Game of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose
April 14, 2014 9:52 PM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

The second episode of the fourth season is the only one this season written by George R.R. Martin himself and mostly covers the events leading up to the royal wedding at King's Landing.

Finally, the episode everyone has been waiting over three years to see: Joffrey meets his maker.
posted by mathowie (443 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I heard someone on Facebook call it "The Purple Wedding" and so knew a little bit what was coming but still, wow.
posted by jessamyn at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


So satisfying! About four minutes before he died I said to my husband, "I hope someone kills him soon because I can't take much more of this." They really ramped up the vileness to an intolerable level there at the end.
posted by something something at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Shouldn't someone stop Joffrey from tormenting Tyrion like that? I know Margaery tried, but I was surprised that Tywin or even Cersei didn't try to diplomatically stop him from looking like such a complete ass while embarrassing a prominent Lannister.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2014


The Purple Wedding

And oh man I was cackling when I heard that, not even having seen the episode yet. I'm one of those ahead-in-the-books people so this was one of the big moments I was waiting for everybody coming new to the story via the show to freak out about. Cf. the Red Wedding (another one of those "I have never heard this phrase before but I know exactly what it means") moments; cf. Ned Stark's bad end.

What's interesting to me is it feels like as a result of nobody really not wanting Joffrey dead, there wasn't quite as much hullabaloo as with the Ned or the Red Wedding. Less "nooooo!", more "it's about goddam time", maybe. Plus people have already started to acclimate to the whole sudden shocking death thing at this point.
posted by cortex at 10:48 AM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


I was surprised that Tywin or even Cersei didn't try to diplomatically stop him

I was too which makes me wonder a little bit who all might have been in on it.
posted by jessamyn at 10:48 AM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


My partner has not read the book and does not really watch the show unless he happens to be in the room doing other stuff. He happened to be in the room for this one, and commented about halfway through the wedding that Joffrey is a little twerp who should be killed. So there really is NO ONE who does not want Joffrey dead, even people who just started watching the show ten minutes earlier.
posted by Stacey at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2014 [22 favorites]


Shouldn't someone stop Joffrey from tormenting Tyrion like that? I know Margaery tried, but I was surprised that Tywin or even Cersei didn't try to diplomatically stop him from looking like such a complete ass while embarrassing a prominent Lannister.


Tywin and Cersei honeybadger Tyrion. But also I think maybe they realize ol' Joff wouldn't have listened; his whole gestalt was spending everyday trying to prove that being king made him omnipotent even as the great forces around him ignored and manipulated him. Would have just provoked a backlash.
posted by Diablevert at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Neither Tywin nor Cersei have any love for Tyrion.

Cortex, I've have a few friends who are upset that he's dead because they won't have anyone to hate now. I suggested Bolten or Ramsey but they said those two weren't good enough.
posted by royalsong at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think they unfortunately made Joff turn into an extra turd the past few episodes just to make his death all the sweeter. I would have liked it a lot more if they had made him more sympathetic before he bit it.
posted by rebent at 11:04 AM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


About four minutes before he died I said to my husband...

That could be the beginning of a quite disturbing anecdote.

(I don't have anything to say about the programme. This is the one with the dwarf, yes?)
posted by Grangousier at 11:04 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I suggested Bolten or Ramsey but they said those two weren't good enough.

Part of me kind of admires Bolten just for being so H.A.M. I mean, really, the war with the Lannisters was going nowhere good for Robb even before the wedding. He saw his chance and took it. I am disappointed in Ramsey because I like the actor from Misfits and it bums me out he's always playing psychos. This show is always churning up actors I once found attractive and turning them into grim, repellent sociopaths. Oh where oh where is the hot Thomas Jefferson of yesteryear, Stephen Dillane? Burning heratics on Grim Bastard Isle again, I see...

Also, I am glad this place exists. Somehow in all the Red Wedding freakout last year I got spoiled that Joff's death was coming this season, and then despite my trying to avoid spoilers until I'd seen the episode I saw some glimmer over on the Blue or the Grey that made me realize it must have happened this week. So I'm glad we have a place to contain this. Also, I've been dying to talk about this with you people.
posted by Diablevert at 11:07 AM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


do we think it matters that Joffrey and Margarey never consummated the marriage? Or is she officially Queen now?
posted by likeatoaster at 11:18 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I suggested Bolten or Ramsey but they said those two weren't good enough.

It's not fun to hate Ramsey. He's a loathsome human being, but there's a such thing as too vile to hate in an enjoyable way, and he's definitely there.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:20 AM on April 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think they unfortunately made Joff turn into an extra turd the past few episodes just to make his death all the sweeter. I would have liked it a lot more if they had made him more sympathetic before he bit it.

After what he's done to various prostitutes over the years, I don't think there's any way to make him more sympathetic that wouldn't ultimately ring false.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is a library display I have up and on Monday someone happily pointed to the little Joffrey window and crowed, "One down!"

I tend to get GoT names on custom soccer jerseys. I have a Bolton one (on a Bolton Wanders shirt, natch), a Greyjoy one, and will have a Frey one once the end of season sales start. At no point have I ever considered a Lannister shirt, let alone a Joffery one. I don't want to get beat up!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:26 AM on April 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I thought it was a great touch that the answer to whodunnit is actually shown, in a way that I think the vast majority of non-book readers wouldn't catch, but book readers would.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:28 AM on April 16, 2014 [15 favorites]


Likeatoaster: the answer to that is the basis of a lot of upcoming King's Landing story.
posted by royalsong at 11:28 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Following up on liekatoaster's comment, do we know how the laws of succession work in Westeros? Does Tommen become king with Margaerey queen regent? Or does Cersei become queen regent again? Or what?

I am also curious how long the show will play out who poisoned Joffrey. Ser Dontos [sic?] (the jester guy who gave a necklace to Sansa) clearly knew something was up, but I can't see him being behind the poisoning all by himself. I could see Tywin and Cersei being involved in some way and, even moreso, I could see the Queen of Thorns being behind the plot. There was a camera angle in the show that sort of framed her with what turned out to be the poison chalice. Not really evidence per se, but maybe a visual clue.

To be clear, I do not know what happens and have not read the books, so this is all supposition.
posted by Falconetti at 11:29 AM on April 16, 2014


I found Cersei's reaction to Joffrey's ridiculousness a little absurd at this point in the game. I feel like, realistically, she would really realize that her power over Tyrion is completely illusory and in the long run they're probably in the same boat.

(Have not booked, but it seems self-evident from the narrative.)

I take it her next son is now king? The kid who kind of snickered at the little people and then stopped when Tyrion gave him a Look?

Also, god I love Iwan Rheon. He was so creepylikable in Misfits and is so creepyunlikable here. He's a really remarkable actor.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:29 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a great touch that the answer to whodunnit is actually shown, in a way that I think the vast majority of non-book readers wouldn't catch, but book readers would.

Yes! That is exactly why my wife and I turned to each other and said: uh, who killed him again?
posted by shothotbot at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2014


Also no way Cersei was involved in the poisoning. Because it seems like one of her flaws is being overly devoted to her horrible baby. Which sometimes I feel like is a little wonky from a feminist standpoint, especially combined with Catelyn's narrative and that woman who was breastfeeding a biggish kid and ZOMG we're all supposed to be disgusted.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:32 AM on April 16, 2014


Following up on liekatoaster's comment, do we know how the laws of succession work in Westeros?

The series so far has seemed to answer that with "however whoever has the biggest army right now thinks it works", and I'm guessing that's not changing. Probably less a legal question and more a "what exactly does Tywin Lannister want to have happen" sort of deal.
posted by cortex at 11:32 AM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I take it her next son is now king? The kid who kind of snickered at the little people and then stopped when Tyrion gave him a Look?

Tommen, Cersei (and Jaime's) youngest is now the holder of the Iron Throne. However, the history of Westeros shows that it really comes down to who has the biggest army, whatever their claim.

Also important to note that Cersei has a daughter, Myrcella, who is older than Tommen. Myrcella is away from court, her marriage having been arranged with the heir to Dorne and then she was sent to Dorne to be kept safe during the war.
posted by nubs at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2014


Also no way Cersei was involved in the poisoning. Because it seems like one of her flaws is being overly devoted to her horrible baby. Which sometimes I feel like is a little wonky from a feminist standpoint, especially combined with Catelyn's narrative and that woman who was breastfeeding a biggish kid and ZOMG we're all supposed to be disgusted.

Yeah, but big-picture wise don't you think that's part of the show's larger point about the major way women get to exercise power on this show is through their children? The breastfeeding thing is a visual metaphor for that dependance; so long as the dependence exists the mother has power. Sever it and she is nothing.

Part of the whole dynamic between Catelyn and Robb was him rejecting her advice and moving to dis-empower her --- because he had to, in order to establish himself as a legit king in a patriarchal system. Allow his mother to openly oppose him undermines his own authority. So he refuses to listen to even her good advice and she winds up frustrated and goes off the reservation herself. It seems to me that the very, very limited paths most women have to exercise power are a big concern of the show...even Dany, who is a queen and leads an army and has control over supernatural forces --- all that's channeled through her role as the mother of dragons. Without the dragons she's nothing, too.
posted by Diablevert at 11:44 AM on April 16, 2014 [22 favorites]


What's interesting to me is it feels like as a result of nobody really not wanting Joffrey dead, there wasn't quite as much hullabaloo as with the Ned or the Red Wedding. Less "nooooo!", more "it's about goddam time", maybe. Plus people have already started to acclimate to the whole sudden shocking death thing at this point.

The reaction I've been seeing has been more about the fact that this happened in episode 2 - as in, "If they killed Joff in episode 2, what else is going to happen this season?" To which I can only smile knowingly.
posted by nubs at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


Yeah, but big-picture wise don't you think that's part of the show's larger point about the major way women get to exercise power on this show is through their children? The breastfeeding thing is a visual metaphor for that dependance; so long as the dependence exists the mother has power. Sever it and she is nothing.

Hmm, perhaps, but I suppose I just wouldn't mind a relationship on the show where a mother loving her children wasn't an essentially foolish act. Cersei's behavior in this episode, where she's endlessly tickled by Joffrey's wit even when every single person in the kingdom sees what a monster he is, ends up looking bad on her, not the broader society. Even if it's intended as a critique on the broader society.

(Maybe it says something about our society that the breastfeeding scene is discussed as being icky rather than an example of a female character being shrewd. Which I think you're right in implying it is.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:52 AM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


The unfortunate thing about this show being based on an already extant work is that it's not that fun to speculate what's going to happen, because a bunch of people already know. I have my ideas about who killed Joffrey but I don't want to say because I don't want to hear if I'm right or wrong.
posted by desjardins at 11:56 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


The unfortunate thing about this show being based on an already extant work is that it's not that fun to speculate what's going to happen, because a bunch of people already know. I have my ideas about who killed Joffrey but I don't want to say because I don't want to hear if I'm right or wrong.

On the flip side, some of the most interesting things about this episode come from knowing what happens in the books and what the show has changed, but that's hard to talk about without spoiling the show-only people.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:00 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I got myself spoiled about Joffrey eating it just a week or two ago, so I caught the buzz for him getting his at the wedding and was anticipating the when and how of it. I was actually expecting him to get gutted by a Dornish prince while said prince continued to flirt with Ser Loras.

It did not go that way, but I'm still loving Oberyn and Joffrey's end made perfect sense as it was. I do hope that Tyrion gets a little satisfaction out of the fact that Joffrey's final thoughts were that his uncle had killed him.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2014


Yeah. The show does have different things than the books - different characters, etc. It's caused a lot of speculation around what that means for both - are new characters less important to the plot? Are the two stories even the same or do new things happen?
posted by corb at 12:04 PM on April 16, 2014


I just wouldn't mind a relationship on the show where a mother loving her children wasn't an essentially foolish act.

I know she wasn't a super popular character, but Catelyn was this. Everything she ever did was out of love for her children, not to further her own ambitions.
posted by royalsong at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


It was a good episode but I'll miss Joffrey because he was such a little bastard and so fun to hate.
I have to say I was a little disappointed with the method of his murder; it was a little anti-climactic for me after he was so douchey for so long. I was hoping for a big, public, humiliating confrontation or something. Culminating in a bloody disemboweling, perhaps.
An anonymous poisoning was a bit of a letdown in that respect.
I still shouted "YEAH!" though.
posted by chococat at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


If I hadn't read the books I'd assume the producers had created Oberyn to take over Tyrion's psuedo-morally superior snark duties while whatever happens after he's arrested for Joffrey's murder plays out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2014


One thing for sure is that Show Oberyn > Book Oberyn. So great.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


Following up on likeatoaster's comment, do we know how the laws of succession work in Westeros?

I think it varies from place to place - apparently in Dorne things work differently - but succession to the Iron Throne seems to work by agnatic-cognatic primogeniture, whereby the oldest male child inherits, and in the absence of a male child, the oldest female inherits instead. In the absence of any offspring, the succession passes to the oldest available male sibling/uncle/cousin/whatever.

So, legally speaking, the crown belongs to Danaerys, because there are no more Targaryens, though the Baratheons usurped the throne. Viserys would have been the legal king if were still alive. But Danaerys can't enforce her claim, so the Baratheons have the throne instead.

Now: Bob Baratheon died without issue - none of his children by Cersei are provably Baratheons, because none of them have the Baratheon black hair - so the succession, legally, ought to have passed to Stannis, the next oldest Baratheon brother. Instead, it passed to Joffrey, Bob's eldest "son," because Ned Stark never thought to publish far and wide the obvious fact about Baratheons.

So Joffrey's death means that the succession passes to his brother Tommen, the next oldest "Baratheon." Who becomes regent will probably be the engine of the plot for the rest of the season.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


All the Oberyns are great, show and book. (they cast such a perfect actor for him)
posted by royalsong at 12:07 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I actually have high hopes for the show making Dorne not boring.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:09 PM on April 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


(Maybe it says something about our society that the breastfeeding scene is discussed as being icky rather than an example of a female character being shrewd. Which I think you're right in implying it is.)

If this is the breastfeeding scene I'm thinking of - back in season 1, Lysa (Cat's sister) and her son? What makes it icky is the fact that the boy is five or six years old, from my perspective...at what point is it shrewd, at what point is it just creating dependency to the point of pathology?

While one of the constant undercurrents of both show and series is about female characters and their limited power/paths to influence, I do think it's doing a fine job of showing Olenna and Margarey Tyrell as two women who have and wield power from sources other than their children. Part of the reason Margarey is such a threat to Cersei is two things - her sex appeal, which she uses to great effect with Joffrey, and her sense of how to work the commons and derive power from their approval. Olenna has turned a keen mind and sharp eye into incredible strengths; her status as an elderly noble woman ensures she can say blunt truths to men of power with few repercussions.
posted by nubs at 12:12 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Loved to hate watch Jack Gleeson as Joffrey. I am bummed that Gleeson has decided to retire from acting after this role, he's a very talented actor.
posted by SarahElizaP at 12:13 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Cersei's behavior in this episode, where she's endlessly tickled by Joffrey's wit even when every single person in the kingdom sees what a monster he is, ends up looking bad on her, not the broader society. Even if it's intended as a critique on the broader society.

I hate to break this to you, but Cersei is kind of an asshole. A Heather. A Regina George. An asshole who's been screwed over in a number of ways and is interesting and complicated and maybe tragic, but huge, raging asshole. She's laughing because she thinks it's funny. Because she's the type of person who enjoys causing other people pain. Five minutes before the pagent scene she was blackmailing Pycell in order to make sure the scraps from the feast were thrown to the dogs, remember?

(Maybe it says something about our society that the breastfeeding scene is discussed as being icky rather than an example of a female character being shrewd. Which I think you're right in implying it is.)

I don't think I explained myself well. I do think the scene is being presented as icky, and I think that's deliberate because the idea is that forcing someone to stay dependent on you in order to preserve your own access to power is a poisonous dynamic which can stunt their development. I just think the show is clear in showing why that shit happens, because the alternatives are no walk in the park either --- if you cease to be of use as a mom/potential mom, your life becomes pretty hellish pretty damn quick. The life of every powerless person in the show is pretty sucky, but especially the women; witness Sansa. (And soon, I suspect, Margery.) Try and preserve their dependence, you can fuck up the kid; let them go and you can end up shunted aside, voiceless.
posted by Diablevert at 12:16 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Gleeson actually seems like a total mensch, but I can't say I'm sad to see Joffrey off the show. He did turn rather purple, didn't he...

They lampshaded the mastermind behind his demise pretty heavily, I thought, but I wonder if they'll get into how the actual mechanics of the event happened.
posted by Phire at 12:16 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wait, Catelyn wasn't popular? I admittedly don't really follow the fanbase for GoT but Catelyn was the rare character on GoT who was both a respectable human being and a joy to watch. I was disappointed mostly that the King of North plotline reduced the scope of her character so much.
posted by invitapriore at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


A lot of people were really mad at what a horrible person she was to Jon Snow, and that drove fan opinion especially during Season 1.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


An asshole who's been screwed over in a number of ways and is interesting and complicated and maybe tragic, but huge, raging asshole. She's laughing because she thinks it's funny.

And because she's already hitched her pony to this wagon. She knows Joffrey's a miserable broken sociopath of a kid, but he's her kid and he's the king, and she knows her father isn't going to suddenly grant her the power and respect she wants. Joffrey may be a piece of shit, but even maternal bonds aside she knows he's her piece of shit and the nexus through which whatever leylines of power she has flows.

She's drinking more lately, she's not actually particularly having a good time with anything, but if this is the shitshow she's stuck in she might as well just say fuck it and laugh at the shit her psycho meal ticket of a kid is pulling at the expense of a lot of other people she actively dislikes and has no pull with.
posted by cortex at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


I suggested Bolten or Ramsey but they said those two weren't good enough.

Is it just me or do other people have trouble keeping the damn names straight? Who the hell are these people?
posted by desjardins at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I know she wasn't a super popular character, but Catelyn was this. Everything she ever did was out of love for her children, not to further her own ambitions.


Right, and then she bit it. I'm kinda thinking about this thing, "narrative punishment," which was a term I picked up in arguing on the internet about gay kids' books, which often have the gay kid getting beaten up or their dog dying or whatever. And even if the narrative reason for these things isn't gayness, a reader could get the impression that Bad Things Happen to Gay People. In some ways, the things that happen to Catelyn feel like they're things that happen as a result of her loving relationship to her children (especially since she's one of the only [?] characters who is this kind of mother in the series), in much the same way that Ned's beheading feels like the result of his moral righteousness; it seems like GRRM/the writers are building an argument against this sort of mothering. At least in this universe.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Roose Bolton is the one who stabbed Robb at the Red Wedding.

Ramsay Snow is his bastard son, who has been torturing Theon Greyjoy.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:25 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Roose Bolton was originally playing on Team King of the North. But he's the one who stabs Rob and says the "Lannisters send their regards." A tratior. He's Ramsey's father.

Ramsey Snow is the psycho guy torturing and flaying Theon.

And remembering names in this story is a futile endeavor in my opinion. Every character gets a name, a sigil, a little bit of backstory, etc. I stopped paying any and all attention to the names of characters until they do something significant.
posted by royalsong at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I do have to say I'm impressed with how well the show has been delineating its characters, aside from Theon / Robb / the new Daario basically looking identical. Characters I barely remembered about in the book (Bolton etc) are much more distinct in the show.
posted by Phire at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


In this episode, Roose and Ramsay interacted for the first time on screen, in a conversation at the Bolton castle, the Dreadfort. Their house words are "Our Knives Are Sharp," their sigil is a flayed man, and they are some sick motherfuckers.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:27 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Seriously, a dude chooses a flayed man as his personal symbol that sums up what he's about, and you trust somebody like that? Bad judgment, Ned.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


His castle is called The Dreadfort, for Christ's sake
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


To be fair, Roose didn't choose that as his sigil. His great-times-almost-infinity grandfather did.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have to say I was a little disappointed with the method of his murder; it was a little anti-climactic for me after he was so douchey for so long. I was hoping for a big, public, humiliating confrontation or something.

I was reading somewhere about this very thought (and it might have been an interview with GRRM or D&D), and there was a very good point made:

-Robb's death at the Red Wedding has many of the trappings we would look for in a villain getting their due - sarcastic one liners, the sense of revenge, the dramatic staging of the trap, the depth of the plan...and yet, it is a tragic occurrence.

-Joff's death at the Purple Wedding does not provide the catharsis we expect (that you mention above) - we hated him, and we want him to die in the way media has taught us villains should die - publicly humiliated and bested by one of the good guys, who deliver the killing blow and a suitably pithy one liner for the send off. Instead, he dies choking, head on his mother's lap, and its unclear exactly who did this thing. So we can be happy he is dead, but there's not the trappings we've been conditioned to expect in such a moment.
posted by nubs at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2014 [23 favorites]


Because Ned's always had good judgement otherwise.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2014


Well then bad judgment, proto-Stark.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seriously, a dude chooses a flayed man as his personal symbol that sums up what he's about, and you trust somebody like that? Bad judgment, Ned.

Especially Book Bolton, whose physical appearance and demeanor is like half Voldemort.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


(But why am I being fair to Roose? I DON'T EVEN KNOW.)
posted by ocherdraco at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Someone on io9 framed Joffrey's death as actually much more humiliating than if he'd been able die on the business end of a sword. And I quite agree, actually.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was trying to describe Roose Bolton to my wife pre-Red Wedding, since he hadn't done much memorable to that point. The best I could come up with was "That guy who hangs around Robb and looks like Vladimir Putin."
posted by zompus at 12:34 PM on April 16, 2014 [24 favorites]


The thing I like about Roose is that he's the guy you're playing a game of Diplomacy with who you think is a pretty smart player and is also a reasonable, thoughtful ally, and you're glad you decided to convince him to work with you because it'll make it easier for you to complete your invasion of France and look toward the win once the endgame starts in, of course you'll have to cut him loose at some point because OH MY GOD ROOSE, REALLY, YOU INVADED MY CAPITAL, YOU DUPLICITOUS SACK OF
posted by cortex at 12:38 PM on April 16, 2014 [32 favorites]


I saw him in this episode and had no idea I'd even seen him before, so I'm glad to get the backstory and places I should have noticed him but didn't.
posted by jessamyn at 12:38 PM on April 16, 2014


Seriously, a dude chooses a flayed man as his personal symbol that sums up what he's about, and you trust somebody like that? Bad judgment, Ned.

Some back history here that hopefully doesn't breach the policies - The Boltons and the Starks have a long history of fighting with each other before the Boltons finally bent the knee and accepted the Starks as the rulers of the North. They aren't pleasant, but then there are other Houses that have bad histories too:

The Ullers of Hellholt (Dorne): their castle got its name for the fact that they invited their rivals over, locked them in, and then burnt them to death.
posted by nubs at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


My memory is taxed trying to remember all of GoT History, but Bolton was the one who initially took the big black cursed and falling apart keep that Arya escapes from for Rob, is he not?
posted by royalsong at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2014


Harrenhal? Yeah, I think he does.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:41 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]



I was trying to describe Roose Bolton to my wife pre-Red Wedding, since he hadn't done much memorable to that point. The best I could come up with was "That guy who hangs around Robb and looks like Vladimir Putin."


One review I read described him as "before the Red Wedding, he was Robb's third bannerman to the left"
posted by nubs at 12:41 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Ullers of Hellholt (Dorne): their castle got its name for the fact that they invited their rivals over, locked them in, and then burnt them to death.

So Vlad Tepes would do quite well for himself in Westeros, then.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:41 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think if the show didn't go so subtle with the sigils on peoples' costumes it would be a lot easier to keep track of who's who. They're gorgeous, but I didn't even notice the flayed man on Bolton's armor for a long time when he was gallivanting around with Robb. If the little flayed dude was done up in the house color of pink, standing out on his black armor, then you'd be all "oh yeah pink flayed dude guy" at least when you see him.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Vlad Tepes would do just fine. Might need to up his game a little, perhaps - he'd be playing with the pros.
posted by nubs at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Bolton took Harrenhal for Robb and that's where he made a deal for Jaime's life (possibly also setting up the Red Wedding gig), IIRC. He wasn't around for the Brienne baiting, though.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hate to break this to you, but Cersei is kind of an asshole. A Heather. A Regina George. An asshole who's been screwed over in a number of ways and is interesting and complicated and maybe tragic, but huge, raging asshole.

My complaint isn't that she's an asshole, it's that she's naive and transparently foolish.

The Regina Georges of fiction are usually pretty cunning, even if they get their comeuppance. But something else is going on with Cersei; the audience is meant to see how much smarter we are than her, especially in that we hate Joffrey and she is too enamored with him to be able to successfully play the game.

