“War is war, but killing a man at a wedding…horrid! What sort of monster would do such a thing? As if men need more reasons to fear marriage.” –Olenna Tyrell
Ramsay Snow and the eunuch formerly known as Theon Greyjoy debut the second installment of the fourth season of “Game of Thrones”. Ramsay and some fellow Dreadfort sadist are hunting a young Northern girl (pointedly named Sansi), with Reek tagging along, limping behind. Roose Bolton returns to his fortress, and Ramsay congratulates Locke for maiming Jamie Lannister. Roose, however, is displeased with his bastard’s handling of Theon as a hostage. But Ramsay demonstrates Reek’s loyalty by dropping the bombshell about Robb Stark’s death while receiving a close shave from his gelded captive.
Melissandre tightens her grip over Stannis and Dragonstone, by burning non-believers at the stake. Stannis seems to be a mute follower in the wake of Melissandre’s religious revival, even letting her take her first run at converting his facially deformed, but intellectually formidable daughter Shireen.
In the capitol, the final preparations for the wedding are underway, and Bronn takes on Ser Jamie as a pupil, to relearn the art of swordplay with his remaining hand. Tyrion tries to reconnect with his brother while also dissociating himself with Shea, the whore whose heart he’s been forced to break, to save her from his father’s cruel judgment.
Joffrey is every bit the obnoxious little shit that most of us have loved to hate since the pilot episode, but more on this to come.
Bran is coming to grips with his limitations, warging out for too long and eating up all the rations. Jojen, Meera and Hodor are all living lean, North of the wall, in their great search for the “three eyed raven.” In spite of their dire circumstances and Bran’s impulse control issues, the small party discovers a weirwood tree in the wilderness, which Bran finds himself able to communicate with, seeming (for a moment at least) to recall the sordid details of his accident, as well as glimpses of a future yet to come (shadow of a dragon over King’s Landing).
Yet none of this is what people are going to be talking about this week.
“Ding-dong, the king is dead—the king is dead—the king is dead. Ding-dong the incest king is dead.”
After a grandiose and expensive wedding ceremony, Joffery takes every opportunity to humiliate and publicly taunt his uncle Tyrion at the reception. Following an utterly tasteless and graceless reenactment of the war, played out by dwarfs, Joffery succumbs to poison—making ‘The Face Heard ‘Round the World’ in his gurgling demise. Real fans of the show may be pleased to note that it was not a quick death, and couldn’t have happened to a more deserving, highborn shithead. Sucks to suck, dude.
Like many memorable deaths in the series, Joffery’s death is bittersweet (okay, mostly sweet, but bear with me). Sweet, because everyone hates him, and most of Westeros has cause to celebrate his death. Bitter, because Tyrion’s reluctant role as cup-bearer makes him the obvious suspect in the murder of the king, arguably the most redeemable member of the Lannister clan.
Though Cersei may have her mind made up about Tyrion’s guilt, it seems that he’s been set up, and it’s not clear as yet that it was the wine (and not the pie) which conveyed the lethal poison to one of fiction’s top five most despised monarchs. Joffery’s cruel torment of his uncle surely provides an apparent motive for the king’s murder, but it doesn’t seem Tyrion’s style to capitulate the king’s taunts as much as he did, if there was murder in the works by his hand (Tyrion has a knack for boasting his accomplishments as they’re unfolding).
Now that “Game of Thrones” has tossed everything which had been established back up in the air, there’s no telling how things will shake out. Stannis’ claim on the throne becomes stronger, young Tommen Baratheon and his sister Myrcella suddenly become vital players in the immediate line of succession, and the Lannisters will have to fight once more to ensure that they (and not Stannis or Margaery Tyrell) can keep the capitol’s power consolidated under one banner.
For now, we’re left to wait and wonder how this new era of civil unrest will resolve itself—while basking in the warm satisfaction of vengeful spite, for an evil little brat who deserved everything he got. Hallelujah.