Monday, April 14, 2014

Game of Thrones

If you've not seen the 13 April 2014 episode of the Game of Thrones, step away from the computer, and all of social media, for you will be spoiled. 

The irony is that I just had to delete an entire draft of a post about Game of Thrones I had written last week; I had not gotten an opportunity to edit it. It was a dull affair, which is one reason why I delayed looking at it. But there's no way I could post that generic article on the parts of Game of Thrones I love. Not after watching Episode 2 of Season Four.

He's not merely dead; he's really most sincerely dead.

Yes, Joffrey finally bit the big one last night, poisoned at his own wedding feast. And the internet exploded.

Let's face it. It was bound to happen. And not just because he was the most reviled character in Game of Thrones (if not ever), but because the society in which he lived would not long tolerate this brutal boy's oppression. He was sadistic, cruel, mercurial, and capricious. His mother taught him that he was the center of the universe and that once he was king he could do whatever he liked. How shocked she was when he did just that, exactly what he wanted.

You can find other websites that will list this boy's crimes (and they were many), but any who watched this show recognized that Joffrey was a poison in Westeros, who could only cause harm. How convenient then, that he should be poisoned?

Ironically, however, his kingdom had experienced a brief period of peace following the death of Robb Stark, the erstwhile King of the North. Joffrey's death may throw the kingdom in further chaos, as presumably his younger brother will succeed him. Whether the boy is a minor or not, Tywin Lannister will retain his grip on the throne, but don't forget about Stannis Baratheon, who believes himself the lawful king, given that neither Joffrey nor his surviving siblings were in reality the children of the recently deceased Robert Baratheon. 

Stannis will be further emboldened, as this is the second king to die following Melisandre's spell with Gendry's blood-filled leaches. Surely, the God of Lights does want him to be king? Will that make the three souls who were burned at the stake for heresy rest easier?

Joffrey's death has a number of implications for other characters, especially fan favorite, Tyrion.

Yes, Joffrey's last act, literally, was to point to his hated uncle, giving the impression Tyrion poisoned Joffrey. And who would have blamed Tyrion if he had? Joffrey had spent his last five minutes before choking to death tormenting his uncle, pouring wine on him, mocking him with a spectacle of dwarfs playing out Joffrey's victory over the other contenders to the throne, and forcing Tyrion to be his cupbearer, an honor that was not intended to be an honor. Joffrey wouldn't even let Tyrion leave gracefully. 

So it was Tyrion who poured out Joffrey's last goblet of wine, getting a serious look from the Queen of Thrones as he did so. Presumably, it was the wine, and not the cake (which the camera did linger on) that poisoned Joffrey, and since Tyrion gave it to him, it must be Tyrion who poisoned the King. Cersei has long hated her brother, and is more than willing to believe that he would do such a vile thing.

I know I love Tyrion, but I don't think I'm biased in asserting that there is no way Tyrion poisoned his nephew. Of all the players in the Game of Thrones, Tyrion is smart enough to know that he would be the first suspect if Joffrey were poisoned. And no matter how humiliated he may have been by Joffrey, Tyrion seemed to buy the family line of supporting the little bastard. Besides, why poison Joffrey when he could have escaped with Shae? It just doesn't make sense.

The other character most affected is the widow, Margaery Tyrell. I'm afraid her dreams of being Queen may be over, now that not one but two of her grooms have died before the marriages could be consummated. It is possible that Tywin will try to arrange for Margaery to marry Joffrey's brother, a marriage I presume she'll agree to. 

And let's not forget the bereaved mother. I believe it is possible that Cersei is a more hateful a human being than her son. They are both alike in a lot of ways, and, as much as I don't believe in blaming the mother, she bears much blame her in raising her tyrannical heartless son.  Cersei was quite surprised to find that once her son became King he not only no longer relied upon her for advice, but also appeared to despise her. Her precious boy turned into a viper at her breast. But she still dearly loved her son, and her grief will be real and protracted. If she emerges, her memories of Joffrey will be as she wanted him to be, not as he really was.  In the meantime, watch out Tyrion. In her mind, you murdered her baby.

So, if I don't think Tyrion killed his nephew, who do I think did so? Well, I've two candidates right now. 

Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns, gave Tyrion what now seems to be a very significant look when he filled Joffrey's last of wine. At first, I thought it was sympathy for the humiliation that Joffrey had heaped on his uncle. But I also remember her giving her condolences to Sansa about Robb, commenting on how awful to be killed at a wedding feast. Could she have done this? And will her having committed this murder affect how I feel about her? Of course not! I adore this character. She is never less than thoroughly entertaining.

My other candidate is Dontos Holland, the one-time knight turned jester. He certainly appeared at Sansa's side awfully quickly. Her certainly has reason to hate Joffrey, as he so helpfully reminded us in the first episode of the season. 

I don't know if we'll find out who killed Joffrey, for that matters less than on what people think happened, and on the machinations of the survivors to win at the game of thrones. All I do know is that I'll be watching, eager to see what happens next. 

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