All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
4.2 The Lion and the Rose
It’s Joff’s wedding episode! The title shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, eh? Lion, Lannister, Joffrey… Rose, Tyrell, Margaery. We did it! They do an excellent job of reminding you why Joff is a terrible little brat. Every time someone boasts about one of the Stark’s death, it makes me hate them a whole lot. And Joff brings this up. A whole bunch of times. A very satisfying episode.
The episode opens with not lions or roses, but with hounds! Ramsay and Myranda, the brunette who got naked with Theon, are hunting the blonde who got naked with Theon. Why? Not sure. But Theon/Reek is there too. We learn a lot about Myranda- she’s sadistic, jealous of other girls who have Ramsay’s attention, and enjoys violence. They let the dogs attack the blonde as Theon tells Ramsay he did a fine job. Brutal.
South in King’s Landing, Tyrion and Jaime are catching up and Tyrion says boar has become Cersei’s favorite meal since Robert was impaled by one. Ha! Jamie is down since he can’t fight any more and Tyrion makes a good point- commanders don’t fight. They command others to fight. He hands Bronn, sword extraordinaire, over to Jaime to teach him how to fight with his left hand.
Needless to say, Jaime is absolutely useless, miserably useless with his left hand.
UP TO THE DREADFORT, seat of House Bolton. We get to see it in all its glory, plainly emphasized by the little flayed man atop Winterfell. This first made me sick because CAT and then the more Roose spoke, the less I cared, and now I’m all about the flayed man. Roose and Locke, Roose’s henchman, ride in, escorting Roose’s new wife, Fat Walda. He was paid her weight in silver. It was a lot of silver. Ramsay is faking a huge smile when meeting Walda because he’s now threatened with the prospect of Roose fathering a legitimate heir. Roose demands to see Theon right away because he’s all into bargaining chips and all.
Interesting side note- Locke and Ramsay seem to be buds. Ramsay is all about Locke chopping off Jaime’s hand. Since we know Locke a little bit more intimately- at least what he was willing to do with Jaime and Brienne- this screams more red flags about what to expect from Ramsay in the future.
In his chambers, Roose is none too pleased with how Ramsay has been treating Theon, you know, with the flaying and the penis and all. Ramsay says he’s been doing it in the Bolton name and in honor of the flayed man- and Roose cuts him off, emphasizing that he’s a bastard. A Snow. Not a Bolton. See, this is information that would have been really helpful watching this episode but doesn’t come out until Season 5 because reasons: Ramsay’s mother was married to a farmer on the Bolton land without Roose’s consent. As punishment, Roose killed the farmer, raped her underneath the hanging body, and out came Ramsay. Roose is terrible.
“Kelly, y u a fan?” I play you back one line of McElhatton’s insanely deep voice. You fall in line. He tells you to hug a cactus. You do it. As you should! The guy has dominating screen presence.
Anyway, the mother demanded that Roose take Ramsay in- which he did- and Roose’s first wife, a Ryswell of the North, as well as his first natural son (Dom), mysteriously died. Dom and Ramsay were apparently pals, but Roose never quite trusted Ramsay after that, thinking that Ramsay was keen on being his only son, natural or not, to inherit the Dreadfort. I mean, this is allllllll book stuff. But it would have made the Bolton stuff more interesting towards the tail end of their arcs. And the Boltons only show up twice in this season. Isn’t that crazy!? I’ve always thought that since the Red Wedding, Roose was built up to be the Big Bad in the North, especially in this scene. Go on. Tell me I’m wrong.
TL; DR, I would watch a whole show about House Bolton. Next.
Roose needed Theon to bargain away Moat Cailin, a stronghold that sits on the narrowest piece of land that separates the North from the rest of Westeros- incredibly valuable piece of strategy that is now held by ironborn. He stomps all over Ramsay- saying he’s not mad. Just disappointed. In a desperate attempt to win his father over, Ramsay presents Reek, showing Roose how much he has beaten and manipulated Theon. Roose is impressed by Ramsay’s command over Theon, but even more impressed by the information that Bran and Rickon are still alive. He sends out Locke to hunt for them and Ramsay, with Theon in tow, to take back Moat Cailin.
Like Tywin, Roose uses the prospect of family and inheritance of the Bolton name to manipulate his son into doing what he wants. He sends out Ramsay on a high note- but it’s really only to make sure that they can secure Moat Cailin. I don’t think Roose would blink an eye if Ramsay failed.
Back in King’s Landing, Varys tells Tyrion to cool it with Shae, since Cersei’s handmaiden spilled the beans. Tyrion is so wrapped up in his own scheme that he thinks Tywin will just roll over and accept that Shae is always around simply because of her role as Sansa’s handmaiden.
