This is the one you’ve been waiting for, folks, ever since that creepy sneer first smarmed its way across the screen way back in season one: Joffrey Baratheon has gotten his just desserts, at a wedding that’s the bloodiest the Seven Kingdoms have seen since . . . well, since that other really bloody wedding. And what desserts they were: a goblet of poisoned wine and any number of potential murderers. It’s the “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” of the 2010s. You could just look up the answer in George R.R. Martin’s books, but where’s the fun in that? Let’s take a look at the suspects:
Tyrion Lannister: The much-abused uncle
Considering that Joffrey devotes his entire wedding weekend to publicly debasing Tyrion, everyone’s favorite Imp has every reason to off his putrid nephew. It doesn’t help that Joff stretches an accusing hand in Tyrion’s direction as he dies, or that Cersei already hates the crap out of her little bro anyway.
Olenna Tyrell: The Queen of Thorns
For our money, the Tyrells are the canniest political anglers in all of Westeros. Margaery’s plastered-on smile has barely cracked since she’s gone from being Renley’s beard to King’s Landing’s very own Princess Di. And her grandma, Olenna “Dowager Countess of Grantham” Tyrell, is the shrewdest of them all. We’re pretty sure she wouldn’t let her granddaughter marry a beast like Joff without a pretty solid escape plan.
Ser Dontos Hollard: The disgraced knight
Remember this guy from season two? He was the knight who showed up drunk to a joust, a crime for which ol’ Joff sentenced him to death. But Sansa Stark begged for his life, and Dontos was instead stripped of his knighthood and forced to become the king’s jester. At the beginning of this season, he showed up out of the blue and very pointedly gifted Sansa a mysterious necklace, which she then wears to the wedding. Could those jewels be more than what they seem?
Oberyn Martell: The Red Viper
Pretty much everyone this side of the Narrow Sea has an axe to grind with the Lannisters, but no wedding guest is as vocal about it as this rakish prince from the southern kingdom of Dorne. Way back during Robert’s Rebellion, Oberyn’s sister, Elia, was raped and murdered on Tywin Lannister’s orders. In the previous episode, Oberyn told Tyrion in no vague terms that he was still P.O.’d about that. And did we mention that Dornishmen are particularly well-versed in the art of poisoning?
Tywin Lannister: The fed-up grandfather
This one’s out of left field, but hear us out: The Hand of the King ensured that his grandson got his butt on the Iron Throne, because he knew he would be in prime position to exercise his sway over the teenaged king. But sadistic boys will be sadistic boys, and Joff has proven difficult to control. With him out of the way, the next in the line of succession is Joff’s easily swayed little brother, Tommen. And if Tywin could get the crime pinned on his despised son, Tyrion, that takes down two unruly lions with one stone.
Cersei aside, who doesn’t have it in for Joff? He’s made life a living hell for anyone he’s ever come in contact with. Sansa, whose father, mother and brother were all killed at the Lannister’s hands and who has been Joff’s personal plaything since season one, certainly has just cause—though probably not the brains—to pull off the king’s murder. Master of Whisperers Varys took a backseat in this episode, but he’s said before that his loyalty is to the realm, not necessarily to the man on the throne. And though he’s off in the Vale of Arryn, we mustn’t forget the greatest schemer of the series, Littlefinger. Last season, he admitted that he thrives on chaos…what’s more chaotic than the sudden death of a king?
Locations visited: 4—a relatively small number for Game of Thrones. We caught up with Ramsay Snow and his torture victim, Theon Greyjoy, in the Dreadfort; Stannis Baratheon and his really messed-up family on Dragonstone; Bran Stark and his magical mystery crew (Hodor!) somewhere north of the Wall; and the whole wedding party in King’s Landing.
Deaths: 4. Some poor girl who Ramsay feeds to his dogs; three unlucky courtiers burned to death by Melisandre; and, of course, good ol’ Joff.
Swordfights: 3. Jaime Lannister vs. Bronn, in training mode; Joff vs. Tyrion’s book (the book didn’t stand a chance); and all those dwarves Joff hired to recreate the War of the Five Kings in garish miniature.
Boobs: 0! This may be a first.
Maimings: 0. Too much murder. No time for mere loss of limbs.
Cameo: Those guys who played Lannister murder anthem “The Rains of Castamere” at the wedding? Sigur Rós. The band’s cover of the song also plays over the closing credits.
Effed up thing of the week: As much of a terror as Joffrey was leading up to his grisly demise, that award must go Ramsay and his hunting of actual human beings. Seriously, that guy is the worst.
Craziest set piece: A giant pie filled with live doves, which Joff gleefully hacks open with his sword.
Best outfit: Margaery’s wedding ensemble, from the rose-and-thorn-covered gown to Natalie Dormer’s elaborate coif.