‘Game of Thrones’: The Purple Wedding Welcomes Its Guests (SPOILERS)

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Natalie Dormer and Jack Gleeson in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2 Game of Thrones: The Purple Wedding Welcomes Its Guests (SPOILERS)

[This is a review of Game of Thrones season 4, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS] 

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After the death of Eddard Stark, Game of Thrones established itself as the kind of program wherein setting up grand events is no longer necessary; they simply happen and the audience is left to deal with the aftermath, often in stunned silence. So far this season, there’s been little hint of earth shattering events on the horizon.

After all, last week’s premiere spent most of its time introducing Oberyn Martell and establishing his grievances with the rulers of King’s Landing. Interestingly enough, even though ‘Two Swords’ spanned great distances and managed to check in on Daenerys, Jon Snow, and even Arya and the Hound, the episode mainly hinged Westeros’ most notorious family: the Lannisters.

In that regard, the discussion surrounding the clan had a great deal to do with Tywin shoring up accounts, and doing everything in his demonstrable power to ensure that the Lannister name is the name of kings long after he’s gone. So, in a way, ‘Two Swords’ was about maintaining and broadening the Lannister legacy, now that Robb Stark’s rebellion has successfully been quashed.

Tywin first did so symbolically, by dividing Ned Stark’s sword amongst his son and his grandson. And later by charging Jaime with ruling Casterly Rock in his stead, remarking: “I will not see the Rock again before I am dead.” That acknowledgement of his own mortality hung in the air just long enough before Jaime hit dear old dad with a refusal of his demand. In many ways, that “no” seemed to throw shade on all that Tywin has built, and no matter how determined he is to uphold and strengthen the Lannister name, like all other constructs in Westeros, it may prove to be far weaker than anyone had previously thought.

Of course, it could be argued, then, that the weakest element of the Lannister name is ostensibly the part holding up all of its power. So, as the events of ‘The Lion and the Rose’ demonstrate, once Joffrey is pulled out of the great Jenga tower that is Game of Thrones, the Lannister name may quickly find itself in a precipitous decline. For its part, the Purple Wedding (as it’s called in the color-coded scheme of horrifying Westerosian nuptials) actually starts out dreadfully enough – in that anyone within their right mind should have serious reservations about Joffrey being one step closer to providing the kingdom with his legitimate progeny and heir to the throne. Thankfully, the evil boy-king never has the opportunity to sow his demented seed, as it were.

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey and Natalie Dormer as Margaery in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2 Game of Thrones: The Purple Wedding Welcomes Its Guests (SPOILERS)

While the episode doesn’t have the grand sense of tragedy and unexpected brutality that ‘The Rains of Castamere‘ did (for obvious reasons), the ‘The Lion and the Rose’ still delivers another sudden, shocking death, one that is made even more momentous by virtue of it having the entire Lannister clan in one place to bear witness to the occassion. The ongoing tension between the king and his uncle segued nicely into Joffrey’s outright humiliation of Tyrion – from which the episode let the torment carry on just long enough that the king’s sudden choking, which eventually gave way to his gruesome, purple-faced demise, felt more like a welcome respite than a sudden and shocking development.

Such is the death of a tyrant, apparently, as the only one to outwardly mourn and actively point a finger (a pickled finger, but a prominent digit nonetheless) at the one who may be responsible for the king’s slaying is said tyrant’s mother. But this only occurs at the end of the episode; once again demonstrating just how adept at pacing and portioning out these immense, game-changing moments David Benioff and D.B. Weiss actually are.

For the majority of ‘The Lion and the Rose,’ there were developments like any other episode. This chapter brought updates on Ramsay Snow, his newly domesticated pet Theon (a.k.a. Reek), and the return of Roose Bolton. Additionally, there was a brief status update with Bran Stark and the Children of the Weird, wherein Bran’s abilities have extended to reading highly contextual messages while touching trees with faces carved into their trunks. Furthermore, Stannis and his Red Priestess continue to make the necessary sacrifices to bring him closer to the Iron Throne; upsetting Ser Davos, but prompting Stannis’ wife to request Melisandre speak their strong-willed and opinionated daughter.

Melisandre’s outward tenderness toward the would-be princess is unnerving to say the least. But the fact that Joffrey’s assassination is coupled with the priestess’ insistence that she only serves the god who brings love and joy asks a very important, very tantalizing question: Is there hopefulness on the horizon of Game of Thrones, or is the narrative simply trading one form of wickedness for another?

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Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘Breaker of Chains’ @9pm on HBO.

Photos: Helen Sloan & Macall B. Poley/HBO

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  1. I think you mistyped Oberyn Tyrell. It should be Oberyn Martell. Good review though.

  2. Having read the books, I did not expect to see the death so early this season. Considering the number of pots they have cooking at the moment, I suppose that frees up time to explore other moments. I was hoping for the agonizing clawing at the neck as the books describes; his death was far too quick when so many moral characters died so horribly.

    • Having also read the books, I think the death was well done. I think they could have gone a bit farther with his death, but it would have soured the moment a bit if he began clawing out his own throat. I for one, think that George RR Martin makes it very hard for you to root for deaths; He can usually make you feel bad for even the worst of characters. I was glad that was absent, as I enjoyed sitting in front of my television and being able to laugh as Joffrey died.

    • Strange, I thought the wedding came at perfect timing. What else was there in the novel to show before Joffrey’s death? It’s only three quarters through A Storm of Swords so far (excluding Theon’s scenes of course). Anyhow, I personally thought his death looked very painful and excruciating enough to warrant satisfaction.