Speaking of "playing the game," during the wedding it really seemed to me that the point wasn't merely to show how unlikeable and jerky Joffrey is but to show how overly transparent he is in his viciousness. The Tyrell's successfully navigate polite society; so do Cersei and Tyrion. But Joffrey's petty jealousy and need to cut Tyrion down means that he loses in the end.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:48 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


NOT ENOUGH WARGING IN THIS EP

NEVER ENOUGH WARGING
posted by Greg Nog at 12:48 PM on April 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Shut up about warging and pass the Baelish. 2 eps, no Pety. Mmmm. Baelishious.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Speaking of warging, if Bran's wolfie could take down a deer nearby, why would they not go get some of that to eat? Or even start using warging as a hunting technique if they're so low on provisions?
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2014


I don't think Summer was nearby.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:51 PM on April 16, 2014


What's the range on warging?
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:52 PM on April 16, 2014


Depends on the warg as far as I can tell.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2014


I don't think a limit has been established in the show.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2014


Speaking of warging, if Bran's wolfie could take down a deer nearby, why would they not go get some of that to eat? Or even start using warging as a hunting technique if they're so low on provisions?

Quick, somebody find a lampshade.
posted by zompus at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2014


Must be some pretty good infrastructure put down by Warg-Tel.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


You are in for a treat, Ambrosia Voyeur. (If the tv show follows the books..)

Petyr Baelish is one of those characters who I love dearly and at the same time want to know wtf is wrong with me that I love him so much.
posted by royalsong at 12:54 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Would have liked to see a scene of him reacting to Catelyn's death.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Must be some pretty good infrastructure put down by Warg-Tel.

"Can you warg me now?" "Hodor."
posted by zompus at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2014 [21 favorites]


I saw him in this episode and had no idea I'd even seen him before

This is how I feel about half the characters on the show. I need there to be some sort of overlay technology so they go around with little nametags superimposed above their heads. I think metafilter discussion is going to help me a lot with keeping all these people straight, actually.
posted by something something at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Please tell me y'all have seen that collection of 'what my dad calls the GoT characters' meme.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:58 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or the Honest Trailer for Game of Thrones, which has a good bit on all the characters whose names you don't know. Lord Friend Zone!
posted by nubs at 1:04 PM on April 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


My complaint isn't that she's an asshole, it's that she's naive and transparently foolish.

The only thing she's really naive about are the limits of a lord's power, I'd say. In that way Joff takes after her, hardcore.

The Regina Georges of fiction are usually pretty cunning, even if they get their comeuppance. But something else is going on with Cersei; the audience is meant to see how much smarter we are than her, especially in that we hate Joffrey and she is too enamored with him to be able to successfully play the game.

She's short-sighted and petty and quick to throw a tantrum; this leaves her at a disadvantage in comparison to colder-blooded characters and those with more patience. But she's had her moments of cunning; got Ned, didn't she?

I don't see why it's problematic to have a female character who's a bit ham-handed in her backroom backstabbing, in a show which shows quite a wide variety of women with different levels of access to power and skill in playing the game. (Perhaps Regina George is the wrong comparison; maybe Gretchen Weiner is better.) The fact that she truly loves her kids is her one redeeming quality; most mothers are blind to their kids' flaws. Personally, I think it's a nice subtle touch, that both her and Joffrey are naive about the limits of power in the same way. The reasons Joff thinks he can get away with all his bullshit is because he is king, and she thinks that, too. How many "Guards, seize him!" scenes has she had? I can think of four, off the top of my head. Just like Joff, she thinks she should be able to stomp her foot and get what she wants. The idea of him having absolute power --- she wants to live vicariously through that, she who's spent her whole life as her father's pawn. So why shouldn't she get a kick out of him being such a blatant dick, punishing his enemies in public and making them squirm?
posted by Diablevert at 1:05 PM on April 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Seriously, a dude chooses a flayed man as his personal symbol that sums up what he's about, and you trust somebody like that? Bad judgment, Ned.

Not only that, I believe the flayed person on that sigil is a Stark that the Boltons flayed thousands of years ago so they could wear his skin as clothes. I'm not sure it's possible for Ned or Robb to have worse judgment than trusting someone with that shit on their banner.
posted by Copronymus at 1:06 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


The fact that she truly loves her kids is her one redeeming quality

Ah, see, I think that's where we differ--I feel we're meant to see this as a tragic flaw, not a note of redemption. But I suspect we'll have to agree to disagree, here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2014


Cersei's a great example of "born on third base and thinks they hit a triple".
posted by jason_steakums at 1:09 PM on April 16, 2014 [24 favorites]


I think Cersei's a great character who is constantly tripping herself up out of spite and nihilism. She thought she saw a gleam of hope when Joffrey got on the throne, but that only lasted until Tywin showed up to become the Hand and put everyone back in their place. Since then, she hasn't had anything but spite to keep her warm at night, as she's really not smart enough to maneuver herself into anything good. Margary's a great foil for her, since she's clearly got the smarts and charisma Cersei lacks and is able to get Joffrey to do her bidding better than anyone else (well, other than Tywin) without Joffrey even knowing about it.

BTW, I don't think Mags used teh sexay on Joffrey at all. The boy clearly didn't have much of a sex drive.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


something something: "they go around with little nametags superimposed above their heads."

To a certain extent, the house sigils perform part of this function for the nobles. If there's someone you don't know (who's not a peasant), figure out what motif they're wearing.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:16 PM on April 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


if Bran's wolfie could take down a deer nearby, why would they not go get some of that to eat? Or even start using warging as a hunting technique if they're so low on provisions?

There still wouldn't be enough for him to consume, to keep up with his super-rapid growth.
He's like 34 now.
posted by chococat at 1:17 PM on April 16, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm just pissed the Starks didn't get to take their revenge on Joffery specifically.

ursus_comiter: Please tell me y'all have seen that collection of 'what my dad calls the GoT characters' meme.

What? No. Link immediately please.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:22 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here.
posted by jessamyn at 1:24 PM on April 16, 2014 [19 favorites]


I still crack up at, "Oh, that's the blacksmith."
posted by ocherdraco at 1:25 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think Catelyn's tragic flaw goes the other way: she desires political power and the political benefit of her house and family more than she actually loves her children as people. She can't stop herself from playing the game, and she can't quite see that she's really bad at it. She and dumb ol' Ned didn't make a very good team.
posted by bleep-blop at 1:26 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


"How does he not know Hodor? THe dude says his name every time he talks. He's like a 7 foot tall Pikachu."
posted by jessamyn at 1:28 PM on April 16, 2014 [18 favorites]


I think Catelyn's tragic flaw goes the other way: she desires political power and the political benefit of her house and family more than she actually loves her children as people. She can't stop herself from playing the game, and she can't quite see that she's really bad at it. She and dumb ol' Ned didn't make a very good team.

Can you explain this more? How do you reconcile that with her freeing Jamie?
posted by Diablevert at 1:31 PM on April 16, 2014


King of the Guys!
posted by something something at 1:38 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


IMO Ceresi has the same flaw I see in people I know in real life: she thinks she's smarter/more skilled than she actually is, and she can't stand to be around people who are actually smarter than her, because that pokes holes in the illusion. All her victories must be hers and hers alone, she cannot collaborate with someone else as equals and share a win. If she had to do that she would rather lose.

That is not to say that's her only flaw or that it's unrelated to other flaws, but that's the one that sticks out the most to me.
posted by zompus at 1:42 PM on April 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


My problem with Cat has always been her judgement; if in season 1, she decides not to go to King's Landing with the dagger, she isn't in the position to abduct Tyrion.

While a war in the realm was likely inevitable - Stannis was as much in the know about Joff's parentage as was Jon Arryn, the late hand whose murder gets this whole series rolling, and Cersei is plotting for Robert's murder anyways, which is going to touch off problems - Cat's decision to abscond with Tyrion is what gets the Lannisters on the march, at a time when no one is really ready...and at a time when her own family is split up, with some in King's Landing and some at Winterfell. While there are a lot of causes to this war, Cat's decisions seem to me to be the most proximate ones that get it rolling. If she had held off, things may have unfolded very differently.

That being said, I'm always struck by the parallels between the "cause" of Robert's Rebellion (the crown prince making off with the daughter of a major house - the Starks) and the War of the Five Kings (the Starks abducting a son of another major House). Again, there are lots of other factors at play behind both those wars, but these appear to be the sparks that got everything burning.
posted by nubs at 1:45 PM on April 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


> I thought it was a great touch that the answer to whodunnit is actually shown, in a way that I think the vast majority of non-book readers wouldn't catch, but book readers would

If it wouldn't be to much of a spoiler, can you tell me where in the books it's revealed? Someone I was talking to said we never find out. I'm reading the books, myself, and am only a bit further ahead of the show, but now I'm wondering if I missed some big reveal.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:54 PM on April 16, 2014


The reason I think I know who did it is because stupid Buzzfeed had a thumbnail on their "what's hot" page with a certain item circled. I hadn't even clicked anything - they could have at least cropped the image.
posted by desjardins at 1:57 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


If it wouldn't be to much of a spoiler, can you tell me where in the books it's revealed? Someone I was talking to said we never find out. I'm reading the books, myself, and am only a bit further ahead of the show, but now I'm wondering if I missed some big reveal.

I think it's late book 3? If not, then certainly in book 4. If you would like me to fill in details you may have missed, drop me a memail.
posted by nubs at 2:04 PM on April 16, 2014


If it wouldn't be to much of a spoiler, can you tell me where in the books it's revealed? Someone I was talking to said we never find out. I'm reading the books, myself, and am only a bit further ahead of the show, but now I'm wondering if I missed some big reveal.

Not sure how to say it without spoiling it or being too vague, but leaning towards the latter the killer is named as part of someone's big villainous gloating exposition and the veracity of the statement does depend on how much you trust that person, but that combined with what was shown in the show at least marks someone as by far the most likely suspect.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:08 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ah, so it isn't that it's been made perfectly clear (with Hercule Poirot gathering them all in the drawing room) in one of the books. Yet. I understand.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:12 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's been stated outright, by a character who you may not be inclined to trust, but who would really have no reason to lie at that point because the whole conversation was a rare bit of candor from them.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:13 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Needs more Arya and the Hound and chicken eating.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:15 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ok, I've read the first three books but it's been so damn long I completely forgot who's really behind Joffrey's death so I had to Google it.
posted by dnash at 2:46 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Needs more Arya and the Hound and chicken eating.

There were no chickens being served at the wedding.
posted by nubs at 2:47 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Needs more tooth picking.
posted by goethean at 2:51 PM on April 16, 2014


What's the range on warging?

Warg, warg on the range,
Where the stags and the dire wolves play,
Where often is heard a man's final word,
And the skies have dragons all day.
posted by homunculus at 3:26 PM on April 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Needs more tooth picking.

Fine little blade...
posted by homunculus at 3:33 PM on April 16, 2014


Ser Dontos [sic?] (the jester guy who gave a necklace to Sansa) clearly knew something was up, but I can't see him being behind the poisoning all by himself.

He's my top suspect. They really made him stand out in both episodes. OTOH, that might just be misdirection.
posted by homunculus at 3:43 PM on April 16, 2014


Not only that, I believe the flayed person on that sigil is a Stark that the Boltons flayed thousands of years ago so they could wear his skin as clothes. I'm not sure it's possible for Ned or Robb to have worse judgment than trusting someone with that shit on their banner.

Yeah I have never been able to buy that family's existence. Okay, you're an independent count surrounded by four other independent counts. Their sigils are:

- two red lions rampant on a field of argent
- crossed blue and gold swords
- a white bull over a stripe of green, on a field of black
- *~* the GUTS of all our dead neighbors *~*

Who goes first on your "screw my neighbor over" list?
posted by furiousthought at 3:58 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


He's my top suspect. They really made him stand out in both episodes. OTOH, that might just be misdirection.

I suspect Littlefinger.

- he wasn't there at all
- who gets the warning and gets hidden away? Sansa gets the warning.
posted by furiousthought at 4:00 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Can you explain this more? How do you reconcile that with her freeing Jamie?

It's kind of a typical Cat maneuver: a reckless unilateral move, supposedly in the name of her children that seems less about effectively helping them vs. ideas like, Catelyn should personally be making big moves relevant in King's Landing now, that her children are pieces in a political game, that power is used to demonstrate her bona fides as a parent. (Not coincidentally, it occurs after discovering she had less power through Robb than she thought she would.)

I have more trouble reconciling with another idea, that Catelyn is like a more high-functioning version of her sister Lysa. Instead of finding allies and strength in the Eyrie, Catelyn finds a distorted reflection of herself, the idea that what she thought was righteous protectiveness might be madness, motherhood and power mixing in a bad way where neither good parenting or wise use of power is possible.

Maybe it would be better to say her tragedy is that she is torn between wanting power and wanting to be a faultless mother. She can't reconcile them very well, so she jumps the wrong way all the time and ends up with neither. I think her situation and decisions are more complex than like, "unlucky uber-mom" or something.
posted by bleep-blop at 4:15 PM on April 16, 2014


And the skies have dragons all day.

That was supposed to be "And the skies are full of dragons all day." Dagnabit.

posted by homunculus at 4:15 PM on April 16, 2014


I can't stop thinking about that weird little throwaway scene where Lady Onella goes over to say hi to Sansa, for no apparent reason, in the middle of everything.
posted by Sara C. at 4:17 PM on April 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


So are Jon Snow and Ramsey Snow related? Or is Snow just a generic "my bastard son" surname?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:17 PM on April 16, 2014


Snow is generic "bastard" in the North. Each realm has their own generic bastard, you've got Sand in Dorne, Flowers, Rivers, etc etc. Can't remember them all.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Bastards in the North all have the last name of Snow, just as in Dorne they all have the last name of Sand.
posted by misha at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm PSYCHED AS HELL that the show's got a cool Greek analogue in the Dornish, and I keep pointing at Mister Sly Prince and being all "THAT'S ME, THAT'S ME IRL"
posted by Greg Nog at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm just psyched to see Indira Verma again.
posted by Sara C. at 4:20 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jeez this show is confusing enough with all the bastards and adopted/kidnapped siblings and incestuous relationships without completely unrelated people having the same surnames.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:20 PM on April 16, 2014


Bastardy
posted by homunculus at 4:21 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I love the show's Prince Oberyn, too.

The little tete a tete with Cersei and Tywin where they are casting barbs at each other is priceless: "In some lands, the rape and murder of women and children is considered...distasteful."
posted by misha at 4:23 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Greg Nog: "I'm PSYCHED AS HELL that the show's got a cool Greek analogue in the Dornish, and I keep pointing at Mister Sly Prince and being all "THAT'S ME, THAT'S ME IRL""

I figured Spanish for similar reasons of ancestry, but I guess we can split the difference and call them Italian.
posted by invitapriore at 4:29 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


What I kind of thought they were all Michael Dorn and/or Klingons.
posted by Sara C. at 4:31 PM on April 16, 2014


Today is a good day to fuck a goat?
posted by nubs at 4:36 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


There's something about the way Sansa retrieves the cup from under the table, out of sight of everyone, the look she exchanges with Tyrion, and the way he looks down into the cup after he gets it from her before he hands it to Joffrey. Also the way the ex-Knight jester chap appears hurriedly and furtively beside Sansa before anyone else even realizes that Joffrey's not just choking on a bit of pie crust, suddenly determined to whisk her away with quiet urgency. it could all be misdirection but it seems very deliberate.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:50 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I always thought of Dorne as Greece/Spain/Turkey thrown into a blender.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also the way the ex-Knight jester chap appears hurriedly and furtively beside Sansa before anyone else even realizes that Joffrey's not just choking on a bit of pie crust, suddenly determined to whisk her away with quiet urgency. it could all be misdirection but it seems very deliberate.

Hmm, I wonder if he did anything important in his conversation with Sansa in the last episode. It certainly seemed odd that he found her in some place where she was alone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:05 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I keep coming back to that. And he gave her that necklace.

Which she was wearing at the wedding.
posted by Sara C. at 5:17 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've always thought about Dorne as "what British people think Mediterranean countries are like."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:18 PM on April 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


Today is a good day to fuck a goat?

Wrong show.
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2014


For those who really, really, really want to know who killed Joffrey and how, there's link on Tumblr that shows how it went down. It's scenes from the episode.


But here's the thing...WHY kill Joffrey? As audience members, we want him dead for being a dick, but what characters would want him dead? Who would benefit from this?

Seriously, a dude chooses a flayed man as his personal symbol that sums up what he's about, and you trust somebody like that? Bad judgment, Ned.

It was Robb who trusted Roose's bastard to fight for the Starks in winning back Winterfell. It's key that Robb does this, because he's the oldest brother and most like his father. Honorable and well loved, but totally out of their element when it comes to playing the Game of Thrones. Both Nedd, Catelyn and Robb cost their family dearly, though their hearts were in the right place. But they were ruled by their passions and lacked the necessarily political savvy to go up against the Lannisters.

What's interesting about this is there are still a shit ton of Stark kids floating around the Seven Kingdoms. Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rikon and Jon. All FIVE of them are learning the lessons that their parents and Robb didn't, in their own ways. All of them seem to be gaining a measure of power, in one way or another.

I'm betting one of them is going to end up on the throne at the end, probably after a rather bloody and emotionally bitter path. They may not even want it in the end.

All the above is speculation, I have not and will not read the books until Martin finishes the damn things. Probably.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:32 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also the way the ex-Knight jester chap appears hurriedly and furtively beside Sansa before anyone else even realizes that Joffrey's not just choking on a bit of pie crust, suddenly determined to whisk her away with quiet urgency. it could all be misdirection but it seems very deliberate.

This all went down pretty similarly in the books if you're not a book reader. In the books, it was a hairpiece, not a necklace IIRC, but Ser Dontos (jester guy) gives it to Sansa, and Olenna Tyrell takes care to straighten Sansa's hair (fiddling with the hairpiece in the process) while giving her some tidbit of advice (I forget what exactly, but it was trademark pithy Dowager Tyrell stuff).

Later in the book, you have a similar course of events with Tyrion, Ser Dontos, Margaery and Sansa all handling the goblet.

So in essence it could have been any one of Tyrion, Sansa, Ser Dontos, Lady Tyrell or Margaery who(actually)dunnit, or none of the above, or it could all have been pulled off secondhand at Varys' or Petyr Baelish's instigation, and it's never ultimately proven beyond the shadow of a doubt by a fully reliable narrator to the best of my knowledge.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:35 PM on April 16, 2014


Who would benefit from this?

Interesting question. If you're one of the other kings, you'd want to bump off Tywin and/or Cersei; the competent power behind the throne. But kill Joffrey? Hell, if it's not a king's prayer it ought to be: "Lord, give my enemy a mad, foolhardy and unloved king."
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:38 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


also in support of my Littlefinger theory

- why kill Joffrey? CHAOS IS A LADDA
- he's framed Tyrion before, why not frame him twice?
- seriously, the biggest suck-up in all the lands is unavailable for the royal wedding? Shenanigans
posted by furiousthought at 5:40 PM on April 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


WHY kill Joffrey? As audience members, we want him dead for being a dick, but what characters would want him dead? Who would benefit from this?

My first thought is that it's how House Tyrell decided to move forward after finding out from Sansa (and then later independently) that Joffrey is a sociopathic monster. They can't break off the betrothal, and as a house they're probably pissed about their new alliance with the fucking Lannisters and their terrible king.

Also it's a nice foil to the betrayal of the Freys (especially with that whole thing centered around a betrothal and oath-breaking) at the Red Wedding. This way, each side loses its king around the events of a wedding, all wrapped up in themes about broken oaths and the passions of little boys playing toy soldiers.

But I don't know, does that mean House Tyrell is definitely behind it? Someone upthread mentions that the marriage wasn't consummated, and you'd think if they wanted Margaery and/or a Tyrell heir on the throne they'd have slowed their roll a bit.
posted by Sara C. at 5:40 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


it could all have been pulled off secondhand at Varys' or Petyr Baelish's instigation

They kept cutting to Varys an awful lot considering his only real role in this episode was to lay pipe with Tyrion about getting rid of Shae.
posted by Sara C. at 5:43 PM on April 16, 2014


I thought it was clear from the grilling of Sansa that Margery and her grandmother concluded that having a child with The Psycho King was not worth the risk of inheriting that damage to a future child as a claim to the throne. Up to that point, Margary had been flirting heavily with him towards getting pregnant, but she stopped and went for a more flattery and public celebrity approach.

Now she's the beloved widow of the king, and sister in law to the two possible future claims, tommen and his sister, not a newly pregnant wife to a psychotic and vengeful teenager.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:50 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


[folks, it's fine to use MeMail to swap spoiler links, putting them in the thread is sort of unkosher.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:55 PM on April 16, 2014


Now she's the beloved widow of the king, and sister in law to the two possible future claims, tommen and his sister, not a newly pregnant wife to a psychotic and vengeful teenager.

The key word here is "beloved." Margaery and the Tyrells have done a great job getting the population's love, which is a skill the Lannisters lack. I suspect that's probably going to drive Cersei nuts and cause Margaery's smile to widen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm betting one of them is going to end up on the throne at the end, probably after a rather bloody and emotionally bitter path. They may not even want it in the end.

Well, big-picture-wise it always seemed non-coincidental that you've got this guy name Jon Snow, a headstrong lieutenant in a rotten institution, which must be rallied to confront the greatest threat the world has seen and the only possible common enemy which could unite the Seven Kingdoms. And you've got this chick with a bunch of dragons, the only known weapon (well, that and obsidian) which can defeat this incredible threat. And the books are called A Song of Ice and Fire. Plus, we don't actually know Jon's parentage. Martin's full of surprises, of course, and maybe the whole thing I'll be sorted out when Tyrion gets together with that walking skeleton dude over a long lunch.

My first thought is that it's how House Tyrell decided to move forward after finding out from Sansa (and then later independently) that Joffrey is a sociopathic monster. They can't break off the betrothal, and as a house they're probably pissed about their new alliance with the fucking Lannisters and their terrible king.

That part seems okay --- but the time for them to kill Joffrey wasn't at the wedding. It was 10 months from now, when Margery gives birth to a legitimate heir. Maaaaaybe you could skate by with killing him a week or two after the wedding, and get her knocked up by someone else tout suite. But before the marriage is even consummated? Margery's about as useful as a veriform appendix to the Lannisters at the mo. They have another king in their pocket, and years to decide what alliance to cement with his marriage. Maybe if they Tyrells hustle they could get Marge back in there, but it's not at all certain. Sure, the Lannisters need money --- but the immediate threat has been dealt with, and their position is more secure. The Tyrells would be risking destroying their whole position, and for what, Margery's mental health? That girl can take care of herself.

The only way the Tyrells being involved makes sense is as a double betrayal, if they have some other alliance --- with the dudes from Dorne, for instance --- which would act as a counterweight to the one they'd be breaking with the Lannisters. Possible, but complicated.
posted by Diablevert at 6:00 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like the idea that Cersei killed her troublesome, wilful son to replace him with a more malleable heir, and wept real tears of rage that she was driven to do so. I don't think that's how it's going to play out, but I like the idea.
posted by gingerest at 6:04 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


I keep thinking back to Daenerys' vision of a scorched, ruined and desolate King's Landing embedded in deep winter, so I just assume she's going to end up Queen of buggery fuck-all after the white walkers, her own dragons and winter itself get done with the place. It's a cheerful thought.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:04 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


The only way the Tyrells being involved makes sense is as a double betrayal, if they have some other alliance...

Maybe, maybe not. The Tyrells are very popular at the moment, they don't need to be sitting on the throne. It might be nice, sure, but to overtly go up against Tywin and Cersei seems like the sort of impulsive front end attack that Grandma Tyrell would never do and openly mock.

There's probably a long term plan that's slowly occurring.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 PM on April 16, 2014


Anyone else feel like Littlefinger is the only casting misstep in the series?
posted by shothotbot at 6:18 PM on April 16, 2014


He does look like he'd be more at home in an Edwardian dinner jacket and smoking a cigarette in a holder.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:20 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't see him as anything other than that guy in The Wire.
posted by jessamyn at 6:21 PM on April 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


The Tyrells are very popular at the moment, they don't need to be sitting on the throne.

I dunno man, King is not an elected position. Popularity is a useful tool to solidify your rule --- but it does bugger-all for you in getting to the top of the heap. By law and by custom, the throne now falls to the younger brother, thereby staying in Lannister control. No matter how popular Margery is with the people, you'd need a damn big army to do anything to change that. If Marge was mother to an heir, then you can move to cut the Lannisters out and have a vehicle for securing your control. Soft power can only take you so far.
posted by Diablevert at 6:24 PM on April 16, 2014



I can't see him as anything other than that guy in The Wire.


