HBO’s Game of Thrones returns with “The North Remembers.” Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) arrives at King’s Landing, much to Cersei’s (Lena Headey) dismay, and says he is there to get the reckless Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) in line. Elsewhere, the various others who claim to be King of the realm amass their own forces, and plot to take Joffrey down. And beyond the Wall, the Night’s Watch learns of another gathering force, who may also be soon causing trouble.
To no one’s surprise, Joffrey is a terrible king. Sansa (Sophie Turner) is walking on pins and needles, and Cersei has no control. After Cersei smacks Joffrey in “The North Remembers,” he threatens her, too. It’s clear that this boy is too arrogant and not nearly wise enough to serve as leader of the realm. So he probably won’t be in that seat for long.
Joffrey’s best hope is to listen to his uncle, Tyrion. Tyrion is unafraid of his nephew’s power, but smart enough not to directly challenge him in ways Joffrey can justifiably strike back against. Tyrion is a master politician, and surprisingly honorable and honest. This makes it clear who should be in charge. But is Joffrey too far gone to listen to sound advice? Probably.
It’s interesting to see Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) serving as Lord of Winterfell in “The North Remembers.” He is a bit younger than Joffrey, and just as ignorant in the ways of leadership. However, Bran has an advantage because he listens to Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter). Luwin served Bran’s father faithfully for many years. Bran has had a lifetime of watching his dad, a great example of how person in charge should act. Knowing that his father relied on Luwin, Bran does, too. Which will keep him on the straight and narrow.
So does that mean Joffrey’s problem is a lack of good role models? After all, King Robert was a philandering drunk. Joffrey’s mother, Cersei, isn’t much better, having an affair with her brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who is the biological sire of Cersei’s children. In fact, the only good role model Joffrey has has is Tyrion, is looked down upon by his entire family. No wonder Joffrey doesn’t know how to behave!
But one can only blame bad parentage as an excuse for so long. Tyrion finds a way to overcome it, and so, too, can Joffrey, should he put his mind to it. Besides Tyrion, Joffrey could also listen to Sansa or the Hound (Rory McCann), and both would likely provide him with credible counsel. But in a viper’s pit like the capital, the unearned self worth Joffrey has, combined with the slimy machinations by many around him who also hold power, will likely prove too much for this youth to overcome. Making his reign finite, indeed.
Plenty are ready to unseat Joffrey, when the times comes. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane, The Hours, John Adams) has the most legitimate claim, being Robert’s eldest surviving brother, and thus, the next in line by lineage. That is, unless one of Robert’s bastards comes forward. But Stannis has a problem. Namely, that people don’t like him. Little is seen of Stannis in “The North Remembers,” but he does appear gruff and stern and not very personable. This hurts his cause, which is why the people of the Seven Kingdoms are not flocking to support him.
By contrast, Stannis’s younger brother, Renly (Gethin Anthony), is extremely popular, and is already putting together a large force of supporters. Renly’s homosexuality will likely weaken the hold he has over his followers should it ever be exposed. As long as that stays a secret, he looks to be a more likely monarch than Stannis.