Game Of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 2
The Lion and The Rose
Adam O'Brien

Another fun wedding in Westeros. Mostly this episode consisted of setting up story arcs and moving pieces around, but it was by no means a disappointing episode, and it was definitely the right move to give some relatively major characters a break.

I love seeing a character on whom the audience has already passed judgment developed and humanized. While I don’t think we’re going to love Ramsay Snow the way we came to love Jaime, there was much more depth added to his character this episode. We see how he interacts with friends when he takes this new girl, Miranda, with him to play his twisted hunting games, we see how he yearns to be considered his father’s real son as he tries to make him proud, and we even draw a parallel to Jon when we see the surname Snow thrown at him with disdain, and the see the hurt on his face.

We see the first interaction between the Lannister brothers since the second episode of season 1. In a way it felt wrong, and I don’t just mean because it wasn’t in the book. After everything both of them have been through since leaving Winterfell so long ago, it seems wrong that the first thing we see is them back to taking jabs at each other as usual. But then, Tyrion finds a new sparring partner for Jaime, so that’s sort of sweet.

The award for most impressive acting this week goes not to Iwan Rheon for the shame of not measuring up to his father’s expectations, or to Jack Gleason for disturbingly realistic asphyxiation, but to Peter Dinklage, for the way he lied to Shae to make her finally leave King’s Landing. I sincerely hope he submits himself for Best Leading Actor at this year’s Emmys, because if he keeps this up, he’s got it in the bag.

Melisandre is taking Stannis further down the rabbit hole. Or further down the path to becoming a Stalinistic madman who has anyone he perceives a threat summarily executed—I haven’t decided which analogy fits better. I don’t know what Melisandre did to win his absolute loyalty, but he prefers her to his own wife, and has her working on converting his daughter to the Lord of Light as well. Davos, as usual, has had just about enough of this nonsense, but knows better than to open his mouth. I think he and Tyrion would get along great.

There was so much going on at the royal wedding, I want to watch the whole thing three more times to take in every contortionist, fire juggler, mummer, and unlikely hairstyle. I think everyone was satisfied with the ending, but I wish it was a bit more of a surprise. They had the perfect cover, since nobody would expect something like this to happen in a second episode. but the last ten minutes was Joffrey so blatantly shitting on everything that you kind of knew it was all finally going to catch up with him. Then again, after Robb’s marriage and his uncle’s, I guess everyone was expecting the worst from a Westerosi wedding.

I thought the last scene was well-executed, if unsurprising. I will say that they did a good job of building a mystery around what exactly happened. It certainly doesn’t look like Tyrion had any part in it. It felt weird that Jaime was even at the wedding, but it was a nice bookend to Joffrey’s life to have him die in both his parents’ arms, even if he didn’t know it (and I remember Cersei remarking once that Jaime insisted on being in the room when Joff was born).

Aside from the wedding, this episode seemed to be mostly setting up events for this season. Still, compared to last season, this one is already running very smoothly. I just wish they could do more than ten episodes. The storylines could use a bit more room to breathe. (And personally, I don’t like that we’re already 20% through the season, when it’s really just started).

Grade: B-

Other Thoughts:

-This episode is called “The Lion and the Rose,” referring to Joffrey’s and Margaery’s marriage. It reminds me of the first season episode “The Wolf and the Lion,” an episode in which one great family of Westeros mounts an attack on another.

-Sometimes Varys is very cold and pragmatic, and other times he seems to care about protecting the innocent. What game are you playing, Varys?

-In last season’s finale, Joffrey said he wanted to have Robb’s head sent to him. At Joffrey’s wedding, one of the dwarfs pantomimes fornicating with Robb’s head. I don’t even want to know.

-Did Sansa say more than two words this episode? It’s strange, since in the book the whole wedding sequence is told only through Sansa and Tyrion.

-Next week: “Who Didn’t Want Joffrey Dead? A Westerosi Whodunit.”

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