Many others observers have already posted their thoughts on this episode, with most expressing delight at what transpired. Generally, I have been using these posts to describe my reactions to the show and have been doing so in a way that is not spoiler free so I see no reason to start now!
"The Lion and the Rose" features the event fans of the book call "The Purple Wedding," which is something of a play on the phrase "The Red Wedding," which is what the slaughter of the Starks is known as in the books. At the Purple Wedding, King Joffrey Baratheon, one of the key villains in the story is dispatched at his own wedding, clearly poisoned by persons unknown.
S4E02 begins with a horrendous scene where Ramsay is literally treating a woman as prey by hunting her with vicious, ravenous dogs with Reek (formerly Theon) in tow. We also get to spend
time with Bran, the Reeds and Hodor. Bran's scene is especially enlightening because we see that as soon as he touches a weirwood he has visions of the past, the future and the present (events happening very far away). Additionally, there were important scenes between Shae and Tyrion (where he finally was forced to humiliate the woman he loved in order to save her life), Cersei and Brienne (where in a few short seconds Cersei was able to get Brienne to realize that her feelings towards Jaime may be more than simply chivalrous) and Loras and Jaime (who had a very amusing pissing match over Cersei, whom one of them is engaged to marry but does not love while the other loves but is unable to marry). The other events that happened in this episode occurred at Dragonstone, where Stannis Baratheon (one of the Five Kings in the original "War of the Five Kings" from Seasons 1-3 of the show) is going along with Lady Melissandre's acts of burning people t the stake if they fail to renounce their religious beliefs in the seven gods instead of following her Lord of Light, R'hllor.
The Lion and the Rose refers to the sigils (symbols) of the great Houses being joined together by the marriage of Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell. The Lannister sigil is a Golden Lion (on red background) and the Tyrell sigil is a Golden Rose (on a green background).
There were many highlights of this episode
- Ding Dong The
WitchKing Is Dead! Joffrey's death scene was astonishing. For people who had not read the books and did not see it coming it must have been a horrendous (albeit welcome) surprise to witness King Joffrey's demise, on his wedding day no less.
- Family Drama. The tension between Joffrey and his uncle Tyrion was exquisite and excruciating at the same time. The Lannisters are one of the most dysfunctional families of all time. It is no surprise that as soon as Cersei sees her son take his last breath in her arms, she immediately turns her grief and rage towards the person she most hates in the world, who happens to be her brother Tyrion.
- Spare No Quarter. The production design was truly impressive. After all, what is more elaborate than a royal wedding? The actual wedding took place in the show's greatest set: the Sept of Baelor and the scale of the post wedding festivities was truly awe-inspiring.
Nothing is perfect; even this classic episode had some flaws. The only one I think worth mentioning is:
- It Reeks. The entire thread between Ramsay and Reek/Theon is entirely distasteful. At least it has evolved from straight-up "torture-porn" from Season 3 to merely over-the-top and disgusting
Grade: 10/10 (A).
Overall, S4E02 was one of the most cathartic episodes of television of all time. After three full seasons of hating Joffrey Baratheon the audience finally was able to see him get his comeuppance and it was well worth it!