Seven Kingdoms Scoop: “Game of Thrones” recap of episode “The Lion and the Rose”

Guys! Guys, you know what you want this recap to be. You want it to ONLY BE THIS:

And I don’t blame you! Welcome to the Purple Wedding, friends, the death of the one and only King Joffrey Baratheon. Well, you know, it’s Joffrey Lannister. Of Jaime and Cersei Lannister. Not even a true king! But now that miserable, evil, cowardly little monster is gone, and season four of Game of Thrones is continuing George R.R. Martin’s mantra of, “stability is boring.” Because yes, Ned Stark is dead, and Robb Stark, and Catelyn Stark too. But Joffrey’s death? That’s evening things up a bit.

Of course, this will be EVERYTHING ANYONE IS TALKING ABOUT when it comes “The Lion and the Rose,” and to be fair, the final 20 minutes of the episode, all of which take place during the wedding ceremony of Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell and then the reception afterward, are wonderfully tense. There’s so much building antagonism and anxiety among all the Lannisters and then between all the guests, too, even before Joffrey’s War of the Five Kings, as mocked by dwarfs, enters into the equation. Of course, the reigning tension is between Tyrion (and Peter Dinklage is so, so amazing in this episode, and I'm sure will only be more great as the season continues) and Joffrey, and you know things are only going to get worse for our favorite Imp as Cersei screams at the guards to arrest her little brother. But there’s a lot more going down, so let’s run through that stuff.

I mean, Joffrey’s death—glorious! DO NOT GET ME WRONG. But in our list of five best things, let’s give the rest of the episode some love, too. And, as always, SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.

+ Theon! Oh, Theon. I know a lot of people hate the last remaining son of House Greyjoy, but if you don’t die a little inside at seeing how he broken he is in his new role as Reek, then you’re blind. Here’s what we learn from the check-in with the Boltons: Ramsay Snow’s evil extends to hunting down girls with servant Myranda, one of the women in charge of seducing Theon last season, when he was first being tortured by Ramsay. They let girls loose in the woods and then hunt them down, feeding them to Ramsay’s pack of dogs (in the books, he forces Theon to basically live where the dogs live, not even giving him typical human quarters, something which he mentions to daddy Roose). When Roose arrives, he is—in his own quiet, furious, terrifying way—angry that Ramsay has made Theon into a nearly insane plaything, but when he realizes that he’s now Reek and doesn’t pose a threat (illustrated in that very nicely done scene with the razor), he realizes perhaps he can still be used to their ends.

So Roose sends Ramsay off to Moat Cailin, saying that if he can secure the location, he’ll reconsider Ramsay’s bastard status (“You’re not a Bolton, you’re a Snow”). He also learns from Ramsay that Bran and Rickon Stark are still alive and weren’t actually killed by Theon, so Locke (the guy that cut off Jaime Lannister’s hand, who is in Roose Bolton’s employ), is sent toward Castle Black and Jon Snow, where Ramsay suggests that the younger Stark boys could be. Oh, and the most depressing thing of all is Theon/Reek’s face after Ramsay tells him of Robb Stark’s death: “That’s right, Reek, Robb Stark is dead. I’m sorry. I know he was like a brother to you, but my father put a knife through his heart.” In the books, Theon thinks to himself, “I should have been with him. Where was I? I should have died with him,” and it’s so sad I’m tearing up right now.

+ “I’m afraid our friendship can’t continue.” Yeah, that’s how Tyrion breaks up with Shae, once Varys tells him that Sansa’s handmaiden from last week who saw the two of them together already ran to Cersei. Tyrion decides to send Shae away to save her—which is smart, since we see Cersei blabbing to daddy Tywin about Shae—but he does it in typical Lannister fashion, which is with more cruelty than necessary. “Sansa is fit to bear my children and you are not. I can’t be in love with a whore. I can’t have children with a whore. How many men have you been with? 500? 5,000?” It’s a messy, emotionally wrenching thing for both of them, but when Bronn assures Tyrion that he saw Shae get onto the boat to Pentos … I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

+ “A god of light and love and joy, and a god of darkness, evil, and fear—eternally at war. There is only one hell … the one we live in now.” Oh hey, Malisandre is burning people alive on Dragonstone! So that’s good. The scene in Dragonstone is brief, but it establishes a few things: that Stannis’s insane zealot wife Selyse isn’t above watching her own brother (I was a little unclear on this: in the book, it’s her brother Alester Florent, who dies, but in the show, I think Shireen said it was Axell? Who in the books lives and has an entirely different storyline, so perhaps the show just combined the characters) die in the flames if she thinks it will please her new god. That Selyse is determined to convert daughter Shireen, even though Stannis is against it (“You will not strike her”). And that Selyse doesn’t really seem to care about whatever is going on between Stannis and Malisandre, since she’s too busy being religiously crazed; notice in the dinner scene how far Malisandre sits away from the couple, but how she can barely hide the polite indifference she has for Selyse, her most fervent follower on Dragonstone. Malisandre only has eyes, and only cares, for Stannis and the possibility that he is her prophet. Selyse, she could take or leave. (And, well, who wouldn’t? Bitch is crazy.)

+ Bran’s still on his journey, living through The Tree of Life. I mean, that’s what we all thought of during Bran’s vision sequence, right? That he basically had been transported into Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, and Brad Pitt was going to pop up at some point and make me dissolve into fangirl giggles.

