Finally, that sniveling, cowardly, sadistic, preening, smirking, annoyingly blonde, arrogant, evil, egotistical king is dead-dead-DEAD!
And I miss him already. So very much.
So at last we got what we wanted. But as always with Game of Thrones, we didn’t get what we wanted the exact way we wanted it. For starters, fan favorite Tyrion is now in deep trouble. We have much to discuss about this huge event, and you have come to the right place for the occasion. We have an exclusive interview with actor Jack Gleeson (Joffrey) about this scene and his plan to retire from acting. There’s also a deep-dive Q&A with the showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss about the making of this episode. Plus, there’s an exclusive interview with author George R.R. Martin himself on why he killed Joffrey and the historical inspiration for the way he died. Links to all those posts are at on the last page of this recap.
But first, there were plenty of intriguing scenes before Joffrey got his just desserts — Ramsay’s hunting party, Tyrion and Shae’s breakup, Bran’s prophetic vision, and a bunch of intriguing character pairings at the wedding party that we’ve never seen before (and might never again).
The Dreadfort: We open with one of the ugliest scenes in Thrones‘ history. Ramsay hunting a terrified young woman with his dogs, his castrated slave Theon (now called Reek) literally in tow. There’s a lot to dislike about this scene, but it is powerful. Apparently, this servant girl caused a lover of Ramsay’s to feel jealous. So Ramsay used that as an opportunity to enact his own backyard version of The Hunger Games.
Later, Ramsay’s father Roose Bolton returns from stabbing Robb Stark at the Red Wedding. He brought along Locke, who chopped off Jaime’s hand. Ramsay presents Reek and admits he took some parts off him, too. If in Westeros, this is a castle you really should avoid. You would think Ramsay would have to try extremely hard to actually do anything this father would consider “wrong,” but he apparently managed to disappoint pops. “Theon was a valuable hostage, not your plaything,” Bolton scolds. Bolton wanted to trade Theon for Moat Cailin, a collection of towers that’s considered a strategically valuable Northern stronghold, and now he’s damaged goods. Ramsay shows off how well he’s trained Theon by having him shave him while explaining his friend Robb Stark is dead. Theon’s terrified and total subjugation effectively suggests all the torturing of Theon that we thankfully did not have to witness, in addition to what we already saw last season. Bolton comes up with a mission for his bastard son — take Moat Cailin to prove his worth. (Ramsay, with his jutting looks and cheerfully psychotic demeanor, always reminded me of somebody, and I finally figured it out — Alex, the protagonist of A Clockwork Orange as played by an impossibly young Malcolm McDowell).
King’s Landing: Tyrion and Jaime are together again for the first time since the first season. We’ve rarely seen Tyrion so happy. “Why is no one eating … you lost a hand not a stomach,” he cheerfully chastises. One wonders if Tyrion’s high spirits are partly because of Jaime’s misfortune — his older brother is now less-than perfect too. This seems especially true when Tyrion toasts “the proud Lannister children — the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness.” But we also see their strong bond when Jaime trusts Tyrion with his biggest secret, that he can no longer fight. Once again, Jaime is really worried about what other people think of him, though this time it’s a valid concern. “As soon as someone discovers I can’t fight, he’ll tell everyone,” he frets.
Tyrion sets up Jaime with Bronn for left-handed sword training, assuring his sellsword buddy is discreet. They meet in a remote sea-side location. Bronn further tries to assure Jaime that he doesn’t have to worry about people finding out about his fight lessons by telling him about a woman he’s screwing in this very spot. He even names her husband just to further demonstrate his discretion. As everybody who navigates office gossip knows, never trust people who prove they can keep a secret by telling you other secrets they’re supposed to be keeping. Jaime tosses Bronn what Louis C.K. once dubbed a vague sack of money.