Game of Thrones Recap: Long Live the King

Game of Thrones Season 4 RecapThe following is a Game of Thrones recap, which means it includes spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Joffrey and Margaery are married on this week’s Game of Thrones, but we’re the ones who get the biggest gift of all.

That’s because Joffrey, the whining, moaning, selfish, psychotic, sniveling, power-hungry boy king who has sorely needed his comeuppance since Season 1 finally gets it.

In the terminal sense.

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Yup, Joff chokes to death at his own wedding reception, and his demise (or is it murder?) throws the palace into a tizzy that’s likely to last the rest of the season and just may take down a few of your favorites in its wake.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s savor every delicious morsel of Joffrey’s just desserts as we review “The Lion and the Rose.”

HOUSE BOLTON | We’ll deal with the non-wedding storylines first; pleasure is so much sweeter when it’s delayed, don’t you think? We open on a group of young people frolicking in the woods. Oh wait, no – it’s actually Ramsay Snow and a woman excitedly chasing a very frightened girl through the trees. The pair carry bows and arrows and very aggressive dogs, and Theon aka Reek trails behind, barely keeping up. The huntress pegs the girl through the thigh, then Ramsay lets the dogs have at her; the whole enterprise seems to be little more than sport to the sadistic pair, though Reek looks like he’s having a hard time with it.

Back at the castle, Roose Bolton has returned to the Dreadfort with his new wife, who’s one of Walder Frey’s daughters, and Locke, otherwise known as the man who de-handed Jaime Lannister. He’s not psyched to see that Ramsay has flayed his “prize”; Roose had hoped to trade a “whole” Theon to Balon Greyjoy in order to remove the Ironborn from Moat Cailin, thus freeing the Bolton army to take by force the northern lands Tywin Lannister gave him in name only.

But Roose’s bastard maintains that while “Theon was our enemy,” Reek “will never betray us” – and proves it when he hand Balon’s son a straight razor and asks for a shave. While Roose watches, Reek confesses that the boys he burned at Winterfell weren’t Bran and Rickon and learns that Roose killed Robb Stark. Theon pauses in his work, affected by the reveal, but doesn’t use the razor to slit Ramsay’s throat – though he easily could. While I contemplate whether this shuffling, shaking, apologetic husk of an individual really can be the brat formerly known as Theon, Roose sends Locke to find the Stark survivors and orders a happy Ramsay to “take the moat for the family.”

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HOUSE BARATHEON | Melisandre sacrifices three more people – including Stannis’ brother-in-law – to the Lord of Light, an event that doesn’t sit well with Davos. But Stannis doesn’t want to hear it; food supplies are running low and he’s preoccupied with his crazy wife’s estimation that their daughter’s soul is in trouble. At Lady Selyse’s behest, Melisandre goes to visit the imprisoned princess for a little religious re-education. It’s rather tame – not a leech in sight! – but I worry, nonetheless. By the old gods and the new, can’t Davos just grab Shireen and make for the hills?

HOUSE STARK | Meera wakes Bran from a warging dream and warns him that the longer he stays in Summer’s mind, the more likely it is he’ll forget his family and his mission. As they continue north, Bran asks Hodor to carry him to a heart tree that, when touched, overwhelms the invalid with images of the three-eyed raven, Winterfell, Ned Stark and such. “I know where we have to go,” Bran tells his friends after he comes around. (Side note: Best part of this sequence? The dying deer saying, “Hodor.”)

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HOUSE LANNISTER: NOTHING-GOLD-CAN-STAY EDITION | Over a private meal, Jaime laments that he can no longer keep the king safe with his sword hand gone. Tyrion suggests he learn how to fight with his other paw, which leads to a rather interesting arrangement: Bronn and Jaime are going to be sparring partners until the Lannister twin gets his groove back. During their first lesson, Jaime is humiliated by having to use a blunted sword instead of his beloved Valyrian steel blade, but he likely forgets about that when he’s forced to use everything he has to hold his own against the sellsword.

