Game of Thrones: "The Lion and the Rose" (Season 4: Episode 2) Recap/Analysis | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Game of Thrones: “The Lion and the Rose” (Season 4: Episode 2) Recap/Analysis

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Apr 14, 2014 Web Exclusive
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[Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones, “The Lion and the Rose,” then read no further.]

After an already strong start, HBO’s Game of Thrones ups the ante with one of its best hours yet. Last week’s premiere was ominous, and while I counted off the characters most clueless to the oncoming storm as the most likely to suffer, I was not expecting this. Again, I have not read the books, so there will be no spoilers beyond the second episode of season four, “The Lion and the Rose.”

Let’s get right down to it. Joffrey is dead. The horror show didn’t quite top the Red Wedding in brutality, but certainly compares theatrically. The royal wedding sequence opens with a disarming hint that maybe King Joffrey has lightened up a little, after graciously accepting Tyrion’s gift of an ancient book. Within seconds, he reassures us that he’s still a sadistic brat, and slices the hefty book into shreds.

And that’s only where it starts. Once the real celebration gets underway after an uneventful ceremony, Joffrey utilizes the occasion to reenact the recently ended war for the throne, featuring dwarfs dressed as each contender, humiliating everyone but himself. Even the usually stoic Queen Margaery seems pained at the mockery of her late husband Renly Baratheon. Joffrey manages to insult everyone at his wedding, including his own bride. Not satisfied with a narcissistic retelling of his so-called victories, Joffrey turns his attention to Tyrion, and proceeds to torment him. After Margaery fails to distract him with their wedding pie, Joffrey starts choking on the wine Tyrion poured for him, and faster than you can get through one verse of “The Rains of Castamere,” Joffrey is bleeding from his nose and turning purple, and quickly succumbs to an apparent poisoning, dying in his mother’s arms.

And that’s it. Joffrey, the cringe-inducing psychopath who has been occupying the Iron Throne since season one, is dead. Does his demise deserve celebration? Maybe. But remember how much last season’s finale suffered after following the Red Wedding? Now that the one character lacking any ambiguity has bitten the dust, the moral lines in Westeros just got blurrier. Now we have a bereaved and still power-hungry Cersei to deal with, who’s already proven she has it out for Margaery­­who I assume is now ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. And, of course, what will happen to Tyrion? It would be pretty disappointing to find out the accused is actually guilty of this crime, but it’s going to be even trickier for him to escape Cersei’s wrath now that Shae is (thankfully) out of the picture.

Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Joffrey’s unortunate abuse of court minstrels Sigur Rós, who appear in what might be the most thematically appropriate musical guest appearance in the history of televisionthough Jeff Tweedy on Parks and Rec last week was even more entertaining.

The whole royal wedding was exquisitely paced and executed, but it is kind of a shame that it overshadows some other interesting developments in the rest of the episode. Most importantly, the show opened this week on a contender for Joffrey’s replacement as cruelest maniac in all of Westeros. Ramsay Snow, bastard son of Roose Bolton, hunts down one of his female acquaintances for making another jealous. At his heels is Theon, who we learn is so broken that he can hold a blade to Ramsay’s throat and not make a move. We also get a glimpse of Ramsay’s true motivation, as he stunningly proves his worth to his perpetually disappointed father.

There was also a spark of mutual respect between Tyrion and Jaime that ignited in this episode. Now that Jaime is nearly as ostracized by Tywin and Cersei as Tyrion is, they’re considerably more eager to watch out for each other than they could have been before. Jaime’s arc is one of the most fascinating developments of the last season, and his character’s growth from here is one thread I’m most interested in following this season. That is, if we can overcome the real challenge of rebuilding the tension after such a satisfying end to a character we love to hate.

Author rating: 8/10

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