This story contains major spoilers from Sunday's episode.
The nuptial nightmares continue on HBO's Game of Thrones.
On the heels of last season's Red Wedding slaughter, death intruded on another Thrones union Sunday with the murder of King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) at his own wedding banquet.
The sadistic Lannister king died late in the episode, apparently of poisoned wine, after mercilessly teasing his uncle, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), during the lavish reception. The gruesome death — blood streamed from Joffrey's nose and eyes as he succumbed — threatens to tear up the ruling family, as Joffrey's mother Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) accused brother Tyrion of her son's murder.
The mythical Thrones kingdom has not been the greatest advertisement for wedding planners.
"Who wants to go to a wedding in Westeros, right?" says Natalie Dormer, whose Margaery Tyrell was married ever so briefly to Joffrey. "They never end well."
Stress and tension often run high at weddings, she said in an interview before Season 4 began, but Thrones characters have a way of taking them to new heights.
"When you put relatives and distant friends and relations in the same room, (there are) all these different maneuvers and politics and arguments. All these things come to the front at these special family occasions. It's just typical Westeros that it gets heightened to a fatal level," Dormer says.
Margaery's grandmother, Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), commented on nuptial atrocity even before Joffrey's death during a conversation with Sansa Stark, whose mother, brother and sister-in-law were brutally murdered during the third-season Red Wedding.
"War is war, but killing a man at a wedding — horrid," Olenna says. "What sort of monster would do such a thing? As if men need more reasons to fear marriage."
As with the Red Wedding, readers of the George R.R. Martin book series on which Thrones is based will have known Joffrey's murder was coming. Both ceremonies took place in Martin's A Storm of Swords, the third novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.
However, the many viewers who have not read the books will be unaware and the fact the killing occurs just three episodes later, ratcheting up the action in just the second episode of the new season, could add to the surprise, says Alex Graves, who directed Sunday's episode and three other fourth-season hours.
"I hope it will be a shock," Graves says, speaking before the episode was broadcast. Unlike seasons where major events occurred near the end of the run, "this season breaks all those molds in that the second episode really kicks things off" for the action-heavy season.
The victim's monstrous nature may elicit "a completely fresh response" compared to the one that followed the Red Wedding, which saw the deaths of revered Stark family members. The Lannisters were complicit in those killings.
Sunday's event "has so little to do with the Red Wedding," Graves says. "The Red Wedding was sort of grim and scary and three of the nicest, most beloved people on the show were murdered, whereas this is kind of a long party drama that has a surprise at the end with one of the worst people in fiction being killed."
Joffrey's death at the Purple Wedding — so named by fans for the color of the wine and the symbol of royalty — may make some viewers happy, Graves says, but "I hope they'll have sympathy for his mother."
The huge wedding feast, which was shot in Croatia, was "a circus," Graves says. It featured more than a dozen cast regulars, at least 200 extras, contortionists, fire tricks, a mock battle between dwarfs who emerged from the mouth of an elaborate lion's head sculpture and a pie from which a flock of white pigeons burst into the air.
Dormer marvels at the spectacle of the event.
"I've played a bride before in my career (and) regardless of how many times I get married in the future professionally, I don't think I will every experience such a huge production-value wedding," she says. "The scale of it was just phenomenal."