Meanwhile, Varys informs Tyrion that Cersei knows about his relationship with Shae; it’s only a matter of time before Tywin keeps his promise and has her killed. So Tyrion does what he must. (Spoiler alert: It’s terrible and will make your heart hurt.) After summoning Shae to his quarters, Tyrion tells his lover, “I’m afraid our friendship can’t continue.” “Our ‘friendship?'” she replies in a tone that makes me afraid, and I haven’t even done anything!

Shae quickly sees through his lame excuse about upholding his vows to Sansa. She knows he’s afraid of Cersei and Tywin, but she wants to fight them together with him. Her show of love and solidarity leaves Tyrion no choice but to go nuclear, and it clearly hurts him as much as it devastates her. “You’re a whore” who’s not fit to bear his children, he states, almost crying – and certainly not able to look her in the eye – as he berates her.

Once Shae is reduced to sobs,  she angrily leaves and Bronn follows her with orders to make sure she gets on a ship bound for Pentos.  (Side note: If you’re in the mood to get even more depressed, re-watch my favorite Shae/Tyrion scene ever – from the second season.)

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HOUSE LANNISTER: THE-MAIN-EVENT EDITION | So that brings us to the festivities surounding Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery, which kick off with a gift-giving ceremony. Tyrion presents his nephew with a “book every king should read.” And once Tywin hands his grandson the Valyrian steel sword that’s a companion to Jaime’s, that book gets julienned.

A ceremony in the sept – good God, Margaery’s hair is nearly scraping the rafters here, isn’t it? But she looks lovely – goes off without incident, and Joffrey soundly kisses his new queen before the entire congregation as Tyrion whispers to Sansa, “Better her than you.” PREACH, Brother Lannister. (Side note: Who wants to hazard a guess as to which adjective best describes Joff’s kissing style? Reptilian? Lizardy? Slobbery? Whatever it is, you know it ain’t pleasant.)

The reception gets off to a good start, as well. Well… “good” graded on the King’s Landing bell curve, that is.  Jaime warns Loras that Cersei will murder him if they are married, and the Knight of Flowers gives as good as he gets by reminding Jaime that he’ll never wed Cersei, either. (Snap!) On the other side of the party, Brienne, wearing some culottes that look like they were modeled on Dr. Crusher’s TNG lab ensemble, is nearly done in by Cersei’s guess that the lady knight is in love with Jaime. (When you’ve got a sec, rewind and re-watch the affection and warmth on Gwendoline Christie’s face get wiped away by pure shock; it’s a beautiful transition to behold.) And Oberyn and Ellaria enter the bash only to be immediately drawn to a contortionist practicing her craft. (NORMAL.)

When the singers, jugglers and firebreathers have bored Joffrey, he announces entertainment of his own design: “The war of the five kings!” he says proudly as dwarves dressed like caricatures of Renly, Stannis, Robb, Balon and himself engage in a faux battle designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Though many laugh, Tyrion, Margaery, Loras and Olenna are among those stonefaced – as is Sansa when the Robb stand-in feigns decapitation.

Tyrion’s ire leads him to subtly dress Joff down in front of the whole crowd, and while I’m fairly certain the blonde snot doesn’t know exactly what happened, he knows he doesn’t like it. So Joffrey forces his uncle to fetch him some wine, which he quaffs… then starts to choke.

In the ruckus caused by Joffrey’s emergency, Dontos the fool appears by Sansa’s side and tells her if she wants to leave, they’ve gotta go now. No one notices, given that the boy king is bleeding from the nostrils while Jaime and Cersei flail uselessly around him. As Joff’s eyes bug out and he breathes his last, he lifts a hand and points at Tyrion… who has the supreme bad luck of picking up Joffrey’s cup and inspecting it just as all eyes land on him.

“He did this! He poisoned my son, your king! Take him!” Cersei screeches, demanding Tyrion’s arrest as Joffrey, dead and streaming blood and drool, stares blankly at the sky.

Good riddance, boy king. If there’s any justice, Ned Stark’s standing at the gates to the afterlife, you dig?

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!