Joffrey haters rejoice! The king is dead! Long live whoever poisoned the tyrannical teenager!
Much-loathed Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) succumbs to his untimely but well-deserved fate in Episode 32 (“The Lion and the Rose”) of HBO’s epic fantasy series “Game of Thrones.”
Being the bastard spawn of Queen Regent Cersei Baratheon (Lena Headey) and her twin brother Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Joffrey was never a rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
But even if paternity tests were available in those days of yore, the corrupt Lannisters likely would have faked the results to strengthen their grip on the Seven Kingdoms.
So whodunit? The list of murder suspects is long and intriguing.
Was it diplomatic Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who handed nephew Joffrey the poison-laced wine goblet?
Was it evil patriarch Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), who lost control of his sadistic grandson?
Was it vengeful Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), who accuses the Lannisters of raping and killing his sister?
Or was it bereaved Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), whose parents and brother Robb (Richard Madden) fell victim to the Lannisters?
The assassination occurs at a feast celebrating Joffrey’s marriage to Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), whose first hubby Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) died in a black-magic attack.
Tainting the festivities, Joffrey humiliates Tyrion by pouring wine over his head and ordering him to genuflect.
“Kneel before your king,” Joffrey commands. “I said, kneel!”
Defusing the confrontation is the arrival of a huge pie that Joffrey ceremoniously splits with his Valyrian sword, releasing white doves in the process.
Now Joffrey has only seconds to live. He takes a swig of wine, coughs uncontrollably and falls dead -- to the horror of his mother and perhaps no one else.
“My son!” Cersei screams before ordering guards to seize Tyrion. “He poisoned my son, your king. Take him!”
Episode 32 also focuses on psychologically shattered Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), whose genitals were sliced off by his captor Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon), the bastard son of Lord Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton).
Ramsay’s cruelty infuriates Roose, who schemes to control northern Westeros and needed Theon kept whole as a bargaining chip with his powerful family.
“I placed far too much trust in you,” Roose declares.
He then orders Ramsay and Theon to track down the two surviving sons of Eddard (Sean Bean) and Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), the slain rulers of Winterfell. Eliminate the Stark boys, Roose figures, and the North is his.
One of the orphans, crippled Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), is on a perilous journey beyond The Wall. Protecting him are hulking servant Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and Stark loyalists Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and his sister Meera (Ellie Kendrick).
Bran, whose “warg” abilities enable him to perceive the world through the minds of animals, experiences a mystical vision upon touching a tree.
“I know where we have to go,” he solemnly announces.
At Dragonstone, meanwhile, would-be king Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) is his usual sullen self while watching three “infidels” burn to death, supposedly to purify their souls.
Refusing to observe the barbaric ritual is Princess Shireen (Kerry Ingram), the only child of Stannis and his loony wife Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald).
Hoping to convert his daughter to the Lord of Light religion, Stannis allows his mistress/advisor Melisandre (Carice van Houten) to speak with gentle Shireen.
“What do you know of the gods?” the infamous Red Priestess asks. There are only two, she claims. One is light and one is dark, and they’re eternally at war.
And there’s only one hell, Melisandre adds, “the one we live in now.”
Given her dreary circumstances, Shireen probably agrees.