Crumbs: Reviews » Dramas » Game of Thrones » Season 4 » The Lion and the Rose
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.
63
/100
Viewer
71
/100

Game of Thrones

HBO

83
/100
Viewer
79
/100

Episode 2 - The Lion and the Rose

16 April 2014

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Ramsay demonstrates to Lord Bolton that Theon is now thoroughly broken in as Reek. Bolton gives orders to drive the Iron Islanders from Moat Cailin and track down Bran and Rickon. Tyrion sends Shae away to Pentos and gets Bronn to help Jaime learn to fight left handed. Bran is spending more time inhabiting Summer. He touches a Weirwood tree and learns where they must go next. Stannis burns more of his people. Melissandre is sent to talk to his daughter. Joffrey and Margaery get married. Afterwards all manner of entertainment takes place along with much tension as various characters interact. Joffrey takes his torment of Tyrion to another level but after eating his wedding pie he collapses in agony and dies.

The Good: I guess two things are very clear after this episode. One is that we know why last episode was designed to get everyone oriented and on the same page. And the second is that Game of Thrones  really is going to avoid anything that even resembles predictability or trope. If Arya had gone with Jaqen H'ghar, spent a decade in Bravos learning how to change her face, joined the King's Guard and then one day cut Joffrey's head off it would have been pretty satisfying. But even that series of events was too straightforward for George R R Martin to comprehend. We may all be about to be tested as to how far we can accept a narrative that lurches far away from expected results.

For now though I am extremely satisfied. Obviously any wedding sequence was going to be tense after what happened last season. But this had quite a different effect on me. At the Red Wedding I had a sense of unease but no idea the extent of horror the show was capable of. Now I was so hyper-aware of it that every single conversation that took place reverberated with tension. Was Shae going to reappear? Were Loris and Oberyn going to start shagging behind the marquee? Was Pycelle going to be executed on the spot? All manner of craziness seemed possible given how well the character conflicts have been established and obviously just how consequential the Red Wedding was.

Instead it was Joffrey tormenting Tyrion that began to emerge as the focal point. Was Tyrion going to snap? Or was Joffrey about to kill him? With Tywin and Cersei refusing to intervene it seemed for a moment like the worst might happen. Instead Joffrey is gone and a major thorn in the side of pretty much everyone is swept aside. Once again my mind is blown by what exactly is going to happen next. Or more to the point who did it? Other than the Tyrells and his own parents (who emotively end up as the ones cradling him) almost everyone has a motive for killing him. Even Tywin, though that seems far fetched. Ser Dontos seems to be involved but surely he can't be behind the whole thing can he? Surely the necklace didn't infect Sansa in some way that her merely holding the goblet could poison Joffrey? It seems more likely the pie was poisoned which makes it much harder to easily establish who did it. And amidst all the wild speculation one has to think of Melissandre right? She put leeches on Gendry and then tossed them into the fire. One for Robb, one for Joffrey and one for Balon. If I were Balon I wouldn't think about getting remarried anytime soon.  

All of that speculation is just to give you a taste of my thought process and to confirm what a great job this episode did of delivering another shocking twist with far reaching consequences. I really enjoyed the portrayal of Joffrey as the sadistic prankster. He is Caligula come to life, a sociopath with desperate insecurities who is suddenly handed absolute power. His decision to have the little people mock his enemies in front of the Tyrells and Sansa was exactly the kind of tasteless pantomime he would delight in. Seeing everyone's sickened reactions was tremendous and Margaery was put in a fascinating position as she tried to rein him in while sounding positive. Poor Tyrion's attempts to maintain his dignity were emotive and as a viewer I really absorbed the sense of powerlessness of those standing next to the King.

The theme of powerlessness was carried very strongly in the Theon story too. His terror at being tortured any more has reduced him to nodding servitude even when holding a sharp blade to Ramsay's throat. You can see he hasn't lost the sense of who he used to be and his despair at the news of Robb's death. But he is hanging on to life as best he can. Another mirror to this scenario was Varys coldly telling Tyrion that he would betray Shae if Tywin asked him because he would lose his own life should he play favourites.

