S4 E2 - The Lion and the Rose aka “OMIGOD”

Omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, you guys, OMIGOD.

Eventually I'm going to come up with some more creative and literary descriptions for the emotions I'm feeling after that episode, but this deep sense of satisfaction mixed with horror and confusion and excitement and rapture and how-good-did-that-bird-pie-look-hunger can't be expressed much beyond the exclamation OMIGOD.

Darling Throners, this is an episode that will go down in the annals of great TV moments, so let's bust out our goblets, (Valyrian) steel our resolve and bleed ourselves dry on all the wonderful developments in Westeros this week.

Reminder: spoilers will be included below (AND HOW!), so only read on if you've seen the episode. We're discovering the storyline through the TV series (reading the books after each has finished), so no dropping important future plot points in the comments, or we'll bake you into delicious, delicious bird pie.

OK, so you've seen the spoiler warning? You're absolutely sure you watched the episode, all the way to the end?

You're not going to send me an angry email declaring YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON STOP SPOILING THIS SHOW?

Are we all good?


Then I've only got one thing to say:


Yeah! Yeah! Whooop! Whoooop! Punch the sky! High five a friend! Hell, high five an enemy! Chug a 2L bottle of homebrand cola! Shove a chocolate mud cake in your face! Run your pants up a flagpole! Make a sparkler bomb! (Actually don't do that, I don't have insurance to cover you when you blow a finger off).

It's happened. It's finally happened. He's dead. Dead, dead, dead. So dead. Dead like big fat dead stupid dead thing that's not alive anymore, but rather, dead.

Yes, after getting hitched and diverting himself at the reception with some of the cruellest, most abhorrent behaviour imaginable - bad even by his standards - we finally saw King Joffrey suffer the worst choke since Greg Norman's golf career and embrace the God of Death. Not today? Ha, sorry, bee-atch, no dice.

(I really can't overstate how much glee I'm feeling here, people.)

But let's take it back to the beginning, to properly enjoy all of this week's offerings.

For me, this episode was about crossroads, and to misquote Robert Frost, which road you choose - or don't choose - to travel.

The episode opened with Theon Greyjoy now on a road he could never have imagined in a gazillion years - a human hunt with the psychotic pusbucket Ramsay Snow and an equally bloodlusty lady. Her name is Miranda, but given their messed up relationship, we might just go with Myra Hindley at this point.

Theon, as the bastard Snow points out later to his father Roose Bolton (boo!), has become Reek, a tortured and drooling but loyal slave, who watches on even as Snow turns his horrendous hounds onto a poor young woman whose only crime appears to be not being able to run fast enough.

Ramsay is so confident in his new pet's obedience that he chooses to tell him about Robb Stark's demise while having Theon shave his neck. The blade hovers precariously over Ramsay's throat, and we watch on, hoping for him to do the obvious. But Reek shudders with despair, fear and realisation that has another master now. Now I'm no fan of Theon, but by holy Moses, seeing him like this is almost unbearable.

Bolton too has his misgivings; Greyjoy was more useful to him as a hostage if he had all his wits about him. But with the revelation that Bran and Rickon Stark are still alive, he has reason to believe his bastard son may yet prove himself worthy of becoming a “true” Bolton. Screw that, Bolton's the real bastard, and I hope he and Ramsay get a taste of their own flaying.

Is Stannis having second thoughts about the Lord of Light? His crazy-ass wife certainly isn't, happily turning her own brother into a spit roast for not going along with the whole cult thing happening on Dragonstone. Davos gets cranky at Stannis - but Stannis doesn't react as angrily as he has done in the past. And when the missus suggests their sweet little daughter Shireen needs the rod, he forbids it.