I don’t know what to call this next scene… some sort of wedding pregame? Cersei points out Shae to Tywin and he asks to see her before the wedding. People are presenting gifts to Joff and Tyrion gives Joff a book because that’s obviously exactly what a guy like Joff would want. Why would Joff want this? For target practice with his new sword, which he so kindly names Widow’s Wail, presumably after imagining Cat’s scream at the news of Ned’s death. Hilarious since Joff didn’t even swing that sword, but also kind of clever since Ned was beheaded with Ice and Ice makes up the new sword and all. I don’t even think Joff knows this, but it’ll do.
After seeing his father note Shae, Tyrion attempts to send her away, claiming he needs to be loyal to Sansa. Shae is still playing into the whole romance angle, “You loveeeee me,” when Tyrion finally tells her that she, being a whore, is unfit for him. It’s the first time in the show Tyrion makes her feel ashamed of how they met and the time they spent together. I think it’s safe to say that Shae gladly went to the Tower of the Hand to meet with Tywin after this and gave him all the information he needed on Tyrion. Now, what this says about Tywin’s place in Joff’s ending- I’m not sure if he knew, but he was able to frame Tyrion suspiciously well, plus get Jaime to leave the Kingsguard later. And he could probably control Tommen much more easily than Joff. So… maybe he did know about Joff’s assassination, maybe he didn’t. He sure did have a lot going in his favor after this, though.
Ahhh, over at Dragonstone, Stannis sacrifices more people. He sits down to eat with his wife and Mel the Mistress and Selyse can’t help but trash talk her own daughter, inflicted with greyscale. Selyse convinces Mel to go hang with Shireen- it’s like one of the most evil characters of the show facing off with one of the purest. Shireen doesn’t hate anyone but it’s clear that she holds Mel at an arm’s length and is wary of what she says, especially why she says that the Seven Gods don’t exist.
How the hell did I forget this scene!? North of the Wall, Bran is practicing his warging and rather enjoying it as it gives back his mobility. Meera and Jojen warn that warging too much could cause him to forget what it’s like to be human and he could lose himself in Summer. Bran reaches over to touch a weirwood and he’s presented with images of Ned- sharpening his sword in the godswood, trapped beneath the Red Keep- intermixed with visions of the three-eyed raven, a rather large weirwood, the Throne Room covered in snow or ash (the same image Dany saw at the end of Season 2), Bran falling from the tower, a dragon’s shadow soaring over King’s Landing- I hope the showrunners didn’t forget about this bit like I did.
The next half hour is all about the tiny, most subtle of details. The whole episode is great but the second half is really packed with a roller coaster of tension, moments of levity, and strong yet quiet character dynamics. In the Sept of Baelor, Joff and Margaery are married and Margaery has one of the most elaborate hairdos and dresses of the entire series. They make a very glamorous couple, I’ll give them that. Olenna and Tywin mull over the wedding- a really fine detail that Tywin doesn’t allow Olenna to walk next to him until she forces him by the arm. It’s impossible for him to recognize her as an equal.
At the reception, Bronn promises Tyrion that Shae got on the ship and that she’s gone. In one of Bronn’s more serious lines, he tells Tyrion to drink until it feels like he did the right thing. In the background, Pod can’t stop checking out the contortionist. Let’s note that the wallpaper behind the dais is red and gold, the Lannister colors, and features the Tyrell rose, the Lannister Lion, an L for Lannister, and a couple of stags here and there. Almost like the party planner was like, “Oh, we should probably… his dad… the king…”
In one of the most rewatched scenes of the series, Olenna stops by Sansa’s table and plays with her hair while telling her how awful it was to hear about Robb’s death. While playing with one of Sansa’s pigtails, and in a nice little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, she pulls off a bead off of Sansa’s necklace- the same necklace Dontos presented her in the previous episode.
Joff stands up to thrown money at some musicians just to get them off the stage and Margaery is slightly disgusted at her husband’s behavior. I say slightly, because she’s still playing into him. Much to Cersei’s chagrin, Joff lets Margaery make an announcement that the leftover feast will be donated to the city’s poor. Margaery is already well loved by the people- and now Cersei is losing her son to her.
On the sidelines, Jaime tells Loras that Cersei would probably kill their child if Loras impregnated her- wait, did Jaime know Cersei was smothering Baratheon babies? What the fuck. His BFF Brienne approaches the table to congratulate Margaery and Joff. She hates Joff but still wants to Margaery. This only enforces my feelings that Margaery really is a good character- Brienne is a character who is aligned with those who would do right by the people. Cersei approaches Brienne and thanks her for rescuing Jaime- immediately suspicious that Brienne is romantically invested in Jaime. Brienne is disturbed by this- not because she has feelings for Jaime (I really don’t think she does), but because Cersei basically confirms all the rumors that she’s been hearing. And because Cersei comes off as a complete loon here. That would scare anyone. Final note here- The Bear and the Maiden Fair is playing in the background. Nice touch, D&D!
