Episode 7 of Game of Thrones, You Win or You Die, has just aired. Wow. Another fantastic episode. What did everyone else think? Discuss the show amongst yourselves below. I’ll be back with a full recap along with my thoughts and reactions as soon as possible!
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the first book. As such the post itself and the comments will contain spoilers. The new viewer recap and discussion thread can be found here.
The episode opens on Tywin’s camp. And right off the bat we meet the man himself, Tywin Lannister. He is skinning a stag (a symbolism not lost on me) and putting Jaime in his place. Charles Dance so captures Tywin’s commanding air that I don’t even mind his lack of mutton chops. The normally unflappable and cocksure Jaime is reduced to an uncertain and timid fool in his presence. Tywin instructs him to ride to Riverrun and enact vengeance on the Tully’s, because a Lannister always pays his debts.
Back at King’s Landing, where Ned has summoned Cersei to the courtyard where he reveals what he knows. Cersei does not seem phased. In fact, she admits outright that she is glad that her children are Jaime’s and not Robert’s. Some of Lena Headey’s best work as Cersei is in the this scene. Ned cautions her to flee King’s Landing before the King returns from his hunt. Cersei does not take Ned’s advice. “When you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Cersei is playing to win.
Ah yes… Littlefinger and his whores. The scene did go on far too long, so I won’t spend much time on it here. I will say that I don’t necessarily find it out of character for Littlefinger to share this info with his whores. It’s not he’s telling them his plans and machinations. He’s relating a story from his past, one that is pretty well known amongst court anyway. And I also love his response to Ros’ question about what it is that he wants. “Oh, everything, my dear. Everything there is.”
Next is time for our brief, weekly look at the goings-on at Winterfell. Here we see Theon acting like a smug prick, bossing around someone who he actually can boss around. I love Luwin’s smackdown of him when he calls Osha a prisoner and not a guest. “Are the two mutually exclusive in your experience?” Osha then proceeds to creep Luwin (and me) out. “They was sleeping and they ain’t sleeping no more.”
After a two-week absence, we finally are back at the Wall where Jon and Sam are standing watch when they spy a rider. Only it’s not a rider, just a horse. Benjen’s horse. But where is Benjen?
King’s Landing now, where Renly delivers the bad news to Ned, the King has been attacked by a boar and is dying. Ned goes to his bedside, to find Robert speaking with Joffrey about how he should have been a better father. Even though Robert is a shitty father and a worse husband, I still feel bad that he has been cuckolded and led to believe this boy is his son and sad that he is disappointed he didn’t spend more time with him. If only he knew…. Ned has the decency not to tell him. Addy is great in his final scene, mixing humor with heart as he appoints Ned regent until Joffrey comes of age. Ned slyly writes “rightful heir” instead. Not that it will matter anyway. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is braiding her husband’s hair and telling him of the Iron Throne. Drogo says a khal doesn’t need a throne to sit on, just a horse. Drogo and Daenerys (Daenogo? Dronerys?) may have gotten off to a rocky start but is now one of the few tender and loving relationships in the show.
Dany heads to the marketplace accompanied by Jorah and her handmaidens. After assuring the khaleesi that Drogo will eventually help her win back the throne, Jorah excuses himself to go retrieve a message; in this case, a royal pardon. Dany encounters a wine merchant that insists on gifting her a cask of (poisoned) wine from the Arbor. Jorah seems to have second thoughts about his role in what is about to transpire and steps in to save Dany’s life. The wine merchant flees only to be brought to justice by the long arm of Rakharo’s whip.
Back at the Wall, Lord Commander Mormont is delivering his graduation speech to the new recruits about to be sworn in as men of the Night’s Watch. He gives them their assignments and Jon is shocked to hear he has been assigned to the Stewards and not the Rangers. He goes all emo on poor old Maester Aemon, who is much less whiny here than when we last saw him. Sam eventually explains to him what is happening. He has been handpicked by Mormont to be groomed as the next Lord Commander.
To King’s Landing, where Renly makes Ned an offer he must refuse. Stupid Ned and his honor. He summons Littlefinger to his quarters where Petyr explains to Ned that all the power is his, he just needs to “reach out and take it.” Again Ned’s honor gets in the way. “Well why did you bring me here Lord Stark? Not for my wisdom, clearly.” Ned needs Littlefinger to ensure that the Gold Cloaks will be on his side. Gillen is so good, you can almost see the plans for his double-crossing take shape in the Machiavellian smile he gives Ned.
To the Wall now, beyond the Wall actually, where Jon and Sam go to say their vows in front of a heart tree. (Which looks amazing by the way.) The vows sound as epic on screen as one would hope. Everyone is smiles and bro hugs, until Ghost finds a severed hand in the woods. Oh, and Ghost barking? Despite hearing about it all week, I didn’t even notice it. That is how much I don’t care.
Speaking of vows, back at Vaes Dothrak, Drogo makes a vow of his own. He vows that he will cross the Narrow Sea and take back the Iron Throne, for his wife and for his unborn son. An epic performance by Jason Momoa. Just an outstanding job learning Dothraki and then putting that much emotion behind it. I got chills.
And finally, in King’s Landing, Ned is summoned to the throne room by King Joffrey. Robert is dead. Littlefinger assures him he has the support of the Gold Cloaks as he goes to faceoff against Cersei and her son. Joffrey has wasted no time acted like a pompous little shit. Ned shows them Robert’s decree and Cersei tears it up, much to Ned’s (and Barristan’s) chagrin. No matter, Ned thinks, I still have the Gold Cloaks. He orders them to seize Joffrey and Cersei. Unfortunately, things don’t go exactly to plan. The Gold Cloaks turn on Ned, killing his men (spear through the chest seems to be the death of choice for Stark guardsmen these days). Littlefinger steps behind Ned and puts a knife to his throat. “I did warn you not to trust me.”
And that is where this week’s episode ends. Another fantastic episode. I know you nitpickers had a field day over some of the stuff in this episode, but I thought all the important scenes were spot on. Like I said, Tywin’s introduction was perfect. Ned and Cersei’s confrontation was great, well-acted by both Headey and Bean. Addy’s final scene was a good one. Drogo’s speech gave me chills. And the scene in the throne room was epic in the way it just twisted and turned. I can’t wait until next week.