Shireen is obviously an intelligent and critical thinking pre-tween, which you can tell from the complete lack of One Direction posters on the stone walls of her tower cell. But will Melisandre convince her of the value of the LoL? Perhaps if she were to pull out some tricky magic to remove Shireen's scarring…

We touch base with Bran and his merry bunch up beyond the wall, where the young warg is spending too much time in his wolf Summer's head. Hungry for deer carcass, he seems to be trying to live on imaginary food, which has his companions Jojen and Meera Reed worried. For if Bran forgets his human self, everything will be lost. But exactly what would happen if Bran decides he'd prefer to live in the borrowed world of his wolf, where at least he can run?

The group come across a weirwood tree, glistening cream and red against the bleakness of the black and white surroundings. Bran lays a hand on it and immediately has visions of events in the past and - yikes - the future. I reckon I spied a Child of the Forest in there, the original residents of Westeros driven out by the First Men. “Look for me under the tree” said a disembodied voice, leading Bran to say that he now knows where they have to go. Now there's a path I imagine is brand new for everyone.

Jaime's still learning to live with his gilded steel hand, which has left him apparently almost unable to wipe his own backside. Now I've always thought that was a task that could be performed ambidextrously, but maybe I'm just gifted.

Tyrion has the wise advice that Jaime should focus on the commanding side of his duties, not the physical fighting. Jaime is reluctant to give that up without exploring all training options, but King's Landing is gossip central, and he doesn't want news of his handicap to get out.

This leads to the rather splendid sight of Jaime facing off against everyone's favourite sellsword, Bronn, on a platform overlooking the sea. Normally that's where Bronn spars with a different kind of sword, but here he's a sweaty Mr Miyagi getting the Kingslayer to wax on, wax off, swinging and thwacking away while the waves crash around them.

Just a quick survey - was anybody else just a teensy bit aroused by this scene? Or was that just me?

The final crossroad that was hurled up before action moved into the big royal wedding was Tyrion's break with Shae. Informed by Varys that Cersei and Tywin now knew about her, he resolved to put her on a ship to Pentos. In a heartbreaking scene Tyrion's two sides - the lion and the lover - battled with each other as he insisted that she leave him.

He had told her about the dangers of King's Landing so many times she had become complacent to it; now, to force her hand, he had to make the break personal, to use his marriage to the pure Sansa and Shae's past against her. I believe that was the first time we have ever seen Shae cry; Tyrion has never before caused such a wound.

And then. And then. It began.

Joffrey, as resplendent in a silver-tinged stag crown and opulent tunic, was out-glamoured by Kate Middleton in her glowing pale blue dress, with a mound of curls piled high on her head like a giant bunch of hairy silky grapes.

The ceremony was mercifully short, and I only threw up in my mouth a little bit when Joffrey kissed his new queen (imagine if there had been tongue!).

The reception, however, was the kind of painful, simpering, self-congratulatory circus you'd expect from a narcissistic bunghole like Joffrey (although paid for by the wonderful Olenna Redwyne-Tyrell). Lots of “look at me” faux sentiment, exemplary displayed by Kate Middleton's pronouncement that the leftovers would be given to the poor. Cersei, initially praising Margaery with a kiss, later rounded on Pycelle and demanded all the food be given to the dogs. That woman is colder than an ice cube slipped down the back of your shirt.

Joffrey has always been a right c-bomb and we saw that on display during the rehearsal dinner, when he named his new Valyrian sword “Widow's Wail” and chopped up the book that Tyrion gave him in the hope he might be interested in something beyond violence.

But it got so much worse at the reception. Drunk on power and a fair amount of Tyrell wine, Joffrey begins a humiliation of Tyrion so utterly contemptible that I almost punched the plasma screen just to try to get to his face.

In a scene so distressing I believe it will rival the Red Wedding in terms of its ability to disconcert, dismay and enrage, Joffrey releases five other little people from a giant lion's mouth, and has them act out the War of Five Kings, each dressed as one of the key combatants. Anyone with any sensitivity is dumbstruck, as appalled as a giggling Joffrey is delighted.

I'm sure I wasn't the only viewer to have a growing sense of dread about what was to come - “Joffrey's going to make Tyrion get involved, isn't he?”

