So much for starting the season off at a slow boil. In an episode written by George R.R. Martin himself, ‘Game of Thrones’ just delivered a major bombshell. And it is oh so delicious.
I’m going to jump right to the end of episode ‘The Lion and the Rose’ here. It’s my feeling that the word “recap” in the article headline should be warning enough that this post will contain plot spoilers for the episode (what else is the purpose of a recap?), but I’ll mention it anyway just in case we have any sticklers out there.
King Joffrey the Irritating is dead. No one can say that the little whelp didn’t have it coming. In fact, so many characters on the show had good reason to kill the insufferable twat that we’ll probably spend much of the season narrowing down the list of suspects.
The centerpiece of the episode is the royal wedding of Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell. After last season, we should know that weddings are rarely happy occasions in the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ universe. The king spends most of the reception after the ceremony gloating and attempting to humiliate his uncle Tyrion, for no other reason than that Joffrey enjoys being a dick. Tyrion attempts to bow out gracefully several times, but Joffrey keeps pulling him back. Upon demanding that Tyrion fetch him a cup of wine, Joffrey guzzles it down and promptly chokes. The wine was poisoned. Joffrey sputters and mewls while blood pours out of his nose. With his last agonized breath, the king points a finger of blame directly at Tyrion. Cersei orders the Kingsguard to arrest her brother.
It seems clear to me that Tyrion isn’t guilty. He didn’t want to be there. He didn’t want to hand Joffrey the wine. As much cause as he has to hate Joffrey, his loyalty to family is absolute, and he’s no fan of the type of chaos that the death of the king will bring to the kingdom.
Several suspects stand out. Almost as soon as Joffrey began choking, the royal fool Dontos (a disgraced former knight with little left to lose) grabs Sansa to whisk her off to safety, as if he knew what would happen. However, it could just be that he was quick to recognize the danger. The Dornish prince Oberyn has made no secret of his hatred of the Lannisters, not to mention his recklessness. The person with the most to gain is Margaery. No sooner is she anointed queen than the only person more powerful than herself in the kingdom is eliminated. She obviously never truly loved Joffrey, and the poisoned cup of wine came from her table.
And yet, my money is on Cersei as the culprit. Murdering her own child would hardly be the worst thing she’s ever done. She’s quick to act against Tyrion, neatly removing him as an obstacle to a power play she plans against Margaery. I think she’s plenty devious enough to have egged Joffrey into making a spectacle of Tyrion at the reception, deliberately goading him into becoming an object of suspicion.
I encourage speculation in the Comments below, but I’d like to ask those of you who’ve read the books not to spoil this storyline.
Other Notable Developments
- Psychotic Ramsey has made an obedient slave out of Theon Greyjoy. At first, Ramsey’s father Lord Bolton is upset that his bastard son has ruined Theon’s value as a political prisoner, but then Ramsey makes Theon confess that he never killed Bran or Rickon Stark. That gives Bolton a new objective in his war campaign. This must be the secret that Ramsey wanted to torture out of Theon last season.
- Jaime admits to Tyrion that he can’t actually fight with his left hand. Tyrion arranges for Jaime to train in private with Bronn.
- After being warned by Varys that Cersei knows about Shae, Tyrion attempts to ship her off to safety in Pentos. Shae still doesn’t want to leave (as she’s made clear previously). Tyrion very coldly dismisses her as a common whore and orders Bronn to put her on a ship. This clearly pains Tyrion, but he believes he’s doing it for her own good. Later, Bronn tells Tyrion that he saw Shae off, but because that happens off-screen, I have a feeling she’ll be back.
- We find out what happened to the second sword of Valyrian steel that Tywin had forged from Ned Stark’s broadsword. He presents it to Joffrey as a wedding present. Joffrey takes great glee in wielding it around, and names it “Widow’s Wail.” What will happen to it after his death is unclear.
- Melisandre sacrifices some of Stannis’ loyal generals to her God of Light, including Stannis’ own brother-in-law. Davos advises his king that this is insanity, but Stannis’ crazy wife fully supports the decision.
- At the wedding reception, Margaery makes a show of announcing that all of the leftover food will be given to the poor. Shortly afterwards, Cersei undermines this by ordering the food to be delivered to the royal kennels and fed to the dogs.
- Jaime corners Loras, the gay knight who’s been arranged to marry Cersei, and warns/threatens him that Cersei would murder him if he ever touched her. “But you’ll never marry her,” Jaime declares. “Neither will you,” Loras retorts. Meow!
- Cersei confronts Brienne and accuses her of being in love with Jaime. Brienne looks shocked, but doesn’t deny it.
- Bran Stark has a vision that tells him, “Look for me beneath the tree… North.” But who is telling him this?