'Game of Thrones' Finally Tied Up One of the Show's Major Loose Ends
The big reason Game of Thrones is such vibrant fodder for theorizing, Reddit-enabled whizkids is that creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, working off George R.R. Martin's completed-but-not-yet-published crib sheet, can foreshadow like only a Three-Eyed Raven could. They know the past, present, and future, and scenes from years ago can be recalled at a moment's notice in Season 7 for sweet payoff. Expect the ending of the entire series to be one big setup event. Hell, even Joffrey's death way back in Season 4 can return as the perfect callback.
For those with a keen sense of Westeros history (or those of us who spend way too much time down the Game of Thrones rabbit hole), the final beat of episode 3, "The Queen's Justice," connected the dots of Weiss and Benioff's clever plotting and gifted legendary actress Diana Rigg the send-off she deserves for her no-bullshit performance as Olenna Tyrell. How you die with dignity on Thrones: reveal you're the mastermind behind one of the greatest deaths in seven seasons of mayhem.
The setup: Instead of defending the Lannister homestead of Casterly Rock (which everyone expected), Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his battalion made their way to Highgarden, home of the backstabbing Tyrells. Slaying the meek troops without breaking a sweat, Jaime makes his way to the castle's main chambers, where he finds Olenna, seated and ready to die. They exchange the kind pleasantries, Olenna pleads the Kingslayer to wake the hell up that his sister is a grade-A psychopath, and then both figures in this episode-capping chamber piece turn to the matter at hand. Instead of decapitating Olenna and dragging her bleeding corpse through the streets of King's Landing, Jaime's offered the aging matriarch a distinguished demise: a sip of poisoned wine.
Even Olenna has to laugh. After chugging the alcoholic solution, she reveals to Jaime what we, the audience, had assumed for a few seasons: she was the one who drugged his drink, turning him into a breathless, blood-gushing, blueberry of a boy and ending his reign of tyranny. Surprise!
If you've been paying attention, this wasn't so much a revelation as one final, fulfilling jab from a grandmaster of Westerosian conspiracies. Then again, there's a lot to pay attention to in the world of Game of Thrones, so we wouldn't blame you for missing these vital signs that Olenna was the one who did Joffrey in. It all starts in the premiere of Season 4, when the embarrassed, surviving-by-the-skin-of-his-teeth knight Dontos Hollard gifts Sansa a necklace. Why?
Because later, in the third episode of that season, she wears it at the wedding of Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell -- which is exactly what Olenna wanted her to do. It's a quick moment, but Weiss and Benioff actually give Ladd a scene to work her magic -- acting and sleight of hand. One minute Sansa's necklace has a full set of crystals. The next, it doesn't.
All the camerawork in the "Purple Wedding" sequence leans in to Olenna. This isn't really a secret, but no one's talking… yet.
And then we get that glorious moment where Joffrey goes down. All signs point to Tyrion. Wrong.
Weiss and Benioff went so far as to include two more scenes in Season 4 where they point to Olenna as the mastermind behind the assassination. Remember this bit where Littlefinger admits to pulling a few strings to bring the Lannister family crashing down?
The scene transitions to none other than Olenna and Margaery. On the nose, but devilishly on the nose. In that follow-up scene, Olenna all but admits to slipping Joffrey the poison known to fans as "The Strangler." "You don’t think I’d let you marry that beast, do you?" she tells the now-queen. "Shh, don’t you worry yourself about all that. You just do what needs to be done."
Cut to three years later, at a turbulent time when poison is being poured like wine at Tyrion's local brothel. "The Queen's Justice" opened with a reminder of Myrcella Lannister's toxin-related death to prepare us for Cersei's sinister poisonous peck that'll soon do Tyene Sand in. Then we have Jaime using Qyburn's killer mix on ol' Olenna -- but the aging woman has the last laugh. "Tell Cersei, I wanted her to know it was me," she says.
We all did. And, thank the Lord of Light, she will.