BLESS Tyrion then for his almighty response - slamming it as a “poor imitation”, challenging Joffrey to show off his own battle skills and then suggesting that Joffrey could be taken advantage of by one of the little people. In the silence that followed, all I wanted was a slow clap.

Instead, Joffrey ramped up the torment, tipping wine on Tyrion's head, making him cupbearer then kicking the cup out of his reach, insisting that he kneel before him … and well done Tyrion for standing firm, as Kate Middleton hails the arrival of a giant bird pie.

Turns out eating bird pie brings on quite a thirst, and so Joffrey reaches again for his wine.

Then the coughing begins. “He's choking!” cries Margaery, as Jaime and Cersei run to a stricken Joffrey to, as it turns out, watch him die.

While it was a victorious moment, it was also a real body horror. Joffrey's nose poured blood and his face turned the colour purple that we all thought just referred to the regal nature of the wedding. It was not a nice way to go, it was not a dignified way to go, and it even made us feel slightly sorry for this genetic freak show uber jerk.

Raising a shaking finger, Joffrey points accusingly at Tyrion, who had been the last person to touch his goblet, prompting Cersei to call for her brother to be captured.

The whole sequence was like all the feels from the Red Wedding bottled up, shaked around to reverse the polarity, then cannonballed into my gut. It was everything that's great about Game of Thrones - disbelief and thrill all at once.

While Tyrion was apprehended for the crime, surely we all know it mustn't be him. I mean, he has plenty of good reasons, and even said to Pod during the little people exploitation that “We shall have to find another way to reward the king.” But Tyrion is too clever to be caught red-handed.

As the episode ended, I recalled hazily a quote about the use of poison as a weapon.

Then I realised - it was a line from way back in season one, regarding the mysterious death of Jon Arryn:

Ned Stark: I've heard it said that poison is a woman's weapon.

Grand Maester: Yes, women, cravens and eunuchs.

And so we can establish an initial, simplistic list of suspects from those who were near Joffrey and his wine goblet just moments before the fatal seizure:

Margaery - Joffrey dead would mean she wouldn't have to sleep with him. I'd seriously consider homicide in that situation as well.

Olenna - perhaps in partnership with her granddaughter; maybe a move on the throne itself? Although it's hard to imagine that getting past the Lannisters.

Sansa - she has 50 million good motives, and she's been so down and devastated, nobody would probably suspect her of being able to organise a sophisticated murder plot.

Varys - he does everything for the realm. Perhaps he decided Joffrey was too dangerously out of control?

But you know what? I'm going to lay my money on ... Cersei. Oh sure, she's always played up the fierce lioness mother persona, but even she's had to admit in the past that Joffrey was out of control. She could easily bump him off, feign her grief, accuse Tyrion of the murder and thus rid herself of an obstacle, then have her second-son Tommen installed as king. He's still young and much better tempered than Joffrey. Cersei goes back to being Queen Regent. Tywin stays Hand. It makes sense.

And so now the Seven Kingdoms are at a crossroads. Will the Lannister/Tyrell alliance hold? Will Tyrion talk his way out of a death sentence? Will this give Stannis impetus to make another move on King's Landing?

But is it true? Happy to hear your conspiracy theories, although if you are a book reader, don't spoil! We have so much more to look forward to!

Yay! Best Moments


Zing! Best Lines

It was good to see Slow Loras again, and he had a nice verbal reposte with the Kingslayer about Cersei.

Jaime: You'll never marry her.

Slow Lorus: Neither will you.

Take that, twincester!

Eww, gross

The whole sequence with the mock war of five kings was so supremely humiliating, awful and awkward that I realised afterwards my face was bleeding from where I'd been scratching my nails down my cheeks in pain.

Boo, sucks

We didn't see any skin this episode, but, you know, JOFFREY GOT DEAD so we'll just have to look up porn on the internet like normal people.

And now, if you'll excuse me, your humble recappespondent needs a Bex and a good lie down.