‘Game of Thrones’ 4.02 Recap: “Not So Pretty Now”

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?


  1. I think it is safe to rule out Cersei. She is ruthless, but when it comes to her children her instincts as a mother will always lead her to protect them. By poisoning her own son the most she could gain is if she would have thrown blame onto Margaery. Instead she honestly thinks it is Tyrion because 1. Her son points at him and 2. She hates his guts for sending her daughter away and wouldn’t put it past him. I don’t think her hatred for Tyrion is near enough to sacrifice her son to seek revenge on her brother.

  2. I’ve got my money on the grandmother (Diana Rigg) of the new Queen…although the Queen herself may have been in on it. I don’t think it was Cersei – it was definitely someone with a hate for the Lannisters.

    Last night was one of the reasons I’m glad I don’t read the books. That was a genuine surprise, as I would have guessed Joffrey would be one of the characters to make it to the end (if only so he could be killed by Arya). I don’t think I’d enjoy this series nearly as much if I knew what was coming.

    • I strongly recommend at least reading the books after the show is over. It offers a whole new way to appreciate what is on screen. I wish I could have these surprising moments in the show, but they were just as shocking to read beforehand. I also thought Joffrey would be around for much longer. Thankfully too many people wanted him dead to allow that. 🙂

      • T.J. Kats

        Agree totally with this. I watched season one blind but then read all the books after that. I’m most curious to see what happens between the two when(if but at this pace when) they catch up with the books. They have said Martin has given them a general endgame but how to get there(they may even have to change it for tv as to not spoil the books) will be very interesting.

        • That’s my plan. I was about halfway through Book 1 when Ned Stark got his on the show and decided that was such a shock that it was worth it not to have advance knowledge of anything else.

  3. Robert

    Very slight spoiler (more a reminder), but I would just point out that the line of succession in Westeros is along bloodlines not marital ties — i.e. the crown will pass to a “true born” Baratheon. (Related: Prince Tommen — Jofferey’s younger brother — was recast prior to this season.)

    Again, these are not really spoilers so much as things fans of the show alone might have forgotten.

  4. T.J. Kats

    Also remebwr in the Dontos/Sansa scenario after Tyrion drops the cup it is Sansa who picks the cup up from under the table and hands it back to Tyrion.

      • Josh Zyber

        When Joffrey unleashed the doves, there was weird quick flash of something inside the pie. After he died, I assumed at first that the pie was poisoned. However, I replayed the scene and paused, and it looks like bloody dead birds in there. The episode makes a big deal about how sharp the Valyrian steel sword is. I think the point of that quick shot was to show that Joffrey had beheaded a bunch of birds when he hit the pie, and people were going to eat the pie covered in bird blood and viscera.

  5. Les

    LOL. It is probably the one time, in recent memory, that I wanted to jump off my couch and yell “Die, Die you little . . . !! And then he did. 8)

  6. Matt

    To the best of my memory, I don’t believe Joffrey’s killer has been truly, beyond-doubt revealed in the books just yet, so I don’t think there’s a true spoiler lurking out there. There’s a “scene” that strongly implies the identity, but I’m not sure it’s any more than supposition. But in any case, I think it’d be very interesting if the show takes a different approach.

    It’s been a few years since I’ve read them, so I could be mistaken.

  7. Good riddance to the vile inbred little degenerate. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him suffer as he died simply because of all the misery the spoilt little brat inflicted on other people. Now if only his mother would meet her well deserved end!

  8. Scott H

    I think prince Oberyn may be the murderer, he hates the Lannisters and has a short temper as is seen when he confronts the two guys in the brothel earlier in the episode.

  9. Ryan M

    Maybe Joffrey had an allergic reaction to something in the pie (nut allergy?). Sansa was the last to touch the cup, as other have pointed out, so unless the camera didn’t show us something, she is the only one who could have slipped something in the cup. Nobody else except Tyrion and Joffrey touched the cup prior to his choking incident.

  10. Timcharger

    Damn! In episode 2!

    I got spoiled about the Joffrey event. Curses (you know who)! But I didn’t
    know it would be in this early. So that was a pleasant surprise.

    My imagination is running wild with speculation of the murder.

    There is a point where Brienne shakes Margaery’s hand when congratulating
    the King & Queen’s marriage, maybe the poison was handed over from
    Brienne to Margaery? Brienne seems too honorable to do it with poison and
    not in an open duel, but Brienne has many oaths remaining to fulfill, so
    maybe poisoning Joffrey will allow Brienne the opportunity to keep her other
    goals. But this would mean Brienne working with the Tyrells, and I’m not
    sold that the Tyrells would fully trust Brienne on such a treasonous plot.

