Valar Morghulis (all men must die) came true for one major character on Sunday nights “Game of Thrones.”
(Spoiler Alert: This is your last chance to stop reading and bookmark this link to visit later if you want to watch the episode first.)
The Bolton family connections were better explained (to non-book readers), Jaime Lannister worked on training his left hand, Tyrion delivered a cruel blow to his mistress Shae, Melisandre and Stannis burned people at the stake, and there was a big royal wedding that ended with the show’s most villainous character finally meeting a tragic – and quite gruesome – end. (To jump to that bit, skip to the section titled, “The Wedding Banquet.”)
Here’s our blow-by-blow recap of “Game of Thrones” Season 4, Episode 2 – “The Lion and the Rose.”
Ramsay Snow & Reek, The Forest Near The Dreadfort: “Tansy,” playful male and female voices call out. It’s Ramsay Snow. He and a female companion – Miranda — are chasing Tansy with dogs. Reek (formerly Theon Greyjoy) stumbles after them, unable to run properly due to all the flaying in Season 3. “If you make it out of the woods, you win,” Ramsay screams at the fleeing girl. It’s no use. She’s hit with Miranda’s arrow, and the dogs attack as Reek shudders at the horrific (not seen on camera) site.
Jaime & Tyrion Lannister, King’s Landing: Jaime can’t eat. He is too distraught over being unable to fight. “How can I protect the King when I can hardly wipe my own a***,” Jaime tells his younger brother. He needs someone to train with who can keep it secret. Tyrion has the man for the job – Bronn.
On a dock Bronn usually uses for carnal activities (with someone else’s wife), he spars with Jaime. The Kingslayer is bested at every turn, but he won’t give up and the two keep practicing.
Lord Roose Bolton, The Dreadfort: Roose rides into the Dreadfort with Locke (the man who cut off Jaime’s hand) and greets his bastard son, Ramsay Snow. He immediately asks about Theon. Inside the castle, Ramsay brings Reek (formerly Theon), to show him off. “I trained him. He was a slow learner, but he learned,” Ramsay tells his father, who is less than pleased that his son flayed Balon Greyjoy’s heir. “We’ve been flaying our enemies for a thousand years. The flayed man is on our banners,” Ramsay says in protest. “My banners, not yours,” Roose says, putting his son – whose last name is Snow, like all bastards — in his place.
Roose had to be smuggled home because the Iron Born (the Greyjoys) hold Moat Cailin, and his armies are trapped south of the locale. He wanted to use Theon as a bargain tool to get his armies — armies he needs to hold the North (which Tywin Lannister gave him for betraying Robb Stark). Ramsay tells his dad he tried to trade with Balon, but it didn’t work out. Things aren’t all lost. Ramsay’s ally Reek reveals that as Theon, he never killed Bran or Rickon. “If Bran and Rickon are alive, the country will rally to their side, now that Robb Stark is gone,” Roose says, thinking about what to do about the boys, and learning they have their own bastard brother – Jon Snow – at Castle Black. He sends Locke after them. During the conversation, Reek learns that Roose turned on Robb and delivered the final blow. He chokes back his emotions and keeps shaving Ramsay. Impressed with what Ramsay has done to Reek, Roose tells his bastard to, “Take the Moat for the family, for our family, and I’ll reconsider your position.”
Lord Varys, Tyrion, King’s Landing: “Shae has been noticed. Sansa’s maid saw you with her. It’s only a matter of time before your father hears it,” Varys tells Tyrion, urging him to get Shae out of town.
King Joffrey & Margaery, King’s Landing: At a pre-wedding party, Cersei points Shae out to Tywin. “Have her brought to the Tower of the Hand before the wedding,” he says. Tyrion sees their glances in Shae’s direction and looks worried, but he has other business to deal with first. He presents his nephew, the King, with a historical book. “Now that the war is won, we should all find time for wisdom,” Joffrey says, thanking his uncle for the historical artifact, to the surprise of all. Next, a man comes in and gives Joffrey a sword. “One of only two Valyrian steel swords in the capitol, your grace. Freshly forged in your honor,” Tywin tells his grandson. Elated, Joffrey leaps out of his seat, picks up the sword and slices Tyrion’s book into pieces. Impressed with the blade, he names her Widow’s Wail. “Every time I use it, it’ll be like cutting Ned Stark’s head all over again,” Joffrey chuckles.
