‘The Lion And The Rose’ – The cowardly lion chokes and croaks in GOT’s fantastic second episode.
The monstrous, vile, little villainous weasel Joffrey Baratheon is dead, in the most humiliatingly and ignoble way possible. After receiving the Widow’s Wail valyrian sword (and flaunting it by smashing a book to pieces), the young King wound up being murdered by poisoned wine and choking to death in front of his guests. A rather fitting death for someone as cowardly and ignorant as Joffrey was: being cradled by his mother on his wedding day rather than dying for the right to his throne on the battlefield.
The episode wasn’t all about the King’s death however – even though the spectacle of it was a joy to behold – as other familiar faces reappeared for the first time this series.
Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre and Davos, the Onion Knight, are all still plotting to win the war with the help of the new Gods and some Wicker Man-esque sacrifices. While their enemies soak up the sun and the alcohol in King’s Landing, these three wary musketeers shuffle about dark and murky Dragonstone with their own agendas.
We see Theon again, but in no way the man we once knew. Never quite as petulant or reprehensible as Joffrey, Theon was simply a proud boy with a confused sense of duty and ambition. Now, he’s Reek – a broken plaything to the masochistic Ramsay Snow, bastard son of Reese Bolton, played with gleeful menace by Iwan Rheon. His spirit has been destroyed, as he is utterly submissive to Ramsay despite his torment.
Tyrion, who remains the most morally upstanding, and human, of the entire cast of characters continued this episode to be beaten down by others. First he makes the tough decision to send Shae away out of fear at what his father may do to her. Then he becomes the joke of the wedding party and Joffrey’s target of ridicule before being detained by the King’s guard at the command of the grieving, black-hearted Cersei. Why must Cersei be so callous and easily swayed by her own pride? At least Jaime Lannister has some level of honour to his actions, in his struggle to remain a soldier, a protector of the realm, rather than live a life of comfort and relative ease at Casterly Rock. When Brienne admits to Cersei that Jaime saved her life a number of times while they were on the road together, Cersei shows no happiness at hearing the heroism of her brother, but only the unmistakeable disdain for a woman who caught Jaime’s attention when she could not. Her wounded ego leaves her incensed at any suggestion that she may be losing power – as the Queen, as her brother’s lover, and as a mother.
Joffrey’s death is a bit like an Agatha Christie whodunit. There’s Cersei’s favourite suspect – Tyrion – but there are the Tyrell’s, the Martell’s (Oberyn looked a bit smug there throughout the wedding feast), Varys and his network of spies, the ghost of Ned Stark. Really, so many possibilities. Potential spoiler: *Sansa too has perhaps played a bit of a role in Joffrey’s demise, according to some internet rumours flying around*. The one certainty is that this is one character’s death in the series that will see no mourning from viewers, but the future absence of actor Jack Gleeson will undoubtedly leave a hole in this vast ensemble. Well done Jack, you played a little s**t with such aplomb.