I swear I'll shut up after this, but I only realized the other day that Aiden Gillen was the Sexy Beast lover/enemy of main character in the UK version of Queer As Folk. I find it difficult to reconcile the two roles myself, which I think is a complement to him as an actor...
posted by Diablevert at 6:27 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Now she's the beloved widow of the king

If he died before their wedding night, isn't it presumptively, at least in the view of polite society, unconsummated? Or am I transferring inapplicable mores and practices from the wrong universe?
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:32 PM on April 16, 2014


You've got it right. Earlier in the show they made a big deal about how she was "still a maiden" despite her earlier marriage to Renly Baratheon. It was heavily implied that otherwise she would not be a suitable bride for the king.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:34 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


She's now still a viable bride for any man brave enough to marry a twice-widowed by murder queen. An infant king is precarious. The lannisters need Dorne for food and support, and Dorne holds one of the possible heirs to the throne as hostage.

Margery is much better off IMO as a virgin widow than as regent ruler through a half-lannister infant.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:40 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I have to say I was impressed with the elder Tyrell's savvy in realizing that Margaery could only have one of two possible relationships with a sadist whom no one would ever restrain -- as his co-sadist and appreciative audience, or as his victim. That she was able to swallow hard and step into the former role, and do it as early as possible before he chose the other one for her, is as good an indicator as any that their power isn't just an accident of birth.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:47 PM on April 16, 2014 [22 favorites]


She's now still a viable bride for any man brave enough to marry a twice-widowed by murder queen.

Third time's the charm.
posted by homunculus at 6:48 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


The only way the Tyrells being involved makes sense is as a double betrayal, if they have some other alliance...

The Tyrells, especially Olenna, are very politically savvy. Remember, they backed Renly when they thought he could win the war, and now they are backing Joffrey, and it seems to have paid off for them. The marriage of Maergery and Joffrey is a perfect power play for them, especially if Maergery were to have a male heir.

They also have the Lannisters by the short hairs because war is expensive, and now even that once extremely wealthy family is in debt both to the very powerful Iron Bank and the Tyrells.

At this point, you could speculate just about any path going forward for the Tyrells and they would have to really screw up royally NOT to be in great shape. After Margaery becomes queen, they don't really need to ally themselves with anyone else.

Speaking from a purely personal POV, though, I wouldn't care how much sense it makes or how well she can handle herself, I couldn't countenance forcing any woman into sex with Joffrey the Sociopath for family gain. Political marriages make sense for noble families, sure, the women know it's their duty, but come on, there's a limit.

Geez, If it were me and I had any control over the food coming into King's Landing, I'd have an entire Murder on the Orient Express cast of characters set up to take Joffrey out. That way, in case any one of them failed, hey, several more stand at the ready. Not like you have to look very far to find someone who wants Joffrey dead.
posted by misha at 6:54 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I dunno man, King is not an elected position. Popularity is a useful tool to solidify your rule --- but it does bugger-all for you in getting to the top of the heap.

Grandma Tyrell ain't stupid. Let the Lannisters bumble about and be hated by everyone as winter comes. Wouldn't it be awesome if you were the family that saved the kingdom?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Every time I see "Dontos" I read it as "Doritos," so if there were any orange fingerprints on the goblet or pie I think we've got our man.
posted by payoto at 7:29 PM on April 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


The Lannister's are not in debt to the Iron Bank, the government is.
posted by mlis at 8:05 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


The most interesting thing about this episode (and, actually, all episodes in which the character apprears) is that Jack Gleeson played Joffrey with such seething toxic poisonous cruelty, that no matter what role the actor stars in from this day forward, people will be happy to see that character die.

If they remake Lassie, and Jack Gleeson plays a character who is really nice to Lassie and always looks after Lassie and protects Lassie, but then the character falls down a well, the movie is going to have to keep him down that well for months and make him starve partway to death and then drown slowly and graphically, while Lassie barks and wags her tail with joy.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:15 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh, I see Gleeson is retiring from acting anyway. A shame, but I can understand why he'd do it. Probably the fact that he would have been typecast forever had a little something to do with it, too.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:21 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


nubs: "Tommen, Cersei (and Jaime's) youngest is now the holder of the Iron Throne."

It would definitely be Tommen, then, because he's male, and not Myrcella, even though she's older? Of course, Tommen still suffers from the same not-black-of-hair problem that Joffrey did, but old Stannis has already tried to litigate that with little success.

Of course, there's still Gendry looming out there (and maybe other bastards as well that Cersei wasn't able to get to). Purely on a "legal" basis (i.e., assuming Tommen has no succession rights because he's not Robert's son), who would have the greater claim to the throne: Gendry, the bastard, or Stannis, the brother? Obviously even in his reduced state, Stannis still have a bigger army than Gendry, but I'm not talking about pure force of arms. I'm talking about who has the "right" to the throne, if such a thing can even be spoken of.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:38 PM on April 16, 2014


Game of Thrones is a lot of fun, but this episode makes it as clear as ever that it is pure melodrama.

It says nothing profound about the human condition, but it's excellent at gasp-inducing soap operatic twists.
posted by shivohum at 8:56 PM on April 16, 2014


Sure, the Lannisters need money --- but the immediate threat has been dealt with, and their position is more secure. The Tyrells would be risking destroying their whole position, and for what, Margery's mental health?

The Tyrells and the Lannisters (at this point in the series) are probably the two most powerful Houses in the Seven Kingdoms.

The Lannisters are in an odd position with regards to money - their lands contain most of the gold mines in Westeros, and the crown is in debt to both the Iron Bank and the Lannisters, as Tyrion discovers when he becomes master of coin. The money woes the Queen of Thorns refers to throughout the wedding are the crown's problems, not the Lannister family directly, which is still quite rich - hence Bronn's "I hear you shit gold, like your father" quip in episode 1 this season. But their fortunes are also now tied to what happens with their family involvement with the Iron Throne.

The Tyrells derive their wealth and power from a different set of circumstances: The Reach is the best farmland in Westeros - hence they have the most food (and Winter is Coming), and can raise far more men as their population base is large. A great deal of Margaery's (and the Tyrells) initial popularity in King's Landing is that they brought hundreds of wagons of food with them and have continued to bring large amounts of food to the city (this was a city that had been under siege and was heavily restricted in terms of trade prior to that - Highgarden was initially behind Renly, cutting routes to the south, while the Riverlands sided with the North, cutting them off to the west and north; the Riverlands have been heavily impacted by the war and most of their fields/crops destroyed).

The Lannister-Tyrell alliance is still quite desirable for both sides - the Lannisters need the food and strength of arms Highgarden provides (Stannis and the Greyjoys are diminished but still out there; Dorne and the Vale have not yet lifted a finger in the war and while alliances are brewing with both, we have all seen what perceived and actual weakness do to alliances); the Tyrells would like the status, power and influence that comes with being players in King's Landing and the court.
posted by nubs at 8:59 PM on April 16, 2014


I've read the books, but if you pay careful attention to this episode, the last episode, and remember little details from an episode in season 2, you can figure out exactly who killed Joffrey using only information deduced from watching the show.

Stop reading now if you'd rather keep speculating until you figure it out on your own.

OK, so remember in S02E01 "The North Remembers" how Maester Cressen tried to assassinate Melisandre by poisoning her wine? He did it with a small stone (you can hear it go "plink") dropped into a wine cup he then urged her to drink from. The stone dissolved and poisoned the wine. She survived because of her magic, but when Cressen drinks from the same glass his nose starts bleeding, he asphyxiates, and dies.

Then remember how in S04E01 "Two Swords" how Ser Dontos tracked down Sansa in the Godswood and gave her a necklace of purple stones and begged her to wear it?

Well, Sansa wore it to the wedding. When Olenna Tyrell approached her and fixed her hair, she used slight-of-hand to remove one of the stones from Sansa's necklace. (You can see in the scene when Ser Dontos gives Sansa the necklace that there are seven stones, but after Olenna Tyrell touches it there are only six stones plus one setting missing a stone.)

Olenna Tyrell then slips the stone into Joffrey's cup while everyone was distracted by him cutting open the pigeon pie. Like the stone used by Maester Cressen, it dissolves and poisons the wine. The next drink Joffrey takes from the cup is poisoned and he dies.

(The cinematography of the scene also emphasizes Olenna's involvement as there is a shot that deliberately puts the cup in the foreground and Olenna in the background just before Joffrey drinks the poisoned wine.)

Here are some screengrabs with each detail called out that someone (not me) put together: A Visual Breakdown of the Purple Wedding

(Non-spoilery background info from the books: The poison used in both cases was "The Strangler," which is in crystal form until dissolved in liquid. It originally comes from Essos, but the Maesters of Westeros also know how to make and use it.)

So we know that Ser Dontos and Olenna Tyrell were both in on the conspiracy to assassinate King Joffrey. However, since

1) Olenna Tyrell needed to use an intermediary to receive the poison and smuggle it into the wedding as she knew that she and anyone she met with in King's Landing were being watched by various factions' spies, and

2) Ser Dontos certainly wouldn't have access to such a thing on his own, we can therefore conclude that

3) there is at least one other person involved in the conspiracy who must have provided the necklace with the poison stone to Ser Dontos and told him to give it to Sansa Stark and persuade her to wear it.

(I know who the third party / mastermind behind the conspiracy is from reading the books but that hasn't been revealed in the show yet so I'm not going to spoil it for you.)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:03 PM on April 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


Purely on a "legal" basis (i.e., assuming Tommen has no succession rights because he's not Robert's son), who would have the greater claim to the throne: Gendry, the bastard, or Stannis, the brother?

On purely legal terms, ignoring strength of arms and rights of conquest:

-Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons as the only living child of Aegon "The Mad King" Targaryen has the strongest legal claim.

If Robert's successful rebellion against Aegon trumps that claim from a legal perspective (and I'm not sure how it plays out legally), Robert's rightful heir is:

-Stannis Baratheon, Robert's brother, as Robert has no trueborn children of his own (i.e., all of Robert's children are "natural children" or baseborn - born out of wedlock, and often born to women of non-noble birth). For Gendry to have a claim, he would have to have been both recognized by Robert (and we would know him as either Gendry Storm or Gendry Waters in such a case) and then legitimized by royal decree. At that point, he would become Gendry Baratheon, son of Robert, and his legal heir.
posted by nubs at 9:09 PM on April 16, 2014


Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons as the only living child of Aegon "The Mad King" Targaryen has the strongest legal claim.

Unless the R+L=J fan theory [LINK CONTAINS BOOK SPOILERS] is correct, in which case there might be someone else in the Targaryen line with a stronger claim than Daenerys... someone who could represent the Ice in the same way that she represents the Fire in A Song of Ice and Fire, perhaps? :D
posted by Jacqueline at 9:20 PM on April 16, 2014


nubs: "For Gendry to have a claim, he would have to have been both recognized by Robert (and we would know him as either Gendry Storm or Gendry Waters in such a case) and then legitimized by royal decree."

Then why was Cersei so concerned about killing Robert's bastards if she was already planning to kill Robert? Robert hadn't recognized any bastards at the time of his death and had given no indication that he ever would. So if it's true Robert would have had to go through various formalities to recognize one of his bastards for them to have had any claim, then how could they pose any threat to Joffrey?

Would it be more of a "non-legal" argument, sort of like how Ramsey Snow said in the last episode that if Jon Snow's alive, the people of the North might rally behind him because he's Ned Stark's son? Still, you could see people championing Jon Snow. Gendry, it's a lot harder to see.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:28 PM on April 16, 2014


I think he's just useful in the right hands to rally an army. There's no shortage of schemers with designs on the throne out and about in Westeros.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:32 PM on April 16, 2014


Then why was Cersei so concerned about killing Robert's bastards if she was already planning to kill Robert?

Cersei didn't have them killed, Joffrey did.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:33 PM on April 16, 2014


correct me if I'm wrong but the whole cleansing of Robert's bastards deal only started after Stannis came out with the charge of incest/treason against Cersei. Joffrey indeed ordered it, but it was kicked off by the rumor that he was illegitimate.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:40 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, and it was fun to see Sigur Ros cameo on the show. I only recognised blind lovely singer guy, but it turns out that was the whole band.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:43 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Joffrey got rid of the evidence that Robert's children all had black hair.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:44 PM on April 16, 2014


It says nothing profound about the human condition, but it's excellent at gasp-inducing soap operatic twists.

I thought it was pretty trite reminding us how Really Bad the Bad Guys were at the beginning, with hunting the sad girl through the forest and then making dogs eat her face, and remarking on how her face is being eaten and basically going "lol!"
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:45 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


lonefrontranger: "correct me if I'm wrong but the whole cleansing of Robert's bastards deal only started after Stannis came out with the charge of incest/treason against Cersei. Joffrey indeed ordered it, but it was kicked off by the rumor that he was illegitimate."

You're absolutely right. I got the order mixed up in my head. But again, if Robert would have needed to have formally recognized those bastards in some way (which he never did), then what kind of threat would they have posed to Joffrey? Again, is it sort of the Ramsey Snow thesis about Jon Snow? Or just Joffrey being Joffrey?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:49 PM on April 16, 2014


The threat they posed is *all* of Robert's bastards had black hair. It's living evidence to back up what Jon Arryn and Ned Stark had figured out from the lineage records book.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:53 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


(Westerosi genetics do not necessarily work the same as our Earth genetics.)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:54 PM on April 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Ramsay's the one big character misstep for the show, in my mind. I mean, he's not exactly the deepest character in the world in the books, but there you get a bit more of a sense of what makes him tick, and that little bit goes a long way towards edging him away from pure shock value. He's a little like if Joffrey had even less of a leash on him, had to constantly prove himself, and had a deep family history of doing things even Tywin would wince at built up into a point of pride, and the show doesn't quite get that across. Or maybe it doesn't at all, I don't know, never had a chance to see Show Ramsay without Book Ramsay in the back of my mind.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:59 PM on April 16, 2014


waaay late to the party, but up top, cortex observed

Plus people have already started to acclimate to the whole sudden shocking death thing at this point.

The strangest thing for me this week was that blip of PR where the actor formerly portraying Joffrey gave a speech or something in which he announced that Joffrey was to be his last role and successfully gave the impression that he is not loathsome at all.

I remember thinking, what an extraordinary bit of news and what odd timing to hear midweek just after the season premiere, then I thought no more of it.

The show is extruding bits of itself into real life, foreshadowing itself.
posted by mwhybark at 10:19 PM on April 16, 2014


the actor formerly portraying Joffrey gave a speech or something in which he announced that Joffrey was to be his last role and successfully gave the impression that he is not loathsome at all.

MeFi.
posted by homunculus at 10:22 PM on April 16, 2014


I've read the books, but

But you're tiptoeing over the spoilers line in a forum which is supposedly purely about the TV show.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:27 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, and I'm afraid someone is going to quote some of whatever it is I'm trying not to look at in your comment, plus what if I scroll wrong?
posted by gingerest at 10:29 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you'd read the rest of that sentence you'd have seen that I stuck within the scope of what has been shown on the show.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:30 PM on April 16, 2014


Yes, and then you threw down the "and I've read the books so I know this theory is correct" card.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:32 PM on April 16, 2014


I know it's mostly Lena Headey who is so good as Cersei - and if someone will do a mashup video of Sarah Connor and Cersei, I will love you forever - but that was particularly brutal with their separate scenes with Brienne and the Flower Knight. The despair and jealousy of both of them to their potential romantic threats, and the hopelessness of it.

Actually, come to think of it, had the Lannisters been Targaryen, none of this would have happened because Jamie and Cersei could've married anyway. The rumors against Tommen and his sister will mean nothing to Danys.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:37 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, and then you threw down the "and I've read the books so I know this theory is correct" card.

How is a description of actual events that actually happened during episodes we all presumably actually watched a "theory"? Everything necessary to figure out who did it was shown on screen -- all I did was call out the important details. If you weren't paying close enough attention to piece it together yourself, that's on you.

I'm a veteran of /r/gameofthrones, which has one of the most rigidly enforced spoiler policies on the internet. I know how to stay within a spoiler scope despite knowing things that fall outside of that spoiler scope. Hence I do not include any information about other parties involved in the conspiracy that have not yet been shown as involved on the show.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:43 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know it's mostly Lena Headey who is so good as Cersei - and if someone will do a mashup video of Sarah Connor and Cersei, I will love you forever - but that was particularly brutal with their separate scenes with Brienne and the Flower Knight. The despair and jealousy of both of them to their potential romantic threats, and the hopelessness of it.

And Loras! The whole room laughed uproariously at "And neither will you."
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:49 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Everything necessary to figure out who did it was shown on screen

Not everybody knows that, or knows what they're looking for.

I read the first few books, and this is about the point in the series where either my knowledge of the books runs out, or my memory of it starts to fade. Meanwhile, I just spent a few weeks absolutely mainlining GoT the show, in order to catch up for this season. At this point I honestly couldn't tell you what happened in the books despite having read a few.

And aside from noticing when the episode focused on something that seemed innocuous for no particular reason, or remembering a moment from a previous episode that seems significant, I really have no idea what in this episode was the big mystery reveal.

But finding out from you that there's this specific kind of poison (in the book), and here's how it was smuggled into the wedding (in the book), and here's who put it in the cup (in the book), etc? That's pretty spoilery, considering the show has left all of that a mystery for the moment. For all we know you just spoiled the entire next episode for everyone.
posted by Sara C. at 10:51 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


The main advantage I have as a reader is that I can spot all the critical pieces of evidence the first time I watch the episode because I know what to look for, whereas most non-readers would need to carefully rewatch the episode (and have a good memory of prior episodes) to put it all together.

But if we restrict ourselves to only discussing things the average non-reader picks up on a single viewing then we'd have to ban the use of 75+% of the characters' names in our discussions because apparently most people struggle with remembering even that.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:55 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, even having read the books, prior to watching the episode I still didn't know for certain who did it because everyone in the books is an unreliable narrator to at least some extent. It wasn't until I saw the objective reality of the events on the TV show that I knew.

So it's not fair to accuse me of spoiling something based on book knowledge when non-reader show watchers actually have better information about what really happened than readers had before watching the show.

This episode was a case of the show confirming which book-based theory is correct instead of book knowledge confirming which show-based theory is correct. This isn't the first time the show has done this either -- the Red Wedding put an end to all the book-based theories about Robb Stark possibly having a secret heir. We've also seen Varys's feet in the show, which kills the Varys is a secret merling theory (my personal favorite).
posted by Jacqueline at 11:09 PM on April 16, 2014


This episode was a case of the show confirming which book-based theory is correct instead of book knowledge confirming which show-based theory is correct.

Except that, since we haven't seen next week's episode yet, we don't know how the backstory you explained from the books is going to be dealt with. You might have just spelled out the major story arc of half the season, for all I know. Which isn't fair.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


What backstory?
posted by Jacqueline at 11:18 PM on April 16, 2014


[Guys, please use Metatalk to hash out guidelines. Meanwhile, since this is indeed a space for discussion of the show, not the book, let's avoid formations such as "Here is stuff you could observe from the televised show(s) that indicate X, which I know is true from reading the books." Thanks.]
posted by taz at 11:40 PM on April 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Honestly, I don't think it matters so much who poisoned Joffrey (except that Dontos seemed to have been involved somehow and Sansa is implicated somehow) other than that it absolutely wasn't Tyrion, who's accused of it. I say this as someone who read the books but for the life of me can't remember who was responsible for the poisoning. Not that it's unimportant! But the real import of all this in the grand scheme of things is that Joffrey's dead and Tyrion's accused.

That radically changes not so much the game of thrones that are playing out in the capital — because, really, it's all going to be the same major players working toward the same goals they always have — but we, the audience's, investment and relationships with some major characters and our sense of what the show's narrative is doing.

Tyrion is a favorite character; a lot of people believe (and I agree) that Tyrion is a bit of an authorial stand-in character. There's a lot of times in the show and the books that he's fairly sympathetic and provides a perspective that the audience will find comfortable in contrast to everyone else. He's not foolishly noble, like Ned; he's not a villain. So much (but not all, I've noticed) of the audience cares a lot about Tyrion. And this is a drastic change in his circumstances, to be accused of the King's murder, the poisoned cup in his hand.

And now that Joffrey is dead, the audience has lost an intense antagonist. As discussed above, there's not really anyone who can take his place in the audience's love-to-hate role.

So I think that this is really a turning point in the narrative, quite like the Red Wedding was, even though within the context of the scheming in the capital it really isn't that much of a change. Conceivably this could mean that the Lannisters lose power and the Tyrells gain power. Or vice-versa. But as discussed above, there are some big forces sort of keeping those two families locked in their vying roles, neither ascendant over the other. The Lannisters wouldn't have won the battle against Stannis without the Tyrells and the city would have starved without the Tyrells. The latter is still a threat. And the former ... ? Meanwhile, it's hard to see how the Tyrells could gain so much power they could push the Lannisters completely out of the way. So my sense is that the forces in the background, which matter at least as much as individual personalities and actions, are pushing toward something closer to the status quo rather than away from it.

But just in terms of the narrative of the story and the characters we care a great deal about, this has been a very big change.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:05 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought it was pretty trite reminding us how Really Bad the Bad Guys were at the beginning, with hunting the sad girl through the forest and then making dogs eat her face, and remarking on how her face is being eaten and basically going "lol!"

It's Ramsay Snow, that's his basic MO: giggly torture.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted. Lets please skip commenting on the stuff that's being debated as spoilery with links and stuff that's also equally spoilery, except without even warning that it might be spoilery? To discuss more about that, though, get thee to Metatalk. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 4:44 AM on April 17, 2014


I like that the show brings characters that were more minor in the books out to flesh them out a bit, but I have no idea what the point of having so much Ramsey is. A couple scenes that establish, hey, Ramsey tortures people and now Theon is broken would have served perfectly well.

Maybe logistically, it makes more sense than to give Theon's actor time off, but making the reader or viewer wonder where Theon is for a while, then showing the aftermath of the torture hits hard. Interspersing body horror into every episode is something that's not going to satisfy a non-body-horror audience while also robbing it of impact.
posted by ignignokt at 5:45 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I anticipate a scene later this season where the perpetrator of the poisoning explains all the details to someone, with a montage of scenes from this episode focusing on the details.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:45 AM on April 17, 2014


I anticipate a scene later this season where the perpetrator of the poisoning explains all the details to someone, with a montage of scenes from this episode focusing on the details.

Something similar is probably going to happen next episode, based on the preview. But I doubt its super important, more like just another layer in the overall Game of Thrones. Only thing I'm sure of is seeing repeated grimacing and shrieking from Cersei to have Tyrion killed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:00 AM on April 17, 2014


I think the hunting scene mattered not for the repeat of Ramsay-torturegiggles, but for Theon watching the torture. His gaze kept skittering back to the girl being murdered, and there was so much prey-sympathy for her, not any viciousness or delight. In GoT there are people who are turned by pain into killers and torturers (hey Arya!) and then there's Theon, who s so utterly broken but not in the same way.

There's just so much of Theon in the books and the show that I think it has to be a deliberate narrative choice. He matters to the story in some way.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:22 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


There's just so much of Theon in the books and the show that I think it has to be a deliberate narrative choice. He matters to the story in some way.

Agreed. He's going to play some part in the future, what exactly I don't know, but he's clearly being kept around for a reason by Martin. He'll have to deal with the consequences of his actions and suffer. But I'm betting he'll get some measure of redemption somewhere down the line. He'll make some amends.

Probably not with Arya though!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:36 AM on April 17, 2014


I anticipate a scene later this season where the perpetrator of the poisoning explains all the details to someone, with a montage of scenes from this episode focusing on the details.

Only thing I'm sure of is seeing repeated grimacing and shrieking from Cersei to have Tyrion killed.


This week on Law and Order GoT: Tyrion on Trial.
posted by valkane at 6:40 AM on April 17, 2014


Cercei flailing around using the last of her dissipating power (give that food to the kennels not the poor) in the face of losing her rank as Queen Regent was my first thought when trying to deduce whodunnit. Then I recalled (and it was quite obvious at the time, but it all happened so fast) that Sansa handed the cup to Tyrion before he handed it to Joffrey. Coupled with the Jester's quick reaction, it made me think they were in cahoots. Then again, we only saw one person eat the wedding cake. So maybe it was poisoned. I'm supping if there's a bunch of dead dogs in the next episode we'll know it was the cake, but that doesn't answer whodunnit. All that to say, I have no idea, but I appreciate the mystery.
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:46 AM on April 17, 2014


*supposing, not supping.
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:52 AM on April 17, 2014


[No spoiler discussion here. There is an open MeTa thread.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:07 AM on April 17, 2014


On the note last night of not being able to see actors in the same light after seeing them in older "roles", my wife found a great video of young Bronn a couple days ago.
posted by DynamiteToast at 7:27 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like that the show brings characters that were more minor in the books out to flesh them out a bit, but I have no idea what the point of having so much Ramsey is. A couple scenes that establish, hey, Ramsey tortures people and now Theon is broken would have served perfectly well.

