Emmy Episode Analysis: Lena Headey (‘Game of Thrones’) is tragic villain in ‘Lion and the Rose’

This is Lena Headey‘s first Best Drama Supporting Actress nomination for her role as Cersei Lannister on “Game of Thrones.” Can she upset frontrunner Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad“) and take home an Emmy?

Exclusive video: ‘Game of Thrones’ star Lena Headey defends controversial sex scene

SYNOPSIS: In “The Lion and the Rose,” all of King’s Landing is preparing for the royal wedding of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). At the pre-wedding banquet, Joffrey is lavished with gifts, including a Valyrian steel sword that his grandfather, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), had forged in a prior episode. Joffrey begins to torment his uncle Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) by contemptuously chopping in half the rare book Tyrion had given to him.

At the reception after the wedding ceremony, Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) reminds Tywin of the debt the crown owes to the Iron Bank of Braavos. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) threatens Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), telling him that should he wed Jaime’s sister Cersei, she would likely kill him in his sleep. Loras responds by implying that he knows of Jaime and Cersei’s incestuous affair.

After giving her congratulations to Joffrey and Margaery, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) is confronted by an indignant Cersei, who accuses Brienne of being in love with Jaime. Margaery announces that the leftovers from the feast are to be given to the city’s poorest residents, earning applause from their guests. However, a bitter Cersei demands that the leftovers be thrown to the royal hounds instead.

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Tywin and Cersei are confronted by Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), with whom they exchange veiled insults and accusations.

In the final scene, Joffrey continues to humiliate Tyrion, ordering his uncle to be his cup bearer. As Joffrey drinks wine from the goblet Tyrion handed him, he starts to violently choke. As Lady Olenna calls out for help, Joffrey falls to the ground and points accusingly at Tyrion. Cersei holds her son as he dies and ferociously orders for Tyrion’s arrest.

Can Headey win on her very first nomination? Let’s consider the pros and cons:


Headey’s big money scene at the end of the episode is a real winner. She falls to the ground and watches her son’s painful death, and then unleashes an almighty roar as she furiously calls for her brother’s arrest. It’s a powerful scene that will stick with many Emmy voters.

“Game of Thrones” received the most nominations of any program this year (19) and has broad support from many branches of the TV academy. The overall admiration for this show can only help Headey in her quest to upset frontrunner Anna Gunn.


Headey doesn’t get to show a lot of range, given the cold, villainous nature of her character. Cersei is mean, abusive, snarky, and angry. It’s only her brief devastation at the death of her son that gives us a fleeting glimpse of another side of Cersei.

Cersei is a polarizing character. Fans love to hate her, but voters watching this episode without much context might be turned off by her altogether.

Screen time is always an issue for actors in ensemble shows like “Game of Thrones,” as there are a multitude of characters featured in the sprawling epic each week. There are long periods where Headey is off-screen, which could mean she’s out of sight, out of mind.

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Headey is currently in fourth place in our predictions with 50/1 odds. Do you agree? Make your own predictions below.

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