Sunday, April 20, 2014

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” #33 "The Lion and the Rose"

The King Must Die

King Joffrey is dead.

By Catherine Giordano

The Game of Thrones on HBO has never shied away from killing off main characters, often beloved characters.

This week it was King Joffrey’s turn to die--at his sumptuous wedding feast, no less. He was definitely not beloved. He was a gratuitously violent cruel psychopath and he died a befittingly horrible death. The camera comes in close to show us his death grimace.  He apparently died of poison or perhaps choked on a bite of wedding cake.  

What does his death mean for Margaery Tyrell, his bride?  The marriage ceremony performed, but the marriage not yet consummated.  She’s ambitious and schemed and manipulated to become Joffrey’s betrothed, but all in all, she is one of the nicer characters on the show.   

In season 1, episode 1, I thought the young Brandon (Bran) Stark had been killed, pushed from a tower because he witnessed the coupling of Cersei and her twin brother Jamie. (King Joffrey was the son of their incestuous union which had begun when they were still children.)  But Bran didn’t die; he was only paralyzed, losing the use of his legs.

Cersei is Queen of the Seven Kingdoms married to King Robert Baratheon. She arranges to have the King, her husband have an unfortunate hunting “accident”, gored to death by a boar. She quickly arranges for Joffrey to become king and as his mother, she assumes the position of Queen Reagent.

Bran’s father, Neddard, (Ned) Stark, Lord of Winterfell, is beheaded by Joffrey soon after he becomes King. Ned Stark had learned the truth about the lineage of Cersei’s children so Cersei decided that the king must die (as must Ned Stark) to protect the only people Cersei loves--herself, her children (especially Joffrey) and her brother and paramour, Jamie. Ned’s death was a shock because he was one of the rare good ones on this show, a wise ruler, a loving family man, and a just and loyal person.

The most shocking death was still in the future.  Ned’s oldest son, Robb goes to war to build his power base in order to ultimately avenge the death of his father.  He is successful in his battles and assumes the title of “King of the West.”

Robb is aided by his mother Caitlyn, an able aide and advisor to her son in the matters of war. In order to strike a much needed alliance with Lord Walder Frey who has a slew of ugly daughters he needs to marry off, Caitlin agrees that her son Robb will marry his eldest daughter. However, Robb has fallen in love with Talisa and he marries her instead. Catelyn offers her brother as a replacement and Frey accepts this proposal.  But not really. 

At the wedding feast, we learn that Lord Frey had secretly decided that the King of the West must die for reneging on his promise to marry his daughter. The wedding fete is the scene of his revenge. He slays Robb and all of the Stark clan who are in attendance, including the pregnant Talisa and Caitlin. This scene becomes known as “The Red Wedding” because of all the blood spilled.

Now, people are killed off left and right in the world of the Seven Kingdoms. We are inured to death, but it shocks and grieves us when the characters who are the “good ones” are dispatched.  At least on episode #33, one of the "bad guys" got it. Still it shocked because it was so unexpected.

The “king-must-die” moments of the week keep coming. I’ll expect there will be several more of these
moments before the series finale.

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George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set (Song of Ice and Fire series): A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons