TV Review: Game of Thrones – Season 4, Episode 2 “The Lion and the Rose” (USA, 2014)

  • Chris Singh
  • April 15, 2014
  • Comments Off on TV Review: Game of Thrones – Season 4, Episode 2 “The Lion and the Rose” (USA, 2014)

game of thrones lion

The internet is dark and full of spoilers, so if you are reading this review I consider your eyes permission to write about what happened in the outstanding ‘The Lion & the Rose.’

“The viewers send their regards.”

It was always going to be a well-received event; the pent up blood lust of every single (non-sociopathic) fan finally saw release as we were finally given a big death that gave cause for celebration rather than tears. In a series which takes so many stabs at our longing for justice, it’s nice to see that, every once and awhile, Game of Thrones wants us to cheer as much as it wants us to cradle our tears away.

That’s right, King Joffrey is no more and Cersei is heartbroken. There are two wins here. It brings me joy to see Lena Headey’s cruel character absolutely torn up minutes after she had coldly instructed Grand Maester Pycelle to feed the wedding scraps to the dogs instead of the poor. I often wonder just how hard actors like Jack Gleeson and Headey must cringe after they have to act like such despicable, heartless monsters.

Speaking of monsters, this episode also succeeded with insight into the terribly dark House Bolton. Ramsay Snow (the amazing Iwan Rheon) had episode-opening duties, staging an old fashioned hunt; sadistically taunting a young girl named Tansy while he, his friend Myranda, and Reek give chase. It’s barely noticeable, but I think these girls are the same pair that teased Theon in Season 3; a hint of jealousy between the two was played upon in that scene right before Theon lost his penis.

The act where Reek/Theon – clearly broken and twitchy – shaves Ramsay quite cleanly is disturbing to say the least. Showing how well Reek has been “trained” by balancing his reaction to Robb’s death with his genuine care of Ramsay’s face was genius; it’s a caring possibly driven by stockholm syndrome. Roose, Lock, Reek, and Ramsay gave the best non-wedding scene and drove the plot forward very well. Lock is now on the hunt for the remaining Stark males, while Ramsay is headed to the newly-mentioned Moat Cailin to use Reek for strategic placing. Roose is a cold and pragmatic player in Game of Thrones, and it’s going to be exciting to watch him try and make House Bolton the ruling house in the North.

Less interesting but just as plot-driving was Bran’s adventure north of the wall. A “heart tree” gave him some pretty awesome images to flash through, with the three-eyed Raven speaking to him and giving him the apparent idea of where to go next. There wasn’t much to be done here, aside from reminding us of the importance of Bran’s “mission.”

The other big storyline was over at Dragonstone where Stannis bides his time by burning non-believers and allowing himself to continue to be manipulated by Melisandre. There’s a nice little reminder of the wild card in this dynamic being Stannis’ daughter, but again, we were just given a quick catch-up as half the episode was to be dedicated to the “purple wedding.”

As was the case last week, Shae’s stubbornness pulled the episode down a bit, but also gave us a scene which allowed Peter Dinklage much better dialogue than in ‘Two Swords’. Dinklage’s acting was superb as Tyrion bottled up his emotions in order to banish Shae, out of concern for her safety. His anger and subsequent moodiness was executed extremely well, adding to the effectiveness of his ability to remain relatively cool while Joffrey berated him in the episode’s final minutes.

The entire wedding sequence was decidedly grand and absolutely gorgeous to watch. The costumes, the sets, and the music (oh hi Sigur Ros) all came together for an elegant affair that was spoiled only by the constant bickering of the characters. From the passive-agressive scene between Prince Oberyn and Cersei/Tywin to the hostile exchange between Jamie and Loras, Game of Thrones nicely reminded us that these various conflicts between characters can taint even the most beautiful of settings.

All these interactions during the wedding were full of varying degrees of conflict, but none stung harder than Cersei being a complete bitch to fan-favourite Brienne. It seems Cersei is unable to express even the smallest hint of gratitude; rather than appreciate what Brienne has done for her brother, she mocks the knight, pressing her about her obvious love for Jamie and arrogantly talking down to her. Though having Brienne even slightly in love with Jamie does weaken her character a bit, but it’s also something which keeps that bond in the air; a bond which made for the best pairing of season 3.

Watching the different facial expressions of characters during the cringe-worthy ‘War of the Five Kings’ re-enactment (organised by Joffrey) was effective. Those with even the slightest compassion like Prince Oberyn and Margaery Tyrell were left unimpressed while those like Cersei and Joffrey clearly enjoyed the mockery.

And then comes the scene we are going to watch again and again until next week rolls around. Joffrey’s downfall comes after he publicly humiliates his uncle by making him ‘cup bearer.’ The tension was there, as we all knew this conflict between Joffrey and Tyrion was leading up to something, but I don’t think anyone (who hadn’t already read the books) would have expected episode 2 of season 4 to speed ahead that quickly.

Joffrey being poisoned gives rise to a sort of murder mystery that the writers will undoubtedly bring to our screens in the most excellent and engaging of ways. And while it’s obvious sunny days aren’t ahead for Tyrion, we can rejoice in the thought that Cersei’s heart is irrevocably split in two.

‘The Lion and the rose’ was a complete game-changer, and mixes things up rather nicely in King’s Landing. While everything other than the huge wedding sequence varied in quality, the writers (George RR Martin himself wrote this episode) drove the overall plot forward with unexpected rapidity and shook things up so that we can have a nice and action-packed season 4 to look forward to.


Joffrey’s death scene complete with Cersei’s heart breaking
Shining some light on House Bolton and their plans
Tyrion dismissing Shae

Bran sequence relatively dull
Shae stubborn and annoying
Stannis sequence not adding much

Episode M.V.P: Tyrion

Game of Thrones airs Mondays at 3:30pm on Showcase


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.