‘Game of Thrones’ Review: “The Lion and the Rose”
‘Game of Thrones’ season 4 conjures its second episode of the season, “The Lion and the Rose,” as the royal wedding of Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell goes predictably awry, while Tyrion makes a heartbreaking sacrifice, and Ramsay Bolton gets a new mission from his father.
Last week's ‘Game of Thrones’ season premiere “Two Swords” saw Tyrion greeting the vengeful Prince Oberyn Martell for Joffrey's wedding, while Jaime had difficulty adjusting to life back in Kings' Landing, Jon Snow prepared the Night's Watch, and Arya encountered an old friend. So, what does the latest installment of season 4 bring?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4, episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose!”
Ramsay Snow, a female companion and Reek (Theon) take part in the hunt of a young girl through the woods, something Reek watches with wide-eyed fear as the conclusion sees Ramsay allowing the dogs to feast on the young girl once an arrow incapacitates her. Meanwhile at breakfast, Jaime laments to Tyrion that he can’t train his left hand without endangering his reputation, for which Tyrion suggests discreet training with Bronn. Jaime takes the former sellsword up on the idea, as the two train by the bay in secret.
Roose Bolton returns to the Dreadfort with his new Frey wife in tow, greeting Ramsay with an interest in seeing his “prize.” Ramsay presents “Reek” as a trained manservant, though Roose laments that Theon may have proven an important bargaining chip in retaking Moat Cailin from the Ironborn. Ramsay demonstrates Reek’s obedience by demanding a shave, during which Ramsay reveals both Robb Stark’s death and the survival of Rickon and Bran. Roose dispatches Locke to the north to learn what he can from Jon Snow, tasking Ramsay with retaking the moat to prove his claim to the Bolton name.
Varys alerts Tyrion to the fact that Shae has been discovered by Cersei, just before the presentation of gifts for Joffrey’s wedding day begins. Joffrey proves uncharacteristically gracious in accepting a kings’ history book from Tyrion, but soon marvels at the Valyrian steel blade from Tywin, using it to destroy the book. A short while later, Tyrion meets with Shae in his chambers to insist they can never be together, degrading her with the intent to send her away to a quiet, safe life in Pentos. Shae resists at first, unafraid of what Tywin and Cersei might conjure, but leaves in tears for Bronn to put her on a ship.
Over at Dragonstone, Melisandre leads the latest round of ritual sacrifices, including Stannis' brother in law, something Davos again protests. A while later at dinner, Stannis seems exceptionally discontent, while Selyse bemoans that their daughter has grown exceptionally stubborn, and tasks Melisandre with imparting wisdom. Melisandre visits Shireen, comforting her fears about the recent burnings, and urging the girl to believe in the one Red God. Elsewhere, Bran awakens from warging into his direwolf, before the others discover a nearby Godswood tree. Bran touches the tree, seeing a crow that urges him to go further north, along with images of dragons over Kings’ Landing.
The wedding ceremony between Joffrey and Margaery goes off without a hitch, after which Tywin and Olenna lead one another to the reception. Bronn assures Tyrion that he watched Shae get on a ship and sale away, while Olenna gives her sympathies to Sansa on the death of her brother. Joffrey seems exceptionally cruel to the entertainment, while Margaery announces that the leftovers from the feast will be given to the poor. Meanwhile, Jaime spars with Loras Tyrell about his impending wedding to Cersei, while Cersei chides Brienne for holding secret affections for Jaime. Afterward, Cersei spites Margaery by sending Pycelle to have the servants give the leftovers to the dogs.
While Tywin and Cersei spar with Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand, Joffrey commands the reception’s attention to introduce a reenactment of the War of the Five Kings, as performed by imps garishly outfitted as the respective men. Joffrey riotously enjoys the show, while the others all bear their discomfort in grim silence. Afterward, Joffrey mockingly suggests Tyrion join the battle, for which Tyrion returns with his own barbed sarcasm. Joffrey pours his wine on Tyrion’s head, thereafter demanding Tyrion act as his cupbearer, and making the task exceptionally difficult, to the discomfort of all around.
Margaery distracts Joffrey with the arrival of a massive pie filled with doves, though Joffrey quickly turns his vitriol to Tyrion once more, demanding his cup be filled. Tyrion reluctantly adheres, but moments later, Joffrey begins coughing, and subsequently choking. Jaime and Cersei rush to his aid, though Joffrey has clearly been poisoned, and bleeds from his facial orifices as he uses the last breaths to point at Tyrion, unseeing that Ser Dontos has spirited Sansa away from the commotion. Joffrey finally dies, as Cersei blames Tyrion for the assassination, and demands the guards restrain him.
Yep, so that happened. Much like the “Red Wedding,” Joffrey’s nuptials are among the worst-kept secrets between book readers and casual viewers of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ an event so monumental, we’d almost never have been able to escape at least some foreknowledge of its unfolding. More than just any simple character assassination however, Joffrey’s death and the subsequent implications for Tyrion herald a landmark shift for the story, though it’s not hard to imagine the narrative implications eclipsed by the sheer fan reactions and internet memes bound to spring up by tomorrow. Even then, the event’s placement in the final moments make it difficult to see the hour before it as clearly, or the multiple foreshadowings and subtle developments.
Last week’s premiere proved expectedly tight as ‘Game of Thrones’ episodes go, though we had to bemoan a sense of lacking consequence as the story eased back into its character-spanning narrative, eclipsing many major developments in favor of a refresher course. This time around “The Lion and the Rose” utilizes said formula much more effectively, no doubt benefiting from showrunners’ decisions to space out the more monumental events of the season, rather than save it all up for episode 9 as with prior years. And while most of the action rightly takes place in Kings’ Landing, we’re still given to some strong character pairings not seen before, notably that of Ramsay Snow and his father, or Melisandre and Stannis’ daughter.
It’s also of interest to see how HBO’s adaptation of the tale plays with its relationship to the books for a more effective story, here pairing Bronn with Jaime for fight training that took place with another character in the books, or the manner in which Ser Dontos’ brief re-introduction last week paid off in his rescue of Sansa from the wedding after Joffrey’s death. Weddings bring out all manner of conflict in people, be it in the world of ‘Game of Thrones’ or not, and it’s entirely fascinating to see the surprises each character proves capable of, whether by Dontos’ competency, or Tyrion’s heartbreaking banishment of Shae for her protection.
Tension permeates the entire hour, as we see Joffrey at his worst, and the difficult manner in which all at the feast formally tolerate his insults, accepting their bitter fate now cemented by the royal union. The death of Joffrey should bring about plenty of new chaos as well, now that Tyrion faces at least some blame for the assassination at Cersei’s insistence, and the Tyrells once again have their plans for power seemingly thwarted. It’ll be interesting to see where the Boltons go with their respective missions as well, though we suspect news of Joffrey’s demise will rightly dominate the next few episodes.
We said it last week, and we’ll say it again, but ‘Game of Thrones’ can prove somewhat difficult to evaluate given its wide-spread nature and plodding storylines, but “The Lion and the Rose” could easily prove a season 4 highlight for the sheer weight it so expertly maneuvers throughout.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of sword-swinging ‘Game of Thrones’ action? What did you think about tonight’s monumental installment, “The Lion and the Rose”? Has Joffrey finally had his just desserts? Check out all our other ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4 coverage, and join us next week for the all-new episode recap of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4's latest installment, "Breaker of Chains" on HBO!