As a reader of the A Song of Ice And Fire novels the way the TV show Game of Thrones split the book A Storm of Swords was always fascinating. When I got to the Red Wedding - where Robb and Caitlin Stark are betrayed and murdered - I almost quit the book. Seriously - the series had gotten so grim that this turn of events made me think that George RR Martin was basically just being an asshole. But a few chapters later he won me back with the Purple Wedding, where hateful shit Joffrey chokes to death on poison. But for TV viewers there's A YEAR between these events; I always wondered how people stuck with the show after what felt like an unneccessary gutpunch - one that was quickly alleviated in the book.
But now we're here on the TV show as well, and it was just as satisfying to watch Joffrey die on screen as it was on the page He turns so purple! And he bleeds from his eyes! And it takes a long time! And Cersei - re-established as horrible with her "feed the leftovers to the dogs" thing after the Battle of Blackwater maybe made her more likable - had to watch!
Yes, it was a glorious moment and one that Martin - both in the novel and in his script for this episode - made Joffrey truly earn. Joffrey is a character we have come to hate so much that it's second nature, and his wanton cruelty has made us jaded. But the script wisely makes him a really rude asshole for the entire second half of the episode, and while we hate him for killing prostitutes we really hate him for making his own wedding so fucking uncomfortable and awkward. He's just a dick - not simply a sadist and a monster, but a total asshole all the time to everybody, and that's exactly the sort of guy who should slowly choke to death.
Even knowing what was coming the build-up of tension was masterful; the shots of everyone's disbelieving faces as Joffrey just kept insulting people and reminding us of his past misdeeds were heavy with meaning. It was obvious the wedding would be a disaster - Joffrey was there, after all - but the way the show slipped from semi-comic tension to straight up doom was incredible. The fact that the show's budget seems to be getting bigger and bigger - this wedding appeared to be enormous! It had scope and scale - helps as well.
Other stuff happened, but let's be honest - that was all place-setting for future stories. Basically all the characters (minus the Greyjoys) who didn't get checked in on last week gave us their update - Melisandre is burning dudes! The Boltons are scheming! Bran is talking to trees! - but this episode was all about King's Landing.
What did you think? Weigh in below, and remember to keep book spoilers either out of it or well, well marked. Let's not ruin the twists and turns that come from Joffrey's well-deserved death!