I honestly think it has something to do with Iwan Rheon's rising profile and internet media cachet--an Olivier-winning actor who has had fangirls tumbling him since he was Moritz on Spring Awakening, not to mention his appearance as a sexy-butted dude on Misfits. He's not that big except with fangirls but I know a lot of fangirls who were superduper excited to watch him on the show and seem to love tumbling and tweeting about it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:17 AM on April 17, 2014


To wit: look at all this free advertising.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:39 AM on April 17, 2014


"Iwan Rheon" sounds like it should be the character's name and "Ramsay Snow" the actor's.
posted by desjardins at 9:03 AM on April 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


Amusing article from the NY Daily News about the filming of the party/death scene.
And then there was the pie, the bane of Graves’ existence. After Gleeson struck the top of the pie with his prop sword, doves were supposed to pop out and swirl in a dramatic formation. Avian performers, though, don’t take instruction too well.

“The effects guys, who are geniuses, built an air cannon into the pie, so that it would push the birds out, should there be any slackers who didn’t want to come out,” Graves says. “Every shot we would load up the pie, the birds would be pushed out and they would fly back to Zagreb. The birds don’t come back. They fly home, 300 miles away.” That meant needing to “reload with new birds” after each shoot.
One, that's hilarious.

Two, why did they apparently get dove handlers from Zagreb? How many tears shall I weep for the dove-handling industry of Dubrovnik?

Three, I would love it if the next episode reveals Joffrey's death to have simply been a bad dream by the pie's chef, who then proceeds to ensure that the pie is sufficiently moist. Later, cue muttered whines from Joffrey that the pie is too greasy, but he doesn't care enough to react further. The killer looks around nervously - has this all been for nought? - but then Joffrey slips on a puddle of pie grease . Anticlimactically, he breaks his neck. The killer looks into the camera, says "all's well that ends well!", winks, explodes, and then Joffrey's dying corpse farts sonorously for the next few minutes, as Sigur Ros ably plays the bellows with his digestive tract.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:23 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Jack Gleeson played Joffrey with such seething toxic poisonous cruelty, that no matter what role the actor stars in from this day forward, people will be happy to see that character die.

I rewatched Batman Begins not that long ago, and I felt way more anger towards the prepubscent Jack Gleeson than the character deserved.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:25 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


> not to mention his appearance as a sexy-butted dude on Misfits

I've seen only the first season, maybe a bit of the second, but sexy? Simon?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2014


The killer looks into the camera, says "all's well that ends well!", winks, explodes, and then Joffrey's dying corpse farts sonorously for the next few minutes, as Sigur Ros ably plays the bellows with his digestive tract.

Ah, so you've reading the books too.
posted by cortex at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


It turns out that someone had been poisoning the doves because they were tired of their messy doorstep. Unsurprisingly to anyone, if you put live doves in a pie they crap like mad. Joffrey died of eating poisonous dove poop.

...I'm sorry, should I have put *** spoiler alert *** in front of that?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:30 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


A couple scenes that establish, hey, Ramsey tortures people and now Theon is broken would have served perfectly well.

I think this is exactly what happened in the episode.

Scene 1: Hey guys, if you forgot from last season, this dude is a crazy torturer who is breaking Theon in all these gross quasi-sexual ways that are totally apropos for the rapey perv that Theon started out as.

Scene 2: However, whoops, it turns out there are consequences there. Also, here's some exposition so you know Theon knows and Roose knows that he knows. Oh, and, yeah, Theon's spirits have been broken for realsies, probably, because despite the fact that he's holding a blade in the vicinity of his torturer's neck, he doesn't even try to kill him when he probably could totally get away with it and certainly has nothing to lose at this point.

Then we move on to other storylines. It only seems like a lot of long gratuitous scenes taking you out of the story if you've watched the whole series in a marathon and remember all the long tortuous Theon Torture scenes from last season.

One of the interesting problems for HBO -- and really anyone making a show like this -- is that you've got some really serious fans who are 100% up on every storyline and remember who everybody is and why they're doing what they're doing, and you've also got a lot of more casual viewers who are like "Oh it's Torture Dude and that guy whose dick got cut off. What's the deal with them, again?"

The above scenes used to be the bread and butter of all TV, forever, because nobody ever expected people to watch every week and keep continuity of storylines like this from season to season. Nowadays there's a lot less of it, and we'll usually just be reminded of these things at the beginning of the season, or if there's something really important that wouldn't make sense to more casual viewers without a reminder.

Also, yeah, people like this dude. And it's important to get a periodic reminder that these characters exist.
posted by Sara C. at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I haven't read that book since 2000. For all I know, Sigur Ros really does appear and Joffrey died from eating bird poop. Maybe we'll get a sexposition scene during which Maester Pycelle explains the results of a Westeros-style autopsy.
posted by Area Man at 9:39 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm also pretty sure that the archer woman in that opening Most Dangerous Game scene is going to be important later, since she has a name and gets lines and things are established about her inner thoughts. But with this show, who knows? She could be anyone from the Ultimate Holder Of The Iron Throne to a random nobody who dies of dysentery next week.

And yes, I'm still sort of mad that they killed off Roz.
posted by Sara C. at 9:42 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Question from a closed-caption-user and a non-book reader.... is it spelled "ser" in the books and not "ser"? Why is it spelled "ser" - is there a historical precedent? Is it a fantasy novel thing?
posted by desjardins at 10:06 AM on April 17, 2014


Yes, it is "ser" in the books. I think it's solely as a way to be just slightly twisted from our real language. So you recognize what it means immediately because it sounds almost exactly like "sir," and is used the same way, but it's different enough to give you the flavor of a different time and place.
posted by dnash at 10:09 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's spelled "ser" just like Ned Stark's full name is Eddard, and Rob is spelled Robb for some reason, and Samuel = Samwell, etc etc etc etc. As far as I can tell it's to make it clear that this is an alternate fantasy universe that is like medieval Europe, but not exactly like medieval Europe. Exactly one consonant and/or vowel away from medieval Europe.
posted by Sara C. at 10:17 AM on April 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yeah, Martin with his prose does a lot of nudging things just a liiiiiittle bit out of true with the spelling of names and jargon. Not that he's unique in scifi and fantasy there.
posted by cortex at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2014


Whatever you say, nuncle.
posted by corb at 10:24 AM on April 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


I still liked Catelyn. Not her fault she couldn't love her husband's bastard!
posted by Mister_A at 10:30 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's nothing, I read a novel that took place in a fantasy country called Fraunch or Frence or something like that and they spelled it "seigneur". Yeah, like that's realistic.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I love fake place names like Brobdingnag or Lithuania.
posted by Mister_A at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


The rainn in Spayne falls mainly on the plainn.
posted by GrapeApiary at 10:40 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


(I think the king author of "warped Medieval Europe" settings is Guy Gavriel Kay. He's set novels in thinly veiled versions of Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain), Medieval Provence, Italy, and the Byzantine Empire.)
posted by dnash at 10:41 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I love fake place names like Brobdingnag or Lithuania.

Part Three of Gulliver's Travels: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:41 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


And yes, I'm still sort of mad that they killed off Roz.

Me too. Her death upset me much more than any other.
posted by homunculus at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2014




Not her fault she couldn't love her husband's bastard!

I don't know, I think the proper person to punish for that is your husband, not the kid. It's like those ladies that are mad at the woman that "made" their husband cheat.
posted by corb at 10:57 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I loved watching Joffrey die, a little too much perhaps. I actually jumped out of my seat like my team just won the Super World Stanley Bowl Cup and screamed "YES!" For the last day or 2 I'll just randomly look at my wife and say "Ha, Joffrey's dead!" and we high five.

I figure Littlefinger and the new queen's mom or whatever are the likeliest culprits, but who knows with this show. Anyone might have a reason to kill Joffrey, he was a little bastard that made no shortage of enemies and there's been more than a few people with petty motivations in this show that might want to off him. I do find it hard to believe anyone would think Tyrion was involved; even Cersei probably knows better and just wants him gone. It makes no sense for him to have done it. Tyrion's father killed his first love and his next one was threatened with the same. He's never been taken seriously in his entire life because of his size, mocked and brushed aside. But it's Joffrey's petty teasing that sends him over the line? In such a public way, with no effort to hide his animosity? He's going to just snap and doom himself over Joffrey's teasing, which was somehow worse than what his family has done to him already. Just, no.

I've seen only the first season, maybe a bit of the second, but sexy? Simon?

his character sorta takes a major turn
posted by Hoopo at 11:12 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I do find it hard to believe anyone would think Tyrion was involved;

Tyrion's never been popular with anyone. Only Jamie and Cersei's other kids seem to like him. He's often the smartest kid in the room and enjoys showing off and putting others down. The only reason he gets away with it is because his dad is a powerful and rich Lord. He knows it and everyone he "beats up" knows it.

So yeah, there's a whole line of people who don't give a shit whether Tyrion did it or not, here's their chance to stick it to him for once. The King is dead and someone has to pay, so one not that arrogant little shit who always makes you feel stupid.

Mind you, I like the character, but he's often a dick. Perhaps with good reason, but still a dick.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:23 AM on April 17, 2014


My favorite part of this episode was going to YouTube afterwards and watching the reaction videos. It's basically just people huddled up on the couch, and then their jaws drop, and then they widen into ridiculously broad smiles like the Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun video. Except for the pair of sisters who threw their arms into the air and yelled "JESUS IS REAL!!!"

My other favorite moments: the way Brienne let enough time pass for macroevolution to observably occur in between Cersei's "But you love him" and her ". . . Your Grace." Oberyn's across-the-courtyard invitation to a threesome to Loras. The way Sansa goes underneath the table to retrieve the goblet for Tyrion in what may be her first ever kind action towards him, possibly because she realizes how much worse she could be doing in terms of a husband. Olenna Tyrell in everything she does or says!!
posted by KathrynT at 11:24 AM on April 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


corb: "Whatever you say, nuncle."

That's a case where he's using a word that already exists. Nuncle is a form of uncle that developed from "mine uncle": mine uncle --> my nuncle.

Jeeze that word looks weirder the more you type it. nuncle nuncle nuncle
posted by ocherdraco at 11:29 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oberyn's across-the-courtyard invitation to a threesome to Loras.

Is this going to be on the show? Asking for a friend.
posted by desjardins at 11:29 AM on April 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


Well, the invitation was on the show. I would loooooove it if the threesome was on the show!
posted by KathrynT at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oberyn's across-the-courtyard invitation to a threesome to Loras.

Please to let next episode start with footage of this please.
posted by dnash at 11:33 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


The way Sansa goes underneath the table to retrieve the goblet for Tyrion in what may be her first ever kind action towards him, possibly because she realizes how much worse she could be doing in terms of a husband.

They are definitely my GoT OTP. I want them to make whip-smart redheaded babies.
posted by Sara C. at 11:34 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Please to let next episode start with footage of this please.


Am I the only one who took this that way?
posted by KathrynT at 11:36 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who took this that way?

I can't say it consciously crossed my mind at the time, but I think you're totally spot-on.
posted by dnash at 11:37 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oberyn's across-the-courtyard invitation to a threesome to Loras.

I am curious why Jamie isn't ALL about Cersei marrying Loras, 'cause the later clearly has other inclinations, leaving Jamie free to be creeptacular,. while keeping up appearances.

He'll probably come up with the idea later, only to have Cersei scream "You took to long!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:38 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Cercei flailing around using the last of her dissipating power (give that food to the kennels not the poor) in the face of losing her rank as Queen Regent was my first thought when trying to deduce whodunnit."

I'm really surprised at the speculation that Cersei was involved. Per the above discussion between PhoBWanKenobi and Diablevert, I think it's made very, very clear that Cersei is utterly devoted to her children. I disagree with PhoBWanKenobi and agree with Diablevert that this is presented as a virtue, not a fatal flaw; but, either way, her love-bordering-on-obsession with her children is unambiguous. She would never kill any of her children, not even Joffrey — although I do think that she does well know that he's a psychopath. But he's her son.

Cersei was absolutely devastated that Tyrion sent Myrcella away to safety in Dorne. Which is interesting because it was the right decision by Tyrion, given that the city was shortly to be under siege. And time told — it wasn't long before Cersei was sitting with Tommen on the Iron Throne soothing him while she prepared to feed him poison before Stannis won the battle. So I amend what I wrote: clearly, she could kill one of her children, but only out of love and desperation to save them from a more brutal death. But that's certainly not the case with Joffrey.

Also, it's clear that Joffrey was her favorite child. Mothers do sometimes have very clear favorites, and sometimes they are the firstborn, and given the circumstances of Cersei's life, it makes sense to me that she's always been particularly fond and protective of Joffrey. To the point of overindulging him and encouraging, not discouraging, his vices. Note that everything (what little there is) that we've seen of Tommen and Myrcella is that they are normal, emotionally healthy children. People (fans) sometimes talk about Joffrey being an example of the sin of Cersei's and Jaime's incest, but I don't think that Martin intended this because their other two children are not little monsters the way that Joffrey is. I think the implication about Joffrey is one part "bad seed" and one part "short-sighted, obsessive and indulgent mother who inculcated much of her anger and resentment into her son".

I really do disagree with PhoBWanKenobi about these two mothers — it's not at all that their love of their children is seen as their special vices and that somehow motherly love is flawed. No, in both cases I think that the message is that they each have/had other prominent flaws that expressed themselves through their role as mothers. Cersei's ambition and obsession and self-indulgence were all expressed in the name of motherly love with Joffrey; Catelyn's parochialism, her short-sightedness about how her family lives within a political context, her impulsiveness and short-temper and her tendency to nurture a grudge, all were channeled into her desire to keep her children safe because she, naturally, loves them.

Similarly, Catelyn's sister, Lysa, is an example of motherly love that in itself is a virtue, not a vice, but where Lysa's paranoia and insecurity and tendency to be delusional are primarily channeled into her love and protection of her son. As Diablevert wrote, her nursing of Sweetrobin is lampshaded as wrong, as a perversion of motherly love because it has in its ironic, inverted way parasitized Sweetrobin, leeching from him his ability to mature, providing a nurturing strength to Lysa's emotional pathology.

This isn't anti-mother or misogynist any more than Martin's presentation of rape culture of Westeros is misogynist. I know that many thoughtful, learned, well-intended people believe otherwise. But Martin is deconstructing epic fantasy and showing us how its tropes implicitly have values that are toxic. Westeros itself is virulently misogynist; typical epic fantasy would have proud, aristocratic, loving mothers being the ideal of femininity and the constrained and unhealthy lives they lead, with all of their dreams and power channeled through their children, as right and proper. Martin is showing us how this is a toxin that poisons everyone involved.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


Deaths That Actually Made Me Mad In Game Of Thrones

1) Ros (the far-left-field fan-dreams about Sansa somehow winning the Iron Throne you see so much these days is how I felt about her, more or less)
2) Irri (you fuckers)
3) Lady
4) (very distantly) Lord Commander Mormont of the Night's Watch
5) (very very distantly) Syrio Forel (the First Sword of Braavos does not run, nor does he pick up the actual sword of a knight he's knocked out cold with a training sword)
posted by furiousthought at 11:45 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cersei was absolutely devastated that Tyrion sent Myrcella away to safety in Dorne. Which is interesting because it was the right decision by Tyrion

Especially since it MAKES TOTAL SENSE, and in the world of the show would not be that strange a thing to have happen. And yet Cersei is devastated by it all out of proportion to reality. I mean, did she think Myrcella was never going to grow up or get married or have a life or leave her for any reason? Why does this bother her that much?

Meanwhile Catelyn Stark is like, "Yeah, sure, husband, take half our kids to live across the realm in a strange city controlled by people who don't like us, when there's already strange shit afoot with this mysterious death of your predecessor in your job, that sounds like a perfect arrangement!" And yet she clearly loves her kids and doesn't want bad things to happen to them. This is just a thing that happens sometimes in families, and you understand that your daughter is growing up and doing this means she'll marry well and fulfill her role in society. (Well, in the pilot episode, anyway.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2014


3) Lady

I remember at the time, reading the first book, getting to that scene and having Neddo insist that he should be the one to physically perform the execution of Sansa's wolf, and reading it as a kind of misguided insistence on doing the right thing that would end up being a wedge between Ned and Sansa as she'd end up resenting his role in the killing even if he wasn't at all responsible for the petty vindictiveness behind the order.

Like, I was really really worried about the long-term health of Sansa and Ned's relationship there, guys. That seemed like a pretty major issue at the time.

Fuckin' GRRM.
posted by cortex at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


Also I refuse to believe that Syrio Forel is dead.
posted by Sara C. at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


On the subject of whodunit, I did notice that in the "Previously on Game of Thrones" recap at the start of the first episode of this season, the very first two snippets are:

1) Olenna asking Sansa about Joffrey, and Sansa replying "He's a monster."
2) Ser Dontos being saved by Sansa from being put to death.

The primacy and juxtaposition of these two events as apparently the things we most needed to be reminded of after the break is hard to ignore.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Per the above discussion between PhoBWanKenobi and Diablevert, I think it's made very, very clear that Cersei is utterly devoted to her children.

I think she's devoted to her children insofar as her children can put her in a position of power. Not that she doesn't have any attachment to them at all, but that she seems to value power above anything else, including family. She's a manipulator. Her relationships--even family ones--seem to revolve around what tangible benefits she gets out of them. She's willing to fuck over family members that get in her way, like Tyrion. And when her brother/true-incestuous-love Jamie loses his hand and gets disowned, she doesn't even seem to want anything to do with him. And when she actually gets any power she sucks at it, which is sort of unfortunate for her.
posted by Hoopo at 11:53 AM on April 17, 2014


5) (very very distantly) Syrio Forel (the First Sword of Braavos does not run, nor does he pick up the actual sword of a knight he's knocked out cold with a training sword)

I'm not so sure that Syrio is dead. After Arya ran away, all we hear is more fighting with metal clanging and people screaming. It sounded to me like he must have gotten someone's sword and kept fighting, with the outcome unknown.
posted by homunculus at 11:54 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


But Martin is deconstructing epic fantasy and showing us how its tropes implicitly have values that are toxic. Westeros itself is virulently misogynist; typical epic fantasy would have proud, aristocratic, loving mothers being the ideal of femininity and the constrained and unhealthy lives they lead, with all of their dreams and power channeled through their children, as right and proper.

There's some other deconstruction there as well. Epic fantasy has a lot of Truuuuuuue Looooooove in that once the loved one dies, the lover mourns them All Of Their Days And It Is Noble And Fine. But GoT shows us how obsessive and kind of sick it is. Robert mourned Lyanna to the point where he was unable to have a normal relationship with the woman considered one of the most beautiful and highborn in the kingdom, who had been bred and trained and raised to be queen. And because of this, his queen had little to focus her love on. So she focused her love in places where it was unhealthy - Jaime and Joffrey. And the focus spoiled both of them for normal relationships and impaired their development. Robert barely had time to raise Joffrey, and Cersei didn't want to lose another person's love. And this is what results. And now he's dead.
posted by corb at 11:55 AM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


And yet Cersei is devastated by it all out of proportion to reality.

Not really. Her hated brother made the decision and it was a decision she never would have made. Cersei send her kids away? Not gonna happen. They're HERS and if anyone is going to send them away or kill them, it's going to be HER. Hence thesitting on the throne with Tommen and a bottle of poison.

Nobody poisons Cersei's kids except Cersei!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:01 PM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


Catelyn's parochialism, her short-sightedness about how her family lives within a political context, her impulsiveness and short-temper and her tendency to nurture a grudge, all were channeled into her desire to keep her children safe...

oh good lord yes, this. Catelyn is by far one of my least favorite characters and it is exactly this that I cannot forgive her for. HOW can you be head of one of the five major ruling families in a nation and still be THAT. FUCKING. PROVINCIAL. Truly the scenes between her and her sister Lysa only highlighted to me how similar they were in their stubborn insistence on creating their own sort of weird distorted reality bubble around their families that ultimately did a grave disservice to their children.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:01 PM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


corb: "Whatever you say, nuncle."

Nuncle is an actual thing, like an 'in Shakespeare' thing.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:05 PM on April 17, 2014


it was a decision she never would have made

Who was she going to marry Myrcella off to, and how was it going to be a better choice than a Dornish prince? It had to happen eventually, and arguing that Cersei never would have considered this is making a somewhat dim character out to be too stupid to live.
posted by Sara C. at 12:05 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry, reload page before commenting.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:06 PM on April 17, 2014


Nuncle is an actual thing, like an 'in Shakespeare' thing.

Sorry, yeah, that went poorly. There's a group of often-repeated words/phrases that GRRM uses that irritate the shit out of a lot of people - some of them are made-up words, like 'ser', others are real words, like 'nuncle', that are just abused to all get-out. GRRM can be irritating with both.
posted by corb at 12:09 PM on April 17, 2014


Who was she going to marry Myrcella off to, and how was it going to be a better choice than a Dornish prince?

Whoever it would have been, it would have been Cersei's choice, not her hated brother. It's really that simple. Having her child "sold off" with zero consultation was not how she would have done it.

HOW can you be head of one of the five major ruling families in a nation and still be THAT. FUCKING. PROVINCIAL.

Because the North was that fucking provincial and she clearly hasn't spent much time out of it. The Starks were out of their depth from the beginning, they just had no idea.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:09 PM on April 17, 2014


Also, while I like the idea of Cersei thinking that if anybody is going to make decisions about her kids, it's going to be her, I think that, too, is something Cersei should be smart enough to understand isn't going to happen.

Before the events of ASOIAF, it's going to be Robert who decides this sort of thing, not Cersei. In the absence of Robert, depending on how Westerosi patriarchal structures work out, it's going to be either Stannis or Tywin to make those decisions, or in an alternate universe where Joffrey isn't an absolute whackjob, maybe him. Cersei is never going to be the head of her family or her House. Period. It doesn't matter how much she loves her precious babies.

And making this out to be something she wouldn't understand forces her to be possibly the stupidest character ever to appear in fiction.
posted by Sara C. at 12:11 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


%n: "Nuncle is an actual thing, like an 'in Shakespeare' thing.

Sorry, yeah, that went poorly. There's a group of often-repeated words/phrases that GRRM uses that irritate the shit out of a lot of people - some of them are made-up words, like 'ser', others are real words, like 'nuncle', that are just abused to all get-out. GRRM can be irritating with both.
"

Indeed. One of my favourite things about the TV series is the relative paucity of the phrase 'a mummer's farce', which is dropped pretty much any time anybody lies or dissembles in any way in the books.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:13 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not so sure that Syrio is dead. After Arya ran away, all we hear is more fighting with metal clanging and people screaming.

When have you ever seen this show pull the old action-TV trick of having a side character escape certain death offstage so he can show up again later? (A main character gasps: "But I was sure you were... dead!") He's pretty dead.

Also I am not too sure but isn't the knight he's finally up against the knight who Joffrey uses to slap Sansa around by proxy?
posted by furiousthought at 12:13 PM on April 17, 2014


GRRM's use of certain stock phrases as literary crutches is one of the reasons I stopped reading the books.

Stop trying to make eel pie happen, George. Eel pie is never going to happen.
posted by Sara C. at 12:14 PM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yes, that was Ser Meryn.
posted by mlis at 12:18 PM on April 17, 2014


Eel pie is the fetch of the faux-medieval culinary scene? (I have the Song of Ice and Fire cookbook at home. I'll have to look and see if it has eel pie.)
posted by Area Man at 12:20 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hope we see a lot more of Melisandre in coming episodes. She's a deliciously intriguing character.
posted by shivohum at 12:22 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


When have you ever seen this show pull the old action-TV trick of having a side character escape certain death offstage so he can show up again later?

I don't know, given that this show takes such obvious delight in gruesome death scenes, why not show Syrio's death, unless the chief task of that scene is imparting not the knowledge that Syrio Forel is dead, but rather the knowledge that Arya is convinced that he's dead?