Back at the wedding I was a big fan of almost every interaction, right down to Pycelle sleazing around another woman. Cersei's fury at Margaery courting the people, Oberyn poking the Lannisters hard with his disgust, Loras eyeing up the Dornish Prince and brushing Jamie off and Lady Olenna reminding Tywin of his debts to the Iron Bank. As I said earlier every interaction was pointed and interesting and carried the potential for disaster. The depth was truly impressive.

Tyrion being forced to drive Shae away was very sad, though I suspect we haven't seen the last of her. I really liked that Jaime could be honest with Tyrion in a way we've only seen him be with Brienne so far. And of course Bronn is a delight as he helps Jaime learn how to fight again. Bran's vision at the Weirdwood tree was interesting and used imagery that Daenerys saw at the House of the Undying. Finally I thought the direction of the opening sequence was excellent. We hear the laughs of joy from Ramsay and his girlfriend and assume that some pleasant scene has begun only for the true misery of what was on display to come fully into view.

The Bad: Nothing as such.

The Unknown: As I did after the Red Wedding I think it's worth asking the question of whether we've lost something by losing Joffrey? I felt there was a fascinating showdown with Tywin coming one day, long before Arya or Jon or Daenerys could get to him. Perhaps this twist will only deepen my appreciation for the narrative but we should acknowledge the possibility that it won't. If the Gods or the Lord of Light or fate or medieval realities or just George R R Martin's refusal to be predictable have robbed us of satisfaction, is that a good thing? We shall see.

Brienne's inability to answer the question which Cersei poses her (whether she loves Jaime) was an interesting moment. In another show it would have been obvious that Brienne did have feelings for him. But here she has a dozen reasons not to answer the question including the issue of whether she knows about Jaime and Cersei. She must have heard the rumours. And from what point of view is Cersei coming from? Is she jealous? Is she looking to fob him off on someone else or use this against him? Intriguing stuff.

So Tommen would now become King right? He is even younger than Joffrey and so this should put Tywin in an even more powerful position as he can rule without the irritation of keeping his mad Grandson happy. Plus Cersei will now be back at the forefront of events as Tommen will rely on her for advice and presumably Margaery will no longer be needed.  

I will need someone at Dragonstone to mention the call to head north to the Wall soon. It was the concluding note of last season and even if I swallow the fact that every other Lord in Westeros is ignoring this summons I can't let Stannis be silent on the matter much longer.

Best Moment: I was really conflicted in the moment of Joffrey's choking. I was genuinely pleased that he might be about to get a richly deserved painful death. But I was also sad at the thought that simple poison would do what a righteous sword could not. Still it was a shock and a massive moment for the show.

Conclusion: A superb episode of television, so rich and dense that I feel mentioning every moment I liked would become unreadable.

('DiggThis)

Feedback

Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment

Comments

  • I'm afraid I've missed the boat on this episode, and find that everything's already been said! I'll be earlier with feedback this coming week!

    Just to say I thoroughly enjoyed this, thought it was a very well constructed murder mystery, and hope they parcel out the answers in a well-paced way over the next eight episodes! The bitchy comments and deadly factionalism of the King's Landing scenes really have made these event setpiece gatherings into 'Dallas with Dragons' and I think as long as it doesn't pitch too far over into camp I think this will continue to be a good mode.

    On with the series!

    Viewer score: 78 / 100

    Posted by David F, 20/04/2014 6:29pm (3 years ago)

  • Some post podcast comments:

    I heard what Bolton said about finding a way to seek into the North. But seems like one sentence fix to try to avoid a plot hole. All i have known about Moat Cailin is that it's formidable place that almost impossible to breach coming from the south.

    Regarding Sansa coming with Dontos, that next week preview showed the both of them running away, so it's why I came to that conclusion. My complaint was the lack of development between the two of them and it would have been more believable on why Sansa would go with Dontos if the show had more scenes with them, imo.

    Most of my non-book reader friends who watches the show reckons that Olenna was the one who poisoned Joffrey with Sansa's necklace. It's possible but the problem I had with that is why does Olenna need to smuggle the poison in Sansa's necklace. What happens if Sansa decided not to wear the necklace to the wedding for fear of Joffrey finding out that Dontos gave her the necklace and getting him in trouble. I don't remember the guests, the important ones who sits near Joffrey anyway being patted down for weapons and poisons, so Olenna can have the poison hidden in the pockets (or whatever lady nobles use to store small items) in her dress. If the Sansa's necklace was the one that was used, seems like it's a plan that was made more complex than it needs to be.