Shae & Tyrion, King’s Landing: It’s the moment of truth – Tyrion has to convince Shae to get on a ship to Pentos, so he uses the cruelest words he can think of. “You’re a whore. Sansa is fit to bear my children and you are not. I can’t be in love with a whore,” he says. “I can’t have children with a whore. … How many men have you been with?” Shae is crushed. She’s sobbing and unable to move as Bronn comes in. “You’ll have a comfortable life in Pentos. Bronn will escort you to your ship,” Tyrion says. Bronn moves to grab Shae’s arm, and she turns and slaps him – hard – before storming out. Bronn follows her.
Stannis & Co., Dragonstone: Melisandre is leading prayers as men are burned at the stake on a beach. “Lord of Light, protect us, when the night is dark and full of terrors,” she says. Selyse Baratheon (Stannis’ wife) is so happy to have watched the flames. She thinks they took her brother, Lord Florent’s soul, when they grew higher. Ser Davos Seaworth tries to talk some sense into Stannis, but King Stannis puts the Onion Knight in his place.
At dinner, Selyse calls her daughter, Shireen, “a stubborn little beast,” and when Stannis warns her not to hurt his daughter, Selyse suggests that instead, Melisandre visit the girl to help her.
In the bowels of Dragonstone, Shireen hints to Melisandre that she has the same skeptical opinion of the burning that Davos did, but Melisandre tries to sway her and begins educating the little Princess on religion. There are just two gods — the god of light and the one of darkness, who are “eternally at war.”
Bran Stark & Co., Somewhere North: After using his warg powers to run around inside the skin of his direwolf, Summer, Bran is warned by Jojen and Meera Reed that he needs to cut down on the length of time he spends in another creature so he doesn’t lose his human self, and so, as Meera puts it, they don’t “lose everything.” Just then, Bran sees a direwolf by a godswood tree and he asks Hodor to bring him to the tree. As he touches the face on the tree Bran sees visions – a three-eyed raven, his father Ned Stark in a cell at King’s Landing, snow in the Iron Throne room, a figure beyond the wall, and dragon shadows over King’s Landing. A voice tells Bran, “Look for me, beneath the tree.” “I know where we have to go,” Bran says when he snaps out of it.
The Wedding, King’s Landing: King Joffrey and Margaery head down the aisle. He puts his cloak over her and their hands are entwined in ribbon. “With this kiss, I pledge my love,” Joffrey says, leaning in for his wedding smooch. The crowd cheers. “We have a new queen,” Sansa says to her husband. “Better her than you,” Tyrion replies.
The Wedding Banquet, King’s Landing: As they walk over to the reception, Bronn tells Tyrion that Shae has been sent away. “She’s gone. I know you don’t want to believe it, but she is. Now go drink until it feels like you did the right thing,” Bronn tells him.
Lady Olenna comes up to Sansa, who is seated at the wedding party’s table, and plays with her red hair. “I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you how sorry I was to hear about your brother. War is war, but killing a man at a wedding? Horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing,” she says, as she strokes Sansa’s cheek.
A band (in reality, Icelandic group Sigur Ros) performs “The Rains of Castamere.” Margaery is bewitched by the music, but an annoyed Joffrey ushers them off by throwing coins at them. To change things up, Margaery makes an announcement – the leftovers will feed the poorest in the city. “You’re an example to us all,” Cersei coos at her new daughter-in-law.
As the banquet continues, Ser Loras looks around and spots a pleasing face – Prince Oberyn – who nods back. Loras’ moment is quickly cut short as Jaime bumps into him and lays down the law. “You’ll never marry her,” Jaime says, referring to Loras’ fiancee, Jaime’s twin sister Cersei. “And neither will you,” Loras slings back, patting Jaime’s armor and strolling off.
Brienne strides up to the wedding table. “Did you just bow?” Cersei asks, surprised by Brienne’s unladylike move. After a few pleasantries, Joffrey shoos her away, giving Cersei an opening to speak to Brienne alone. “I owe you my gratitude. You returned my brother safely to King’s Landing,” Cersei says sweetly. “In truth, he rescued me your grace, more than once,” Brienne says, a sort of smile on her face. The words surprise Cersei, who – sweetly – spits out an insult, when she references the people Brienne has served in recent memory – Renly, Catelyn and now Jaime. “Must be exciting to flit from one camp to the next, serving whatever lord or lady you fancy,” she says. “I don’t serve your brother, your grace,” Brienne replies. “But you love him,” Cersei says, as she watches Brienne’s uncomfortable silence. “Your grace,” Brienne finally manages to reply, before turning away (and spotting Jaime).