Anyway, that's what I keep telling myself, because I really want him to show back up.
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


Also, while I like the idea of Cersei thinking that if anybody is going to make decisions about her kids, it's going to be her, I think that, too, is something Cersei should be smart enough to understand isn't going to happen.

Cersei's smart enough to understand how things usually work, but clearly she has her own ideas how things are really going to happen.

She flat out told Tywin she wasn't going to marry Loras. As soon as he mentioned it. Sure, he insisted she would and she became quiet, but that clearly wasn't because she suddenly agreed to do it. Jamie's closer to the truth in telling Loras that Cersei would strangle him in his sleep.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:27 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Huh, all the talk of Syrio Forel reminds me that we're now getting into another set of swordsmanship training scenes between Jaime and Bronn. I wonder if that's a parallel they're going to play up, or if it's just incidental.
posted by invitapriore at 12:28 PM on April 17, 2014


It just occurred to me that the ruler of the Eyrie holds court in a chamber that has a big round hole in the floor, basically like a giant outhouse. Which sort of gives new meaning to the word Throne Room.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:30 PM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


And yet Cersei is devastated by it all out of proportion to reality.

Also, while I like the idea of Cersei thinking that if anybody is going to make decisions about her kids, it's going to be her, I think that, too, is something Cersei should be smart enough to understand isn't going to happen.

I think the show has done a really good job of showing how badly Cersei took the idea of being "married off" to Robert. Not only was it an insult to be used as property like that, she ended up in a loveless marriage to an alcoholic who couldn't even acknowledge that they ever could have loved.

Think about how upset she was in hearing that she was to marry Loras. "Please father, don't do this to me again..." (or something like that). Her arranged marriage ruined her life. OF COURSE, she'd try to protect her daughter from having the same thing happen to her. Maybe she might have consented to an arranged match for Myrcella, but it would have been to someone she knew and trusted, from a house that was at least nearby, not to a practical stranger from Dorne (where they don't really love Lannisters, btw).

Oh, and In re Syrio Forel
posted by sparklemotion at 12:35 PM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also I am not too sure but isn't the knight he's finally up against the knight who Joffrey uses to slap Sansa around by proxy?

Yes, that was Ser Meryn.


Oh, damn.

.
posted by homunculus at 12:36 PM on April 17, 2014


Also, speaking of awesome backing characters, I really really hope Arya gets to see Jaqen H'ghar again this season. I end up thinking about Jaqen H'ghar a lot since his leitmotif is just a rising Mixo ♭6 scale.
posted by invitapriore at 12:37 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else worried about Shae? You don't actually see her leave, we only have Bronn's word that she's gone, and I think he'd do anything for enough money.
posted by skycrashesdown at 12:41 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I hope he shapeshifts back into being Tom Wlaschiha (pretty sure he won't) because in a show with a lot of intriguing characters he was definitely right up there with "what is that guy's deal??"
posted by jessamyn at 12:43 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, I just looked on the wiki and the hole in the floor a is actually called the Moon Door. God, that's like triple funny. (An outhouse traditionally has a crescent moon on the door, and you're basically mooning the hole when you ... but I talk too much.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:45 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fuckin' GRRM.

We can hereafter abbreviate this to FGRRM.
posted by goethean at 12:45 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Deride The Motherfucking Author
posted by cortex at 12:47 PM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I am very worried about Shae. The fact that we didn't see her depart fills me with great unease. Even if she has, I don't put it past Cersei to somehow bring her back and have her tortured just to fuck with Tyrion.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:48 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re Shae, I've decided to believe the pretty "went to live on a farm" fiction the story is pitching us right now.

Sort of like Syrio Forel is definitely still alive, Lady Onella is a force for unquestionable good, Tyrion and Sansa are going to grow up to be an adorable old married couple, and we're definitely going to see a threesome this Sunday.

It is these polite fictions that keep one invested in Game Of Thrones, in my opinion.
posted by Sara C. at 12:56 PM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hey, my threesome dreams are real.
posted by corb at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2014


...how badly Cersei took the idea of being "married off" to Robert. Not only was it an insult to be used as property like that...

Sure, but have we seen any evidence at all that high-born women have the option of a love marriage in Westeros? Myrcella is the only daughter of a king. What did Cersei think her fate was going to be?

FWIW I'm totally happy seeing Cersei as a deluded idiot who thinks very highly of herself, and who for some reason believes all these impossible ideas like "my sociopathic monster son is doing just fine as king" and "my daughter will have the freedom to just hang out with me all day forever rather than get married". But she's not, like, justified in these thoughts. She's definitely verging into stupid, insane, or both territory.
posted by Sara C. at 1:02 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else worried about Shae? You don't actually see her leave, we only have Bronn's word that she's gone, and I think he'd do anything for enough money.

I don't think Bronn would betray them like that, and I think his friendship with Tyrion is genuine. If he does betray them, I'll be disappointed in the writers. I know they want to make this world oh-so grim and nasty, but not allowing for any real friendship would just be too simplistic.

I am very worried about Shae, though. My guess is someone did follow them without Bronn knowing it.
posted by homunculus at 1:06 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


FanFare: we're definitely going to see a threesome.
posted by homunculus at 1:07 PM on April 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


She's definitely verging into stupid, insane, or both territory.

What exactly prevents her from being A) a schemer and B) really bad at scheming
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:07 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Stop trying to make eel pie happen, George. Eel pie is never going to happen.

Isn't eel pie an actual thing, though? In England they eat eel pie. Heck, I've eaten a variation on shepherd's pie that had eel in it at my fave Japanese restaurant (not that this is any kind of traditional Japanese thing, just something the restaurant came up with AFAIK).
posted by Hoopo at 1:08 PM on April 17, 2014


Indeed, Hoopo. It is a thing.

When I lived in London I lived within walking distance of an actual Eel Pie Shop.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:10 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Eel is actually pretty tasty IMO, never tried the pie though.
posted by Hoopo at 1:12 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


And I'm thinking eel pies are a King's Landing thing in the books, right? Because that would make sense, geographically.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:15 PM on April 17, 2014


I think Cersei thinks she's a schemer, sure.
posted by Sara C. at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


%n: "When have you ever seen this show pull the old action-TV trick of having a side character escape certain death offstage so he can show up again later? "

It pretty explicitly does this with the Blackfish. He goes out to take a piss just before the Red Wedding, and in the next episode Roose is annoyed because Frey let him escape.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:25 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


FWIW I'm totally happy seeing Cersei as a deluded idiot who thinks very highly of herself, and who for some reason believes all these impossible ideas like "my sociopathic monster son is doing just fine as king" and "my daughter will have the freedom to just hang out with me all day forever rather than get married". But she's not, like, justified in these thoughts. She's definitely verging into stupid, insane, or both territory.

Well, she's drunk a lot. But I think you're being too harsh on her. Keeping her kids forever wasn't realistic, and I don't think she'd think it was. Keeping her kids for now, by her side, in her own keep, surrounded by her family's army? Tryion was right to send the kid away, but it's not so cut and dried; Cersei has plenty of reason to fear for her daughter in Dorne as well. It's a question of weight: which danger is greater? The fact that she thinks that her kids will be safer with her than in an enemy's castle doesn't make her mad, just a mom.

And the show shows plenty of scenes of her tiptoeing around Joffrey and his rages, realising she's got a tiger by the tail; she's not blind to his cruelty, she just loves him anyway (and seeks to control him, and sees she's failing, and is fearful and frustrated and desperate). I mean, what were all those dinner scenes but her trying to machinate and stripping a gear every time Joffrey threw a snit fit? I don't think Cersei thinks Joffrey's doing awesome as king. I think she thinks Joffrey doesn't really need to be awesome, just mighty. All around her, all her life, she sees men getting to do whatever the fuck they want. Word is bond. Lay down the law. Absolute power. I think that she and Joffrey both basically think that's what being king is, though she might have a smidge more political understanding than him. She always leaps too quickly for naked power; remember when she nearly had Littlefinger stabbed to death in a courtyard because he was resisting her demands? She thinks bare power should be enough, because that's what she envies and has never had. I think in her head all the scheming was to get Joff on the throne and after that everything was supposed to be perfect. When it's not she can't figure out how to turn the ride in her favor.
posted by Diablevert at 1:26 PM on April 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


%n: "Lady Onella"

Her name is Olenna.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:26 PM on April 17, 2014


Oh no I've been calling her Onella in two weeks worth of professional grownup recaps for a geek website. *facepalm*

So should I just go with it and pretend it's a quirk of my recapping style, like calling Jojen and Whats-her-face the Psychic Friends Network? Or do I have to start referring to her correctly going forward?
posted by Sara C. at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think at this point, figure out a way to make it funny, and go with it.
posted by corb at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I agree with your take on Cersei, Diablevert.

With regard to Loras, I think she felt she paid her dues by marrying Robert and that's why she's angry at her father and says she's not his "brood mare." I don't think she's dumb but she is narcissistic and petty and shortsighted.
posted by JenMarie at 1:31 PM on April 17, 2014


Either way, her name calls to mind non-dairy margarine.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:31 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


On Cersei: there was also that weird bit in the scene with Jamie about her consulting Qyburn for some undefined, presumably womanly, symptoms.

Is she plotting some sort of "I'm barren, no value to marrying me off now" scheme to thwart Tywin's brood-mare machinations?

OTOH she also mentions Qyburn again during the wedding feast when she blocks Pycelle's leching. Maybe it's just a 'well HE probably has access to poison' hint/misdirection.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:31 PM on April 17, 2014


I thought the womanly symptoms thing was that she got pregnant with Cousin So And So's kid and obviously that wouldn't work out.

My god that woman loves incest.
posted by Sara C. at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


RE: Onella/Olenna. Yeah, run with it. I bet there are some good funny things that could make it work.

Onella in yella.
Onella's no fella.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:36 PM on April 17, 2014


Alternatively, since it's only two weeks in, you could just go in and edit it (or ask the folks who post the recaps to do so if you don't post directly).
posted by ocherdraco at 1:39 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Onella isn't funny, so I suggest switching to the correct spelling.
posted by Area Man at 1:43 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


And I'm thinking eel pies are a King's Landing thing in the books, right? Because that would make sense, geographically.

Kind of. The sort of eel found in English pies and jellies is always caught in fresh water. King's Landing sits at the mouth of the Blackwater, where the current runs fast and treacherous*--not ideal for fishing. Eels are probably caught in nets farther up the Blackwater and rafted down to the city.

*One of the geographical oddities of Martin's world is the number of prominent cities located just where a river meets the sea: King's Landing, Old Town, Lannisport, White Harbor, Braavos, Volantis, Meereen.

Why is that odd? Just think of the real life metropolises founded before the advent of machines: how many were sited on river mouths? Rome, London, and Paris were founded several miles upriver of the sea, Carthage and Alexandria down the coast from rivers, Venice on an archipelago. That's because river mouths tend to silt up or even shift position without constant dredging and careful engineering. There were several ancient and medieval towns built directly on deltas, but they tended to die or dwindle after their harbors clogged up: see Utica and the Cinque Ports.

The Maesters of Westeros have presumably found an alchemical or sorcerous solution to this problem. I look forward to its reveal in A Dream of Spring, where we'll also find out how wild animals and deciduous trees survive multi-year winters.

posted by Iridic at 2:07 PM on April 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


Probably it just turns out that (a) individual years are very short and (b) whoever is in charge of the official calendar is drunk a lot which is why nobody really knows how long a season is.
posted by cortex at 2:16 PM on April 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


Wow, my comment got blamspoloded for going back to the whole poisoner thing... oh well.

I thought it was pretty trite reminding us how Really Bad the Bad Guys were at the beginning, with hunting the sad girl through the forest and then making dogs eat her face, and remarking on how her face is being eaten and basically going "lol!"

Yea, this irked me. At least they didn't show it, but it was still gratuitous and kind of played in to that argument i've seen made several times on the blue recently that american TV is turning into torture porn or whatever.

I've gotten a feeling so far from this season that none of the previous seasons have given me. Mainly, that some elements of the story are being told in an almost dora the explorer-ass hamfisted beat you over the head with it way. Oh look, they're SOOOO evil. Oh look, joffrey is a gigantic dick with extra hot sauce this time! And as much as people liked the whole "fuck the king!" sunglasses meme and whatnot, i thought that entire sequence was like... something out of an old western, in a bad way.

There's been some good subtle stuff too, but i don't really ever remembering going "oh god the cheese" or "what the fuck, that's completely gratuitous" more than once or twice previous at this show*, and definitely not two episodes in a row.

*with the exception of boobies, obviously. i actually had to pause the s04e01 to run in to the other room laughing uncontrollably and tell my partner "TWELVE MINUTES IN TO THE SEASON AND THEY'RE ALREADY BOOBING!"

I'm not so sure that Syrio is dead. After Arya ran away, all we hear is more fighting with metal clanging and people screaming. It sounded to me like he must have gotten someone's sword and kept fighting, with the outcome unknown.

As much as i agree that there's no way Syrio didn't just wreck that guy and leave him head-up-butt like robocop, those clanging noises are clearly from up the stairs where all the battling is going on outside.
posted by emptythought at 2:27 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


My favorite part of this episode was going to YouTube afterwards and watching the reaction videos.

Yes. These were quite fun, though perhaps not as fun as the Red Wedding ones. For that event, reaction videos had two kinds of people on camera: People who hadn't read the books and were flailing around and yelling a lot, and people who had and were just smirking very, very cruelly.

I was in the latter camp, though I was experiencing that particular joy vicariously via internets.
posted by sparkletone at 2:54 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


some elements of the story are being told in an almost dora the explorer-ass hamfisted beat you over the head with it way

I think it might be worth re-watching the whole thing, because the show has always been this way. I don't really think it's dora the explorer hamfisted or whatever, but evil guys have always been pretty over the top evil on this show. Remember, we're introduced to Jamie and Cersei as the incestuous brother and sister that throw a small child out of a window.
posted by Hoopo at 3:10 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


People film themselves watching TV? The world is weirder than I realized.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:12 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


People film themselves watching TV? The world is weirder than I realized.

Sometimes people film themselves. Other times people film their friends watching TV when they know something really funny is probably about to happen.

This doesn't seem any weirder to me than any number of other bizarre-future internet things. Like, say, hundreds of people watching a robot hooked up to an AI play an iPad game live.
posted by sparkletone at 3:20 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah I just watched the whole series over the course of a month and don't feel like the show has substantially changed in tone.

I thought a lot of the Purple Wedding hit the audience over the head with clues and insinuations, but that's sort of par for the course.

One thing that has happened, after reading a few of the books and watching the show in a really concentrated way in order to start recapping it for the web, is that I've discovered that most other people don't watch as intently as I do. I watch the show in a group at the home of someone I know who has HBO. A surprising number of GoT fans don't know character names, don't get what the sigils and all are about, ask questions like whether Tywin and Olenna are married, etc. While some things seem heavy handed to me as a power viewer, I think most people watching the show need all the help they can get.

This isn't to pass judgment in any particular direction, on people who are or are not mega-fans or whatever. I've just noticed that everybody seems to be where they are, in terms of grokking the finer details. If I feel like the show is "heavy handed", it's probably because it needs to be.
posted by Sara C. at 3:25 PM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


> I thought a lot of the Purple Wedding hit the audience over the head with clues and insinuations

I thought that was done for humorous effect; I half expected David Suchet to pass by in the background. Yes, I am bringing up Poirot twice in this thread, because I want the answer to "whodunnit?" to be the same as in Murder on the Orient Express.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:31 PM on April 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


I thought that was done for humorous effect; I half expected David Suchet to pass by in the background. Yes, I am bringing up Poirot twice in this thread, because I want the answer to "whodunnit?" to be the same as in Murder on the Orient Express.

I would totally watch a whodunnit style show in a setting like this one. A number of big fantasy serieses have little murder mysteries (or even big important ones) as part of the plot, but it's not an on-going thing like the Poirot books/adaptations.

I really enjoyed this trilogy of mysteries that are set in a period Venice where Nostradamus is an old man and is actually for real clairvoyant/magic/whatever. That's the nearest thing I can think of. There's other examples of vaguely similar things (eg: This country house mystery that takes place in an alternate 1941 England), but I could stand to read more. Cue me making a mental note to maybe do an AskMe for such recommendations at some point.
posted by sparkletone at 3:39 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: "Yeah I just watched the whole series over the course of a month and don't feel like the show has substantially changed in tone."

I agree, and if anything this season so far seems comparatively restrained if only because the thing I remember most clearly from Season 3 is the last scene of the last episode. I pray that we don't ever again have to endure anything as awful and cheesy as that.
posted by invitapriore at 3:40 PM on April 17, 2014


I think the tone has changed because I don't think HBO expected GoT to be the crossover smash it has become. So you don't have just hardcore FANS watching but also the more casual viewer who likes to drop in every week to see what juicy escapades their friends in Westeros are up to.

Not that either kind of viewer is better than the other, but some accomadations have to be made to suit your audience (and it's still entertaining so hey, I'm game).
posted by Tevin at 3:41 PM on April 17, 2014


"This isn't to pass judgment in any particular direction, on people who are or are not mega-fans or whatever. I've just noticed that everybody seems to be where they are, in terms of grokking the finer details. If I feel like the show is 'heavy handed', it's probably because it needs to be."

Yeah. Game of Thrones is almost absurdly, comically difficult to follow relative to television norms. It's sort of amazing that there's not a whole lot more heavy-handed stuff.

Personally, and speaking just about the show (and not the books), I don't feel that the characterization is melodramatic and lacking in nuance. The one exception is Ramsey. Well, and Gregor Clegane. But all the other villains, though sometimes very villainous, are more layered than I think many people believe. ShowCersei, for example, is quite complicated. I think they've given us a lot of clues to why she's the person she is, and I think they've shown her expression of herself to be more complicated than just scheming and envious.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:47 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


But I'm betting [Theon will] get some measure of redemption somewhere down the line. He'll make some amends.

I wish you hadn't said that. It seems so sensible, so of course what's really going to happen is that Theon's "peak" is going to be him absolutely rejecting the possibility of redemption in favor of some truly heinous crime, probably in the service of Ramsay.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:50 PM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Either that or the second he shows a glimmer of promise, he'll get killed.
posted by Sara C. at 4:51 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, so that's why there's been no GoT chatter on the blue.

I just love the evil characters of the show - they're portrayed with such panache.

Did Reek shave Ramsey in the books? I was cringing so much at the description of his treatment that I forget if he did.
posted by ersatz at 5:02 PM on April 17, 2014


I don't think so. But the main idea of the scene — that Reek is fully submissive to Ramsay — is certainly demonstrated.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:10 PM on April 17, 2014


Did Reek shave Ramsey in the books?

So, this sort of brings up an interesting point for me. I've only read the first three, and part of the fourth (which bored me so much I couldn't finish it, the man needs an editor, and I'm hoping the need to start keeping pace with the TV show may help him in that regard). But when the Theon torture stuff happened last season I realized "I just do not remember ANY of this or anything even like it."

Yesterday I poked around some sites like Tower Of the Hand that have chapter summaries and realized that this is because that Theon-torture stuff was not in the books I've read so far. If I grokked the summaries right, Theon's storyline cuts off in book 3 before the torture starts, and it looks like he doesn't re-appear until book 5 (which I haven't touched yet).

I'm starting to feel like I may be preferring the way the story is getting told on the TV show instead of the books. I was so pissed at the slowdown in publication that I decided I'm not gonna read any more of the books until he truly finishes the whole damn thing. But now I'm not even sure of that - I think I may just never read the books again and be satisfied with however the TV series resolves.
posted by dnash at 5:38 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Martin handled the placement in the narrative of the transformation of Theon into Reek in a way that either wouldn't have worked on the screen or would have meant the actor was missing from the show for a long time. Either was a big problem, and so the TV writers sort of reworked the whole thing in such a way that the the essence of all this is preserved and we've continued to see him.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:18 PM on April 17, 2014


In contrast, dnash, I didn't like how quickly Theon's fate was revealed in the show, though I understand the narrative necessity of doing it that way. It was an incredibly powerful reveal in the books.

As a reader, you cannot help but detest the arrogant, traitorous Theon (a bit more sympathetic in the show as the 'between two worlds and belonging to neither' angle was played up a good deal). When he takes Winterfell, and you think he has murdered the two youngest Stark boys, you passionately want him to get his comeuppance, and feel a certain satisfaction knowing he has died.

An entire book, as I recall, goes by before the grovelling, sniveling Reek shows up. It is with dawning horror that you realize this wretched, broken creature, alternately fawning over and fearfully shrinking from Ramsay, must be--No! Surely not?--Theon Greyjoy?!

It's like a punch in the gut when that happens. Here's a man, someone we knew, now so completely beaten down by abuse that he no longer has any sense of self, no real identity to speak of. His entire existence is beholden to whatever humiliating torture Ramsay chooses to bestow on him at any given moment. What's more, Reek has bought into this reality so completely he has come to believe he doesn't deserve anything better.

Still to this day one of the most compelling storylines I've read in any series, ever.
posted by misha at 7:01 PM on April 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


furiousthought: "When have you ever seen this show pull the old action-TV trick of having a side character escape certain death offstage so he can show up again later? "

Reasonably often? Beric Dondarrion gets sent to apprehend The Mountain (hooboy!) yet he somehow manages to show up later. (In fact, by dying off-screen!) Theon presents Bran & Rickon's "corpses," but lo and behold they're alive the next episode. Jon Snow gets shot full of arrows but lives to tell about it the following season.

No, none of these are quite like Syrio's situation, but I think Sokka's right: When someone dies, the show has always been quite explicit about it.

Jessamyn: "I hope he shapeshifts back into being Tom Wlaschiha (pretty sure he won't) because in a show with a lot of intriguing characters he was definitely right up there with "what is that guy's deal??""

Oh yeah, me too! I was so bummed when they kept the character but got rid of that actor! A man must return to the show!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:36 PM on April 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


dnash - if you ever do go back to the books, I recommend that AFFC/ADWD be read jointly (combined reading order - no spoilers past the end of book 3, A Storm of Swords) as they really are one gigantic book spilt into two volumes. It makes the read more interesting as you see the characters and their actions relative to a common timeline, instead of dealing with them in two separate volumes, which makes it feels like things are separate.

The other thing to keep in mind - this series is really two trilogies. AGOT is plenty slow in places, but we have the advantage of knowing what it builds into...In book 4 (the combined AFFC/ADWD), other things need to be built while others preserved.

But then, as much as I love the show, I prefer the books...they give the history and import behind all the events so much more weight. I think both show and books are taking advantage of the relative strengths of their medium, and that's great - but in the end, I'd rather crack the books open again then re-watch the show (if I was forced to make a choice, which I'm not - I can have both! And I will! I will pay the Iron Price if I have to!).
posted by nubs at 8:51 PM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Reek does a damn good shave, that's for sure. If nothing else, that's a skill he can take with him anywhere.
posted by turbid dahlia at 10:27 PM on April 17, 2014 [16 favorites]


All this talk of Theon and shaving is giving me Anne Bishop flashbacks.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:38 PM on April 17, 2014


I haven't read the books and I have issues with name/face associations to the point that for most of the first season I couldn't tell Robb Stark and Jon Snow apart. Even though I watch every episode as it airs, I still need beaten over the head to be reminded who someone is and why I should care about what's happening to them right now.

Had never even noticed the sigils till this thread.
posted by olinerd at 1:17 AM on April 18, 2014


A man must return to the show!

The Hound saying "A man's gotta have a code" pulled all sorts of The Wire triggers in me. I kept expecting to see Bunk in one of the taverns or Omar rip pin' and runnin' milk of the poppy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:02 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ser Omar of House Little. Sigil: A crossbow atop a stack of coins on a red field. Words: If you come at the king, you best not miss.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:21 AM on April 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


The Hound saying "A man's gotta have a code" pulled all sorts of The Wire triggers in me. I kept expecting to see Bunk in one of the taverns or Omar rip pin' and runnin' milk of the poppy.

Oh yeah, my wife and I cracked up when we heard that one. If that wasn't a direct and intentional tip of the hat to The Wire, there is nothing good in this world.
posted by The Michael The at 4:53 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


if you ever do go back to the books, I recommend that AFFC/ADWD be read jointly (combined reading order - no spoilers past the end of book 3, A Storm of Swords)

Thank you for that link. That's a pretty cool idea. Wish they'd re-print the books that way!
posted by dnash at 5:17 AM on April 18, 2014


I'm rereading the books in the "FeastDance" order described by that link right now. I've already been through both of them twice before: the first time, I rushed through to find out what happens to my favorite characters, missing tons of stuff about characters I didn't care as much about, and thereby missed much of the story. The second time, I listened to the audiobooks, which ensured that I fully experienced every chapter, but it was still hard to remember some of the Book 4 details when I was listening to Book 5.

