Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Lion and the Rose”

The Moment: Cersei meets Brienne

Setting the Scene: At Joffrey’s wedding, Cersei finds time for a moment alone with her brother’s rescuer. When a smiling Brienne reveals that Jaime also rescued her (a fact Cersei wasn’t aware of until that moment), the former Queen Regent makes a quick study of the young woman and comes to a conclusion that Brienne has no answer for: She’s in love with Jaime.

Why It’s Awesome: I know what you’re probably thinking: Joffrey finally meets his end in this episode (and in quite a brutal fashion), and I’m picking a conversation between Cersei and Brienne as the show’s best moment of the week? Let me be clear: Of course I loved seeing Joffrey get his royal comeuppance, and I adored Lena Headey’s performance in those final moments. But I knew it was coming, so it didn’t have quite the same impact for me as I’m sure it did for people who didn’t read the books (because when I read the books I was thrilled in a way that experiencing it again through the show couldn’t replicate). I loved the little bits of foreshadowing throughout the scene, but my favorite moments on Game of Thrones tend to be ones that surpass my experience while reading or surprise me entirely, and Joffrey’s death, while executed perfectly, didn’t make my jaw drop—not like Cersei preying on Brienne’s open heart did.

Brienne of Tarth is my favorite character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series for so many reasons: her subversion of stereotypes about physically imposing, unglamorous women; her innocence; her open heart; and her belief in honor even after a life of being treated cruelly by almost all she meets. It’s interesting to note that nearly all of those reasons make her a direct foil for Cersei Lannister. Ever since Brienne and Jaime returned to King’s Landing before they did in the book, I’ve been waiting for these two formidable women to meet on the show, and I was so happy that it turned out even better than my expectations—perhaps because it was written by George R.R. Martin himself.

In this moment, we see Cersei asserting her power over someone on a day when she feels like she’s losing so much of her power because Joffrey is now married. Jaime is the last thing she believes she can control, and she doesn’t want this woman thinking otherwise. And poor Brienne—innocent, kindhearted, gentle Brienne. She is far too good for King’s Landing, and I love that this scene makes that abundantly clear. Gwendoline Christie makes Brienne seem so young in this scene, and it contrasts perfectly with Cersei’s demeanor. Her smile when discussing how Jaime rescued her brought me joy and broke my heart at the same time, and it meant even more than her inability to deny loving Jaime.

The later books only hint that Brienne loves with Jaime, but to see it manifested in Christie’s performance was beautiful. Because Cersei is right—Brienne does love him. But Cersei doesn’t understand the kind of love that brings such an open, bright smile to Brienne’s face—a kind of love that is based on mutual rescuing (and the respect that comes with it), shared understanding, and acceptance of Jaime for who he really is.

Once someone forces you to confront your love for another person, it changes everything. The fact that this scene didn’t exist in the novels makes me even more excited to see what new material it brings about on the show. And even if nothing else changes, it was a moment that highlighted the incredible variety of female characters in this series—and there can never be too many of those.

Honorable Mentions: Jaime and Tyrion share some wine, Joffrey destroys his uncle’s wedding gift, Oberyn Martell meets Tywin Lannister, Sansa watches the mockery of her brother’s murder, Joffrey dies in his mother’s arms

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10 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Lion and the Rose”

  1. I had a feeling this was going to be your pick. 🙂 I pretty much loved every King’s Landing scene equally in this episode. I thought they did a great job making you loathe Joffrey to the breaking point (if we werent already there) before his demise. There are very few characters where you can completely relish in their death, but Joffrey is one of those characters. I thought it was even more satisfying on the show, because you could see just how truly horrified so many of the characters we love were by Joffrey’s actions right before it happened.

    I also loved the way the Cersei/Brienne interaction paired perfectly with the Loras/Jaime scene.

    The rest of the storylines outside of KL are having a hard time holding their own. And how disturbing was that cold open? I guess now that Joffrey is gone the Boltons get to have the honor of being the most hated.

    • I am nothing if not predictable when it comes to my love for Brienne. 😉

      I love what you said about being able to fully relish in a character’s death because you’re right; usually, a character has some redeeming quality that makes their death at least a little sad. But Jack Gleeson has done such a great job of making Joffrey so vile (while still making him completely fascinating) that his death was such a triumphant moment. If nothing else, I’m sad to be losing Gleeson as a part of this cast.

      I also agree with your opinion on the non-KL story lines just not having the same impact. I’ve always like the KL stuff more than anything else in the books, so I’m not very surprised that I feel the same way in the show. And yes, the Boltons are definitely going to be at the top of everyone’s most-hated list now.

  2. I totally support this choice for best moment. Especially because it was a scene unique to the show and not to the source material. I was really happy with all the stuff and action that was fit into the wedding reception, and the Cersei/Brienne interaction was a wonderful surprise.

    Brienne’s the best.

  3. I cannot tell you how glad I am you picked this scene because it’s not being discussed nearly enough. This is the conversation I have been most excited to see since Gwen mentioned its existence before the season started.

