Those left pondering the fate of the hapless Theon Greyjoy after last week’s season premiere didn’t have to wait long for answers.
Episode two finds him a shell of a human being, at the mercy of the merciless Ramsay Snow and answering to the name of Reek.
In the episode’s opening scene, Ramsay demonstrates that he doesn’t just save his cruelty for Theon. He laughs as he and a female friends chase a young girl through the forest before setting his dogs on her.
His motive? By now we know he doesn’t need one.
As the bloodcurdling screams of the young girl fade, we smoothly transition to King’s Landing and the not-so-subtle imagery of a cooked sausage (for those who have forgotten, Theon was castrated by Ramsay). Tyrion and Jaime Lannister are having a rare heart-to-heart and Tyrion proposes a toast,
“To the proud Lannister children. The dwarf, the cripple and the mother of madness.”
Jaime is complaining of his inability to fight when Tyrion concocts the perfect plan. Jaime will practice his swordsmanship with Bronn, he of the iron grip and tightly sealed lips.
During their first meeting, Bronn, unsurprisingly, doesn’t play nice and Jaime, surprisingly, rises to the occasion. We sense the beginning of a beautiful sparring partnership.
Roose Bolton returns to Dreadfort to see the mess his bastard son has made of Theon and is not impressed. That is until Theon proves his servitude by admitting that he never killed Brann and Rickon.
With the news that two Stark men remain alive, Bolton seems invigorated and tasks his insane illegitimate son with finding them – a hunt which will not end well, if the episode’s opening scene is anything to go by.
There is only one hell, princess. The one we live in now.
So long, Shae
Wedding preparations are well underway in King’s Landing and Joffrey thrashes through his days on a blind, angry power trip.
In an emotional scene, Tyrion is forced to reject Shae for her own safety, commanding her to leave King’s Landing and calling her “a whore” in an attempt to break her heart beyond repair. It works.
Bronn is charged with escorting her to the boat and he assures Tyrion that he has succeeded in doing so, but not nearly as confidently as we would have liked. Do we sense a comeback?
Heaven and hell
On Dragonstone, flame-haired Melisandre is back in full force, delivering her catchphrase – “The night is dark and full of terrors” – with gravitas. She, Stannis Baratheon and his wife Selyse watch as Selyse’s brother burns on a pyre for his supposed sins.
Selyse, clearly enamoured with the sorceress and her “Lord of Light,” asks Melisandre to speak with her daughter, Shireen, who she feels has grown too insolent and Melisandre agrees.
“The are only two gods,” she tells Shireen. “A god of light and love and joy and a god of darkness, evil and fear.”
When Shireen asks her whether there really are seven hells and seven heavens, Melisandre delivers the line that perhaps most eloquently captures George R.R. Martin’s entire gospel.
“There is only one hell, princess. The one we live in now.”
Meanwhile, a noticeably older Bran is woken from his wolf dreams by Meera. Along with Jojen and Hodor, the group make for a sorry quartet, malnourished and weak.
Bran finds hope in a weirwood tree that brings him visions of his father and his past when he touches the trunk.
“Look for me in the tree,” a strange voice says. “North.”
We think we know where Bran is headed next.
The wedding gift
Swathed in crimson and gold tapestry, King’s Landing is celebrating the marriage of the child King and his feisty Queen. Despite the festivities, discontent abounds.
Cersei secretly depsises the kind-hearted Margaery, Jaime is envious of his sister’s husband-to-be Loris Tyrell, Cersei is also envious of Brienne’s close relationship with Jaime, and Tyrion is at breaking point due to his nephew’s unabashed insolence.
Making things worse, as always, is Joffrey, who feels his wedding is an appropriate time to ridicule his wife’s ex-husband and Robb Stark with a tasteless performance by a group of little people, making Tyrion shift uncomfortably in his seat.
Despite Margaery’s best efforts to diffuse it, all of this tension must come to a head and it does so spectacularly.
Joffrey commands his uncle Tyrion to act as his cupbearer, pouring him wine and carrying his goblet. When Tyrion obediently hands Joffrey his wine, the king unknowingly takes a sip of poison.
Although sudden deaths are commonplace in the series, the loss of a pivotal character is never any less shocking.
Joffrey dies suddenly and gruesomely, blood streaming from his eyes and mouth as he heaves for breath. While Sansa flees the scene with Ser Dontos, Tyrion is left standing, lethal goblet in hand, as his sister looks at him with ferocious realization.
“He did this,” Cersei says, shaking with fury. “He poisoned my son. Take him.”
We’re having a hard time imagining how Tyrion will talk his way out of this one.
Who do you think poisoned King Joffrey?