If the FeastDance ordering had been available, I think I would have been able to avoid the problem of rushing through (because in the combined order there are characters I care about from the beginning), and the problem of trying to hold details in my head from Book 4 to Book 5. This way is (to me, anyway) significantly more satisfying.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:46 AM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ser Omar of House Little. Sigil: A crossbow atop a stack of coins on a red field. Words: If you come at the king, you best not miss.

T-Shirts plzkthx.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:37 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, me too! I was so bummed when they kept the character but got rid of that actor! A man must return to the show!

Hey, all men must serve.
posted by ersatz at 7:52 AM on April 18, 2014


Ser Jimmy of House McNulty. Sigil: Two bottles, crossed, on a checked field of white and green. Words: What the fuck did I do?

Ser Bunk of House Moreland. Sigil: A suit on a field of white. Words: Makes me sick, motherfucker, how far we done fell.

Ser Herc of House Hauk. Sigil: A video camera, obscured, on a field of grey. Words: Maybe we won.
posted by nubs at 8:15 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


As long as we're talking about what other things this episode reminds us of, whenever I hear the name Tyrell I keep wondering if Olenna has a weird cousin Eldon who is preparing a replicant army for some nefarious purpose. (Of course, they would eventually turn against him because he can't extend their puny lifespans.)
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:51 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


> the main idea of the scene — that Reek is fully submissive to Ramsay — is certainly demonstrated

And demonstrated. And demonstrated. And demonstrated. It's why I'm skimming large parts of it -- I just can't deal.

> This country house mystery that takes place in an alternate 1941 England)

So I go to place a hold on a book that came out six years ago, and there's already a waiting list. This always happens with book recommendations here. There are just too many KCLS-service-area Mefites.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:06 AM on April 18, 2014


The Hound saying "A man's gotta have a code" pulled all sorts of The Wire triggers in me. I kept expecting to see Bunk in one of the taverns or Omar rip pin' and runnin' milk of the poppy.

I was thinking Ghost Dog myself.

...

My favorite small moment from the episode: when the little people were doing their show, the facial expressions on all the major players. Look at how Cersei laughs. She's laughs in Joffrey's direction in the same desperate, submissive, "ha, ha, look at me laughing at what you laugh at" way that the subordinate Mean Girls would do to a Rachel McAdams' Queen Bee.

I seem to recall Joffrey not even looking back at her. So sad. Cersei is just such a very sad person.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


The one Wire reference was a nice good laugh but if Tyrion ever says "I'm just a humble motherfucker with a big-ass dick" I am flipping tables
posted by furiousthought at 11:07 AM on April 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Me, I'm waiting for the inevitable crossover with Dream On.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:08 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


"So sad. Cersei is just such a very sad person."

She really is. And I think it has everything to do with her father. Well, as a consequence of also not ever having a mother.

Jaime is sort of feckless. He's actually somewhat good-hearted and he loves all his family; his love and faithfulness to Tyrion despite Cersei's and Tywin's dislike of Tryion is very much to Jaime's credit and reveals quite a bit about his character. Jaime is, in his way, romantic. He's devoted to Cersei — it's not that he thinks with his dick with Cersei, he truly loves her.

Furthermore, Jaime's other main quality, his skill with a sword, has proven to be something that is inherently romantic to him, too, and very people-focused. As a young squire, he was profoundly impressed with Ser Arthur Dayne, the most renowned knight of the time. He was profoundly impressed with the nobility and loyalty and single-minded purpose of the Kingsguard. He's not ambitious; in another story he'd be the romantic, loyal knight. Because he mostly is that person in this story, except that his family are the villains, he was forced to kill the king he was guarding because the king was a psychopath who was about to immolate thousands, and he's been involved his entire life in an incestuous affair with his sister, who became queen.

The point is, Jaime was never, ever going to be the man Tywin wanted him to be. And, while it's arguable that Tyrion could have been that person, Tywin would never have given him that chance, because Tywin sees Tyrion as a monstrous embarrassment.

It's Cersei who should have been her father's heir. As Tywin so cruelly tells her, she's not as smart as she thinks she is and she's clearly not as smart as Tywin. She couldn't have been the heir that he most desired, but she would have been closer to what he wanted than Jaime. And, really, as much as Tyrion is as intelligent as Tywin and possibly as adept a player of the game, Tyrion just isn't as ruthless or focused on the acquisition of power. Cersei is. While Tyrion may be Tywin's heir of the mind, Cersei's Tywin's heir of temperament and focus. Jaime is neither.

Maybe if Cersei's mother had lived, she would have been a different person, or the same person but with a mother to guide her ambitions into fruitful directions. Absent a mother, Cersei's only role-model was Tywin, and by temperament and example, it's always been Tywin who's she wished to be.

If Tywin had been able to see her as something other than a lowly woman, and worthy, then Cersei might have both been able to accept her gender as being acceptable and worthy and done as, say, Brienne has done, not comfortable with her gender, but nevertheless forging a role for herself as a woman who goes her own way. Brienne has some contempt for women, but Cersei has contempt for herself as a woman, and that's her undoing. Cersei simply wants to will herself into being a man, a man like her father, and that's why she's essentially delusional in a manner of speaking. She behaves as if she could somehow exercise power as her father does, and with every outcome proving she cannot, she becomes more bitter and angry, and also self-loathing.

But if Tywin had been able to cultivate Cersei as his heir, his heir in spirit and behind-the-scenes if not formally, then Cersei might have been a very different and much happier person. And Joffrey might have been a much different and better, happier person.

Much of what's wrong goes back to Tywin. He's admirable in his intelligence, cunning, ruthlessness and single-mindedness. But for all his practical sense and intelligence, he's very blinkered. He doesn't see that his single-minded ambition combined with his inability to a good father is the complete undoing of his plans, given that they're dependent upon his children in various respects. Tywin's tragic lack is of some humility and, well, love and empathy. If even he had a smidgen more of those things, everything might be different, and "different" as in "better".

Certainly Cersei would have had a much better life.

I think Cersei is very sad, very tragic, and while I certainly allow for people being born inherently flawed, and sometimes even "evil", in Cersei's case I'm just not convinced at all that she had to become the awful person she is. And I think a lot of this goes back to Tywin.

For example, Cersei would be a better person if she could see and accept Jaime's love for her for what it is. Instead, she's mostly possessive and controlling and codependent upon Jaime. It's never been a healthy relationship and, putting the incest aspect of it aside, it might have been much more healthy than it is. In Jaime I think we see the seeds of a true, caring love. But Cersei doesn't know how to be that way. Similarly, I think that if she had followed Jaime's example, as opposed to Tywin's, and loved Tyrion, then Tyrion would also have been a very good influence on Cersei. But the reason that both things aren't the case is mostly Tywin. In Jaime's case, it's because Tywin is Cersei's role-model and Tywin just doesn't know how to love. And with regard to Tyrion, Cersei has always followed Tywin's lead.

Is it some inherent flaw in Cersei that she couldn't move beyond her father's influence and take these opportunities around her to learn to be a better person? Even just being a mother could have been such an opportunity, but she instead made motherhood into another avenue of her resentment. Surely, we all have opportunities to choose to be better people and we're responsible for not doing so. But, at the same time, we all have powerful forces who mold us into the people we are, and Cersei's largely who she is because of Tywin. Cersei almost certainly would have been a very, very different person with a different father.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:48 PM on April 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


It's Cersei who should have been her father's heir.

Not at all. Tywin was correct in noting that Cersei wasn't as smart as she thinks she is. Jaime had the potential to be a true heir, but didn't want it. Tyrion had the potential, but would never get it.

Cersei is a product of her circumstances to an extent. Had she been allowed to train as knight, she probably would have done well, but she still never would have been as smart as she thinks she is. It's a classic case of someone being born on third base and thinking they hit a triple. Cersei was always going to what she is: a power abusing child that can't realize she's out of her league due to the powerful house she was born into.

There's zero reason to feel sorry for her, she's repeatedly made her bed and use her family's name and power as a crutch to hobble her weight around. She may love her children, but even they are tools of her vanity and taste for power.

I'm doubtful she would have that much different if her mother had lived. Perhaps a more subtle version of the vindictive, petty and paranoid person she is, but still all those things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:12 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Tywin's tragic lack is of some humility and, well, love and empathy. If even he had a smidgen more of those things, everything might be different, and "different" as in "better".


Tywin is, in fact, a very interesting character capable of far more complex emotions than we often give him credit for. It is not often shown, but he does have a deep empathy...his scenes with Arya is season 2 showed us part of that. If you want further proof, rewatch the final moments of "The Lion and the Rose" - while Cersei and Jaime run to Joffrey, Tywin - in the background, so you have to watch closely - goes to Tommen, and presses the boy's head against his chest so he does not witness Joffrey's death. At that moment, his nature was to go to the child everyone on the show has ignored, and provide comfort and to be a shield.

He is ruthless - he had to be; his own father was a wastrel who undermined the House to the point that the Reynes of Castermere felt they could ignore the authority of their liege lord. You know the song now, I'm sure...that was Tywin, shortly after assuming the Lordship. If his wife hadn't died giving birth to Tyrion, I think we would have a Lord capable of both cold ruthlessness to his enemies and also far more compassion to his children...and he would likely be able to see the potential in Tyrion. His late wife was what would've kept him some compassion. They didn't give him this full quote on the show, but I wish they had:

"When your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you. And any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king at all." - Tywin, attempting to teach Joffrey how to rule.
posted by nubs at 1:25 PM on April 18, 2014 [18 favorites]


I think that if she had followed Jaime's example, as opposed to Tywin's, and loved Tyrion, then Tyrion would also have been a very good influence on Cersei.

One of my favorite moments of this episode was watching Jaime and Tyrion together, followed by Jamie and Bronn. I wish they'd had more time together before the wedding, and I'm anxious to see how Jamie reacts to the accusation against Tyrion.

I also wish Jamie had introduced Tyrion to Brienne; I'd have liked to see those two interact.
posted by homunculus at 2:00 PM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Those are great observations, nubs. Surely there's something very significant about Tywin's ability to take seriously and engage with a very bright serving girl (Arya) and shield Tommen while somehow being unable to have a decent relationship with any of his own children?

Having written that out, I immediately recognize how ordinary this is. My own father was that way. Many mothers and fathers are terrible parents but wonderful grandparents. Many mothers and fathers are tolerant and generous with other children, but not their own.

It seems to me that your mention of Tywin's own father is relevant. Tywin's very much who he is as a response to his father. The Ice and Fire wiki entry on Tytos describes him as "a gentle and amiable man was also weak willed and eager to please, loans went unpaid and his bannermen did what they pleased mocking him in their cups or openly defying him." Tywin, perhaps especially with regard to his family and personal relationships, may see anything less than cold severity with his children to be unacceptably like his father. It may be that with someone who doesn't matter, such as Arya the Serving Girl, and perhaps even young Tommen, he feels free to be a nicer person.

Your conjecture about Joanna that, had she lived, Tywin might have been more compassionate with their children, seems valid and interesting to me. Maybe being the only parent, Tywin feared he could become like his father, not having a wife to be a mothering, comforting presence with their children and so went to the opposite extreme in response.

"Tywin was correct in noting that Cersei wasn't as smart as she thinks she is."

Yeah, I noted that in my comment. But Cersei didn't need to be as smart as Tywin is to be an effective Lannister heir and, more to the point, Cersei's flaw is that she doesn't realize that she's not as smart as she thinks she is ... it's not simply that she's not as bright as Tywin. But had Cersei a different childhood, she wouldn't have grown to be as narcissistic and lacking in self-awareness as she is. You seem strongly inclined to a "nature" understanding of her character, while I think there's far more room for a "nurture" element.

I generally believe this about most people, while certainly not discounting a nature element. Most of Cersei's faults may always have been potential weaknesses for her; but given a different life history, those faults may have been largely mitigated while other suppressed virtues would have come to the fore.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:05 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


At that moment, his nature was to go to the child everyone on the show has ignored, and provide comfort and to be a shield.

The wedding scene illustrates the jackpot of hereditary monarchy pretty well. No one cares too much about Tommen, but when the little sociopath kicks the bucket, the Iron Throne is suddenly occupied by a well-behaved child and all hail Tommen, the first of his name, and the royal kittens.
posted by ersatz at 5:00 PM on April 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Lord Clay of House Davis. Sigil: A red hand clutching a purse on a field of green. Words: Sheeeeeeeee-it.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:10 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


What good is an empty cup?
posted by homunculus at 7:41 PM on April 18, 2014


Rock Steady: "Ser Omar of House Little. Sigil: A crossbow atop a stack of coins on a red field. Words: If you come at the king, you best not miss.

T-Shirts plzkthx.
"

Would buy. Repeatedly.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:46 PM on April 18, 2014


GOT Beautiful Death
posted by nubs at 12:45 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tywin reminds me of General Franco. He's a smart, capable autocrat, but he's also sort of a feckless schmuck if you really think about what he has actually accomplished. His domineering nature as a father does not come from a place of hyper-competence as a father: it's just that he runs his family like a military leader, and now two of his kids have been fuzziness each other for a while and his least favorite is a sarcastic dick whose numerous good qualities have arisen in reaction to, and not because of, his actual skills as a father.

As for Cersei, it's a big thing in life to contrast nature, nurture, and choices. Many of Cersei's worst qualities could be blamed on Tywin or society, but she has not been merely the passive victim of circumstance . Other women in the GoT uinverse have their own non-shitty personalities and lives. Tyrion and Jaime both figured out how to have somewhat redeemable existences. Cersei just sort of seemed to collapse into a universe in which all she cares about is power and status. This is a recipe for guaranteed failure, not simply because women have an inherent disadvantage in this world, but also because she has the practical sense of Wile E. Coyote, the charitable nature of polio, and the likability of a cat with hissing, snapping heads for paws.

I mean, I feel for her at times and I understand how she has been in part set up to play this part in life, but that empathy only goes so far.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:20 PM on April 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's also interesting to think about how often we think about excusing or explaining bad behavior in terms of pointing out that somebody has been treated unfairly, or that somebody has been spoiled. But it's not always so simple - not that anyone is really saying that it's so simple. Many people improve when they face hardship. Many people behave decently when they have support, if not plenty. And vice versa.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:31 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


he runs his family like a military leader

I've always felt like Tywin Lannister is a Darkest Timeline version of Baron von Trapp.

It might be because Charles Dance and Christopher Plummer bear a passing resemblance to each other, I'll admit.
posted by Sara C. at 1:40 PM on April 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


"I mean, I feel for her at times and I understand how she has been in part set up to play this part in life, but that empathy only goes so far."

Sure, I agree with all those things.

This is just one of those things about which people have widely varying sensibilities.

I've actually never quite fit within the larger camps in these debates, as I find individual moral choice and its implicit responsibility to be a fundamental principle of my moral philosophy. I believe that it's always possible for us to make better or worse moral choices, and we're responsible for that.

However, I'm also acutely aware that people's choices are constrained both by their immediate environment and also, crucially, by their life history's influence on their ability to see the true scope of the moral choices available to them.

My temperament is to be forgiving and generous and reluctant in moral judgment of other people, and harsh with myself. When I engage with other people about their moral lives, I try to be forgiving and generous and reluctant to judge but to encourage people to become more aware of their potential to make better choices, and to do so.

So it is with a fictional character such as Cersei. In both my real life and my reaction to fictional characters, it takes quite a lot for me to believe that someone is unredeemable, for me to just write them off with a judgment such as you just made about Cersei. You're absolutely correct in that Cersei has many examples around her of how to be a better person than she is and from similarly difficult circumstances. You're absolutely correct that she indulges her moral vices, the hurtful and hateful moral vices, which is a personality trait with which I have very little tolerance and which will most reliably cause me to conclude that someone is unredeemable. Cersei, for me, skates right along the edge of this. There's certainly a few dozen other villainous characters I'm much more sympathetic to — Sandor Clegane, for one.

But I think that Martin and the show's writers are in many respects more sympathetic to Cersei than most of the audience recognizes, or (more likely) is prepared to accept. I believe that Martin is saying something important and using Cersei as a prime example. She's a tragic figure — she inspires contempt because she seems hell-bent on stupidly undermining her own ambitions, but I really believe that Martin and the show's writers are painting a picture of someone who would have been much less likely to be such a tragic figure, so inspiring of contempt, had she not been born into the world and the life she was.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:52 PM on April 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Martin certainly imbues her with humanity, which is great, but humanity alone doesn't make everything okay. At least straight-up sociopaths truly were born under a bad sign. Cersei is a person with a largely shitty view of things and she does many, many truly shitty things - the fact that she also has some recognizable human emotions and needs only makes her shitty choices more perverse. She's much more of a warning than she is a victim.

I mean, I get no joy out of her cradling her dying son. Not even naughty or ironic joy. But, considering how Joffrey got to the throne in the first place, she's pretty damn far down the list of people I'm going to feel all that bad for. I don't doubt that many other shitty people also have loved ones and feel genuine pain when they experience loss. That doesn't make you a better person, it just makes you vaguely normal. Being a shitty person doesn't mean that you're an inhuman demon with red eyes and fangs.

Put another way, if Cersei can't be referred to as a shitty person, then we're setting that bar ridiculously high.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:15 PM on April 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Not that I don't also see where you're coming from!
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:16 PM on April 19, 2014


"Put another way, if Cersei can't be referred to as a shitty person, then we're setting that bar ridiculously high."

Oh, I emphatically agree with you that she's a shitty person.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2014


Right on. And it's tragic to see how all of the external and internal factors added up to waste all of that potential and to make even HER so unhappy. She's chasing a tail that will never arrive.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:21 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tywin reminds me of General Franco. He's a smart, capable autocrat, but he's also sort of a feckless schmuck if you really think about what he has actually accomplished. His domineering nature as a father does not come from a place of hyper-competence as a father: it's just that he runs his family like a military leader, and now two of his kids have been fuzziness each other for a while and his least favorite is a sarcastic dick whose numerous good qualities have arisen in reaction to, and not because of, his actual skills as a father.

Do you think that Tywin cares about about his kids in a paternal sense? I get the feeling that he's specifically tried not to, so that they can't be used against him. I also think that's why he's so aggressive in using them to exploit others and situations to his advantage.

I think that maybe he imagines Jaime as his heir not just because he's the Golden Son but also because Jaime's the least suited to being his heir and wants it the least, so he's the least threatening. Jaime's not going to kill or even undermine Tywin in a power grab, because he doesn't even care much about the power he's got. I think that Tywin likes his reluctance, it makes him feel safe.

Oh, I emphatically agree with you that she's a shitty person.

She's a shitty person, but I don't think that she's done much that hasn't been done to her in one way or another? That doesn't excuse what she does, but I do think it excuses some of her blindness to how horrific her actions (and others') are. Her frame of reference is monumentally skewed.
posted by rue72 at 2:32 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


My take on Cersei is that's she's both destructive and, worst of all, petty. She thinks she's a schemer, but she can't see the bigger picture. Most of her schemes are about ways to make herself or her children look good, or getting one over on someone she dislikes for selfish reasons. The moment in this episode where she declares that the leftover pie will go to the dogs instead of the poor out of jealousy over Margaery illustrates this perfectly. She's way too invested in petty spites and short-sighted hurts (the Myrcella thing) to be a threat to anyone.
posted by Sara C. at 2:47 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


She's a shitty person, but I don't think that she's done much that hasn't been done to her in one way or another?

There's a one eyed girl who would disagree. Cersei had a her beaten by guards when they were both nine, supposedly for stealing a necklace. It's one thing to report the girl or tell someone else. but Cersei took the initiative and had guards beat a a girl her own age at the time.

There's a certain petty and childish streak in her that's always been there and she's relished in it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:55 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Cersei isn't simply playing the game. She's no more of a hapless whelp than any other character on the show. Yes, she is socially constrained, but no more so than anybody else. She chooses to commit purposeful, systemic violence against people for all kinds of asinine reasons, not just to take or secure the throne.

And yeah, the dog food thing is highly indicative of what she values and why.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:12 PM on April 19, 2014


Cersei's real crime isn't that she's a bad person who does bad things; lots of the nobles in the story do the same. Her real crime is that's she stupid and does senseless bad things which serve no purpose but to make her feel better.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on April 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've always felt like Tywin Lannister is a Darkest Timeline version of Baron von Trapp.

So this whole mess could have been averted thirty years ago if Tywin hired a tomboyish septa with a clear soprano to serve as governess at Casterly Rock.
posted by Iridic at 3:39 PM on April 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


"My take on Cersei is that's she's both destructive and, worst of all, petty."

and

"Her real crime is that's she stupid and does senseless bad things which serve no purpose but to make her feel better."

Very much so. I agree with all the criticisms of Cersei, but I just sort of feel that she wasn't destined by her genes (or whatever) to be who she is. In the same way that someone of extremely admirable moral character might have been born with good instincts but also needed influences and opportunities to cultivate those instincts, I think that Cersei was arguably born with bad instincts, but also "needed" influences and opportunities to cultivate those instincts and be the awful person she is. She didn't have to be that person, and it's not merely her own responsibility that she is. Some people around her, chiefly Tywin, are responsible, too. Ultimately, though, she's responsible for herself and her actions.

Anyway, I'm intrigued by the mention of pettiness. It's not something I've spent much time thinking about (which is sort of remarkable, as I've spent much of my life thinking about this general topic), but it strikes me that pettiness is a huge red flag about character for both fictional and real people; we tend to evaluate this trait in other people very negatively. There's few traits so inspiring of contempt, perhaps cowardliness and some forms of vanity. Other traits we may see as "evil", but contempt in response to any trait is a marker for some very deep visceral evaluation of someone, that they are flawed in such a way that is impossible to defend or be sympathetic to. Pettiness always inspires contempt in others, I think.

Speaking for myself, when someone is thin-skinned, petty, and having a habit of tenderly nursing grudges for extended periods of time, this inspires extreme contempt in me, to the point where I question my own response and worry that it's excessive. Cersei has these three traits. One aspect of this cluster is a tendency to see only the very worst in other people, to project one's own faults onto others, and to conspicuously lack self-awareness and an ability to be self-critical. People like this bathe themselves in a combination of resentment, self-pity, jealousy and envy, profound (perceived) aggrievement, fantasies of their enemies' comeuppance, cyclic passive-aggression and tantrums, paranoia, insecurity, and a self-loathing that is often apparent to others but hidden from themselves.

There's a reason why we tend to so viscerally dislike such people, and to judge them so harshly. And my suspicion is that it's because we intuit that these people represent a combination of two things: 1) that they are self-indulging in everything that's wrong with them; that in some sense they have chosen, and continue to choose, to be this kind of person; and 2) they are deeply toxic to everyone close to them. We react strongly against them because we recognize that they are hazardous to us and that they are responsible for their actions.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:48 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cersei may end up a petty schemer but she starts off murdering a hand and a king and shuffling off another. Obviously it spins out of control but it doesn't lack for ambition. She might be better thought of as an example of the Peter Principle as she rose to the level where she could no longer succeed.
posted by shothotbot at 5:55 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


But think about it -- she murdered John Arryn and King Robert so that she, Jaime, and their children wouldn't be found out. She wasn't doing it on behalf of the realm or for any higher purpose than just "keep my kids first in line for the throne". Petty doesn't mean bad at scheming, it just means small-minded and lacking in foresight. She's only interested to the extent that things affect her.
posted by Sara C. at 6:01 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


GOT Beautiful Death

Some of these are really good. Here's the original site: Beautiful Death.
posted by homunculus at 6:13 PM on April 19, 2014


Now that I think about it, didn't the whole war basically start for Cersei and her stupid incest babies?
posted by Sara C. at 6:27 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


My read of it was that things were incredibly tense but could've been salvaged.... Until stupid Joffery impulsively decides to off Ned and no one can stop him. There could've been negotiating until that point, I think.
posted by sparkletone at 6:47 PM on April 19, 2014


Now that I think about it, didn't the whole war basically start for Cersei and her stupid incest babies?

Eh, Cersei probably would have killed Robert at some point, due to to Robert being a lousy king and husband and worst father. Then Ned comes to town and doubles down on the stupidity, prompting swift reactions from the Lannisters which resulted in Ned being beheaded.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:54 PM on April 19, 2014


I don't know, it seems a little out of character to say that Cersei would have had Robert assassinated for being a lousy king. Littlefinger or Varys, sure, but Cersei'd do it because he forgot Joffrey's name day.
posted by Sara C. at 6:58 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing is that beheading Ned was so stupid and shortsighted that even Cersei knew it was a terrible idea. When Cersei is the voice of restraint and reason you know you've gone so far out to sea you can't see shore with a telescope.

