If there’s one thing those nice, hospitable Westerosi like, it’s a tasteful wedding – whether it’s a coupling to stabilise power and prevent war or a last-ditch attempt for a noble, declining house to get a bit of cash, or even a post-war morale-boosting royal marriage.
None of this matrimony is doing much for Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) morale, though. He has gone from King’s Hand to playing diplomat to people who would happily feed each other’s innards to large carnivores. He has to contend with an ungrateful snot of a nephew who is, unfortunately, king. Add to this his fraying relationship with the lovely but reckless Shae (Sibel Kekilli) and the non-existent relationship he has with his wife, Sansa (Sophie Turner), Tyrion is, rather understandably, coming to the end of his tether. Peter Dinklage’s ever-likeable Tyrion does, however, have a touchingly normal relationship with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jaime, a chemistry intensified by his brother’s deteriorating relationships with both his sister and father.
The series also picks up with some other characters who receive little attention at this stage of the books, most notably Theon Greyjoy. He is still being imprisoned by Roose Bolton’s bastard, Ramsey Snow (Iwan Rheon). The change in Alfie Allen’s performance is striking – he’s gone from wannabe Northman hero as Robb Stark’s friend to traitor, in order to prove himself to his native people of the Iron Islands. Losing Winterfell to Roose and being captured by Ramsey Snow has highlighted how weak Theon is, but the narrative’s brilliance means that we sympathise with him: he really doesn’t deserve to be the plaything of The Bastard of Bolton.
Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Davos (Liam Cunnigham) are also visited quickly. Catching up with these various characters will likely become briefer, as their narratives make little progress over the span of A Song of Ice and Fire book three. The point of view of Bran’s brother, Rickon, for example, isn’t covered at all in the novel, and Arya and Daenerys only have one or two major plot points each.
Pacing will continue to be a challenge for the show’s creators through the next few seasons, as the timelines of the characters become increasingly out of sync with the books. This episode accomplishes it rather well – probably unsurprisingly, as it’s written by George RR Martin himself. In fact, The Lion and the Rose is one of the best episodes Game of Thrones has produced – a quality that may be difficult to maintain, or perhaps will see more outstanding episodes spread across the season.
The bulk of the episode focuses, naturally, on the wedding between Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell. The ceremony itself occurs in one long segment towards the end. It features much that is awkward at most weddings, including the ever-delightful Lady Olenna (Dianna Rigg) sniping with Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) about money, the filthy Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) leching around the young serving ladies – and one drunk who takes everything too far. This is unfortunately, the groom.
Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) creates an unpleasant air of nastiness throughout the episode, uncle Tyrion being his principle target. Gleeson does a phenomenal job with the role. As written for TV, Joffrey is older and a lot more malicious than in the book; it’s to the show’s credit that it has made Joffrey so utterly loathable, even at such a happy occasion as a royal wedding.
Only three episodes after the last marriage, it is with morbid fascination that we await the aftermath of this one.
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