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Monday, 14 April 2014

Game of Thrones S4E2: The Lion and the Rose.

Note to self, work on chewing on ropes.

(Maybe sharpen teeth?)


Game of Thrones S4E2
The Lion and the Rose.

First, a moment of silent appreciation for Margaery Tyrell's 'I want to murder you, my liege' expressions in this episode.

Margaery Tyrell of Highgarden, seen here planning
a boar hunting trip.


This episode spends a few scenes making up for the point-of-view shortfall of the previous episode: That is to say, we get a brief look in at the characters who there just wasn't time to fit into episode one. It's a side attraction, mostly there to break up the action at King's Landing and to establish where those characters are starting off from, but it's very entertaining.

We get a quick glance at Bran Stark, on his way to the Wall with Hodur, the boy from Love Actually, and the boy from Love Actually's sister, as he begins to grow into his warging powers more and more. This, Bran is warned, is dangerous: If he spends too much time projecting his mind into his direwolf, he'll forget he's human. Given that Bran is far from one of the most interesting characters on the show and a frequent cause of 'skipping chapters syndrome' in the books, worse things have been proposed.

A little more time is spent on Ramsay Snow, the only character that everyone can agree would be a worse candidate for the Iron Throne than Joffrey, and his father Roose Bolton, now despised by everyone in fandom after the murder of fan favourites Robb and Catelyn Stark at the Red Wedding. Their scenes are incredibly creepy and very effective: Ramsay opens the episode running through the forest with his dogs, laughing and shouting with the gleeful hubris of youth. What an idyllic rural scene, we did not say, because we'd seen the Game of Thrones logo just seconds before, what a perfect autumn image of joyous youth.

Then a sobbing woman got shot in the leg and eaten by dogs.

Pretty much its own warning label.

Later, we see Ramsay and Roose discuss Ramsay's utter failure to keep Theon Greyjoy unharmed as a hostage, instead flaying, torturing, and castrating him, and turning him into 'Reek', a servant. While Roose is understandably displeased that his son has less impulse control than Joffrey Baratheon of all people, he does seem rather impressed by how Theon is so completely broken that Ramsay can hand him a cut throat razor and get a straight shave without ending up Sweeney Todd'd. It's a very tense, creepy scene, as we hope – even though we know it won't happen – that Theon will take the razor and cut Ramsay's stupid grinning face open.

Like I said, these are side attractions, though. Like the previous episode, almost all of the action of this episode takes place in King's Landing, revolving around the joyous nuptials of Margaery Tyrell and Joffrey Baratheon. Unlike the Red Wedding, which was a rather joyous affair until people started dying, this wedding keeps getting worse and worse, in ways that are rather horribly reminiscent of all of the pain of regular family gatherings writ appropriately large.

Anybody who has ever been to a party with that one obnoxious family member who only gets more obnoxious as the night wears on will be cringing in sympathy with Margaery as her new husband hacks up wedding gifts; throws money at bards; ruins pies by killing the live doves inside and then eats them anyway; and hires a troupe of acting little people to perform a rendition of a recent war that culminates in one of the actors engaging in sexual relations with a cardboard wolf's head.

Although, really, every wedding should - Wait, why are those bridesmaids
wearing black? It's not a funeral!

The only thing that prevents the deep sense of second-hand embarrassment – and to be honest, I found some of that leaking through anyway – is the knowledge that this represents something much more sinister. After all, every social faux-pas Joffrey commits involves violence somehow, from killing birds to having an actor essentially portray the concept of 'Joffrey Baratheon has sex with Robb Stark's corpse', and he's doing it in full view of his mother, uncle, wife and grandfather, all four of whom have previously displayed the ability to control him, and all four of whom now find that ability either waning (Tywin, Margaery) or vanished (Cersei, Tyrion). As we've seen in previous series, Joffrey is getting bolder, more erratic, and more violent, and increasingly it seems that nobody is able to stop him. Eventually, he always grows immune to any methods of restraining him.

Or possibly I should say 'grew immune' and 'was able' – last episode didn't have a twist, but this one did, and one fans have been waiting for. After a confusing game of 'pass the cup' in which a wine cup and bottle passes between Tyrion, Sansa, Margaery and Olenna, Joffrey downs some wine and promptly dies, choking and hacking his way to a painful death that leaves him with just enough time to accuse Tyrion, who everybody would likely have suspected anyway. 

The use of sparkles in-show was mandated by GRRM himself.

Social networks are now swarming with two mini-factions on this: Those who are quite pleased about his death, and those who are bemoaning the fact that he was a young man who may have grown out of it. To which I remind people that he has committed multiple murders, usually of women, and has threatened to commit rape.

Also, that he's fictional.

That most of all.

Yes, marvelous, Margaery, marvelous.  

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