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Ding dong the King is dead. As so often happens in the world of Game of Thrones, awful things happen at traditionally joyous occasions. And while I certainly don’t think too many fans will shed a tear over the death of the truly horrific Joffrey, the implication that Tyrion is the perpetrator of the crime is troubling, to say the least.
Let’s wade through the wedding events before touching on the other storylines within the episode. One of the best elements of the wedding (aside from the death of Joffrey, which really is the crown jewel) is seeing the the interesting character interactions. It is always lovely to watch Tywin and Olenna (the two best schemers in the series) have a “civil” discussion surrounding the cost of the wedding and the financial disarray of the capital. Watching Jaime and Loras trade barbs, showing that there is still some serious unrest between the Lannisters and the Tyrells, hints at the tragedy to come. And Cersei accusing an over matched Brienne of loving Jaime in the cruelest way possible? The sooner Brienne is out of King’s Landing and away from these vipers, the better for her.
Speaking of Vipers, Oberyn Martell finally gets the chance to have his friendly chat with Tywin, and it is just as tension-filled as expected. There is clearly no love lost between those of Dorne and the Lannisters, although it appears Oberyn and Tyrion are getting along a bit better than Oberyn and Tywin. One interesting item of note: Oberyn takes pains to remind Cersei that her daughter Myracella is currently being kept safe within the walls of Dorne. A thinly veiled threat against taking steps to anger Oberyn? I’m sure we’ll find out before long.
Outside of King’s Landing, we check in with the three storylines that were absent from last week’s premiere. Out on Dragonstone, Stannis is still under the influence of Melissandre, the Red Priestess. This time, he has opted to burn his brother-in-law and his family at the stake for refusing to convert over to the new religion. Davos remains by his side, but the relationship between Melissandre and Davos is as frosty as ever. The other piece of troubling news is that Stannis’s wife, Selyse, has become even more fervent in her worship of the new god. So much so that she is now accusing the couple’s young daughter Shireen of not respecting the new god and even being possessed by darkness. Naturally, Melissandre has an illuminating chat with the young girl, in hopes it will bring her around to the “right” way of thinking.
Bran and company are still out beyond the wall, searching for the three-eyed crow. Bran is also becoming increasingly dependent on utilizing his warg skills by jumping into Summer. It doesn’t seem like Bran is taking Jojen’s warning to heart, acting quite a bit like a sullen teenager being told he can’t play with his favorite toy. On the bright side, Bran does get in touch with the crow through a godswood tree, receiving the cryptic message that Bran should look for the crow beneath a tree in the North. Now with a distinct direction and a true quest, Bran’s story can finally begin in earnest.
Finally, things aren’t going well at all for poor Theon, or, as he is now being called, Reek. Ramsey has completely broken the prince of the Iron Islands, much to Roose Bolton’s dismay. It turns out that Roose wanted to trade Theon to gain full control of the North, but now that he is a flayed shell of his former self, that won’t be possible. Roose is even less thrilled when Ramsey tells him that Balon Greyjoy has already been offered his son in exchange for the North and has refused the offer. While Reek may be a loyal servant to the Boltons, time will tell if he continues to remain loyal when faced with his sister and her forces at Moat Cailin.
As with last week’s episode, much of “The Lion and the Rose” sets up the central conflicts that will play out for the remainder of the season. The question of who killed Joffrey will have long ranging repercussions that will be felt throughout the next several seasons, not simply the next handful of episodes. Theon and Bran both have long journeys ahead, both mentally and physically, to discover who they truly are. And Stannis must begin making moves of his own, as food is becoming scarce and his people restless. A great deal of change is coming to Westeros, and Joffrey certainly won’t be the only casualty before the season is over.
— That is Ser Dantos taking Sansa away from the feast in the aftermath of Joffrey’s death. Considering that Cersei has accused Tyrion of killing the King, getting Sansa out of King’s Landing will be a difficult task- but a crucial one, to keep her safe.
— Speaking of getting people out of King’s Landing, Tyrion does the best he can to help Shae escape from the clutches of Tywin and Cersei, even though it means breaking her heart. He says some really awful things to her, but that’s what it takes to get her to leave. And, truly, what Cersei and Tywin surely have in store for her would be leagues worse than what Tyrion has said, right?
— The look of betrayal and sadness on Brienne’s face when Cersei accuses her of being in love with Jaime is so hard to see. I’ve never really thought Brienne was in love with Jaime, but she certainly trusted him to keep her secrets safe, as he did with her. The insinuation that Jaime has been telling tales of of school is yet another betrayal in Brienne’s mind, and might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in their friendship.