‘Game of Thrones’ 4×02 recap: “The Lion and the Rose”


Serial killer and Santa impersonator George R. R. Martin, who authored last night’s episode, continued his ruthless killing streak on the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.” Two great tragedies befell the world in “The Lion and the Rose”: We were not blessed by the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons; also, less tragically, King Joffrey Baratheon was poisoned to death on his wedding day — something I can happily drink to.

Even though Joffrey’s death is gladly welcomed, the Purple Wedding’s tragic ending presented viewers, in typical Martin fashion, with a morally complicated scene: Joffrey, the evil king who subjected so many people to so much horror, was finally getting what he deserved, but still, he is only a child — a child gasping for life in his mother’s arms beside his father and (er … awkward) uncle.

That being said, the boy-king was such a douche! Let us all celebrate: The bastard incest-spawn, Joffrey of House Baratheon, the First of His Name, is finally dead.

Personally, I’m going to miss Jack Gleeson and his superb portrayal of television’s best and most complex villain. So when you look back on Joffrey’s terrible little life, be sure to think warmly of Gleeson and his impressive role on “Game of Thrones.”

While Joffrey’s demise was undoubtedly the most important event of the episode and served nicely as a revenge-fueled counterpart to last season’s Red Wedding, last night’s episode was supremely important in developing other storylines: Tyrion and Shae have been caught, and Tyrion is forced to feign anger and hatred in order to ensure Shae’s safe escape from the capital. Looking North, Bran’s power has evolved, and he has gained the power of extreme foresight in a vision telling him to head even farther into the frozen North. Theon Greyjoy, now known as “Reek,” has become somewhat of a play toy to his captor, Ramsay Snow, bastard son of Roose Bolton. And at Dragonstone, the freaky-fire religious love triangle between Stannis Baratheon, his wife Selyse and Melisandre is continuing to intensify as Stannis begins to use more extreme measures, like burning his brother-in-law at the stake, to weed out infidels from his ranks and put his legion in good graces with the R’hllor, the Lord of Light.

Bran’s vision, combined with Stannis’ agreement last season to turn his army north at the suggestion of Melisandre, indicate that King’s Landing may be fading from the war’s center. Mance Rayder’s force of “free folk” have already breached the Wall once and are preparing for an all-out attack on the Seven Kingdoms. What’s more, the White Walkers are growing in number and are marching south, ready to ride their dead ponies right over the Wall to devour all of the babies in Westeros. In the coming episodes, we can surely expect an exciting new twist to the infamous words of House Stark: “Winter is coming.”

The Purple Wedding has set this season up with exciting opportunities, furthering last season’s end, in which many central characters were killed off. Still, important questions linger: By the next episode, will the culprit behind the latest regicide be revealed? Will Joffrey come back as a ghost and be featured on this weird PBS special? Did someone, somewhere, gather his little hyenas in a cave and celebrate his or her nefarious scheme to poison the king on the wedding day in a choreographed dance number like this guy did? (P.S. Need to procrastinate? Watch the “No king, no king, lalala!” in every language, because the Internet rules.)

So, as King Joffrey lies in his mother’s arms, choking, vomiting bloody dove cake, gasping for his last breath and secreting blood and various bodily fluids from every orifice, let us all raise a cup of fine vintage wine to the end of King Joffrey Baratheon’s rule, and let us say, “May the next master of the Iron Throne be a female, one whose name rhymes with Scheanerys Shmargaryen.”

After tonight’s “Game of Thrones” episode, I will never, ever go to another wedding. Especially once I’m king.