But here’s what actually happened: Bran is spending more time warging into his direwolf, Summer, which Jojen and Meera warn him against doing because at some point he may forget what it’s like to be human. But when they come across a weirwood tree with a face carved into it—the old gods of the North—Bran decides to touch it and experiences a vision with tons of flashing images, some of which were similar to Dany’s vision in the House of the Undying back in Qarth: the three-eyed raven, his father Ned Stark, the crypt underneath Winterfell, a zombie horse, an Other, the Iron Throne surrounded by ice and snow, and the shadow of a dragon flying over King’s Landing, as well as a voice telling Bran, “Look for me beneath the tree … north.” So now Bran’s journey has purpose, and all the crazy people like me who after seeing that dragon shadow in the season four trailers were thinking to themselves, DANY AND HER DRAGONS CAN’T BE AT KING’S LANDING ALREADY, THAT HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED, can rest easy that the scene was from Bran’s vision, not actual reality. PHEW.

+ OK, finally, yes, Purple Wedding! Let’s talk some of the details that I hope everyone noticed when we were all so busy processing Joffrey’s death:

+ I love this reaction shot from the Lannister contingent during the wedding ceremony: Jaime is glancing at Cersei, Cersei is looking in rage at Joffrey and Margaery, Tyrion is glaring at Cersei, an aged-up Tommen is unaware that he’s standing next to his real father, Sansa looks dead to the world, Ellaria and Oberyn are looking bemused but curious in the background, and only Tywin looks appropriately respectful and approving. Oh, Lannisters, you crazy kids.

+ Tension between Jaime and Cersei continues, and it won’t end well. Jaime confronts Loras, who is supposed to marry Cersei, by telling him “she would murder you in your sleep … she’ll never marry you,” but is shot down by Loras, who replies, “And neither will you.” Fair point from Loras, I would say—if Cersei cared enough to be with Jaime publicly, she would. But Cersei also tries to claim Jaime as her turf to Brienne, who comes to congratulate Margaery and Joffrey on their wedding and is threatened by Cersei, who insinuates that people Brienne is loyal to—Renly, Catelyn Stark—end up dead. When Cersei spits out, “But you love him,” to Brienne about Jaime, the look of shock and lack of an answer from the lady warrior from Tarth seem telling—but I don’t think, or at least I hope, that the show wouldn’t transform Brienne’s feelings for Jaime into romantic love. The two of them went through some serious shit together, and they understand each other in a way that no one else really has. But to make Brienne lust after or love Jaime in that way—as much as it would align with my fan-fiction interests, that would be too much, too soon.

+ Also speaking of Cersei and Jaime, notice that he was the first to rush to Joffrey’s side when he began choking, and that Cersei pushes Jaime away when she gets there. “My son,” she screams, never “Our son.” She’s monopolized Joffrey his whole life, and notice that even when Tyrion and Jaime are discussing their sister in private quarters, Tyrion calls Cersei the “Mother of Madness.” Jaime, even as he comes to Joffrey’s side, has never been allowed to be Joffrey’s father. That will be important, in a make-or-break way, for the siblings’ relationship as things move forward.

+ Oberyn Martell keeps making threats, and Ellaria Sand keeps making new friends. OK, actually, Ellaria isn’t making any friends—except for maybe that acrobat that the two of them eyed up, or Loras Tyrell, who Oberyn was eye-fucking during the wedding—but watching her match Cersei’s bitchiness was a thing of beauty. “I have 10,000 brothers and sisters” almost sounds like an army, doesn’t it? And the Red Viper so casually, but intentionally, bringing up his sister Elia’s death in that small-talk conversation with Tywin was wonderful, too: “In other places, the rape and murder of women and children is considered distasteful.” Don’t forget that Myrcella is in Dorne, Tywin and Cersei. Oberyn won’t let you. (Also, for non-book readers, note that Oberyn’s older brother Doran, the leader of Dorne, has gout, “the rich man’s disease,” so he can’t walk.)

+ And finally, the Queen of Thorns playing with Sansa’s hair and accessories? And Dontos the Fool spiriting Sansa away right after Joffrey begins choking? Yeah … don’t forget those things.

+ And finally, some odds and ends!

+ Ramsay’s shrugging “You can see that your presence has become a bit of a problem” to the girl he and Myranda hunt down and kill—it has a kind of nonchalance that very clearly conveys that he’s done this before. And with Joffrey gone, it’s safe to say that Ramsay Snow is jettisoned into the role of most-grotesque person in the realm.

+ In case you cared, Jaime’s hand is gilded steel, not solid gold! And his sword-training with Bronn isn’t going very well.

+ Also in case you cared, here is Ellaria's outfit: headpiece, metal bra, yellow jumpsuit. Love. It. 

+ “Not now, Mace, Lord Tywin and I are speaking!” Yeah, Grandma Tyrell has no patience for her son, Mace, the father of Margaery and Loras. He’s largely useless, pompous, and pretentious, so you can’t blame her. Also, Granny mentions the Iron Bank coming after the kingdom for their spending, and that’s an important plot point; don’t forget it.

+ “Go drink until it feels like you did the right thing.” If sellsword Bronn had a house, I’m pretty sure those would be his words. Although he’d probably find a way to work sex into the motto, too.  

+ Poor Loras—don’t blame him for dipping out of the wedding reception once the dwarf War of the Five Kings started, and Renly’s dwarf had a fake bare butt sticking out of his pants. The homophobic slander continues in the Seven Kingdoms! Although I will say that I wish the show had stuck with the book version of Loras, who basically became celibate in grief after Renly’s death. In the show, Loras’s roving eye is somewhat frustrating, even if it amusing when it lands on Oberyn Martell.

+ “Every time I use it, it will be like cutting off Ned Stark’s head all over again.” Rest in peace, Joffrey!