When I read the telling of Joffreys death in the books, I was fine with it. But in the death scene we saw last night, actor Jack Gleason was finally able to convey the truth behind Joffrey and (most of) his cruelty: that deep down he was just a scared boy. A scared boy who was given unlimited power and used it to become a bully since he hadn't been adequately parented by his real father, Jaime Lannister, and the father her thought was his own in Robert Baratheon.
Disagree. He wasn't a 'scared little boy' - he was a complete and utter sociopath. Rotten and evil to his core, even if he sometimes was unsure of himself, he had no regard for any person on that show - NO ONE. Talking about cutting Ned Stark's head off with his daughter sitting 5 feet away... tormenting his uncle, killing at will...
I didn't see a single redeeming thing about him, and he was designed that way.
I'm not disputing that Joffrey was a sociopath. He absolutely was. He was a sociopath who was drunk with power, and that lust for power had been instilled in him by Tywin and Cersei. And he's also the result of a lack of a solid father figure, as both Robert Baratheon and Jaime Lannister failed him.
I credit that slight glimmer of humanity much more to the actor than the character. And from all of the behind the scenes videos it's been communicated that the actor behind Joffrey is actually an incredibly nice kid. And he's done an amazing job in portraying a horrible character. He made a choice in that death scene that said something to me.
Even the most horrific villain has some shred of humanity to them. Otherwise they're just ridiculous, one dimensional constructs. One thing that's become very clear in George R.R. Martin's writing is that his characters are by and large complicated. If you didn't get that? Fine. That's your viewing experience. I had one of my own. And I just find it interesting that viewing the scene on the HBO series evoked a slightly different response than when I read the same scene in A Storm of Swords
The one thing that's left hanging from the books that I have to wonder about in the wake of Joffrey's death? It's something that really should have been explored in the pilot, and seems to have been a missed opportunity in the show. In the first novel, when the Royal court is visiting Winterfell, Joffrey loses some competition to Robb Stark. It was the shame of that loss and a remark from Robert Baratheon that seems to have spurred Joffrey to hire the assassin that went to kill Bran in his sick bed in Winterfell. After that things spiraled out of control, leading to the outbreak of hostilities between the Starks and the Lannisters. I'm struggling to recall who revealed that information and at what time. It may have been Varys, but I'm not positive.