4.15.2014

Game of Thrones S4E2 "The Lion & The Rose" [Thirteen Things]


SPOILERS AHEAD

1)      Well, for book readers it was pretty clear from the title of the episode that this was going to feature The Purple Wedding. Rightfully so, approximately half of the episode’s run-time is dedicated to building it to a crescendo. Raise your hand if you have a list of the episode titles and are pairing it with your predictions for what happens in each episode. I can’ t be the only one playing this game against myself, seeing if I can sift the seven or eight key moments and reveals into their small screen receptacle. Since it seems I’m also obsessively analyzing each ep for what the opening credits do and don’t include, I coulda’ done without Meereen in this one and would have liked Moat Cailin instead. The Neck, The Riverlands, most TV viewers don’t remember this stuff, and Roose’s map was perhaps shown too quickly, with too tight a shot to provide enough context.

2)      So, that opening scene. People talk shit about Littlefinger being an Agent of Chaos, but I don’t buy it. While Lord Petyr Baelish may be a brilliant catalyst pulling the strings behind the scenes (which book readers know far better than show-only watchers at this point), the destabilization engineered in the shadows by him and people like Lord Varys is all about creating order, their order. Ramsay Snow just might be the real Joker. He’s the true Agent of Chaos, and we sometimes get the sense that he just wants to watch the world burn.

3)      I enjoyed Tyrion doing his best to comfort brooding Jaime, pouring his wine out was a particularly accommodating gesture as Jamie confides in the only person he can really trust. This was also a great run-up to the Jamie and Bronn scene, the new Arya Stark and Syrio Forel. What an unlikely pair these two are, in a show frequently giving us brilliant pairings. The mercenary sellsword Bronn of House “You Wouldn’t Know Him” and Ser Jamie Lannister of Casterly Rock, The Kingslayer, two men from markedly different worlds who happen to be two of the most deadly men in Westeros. Not to mention Ser Loras Tyrell and Ser Jaime trading words, generally considered the two most skilled knights in the world. Great Pairings.

4)      OF COURSE Ramsay gets along great with Locke.

5)      I found myself very fascinated with House Bolton. It’s interesting that aside from the Starks, they’re really the only other family from the North we get to see up close. It’s weird to think about all of the “Bizarro” versions the show puts forth. Last ep, I talked about Olenna and Margaery being a healthy version of Tywin and Cersei (especially given the power held by Olenna Tyrell, and the Gender-Power dynamic that fuels Cersei’s resentment). In this episode, we see a lavish royal wedding and how it differs from the hidden/rushed weddings of Robb and Talisa or Edmure Tully and Walda-Willa-Wyla-Whatsername Frey. We see Roose Bolton with Ramsay Snow, sort of the dark reflection of Ned Stark and Jon Snow, the Northern Lords and their ostensible bastards. Roose Bolton is extremely smart and capable, a man of cold pragmatism whose intense lingering stare can be just downright scary. It makes you think that if Robb Stark was more willing to use Roose Bolton like the deadly scalpel he his, his campaign might’ve gotten a little further. Once again, Game of Thrones is insistent on punishing people who can’t bend their rigid noble principles to get down-and-dirty when survival demands it, and instead rewards those with, let’s call it, extreme moral flexibility. If you view the world as binary black and white, you’re going to have a very difficult time navigating the myriad shades of gray in Westeros.

6)      For some reason, I just loved the delivery of Locke’s line “Who the fuck’s Jon Snow?” It shows quite effectively that the characters are not omniscient. In Locke’s little corner of this vast world, it doesn’t mean anything to him on the surface and there really is no reason he’d know that, despite everything the audience is obviously privy to.

7)      The show continues to bind us in conflicted emotional states. For example, Jaime is a fan-favorite, and we find ourselves rooting for the redemption of a dude who pushed a little kid out a window because he wanted to keep fucking his sister. Theon Greyjoy was an arrogant shit in his own right, betrayed his “brother” Robb Stark, went against everything his “father” Ned Stark ever tried to teach him, fingered his sister, took Winterfell, executed Rodrik Cassel, and burned two innocent kids to a crisp, but now we find ourselves kinda’ feeling sorry for him and his predicament. Theon knows he fucked up and wasted his life, poor guy did everything anyone ever asked of him, was shipped off as a kid, tried to fit in with the Starks, tried to fit in with the Greyjoys, all to no avail, and maybe none of it was really for personal glory, but just because he was a hurt kid who just wanted to fucking belong somewhere.

8)      Tyrion trying to save Shae’s life by absolutely forcing himself to push her away using any insulting means necessary was just gut-wrenching.

9)      There’s an interesting academic paper waiting to be written about how the transition from The Light of the Seven to The Lord of Light tracks against the polytheism of Greek and Roman tradition giving way to the monotheism of Christianity. While we’re at Dragonstone, I always crack up at poor Davos Seaworth, at times he must feel like the only sane dude in the asylum.

10)   Prince Oberyn holding his own against Tywin Lannister AND Cersei Lannister. They’re two of the most ruthless players of the game, and he doesn’t flinch, proving why his badass rep goes far beyond sexual prowess or combat skill.

11)   Well, I’ll say one thing about His Grace, King Joffrey of the Houses Baratheon  and Lannister, First of His Name, King of the Andals and of The First Men, Lord of The Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm – he really HAS united the kingdoms like nobody else could! I mean, by the time his little War of The Five Kings skit is underway, it’s clear that everyone loathes him. Tyrion’s defiance in silently refusing to kneel, repeatedly, is one of the most powerful things the show has ever done. Tyrion defies his king, his father, and his nephew’s ability to humiliate him. There’s also that choice moment when Sansa hands him the cup, she warms a second toward Tyrion because of what they must jointly endure, the enemy of my enemy is my friend (oh, and my husband). Tyrion’s brazen refusal to accept anything Joffrey can dish as an insult shows how you have to give another person permission to embarrass you. Tyrion denies Joff that one thing the little fucker wants the most, submission, respect that’s demanded and not earned.

12)   Cersei and Jaime are the first ones to Joffrey’s side as he lay dying. Parental Instinct.

13)   Olenna Tyrell chatting up Sansa Stark at the wedding reception is an ingenious little scene. Yes, Olenna, who WOULD kill a poor boy at his own damn wedding? (But, who cares about her words, it's all misdirection, it's all slight of hand!) Her foreshadowing does everything short of give a wink and say, just wait and see, child, you may enjoy this day yet. I mean, let’s set aside the obvious fact that Tyrion isn’t stupid enough to make multiple public threats to The King over the years, and then actually act on them, or that he wouldn’t let himself get caught holding the murder “weapon,” and that everything he did was forced on him impromptu under duress by The King. Let’s think instead about who brokered the alliance(s) with the Tyrells? Who would have prearranged getting Sansa out of there via Ser Dontos? All the clues are right there hiding for you in plain sight. I’m thinking a forensics teams would have a field day with the poison cup. The fingerprints alone are astounding. In evidence collection, we call this “chain of custody.” The cup goes from Tyrion to Joffrey to Sansa back to Tyrion back to Joffrey to Margaery to the table setting in front of Olenna and Mace Tyrell back to Tyrion back to Joffrey. Watch the cup, folks.

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