even Margaery who can put a pleasant face on just about everything, is disgusted. Only Tywin and Cersei watch on with anything resembling a smile.

What was interesting is it didn't just repeat those aspects, but also brought in Stannis, Bolton and the Ironmen - for all Kings Landing is declaring peace and prosperity, there are still enemies out there.

And, of course, the event.

JOFFREY BE DEAD! (There’s something symbolic I could say about all the wine references in this episode – but JOFFREY BE DEAD!)

It’s a sign of an awesome character development that you can loathe them so much that you feel utter glee at seeing them die. I’m going to watch it again. And again. Yes, I am revelling in the death of a young teenager – no guilt at all! This is the second best thing that could happen (the best being Joffrey being an extended guest of Ramsay’s).

But Joffrey be dead! MOOOOAR FANGS!