Leading up to this season we were told that it wouldn't follow the same formula as previous seasons, rather than slowly leading up to one decisive episode this season would have multiple climactic shows throughout the season. Episode two certainly did not disappoint. While the focus of this episode was largely in King's Landing there were a couple characters who were omitted from last weeks episode and we get to touch base with them before delving into the core material.
In yet another gruesome scene at The Dreadfort we get our first look at the completely domesticated Reek. Reek's increasingly demented master Ramsay is hunting the most dangerous prey of all and bringing Reek along like one of his dogs. Reek is unable to do anything but quiver as Ramsay delights in murdering his former accomplice for the most trivial of reasons. This is a fully transformed Theon, hardly able to run or even complete a sentence, given what we saw last season I’m pretty comfortable with them leaving the rest of his torture implied. Lord Roose Bolton is not at all pleased with Theon’s transformation, showing nothing but contempt for his bastard son until Ramsay demonstrates the value of a subdued, compliant Theon. Though Ramsay is far from a sympathetic character, here we at least see a familiar theme driving his psychosis: the curse of the bastard child. Ramsay’s veneration of his father’s banner and his family’s grisly customs are at least part of why inflicts the pain that he does… Also he’s straight-up insane.
Continuing with the theme of cripples, bastards and broken things Jaime and Tyrion are commiserating in the capital. Tyrion offers up Bronn as a discreet trainer for Jaime (who they mention is now Lord Commander of the Kingsguard). It would’ve made a bit more sense to train with Ser Illyn Payne (the executioner) as without a tongue Jaime’s secret would be safe, but the more screen time for Jerome Flynn the better so its cool. While Bronn has promised to keep his mouth shut regarding Jaime’s imperfection, he does not hesitate to use it as he embarrasses Jamie at dueling. This is the first time we’ve seen Jaime use a sword since his fight with Brienne on the bridge, and although he’s a bit rusty and untrained on his left its still nice to see a little action. While Jaime struggles with his disability, Tyrion must deal with complications from his relationship with Shae. In order to spare Shae’s life Tyrion does everything he can to break her heart; yelling and cursing her, telling her he cannot love her and putting her on a ship to Pentos. Peter Dinklage is excellent here showing that Tyrion is unable to look her in the eyes even once, as Shae would’ve seen right through him. This combined with one of the few times the show uses a free camera technique make this relatively small scene an intimate and memorable one.
North of The Wall Bran is losing himself to the wolf, spending more and more time in Summer’s skin. Understandable, for a crippled boy to be able to run and jump and hunt would be a very temping power. Jojen warns Bran that spending too much time as a wolf will slowly erode his humanity to the point that Bran would forget everyone and everything else. Later, when Bran touches a Weirwood tree he is given directions by the three-eyes crow as well as a few cryptic visions. Notable among these visions are the throne room in King’s Landing covered in either ash or snow, a few White Walkers looking through some sort of ice, and the shadow of a large dragon flying over King’s Landing. One of the most interesting aspects of the books are these vague hints at past, present and future, which are usually in the form of prophetic dreams or veiled premonitions. It is a nice feature of the story that the show is beginning to incorporate well.
During the royal wedding there are multiple rewarding character combinations we haven’t been able to see thus far. Lady Olenna consoles Sansa and promises her a trip to Highgarden soon. Ser Jaime and Ser Loras have a brief exchange with Loras finally showing Jaime exactly how little he is intimidated by the Kingslayer. Along with The Mountain, Ser Barristan and a couple others Jaime and Loras were the absolute best fighters around, and Loras obviously thinks Jaime is no longer on that list. Brienne perhaps could be on that list were it not for her gender, she identifies more as a fighter than a lady. Cersei is quick to remind Brienne, in the cattiest way she can, that she is a lady regardless of whether she bows or curtsies, and then question her about Jaime. Cersei is also imposing her will on Pycelle and commanding him to leave the feast and give the leftovers to the dogs. Cersei knows that now that Margaery has been crowned queen Cersei’s power is essentially gone. She is doing her best to be as forceful and dominating as possible so that people don’t get the wrong idea about her now that her title has changed.
Oberyn Martell, however, is more than able to remind Cersei of her station in another limited but beautiful conversation between their two houses. After a flurry of discord Oberyn is able to lightly threaten the Lannisters while reminding Tywin of what happened to Oberyn’s sister and reminding Cersei that her daughter is staying in Dorne currently. Just as that tension is peaking a tipsy Joffrey announces a reenactment by a troupe of dwarves of the War of Five Kings. Joffrey is not only his usual obnoxious self but also drunk and offends many around him, Loras is forced to leave as the crowd laughs at Renly’s player. Tyrion is insulted on the actors’ behalves and bid Pod pay them each twenty gold, and Sansa is forced to watch an imitation of her brother’s murder. The tension only builds as Joffrey commands Tyrion to bear the king’s cup for the remainder of the night and kicks the cup under the table. Sansa is gracious enough to help her husband with the cup and Tyrion submissively does as he’s bid. Just as Tyrion reaches his breaking point, refusing to kneel for Joffrey, the pie arrives diverting everyone’s attention. Before Sansa and Tyrion can leave Joffrey orders Tyrion to bring him more wine, but before he can finish insulting his uncle Joffrey starts coughing and then choking uncontrollably. The rest is a pretty big mess and as Joffrey lies dying in his mother’s arms he lifts his hand slightly towards the dais, where Cersei sees Tyrion lift the goblet to inspect it. Tyrion is obviously blamed for poisoning the king and is seized by the Kingsguard. This was an ambitious and complicated series of events, which the show pulled off beautifully
I know there are a dozen theories out there and I’m not going to go over them here, we did that on our podcast. You aren’t supposed to know right away and this really sets up the rest of the season with a complex murder-mystery aspect that will be very compelling. Tyrion is in a lot of trouble and who knows where Dontos is taking Sansa. No Jon or Dany this week, but I’m sure that Joffrey’s death more than makes up for missing some of the more interesting storylines.