Customary warning about spoilers! There are some!
I love the title of Episode 2 of Season 4 of Game of Thrones. Sounds like the title of one of those romance novels from back in the day. But, as we know, romance novels always have happy endings. Not so much in Game of Thrones. As Ramsey Bolton said to Theon while he was brutally torturing him:
For example, check out the image below. What do you see? A young couple celebrating their wedding with a huge pie inside of which are live doves. Behind them is Joffrey’s family, most of whom (well, the three on the left at least, Tywin, his grandfather, Cersei, his mother and his younger brother, Tommen – who sure has grown up!) are sharing in the happy occasion. It’s the marriage celebration of the Lion (Joffrey) and the Rose (Margaery). Ah, young love. But this is Westeros and we all know what happens at weddings, don’t we?
Happiness in this show is usually brought about at the expense of someone else’s misery or, if it’s true, unvarnished happiness, it doesn’t last. There’s a lot of misery in this particular episode, starting with the horrible death of a young woman being chased by Ramsey Bolton, that sick, sadistic SOB who has turned Theon Greyjoy into some kind of shambling wreck of what was once a human being into a thing he calls Reek.
Or Stannis Baratheon watching while his own brother-in-law is burned alive as a heretic. Or Tyrion having to fling cruel words at his lover, Shae “the funny whore”, in order to save her from his father, who has threatened to hang the next whore he finds Tyrion with.
Joffrey was probably the most dyed-in-the wool villain in the show. His cruelty knew no bounds, his selfishness and arrogance were unparalleled and his desire to see others suffer because, I assume, there was nothing inside him but some howling, dark abyss where his heart should have been, was unmatched by any villain I’ve seen on television in quite some time.
But, I have to admit, I’m going to miss Joffrey. I truly think he believed all that crap he constantly spouted. You know, that it was HE who defeated Robb Stark when, in fact, it was his grandfather’s Tywin’s doing. Remember back in Season 3 there was all those scenes of Tywin writing? He was writing letters, most likely, to Roose Bolton and Walder Frey, setting up the plot that brought Robb and Lady Catelyn to their eventual slaughter at the Red Wedding. And Joffrey didn’t “break” Stannis at Blackwater Bay! That was Tyrion. We all know that. And also, once again his grandfather, Tywin, arriving to the rescue along with Ser Loras.
Joffrey ran off to hide behind his mother’s skirts!
Joffrey didn’t do a damn thing during his mercifully short reign as king but kill a defenseless woman (remember red-haired Ros, the prostitute who worked for Littlefinger?) , have another prostitute horribly beaten (what ever happened to her, by the way?), taunt Sansa Stark about the deaths of her father, mother and brother and threaten his own mother and make fun of his own father?
But there was a certain vicious panache about the way Joffrey tormented those around him. I’m going to miss that. And, I have to admit, as Joffrey lay dying in his mother’s arms, blood and vomit and tears streaming down his tortured, purpling face, for a moment, just a teeny-tiny moment, I saw the boy Joffrey might have once been; a frightened, terrified little boy wanting only for his mother to make it all better.
But it was only for a moment. If Joffrey died so horribly he brought it on himself. He had choices and he made them. He just always made the bad ones.
The King is Dead! Long live the King! (Tommen, I assume?)
Oh, and kudos to the actor, Jack Gleeson, who played Joffrey. Great job!