Last week’s premiere of Game of Thrones was a return to what the show does most mediocre. There were overly long scenes featuring the least interesting characters, unnecessary sexposition, and only brief glimpses of the real power players. Worrying for the opening of what should be the most thrilling season of the show yet, to say the least. However, it also did a bit of what it does the best, including the amazing dynamics between fascinating characters like Arya/The Hound, Sansa/Tyrion, and Jamie/Cersei. This week’s episode also served up much of what the show does well and what it does poorly. Here are the best and worst moments of “Lion and the Rose.”
Best: Ramsey is a Scary Bastard
Most of Ramsey Bolton’s scenes from season 3 were basically torture porn, showing him make Theon regret the day he ever lived. In the opening scene, Ramsey chases a young girl through the woods. Ravenous dogs nip at her heels and a female archer shoots at her, while Ramsey’s playful voice promises that if she gets out of the woods, she can live. But he catches up to her and watches in glee as his dogs rip her apart. Some things never change.
Now he’s really reaping the benefits of his love of torture. Theon has transformed into Reek, a submissive servant who can hold a shaving razor to Ramsey’s neck without even thinking about slitting his throat. Ramsey even informs Reek that Robb was murdered by his father, Roose Bolton, while the razor is at his throat. The balls on Ramsey makes him a worthy predecessor to one of the most epic villains in pop-culture history.
There were a few beautiful images during Bran’s dreams, but for the most part this storyline is a total dud. It falls flat on the screen and there’s really nothing that can save these scenes from being a bore.
Best: Good Changes from the Book
I’ve never been one to care whether the show transitions from the book. Sometimes the changes are perfect for the television format and gives the viewers something new to salivate over. One of the best changes from the books is Jamie coming back to Kings Landing before Joffrey’s wedding. He gets to interact with his family before all the sh!t goes down. Jamie’s scene with Tyrion was a great reminder of how refreshing their relationship is in this cynical world. Jamie is the only Lannister who actually likes Tyrion and Tyrion is smart enough to give Jamie useful advice. Incorporating Bronn into Jamie’s left-handed sword training was also a stroke of genius.
Worst: Bad Changes from the Book
Loras flirts with Oberyn Martell? Unnecessary. Brienne coming to Joffrey’s wedding? Completely out of character. She doesn’t even attempt to speak to Sansa who is a few feet away, despite making a final oath to Catelyn. Then she practically admits to Cersei that she loves Jamie. Brienne from the books is a completely different person from the television show version. TV Brienne does not seem to care at all about her promise to Catelyn to protect her daughters. What are they doing with this character? Is it necessary to gut everything that makes her compelling in order to bulk up the romance?
Best: Tyrion and Joffrey’s Final Confrontation
If any two characters are truly adversaries on this show, it’s definitely King Joffrey and his uncle Tyrion. Tyrion has always been smarter, wittier, and more level headed than his psychotic nephew and practically the only person to see what a demon he can be. Joffrey is not much more than a petulant child who hasn’t learned empathy. For instance, when Tyrion gives Joffrey a history book as a wedding present, Joffrey responds, “After the war is won, we should all find time for wisdom.” However, the second he gets a Valerian steel sword, he whacks the books to pieces and says, “Every time I use it, it will be like cutting off Ned Stark’s head all over again.” (Apparenly, he doesn’t remember that he merely ordered the beheading. He didn’t actually do it.)
During the wedding, Joffrey orders a pantomime of the war of 5 kings to be performed by dwarves, a clear slight at his uncle. He laughs as if it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen, as others, like Tyrion, Sansa, and Margery, look on in horror. (The dwarf Joffrey humps Robb Stark’s decapitated head at one point. Yikes.) He tries to get Tyrion to make a fool out of himself, but he slaps him down with words. Since Joffrey doesn’t have the mental capacity to say anything back, he simply dumps wine on Tyrion’s head and condemns him to be his cupbearer.
As Joffrey sputter’s his last poisoned breath, he manages to point his finger at Tyrion as his last final “f**k you.” I won’t miss Joffrey, but I’ll miss their dynamic.
Worst: Not Enough Time At The Wedding
The actual wedding ceremony takes about one minute of screen time. While the wedding celebration takes up the last half of the episode, it’s hardly enough time to see the scope of the party and what the wedding means to far more of the characters. Ramsey’s scenes were vital to the episode, because they reminded the viewer that there would still be a horrifying villain without Joffrey’s presence. But Bran and Stannis’s stuff took away from the importance of this celebration. There were some character dynamics that should have been explored. How did Jamie feel about his son getting married? Cersei and Jamie were all about their jealousy over each other. It would have been great to see more of Sansa’s reactions to the goings on. (I loved her interaction with Tyrion. Her: “We have a new queen.” Him: “Better her than you.”) The wedding deserved more attention than it got.
- Roose: “You’re not a Bolton. You’re a Snow.” We all know how much Ramsey loves to be reminded that he’s a bastard.
- Shae is sent away in a heartbreaking scene. Tyrion hears that his affair with Shae is common knowledge now and he needs to find a way to get her to leave King’s Landing before Cersei gets her way and kills her. Tyrion’s solution is to say cruel things to make her hate him. “You’re a whore. Sansa is fit to bear my children and you’re not.”
- Stannis continues to be the worst. He burns up his own supporters because they refuse to worship the Lord of Light. Davos and Stannis’s daughter, Shireen, are the only ones with the balls to say anything about it. Shireen is the smartest Baratheon.
- Lady Oleana was the best. She orders her son away while she tries to discuss the upcoming war with Tywin like the badass boss that she is.
- “As if men need more reason be afraid of marriage.” –Oleana to Sansa about Robb dying at a wedding. She fiddles with Sansa’s hair, strokes her cheek, etc. That will be important.
- Marg announces that the poorest in the city will get the leftovers. What a mensch. But Cersei orders the leftovers to be fed to the dog so she could assert her power. These two will be fun to watch.
- When Tyrion is kneeling under the table to get Joffrey’s cup for him, Sansa picks it up in another small act of defiance. Can’t wait to see how the misogynists twist this to make it all her fault.
- Joffrey has a total “Kneel Before Zod” moment as his one last act of assholeness.