Warning: There be spoilers ahead. Many spoilers.
I stopped reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series on purpose.
Not because I didn’t enjoy the man’s writing or having metric s--t tons of pertinent information (and every waking thought and desire of every character) inundate my brain space and enhance the overall experience — but because the HBO series Game of Thrones, especially episodes like 4.02, “The Lion and the Rose”, instills a sense of perplexity and “not knowing” in me that I haven’t felt in a long time. And I didn’t want to ruin that excitement by reading ahead.
Which brings us to the probing after-discussion to be had in the wake of the latest episode and the question on every non-book reader’s mind. Whodunnit? Who killed Joffrey Baratheon?
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)
Known Aliases: The Imp
Why he could have done it: There’s no hiding the obvious: Joffrey and Tyrion didn’t get along. Their hostility was only exacerbated when Joffrey became king because he resented having someone call him out on his bullshit and (attempt to) keep him in check. Joffrey’s treatment of Tyrion was not that of a normal nephew and uncle but of bitter enemies; Joffrey treated Tyrion with malice and it was only a matter of time before the shrewd Tyrion reached his breaking point.
Alibi: The Season 4 trailers and previews for next week’s episodes show us that Tyrion is taking the fall thus far for Joffrey’s murder and serving time in a holding cell. Why would he go to the trouble of surreptitiously murdering the boy-king only so he could rot in prison? A man of Tyrion’s intelligence would likely have had an escape plan.
His Likely Defense: “No. Though not because the inexhaustible list of reasons were ever once in jeopardy of being inadequate ::closes a book shut and places his palm on it:: but because a person of my stature with fratricide of King Joffrey the Short-Lived attributed to his name would feel no bigger, I’m afraid.
Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance)
Known Aliases: Lord of Casterly Rock, Warden of the West, Hand of the King
Why he could have done it: Tywin’s a boss. The man has demonstrably flexed his intelligence, political influence and tactical muscle since he first appeared in Season 2 and has thus far been without equal. He knows that Joffrey has been grossly misusing his power on the throne and even sent the king to bed when defusing an argument between Joffrey and Tyrion. If anyone on the show could devise a plan to commit regicide and get away with it, Tywin would be that person.
Alibi: Killing his enemies is one thing. But killing his own grandson? Perhaps a line not even Tywin Lannister, a man who has professed to be put his family name and family’s honor before anything else, dare not cross.
Likely Defense: “The boy was becoming a major threat to the Lannister dominion” ::evil eye stare:: “… of the Iron Throne. And the Lannister name itself. He had to be taken care of.”
Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg)
Known Aliases: The Queen of Barbs
Why she could have done it: Sure, she may look like a harmless, tottering old woman — but Olenna Tyrell, the mother of Mace Tyrell (the current Lord of Highgarden) and grandmother to Margaery and Ser Loras Tyrell, is no pushover. As for why she might have done it? She’s known about Joffrey’s vile demeanor ever since she questioned Sansa Stark about him in Season 3 episode “Dark Wing, Dark Words,” and likely doesn’t want her granddaughter paired with such a monster… even if it means Margaery becoming Queen and the Tyrells securing a substantial upgrade in power.
More Evidence: She shoos her son away after Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding ceremony and says “Not now Mace, I’m talking to Lord Tywin.” As in, “I’m talking business right now, son. Let the grown-ups talk.” (A shining example of who really wears the pants in the Tyrell household.)
She also asks Sansa Stark “What kind of monster would murder a man at his wedding?” after extending her condolences for Sansa’s brother, Robb. Do you like foreshadowing, kids?
Alibi: Her granddaughter Margaery would have been queen; why give up that sort of power hours before the act had been consummated?
Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen)
Known Aliases: Littlefinger
I know what you’re thinking. “But Baelish wasn’t even at the wedding.”
That doesn’t discount the man from having a hand in the murder because… well, he’s Littlefinger. Wherever there’s weakness to be exploited and dreams to be dashed, you have to at least consider Littlefinger for having had a finger in the proverbial cookie jar. You can bet that someone at King’s Landing right now is acting on Littlefinger’s behalf; and we’ll soon find out how important that is in the upcoming episodes.
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)
Ser Dontos did seem really eager to cart her ass out of King’s Landing in the previews for next week’s episode. Could it be Dontos is predicting the fallout that will hit Sansa on account of her husband Tyrion being the main suspect right off the bat or could she have played a bigger part in the deed herself?
Then again, Sansa hasn’t shown us any evidence of being capable of murder or betrayal. Even someone who put her through absolute torment like Joffrey. Still, having your entire family systematically butchered and then having the fact rubbed in your face at every opportunity can make a gal pretty resentful.
Likely Defense: “He was so wicked” x 100.
Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal)
Oberyn’s already made it clear he doesn’t like Lannisters. He talked smack to both Tywin and Cersei right in front of their faces and got away with it. (One of the few to do so with impunity thus far.) Could his convenient appearance at Joffrey’s wedding (which he wasn’t technically invited to) be a little too convenient?
Was it the wine that did the sadistic boy king in? Was it the pie (which he remarks as being “dry”?) Was it some other unseen poison that someone slipped inside a goblet of Joffrey’s drink that we didn’t notice?
I think that Tywin Lannister orchestrated the poisoning of Joffrey Baratheon at the Purple Wedding. (Olenna Tyrell was also involved, although to what degree is uncertain. At the least, she certainly talked with Tywin about it and knew it was going to happen.) Olenna’s confidential discussion with Tywin, in addition to bringing up on several occasions that her family is financing much of the Iron Throne’s activities seems too conspicuous to ignore.
Tywin knew that his grandson was a reckless, sadistic maniac unfit for the throne and that his every action only further threatened the Lannister’s position of power.
Non-book readers, who do you think murdered Joffrey Baratheon? Sound off in the comments. And book-readers, be nice and let’s not spoil it for the rest of us, huh?