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Another Game of Thrones Wedding Shocker

Apr 14 2014, 2:19am CDT | by , in News | Also on the Geek Mind

Another Game of Thrones Wedding Shocker
Photo Credit: HBO

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Another Game of Thrones Wedding Shocker

Throughout its first three seasons, Game of Thrones has specialized in “oh no.” In episode 402, “The Lion and the Rose,” that trend suddenly gave way to “oh yes.” (Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones to Episode 402)

From the opening episode, where young Bran Stark was pushed out the window of a tower, to the beheading of noble Ned Stark, to the Red Wedding in which Robb Stark, his pregnant bride and his mother were murdered at a feast, Game of Thrones has reveled in shock value. That special brand of shock that comes from slaughtering the valiant and massacring the innocent. Many a pint of ale was no doubt hurled screenward during those episodes.

Which is why the huge shocker at the very end of the episode is so singularly delicious. The bastard finally got what was coming to him.

Has there ever been a character as thoroughly despicable as King Joffrey Baratheon? Or a moment where he was acted more like a sociopathic Devil’s spawn than at his own wedding?

A question like this this begs for a Vilest Hits list for The Young King of Madness. Some might argue that he was never worse than in season one when he went back on his pledge to his bride and had Ned Stark beheaded. But at that point, one can argue that he thought he was doing what kings do.

So how about ordering Sansa to look at her father’s head on a pike?

Or threatening to serve up her brother’s severed head at the wedding feast?

Or the casual, gleeful way that he tortured his underlings and small animals?

If he were a millennial living in middle America, we’d have to fear another Columbine. Instead, we had only to fear the next episode.

The Purple Wedding, I’d argue, represented Joffrey at his best. Or is it his worst? He taunts Tyrion with dwarves, and spills wine on his head, and kicks his cup under the table out of nothing but sheer petulance. His new bride is cringing, as is everyone but his mother, but the Boy King doesn’t care. He’s perfectly willing to embarrass himself as long as he can humiliate his Uncle Tyrion. Who, it shall be recalled, saved King’s Landing, Joffrey’s throne, and indeed his very life during the siege.

The most horrible character ever, at his most aggressively venal, his sadism directed at someone we’ve come to admire. It’s a Perfect Storm of Awful. Throughout this almost interminable scene, we’re ready to grab King JB by his royal throat and choke some sense into him. And for once, Game of Thrones gives us what we want.

But while the Red Wedding represented an ending of sorts, the Purple Wedding is instead a beginning. If you can think past Joffrey’s death rattle, satisfying though it was, the king’s death raises as many questions as it answers.
Who did it?

Who’ll take over the throne?
Who’ll try to take advantage of the power vacuum?
How much does it hurt the Lannisters?

How much does it help them?

And what of Tyrion?

One thing does seem certain. The times they are a changin’ in Westeros. Tywin changed the rules when he orchestrated Robb Stark’s assassination at the Red Wedding. But he lacked the foresight to realize that his own king was made vulnerable by the drastically changed playing field.

An irony, among many, is that Joffrey had a new Valyrian steel sword—that he used to slice up the volume that Tyrion gifted—but neither his new steel, nor his king’s guard, could protect him.

But can we get meta for a moment? What was your experience of The Purple Wedding? It seems that this episode represented two very different kinds of experiences for two distinct classes of viewers.

For those GoT fans who haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s books—like me—Joffrey’s death was a complete out-of-left field shocker.

For those who are caught up with the books, there was a different sort of anticipation. How would the filmmakers handle this pivotal scene?

I knew about the nickname The Purple Wedding (which doesn’t actually appear in Martin’s text.) But I was vaguely confused as I watched the elegant golds and reds that new production designer Deborah Riley layered throughout the frame. Then I thought back to the color palette of The Red Wedding, which consisted of dingy browns and blacks. Until the very end. So I waited and watched for the The Purple Wedding to live up to its name. And sure enough, That’s the color of King Joffrey’s face as he breathes his last. Purple-ish, anyway.

Were  you surprised by the Purple Wedding? If you read the books, were you pleased by the show’s interpretation?  Share your thoughts in the comments below but if your post contains spoilers from the books, please mark them for your fellow fans who haven’t read the books yet.

For the best-curated television news about Game of Thrones and other great shows, follow me on Twitter (@allenstjohn).

Allen St. John is the author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, published by Ballantine Books


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