    What I liked most was the way Lena played her reaction to finding out that Jaime rescued Brienne as well. There was a very brief moment of uncertainty before she pulled herself back together to taunt Brienne. I also really love how well Cersei read the slight smile Brienne allows herself and figures out what that means about Brienne’s relationship with Jaime. It’s so in character and that makes me so happy about this interaction.

    Katie, I cannot deal with how happy Brienne looks when she mentions Jaime rescued her. It’s this beautiful look of reminiscence and joy with a little bit of shock that it really happened and it’s perfect. That journey was so important to her and it changed her just like it did him. She’s never had someone fight for her before and defend her the way Jaime did and that was as much of a gift to her as her calling Jaime “Ser” was to him. Her look of “oh my gods I do love Jaime Lannister and the sister he’s sleeping with knows it” was so nicely played on Gwen’s part. This really was an amazing scene between two amazing actresses who each brought so much into such a short moment.

    Moving on from my attack of feelings, Oberyn was nothing short of flawless in his interaction with Tywin and Cersei. I need more scenes with him immediately.

    Joffrey was such a terrible human being and I like that this episode reminded us of how terrible he could really be. The look on Sansa, Tyrion, Margaery, and Lady Olenna’s face during the War of the 5 Kings skit were so full of disdain and sadness and it made his death all the more satisfying to watch.

    Everything not taking place in Kings Landing was not particularly interesting to me, so it made me laugh to see that none of those moments ended up in your Honorable Mention section either. Ramsey really is the worst. I don’t like him in the book but seeing his sadism on screen is even more horrifying.

    • You know that talking about Brienne (and her relationship with Jaime) with you always brings me joy, so this comment put the biggest smile on my face. I love that Cersei has no idea what Jaime and Brienne went through together. It was a journey that changed both of them so profoundly, and I love that it was a journey they will only share with each other. Cersei is in unfamiliar territory here, knowing that Brienne has shared something with Jaime that Cersei can never have. Her momentary shock being replaced with a conniving look of ‘How do I use this to regain my power over the situation?’ is so characteristically Cersei.

      I love the way George R.R. Martin writes Brienne in the two episodes in which he’s written scenes for her. Between the “Goodbye Ser Jaime” scene and this moment, he has brought her layers and complexities out in a way that no other writer for the show has managed yet (and both are scenes that didn’t exist in the books, which fascinates me). I think what I love best about both of those Martin-penned scenes is the way he makes sure to show that this woman may look like a warrior and fight like a warrior, but she has such a pure, gentle heart. Her soft smile when talking about Jaime rescuing her was the smile of a young woman who thought she had to give up the idea of a knight rescuing her and being genuinely kind to her because she wasn’t beautiful. Both Brienne and Jaime make each other feel valued for the things they want to be valued for, and Brienne’s smile in that moment was the smile of a woman with a memory of feeling genuinely important to someone—and that’s a gift we can see that she treasures dearly.

      I echo your love for Oberyn, and I hope we get at least one scene with him in every episode because the way they are building up his character has already been as close to flawless as possible. And Ramsay is about as awful as it gets; it makes sense that we’re reminded of his barbarism in the episode when it becomes apparent that we need a new character to hate.

      • “Both Brienne and Jaime make each other feel valued for the things they want to be valued for…” Yes. I love this about them. I also love how both Jaime and Brienne are two people with infamous reputations, and both of them understand what its like to have their actions and intentions misinterpreted by the masses.

    • Given my insane schedule this week. I would just like to co-sign onto everything Heather said with a giant YES.

      Also, my one honorable mention add. The interaction between Tyrion and Sansa at the wedding. The brief attempt to reach for her hand to acknowledge the horrors they were witnessing, her handing him the cup. It was a beginning and in the flurry of all that was going on, it made me love Tyrion just a little bit more.

  4. OK I lied, I do have something to say. I loved your pick because I think Cersei is one of the most interesting characters to walk about on television. Like you I think the relationship of Jamie and Brienne is among the few pure things within Game of Thrones, but Cersei’s character is a fascinating study in evil. Her moment with Brienne is blatant. It reeks of the desperation you so beautifully highlighted. But her later scene with the redirect of the left over food to the dogs speaks to the woman she is. It speaks to the woman who rejected Jamie last week. She is actually her father’s daughter and the restraints of being a woman wear on her that she strikes out as though she was a rabid dog. It’s been absolutely breathtaking to watch Lena Headey’s take on this character. There is nothing redeeming about her, but Headey manages to breathe a complexity into her that actually breeds empathy when she is holding her dying son and screams for someone to take Tyrion into custody. Of course the death of Joffery is a happy moment for us all. But in spite of her knowledge of who he was, she was his mother and that grief was as real as her anger to discover there was someone else in Jamie’s head besides her. I loved what the scene you picked says about all three characters and was fascinated to learn it hadn’t been in the novels.

  5. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (4/13 – 4/20) | Nerdy Girl Notes

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