I could pretty much just go with “Karma’s a bitch” and I think this episode would be pretty well covered.
Needless to say, I fully expect you to have seen the events of this ep before you read this, I’ll be dispensing TV spoilers freely (though no book spoilers).
Let’s start with the big issue. No, I’m not going to tell you who did it. Theoretically I don’t know exactly who did it, in fact. But Martin and the episode director, Alex Graves, say that if you watch the episode carefully enough you’ll find the answer. I have my own ideas that I’ve had since it happened, and I’ll just say I saw nothing to make me question them, and it should be pretty obvious who didn’t do it. If it’s a question of motive, well – that’s certainly an embarrassment of riches, isn’t it?
Without a doubt, the best line of the episode for me was Olenna’s “As if men needed another reason to be afraid of weddings!” to Sansa (though Bronn’s “Drink until it feels like you did the right thing” is a close second). That was spoken in reference to the Red Wedding, of course, but what’s come to be known among fans as the “Purple Wedding” had almost as memorable an end. Can one feel pity for a vile demon like Joffrey as he dies in such a fashion, or for Cersei, so horrified to witness it? Maybe one can, but I can’t – the little pissant got what was coming to him, and we were given a first-hand reminder this week of what a vengeful, petty bitch his mother is, even if she does love her children.
Everything in King’s Landing has been indescribably tense the last two episodes – Tyrion and Shea, Jaime and Cersei, Cersei and everyone, Tywin and Jaime. And then you add Oberyn Martell to the mix, and you’ve really got a live wire hanging out, exposed and sparking. Was his reference to Myrcella a not-so-veiled threat, or merely a pointed reminder of how morally inferior he considers the Lannister clan? About the most pleasant conversation in the capital, in fact, was the one between Tywin and Olenna, who certainly do have a chemistry as the two biggest dogs in the pack.
Apart from the wedding there were indeed other goings on, in King’s Landing and out, starting with a change from the books in having Bronn (rather than Ser Ilyn Payne) teach Jaime how to fight left-handed. It’s not huge in and of itself, though I rather liked the idea of Payne being the perfect man for the job for obvious reasons. We also got a scene between Jaime and Tyrion, which have been rare (mostly for obvious reasons), a reminder that there is one member of his family that loves The Imp.
Up North, more signs that the bastard Ramsey Snow’s role is continuing to grow far beyond what it was in the books. He’s a psychopath about on Joffrey’s level I’d say, just with greater opportunity. I dislike the character and what the TV has done with it, and I’m not seeing anything to change my mind on that, but at least we don’t have to watch him flaying Theon piece by piece any longer. We also get a check in with the other psychopath, Melissandre, as she’s in the process of giving more infidels (this time the Florents, Stannis’ subjects and the relations of his wife) the gift of salvation by burning them at the stake. It’s really no wonder Stannis constantly looks constipated, as he obviously finds all this as easy to swallow as the rancid meat that’s all that’s left in his larder.
Apart from a few seconds with Davos, in fact, about the only time spend with the good guys this week is a short check-in with Team Bran as they make their way north. Bran is apparently growing increasingly fond of his time spent in Warg state, which Jojen is understanding of, but still reminds Bran of the dangers this presents. There’s also a close encounter with a Godswood, giving Bran a clue as to where he needs to go from here. If you think the TV is cryptic about where Bran’s arc is going and what it means, trust me the books are too – but even if it sometimes feels disconnected from the rest of the story (as Danerys’ arc does in a different way) it’s a vital piece of the puzzle.
Really, though, all of that is second fiddle to the most awkward wedding in history (and that’s saying something). So much venom is flying through the air it’s hardly a wonder that Joffrey ended up swallowing some of it. The coup de grace – both for the wedding and Joffrey’s despicable character arc – comes with his infantile and disgusting attempts to humiliate Tyrion at his wedding. Even Sansa is forced to admit to herself here that there really is a difference between Lannisters, which has been obvious to the rest of us for a long time. If you didn’t think it was possible to hate Joffrey more (and really, how could you sell him short after all this time?) think again – and give praise to Jack Gleeson for bringing one of the most hated characters in TV history to life so brilliantly. He says he’s retiring from acting after this and honestly, as exits go this would be a pretty hard one to top.