Another Sunday another episode of Game of Thrones. And you thought Dothraki weddings were violent… Let’s do this.
So we start out watching a poor young woman run for her life in some Most Dangerous Game scenario. The hunter, of course, is the sadistic psychopath Ramsay Snow. He’s accompanied by Myranda, one of the women involved with last season’s “snipping” of Theon. And where is the poor tragic Greyjoy? He’s running alongside several hounds, a loyal dog in pursuit of what turns out to be a crying Violet (the other young woman involved in the Theon snipping)–whose grand crime appears to have been making Myranda jealous. Eventually Violet is struck by an arrow. As she begs for mercy, Ramsay gleefully orders his dogs to attack–and we watch Theon flinch as she’s torn apart. Just another day in the Bolton household.
Sometime later, Daddy Bolton (the soft-spoken, traitorous, Roose Bolton–who gave Robb the last Shiv) arrives with his men, all displaying the banner of the flayed man. He also brings his Frey daughter, a young woman who should stay the heck away from Ramsay! When Daddy gets a look at Theon, cowed and missing body parts, he’s not too happy. He’d wanted to use the younger Greyjoy as a hostage to negotiate with the Iron Isles. Now however, he’s useless. In his anger (always soft-spoken) he reminds Ramsay he’s a bastard Snow, not a Bolton. Ouch! But Ramsay has some method in his madness. He shows off just how cowed Theon is, by having him shave him with a sharp razor. As Theon moves the blade across his neck, Ramsay has him reveal to his father that Brandon and Rickon are still alive. A tense moment arrives when Ramsay reveals to Theon the death of Robb. And for a second, we’re uncertain what Theon is going to do–the shaving knife close to Ramsay’s jugular. But the broken Greyjoy just continues in his work. (“What rhymes with Reek?”) Meanwhile, Daddy Bolton tells his bastard to take Locke (remember dude who cut off Jaime’s hand?) and take Moat Cailin which is currently being occupied by the Greyjoys.
Somewhere out in the wilds, Brandon is doing his skin changing thing with Summer–slipping into the dire wolf while she’s hunting a deer. Meera and Jojen Reed warn that he needs to stay grounded and can’t spend all his time skin changing. Just around then, Summer finds a Weirwood with one of those faces carved on the bark. When Brandon touches the face he has visions of dragons, White Walkers, the coming winter and a host of other things from the past few seasons. A voice declares “North” and he tells the others he now knows where they have to go. (I’m guessing, North).
But this episode’s action, mostly takes place in King’s Landing.
We start off with what seems an innocent meal between brothers, Jaime and Tyrion, who have always had an amiable and interesting relationship. Jaimie admits to Tyrion that he can’t fight anymore. To help his maimed brother regain his edge, Tyrion offers to lend him a discreet sparring partner–who turns out to be Bronn. Everyone’s favorite sell sword is sure to play rough with Jaime, who is determined to learn how to use his left hand in combat. But it’s painfully apparent, he’s not the sword master he once was.
Tyrion has other problems. Varys the Spider informs him that Cersei knows about Shae and soon his father will know. He further reminds him that his father (He-Who-Shits-Gold) has decreed he’ll hang any more of Tyrion’s…working girls. With a heavy heart, Tyrion finally agrees to take Varys’s offer to get Shae out of King’s Landing. But knowing she won’t go willingly, he does the “cruel-break-up-thing,” telling her that now he’s a married man and he could never continue carrying on with a… working girl. A distraught Shae manages one good final smack (on Bronn of all people), before being led away–presumably to a ship heading to Pentos, and safety.
And oh yes, there’s a wedding.
So the marriage between Joffrey The Monster Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell, tying together the Lion to the Rose, is finally happening. Earlier we see Joffrey receiving presents. One is from Tyrion, who gives him a rare book on the reign of past kings. There’s a tense moment, but Joffrey (uncharacteristically) appears to accept it with dignity and grace. Cersei also notices Shae (this takes place before she’s sent off by Tyrion), and literally “tattles” to her father, who says to bring her to him just before the wedding. Tywin Lannister also gives his grandson a wedding present–a Valyrian steel blade, the second sword forged from Ice. Joffrey promptly uses it to hack up Tyrion’s book. Then he makes a quip about how using it will be like cutting off Ned Stark’s head all over again–in front of Sansa. Yeah. Dick.
