MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR LAST NIGHT’S SEASON 4, EPISODE 2 OF “GAME OF THRONES”
If there’s one lesson to be learned from HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” it’s this – don’t get married, or if you have to attend a wedding then don’t be the groom.
After three seasons in which the noble, moral and thoughtful characters were the ones who usually found their heads on the chopping block, last night’s “Game of Thrones” gave us what fans dub the ‘Purple Wedding’ and with it a minor re-balancing of the scales.
Last year’s ‘Red Wedding’ saw people visibly distraught. Last night’s death of one of TV’s most despised villains – the sadistic, cruel, mad boy king Joffrey Baratheon – had the opposite effect. People took to social media to cheer the death of the character and to rightly praise young actor Jack Gleeson for his superb portrayal of a spoiled brat with unlimited power over the years.
In the final stretch of the episode, Joffrey’s cruel treatment of Tyrion hit new levels of despicable. Yet the death was deliberately portrayed in a way to temper the audience from garnering a deep satisfaction out of it by showing it for what it really is – a young boy dying a painful, pitiable death in his mother’s arms.
Author George R. Martin penned the episode’s teleplay and tells EW that it was a deliberate choice:
“Joffrey’s death was in some ways a counterweight for readers to the death of Robb and Catelyn. It shows that yes, nobody is safe – sometimes the good guys win, sometimes the bad guys win. Nobody is safe and that we are playing for keeps.
Joffrey, as monstrous as he is… is still a 13-year-old kid. And there’s kind of a moment there where he knows that he’s dying and he can’t get a breath and he’s kind of looking at Tyrion and at his mother and at the other people in the hall with just terror and appeal in his eyes-you know, ‘Help me mommy, I’m dying.’
And in that moment, I think even Tyrion sees a 13-year-old boy dying before him. So I didn’t want it to be entirely, ‘Hey-ho, the witch is dead.’ I wanted the impact of the death to still strike home on to perhaps more complex feelings on the part of the audience, not necessarily just cheering.”
Martin says the idea of this murder at a wedding was to do something quite different to the Red Wedding:
“I think the intent of the murderer is not to have this become another Red Wedding – the Red Wedding was very clearly murder and butchery. I think the idea with Joffrey’s death was to make it look like an accident – someone’s out celebrating, they haven’t invented the Heimlich maneuver, so when someone gets food caught in his throat, it’s very serious.
I think that’s what the murderers here were hoping for – the whole realm will see Joffrey choke to death on a piece of pie or something. But what they didn’t count on, was Cersei’s immediate assumption that this was murder. Cersei wasn’t fooled by this for a second. She doesn’t believe that it was an accidental death.
For Tyrion, Joffrey’s death doesn’t make things better, it makes things worse. Tyrion’s in terrible trouble, and it proves that something I’ve tried to make a point of through the whole series: Decisions have consequences… One of Tyrion’s problems has been that he has a big mouth. He’s been saying things since the beginning of the series, these veiled threats to Cersei. Now, all these declarations make him look really guilty.”