TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 4 (The Lion and the Rose)

The Lion and The Rose by George R. R. Martin

Warning: Massive Spoilers!

Game of Thrones tends to save its major events till episode 9 every season (The Red Wedding, the Battle of Blackwater etc.). Not this time, this time we get a game-changer right in episode 2. The bulk of the episode is spent on Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, but there are one or two other plot strands worth mentioning.

First off; the return of Ramsay Snow and his servant Reek (the now neutered Theon Greyjoy). Ramsay is perhaps the only character in the show as despicable as Joffrey and his reintroduction here is a suitable reminder of his brutality, as he hunts one of his girls with a pack of dogs and watches as they brutally slaughter her (fortunately not shown on screen). Two more villains also return, Roose Bolton (who betrayed Robb at the Red Wedding and is now Warden of the North) and Locke (who maimed Jaime Lannister and tried to kill Brienne last season). Roose orders Ramsay to deal with the remaining Ironborn in the North, while Locke is dispatched to Castle Black to deal with Jon Snow and his surviving half-brothers. The Boltons look set to become the secondary villainous clan in the show, after fan-favourites the Lannisters.

Now for the wedding and its surrounding events. If I summarised the whole thing, we’d be here all week, so here’s the edited highlights. First up, Tyrion and Shae’s break-up. Tyrion realises he can’t keep Shae hidden any longer and decides ending things with her is the only way to convince her to leave before his father finds out and has her killed. This led to a heart-breaking scene between the two as Tyrion dismissed Shae as ‘just another whore’ in order to dispel her affection for him.

At the wedding itself Joffrey was at his worst, whether using his new sword to destroy a valuable wedding gift from Tyrion or hurling wine over his uncle when he dared to make a joke at his expense, he reminded everyone why we hate the character (and that Jack Gleason is a great young actor!). The worst indulgence though, was the ‘War of Five Dwarfs’ a re-enactment of the war which managed to insult almost everyone. Loras stormed off after the depiction of Renly (who seemed to be riding Loras instead of a horse!) Sansa was mortified as Robb got beheaded by Joffrey’s dwarf in a joust, and Tyrion looked ready to strangle his nephew there and then at the suggestion he fight the winning dwarf.

Then it came. The moment we’ve been waiting for ever since Joffrey got Sansa’s direwolf killed back in season 1. Joffrey is served his wine by Tyrion, chomps on some pie and then chokes…and doesn’t stop. Very quickly its clear this is no accident as Joffrey collapses to the ground and despite the efforts of Cersei and Jaime, dies in agony. His last act? To stretch a finger pointing at Tyrion, who is immediately seized on charges of poisoning the king. But who really did it? Margaery? The other Tyrells? Varys? Sansa? Oberyn Martell? Tywin even? We don’t know – though there seemed to be a few clues if you watch closely. The scene was done perfectly, a mix of shock value and glee as one of the best TV villains met his deserved end.

Two other storylines took place, Melisandre burning some more of Stannis’ subjects and then having a chilling conversation with his daughter Shireen and Bran’s group journeying further north. Despite both storylines feeling like they were merely killing time before the ‘purple wedding’, there were a few notable moments (most prominently Bran’s vision, which included a dragon flying above King’s Landing…).

Overall a strong episode with a momentous ending, which will change the show in a massive way, fortunately, we still have Ramsay and Cersei as arch-villains to hate.

Next time: Daenerys arrives at Meereen and the Wildings send a message to the Night’s Watch…

Rating: 4.5/5

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