    • I agree, I was really hoping to see him clawing out his neck like in the book. Left feeling unsatisfied, feel he got off to easy for being such a (brilliantly) horrible character the previous seasons.

    • yeah, would have been lovely to see a long-shot, no cut scene of derp joffreys face while he chokes to death for minutes, much more gruesome, effective and satisfying

      (and sansa should have kicked him in the balls)

    • Not having read the books, I didn’t think he was poisoned. It looked to me like he choked on bird bones from having used a sword to cut the pie. Nobody’s to blame. From what I have seen, the show does not follow the books explicitly.

      • But they do follow them pretty explicitly, regardless of slight alterations to scenes.

        You’ll see who’s to blame eventually.

        • No Coldhands yet says otherwise. I do enjoy the show but I’m not disingenuous enough to state they follow anything pretty explicitly. I’m also wondering how they are going to handle Sansa’s friend, Jeyne Pool, standing in for Arya considering she hasn’t even been seen since the very first episode.

          • Agree…I also wonder how they will reconcile killing Robb’s wife and their unborn child. Seeing that she is alive and well, albeit on the run, makes me wonder if Martin will end up killing her off in upcoming books. It completely changes the narrative, imo.

  3. I have not read any of the books, but it really seems like declaring yourself King in this story is a sure way to get murdered. That said it was inevitable King Psycho would get his, I just don’t see how none of these characters has a food taster.

    • I don’t think a food taster would have done anything since this was poisoned after the fact. The taster would only help if he poisoning was in the kitchen. I doubt Joffrey would have let someone taste his wine before he drinks out of his own goblet…

      And on that note, let me just say: YES, IT’S ABOUT TIME!! :-D

      • For Game of Thrones they should have a taster for every serving they eat, depending on how many people want them dead. Joffrey would have needed about 50, and that still might not have helped since it was probably his family or in-laws that slipped him the poison.

  4. Like Captain Obvious, I too expected the Purple Wedding later in the season.

    On a side note, you have this labelled as Season 2, episode 2. I hate to correct you but this is Season 4.

  5. funny how the joke was on the lannisters, and they weren’t in on it. the shots of the would be suspects at the wedding was like that of the ” clue ” game/movie. and there goes cersei, providing everyone present with comic material for being self important, grieving over a scumbag, and clueless to the trap.

  6. I too was surprised by the troll King’s quick death. So many of us wanted him to have a horribly horrible death and apparently the show’s producers didnt feel that way…go figure.

    Yeah, I didnt read the books because I hate starting a series of books that do not have an ending then wait for years for the next book. Will wait until entire serious is done.

    • yeah, surely choking is painles and smooth way to die

    • Actually the producers didn’t write this episode, George RR Martin wrote it. The only part missing from the death was him clawing at his neck. The books are a great inspiration but they have not translated them exactly as a written, more of a guideline.

  7. Yay!!! Joffery is dead!!!

  8. Never forget the day the most fair and just king died.

    R.I.P. King Joffrey

  9. What a start to season 4! Wow, glad that little twerp is finally gone. The last 20 minutes of the episode were just perfect.

  10. Thanks to Jack Gleeson for playing Jeofry so well that everyone hated his character :)

  11. some say his true last words were “Hail Hydra”

    • You sir just made my day, thank you.

    • @ Hanzo that was hilarious hahaha

  12. Funny how a few seconds before he started chocking i was thinking, this little a**hole really has to die!

  13. Do we ever find out who was behind the killing?

    • Yes, eventually

  14. Very well done! There were only slight alterations from the book, but I’d say this was done a little better.

    *** MAJOR BOOK SPOILERS***

    Bronn said he ensured he took Shae to the boat and he watched it leave with her on it. Given what happens with her story, does this mean Bronn betrays Tyrion or did she manage to get off the boat at some point? Or did Tyrel’s (or Cecei’s) people smuggler her back off?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    (But given Bronn’s proclivity to gold, I am thinking Tyrel paid him off)

    • Tyrell as in Margaery’s family or did you mean Tywin Lannister?

      I can only assume Bronn saw her get on the boat and then she sneaked off it again. Haven’t read the books myself but I know where her story goes so maybe it will be handled in an off-handed comment further down the line?

    • Maybe she sneaked her way off the boat?

  15. Well, how about that???

    My immediate reaction was FINALLY this god awful monster is dead and us viewers finally get to check off a major box in the win box.
    But I then quickly realized how quickly this could and has gone bad.
    Not only is Tyrion in major trouble but I’m sure the repercussions will go on for a long while and there still is a Lannister sitting on the Iron Throne.

    Like others have already said I totally would have expected this to take place in episode 9 so this was a great change of pace and I can’t help but think that if this took place in episode 2 how crazy is the rest of the season going to be?

    • I would still much rather have Tommen, Joffrey’s sensitive, cat-loving, little brother on the throne than the psychotic murderer himself.

  16. First of many, many deaths, people… Seven Kingdoms will be beyond f**ked-up by the end of this season.

  17. This was the most satisfying TV episode in TV history. I actually flipped my fingers at the screen and said “Yes! YES! Die you little piece of ****!”. It was kinda scary, but boy felt it good.

    • p.s.: did anyone else have a good laugh after they cut back from a scene with “Reek” to Tyrion getting served a sausage that he chops in half with a knife? I love easteregg humor like that. :D

  18. A kinda sucks that Joffrey had a sucky ending, I wanted him to go in the hands of the starks dying in a slow, painful, and torturous way. No offense but a major disappointment.

    • I don’t know what Martin has in mind, but it would be awesome if that was saved for other big players (I read the books and don’t want to say too much). Some get their comeuppance, but…many many deaths coming up as someone said before.

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