    Yes, I believe that he would kill his own grandson. Tywin knows that Joffrey was
    difficult to control, despite being able to “send the King to bed” once in a while.
    With Joffrey gone, and Tywin’s ability to better control Tommen, he does have
    the motive. However, framing his own son Tyrion doesn’t make too much
    sense despite Tywin’s dissatisfaction with Tyrion. Tywin does value Tyrion’s

    Yes, she did pick up the fallen cup and handed it to Tyrion, but no. She’s no
    killer. She might put sheep sh*t in Joffrey’s bedding, but not murder.

    I don’t know. If it was, it would be bad, convenient writing. Introduce new
    characters and have them be major plotters, that’s lazy writing. It’s possible
    but I would feel it would be a letdown.

    Ser Dontos?
    Not the mastermind. He’s just an accomplice.

    This is a good one to think about. Grandma Tyrell definitely doesn’t want
    Joffrey to hurt Margaery, which would definitely happen. But Margaery
    losing her queenhood, doesn’t further the Tyrell’s family interests. Plus,
    the Cersei and Loras tie-up doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. This is
    an interesting one. They are likely involved, but curious what the overall
    game plan is here.

    This suspect completely skipped my mind at first. But she does have a
    motive against Tyrion now to frame him. A woman scorned is certainly
    a powerful theme for GoT. I still think Shae is “one of the good guys”,
    and this would be turning her into a bad character. But we don’t really
    think Tyrion is going to lose his head over this, right? So Shae can be
    dealt with and Tyrion’s story advanced beyond his love for Shae. As
    much as I like the Tyrion/Shae love story, this plot couldn’t have gone
    anywhere. I rather have Shae be finished with and her wrath released,
    instead of a victim of Tywin and Cersei’s power.

    Leech sorcery?
    3 leeches were burnt. The 3rd leech was for Balon Greyjoy, right? Looking
    forward to that.

    • Finally saw this episode last night! I was spoiled too, sadly. It was really unavoidable, even without checking Twitter or Facebook. I just read Jack Gleeson’s Wikipedia page last year, which bluntly states “In 2014 Gleeson confirmed he would be permanently retired from acting after concluding his work in Game of Thrones.”

      So, yeah, I knew he was a goner. One is never safe from spoilers.

      • Timcharger

        I just finished season 4 a couple weeks ago.

        I just noticed that you posted on the recap of 4.01 on March 19th.
        It taking you over 2 weeks to get to 2 episodes?! I could not wait
        that long between episodes.

        As I finished the episodes, I “went back in time” and posted in these
        recaps as I went.

        Looking forward to any comments you might have Julian as you
        watch the season.

        • Well, I know, but there’s a solid explanation: I watch these episodes with my dad – ever since we started with season 1. It has become a yearly tradition: we buy the Blu-ray, we watch the season. He rarely watches television shows (not enough patience, not enough time) – but he will watch ‘Game of Thrones’! However, he has a busy schedule, so I sometimes have to wait between episodes. If I would watch these on my own, I’d see them in quick succession as well 🙂

          Oh, and Jack Gleeson did more than ‘Game of Thrones’. Check ‘Batman Begins’!

          • Timcharger

            Guess I was too lazy to imdb him. But you’re right. That’s him as the
            kid in that small role.

            You Europeans are so much more liberating with your social norms.
            (And I mean that as a compliment.) Watching GoT with dad?
            Whenever there is nudity, sex, it’s just a little awkward sitting next
            to dad. He’s a grandpa; I’m married w/kids. But we just sit in silence
            and pretend nothing happened in those scenes. Whereas, I might
            normally chuckle or make “ohh-la-la” noises. Good for you to bond
            with dad over GoT.

          • Thanks, I understood you meant that as a compliment. Yeah, it’s actually great fun to watch this show with my dad. He didn’t like Joffrey (well, does anyone?), so he was quite pleased with this episode. Give it a shot with your dad, next time! If something awkward happens, just make the noises or chuckle. He might even join you in the chuckling! Hurrah!

      • Timcharger

        “In 2014 Gleeson confirmed he would be permanently retired from acting after concluding his work in Game of Thrones.”

        Technically, that sentence does not mean he’ll be retired in 2014.
        2014 is when he confirmed that he’s out of the acting business
        WHENEVER his work in GoT is concluded.

        At least that’s how I would spin that piece of information in my
        mind to talk myself into not assuming a spoiler.


        Imagine that body of work:
        One character, one of the most hated characters in TV history.

        I guess you if can’t top that, drop the mike and walk off stage.

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