More than Brienne on her hit list, Cersei strolls over to Grand Maester Pycelle and tells him to feed the leftovers to the dogs (and not do what Margaery instructed).
Her next encounter proves much less easy, as Cersei, now walking with her father, Tywin, runs into Prince Oberyn and Ellaria Sand. It’s an insult trade-off as Oberyn calls her “former queen regent,” and introduces her to Ellaria as “Lady Cersei.” She returns the jab by pointing out he is the Martells’ second son. Oberyn also uses the moment to make sure Tywin knows why he is there, referencing the deaths of his sister and her children during Robert Baratheon’s rebellion.
Then, Joffrey calls for everyone’s attention. “A royal wedding is history. Time has come for all of us to contemplate our history,” he says, addressing those now seated for the wedding banquet. Immediately, the mouth on a giant lion decoration drops and out come five dwarfs dressed as the five kings. Tommen, Joffrey’s little brother laughs, until Tyrion looks over at him. The man dressed as Joffrey knocks the head off of the man dressed as Robb Stark. The King chuckles, but Sansa’s face is still. Laughing emanates from guest tables as they watch the disgusting display. Oberyn, Varys, Margaery, Lady Olenna and Tyrion feel the severity of the moment. They do not laugh.
“Well fought,” Joffrey tells the men he hired. But, before tossing the victor – the one playing him, the winnings, the King suggests Tyrion put on “a spare costume” and fight. “One taste of combat was enough for me. I would like to keep what remains of my face,” Tyrion replies, suggesting Joffrey show off his bravery. “Be careful though, this one is mad with lust. It would be a tragedy for the king to lose his virtue, hours before his wedding night,” Tyrion says, referring to the man dressed as Renly.
Insulted, Joffrey walks over to Tyrion and pours every drop in his wine cup on Tyrion’s head. Only Cersei seems pleased by the act. But, before things can heat up, Margaery calls Joffrey over for her father’s toast by way of distraction. It doesn’t work. “Uncle, you can be my cupbearer seeing as you’re too cowardly to fight,” he says. “You grace does me a great honor,” Tyrion replies, trying to cut the tension. “It’s not meant as an honor,” Joffrey states. As Tyrion goes over to collect the goblet, Joffrey drops it and kicks it under the table. Sansa helps him retrieve it, but when Tyrion returns with the cup, Joffrey won’t take it until it’s filled. Then Joffrey issues another insult. “Kneel. Kneel before your King,” he tells Tyrion, the banquet guests now totally silent. “I said kneel,” Joffrey screams.
“Look! The pie,” Margaery shouts, the tension cut again. Joffrey grabs his glass and hands it to Margaery who sets it on the table. He then grabs Widow’s Wail and slices the pie open as doves fly out. During the excitement, Tyrion and Sansa try to sneak off. “Uncle, where are you going? You’re my cupbearer, remember? Serve me my wine,” Joffrey barks. Tyrion and Lady Olenna look at each other as he picks up the goblet. He turns and hands the cup to Joffrey, who drinks.
Hoping for an escape, Tyrion asks the King if he and Sansa can leave. “No, you’ll wait here,” Joffrey says, as he starts to cough. And continues to cough. And starts wheezing. “He’s choking!” Margaery screams. “Idiots, help your King,” Lady Olenna says. Knocking men over, Jaime runs to his nephew (son’s) side, only to see foam coming out of Joffrey’s mouth. Screaming, Cersei runs to her baby’s side.
All eyes on the struggling king, Ser Dontos appears at Sansa’s side. “Come with me now,” he says quietly, but firmly. “If you want to live, you have to leave.”
No breath will enter Joffrey’s lungs. Blood streams from his nose, his blue-eyes are being taken over by the red blood vessels, which are bursting, and a white stream continues to come out of the side of his mouth. As Cersei holds him, her first born, it sets in. He’s dying. “Help him, please,” she pleads.
In his last act, Joffrey reaches up his finger and points at his uncle Tyrion who is picking up his goblet.
“My son,” Cersei sobs. And then, she stops. “He did this,” she says looking at Tyrion. “He poisoned my son! Your king,” she says to the crowd. “Take him! Take him! Take him! TAKE HIM!” she screams. She looks back at Joffrey who is now dead.
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 PM ET/PT on HBO.