After last week's "Two Swords" and watching every single female sexually offer herself to a man or have a man threaten to sexually assault her, I wrote 'Game of Thrones' off as a sexist piece of misogynistic garbage. But, then, this week's "Lion and Rose" happened. Rather than watching women define themselves through marriage or through sexual relationships with their guardsmen/twin brothers/dwarf lovers/vengeance-oriented lovers while baring their breasts, I received an AWESOME hour of TV. Warning - there be spoilers ahead!
This week improved not only because it didn't show female nudity, over-sexualized women, victimized females or gratuitous nudity to welcome back fans and entice new ones; but, it featured good old fashioned plot. This week followed sadistic King Joffrey's marriage to the quietly intelligent Margaery Tyrell while the other kingdoms went about their daily business. Outside the hunting of a female rival, not much violence occurred this week. Instead we see Cersei as the awesome, cunning evil queen; Sansa as the stalwart figure enduring King Joffrey's tyranny; Margaery as the almost-Queen who covertly controls her husband-to-be; and Ellaria Sand as Prince Oberyn Martell's companion in revenge.
This week also rocked because we FINALLY SEE Joffrey get what he deserves!!!!! After watching Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) humiliate his one-handed uncle Jaime last week and denigrate his dwarf-sized uncle Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) this week, I knew we would spend the next few episodes watching an insane, blood-thirsty ruler treat everyone horribly yet never experience assassination. After watching him humiliate Tyrion by destroying his gift, pouring wine on his head, making him a cupbearer, inviting five dwarves to re-enact his past glories, and refusing to let Tyrion leave, I wanted someone to slit Joffrey's throat. And, that's EXACTLY when he DIED!!! He took a bite of pie, a swig of wine and immediately choked to death from poison. And, yes, the death was long, gruesome and drawn out. Although Cersei blamed the cupbearer and commanded Tyrion to custody, I wonder how the rest of the season will play out without a king but multiple queens, including former Queen Cersei, newly wedded Queen Margaery, and almost Queen Sansa who disappeared to avoid sharing her husband's fate with the Fool's help. Also, how will this affect Jaime who seemingly put his duty as king's protector last week above his unofficially recognized position as king's father?
Outside the wedding, the episode also featured Cersei reverting Margaery's goodwill decisions; Tyrion nicely putting Joffrey down verbally; the slow coming together of Sansa and Tyrion quietly supporting each other during Joffrey's wedding tirade; Tyrion finally getting his prostitute lover Shae to leave by verbally denigrating her; Jaime re-learning to swordfight with his good hand; burning bodies; a Winterfell prophecy; woman warrior Brienne unconsciously revealing her love for Jaime to Cersei (subsuming the Brienne-Margaery match-up I expected); Jaime unconsciously revealing his love for Cersei to her fiancee; and the possible repercussions/rewards for House Bolton's Ramsay Snow on breaking Theon into Reek.
As a newbie, I understand why people find 'Game of Thrones' addictive. Outside the female nudity, utter violence and profanity, it features excellent acting and strong production values. Dormier does 500 times better here than as her Moriarty/Irene guest roles in 'Elementary.' I love Peter Dinklage's rich British accent and it's rare for an American to add such dense vocal textures in their English simulations. No wonder he's top-billed. Everytime Dinklage speaks I fall in love with his character especially his ability to equally portray humour, humiliation, dignity and pride. I'm so glad they cast Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand, Prince Martell's insane bisexual lover. Whenever Indira plays straight woman roles ('Human Target,' 'Luther,' 'Bride & Prejudice,' 'Torchwood') - she looks straight up bored and she is straight up boring. But whenever she plays insane (or close to it) ('Torchwood,' 'Luther'), she suddenly comes alive. And, man, she fills every scene as Ellaria.
I enjoyed this week's plot progression. Considering nothing truly happened last week, save Arya's sword-stinging, I'm beginning to suspect HBO (and the series' original author and this episode's writer, George R.R. Martin) only use sex as filler space to distract people from the lack of action. But, considering how much I enjoyed this week, maybe they should stop using the female body as visual filler and let the plot move on. When they do, good things happen ... like strong writing and Joffrey's death.