To passive-aggressively undermine Margaery, Cersei tells Pycelle that no food will leave the Red Keep and she insists on holding onto her title as the Queen even though the King has married another. Meanwhile, as Dontos is juggling on stage, Joff orders a food fight. Margaery is zoning out her husband’s behavior but giggles appropriately when he looks at her. It’s such a smart decision by Natalie Dormer to show that Margaery is just playing an act for Joff- and she’s already getting exhausted by having to do it.
Across the way, Oberyn and Ellaria have a stare down with Cersei and Tywin. Indira Varma looks badass here. Just saying. I hate that they changed the Dorne style after this to more pastoral summer wear. Cersei doesn’t get to meet a lot of bastards- and Ellaria says it’s probably because the Dornish aren’t so sexually repressed as the rest of the country. Ouch. Oberyn rubs more salt in the wound as he addresses Cersei as “former Queen regent” and reminds her that her daughter is down in Dorne- good thing killing women and children is frowned upon there, eh Tywin, eh!?
Like we didn’t hate Joff enough already, we really get it here in Joff’s lowest moment. Joff calls attention to the dance floor and rolls out five little people dressed up as himself, Renly, Stannis, Robb, and Balon. For every king, there is a steed- Little Joff has a lion with stag antlers. Stannis, his own uncle, is riding a dummy made up to look like Mel. Renly, his other uncle, is riding his new brother-in-law, Loras. Robb is riding a direwolf while also wearing a direwolf head. And Balon has a kraken. Everyone is amused except for a few key people- Sansa, Tyrion, Oberyn, Varys- but when the kings start killing each other, the mood goes dark. Hey, remember the nausea we felt when we saw Grey Wind’s head on Robb’s body? That’s replicated here, because when Robb’s direhead wolf is knocked off via joust, the actual persons head has been painted to look like a bloody neck. Also, Little Joff begins thrusting into the head of the direwolf. Anyone with a heart is disgusted by this. Even Margaery, who is so good at playing Joff’s game, slumps in her seat after a while. And all the Tyrells are unhappy that Loras is being targeted- this is Joff’s family now. It’s a mortifying, deplorable performance for Joff’s own amusement.
Even Tywin is displeased but I suspect this is because Joff is taking credit for winning the war and not so much the insults to the other great houses. Anyway, the tone shifts very suddenly and becomes quite serious.
Joff attempts to humiliate Tyrion by telling him to join the fray, then pouring wine over his head (“A fine vintage” remarks Tyrion). Tyrion is remarkably calm in this scene and Margaery senses Joff is growing more and more irritable and attempts to distract him herself. Undeterred, Joff assigns Tyrion as his cupbearer but proceeds to drop his goblet, forcing Tyrion to crawl under the table for it. Sansa provides a nice assist- as his wife, they get to be humiliated and bullied together. But also there’s a sense of genuine compassion when they look at each other. I like seeing them on the same team. I really think they would have been quietly content together.
Just as things are about to get very bad, Margaery again plays dumb delight (bless her) and exclaims that the pie is coming. Joff unnecessarily uses his Valyrian steel sword to cut through because nothing else can possibly cut through this pigeon pie.
Tyrion steps up to escort Sansa out just as Joff demands more wine and Olenna keenly watches as Joff chugs from his goblet- then starts choking. Sansa gets escorted out by Dontos during the confusion. Joff falls to the middle of the stage as Jaime and Cersei run over and blood begins pooling from his nose and mouth. It’s a slow, painful death… and it’s so good. It’s one of the first big villain deaths we get. I don’t think there’s another villain whose death has been this satisfying.
There’s this whole thing about Ramsay being the most satisfying death in Season 6, which was fine. They run neck and neck for the two worst characters on the show (worst meaning great at being terrible people) but I maintain that Joff was more detestable than Ramsay. Part of it is because he was an entitled little jerk and I tend to hate those the most. The other part of it is that Cersei is devastated over this character who she spent so much time doting on despite his aggressiveness, stubbornness, and malicious nature. It’s kind of nice to see such a big blow to the Lannisters after they’ve been power tripping hard since the Red Wedding and it feels like a bit of redemption for the Starks. Narratively, I think Joff’s death comes with great timing, whereas Ramsay’s was more “Episode 9 has to be huge, guys.”
I’ve watched so many times to try and spot Olenna spiking the drink but I can never quite spot it. Someone help!
On deck: 4.3 Breaker of Chains