Before we get to the event some of you were probably looking forward to since 1x02, where Joffrey turned out to be a deplorable coward, and most of you (all of you?) definitely were since he had Ned Stark executed in 1x09, let's start with the beginning, or as I'd call it - let's get everything out of the way so that we can show as much wedding as we can.
In the North, Ramsay is hunting. With dogs and his crazy lady friend. And Reek. Reek runs like shit having been tortured and well, considering everything that's been done to him. They are hunting a girl. We are treated to a lovely moment where Myranda, whose cruelty makes Ramsay smile, shoots her with an arrow and then Ramsay sets his dogs on the girl as Reek watches the carnage. Ah, good times.
Ramsay then welcomes his father Roose and his wife Wanda. Roose is joined by my favorite character invented for the sake of the series - Locke. Ramsay compliments Locke on chopping off Jaime's hand. Then Roose berates Ramsay for torturing Theon, who could have been an asset in dealing with Greyjoys. You know, since his father values him so much. Roose really doesn't get the most accurate information, does he?
Ramsay is visibly disappointed as he wanted to make his father proud. Ramsay orders Reek to shave him and as Reek is doing that he drops the news of Robb being dead. The fact that Reek is so very obedient impresses Roose. Reek also tells Roose that Bran and Rickon are alive. Roose and Ramsay decide to hunt them down. Reek also babbles something about Jon Snow to which Locke hilariously asks 'who the fuck is Jon Snow?'. One thing - as great as Alfie Allen's work is - his stare when Ramsay is talking with Roose was absolutely deranged - they should have made him look much, much worse. Reek in the books is so tortured and broken the people who knew Theon don't even recognize him anymore.
Meanwhile, in King's Landing, Tyrion and Jaime are sharing a drink. Tyrion tells Jaime he should practice his left hand and offers to send Bronn to help. Bronn arrives to a nice secluded part of the capital and him and Jaime practice sword fight. There was a remark, by Bronn, about Jaime shitting gold just like his father. That line was humorous, clever and most likely got an 'ohhh!' from all book readers.
On his way to the gifts giving ceremony for Joffrey, Tyrion runs into Varys and acts upset since Varys offered Shae a way out. Varys reminds Tyrion that Tywin will kill her if he finds out about her. During the breakfast Tyrion presents Joffrey his gift - a book about the reign of kings. Joffrey, unlike in the novel, accepts the gift in a gracious manner.
But then, Tywin presents Joffrey his gift - the second sword made out of Ice. Joffrey uses the sword to chop Tyrion's gift to pieces to the guests' horror. Also during the thing Cersei tells Tywin about Shae and Tywin plans on having her apprehended. In the scene we also meet Margaery's father, Mace, who gives Joffrey a great chalice as a gift.
Next we are treated to more nightmarish acting from Sibel Kekili as Tyrion tells Shae she has to leave and go to Pentos. He tries to explain his reasons but Shae grows more annoying and angry with each second. Bronn comes by to take her to the ship and she slaps him. I have no idea what the fuck is happening, I don't remember any ships to Pentos in the book and most likely it's just yet another device to get to plot to where it needs to be in few episodes. Seriously though if I were Tyrion I'd just threw her into the sea and told the bitch to fucking swim.
For me it was quite clear in spite of Stannis' use of the word 'infidel' the reason for him killing his brother in law was his disobedience. Stannis is now a believer in Lord of Light and those who aren't, disobey their king. I had no problem with this scene or the following one, as much as I'd like that one and the one we'll see in next episode were reversed, given how Stannis' primary concern should be rebuilding his army, not the quality of meat at the dinner.
Anyways, we got a nice scene of him eating dinner with Selyse and Melisandre. I thought that went a long way with the audience in terms of showing Stannis in favorable light - Selyse tells Melisandre of Stannis not letting her starve when the castle was under siege, shooting seagulls etc. (*I'd die if he shot me a seagull*). Stannis looks grumpy as always and Stephen Dillane's expressions were just hilarious, as Selyse is gushing about him and he just sits there. There was also this fantastic line that Stannis had about him hating many things but suffering them. Then Selyse starts talking about Shireen and that she worries because Shireen doesn't believe in Lord of Light. She suggests their daughter should be beaten but Stannis comes to her defense saying that she is his daughter and he will not let that happen. Aw!
Melisandre goes to talk to Shireen and explains how Lord of Light works. She tells the girl that there is only one Hell - the one we live in now. I'm a little bothered by the 'there is nothing beyond this world' feel I've been getting from the show, with this scene and last year's Beric scene where he says there is nothing beyond. I took Melisandre's meaning in new episode as there is heaven out there for those who follow The Lord of Light. A lot of justice and tragedy in the series flows from the existence of after life, at least for me - you can at least hope those awful people will get punishment after they die. I'll write about it more after the finale since it also works the other way around.
