So that happened.
In the unlikely event you're unaware of the events of last night's episode, I'll refrain from revealing anything until after the jump. Suffice to say, after the last four episodes of Game of Thrones, I'm willing to add a new item to the list of classic blunders: never get involved in a land war in Asia, never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, and never attend a wedding in Westeros.
Locations (* = new): King's Landing, Dragonstone, The Dreadfort, Winterfell, The Wall, Meereen
Ser(s) Not Appearing In This Episode: Jon Snow, Samwell Tarly; Daenerys Targaryen, Ser Friendzone, Arya Stark, The Hound, Littlefinger
I confess, I didn't think we'd get to the Purple Wedding (AKA the Most Anticipated TV Death Since Lori From The Walking Dead) this early in the season, even though it sets the stage for many of the events in A Feast for Crows. Still, the way it just sort of ... happened was something of a surprise.
Maybe it was a conscious effort to diminish the impact of the Mad Men premiere.
But before we get to that, there are other things afoot in Westeros. To the north, Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) and his "lady" Myranda enjoy a little of the Most Dangerous Game, hunting a terrified girl while Theon/Reek (Alfie Allen) watches. Fun's over right quick when dad Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) shows up at the Dreadfort, with Lady Walda (nee Walder) in tow (Locke, who removed Jaime's hand, is there as well). Bolton reminds Ramsay he's not a true Bolton, i.e. stop flaying people. As a retort, Ramsay shows him just how domesticating cutting off a man's junk can be.
"Reek" also reveals another key fact: Bran and Rickon Stark are still alive.
Speaking of them, we visit Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and company north of the Wall for the first time this season (Hodor!). Bran's "warging" is getting out of control, as he continues shifting into Summer for longer and longer periods of time. Jojen (Thomas Sangster) and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) warns him against such tomfoolery. The group finds a heart tree, touching it reveals to Bran they must continue north, and also gives Bran visions of dragons flying over King's Landing. That's some good foreshadowing there, Lou.
Things are festive -- I guess -- on Dragonstone, where Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) sacrifices three men, including Lord Florent, Stannis' brother-in-law, to the Lord of Light (you know, the only god of love and compassion). This is prelude to an awkward dinner where the Stannis (Stephen Dillane), Melisandre, and Queen Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald), who complains about daughter Shireen's sassy mouth. Melisandre pays the girl a visit in a scene that was squirm inducing even by GoT standards: "There is only one hell, princess: the one we live in now." Nice of you to drop by, lady!
Back at King's Landing, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) confides in Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) that he can no longer fight. Little brother suggest he train in secret with Bronn (Jerome Flynn). Frankly, anything that keeps America's favorite wiseass sellsword in the picture is fine with me.
Tyrion has other problems. Varys (Conleth Hill) tells him Cersei knows about Shae (Sibel Kekilli), meaning Tywin will find out sooner rather than later. Sure enough, Cersei (Lena Headey) tells the Hand of the King at the pre-wedding party gift party (groom shower? Is that a thing?). Tyrion, unconvincingly playing Bad Cop, tries to convince Shae to leave, but in keeping with her petulant behavior over the last few episodes, she declines. Nevertheless, he has Bronn put her on a ship to Pentos.
Back to the giftening. Tyrion gives Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) a book on the kings of Westeros, but Tywin (Charles Dance) trumps him by giving Joffrey the other Valyrian steel sword forged from Ice. Joffrey names it "Widow's Wail" (and kudos to whoever yelled out "Stormbringer!" when he was taking suggestions) and uses it to hack Tyrion's book up, charming Sansa by saying using it will be "like beheading Ned Stark all over again." And then has the balls to tell Tyrion he needs to get him another present.
Finally, the wedding. Some decent laughs are to be had, courtesy, as always, of Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg), who not so subtly reminds Tywin of the debts this latest war has racked up. Bronn assures Tyrion that Shae is safely away ("Go drink 'til it feels like you did the right thing."). Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) gives Jaime as good as he gets, re: Cersei ("You'll never marry my sister." "Neither will you." DAAAAMN). Meanwhile, Cersei tells Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) to step off, and Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) and Tywin have a friendly disagreement about the acceptability of rape and the murder of children. You know, the usual wedding banter.
The lead up to the Big Moment included a troupe of little people reenacting the War of Five Kings. I felt skullfucking the direwolf head was a bit much, but Joffrey seemed to enjoy it, and that's what counts. In fact if were to tally up all of his offenses, they'd take an entirely separate recap. Here are a few:
- Ordering the Hound to kill Mycah - Having Ned beheaded when he said he'd send him to the Wall - Beating Sansa - Ordering the murder of all Robert's bastards - Prostitute fu - Pelting Sigur Rós with coins (okay, that was actually kind of funny)
He enraged so many people -- his own family included -- that the only thing missing was a montage of Tyrion/Sansa/Stannis et al. muttering, "I'll get Joffrey Lannister if it's the last thing I do!" Being a smug book reader, I know who the poisoner is, but for now it looks like Tyrion will be spending some time in the Black Cells.
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Finally, give Gleeson credit, he created a character so loathsome his death may go down as the least mourned in history. At last the audience has a murder they can feel good about. In fact, I eagerly await* all the YouTube compilations of people laughing and high-fiving during the episode.
* Not really
Things That Will Piss Off Book Purists: Who the hell is Myranda? Bronn didn't train Jaime in left-handed fighting, tongue-less Ilyn Payne did, and it was Jaime's idea, not Tyrion's -- how much this has to do with Wilko Johnson's terminal cancer diagnosis is unclear; "Reek" never told anybody Bran and Rickon were alive; Melisandre didn't visit Shireen; Loras and Oberyn? It's HBO; Jaime actually didn't get back to King's Landing until after Joffrey's death; I wasn't sure, but it didn't look like any of the dwarves were female, which may be significant for future episodes.
Next Week: Where is Sansa off to? How screwed is Tyrion? Can Castle Black stand? Can Meereen?