Joffrey was all the worst parts of Cersei magnified and without excuse. At least we understand why Cersei is the way she is. With Joffrey we have only Bronn's pithy summation about there being no cure for his condition.
posted by Justinian at 7:03 PM on April 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


She wasn't doing it on behalf of the realm or for any higher purpose than just "keep my kids first in line for the throne".

Not to say that short-sightedness isn't a valid argument here, but I think you can defend that thinking a little in the sense that in Cersei's lived experience there had been two kinds of king-and-realm: ruinous, in Aegon the Mad; reasonably stable, in Robert Baratheon and marriage to same. The stakes of "for the good of the realm" might for her just sort of mean "not literally going insane and burning people"; her kids are (modulo how Joff does in fact turn out once he gets some power) as good as anyone to be heir to the throne, and they're hers, so if it's not in principle bad for the realm to keep them in line for the throne then why not?
posted by cortex at 7:16 PM on April 19, 2014


Now that I think about it, didn't the whole war basically start for Cersei and her stupid incest babies?

Well -
Robb took up arms to save Nedd, and then, once Nedd had been killed, to get independence from the Iron Throne;

Stannis took up arms because he knew Cersei's children weren't Bob's, so he knew he was the legitimate heir;

Renly took up arms because he was popular and thought he had a shot at usurping the throne, given the unstable situation;

and Balon took up arms because Robb's war gave him an opportunity to attack.
Stannis would certainly have gone to war upon Bob's death, regardless of any other circumstances. That war, at least, is over Bob's dying without issue. If Stannis had gone to war, then Renly probably would have also gone to war, given his popularity and powerful alliance. You could probably pin the Iron Throne's war with those two on Cersei and Jaime's incest.

Robb essentially went to war because Joffrey capriciously decided to kill Ned, so his war is only tangentially related to Cersei and Jaime. Finally, Balon is in it only because Robb is in it. Lannisters have nothing to do with his part in the war.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:21 PM on April 19, 2014


I think it's also important to evaluate Cersei's actions in context. Remember Robert? If Cersei had come out and said, "Yep, I've been putting horns on your head with my brother," I think it's entirely possible he would have killed her and or them. Preserving their inheritance is preserving their lives.
posted by corb at 7:50 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I thought that was done for humorous effect; I half expected David Suchet to pass by in the background. Yes, I am bringing up Poirot twice in this thread, because I want the answer to "whodunnit?" to be the same as in Murder on the Orient Express.

Fortunately we already have Diana Rigg on hand to help out!
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:10 PM on April 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


The stakes of "for the good of the realm" might for her just sort of mean "not literally going insane and burning people"; her kids are (modulo how Joff does in fact turn out once he gets some power) as good as anyone to be heir to the throne, and they're hers, so if it's not in principle bad for the realm to keep them in line for the throne then why not?

But what did she think she'd accomplish when her scheme to keep the line of succession stable included killing the king? This is the sort of thing I mean when I say petty and short-sighted. Any non-moron would understand that it's more important to keep the current king -- warts and all -- on the throne than it is to shore up the futures of said king's heirs.

Preserving their inheritance is preserving their lives.

There are two clear responses to this, for a smart person, though. For the most common sort of intelligent person, the obvious best course of action would be to not cuckold the king with your own brother, or if you're going to do so, at least get in the classic "heir and a spare" so you've got some obvious Baratheon babies to point to in your defense. For the other sort of intelligent person (I'm thinking of Game players like Ned, Robb, Stannis, etc), another best course of action would be to put the future of your country ahead of petty things like saving your own neck.

There's a reason Ned Stark comes off as noble and Cersei Lannister comes off as a scheming cow, and it's not because Ned knows more about meteorology.
posted by Sara C. at 1:39 AM on April 20, 2014


There are two clear responses to this, for a smart person, though. For the most common sort of intelligent person, the obvious best course of action would be to not cuckold the king with your own brother, or if you're going to do so, at least get in the classic "heir and a spare" so you've got some obvious Baratheon babies to point to in your defense. For the other sort of intelligent person (I'm thinking of Game players like Ned, Robb, Stannis, etc), another best course of action would be to put the future of your country ahead of petty things like saving your own neck.

She didn't fuck Jaime and have his kids for any particular grand dynastic purpose. She fucked Jaime because he's the only person who ever loved her, and by refusing Robert the heir that was the purpose of their marriage, she could revenge herself against him in secret. It was the only substantial revenge she could take for being forced into marrying a man who cared nothing for her. Is that petty? To certain casts of mind --- Varys', for instance ---- it might seem so. But even Varys sought revenge, and got it; it's a pretty rare person that can wait 30 years for it, though.

Would a noble-r, more Ned-like person have just sucked it up, laid back and thought of Westeros, as it were, and devoted themselves to charity or god or something to try and take their mind off their misery? Maybe. But not everybody's built for such dispassion; practically every great novel of the 19th century was about what a woman in a loveless marriage would do for a little affection, and what it'd cost her.

I feel like I'm defending Cersei more than she deserves; she is cruel, and petty, and short-sighted. But I think she is those things in a pretty human way, in a way that a lot of people are. The mistakes she's made have perhaps been mistakes born of letting her desires (both good and bad) overrule her judgement, but so are most people's. People aren't very rational, on the whole, unhappy, frustrated people perhaps least of all.
posted by Diablevert at 4:04 AM on April 20, 2014 [13 favorites]


Regarding Cersei, I may have to backtrack on my views of her, a bit.

I've said she was always going to be who she was going to be, petty and vindictive, but then I remembered this scene between her and Robert, from season 1, where they're finally open and honest with each other. It's one of the best scenes of the series, character wise and gives a glimpse into a softer side of them both.

It's clear she loved Robert at some point and had he been able to return that love, she probably would have been kinder and gentler. It's also clear that they did have a child together, but Cersei miscarried and that changed her and the relationship with Robert. I suspect during this time she wasn't with Jamie and was trying to make a go of her marriage. Most likely she went back to and stay with Jamie because he truly and honestly loved her. Having lost her mother and dealing with cold father, she probably craved loved. If thee only place she could find it was from Jamie, then so be it. So if Tywin had been able to show her warmth and love, she probably wouldn't have grown up to be so petty and petulant.

There's also this scene between Tywin and Cersei, from Season 3 where she pleads to to be taken seriously. She makes it plain that of all of Tywin's children, she's the one who listened to his lessons the most and that she's bitter about the lack of love from him. Tywin doesn't care, because he took his measure of her long ago and found her wanting, something he no doubt communicated overtly and subtly to her. So there's a profound rage in Cersei over the loss of her mother and continued disappointment of her father. With little training and care, it's no wonder she clings to her children and is most willing to fight for them.


I also think the scene between her and Robert is where Cersei decided to go ahead with killing him. Once he confirmed that they never had a chance, that he never could have loved her, that he just became an obstacle to step over.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:42 AM on April 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cersei miscarried

Are we sure it's a miscarriage (on the show, at least)? I've been rewatching the first season and Cersei's description sounds more like a live, if perhaps premature, birth.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:16 AM on April 20, 2014


She didn't fuck Jaime and have his kids for any particular grand dynastic purpose.

That's not what I'm suggesting.

Just, I don't know, I feel like I'm your typical human being, a product of all sorts of emotional baggage and liable to make bad choices in life because of that. And I'm like 100% super duper positive that I wouldn't just go with the flow on having fricking three children with a man I was cheating on my husband with. There are a lot of choices a person can make along the path from "my brother is the only person who loves me, and we have this fucked up relationship I know is wrong" to stacking the king's line of succession with bastards and then having him killed to protect yourself from getting discovered on that.

(And, yes, I do think Ned Stark, in the same situation, would have taken the fall. Hell, he did exactly that when he was discovered meddling with the line of succession. He could have rallied his bannermen right then and started the war. But he didn't, because who fucking starts a war over their own sense of self-preservation? Oh, right, Cersei does.)

All of the choices that lead from A to B are, like, the world's most idiotic and self-serving things a person could ever choose to do. If I knew someone who was moving along this path, I would shake her and ask, "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?" and then tell her very slowly and in short, easy to understand words exactly how to make it go away without destroying the realm.

I feel for Cersei's bad childhood and all, I really do. But there is no way to see her as a blameless victim of circumstance. She made terrible choices, choices that were stupid and selfish and ultimately led to civil war when they absolutely didn't have to at all, if she'd been less petty and short-sighted.

Cersei's either dumb or evil, and probably both. There's really no way to redeem her as just a misunderstood person who made one or two teensy mistakes that anybody in her situation would probably make.
posted by Sara C. at 9:32 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cersei's either dumb or evil, and probably both. There's really no way to redeem her as just a misunderstood person who made one or two teensy mistakes that anybody in her situation would probably make.

Yeah, that's the sense I've gotten of her, too, which is why I have trouble seeing her mothering as a positive. Because it's really really stupid to make the choices she does, and while I understand her affection for Joffrey on an animal level, or as an expression of the ultimate Lannisterness or whatever, as a lifechoice it's such a transparently bad thing--politically and personally.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:40 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tyrion and Jaime both figured out how to have somewhat redeemable existences. Cersei just sort of seemed to collapse into a universe in which all she cares about is power and status

I'm not sure that's a fair comparison. Tyrion had to develop his skills because it was the only way out for him - he couldn't even be a figurehead like Cersei. Jaime has had both power and status, which is how he knows he doesn't care too much for them. Moreover, even when he loses his hand, he's offered Casterly Rock. Cersei is often compared to Margaery, but the latter has grown up in a court where women hold more power and hasn't had the pleasure of spending her life in a joyless marriage with an alcoholic who's a bit of a brute. Margaery was doing well, but she didn't have to deal with Joff for years. So yeah, Cersei is mean and no great planner, but her ambition has been both stunted and shaped by her gender.

On preview: Cersei's choices have always been limited to an extent. Marrying Robert was a way to get the Lannisters on the throne and even after that Tywin has no compunctions marrying her off again. It's not as if she gets to pick her husbands, so cheating on them isn't black and white.
posted by ersatz at 9:41 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


But no high-born person in Westeros gets to choose their spouse. Cersei somewhat got an unlucky break, being married to a man who couldn't love her. But I'd guess that the vast majority of arranged Westerosi marriages fall somewhere on that spectrum. Certainly the relationship between Cat and Ned never seemed like it was built on wild love at first sight or anything, and I'm pretty sure their marriage is the best case scenario for this sort of thing.
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2014




Game Of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer Hints At What’s Ahead For Margaery Tyrell

All of her limbs and no bruises? WIN WIN.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:52 AM on April 20, 2014


The moment in this episode where she declares that the leftover pie will go to the dogs instead of the poor out of jealousy over Margaery illustrates this perfectly.

Cersei is just very territorial about pie.
posted by homunculus at 5:56 PM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel the same way about pie.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:24 PM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C, there is a vast difference between evil in this universe (if you're defining that as willing to kill other people's children, that's about 90% of the main characters) and dumb for Cersei.

Her children would have been murdered. The last queen before her had an infant torn from her arms and killed, then she was raped to death. By Cersei's father's orders.

Cersei is not as clever as she thinks she is, but she's not as dumb as say, Jon Snow. She's cruel and vain and quick tempered.

But to start a war to keep her children alive is - the only person who was willing to put his family ahead of the kingdom was Ned Stark, and even Robb would still wage war to free his sisters.

You don't like Cersei, fine. But in GRRM's world, she is no more evil and stupid than most others, and her desire to protect her children even at the cost of war is not seen as evil or stupid.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:21 PM on April 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Rewatched it last night, and noticed a few little beats in the feast scenes:

1. after Joffrey pours wine over Tyrion's head, he rubs his finger on the inside of the goblet then sucks it: the wine is not yet poisoned.

2. after Joffrey takes the filled goblet from Tyrion, he takes a small sip: the wine is not yet poisoned.

3. this time I noticed more who takes the goblet from Joffrey, and where they put it, when Joffrey goes to open the pie...

4. Olenna's "help your King!" -- rather than "help OUR King" or "help THE King" -- seems maybe indicative of her loyalties; although I think she's addressing the Kingsguard at that moment, so maybe also it's just the most natural phrasing.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:20 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


she's not as dumb as say, Jon Snow

To be fair, Jon Snow is a boy. Most of his stupidity is out of being naive.

That said, yeah, a lot of the other young characters (I'm specifically thinking of Arya, Bran, Shireen, and possibly Sansa) are much quicker on their toes than Jon is.

FWIW I don't "hate" Cersei as a character. I just don't think it's entirely fair to give her the benefit of the doubt based on circumstance while her actions have been basically the worst things someone could ever do, and she continues to always be this way and never rise above the level of "disgusting excuse for a human being". So far the only character on the show I've seen who is conclusively a worse person than Cersei is that cannibal wildling dude. (And probably also Jaime Lannister, but I'm sure I'll get to ranting about him in the next episode thread once I'm done with my homework recap.) I mean, even Joffrey has the excuse of clearly having a pathological mental health issue.
posted by Sara C. at 11:36 AM on April 21, 2014


Hey now, the Mountain is also worse than Cersei!
posted by Justinian at 4:45 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've come up with a few other candidates for Officially The Worst. Craster also comes to mind.
posted by Sara C. at 5:57 PM on April 21, 2014


You know, I'm not so sure that Cersei truly loves her children in the way that 21st century people would understand it.

She sees them as extensions of herself, property, accessories. Means to an end.

She may call it love, but it's the actions of the classic abuser, minus the actual (overt) abuse.

Plus, I'm pretty certain she basically made Joffrey the monster he was. I don't doubt that he had a predisposition to a certain sadism, but had Cersei been more firm with him since birth it probably would have been able to have been corralled into some whips and chains in bed, not Ramsay Snow-style full on sociopathy.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:43 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


She sees them as extensions of herself, property, accessories.

That's how narcissists see other people. Well known today, no longer uncommon in movies.

The Danish TV-series 'Arvingerne' (The Legacy/Inheritors) is interesting as it has two persons whose behaviour are narcissistic in two very different ways.
posted by flif at 3:52 AM on April 24, 2014


Yeah, Cersei is in many ways a classic narcissistic parent. Her fragile self-esteem requires endless, whirling Ptolemaic spheres of manipulation in order to stay functioning.

The joke upthread about her apparent longing for parthenogenesis is pretty spot-on. Much of her "love" for Joffrey does not come for any affection for Joffrey-as-Joffrey, but rather for Joffrey the future king. Of course, it's not as if Joffrey had given her very many other things to like about him...

I forget, is Joffrey her clear favorite? It's a classic narcissistic parenting thing to have a clearly favored child, with another child being the clearly disfavored child.

On the other hand, wouldn't a truly hardcore narcissistic parent be more concerned about how their children are making them look? Or, had she retreated into a land of delusion, in order to prevent her intestines from throttling her brain out of self-preservation?

...

I don't know the extent to which Cersei had really "made" Joffrey, but that's part of a much bigger discussion about nature vs. nurture vs. choices vs. Gamera. In addition to being a spoiled brat, he also seems like an actual factual sociopath: something inside of his brain seems chemically broken. Did he wet the bed, start fires, and abuse animals?
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:34 AM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's a classic narcissistic parenting thing to have a clearly favored child, with another child being the clearly disfavored child.

I think the disfavored child is Sansa. In fact, her relationship towards Sansa is really nuanced and interesting -- she shows her a certain amount of empathy and care, but largely in terms of schadenfreude. Like she is so happy that some other beautiful highborn girl is going to get her dreams crushed, just like Cersei did.
posted by KathrynT at 7:45 AM on April 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think the disfavored child is Sansa.
Oh, good one. Right from the first scene with Cersei and Sansa at the feast in Winterfell. Cersei complements Sansa on her dress, which Sansa had made, and says: "So clever. You must make something for me some day." I had not read the books at that point but the way the actress delivers that line seemed so evil to me. Not sure why but it has really stuck with me.
posted by shothotbot at 8:43 AM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I forget, is Joffrey her clear favorite?

It's hard to tell, because for the most part Tommen and Myrcella just aren't very important to the narrative.

I'm positive that, aside from her willingness to poison Tommen rather than leave him to the whims of the sacking Baratheon army (which is a mercy, not abuse), Cersei's never been shown being cruel to her other children on the show. In the books, to be honest I'm not so sure. Tommen and Myrcella just aren't very memorable.

One thing that can be difficult about just about any non-POV Game Of Thrones character (and even some of the POV characters) is that, since there's just so goddamn much going on, it's hard to get a full picture of any one person's deeper personality. So you can't, for instance, go down a checklist of Narcissistic Personality regarding Cersei. Because it's not the Cersei Show, you know?

Re Joffrey and to what extent Cersei is to blame for that, there's a scene in one of the episodes in Season 3 that deeply implies that this is just how Joffrey is. Now, obviously Cersei is going to absolve herself of blame, but considering it was one of the scenes where Cersei comes off as a little sympathetic, and considering all the other evidence that Joffrey's problem is a pathology and not just being a mean jerk, I'm willing to not focus the blame on her (beyond just, as I said upthread somewhere, the self-serving and completely idiotic choice to have kids with your brother).
posted by Sara C. at 9:00 AM on April 24, 2014


After the scene with the two prostitutes that were Joffrey's nameday gift, my husband said "see, Tyrion's mistake is that he thinks girls will turn Joffrey on." I was all what, you think he's gay?! but he followed up with "What actually turns Joffrey on is hurting people. "
posted by KathrynT at 9:02 AM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm positive that, aside from her willingness to poison Tommen rather than leave him to the whims of the sacking Baratheon army (which is a mercy, not abuse), Cersei's never been shown being cruel to her other children on the show. In the books, to be honest I'm not so sure. Tommen and Myrcella just aren't very memorable.

At one point during S2 (maybe episode 6 or 7? after Joffrey is sadistic toward the prostitutes), Cersei breaks down to Tyrion, because she knows she can't control Joffrey, and that he's dangerous/horrible, and doesn't know what to do about him. She says that he looked so much like Jaime to her, but that she thinks that he might be punishment for her and Jaime's sin. Tyrion tries to comfort her by saying that her other children are sweet and healthy, and says that the Targyrians had been marrying siblings for generations, but Cersei says that she's told herself that, too, but look how so many of the Targyrians have turned out ("flip a coin..."). I think that Cersei understood how dangerous Joffrey was, but I think she felt simultaneously completely powerless to stop him and also completely responsible for him.

At the point when she kidnaps the woman she thinks is Tyrion's girlfriend, Tyrion had very recently sent off Marcella (which honestly did seem to me to devastate Cersei, though she kept her head up through force of will), Jaime was still gone, and now Tyrion was insisting that Joffrey play a relatively active part in the battle -- Cersei thought he was taking away everyone she loved or who loved her. I'm not surprised she tried to find a bargaining chip, and that she picked his "whore" especially, because at that point, she was also echoing Tywin and basically trying to use Tywin as her model for how to "rule" or even have a say in anything.

I think the thing with Cersei is that she's very proud and she'll do anything not to lose her dignity -- I actually think that she's like Sansa in that way, and she recognizes Sansa's dignity, and "nobility," too, and is so bitter and nasty toward her because she sees so much of herself in her. But underneath that pride, I think that she's completely heartbroken, and broken altogether. I think that pride is the only thing holding her together, and she doesn't really have anything else. I don't actually get the feeling that she thinks she's so immensely clever, I think that she feels so completely powerless that any real effect she has on other people or the world around her shocks her and makes her giddy, which comes out looking like glee. She seems to me like she's never been able to bend, because she's so prideful, so at some point, probably before the story even started, she just broke. She's dangerous and mean, but I don't hate her.
posted by rue72 at 9:26 AM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


she's not as dumb as say, Jon Snow

To be fair, Jon Snow is a boy. Most of his stupidity is out of being naive.


I have found myself liking Jon Snow a great deal more now that he's all "yeah, yeah, I broke a bunch of my sacred vows to survive beyond the wall, yiz gonna kill me or what? No? Peace, homies" and "we have to go kill the mutineers immediately". I can live with freshly cynical, slightly embittered Jon Snow a lot better than naive, idealistic puppy-eyes and lip wobbles Jon Snow.
posted by Diablevert at 9:31 AM on April 24, 2014 [3 favorites]




I'm like 100% super duper positive that I wouldn't just go with the flow on having fricking three children with a man I was cheating on my husband with

I think you really cannot emphasize enough how, in a place where any kind of science was known by Maesters only, and even then, not much, she probably could have gotten away with it. Their knowledge of genetics seems to be "Are they of the right coloring to have come from their parents?" And people could look at Cersei, and look at the children, and say "yes."

Watching that early episode with Cersei and Robert is heartbreaking, though.
posted by corb at 10:50 AM on April 24, 2014


I'm not so much talking about some kind of Maury Povich paternity test, though. Just... don't do the thing.

I have three brothers. I care very deeply about all of them and one of them is probably the person I'm closest to in the world. So far I have refrained from bearing any of their children. It's really not that hard to avoid.
posted by Sara C. at 11:01 AM on April 24, 2014


Seriously, Sara C? You're going to say the worst thing about Cersei is falling in love with the one person she was closest to in a world where royal incest is acceptable and seeking comfort from a terrible marriage with a man who didn't want to be married to her, raped her regularly when drunk and after the traumatic stillbirth or miscarriage of their first child, had many other children with other partners instead. She went to him in good faith and Robert destroyed their marriage and her hopes of happiness. So she turned to Jaime and Jaime turned to her.

Was she sleeping with the cousin, the one that sorta looked like Jaime if you were drunk, before or only after Robert died? Because it seems like Cersei reached out to the only person she could trust not to betray her. After all, the King can sleep with anyone but the Queen has to stay faithful no matter what.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:01 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Was she sleeping with the cousin, the one that sorta looked like Jaime if you were drunk, before or only after Robert died?

I can't remember if it's spelled out, but it's certainly implied that she was.

For Cersei I don't think incest is only coming from her unique twin-relationship with Jaime. I think it's actually a kink.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:12 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's implied, but never stated, that that's why he was willing to kill the king in the first place, because Cersei either promised or gave of her charms.
posted by corb at 7:15 AM on April 25, 2014


Re Joffrey and to what extent Cersei is to blame for that, there's a scene in one of the episodes in Season 3 that deeply implies that this is just how Joffrey is

Just watched some of S3e10 this morning; there is a fascinating scene in there of Tyrion and Cersei, both somewhat drunk and drowning their sorrows - Tyrion about his marriage. Cersei advises him to get Sansa pregnant, so that she can have some joy and relates how having Joffrey saved her life. And that he was a jolly little fellow when he was younger - that he wasn't always that way.

Ah, here it is - I found it very interesting in light of the current state of Cersei and her relationship with Joff and her children.
posted by nubs at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thanks for finding that, nubs, I was trying to remember that bit too. Although, I dunno how much it resolves the nature/nurture question of Joff's sadism -- she says specifically that he was a happy baby, and that he was happy when he was with her. I think it's safe to say hers might not be the most unbiased view, when it comes to any early signs Joff displayed of being a vicious little bugger. There was another early scene I wish I could find between her and Joff, when he complains of having to be nice to Sansa and she says basically, when you are king you won't have to be nice to anyone...she did influence him, just not in the way she meant to, I think.
posted by Diablevert at 8:49 AM on April 25, 2014


Diablevert, I view Cersei's recollections as very self-serving and probably her projecting a fair bit - Joff made her happy at a time when she was desperately unhappy, and I think that to some extent Joff's happiness as a baby/infant/toddler may well have been due to her ongoing indulgence of him - keeping him happy kept her happy, and so he grew to be the monster we knew in part because of that.

We'll never get an answer to the nature/nurture question here, but knowing how much of Cersei's emotional state seems to have derived from Joff's answers some questions...
posted by nubs at 8:55 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, nubs, that is seriously one of the best scenes in the series. I hate Cersei, and even I was sympathizing with her there.

Also, yeah, sorry, Cersei's incest thing gets zero sympathy from me. Plenty of people have shitty lives and manage not to give birth to three of their brothers' children while they're married to the king of the realm who has no real legitimacy and desperately needs heirs to keep the country on firm footing in the event of his untimely death.

The especially interesting thing, to me, is that while people cite the Targaryens as an example of normalized incest, the relationship between Viserys and Danaerys is not normalized incest but a classic case of sexual abuse. Like, when your older brother who controls your life threatens to "unleash the Dragon" on you if you don't obey, that's not just like "well in this universe incest is normal". That's a textbook case of abuse.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I never viewed the Targaryens as normalized incest - it was just their practice (and the Targaryen line is littered with examples of truly horrible human beings) and it is interesting to me to note that the 7 Kingdoms apparently tolerated it in their line, but it is an abomination everywhere else...

