Out comes an obscenely large pastry. Joffrey readies his sword and preens like a rock star, approaching the pie like he's about to execute a defeated foe. He smacks it open with the sword. Many white birds fly out, while others died inside the pie from the blow (on the set while staging this scene, one of showrunners muttered about the dead vs. living birds, "In a way, that's a metaphor for the show").
And still, Joffrey is not done tormenting Tyrion. He asks him to serve him more wine.
"Hurry up, this pie is dry," Joffrey says. It's actually a rather suitably lame final sentence for Joffrey to declare before his death scene begins. Somebody should make a T-shirt with a sneering image of The Joff and the legend: "This pie is dry."
And we lean forward. We know the rule, even if only unconsciously: In movies and television, there is never an accidental cough.
He starts to choke, or so it seems. "He's choking!" Margaery yells.
"Help the poor boy!" cries Oleynna. "Help your king!"
Joffrey quickly descends into a mix of panic, fear, and incomprehension. He gasps, his face turns violently red. Jaime rushes in, trying to help his secret son, and a king he's once again failed to protect. Tyrion looks concerned and confused. Even Sansa, as much as she hates Joffrey, looks worried for him.
The idea behind this scene, is that we're reminded in these final moments that monstrous Joffrey is at his core just a scared little boy. It's all rather horrible, even though it couldn't have happened to a more deserving person.
Dontos rushes up to Sansa and gives her the Kyle Reese line -- Come with me if you want to live...
Cersei, naturally, is losing her mind. This is her worst fear coming true. Joffrey reaches out and points, seemingly accusingly, at Tyrion. I hope Joffrey believed in his final moments that Tyrion really did poison him. Tyrion looks suspiciously at the wine cup, putting it all together.
For Cersei, there is no doubt. She knows her son was poisoned, and she is most certainly correct. But she's also equally certain of Tyrion's guilt, which does not seem to be the case. All of Tyrion's vague threats against her and Joffrey are now coming back to haunt him. And with his last act, that pointed finger, Joffrey has perhaps managed to kill one last enemy. Guards seize Tyrion. And now you know why he's wearing chains and appearing in a dungeon in the Thrones ads this season.
The twist changes things. For the first time since season 1, the Iron Throne is open. Sansa scurried away with Dontos, what's that about? And there is a good old fashioned murder mystery -- Who Killed Joffrey Baratheon? Everybody except Cersei has a motive for that one.
There's the usual question when trying to figure out a murder: Who benefits? There's wartime rivals like Stannis Baratheon and Balon Greyjoy. Margaery, possibly -- if the dwarf joust is what Joffrey planned for her wedding party, can you imagine what he had in mind for her wedding night? There will be no widow wailing for her. Then again, it makes Margaery seem tainted -- two dead kings in a row is enough to give any prospective suitor pause. And there's Tywin, who was clearly losing control of Joffrey. Oh, and pretty much everybody in Westeros (after all, anybody else in that chair, including the person who's next in the line for the throne -- young Tommen -- could hardly be worse).
Who loses? Cersei, obviously. And Tyrion, ironically.
But what about us viewers -- are we winners or losers? This was absolutely a great episode. But will Game of Thrones be better or worse without Joffrey to kick around? We lost a truly great villain tonight. Only the death of Ned Stark rivals this one in its importance. Robb and Catelyn, as compelling as they were, did not inspire the enormous outpouring of fan emotion that Joffrey does. And neither did Ned Stark, really, since we were still getting to know him. From the very beginning of the series, fans really loved to hate Joffrey. In a story full of complex shades-of-grey characters, Joffrey was an old-fashioned hissable villain who wasn't saddled with redeemable qualities to make us feel conflicted about him. He was a total unrepentant wildly entertaining s--tbird. And we loved him for that.
Plus, as satisfying as it is to see Joffrey get some comeuppance, the death denies us some satisfaction, too. We all wanted Arya to scale the walls of King's Landing and fight Joffrey with her Needle vs. his Widow's Wail.
Yet, as I point out to Martin and the showrunners in the Q&As, what's amazing about Joffrey's death is the creative boldness of it. Thrones just infamously killed several main characters at a wedding. The last thing you would expect of this story, a tale whose creator prides himself on being unpredictable and avoiding repetition, is to kill another main character at another wedding!
Now let's turn things over to those who know this show far better than I -- Martin, Benioff and Weiss, and Gleeson. Each brings a different and uniquely fascinating perspective to Joffrey's demise.
EW's full coverage of Game of Thrones royal wedding:
'Game of Thrones' showrunners discuss royal wedding twist
George R.R. Martin: Why Joffrey died THAT way -- EXCLUSIVE
Jack Gleeson talks royal wedding shocker — EXCLUSIVE
'Game of Thrones': Behind the scenes of Joffrey's wedding -- EXCLUSIVE
'Game of Thrones' stars react to losing Jack Gleeson -- EXCLUSIVE
Here's a pic I took on the set in Croatia from the royal feast, a little memento...
Also: Do you think the dogs still got the leftovers? Just wondering.