[TV] Game of Thrones – The Lion And The Rose (S4E2)


game-of-thrones-season-4-final-poster Weddings are uncomfortable affairs in Westeros, it would seem. The very first wedding we saw was the awkward, absurdly tense affair that united Tyrion to Sansa. Frey weddings are of course legendary at this point for their unusual notion of hospitality and this week, we can add Tyrell weddings to the list as well. Sure, Robb’s and Talisa’s wedding went off smoothly enough but given how it all ended, I can’t really say that it was a happy marriage in the long run. The last of the ill-fated weddings, called the Purple Wedding for the poison involved, takes up a good half of the episode but there are a few important scenes before. We get an update on what Ramsay has been up to and we also check in with Stannis and the progress of his character assassination. Rest assured, the butchery of the last Baratheon brother’s character has continued. Since we’re talking about butchery, it seems that even HBO has realized that showing the full extent of Ramsay’s insanity might not be in the show’s best interests. The episode opens with him hunting a special kind of prey but, where in the novels he is the sole enthusiast of this mad game, HBO has given him a comrade in arms, so to speak. The decision to give Ramsay a female counterpart is both understandable and utterly idiotic. Sure, it avoids the implication that we have yet another blood-thirsty, vicious male that is preying on women but adding a female equivalent of Ramsay changes how isolated the character is in terms of his sadism. In the novels, Ramsay is special because he is far and away the most twisted character we see. Adding a female equivalent dilutes that and also adds a strange new relationship for Ramsay; someone he sees as an equal and who is ostensibly off limits for his blood sport. We’ll see where the show goes with this but for now, I remain sceptical. In fairness, it was a small scene and honestly, more of a method for the show to reintroduce a broken Theon Greyjoy to the audience. We saw Ramsay break Theon bit by bit and it is put to the test today; desperate to win his father’s approval, Ramsay asks Theon to shave him just before delivering the news of Robb’s death. The urge to push the razor blade into Ramsay’s throat is clear on Theon’s face but his fear of Ramsay eventually outweighs his grief and anger. It’s a great scene all around, full of tension despite us knowing that Theon would never go through with it. Alfie Allen is great as Theon/Reek though I really hope this season gives him an opportunity to really get into the role. Iwan Rheon deserves to be on the list of the show’s brightest talents, perhaps a rung below the Dinklage and Dance duo. I really like his interpretation of Ramsay as this mad blend of angry, psychotic and personable. It’ll be good to see him (eventually) pushed to his limits; for now the character is very much in control of himself and his environment. In this week’s edition of ‘Stannis, we barely knew thee’, Stannis Baratheon, hailed in some corners of the fandom as the one, true king is depicted as a religious zealot who would burn his brother-in-law for believing in a different religion. To anyone interested, the burning does happen in the novels but not because of religion but rather because the brother-in-law in question sent peace terms without Stannis’ consent and after Stannis expressly forbade such an action. Unfortunately, while there might some member of the audience that might find Stannis heroic for burning his brother-in-law, the vast majority will be repulsed by this religious extremism, especially given recent events in the real world. He’s not earning fans in-universe either – Davos remains a Mel hater while cute, adorable Shireen isn’t buying any of Mel’s religious rubbish. Like Viserys in the season 1 (remember him), Stannis’ wife, Selyse, is thoroughly the wrong kind of mad. There are sympathetic, lovable mental maladies like Hodor’s and then you have the Ramsays, Joffreys and Selyses of the world. The sad truth is that there are altogether too many Selyses in the real world as it is, people that subvert all that is good in religion and project their own craziness on to it. I don’t want to steer this conversation into a political/religious bashing session but suffice to say that with the exception of Davos and Shireen, everyone in the storyline is looking either weak, insane or extremely manipulative. It’s not a happy cocktail. On an unrelated note, I have more or less given up on Stannis’ character ever becoming the dark horse fan favourite that he is in the novels. I’m sure that if I were to tell a show-only member of the audience that Stannis actually has his moments, they would think that I’m a little screwy by association. None of this is Stephen Dilane’s fault though I do wish he wouldn’t look quite so lost and confused all the damn time. Anyway, that’s enough about Stannis and Dilane. Today, we commemorate a great moment in ASOIAF history. Today marks the marriage of Joffrey Baratheon, first of his name, titles titles titles, and Margaery of house Tyrell. No one really cares about any of that; today also marks the death of Joffrey of Houses Baratheon and Lannister, first of his name, titles titles titles. After watching sympathetic likable characters delivered blow after body blow for three seasons now, it’s a great relief to see the ‘bad guys’ (and Joffrey is easily among the worst of them) take a blow for once. Of course, in true ASOIAF fashion, it will be Tyrion who gets the blame for it and that will, of course, sour the audience’s enjoyment of the whole event. I’m going to skip over most of the wedding since nothing particularly consequential happened during it and instead dedicate this space to Jack Gleeson. Gleeson has been on the show right since its first episode. Like Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead-Wright, he has grown with the show and has turned in some sensational, chilling performances right from the get go. His role felt a little diminished in season three where the spotlight moved away from the throne (which had been secured) to the lesser politics but let’s not forget that in seasons one and two, he was among the show’s most entertaining and watchable actors. He will be missed and not just on this show – rumour has it that he is not too keen on pursuing a career in acting, the more’s the pity.

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2 thoughts on “[TV] Game of Thrones – The Lion And The Rose (S4E2)

  1. I’ll join you in your praises for Jack Gleeson, he put up a tremendous performance. I actually was a bit ambivalent at Joffrey’s death ; sure, the character deserves it, and more, and yet, it means we’re losing a guy we all loved to hate. Hey, it’s not easy to find such antagonists!

    By the way, how come the Lannisters get all the best actors in this show? Seriously, they’re all amazing, with perhaps the exception of Nicolaj Coster Waldau, who’s ‘only’ very good.

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    • I agree, though Ramsay really steps it up in the horrifying human rights abuse department once Joffrey dies, so we don’t go very long without someone to hate.

      Re: Lannister actors, I actually thought about it and I think being a smaller family (4 characters) and having all adults (as opposed to a bunch of child actors like the Starks) makes the casting a lot easier. Then again, the Baratheons have only three major characters and look how that turned out (I liked Mary Addy though).

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