As brought to vivid, sneering life by the 20-year-old Irish-born actor Jack Gleeson, HBO’s Joffrey Baratheon is somehow at once larger than life — a sadistic, hyperambitious, immensely annoying spawn of royal incest — and comically puny at the same time. Whenever he slithers into view with that crooked turd-eating grin of his, Game of Thrones fans can be forgiven if, just for an instant, they’re tempted to react a bit like the good citizens of 1984‘s Oceania during the daily exercise of state-mandated madness known as “Two Minutes Hate”: raging at the screen in a bug-eyed frenzy of loathing. And yet deep down, beneath that supremely arrogant public persona, might there not lurk a small, frightened boy, thrust by fate and family too soon into the lethal swirl of machinations around the Iron Throne? Nahhh. He’s a monstrous brat. Bring on the machinations!