UPDATE: Our commenters have been beating on me like I owe them money for spoiling the ending of this episode and not immediately blaring spoiler alerts. I had this thing mostly written, meant to store it when a Brad Pitt break came over the transom but hit publish before it was properly polished with disclaimers. I am truly sorry if I spoiled the episode for anyone. I thought it was fair game after reading recaps all over about the events of this episode (and every other hot show such as The Good Wife, Vikings, Sons Of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire, take your pick) after a major character is axed. But I’ll know better to be more careful next time.
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of Sunday’s episode of Game Of Thrones.
When I first saw the death of the cruel in-bred King Joffrey on Game Of Thrones a month ago, I paused it after that final scene, high-fived my son, and then we watched the scene again three times. When I told this last week to show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (the architects of the George R.R. Martin book adaptation), they tried to temper my enthusiasm going into last night’s episode. We were talking about their feature deal at Fox to write/direct the Stephen Hunter novel Dirty White Boys, but I had to start with Joffrey, and how they played his shocking, and shockingly satisfying, demise. “Didn’t you feel at least a little badly for him,” Benioff asked. “No,” I said. “I could have watched his death scene last the whole episode.” Said Weiss: “But the way we look at it, the actor who plays Joffrey, Jack Gleeson, is such a good guy, and now we don’t get to work with him anymore.” Me: “Sorry for Jack, but that last shot, the bulging eyes, spittle and snot and blood coming out of that nasty little face, I’d wear that on a T-shirt.” They warmed to this idea: “You could do that, and the front could say ‘Spoiler alert,’ and then you have the picture of a dying Joffrey on the back,” Benioff said. Added Weiss: “You could make a whole line of those spoiler T-shirts.”
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TV deaths on cable shows are becoming too commonplace to be shocking anymore. Sons Of Anarchy‘s Kurt Sutter has killed off most of his cast. But despite the bad things he did, I was still sorry to see Ron Perlman’s Clay Morrow go. On The Sopranos, bodies littered New Jersey thanks to Tony Soprano, but nobody rooted for demise of Vincent Pastore’s Big Pussy or Michael Imperioli’s Christopher Moltisanti, or Drea de Matteo’s Adriana or Steve Buscemi’s Tony Blundetto and everyone felt some sympathy when Soprano rival Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) got shot at a gas station, and fell under the car filled with his grandchildren who witnessed his head being pancaked by the SUV, or when Tony killed and had dismembered Joe Pantoliano’s cruel lieutenant Ralph Cifaretto after the lieutenant murdered a horse Tony liked and collected the insurance money.
But really, Game Of Thrones has raised the bar on villain deaths, and now others will be out to top it. When was the last time the death of a loathsome regular TV character was this satisfying? The one-armed man on the 1963-67 David Janssen series The Fugitive?
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