So… The Wedding. All of Westeros appears to be there, dressed in their best finery. We see Margaery and Joffrey joined together before the Septon, uniting the two houses. As the wedding reception goes on, there are several little plots within plots.
The Queen of Thorns and Pappy Lannister do their barbed bantering thing, in which she reminds him how much she paid for this wedding. We also are reminded that the throne is in debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos. Remember that for later. Elsewhere, Bronn assures a worried Tyrion that Shae has been placed on the ship. A band plays The Rains of Castamere (ironic foreshadowing) until a bored Joffrey gets angry and sends them off with a shower of money. Maergery takes the moment to decree that leftovers from the feast will be given to the poor, to much applause. The Viper is making googly eyes at Ser Loras, until he (literally) bumps into Jaimie. The jealous Lannister twin tells Loras (Cersei’s arranged betrothed) that she’ll never marry him. Loras gets the last word–telling Jaime she won’t marry him either. Because dude, she’s your sister. Your. Sister. Stahp it!
Brienne steps up to give her regards to Joffrey and Maegery and (naturally) things get weird between her and Cersei (things get weird between everyone and Cersei)–who believes Brienne is in love with Jaimie (ruh roh). Cersei then reverses Margery’s order on the food while threatening the lecherous Maester Pycelle. Then she, Pappy Lannister, the Viper and Ellaria Sand all trade polite barbs with bared teeth mimicking smiles.
But the real tension of course is the long simmering feud between Joffrey and his Uncle Tyrion. When Joffrey declares that there’s been enough amusement at the wedding, and it’s time for everyone to learn their history–there’s confusion. This “history” turns out to be a set of dwarves that emerge from the head of a giant wooden lion’s mouth. The dwarves, dressed as a series of Westeros rulers, re-enact in comical fashion the War of the Five Kings. It even comes with a scene of a dwarf version of Joffrey “buggering” the severed wolf head of Robb Stark. Classy. We notice that Sansa and some of those not enamored with the Lannisters (the Viper, Varys, the Queen of Thorns) look on soberly.
Joffrey goes on to further humiliate his uncle as much as possible–inviting him to joust with the dwarves. When Tyrion outwits him with some fancy banter, he resorts to pouring wine on Tyrion’s head and then demands he serve as his wine steward. A weary Tyrion obliges, only to have Joffrey purposefully drop the cup. A moment of sympathy and unity passes, when Sansa offers the cup to Tyrion who has been forced to go down on all fours searching for it beneath the table. This only seems to anger Joffrey further, and he demands his uncle kneel before him. Things ease up a bit with the arrival of the pie–a giant orange cake. Joffrey slices it open to reveal a flock of doves; the more unfortunate of which are left in a heap of bloodied feathers. Tyrion tries to take this moment to leave, but now flush with power, Joffrey turns back to tormenting him–demanding his uncle serve his wine.
And wine he gets. After taking a gulp, something seems amiss with Joffrey. In the middle of his ranting he appears to cough. He tries to go on, but Maegery quickly realizes something is very wrong. Joffrey can’t seem to breathe. “He’s choking!” she cries. Even the Queen of Thorns calls out for help. Most of Joffrey’s sycophants and wedding attendees, who eagerly laughed at his sadistic jokes, keep a clear distance as he falls and begins thrashing about, gasping and wheezing for air. Finally Jaime breaks through to him, followed by Cersei. Mother and secret father watch as their incestuous welp turns a shade of pale purple, blood flowing from his nose and mouth. In a last strangled breath, his hand lifts–pointing or reaching–towards Tyrion, who has bent to pick up the cup. On the day of his wedding, the Monster finally dies, eyes staring and leaking crimson. Poison.
And then for about an hour, the whole interwebs broke. Ain’t seen this much joy since the Emperor died.
When it’s all over, a tearful Cersei looks around, notices her dead son’s pointing hand–and fingers Tyrion as the culprit. She screams that he’s poisoned the king and calls for the guard to “Take him!” Which they do. And we all know that this victory is bittersweet. Because though Joffrey finally got his in the end, things are going to get very bad for everyone’s favorite half-man. Very, very bad.
Till next week, wherein we finally learn what Jon Snow knows or doesn’t know.