Game of Thrones: 402 “The Lion and the Rose” Review
Reviewed by Thomas Firth.
I mentioned briefly in my last review about “shock factors”. Small, yet significant, dishes of sudden excitement. We had a few last week, but this week, there was just one tsunami. And that was the highly-anticipated death of King Joffrey, whose gasps for air were enough to send smiles all round. But also, when we think back to the episode, when you see the terror in his deathly eyes, after the blood flowed from his nostrils, for a very short moment in time, you remember how young he was and there’s a morsel of regret that survives. I felt, for a few moments afterwards, despite the fact that it was a moment we had longed for, ever since he beheaded Ned Stark, a small pang of empathy for the boy. And this it what impresses us most about Game of Thrones, the way it can map out an array of feelings and force us to choose one when the moment comes and you’re always left wondering whether you chose the right one.
Honestly though, already Season Four has out-shone itself with George R. R. Martin providing a masterpiece depiction of another horrific wedding. Perhaps it will not overshadow the Red Wedding, but the Purple Wedding will definitely never be forgotten for its dark humour, tentative conversations and sudden demise. And I suppose, the only thing it’s really missing is a killer. We all know that Tyrion is probably least likely to be that so-called killer, but then again, most of Westeros had a motive to do so.
Whilst, once again, the final scene was the shining factor in the episode, there were a number of other aspects that we could not ignore because they all have an important part to play in Game of Thrones.
Some characters who hadn’t been rediscovered in the premiere episode were thoroughly examined in the second. Ramsay’s demoralising methods in flaying have certainly made Theon as competent as he could ever be. Now in the role of Reek, Theon’s character has been steadily reaching rock bottom. And with Ramsay’s torturous words about Robb Stark’s death, it is hard to watch Reek struggle with controlling his sadness. Doesn’t he deserve to cry? Scenes with Ramsay in Season 3 were very stunted and appeared as if there was no direction, but with the inclusion of his father, the Lord of the Boltons, it seems there’s enough here to please and ultimately develop.
Elsewhere, Bran is taking a very dangerous journey north with his accomplices, the Reeds, Hodor and Summer. I felt very nostalgic when Bran placed his hand on the heart tree and we were sent through a selection of snap shots, some of Ned, some of the Dragons, right back to the beginning of Season 1. It was a nice internal homage, but also pointed these characters in a new direction, with a voice telling Bran to head further north. Whilst it is a short scene, there’s enough to emphasise that Bran’s role in future episodes will be monumentous. Coinciding with the wedding celebrations in King’s Landing, it appears Tyrion has had to make a terrible decision. His beloved Shae has really gone too far and with Cersei and his father now in the know, it’s inevitable that she will suffer cruelly, and in consequence, Tyrion too. Whilst I do hope she has departed from King’s Landing, I have a minor hunch she has disobeyed Tyrion once again. But only time will tell.
But, of course, every episode has a flaw somewhere and this time it came from Dragonstone. The story here has been quite repetitive, with another sacrifice to the Lord of Light, another mention of the “hell we live in now” and prolonged conflict between Stannis and Davos. It’s about time, in Season Four, that this changed. They promised a foreshadowing, and with only three candidates left for the Iron Throne (Stannis, Balon and Daenerys), the former has a great potential to make a difference.
One aspect of Game of Thrones’ success has been a consistence of acting throughout. The Lion and the Rose was another emphasis of that. Particularly, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Iwan Rheon and of course, Jack Gleeson were all stand-out performers. It’s also great to see child actors such as Kerry Ingram and Isaac Hempstead-Wright sparkling here as well.
Overall, The Lion and the Rose was another exceptional installment in this seemingly invincible series. In terms of directing and designing for this episode, an Emmy nomination should be in the bag. With another King tasting death, as it were, Game of Thrones has enough momentum to go anywhere. Let’s just hope it never lets us down.