It goes to show how much of what happens in the series is about power, who has it, and who doesn't...those with power get to do whatever they want and it is accepted/tolerated (though there are apparent limits to that acceptance, with some of the Targaryen traditions not becoming commonplace). Those without suffer or sneak around, in fear. We have precious few examples of those with power using it in a good way, a protective way - that doesn't come back to bite them in the end.

Cersei and Jaime's relationship goes back a long ways, long before she was Queen, and I think its continuation even after she became Queen speaks a lot to Cersei's relationship with power and her need to feel like she had some control; the only way she could get it was to perform a horrible act behind her husband's back, and Jaime...well, Jaime views himself as a the golden child, untouchable, and I'm not sure he realized that some part of what was going on was him being used to provide Cersei with some sense of control/achievement/power.

There is a whole book to be written on the fucked up dynamics of the Lannister family, and their expressions of "love" and "intimacy" and understanding of " family duty".
posted by nubs at 10:07 AM on April 25, 2014


Also, yeah, sorry, Cersei's incest thing gets zero sympathy from me. Plenty of people have shitty lives and manage not to give birth to three of their brothers' children while they're married to the king of the realm

I am familiar with your opinion on this issue. Terribly, terribly familiar. It is beginning to become your King Charles' head.
posted by Diablevert at 10:09 AM on April 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


I think its continuation even after she became Queen speaks a lot to Cersei's relationship with power and her need to feel like she had some control; the only way she could get it was to perform a horrible act behind her husband's back

This is a brilliant insight.

I've also been thinking a lot lately about whether we ever see anything that a rational person could call "love", in the entire series.

Catelyn's love for her children? Maybe? But even so, is that love, or is that duty and the knowledge that it's imperative that there be a Stark In Winterfell, Winter Is Coming, and all that stuff?

Right now Tyrion/Shae and maybe even Tyrion/Sansa is the only love I'm seeing among people who are currently alive on the TV show. I'm also tempted to see Sam/Gilly as something close to love, but I know know. That's complicated.

I'm prepared to believe that Tyrion is the only major/POV character who is actually capable of love.
posted by Sara C. at 10:14 AM on April 25, 2014


King Charles' head

New favorite phrase! For anyone else who hasn't seen this before, a good explanation of the phrase's meaning and origin here.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:10 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've also been thinking a lot lately about whether we ever see anything that a rational person could call "love", in the entire series.

Robb Stark and his wife.
Loras, I feel, sincerely loved Renly.
Possibly Jon Snow and Ygritte.
Prince Oberyn very likely loves his paramour, Ellaria.
posted by misha at 10:31 PM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Doablevert, the scene you're looking for is from "Lord Snow", Season 1, Episode 3. It's after Joffrey gets bitten by Arya's dire wolf and he's embarrassed at having shown his true colors.

Joffrey asks why he has to be nice to Sansa. Cersei says, "A good king knows when to save his strength and when to destroy his enemies....The occasional kindness will spare you all sorts of trouble down the road."

But she also says, "Everyone who isn't us is an enemy."

Cersei goes on to tell Joffrey not to worry about what really happened with the dire wolf, because powerful people make their own rules, including rewriting their part in history: "Some day you'll sit on the throne and the truth will be what you make it."
posted by misha at 11:07 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


married to the king of the realm who has no real legitimacy

He actually does have some legitimacy. The Baratheons are a cadet branch of the Targaryens. Assuming all other Targaryens are dead, he's actually the legit heir.

Misha, I absolutely agree about Loras and Renly. Jon Snow, not so sure--I think it's more that he's sixteen, she's cute, and he got to have sex with her. A crush, in other words.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, all the names on that list, with the possible exception of Loras and Renly, are cute flavor of the moment lust-based relationships, not Love in all the big potential of what that word means. Neat that their relationships are all hunky dory now while things are uncomplicated and everyone is still looking good, but that's a lot easier than Tyrion telling Podrick to betray him to save his own life.

The whole point of Robb and Talisa is that his head was turned by a pretty face, and if he'd listened to his brain instead of his dick, he'd have married an equally lovely Frey and probably won the Iron Throne. Talisa seems nice and all, but she's nothing special and their relationship isn't especially deep.
posted by Sara C. at 8:03 AM on April 26, 2014


Jon Snow, not so sure--I think it's more that he's sixteen, she's cute, and he got to have sex with her. A crush, in other words.

I don't know if Jon Snow loves Ygritt, but I think Ygritt definitely loves Jon Snow. Albeit, she isn't a POV character.

The whole point of Robb and Talisa is that his head was turned by a pretty face, and if he'd listened to his brain instead of his dick, he'd have married an equally lovely Frey and probably won the Iron Throne. Talisa seems nice and all, but she's nothing special and their relationship isn't especially deep.

Why do you think that's the point of their relationship? I think they were very definitely in love -- and Robb seemed to feel a coup de foudre when he saw her sawing off a man's leg, I don't think he was just dazzled that Talisa was pretty. Robb was also angry and disgusted when Frey said he only liked that she was hot (and Frey himself seemed to only care about whether a woman was hot and young, too, and that wasn't presented in a way at all similar to Robb's love for Talisa, it stood in stark contrast).

I think the point was that Robb and Talisa *were* in love, and it didn't save them. Their love actually made things more dangerous for them, being in love was dangerous, destructive and selfish. Tyrion's had a not-dissimilar problem with trying to be with Shae, and he's likely only as cautious as he is with her because Tywin already gave him his own version of the Red Wedding's lesson about love when he married his first wife.
posted by rue72 at 11:07 AM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why do you think that's the point of their relationship?

Because that entire storyline goes like:

Robb promises to marry a Frey woman. He's not psyched about it because the Freys aren't known for their beauty, but his mother tells him there's one who'd be a good match for him. And it's got to happen to secure an alliance with the Freys and access to the strategic Twins, without access to which he can't hope to defeat the Lannisters. So he agrees.

Then he's wandering around Starking it up or whatever, and he sees this TOTAL HOTTIE OMG. He impulsively marries her without really stopping to think about the consequences. Basically because he can't keep it in his pants.

Again, Talisa seems nice or whatever, but it's not really portrayed as a great love or anything of the sort. She's just the first hot girl he happened to come across.

(This might be one of those things that comes across better in the book. On TV, where "incredibly beautiful" is often used as shorthand for "sympathize with this person" and "hot sex scene" is often shorthand for "eternally enduring love", the waters get muddied a little.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:48 PM on April 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


(This might be one of those things that comes across better in the book. On TV, where "incredibly beautiful" is often used as shorthand for "sympathize with this person" and "hot sex scene" is often shorthand for "eternally enduring love", the waters get muddied a little.)

Maybe in the book he just thought she was hot or they were in puppy love, I honestly don't know, but on the show, it seemed to me that he admired her strength, independence, and cool head, and that's what caught his eye on the battlefield. The first thing he said to her when he was trying to properly introduce himself to her later was that she was obviously a noblewoman, and when she pretended she wasn't, he called her a liar -- I think he was talking about how she carried herself and again, that she seemed like a strong, cool-headed leader.

I think that "nobility" and "strength" and "grace under fire" sometimes have awful connotations in the GoT world (Tywin exemplifies all three, too), so those might not be clear virtues in general -- but those are qualities that I can definitely believe that Robb admires and that he admires specifically in Talia.

When Frey made Talia stand in front of him so he could "praise" her beauty, it seemed as though he were degrading her by reducing her to a decorative object, and *that* was what was getting Robb's blood up in that scene. I don't at all think that he saw her that way.

Talia *isn't* particularly nice, but she's particularly strong, and smart, and independent -- she's very, very far away from home, and she's a battlefield medic. She's *also* beautiful, but I think it's misguided to focus on her beauty rather than her actions and words, especially since Robb's story during that time also included learning to respect and listen to the other important woman in his life, his mother. Robb asking Catelyn for her advice and talking to Talia about strategy showed a lot of growth for his character -- he was being respectful of women as *people* rather than as decorative objects. That's major in this show -- that doesn't happen much. I think that the power of their relationship also came from its mutual respect, which was why Catelyn was coming around to Talia during the Red Wedding itself (when she was overhearing Robb and Talia talk about baby names and tease each other, specifically).

I think a good contrast between Robb/Talia is actually Robert/Cersei, and that makes some sense also in that Robb is a contrast to Robert altogether, in that Robb made a bad soldier but would have likely made a good king, whereas Robert made a good soldier but a terrible king.
posted by rue72 at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Then he's wandering around Starking it up or whatever, and he sees this TOTAL HOTTIE OMG. He impulsively marries her without really stopping to think about the consequences. Basically because he can't keep it in his pants.

Again, Talisa seems nice or whatever, but it's not really portrayed as a great love or anything of the sort. She's just the first hot girl he happened to come across.


I think their relationship is more layered than that. One of the things Robb wrestles with throughout his arc is the fact that he has to ask people to die for him. His first great success in the war was the result of a feint which called for the sacrifice of something like 5,000 men, IIRC. He really struggles with that, particularly as the war goes on and he he sees that though he's winning battles he's losing the overall conflict. He really doesn't like having to ask people to die for no reason, and I think that clearly one of the things that appeals to him about Talisa is that her whole mission is the opposite of that --- she puts herself at great risk purely in order to save people. He admires that a great deal; she seems to him pure and noble, and he reaches out his bloody hands to be washed by her, metaphorically. Following his heart and marrying her is in part a way to reassure himself that he still contains that same nobility within him, precisely because it's a grand gesture which rejects the clear political calculus of marrying the Frey girl. Of course, I may be reading in a little more depth than the writing or Madden's acting managed to bring across, but I think they lay a lot of groundwork for that as his underlying motivation.


One of the things that sets the Starks apart from the other noble families --- and which has helped them maintain as mostly unquestioned rulers of the North for a couple millennia or whatever it is --- is that they feel a genuine responsibility and care for their people. There's a bunch of scenes with Bran in season 1 or 2 when he's the acting lord of Winterfell which hammer this home. GRRM seems to delight in punishing them for this, but it's part of what makes them successful rulers.

So far Dany is the only other throne contender who has really demonstrated this trait, which likely means that she's about to be punished for it as well, this being GoT. Still might come out on top in the end, though, we'll see. You could argue for the Tyrells in this regard also, though they're clearly shown as understanding and employing the propaganda value of mercy, so maybe being that they have cynical motives they won't be screwed over for being nice like everyone else is.
posted by Diablevert at 2:46 PM on April 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe in the book he just thought she was hot or they were in puppy love, I honestly don't know, but on the show, it seemed to me that he admired her strength, independence, and cool head, and that's what caught his eye on the battlefield.

I think the most important scene between Robb and Talisa was when she told him why she left Volantis. He was already attracted to her, but that's when he really fell in love with her.
posted by homunculus at 2:47 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the things that sets the Starks apart from the other noble families --- and which has helped them maintain as mostly unquestioned rulers of the North for a couple millennia or whatever it is --- is that they feel a genuine responsibility and care for their people.

See, I think this is why it's clear that his feelings for Talisa are puppy love. Because in that moment, he completely throws away his sense of duty as a ruler. He's like "OK, I got what I came for, y'all can do whatever I guess."

I'm not really saying that Robb doesn't care for Talisa, or that Talisa doesn't have any redeeming non-aesthetic qualities, or that part of Robb's attraction isn't that he likes her as a person.

But, really, I would put their relationship somewhere between "strong like" and "they seem OK now but give it five years, a few kids, and the weight of holding the Iron Throne, and see what their relationship is actually like".

Meanwhile Tyrion is willing to send the woman he loves to another continent in order to keep her safe, even though it means he may never see her again.
posted by Sara C. at 5:07 PM on April 26, 2014


See, I think this is why it's clear that his feelings for Talisa are puppy love. Because in that moment, he completely throws away his sense of duty as a ruler. He's like "OK, I got what I came for, y'all can do whatever I guess."

I don't follow you. What's at stake in him screwing over Walder Frey is the relationship between his house and the Freys, with some potential knock on implications down the line for the war effort. It has no impact on his relationship over the people he rules, his stewardship of them as subjects, which is what I was referring to.

Whether or not to dick over Walder Frey is politics, which the Starks tend to be lousy at, not ruling, which they're pretty good at.

And either way, I don't see how you can argue that his being willing to cast aside political considerations for personal ones is an argument for his feelings being less serious, rather than more. And what do you mean, "got what he came for?" He started the war to avenge his father and free his sisters, he never wavers in that. Obviously, deciding to screw over Walder Frey is a really dumb move. But I don't follow how making a political miscalculation --- that he could afford to make Frey his enemy --- makes him bad at leading the people loyal to him. Practically every character on the show refers at least once to the fierce loyalty he inspires in his followers.
posted by Diablevert at 5:32 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


But, really, I would put their relationship somewhere between "strong like" and "they seem OK now but give it five years, a few kids, and the weight of holding the Iron Throne, and see what their relationship is actually like".

Meanwhile Tyrion is willing to send the woman he loves to another continent in order to keep her safe, even though it means he may never see her again.


I can agree that there's no way to know if Robb and Talia would have been in love forever, but I don't think that means that their love was shallow, I think that just means nobody can see what the future holds. Even as Catelyn was screaming at Robb to leave at the end of the Red Wedding slaughter, he couldn't let go of Talia. They were already married and having a baby together. I don't see any reason to doubt their love, really? I think they were naive, not shallow. In fact, I think part of what made them naive was that they didn't realize how shallow some of the powerful people around them were -- that someone like Frey or Tywin *would* be willing to murder just for political power or ego, and that was their undoing. I think that Catelyn could sort of see what was happening, because she wasn't completely naive (if nothing else, Ned bringing home a bastard, and her inability to love Jon, taught her some of that), but she was also capable of love herself and so she couldn't bare to be harsher than she was or fully appreciate the danger, either.

The comparison with Tyrion is interesting, because he also had an early first (love) marriage. Tywin brutally taught him his "lesson" about doing that. I think that Tyrion isn't being noble when he's trying to send Shae away, he's terrified. I think that he and Shae really do love each other, and that Tyrion is being realistic about the dangers that they face because they love each other, but to me, that's not proof that he loves Shae more than Robb loves Talia, that's proof that he's not as naive as Robb or Talia. Tywin taught Tyrion the same lesson with his first wife as Robb only just learned (and Catelyn maybe only just accepted?) at the Red Wedding -- which is that love is a liability, not a strength.

That's a lesson that I think torments Tyrion and Cersei both, because they can't help loving and wanting love from some people (including Tywin, I think). It's sad to me that they know that lesson so well, it's not something that I would have necessarily wanted for Robb and Talia even if it had meant that they would have lived?
posted by rue72 at 5:33 PM on April 26, 2014


Also they had guest rights at the Freys. He was expecting to lose access to the Freys lands or to have to negotiate with his uncle's marriage and possibly other major concessions, not risking an outright massacre.

If anyone acted without careful thought here, it's the Freys who removed themselves from civilized power structure and became the most hated family in Westeros in return for a slight that they could have played into longer term strategic power. they are now on the level of the Boltons - you deal with them of you must, but you would not trust them.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:12 PM on April 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I am definitely with rue72 on this one. Just because you think Robb married Talisa out of lust doesn't make it so. It doesn't even fit in with who he is as a character.

Robb--all the Starks--take their responsibilities very seriously. They are respected because they Do the Right Thing. They help their friends, take responsibility for their actions, dole out justice with their own hands.They're honorable people. Why assume Robb broke the vow his mother made to the Freys because he wanted to have sex, when everything points to his feelings for Talisa being genuine?

It sure doesn't fit the narrative we've witnessed in the TV show. Robb gets to know, respect and emphasize with Talisa before they marry. Once he fell in love with Talisa, the idea of being married to someone else, which had been a burdensome but necessary sacrifice before, became an unbearable one when it meant he would lose the woman he loved.
posted by misha at 9:37 PM on April 26, 2014


I think this is a case of Sara C. arguing a more extreme than necessary position because reasons.

The show provides quite a lot of evidence showing Robb as being very much in love with Talisa, it's certainly not merely lustful infatuation. However, it's also clearly irresponsible, Catelyn tells him this numerous times, and Robb was clearly unwise and hasty in his decisions about Talisa.

So, a much more convincing (and less contentious, probably) argument to make the point Sara C is making is that Robb was a very young man without any previous experience with a romantic relationship and foolishly and impulsively followed his heart, not merely his dick. That doesn't make it much better, really, given the responsibilities he had and what the eventual consequences proved to be. We don't really need to characterize Robb as irresponsibly horny to argue that he was foolish and impulsive in his courtship of and marriage to Talisa.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:23 AM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Talisa and Robb is really interesting when people say it was different in the books, because GRRM has specifically said that Talisa is NOT an alternate version of Jeyne Westerling, who was Robb's wife in the books, but a complete replacement, with a completely different story.

(This is one of the times I think the books can offer interesting, totally non-spoilery contrast, because Jeyne was never put on the show in the first place.)

In the books, Jeyne Westerling is the woman who's with Robb when he gets the news that his brothers have been killed, and she offers him "comfort". By which we mean sex. And he marries her immediately afterward, because he's Ned Stark's honor-dumb son, and he can't just take a noble lady's virginity without marrying her! And so you do get this sense of how he's actually not that into Jeyne - she's clinging on him and embarrassing him and he has to reassure her fears when he just wants to be leading troops, and she seems much, much more into him than he is into her.

She also never goes to the Red Wedding - she lives, and is welcomed back to the King's Peace by the Lannisters. In the books, there's a lot left unsaid about whether her parents were in on a Lannister plot the whole time, either by throwing their daughter together with Robb, or by deliberately conspiring to keep her barren so there's no heir to the North.

But in the show, it's 100% not like that. Talisa may be his puppy love, but it's real affection and he does genuinely, genuinely care about her and the idea that she may be having his child. And I wonder why the showrunners made that choice - to make it sting more? To make you think it could all work out? To make him lose more for the power of love than his stupid honor?
posted by corb at 12:25 AM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Talisa may be his puppy love, but it's real affection and he does genuinely, genuinely care about her and the idea that she may be having his child. And I wonder why the showrunners made that choice - to make it sting more? To make you think it could all work out? To make him lose more for the power of love than his stupid honor?

There seems to be a theme running through the whole series that "love is the enemy of duty." I think that, by making Talisa and Robb a genuine love match, their marriage made a more striking contrast against the marriage deal that Catelyn and Frey had brokered than Robb and Jeyne's duty-bound marriage would have.

Robb and Jenye's marriage seems like it was made out of a sense of duty to a courtly romanticism or ideals, whereas the Stark/Frey marriage arrangement was made out of a sense of political/familial duty. I don't think there's much emphasis placed on the contrast between ideals and duty on this show otherwise, so I think the change of making the contrast between love and duty instead makes sense.
posted by rue72 at 1:01 AM on April 27, 2014


Tywin taught Tyrion the same lesson with his first wife as Robb only just learned (and Catelyn maybe only just accepted?) at the Red Wedding -- which is that love is a liability, not a strength.

I'd say blind love is a liability in GoT, but the lack of love is not strength either. For instance the family love between the Stark siblings is what keeps them going and the major strength of the Tyrells is that they present a common front.

In contrast, look at the Lannisters now. Jaime likes Tyrion and was Cersei's lover. Tywin cared more about the Lannister name than about his progeny, but he made Cersei a queen and Jaime was the greatest knight of the Seven Kingdoms, at the right hand of the king. Now Jaime has lost his martial skill, his relationship with Cersei is shot, Cersei wants Tyrion dead and will be getting married off to Loras, and Tywin doesn't give a damn about his children. The Lannisters have a king, but they seem way weaker than at the start of the series... because there's no love between them (apart from Jaime and Tyrion maybe).
posted by ersatz at 6:35 AM on April 27, 2014


And so you do get this sense of how he's actually not that into Jeyne - she's clinging on him and embarrassing him and he has to reassure her fears when he just wants to be leading troops, and she seems much, much more into him than he is into her.

I disagree with that a bit; there are several moments from Cat's POV which make it clear that Robb is quite fond and affectionate towards Jeyne. But the over-riding factor in their relationship is his Stark-ness - he can't dishonour her and her house by sleeping with her and then leaving; I think Robb is also painfully aware of the the issues that Jon Snow brought into his House and the pain it caused for Cat; he doesn't want to risk a bastard being brought into his House as well. And so, he's caught in the dilemma that the books so often put characters in - choose between your vows and and your honour; choose between ideals that are in conflict and be damned by whichever side you fail to live up to. As the Kingslayer observes at one point - how do you choose between your family and your vows? Is he more damned as the Kingslayer, or would he now be known as a Kinslayer if he had followed the King's last orders?

She also never goes to the Red Wedding - she lives, and is welcomed back to the King's Peace by the Lannisters. In the books, there's a lot left unsaid about whether her parents were in on a Lannister plot the whole time, either by throwing their daughter together with Robb, or by deliberately conspiring to keep her barren so there's no heir to the North.

I don't think this ventures into spoiler territory as Jeyne and Talisa are completely, completely different. The Westerlings are virtually immediately pardoned accepted into the King's Peace after the Red Wedding, and their castellan - Ser Spicer - is made Lord of Castamere. It's not explicitly said why, but it makes it pretty damn clear there was a plot afoot here with the Lannisters.
posted by nubs at 9:55 AM on April 27, 2014


Diablevert: "The fact that she truly loves her kids is her one redeeming quality;"

Ctrl-F "cheekbones"

...

I'm very disappointed in all of you.
posted by RobotHero at 6:06 PM on May 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


ursus_comiter: Someone on io9 framed Joffrey's death as actually much more humiliating than if he'd been able die on the business end of a sword. And I quite agree, actually.

I agree: Joff sees himself as a fearsome warrior, taking the name "Widow's Wail" for his sword, but has he actually killed anyone on the field of combat? He ran from the fighting and it was Tyrion who rallied the troops when Joff visibly fled with his Goldcloaks to cover his retreat, making it all the more obvious he was not coming back.

So for a man-child who sees himself a warrior to die choking on pigeon pie/poison ("the woman's weapon," as said by various characters) reduces him below his "father" Robert, who at least died while hunting, even if it was a single boar that killed him (while he was drunk/poisoned). There are no songs for that death, except songs of (further) mockery (remember poor Marillion?). If he were to die in combat, even single combat, you can fluff up the details, like the time Arya smacked Joff and he re-told it as the fearsome battle between man and direwolf. But when everyone sees you die like that? Nope, no way to talk about your battle with the pie, or how someone slipped you poison.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:35 PM on April 6, 2015


Sara C.: I've also been thinking a lot lately about whether we ever see anything that a rational person could call "love", in the entire series.

From my past as a vaguely religious person, this made me think of the fact that when translating the Bible, the English language flattens three kinds of "love" into one generic term. "Love" comes in many forms, and it's definitely present, depending on what you want to see.

Cersei and Jamie have a weird love/bond, "two parts of the same whole" as Cersei has said before, and Jamie has been with no woman but her. In the books, we see women throw themselves at him, but he pushes them aside, even when he's been away from Cersei for a great while.

Cersei loves her children unconditionally, especially Joff, as she has said mothers have a special place in their hearts for their first born, even when they're not the best people.

Catelyn and Ned loved each-other, but only after fostering that bond, despite Nedd's mysterious relationship that lead to Jon Snow. Catelyn has talked about how she didn't love Nedd at first, but grew to love him, and I feel he had the same relationship with her, though he put honor and duty above family, but not from lack of love for family (I assume). And some of that honor and duty is, or has become part of how Catelyn relates to her children, loving them first, but also seeing their duties and roles to the realm. But she puts family above duty, as seen in her freeing of Jamie on the gamble that she could get her daughters back. And she wants them because she wants her family together, not because she wants more pawns to use in the political chess game that noble families play.

The marriage of Robb and Talisa started as longing from afar, but grew into mutual respect and lust, which seems pretty appropriate for a young couple. Anything deeper would seem artificial, given that they've only known (of) each other for such a short time. Yes, Robb could have put duty before love/lust, but he's young, and his father died for putting duty and honor above all else, so he sees how well that went (even though if he had put the prior agreement with the Freys, we wouldn't have the Red Wedding).

Tyrion and Shae have a complicated relationship - Tyrion appears to love her and seriously care for her, and she appears to feel the same, but the fact that the is a whore puts walls between them, first for Tyrion, and because of that, Shae responds in kind. If they were in Dorne, they could be much more open and honest about their relationship and feelings for each-other.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:57 PM on April 6, 2015


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