Any who, back in the North, Bran is warging Summer. Then he is awaken by the Reeds and Hodor and Meera and Jojen warn him that if he warges too often he will forget everything about himself in the process. Then they see Summer standing next to the Weirwood tree and when Bran touches it, he has a series of visions. Now granted, I was pretty wasted when I was watching the episode last night, but even upon rewatch that was one trippy sequence.
Here's what Bran sees - a great Weirwood tree, a dead horse, the three-eyed raven, the crypts of Winterfell, Ned's sword Ice, Ned in King's Landing dungeon, a shot of dragon's shadow over King's Landing (I told you it's gonna be Bran's vision!), a white walker reflected in ice, the Iron Throne covered in snow., little wight girl from the very first episode and a flock of ravens that flew after Sam last season when he killed the white walker. While he is seeing those things a male voice tells him to come look for him under the tree...in the North.
Ah, the wedding. The whole wedding was essentially half of the episode, that was uninterrupted with any other events. I'm not sure if it was the way to go - perhaps all those previous scenes should have been sprinkled here and there, the way they did it you could kinda tell something big is going to happen in the end of the episode.
Margaery and Joffrey are married in the Great Sept while the guests look on. Oberyn, Ellaria, Olenna, Loras, Tywin,Tyrion, Sansa and Cersei are all there. There is also Tommen. You may remember him from Blackwater episode. Tommen is Joffrey's kind and sweet younger brother. The thing is that now Tommen was recast and they got this huge, smug looking kid to play him.
Granted he didn't even have any lines yet and I trust the show runners know what the fuck they are doing, but Tommen scenes in the books were very interesting because of the reactions to his sweetness and innocence from Cersei and Jaime. Cersei's bitterness wasn't affected by him, showing just how deep it runs, yet Jaime is very protective and caring towards the boy, who is his son after all.
Anyways, so MUCH happened during the reception.We got all of those great interactions between characters. Cersei humiliating Pycelle in a truly amazing manner, Olenna talking to Sansa about how awful it was what happened to her brother and how monstrous it is to kill someone at the wedding, Loras and Oberyn exchanging a curious look and Jaime threatening Loras in regards to his impending marriage to Cersei.
There was also a golden moment with Oberyn presenting Ellaria to Tywin and Cersei. I could go on and on about what's being said in this scene but it's just too good. You should rewatch it and then rewatch it again. The battle of sass, hidden insults and vague threats is just amazing there.
There was also a nice scene with Olenna and Tywin, I was very impressed with how gracious and calm Tywin was. Even when presented with Ellaria he was nice to her unlike Cersei who was in full bitch mode the entire episode. And then poor Brienne had a bad luck of running into her.
Cersei offends Brienne suggesting that Brinne swears loyalty to whoever she finds is convenient to. Then she says that Brienne loves Jaime. Brienne is speechless and Jaime observes the whole thing with clear 'oh SHIIIIIIT' expression on his face.
Ah, the joust. In the book there were only two jousters, but here they really took it to another level. In extraordinarily brilliant sequence, the joust turns out to be the mockery of The War of Five Kings! We have Balon, riding on a squid, we have Stannis, riding on Melisandre, bare assed Renly riding on something with golden curls (was that meant to represent just any guy or what it specifically meant to insult Loras?), Robb riding a wolf and Joffrey on a lion.
Not only was the representation exactly what Joffrey would do on his wedding, the reactions to the joust were glorious. It started in somewhat humorous way, with the jousters hitting their rubber lances on the guests' heads - the look on Varys's face was absolutely priceless.- but as the scene progressed and we were seeing the looks on people's faces the tone changed dramatically...
The Lannisters, excluding Tyrion, were laughing at first, so did many guess. But the joust was so cruel - not only was it all a lie, attributing the victory to Joffrey, someone people know didn't really fight the battle, but the mockery of the lords, dead Robb, dead Renly, Joffrey's own "uncle" Stannis (with Balon I'm all right with, I fucking hate Greyjoys) was in such incredibly bad taste, it was all a mixture of sadness and pity among the guests over the idiot king and perhaps themselves as they are now ruled by someone like him.
Loras stood up and left, seeing Renly humiliated like that. Margaery was appalled at the show, while Joffrey was laughing hysterically. We saw the disapproving looks of Varys, Olenna and Oberyn. And then there was Sansa seeing the further humiliation of her brother. The camera focused on her, wearing that necklace she got from Dontos with pride indeed. A little thing I noticed and liked was Tyrion protectively taking her hand as the joust was happening.
After the joust is over Joffrey asks Tyrion if he would like to join the show and fight with the kings. Tyrion declines, much more politely than he did in a book, where he downright called Joffrey a coward and a weak one, too, but Joffrey is still insulted. He comes over and pours the wine all over Tyrion and then orders him to refill his cup.
