It was a dragonless night on the Game of Thrones political battlefield, but it certainly did not want for violence. Instead, viewers were greeted with one of Ramsey Snow’s torture scenes, Melisandre’s human sacrifice of infidels in the name of the lord of light, another royal wedding, and another royal funeral. Joffrey has tortured his last court jester!
First, a few words on the torture scene. Ramsey Snow fed his female victim to the dogs. I gritted my teeth as I awaited the camera to pan onto the victim ripped apart by hounds. But it didn’t. There was no glimpse of her bloody body. Has HBO reached its limit on showing violence?
Like Pavlov’s classically conditioned dogs, viewers are trained to expect the gore, and yet none came. In this case, a stimulus of expected violence (Ramsey Snow laughing as he chases down his victim) resulted in anxiety on the part of the viewer, regardless of whether that violence actually occurred. Perhaps the producers feel that they no longer need to show the violence to evoke the desired response. Either that or HBO’s red line lies between depicting the stabbing of a pregnant woman and displaying a woman eaten alive by dogs.
This long-awaited Lannister loss marks the death of the fourth king—Renly Baratheon, Robert Baratheon, Robb Stark and now Joffrey Lannister—since the series began, and hints at the vulnerability of the Lannisters’ hold on the throne
“A toast to the Lannister children,” Tyrion proclaims to his brother and sister jokingly, “the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness.”
There’s the wonderful sibling symmetry of Cersei threatening Jaime’s companion Brianne of Tarth, and Jaime threatening Cersei’s husband-to-be Ser Loras Tyrell. Yet Joffrey’s death serves to sow the seeds of distrust between Cersei and Jaime because each blames the other for being unable to protect their child.
At the royal wedding, marriage is again synonymous with murder. Someone poisoned Joffrey’s wine, but whodunit? Just about everyone had a reason to want him dead, including the viewers. Was it Oberyn Martell? Margaery Tyrell? Olenna Tyrell, the queen of thorns? Was it the jester Ser Dontas who warns Sansa that she’d best leave the wedding? Perhaps R.R. Martin is a fan of the song “American Pie”:
Oh, and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned
Even though we don’t know explicitly who is guilty, it is clear that Tyrion has been framed. Not only does he have an interest in keeping his family in power, but he is also too smart to be caught holding the weapon at the scene of the crime.
Notably, we were presented with two more unlikely character pairings: Davos the unbeliever and Melisandre the disciple of the lord of light, and Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell—the two most politically savvy and ruthless players. And then there is the incongruous team of Hodor the happy and Bran the burdened. Hodor said “Hodor” to wake Bran up from one of his skinchanger dreams, making me wonder if the Internet has created a Hodor ringtone yet. And it has.
The episode title, “The Lion and the Rose,” represents the unity of two house sigils at the royal wedding—the Lannister Lion and the Tyrell Rose.
The Lannister lion has a thorn in its foot, a rose thorn perhaps?