This week’s episode of 'Game of Thrones' had the bloody show’s best body count yet -- but how metal was it?

Welcome to Week 2 of Season 4 of ‘Game of Thrones.’ HBO’s reigning series is a big-budget, faux-medieval costume drama, but it’s about dudes and rad women cutting off heads and stabbing each other in the back with steel broadswords -- all in the name of power an vengeance. And that makes it the most metal show on TV, for real.

How delightful was Peter Dinklage’s tortured turn as the Imp Tyrion Lannister this week? Who cares? Let all those other cupcake recappers worry about the arty crap. Every week, our Heavy Metal ‘Game of Thrones’ Reviews evaluate each episode in terms of how much ass was kicked. This week, it was plenty. Major spoilers follow.

If you thought WrestleMania 30 left a lot of fans chanting “YES,” that worldwide din sounded like polite applause compared to the eruption that broke out around 9:54 EST last night. Season Four has hit the ground running like a dire wolf. Wait, hold on a minute, let’s get something out of the way.


More about that in a minute. Anyway …

Despite the fact half of ‘The Lion and the Rose’ centered on a wedding, this episode had enough grisly s--- to fill a concept album by Hellhammer. If it didn’t end on such a glorious note, it would have been hard to shake the ghastly, disturbing opening sequence. In the North -- but well South of the Wall -- Ramsay Snow, his girlfriend, his gelded lackey and his pet dogs literally hunt down a defenseless woman, resolving a romantic entanglement in a rather unconventional manner. And before you know it, the body count is rising.

Snow is a sick f---, put it mildly. He’s a bastard of House Bolton, a traitorous clan whose flag features a skinned man. And they’re at war with another faction who are basically Vikings. So all is very metal here, but larger things are afoot down in sunny medieval Florida. (If the capital King’s Landing is roughly where Florida would be, the wild areas north of the wall are the equivalent of Northern Canada.)

‘The Lion and the Rose’ moved by at a brisk pace, despite endless awkward moments so tense you need Valyrian Steel to cut the tension. This week was scripted by series creator George R.R. Martin, whose name in the credits always forecasts some quality death.

Through the episode, Martin makes the most of this opportunity to revise his creation, peppering it with some intriguing and amusing new character interactions we didn’t see in the books: Tywin Lannister and Lady Olenna Tyrell. Melisandre and Shireen Baratheon (the little girl with a heart of gold and face of spreading scales). Loras Tyrell and Jaime Lannister. Red Scorpion Oberyn Martell and Loras Tyrell. Oberyn and Tywin. And Jaime and Bronn, Tyrion’s mercenary pal. The eminently quotable Bronn is always in the running for Most Metal Dude in the Game. With the look and swagger of a young Lemmy, he delivers lines like this week’s “Go drink until it feels like you’ve done the right thing.”

But even after the episode’s glorious climax, the week’s Most Metal Moment still goes to the beach party at Castle Dragonstone. So sprawling are ‘Game of Thrones’’s multiple plot lines that they rarely fit into a single episode. So we didn’t see this angle last week; hence, it hasn’t been onscreen for nearly a year. So, in case you forgot, the ramrod-straight guy is Stannis Baratheon, who technically should be king, but -- as is always the case in the world of Westeros -- life isn’t fair, so he’s left to fight against increasingly insurmountable odds, with the aid of redhead witch Melisandre.

A few seasons back, Melisandre and Stannis got it on, and she gave birth to a winged shadow demon assassin who killed the guy’s brother. So they would have incalculable metal cred even if they didn’t open their brief segment by burning three people alive, which they did. And it doesn’t get much more metal than burnt offerings.

The nighttime beach bash gives way to the big day, the joyless union of Margaery Tyrell and King Joffrey Lannister-Baratheon. “A royal wedding is no amusement,” the king declares shortly before the fest reaches critical mass. And, as usual, the p---- was wrong. Dead wrong.

'The Lion and the Rose' Stats and Count of Assorted Metal Signifiers and Situations:

Onscreen Body Count: 6 (if you count the deer)
Bloodthirsty Dogs Eating Flesh: 2
Acts of Vengeance: 1
Boobs: 2
Bastards: 2
Trippy Three-Eyed Crow: 1
Flock of Ravens: 1
Verbal Beatdowns: 2
Beer Dumped on a Dude’s Head in Anger: 1 (OK, it was wine, still…)
Spinal Tap-Style Historical Reenactments Featuring Dwarves: 1
Regicide: 1
Poseurs: 2 (ONE LESS NOW! HA! HAAAAA!)
Overall Rating: M-M-Metal, with three capital M’s.

The credits music was yet another rendition of the Lannister theme-turned-dirge 'The Rains of Castamere,' but here’s a heavier alternative you can hum all week: Soulless covers Rainbow’s 'Kill the King.' Ronnie James Dio rest in piece. Joffrey Lannister -- let’s not fool ourselves and call him Baratheon -- burn in the Seven Hells.

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