While Tyrion approaches to get the cup, Joff drops it on the floor. The cup goes beneath the table (a brilliant, brilliant addition on show's part) where Sansa picks it up and hands it over to Tyrion. Then cup gets refilled, gets placed on the table, gets refilled again. I'm saying - watch that cup. A great pigeon pie is brought in and Joffrey slices it open with his new sword - dozens of doves emerge from it and Margaery feeds the king a piece from the plate.
In this exact moment Sansa and Tyrion are leaving and Joffrey turns to them to order Tyrion to refill the cup. After he drinks Joffrey throws some more abuse at Tyrion and then he coughs. Then he coughs again. And again. Tyrion looks concerned and asks what is going on, as Joffrey's coughing turns worse and worse. When he turns to Margaery she shouts in a horrified way that he is choking.
Joffrey falls on the ground and Jaime and Cersei rush to him as Olenna calls Joffrey's guards idiots and tells them to help the boy. The way Jaime run and Cersei's shoving Marg aside to get to Joff was hysterical. Tywin looks concerned and angry, which is essentially the way he usually looks. Cersei is in hysterics and as she holds him we finally see Joffrey's face in a slow and chilling reveal.
Now that was quite impressive. The way in which Joffrey's face last we seen it turned to THAT so quickly was great. I've never seen the victim of choking but I'm not sure people bleed from eyes and nose, so I think the nosebleed here is a dead getaway to let you know the poison was involved. In the book Joffeey actually claws out a piece of flesh from his neck as he is choking but the way his face looked as he was dying made up for that.
It was also great seeing Jaime there. Jaime and Cersei, the parents of Joffrey, both there trying to save him. In the book at the point of the wedding Jaime wasn't there yet and it was Tywin standing the closest to Cersei. I did enjoy that change. Jaime indeed was trying to save the king, as was his duty, and he was the first one there.
As Joffrey is dying he raises his hand pointing to Tyrion holding the chalice. Cersei immediately recognizes what her son is indicating. As Joffrey dies Cersei whispers 'my son!' and cries. But whereas Catelyn's Stark faced with the threat of death and passing of her son approached it with pleas for mercy and profound sadness turning into catatonic shock, Cersei's grief immediately turns to wrath and thirst for vengeance.
I've been praising Lena Headey's performance as Cersei for years now and she was mesmerizing in the final scene of the episode. Her sadness when Joffrey died almost made me tear up. Cersei is evil, Joffey was evil, but in that moment here was a mother grieving after a boy who was once everything she had in her life. All the love, all of hers.
Dontos appears out of nowhere again, right behind Sansa, to tell her if she wants to leave she needs to go with him right now. Cersei says that Tyrion did it. She says he poisoned her son. Tywin turns to him, clearly contemplating that this may have been the case indeed as Cersei goes into full blown fury and yells for the guards to take Tyrion. They surround him and the episode ends on the close up of Joffey's dead face. We got to hear new rendition of The Rains of Castamere during end credits, sounding like a funeral song by Sigur Ros. The members of the band were also the band that showed up briefly during the wedding.
Overall it was a very good episode with many great ideas. However, I was shocked how poorly the parts of episode were directed. I was even more shocked when I found that Alex Graves was responsible, considering he directed my second favorite episode form last season - Kissed by Fire. The whole thing just didn't run smoothly.
George R.R Martin actually wrote that episode, other than Stannis scenes that were moved from the first episode. Yeah, will he ever actually write Stannis scene? We need the guy who said Stannis is the closest thing to the hero this series has writing his scenes not the guys who come in their pants whenever they get to write about Tyrion and Daenerys.
Anyways, I'm shocked. I'm shocked that Martin wrote this episode and the biggest reveal that happens during gift giving scene wasn't even hinted on here. If not now, when? That would only add to people wishing Joffrey dead and add to Tyrion's possible motive if they had him voice his findings to someone, unlike what happens in the book. You can say, hey, it's not a big deal, but that revelation was the answer to one of the central mysteries of season 1. To omit giving it, just because it was a long time ago, is bad storytelling.
And then there was Sansa. That is my minor complaint as I don't like Sansa that much to begin with - she is silly and naive - but I wish they focused on her more when Joffrey was dying. To witness her having the ability of feeling joy as this monster died would make her finally interesting. Alas, not today.
But all of those flaws aside the episode deserves the praise if only because of how extremely well the mystery as to who poisoned Joffrey was preserved. So many hints and possibilities. I must admit had I not known who did it, I wouldn't found the answer just from watching the episode. But it's there if you watch very closely.
And finally, let me just say how much I'm gonna miss Jack Gleeson's acting. He gave us such an exquisite villain to hate. I think entire fanbase agrees just how wonderful his acting was throughout the series.
In the next episode Breaker of Chains, we are getting another Stannis scene (yey!), we see more of Jon acting like a man, we see more of Cersei's fury - apparently the ending scene to this episode is also the beginning of next one - we get one of the most disgusting sex scenes in the whole series and more of Daenerys arrogantly shouting incoherent words.