Public service announcement to all devoted (but tardy, over-scheduled) Game of Thrones fans: Please, please don't ignore the signs of a spoiler alert. Like this very obvious, prominent one right here. Which is an urgent warning to anyone who hasn't yet watched the Sunday, April 13 episode, "The Lion and the Rose" to avoid reading any further. Continue on at your own peril. Don't get mad at Us!
Well, those unavoidable GoT season four ads did say "All Men Must Die," and now, well, one very important man did die, and in spectacular fashion -- and, yes, at another wedding, this one legitimately royal.
And, really, anyone of noble, realm-ruling status in Westeros should consider eloping and declining wedding invites: Because, nearly a year after the zeitgest-busting broadcast of season three's grisly "Red Wedding" episode, George R.R. Martin's HBO fantasy smash did it again, this time with with the nuptials of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer).
While Sunday's episode briefly touched upon other story arcs -- Theon "Reek" Greyjoy is alive, out of the dungeon but still at the mercy of Roose Bolton's bastard Ramsey Snow, Melisandre and Stannis are burning folks alive to appease the Lord of Light at Dragonstone, Northern traveler Bran Stark's Warg visions are intensifying, Tyrion sends Shae away to safety -- the so-called "Purple Wedding" had unsuspecting viewers howling on their couches.
Unlike the Red Wedding at The Twins, where Robb Stark, his mother Catelynn Stark, his pregnant wife Talisa and other Stark loyalists were slaughtered with knives arrows and other pointy things in a bloody, all-out ambush, there was but one victim at this festive reception, and no blades were drawn.
The day begins with a testy breakfast in which the bride and groom receive gifts from honored guests; Joffrey receives his Valyrian steel sword from grandfather Tywin, nicknames it Widow's Wail, and uses it to jerkily destroy a gift from his Uncle Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), a priceless book. "Every time I use it, it will be like cutting off Ned Stark's head all over again!" he shrieks with a cruel glance at Sansa (Sophie Turner).
Later, after exchanging vows with pomp and circumstance at the Great Sept, the young bride and groom welcome thousands of guests, many of them potentially suspicious for a sumptuous outdoor feast, complete with giant Lannister Lion statues. Queen Regent Cersei (Lena Headey) secretly fumes over Queen Margaery's rising popularity, quibbles over what shall be done with the feast's leftovers, and snaps at Brienne of Tarth as well as Maester Pycelle. Using his gaydar expertly, bisexual Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) makes eyes at handsome Knight of Flowers Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones). Margaery's delightfully bitchy grandmother (Diana Rigg) gives her condolences to Sansa about the deaths of, well, everyone at the Red Wedding, noting that killing a man at a wedding is "Horrid . . . What kind a monster would do that?!" Foreshadowing alert!
As the feast (and the wine-swilling) progresses, Margaery seems bored and embarrassed by her jerky new husband -- particularly when he introduces a Miley-Cyrus-esque troupe of little-persons performers who re-enact the "War of the Five Kings," including the murders of the Starks. Things get especially awkward when a drunken Joffrey orders his Uncle Tyrion, himself a little person, to join the performers. When Tyrion refuses, their spat intensifies, and Joffrey commands his uncle kneel and pour his wine, with wife Sansa assisting him. Things continue to escalate until . . .a giant ceremonial pie stuffed with live doves arrives!
King Joffrey uses his beloved new sword to slice open the giant pastry to great applause. But . . . something's wrong. Joffrey's choking! He can't breathe! We can't breathe! As everyone converges to try and help --including Tywin, Jamie and an absolutely frantic Cersei -- the situation very quickly becomes hopeless. (No one knows the Heimlich Maneuver in Westeros.) Joffrey becomes white as a sheet, his steely blue eyes becoming clouded with blood. As he gasps for his very last half-breaths, the much-hated king raises one hand . . .towards his uncle Tyrion, holding a goblet of wine amidst the confusion.
Screaming, hysterical and convinced that Tyrion has poisoned her firstborn, Cersei quickly orders Tyrion to be seized. Meanwhile, Sansa appears to sneak away from the carnage thanks to her drunken savior-knight, Ser Dontos.
Back to the dying king: Bloody, pale Joffrey dies. He's dead! Another king is dead! His corpse wil haunt Us forever. And . . . scene.
So . . . what'd you think of the "Purple Wedding"? What killed Joffrey, exactly? (Poison wine? Too large a bite of pie? Jerkiness?) And who? Tyrion, Sansa, a Tyrell, Prince Oberyn, a disgruntled servant? Someone else? How does this death stack up next to other all-time moments in GoT history (think the Red Wedding, Ned Starks' beheading and Vaserys Targareyan's molten-gold death)?
Tell Us! So much to discuss!