    Posted by Dave, 20/04/2014 1:19pm (3 years ago)

  • ***POST PODCAST COMMENTS***

    Well put together podcast guys!

    You both really breathed three dimensional depth into Joffrey’s character with everyone’s comments.

    At the other side of listening to it, I am now seeing Joffrey as a scared, inexperienced, (ill prepared to rule) child who masked these attributes using his morbid fascination of fear and cruelty to reign and hold control his subjects (over and over again because he knows how to do little else.) A painful hollow death to the richest child from two ailing houses that has a mother and two fathers that never positively mentored him; a mother obsessed and driven mad by the game; one father off drinking and whoring his way to an early grave; another established him as illegitimate at birth who is still obsessed with being the best swordsmen in Westeros. If George R.R Martin is deliberately robbing us (the audience) of a righteous death for Joffrey then he’s broken the fourth wall and that is masterful writing and my score shoots up to an 84. Even in death Joffrey continues to torture us (along with the living characters.)

    I love the speculation section you both put together for the feedback podcast. You momentarily transformed all of us into Varys and ‘spyders’ for each other!

    Indeed this is as big as the shooting of JR in Dallas. What if next episode (like Dallas) the wedding and Joffrey’s death are just a bad dream of Tyrion’s mind?

    Speculation is delicious with this episode. (BTW I am dying to hear Tim’s speculation.) Would you like another slice of the wedding pie? If so I started a thread here:

    http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/197

    I would love to hear what you all have to say!

    Rickon was sent by Bran with Osha and his direwolf, Shaggydog to Lord Greatjon of House Umber in Season three.

    We learned Tywin told Lord Bolton he can have the North if he can control it. What if Tywin ever learned the Stark boys were alive? Would Tywin give troop support to Bolton or take back the North for himself and go after them?

    Posted by Fluids, 18/04/2014 8:45pm (3 years ago)

  • I can't help laughing every time I see Bran's warging dreams and the slain deer's mouth moves and says 'Hodor!'. Speculation: Will something happen to poor Hodor? How would Bran get around without him?

    Posted by Fluids, 16/04/2014 5:28pm (3 years ago)

  • Great question Dave about Kevan and his son Lancel. It's unclear where they are. Lancel is probably at King's Landing (probably because of Cersei). Kevan could be at Casterly Rock.

    Correction and speculation: I goofed with my assessment of Stannis taking the thrown after Tommen. It would go to Myrcella first. If the Dornish side with Stannis against the Lannisters, and kill Myrcella because she's illegitimate then Stannis wins the throne. However, it's important to remember that bastard's in Dorne carry just as much right to a throne as legitimate heirs.

    Posted by Fluids, 16/04/2014 2:16pm (3 years ago)

  • I thought Yara took a ship around Westeros with 50 men to invade Dreadfort to rescue Theon by going up the Weeping Water? Perhaps Balon has other folks at Moat Cailin waiting for Ramsay?

    I don't think Margaery stands to gain anything from the death of Joffrey because she bore him no children. The throne I believe goes to Tommen (Cersei's youngest son.)

    If Tommen dies it goes to Stannis Baratheon.

    I don't quite see what Cersei gains from the death of Joffrey either.

    Sansa doesn't gain anything except revenge of her father from the death of Joffrey.

    Posted by Fluids, 15/04/2014 7:28pm (3 years ago)

  • A few thoughts on Episode Two: 'The Lion and the Rose'

    I'm really liking Oberyn the more I see him. He handled Cersei and Tywin perfectly.

    As much as I enjoyed seeing Joffrey suffer with the poison I can't help but think how satisfying it would've been to see Arya staring him in the eyes, before listing off all of his misdemeanours and driving a sword into him.

    Joffrey's death does, however, open up so many interesting plot points and adds intrigue. Who killed him? Was it Sansa, Dontos, Margaery, Tyrion, a Cersei/Tywin combination? So many suspects all with good reasons, even within his own family.

    One thing is for sure, with the throne once again unoccupied we can expect the power struggle to turn up a notch.

    Elsewhere, can't wait for that sick puppy Ramsay to arrive up at Moat Cailin to find Yara Grayjoy and the Iron Islanders waiting for him.

    As sadistic as he is, he doesn't stand a chance against them. It's strange how we see so little of Baelon and the Grayjoy's considering he is viewed elsewhere as such a genuine threat to the throne (i.e. Melisandre saved him his own leech; Joffrey included him in the dwarves play etc).

    Viewer score: 81 / 100

    Posted by Peter Riegler, 15/04/2014 6:21pm (3 years ago)

  • I set up some Game of Throne pages in the Forums last week. I got all this information just from the TV show (no books.) This thread here goes through the location of every living character in that entire world: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/190

    Direwolves are accounted for here:
    http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/189

    Here's thread listing all the threads:
    http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/180

    Perhaps you will find these things helpful. Please feel free to contribute.

    Posted by Fluids, 15/04/2014 2:39pm (3 years ago)

  • Hi Robin, I`m glad you`re doing another podcast on a show I follow. Miss your Breaking Bad coverage and the viewer comments!

    I really liked this episode. It was good to see the character developments before the wedding and the wedding was a real masterpiece and pleasure to watch unfold. I was spoilt too online but didn`t know the ins and outs of it so it didn`t ruin anything.

    Re your review of Two Swords, I have to say I agree a little more action would have been good but I am one of those viewers who needed a recap on events and it has helped immensely. I`m a non-book reader and find GOT very frustrating at times as it is hard to follow who everyone is, how they relate to everyone and which place they are in. I made the mistake of not watching season 2 for a while after the first and got very lost with the introduction of lots of more characters. I nearly gave up on the show but Blackwater made me persevere. So far this season I`m following it a lot easier and enjoying it a lot.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Kay, 15/04/2014 11:32am (3 years ago)

  • A much better episode than last week's. I have to say they nailed Joffrey's wedding aka Purple Wedding in the books more than the Red Wedding. I suppose being written by GRRM helps. I hesitate to use the term Purple Wedding because Joffrey didn't turn purple, though in his last moments, his face was pretty gruesome to look at.

    A few of my non-book reader friends, while happy with Joffrey's demise, they weren't thrilled that his head wasn't cut off by a Stark. I can understand the feeling, but if that would have happened, it's like the tired cliché of the son (in this case, Robb Stark) avenging his father's death. All I can say is that this is not that type of show.

    The Most Memorable:

    Joffrey's Wedding. I don't know if anyone shares the same opinion, but I will sure miss Jack Gleeson's as Joffrey. I hate the character because the actor played him so well and not because I can't stand the acting like I do with the one who plays Shae. I read that he will quit acting after GoT. If that's still on that would be a shame. Maybe he's worried about being typecast or not getting any acting roles after GoT. He's better actor that the one who played Draco Malfoy and he's getting roles after Harry Potter, so Jack shouldn't worry too much.

    The Good:

    Theon aka Reek, Lord Bolton and Ramsay scene. I complained plenty about Theon and Ramsay scenes last season. At least this one didn't have Theon being tortured and screaming constantly.

    The Bad:

    Didn't care for Stannis' scene. I mentioned last season that one of the showrunners openly admit that he doesn't like the character. I sure hope that as the series goes that he's not totally ruined. Though Shireen's hair looks like it's brown now. The showrunners must have heard me constantly complaining about it.

    The scene when Ser Dontos took away Sansa. It's more of aproblem because of the prior episodes to this one. Ser Dontos approached Sansa much earlier in the books than in the series. In the books, it was done right after when Sansa saved Ser Dontos from being executed by Joffrey's order. If the two had more time together, I can buy why Sansa would go with Ser Dontos, but in the show, they only had one scene. I suppose giving a nice necklace will do that to a girl.

    The Unknown:

    How did Lord Bolton end up in Dreadfort? Moat Cailin is still held by the Iron Borns and I remember that Robb said in the show that to get to the north you have to get past Moat Cailin first. Now you telling me that there's a secret passage? Looks like Robb isn't as knowledgeable about the North as we would have liked. Did Bolton kept this secret all this time for when he would betray Robb?

    Anyone know if Kevan and Lancel Lannister were in the wedding? Are the two actors still in the show? Haven't seen them since season two.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Dave, 15/04/2014 2:52am (3 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments