Well, that escalated quickly.

One of the huge benefits of watching the HBO series over reading the books is that the story cuts to the chase much, much faster. The Purple Wedding seemed to take a geological epoch to actually happen in the book – onscreen we don’t get the pages and pages (and pages) of detailing the seventy-seven courses, the seven hundred and seventy-seven guests, blah blah blah.

The bulk of “The Lion and the Rose” is dedicated to Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, and everything leading up to it feels a bit perfunctory. To be honest, I’d prefer a full episode dedicated to the Purple Wedding, but what we have is a half-hour of tiny catch-ups followed by the meat of the episode.

No cold open this week: straight to the psychopath unveiled as Ramsey during last season’s finale hunting down a peasant girl. With him, an unnamed, equally nasty lady-friend and what remains of Theon Greyjoy, now tortured and broken and renamed “Reek”. This baddie set-up has to beat Joffrey, and so we also get some seriously juicy sound effects as the girl is ripped apart by dogs while Reek winces in horror and Ramsay & Bird delight in sociopathic glee, presumably because they just binge-watched Hannibal.

Naturally, we cut to Tyrion and Jaime sat before a feast of boar (Cersei’s liberator!), but Jaime can’t eat a bite, because he’s pining for his lost sword-hand and would totally train up his left again, but everybody would talk! Tyrion suggests everybody’s favourite foul-mouthed sellsword, Bronn. They meet in a secluded location, proven so because if Bronn can shag Ser Laygood’s (not all that good, “ha ha”) missus there and not get caught (“she’s a screamer, that one”), then no one will hear them. Jaime sucks and has to use a blunted training sword to his shame, but he isn’t a man defeated. Yet. Everything’s coming up Lannister, remember?

Back to Ramsay welcoming his father, the always pleasant Roose Bolton. You could call him a conniving backstabber, but that’s not true – he stabbed Robb Stark rather cheerfully in the heart. Ramsay creepily pervs on his same-aged stepmother and happily skips over to show daddy his new toy. I wish there was a Mystery Science Theater 3000 soundboard, because I really want an audio of Tom Servo asking, “But what about the tort-cha?!” every time Ramsay comes onscreen, because he does love it so very much.

Ramsay happily introduces Reek to his father, proudly detailing all the lovely tort-cha he’s done, including flaying, hoping for a biscuit because the flayed man is the Bolton’s sigil. Roose reminds Ramsay that he’s not his trueborn son, he isn’t technically a Bolton, and it’s technically not his sigil, and that he wanted a hostage, not a broken whatever-that-is. Ramsay points out that Theon is dead, long live Reek, who will never betray them, and also, give me a shave, please, because a really sharp object near my jugular seems a really good idea. It’s established that Bran and Rickon Stark aren’t actually dead, which is a bummer because Winterfell and the wardship of the North, tenuously Roose’s, are at risk as long as they live. If Ramsay can take Moat Cailin from the Ironborn and rustle up the kids, then Roose might be able to rustle up some legitimacy for Ramsay. *Press play on “Cat’s in the Cradle”*.

Tyrion and Varys stroll around waiting for the wedding breakfast to start, and Tyrion wishes he were a foreigner so he too would be barred from attending. Varys warns Tyrion that Shae has been seen by one of Cersei’s spies and her life is truly in danger. Varys refuses to lie for Tyrion since his whole existence is based on whispered truths.

Joffrey and Margaery graciously accept most of the gifts, even Tyrion’s history book. Ice part II is presented to Joffrey’s glee – Jack Gleeson’s “gosh, all for me?” face is priceless and you could almost forget what a nasty little piece of work he is, but he then immediately uses it to slice up the book. He triumphantly names it Widow’s Wail (but isn’t even bright enough to come up with that name himself, he had to crowdsource it) and brings up Ned Stark’s beheading, because no day is complete without tormenting Sansa, if possible. During this scene, I was mostly fixed on her reactions and admiring Sophie Turner’s acting prowess. The agony in her brow, collecting her thoughts. She is about three steps ahead of everyone else in the game, and she doesn’t even know it.

Tyrion then has to tell Shae to bugger off and does the worst thing possible: acts the dick in order to put the onus on Shae to leave him in anger rather than explain Tywin’s rather complicated issues with ladies in her profession. If white Westeros told the truth for one day, its plot would fall apart, so he’s as nasty as he can be, telling her his future is with teen bride Sansa, and anyway he’s bored of her. Oh, Tyrion.

At Dragonstone, Lady Selyse and pervy fire priestess Melisandre burn some unbelievers to Lady Selyse’s utter ecstasy. Stannis’s faith appears to have dimmed somewhat – he spends most of his scenes perfecting Joey Tribbiani’s’ “smelling a fart” face in order to avoid having to talk to anyone. During supper of kinda-off meat, they reminisce about the bad old siege days, and Selyse worries about Shireen’s faith. She asks pervy fire priestess Melisandre to have a chat with her, because she’s so approachable and not at all creepy. Shireen says she didn’t have to see the awful “ceremony” because hearing the screams was enough, and Melisandre points out that women scream in childbirth, so it’s not actually that bad or something. I was too busy wondering how there could be GoT exposition with nary a boob in sight.

Bran and the bog-children continue their way to the Wall and beyond in search of the three-eyed crow, but to be honest Bran would much rather live in Summer and be able to hunt and run and play. “Hodor,” agreed Hodor. Jojen warns him that if he hangs out in his direwolf too long, he’ll forget how to be a human, and Bran’s face suggests that’s exactly what he’s hoping will transpire. They come across a heart tree, and Bran decides to test his wargly powers on it, and the resulting vision really is worth watching in slow-motion and analysing, because there’s a lot of prophecy going on.

Finally, we get to the real meat of the episode, the wedding. Tyrion is reassured that Shae has left, while Oberyn and Ellaria both skeeze over an acrobat. The ceremony itself seems almost beside the point, some words, some loose binding of wrists, and down to the feast. Margaery continues her Lady Madonna routine by promising all the leftovers to the poor. Various chattings are exchanged between wedding guests – Olenna and Tywin snark at each other about money, but no one can beat Loras when it comes to burns, because even though Loras probably won’t end up marrying Cersei, Jaime definitely won’t. Margaery hopes to see more of Brienne, by which she means naked in her bedchamber – WOOF – another ship has sailed! Brienne also makes the mistake of confessing her love to Cersei, by telling her she loves Jaime like a brother. Think, woman! Oberyn disses Westeros and pretty much openly says, “I am here to avenge the murder of my sister and her children”, but Dorne-style, which is to say, while smiling and generically dissing Westeros culture. Cersei despises Maester Pycelle as much as she hates, Tyrion, and everybody’s being threatened all over the shop.

Finally, the entertainment for the wedding feast begins, starting with the ritual humiliation of Tyrion. Joffrey’s playing every asshole card in his deck, and despite the faces of everyone at the head table clearly indicating that everybody knows this just isn’t on, no one can do anything to stop him. Recent history as played out by dwarves is a diplomatic feat for Tyrion, but once again I’m drawn to Sansa. When Joffrey commands Tyrion be his cupbearer, every move she makes from then on marks her as co-conspirator – this is far from the case. In fact, Sansa’s defense of her husband is a huge move on her part that shows she recognises there are Lannisters and there are Lannisters, and Tyrion is not even remotely like the majority of his family.

When Joffrey finally begins choking on the poisoned wine, all sorts of visual clues are given as to who the poisoner is. For a few moments, I wondered if Joffrey really deserved such a horrible death, watching him turn purple as what his wedding will be named in Westeros history. But only for a second – he totally deserved it.

But there’s no point in glorying, because the real horror is to come. Every time Tyrion threatened Joffrey will come back to haunt him; every kind word Sansa said to him will be reflected in their alleged conspiracy. Things were bad before – now they become monstrous. 7/10

Sexy, Important Thoughts:

  • Boob to wiener ratio – 0:0 to everyone’s shock
  • “Go drink till it feels like you did the right thing”
  • I’m starting to think pretty much every major plot point has at its heart someone wanting to make their father proud – from Robb “King-in-the-North” and Jon Snow wanting Ned’s (mostly posthumous) approval to Ramsay Snow wanting legitimacy, to Cersei wishing she was her father’s third son.
  • Lower marks because I really do think all the to-ing and fro-ing could have been better saved for a different episode and more given over to the wedding. Also, an Arya and Hound-free episode is always going to be a lesser one.
  • No Khaleesi – denied! I am assuming next week will focus more on her and less on King’s Landing.