Now we turn back to Joffrey, who is going to command our attention for the rest of his life. He throws coins dismissively at the band playing a mournful version of "The Rains of Castamere" (the musicians are the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, and the song goes on sale tomorrow; they mentioned on set that Gleeson kept giving them "a really sorry face" after each take). Joffrey then makes an announcement: "A royal wedding is not an amusement," he declares and gestures to a 20-foot mock lion's head. When that jaw opens and the carpet rolls out like a giant tongue, you have no clue what's going to happen. This next scene is something the producers wanted to keep secret (because, in their words, "It's such a 'what the f--k'").
A little people theater troupe rushes out of the lion's head riding mock representations of Westeros family sigils. Each rider is playing one of the five kings who recently vied for the Iron Throne. They perform a bawdy reenactment of the last couple seasons of Thrones war drama, complete with a beheading of Robb Stark and jokes about Renly being gay.
This is Joffrey's crowning moment in asshole-dom. He manages to offend his dwarf uncle Tyrion, along with his wife Sansa, whose brother was Robb Stark. His bride Margaery was married to Renly, so she's surely offended too (though knows better than to show it). Brienne was sworn to Renly and Loras was Renly's lover, so they're upset as well. The act is almost genius-level in its across-the-board tacky offensiveness, reopening old wounds and insulting several people in different and personal ways. Loras storms out. Joffrey laughs and spits wine. In the crowd, Varys and Oberyn are not amused (Oberyn's expression is like, "Yeah, this is exactly what I expected you Lannisters to be like"). Among our regular cast, only Joffrey, Cersei, and Joffrey's younger brother Tommen (who's too young to know any better) seem to enjoy this.
Tyrion's reaction is particularly interesting, I'm not sure we've ever seen his face look quite like this -- blank cold anger. "Pay each of them 20 gold when this is done," he murmurs to Podrick. "I'll have to find another way to thank the king" -- that line will probably come back to haunt him later.
But Joffrey is not done. He puts Tyrion on the spot, suggesting he fight with the dwarfs. Tyrion should have quietly demurred. But no. Tyrion has too much Lannister lion pride. He mocks the king with a thinly veiled contempt -- "I think you should fight, this was but a poor imitation of your own bravery in battle..." he says. Joffrey then tries to humiliate Tyrion in other ways. Yet at every turn Tyrion refuses to accept Joffrey's behavior as humiliation. He pours wine on his head, but Tyrion dismisses it as a "spill." He orders him to be his cup bearer, but Tyrion calls it a "great honor." Both of them should know better. Joffrey shouldn't try to outwit his far smarter uncle, who is extremely practiced at handling bullies. While Tyrion shouldn't outshine a psychopathic king in front of a crowd on his wedding day (ever read The 48 Laws of Power? The first is: "Never Outshine the Master").
Tension mounts. We know something game-changing is going to happen. We think one of them is finally going to snap. And maybe they would have. Joffrey orders his uncle to kneel -- to demonstrate submission and respect physically because trying to get it from him verbally is not working. Tyrion outright refuses. It would have been interesting to see how this scene would have concluded if that insane pie hadn't been wheeled out.
"Oh look, the pie!" exclaims PR-expert Margaery, hilariously breaking the stand-off.
NEXT: Pie a' la dead