Game of Thrones: You Win or You Die

Cersei Lannister warns Ned Stark that if you play the Game of Thrones, “You Win or You Die”. A calm before the storm is settling over the Seven Kingdoms as people choose their allegiances and move their pieces into place.

King’s Landing
Ned Stark has finally uncovered Cersei’s illicit activities and warns her that he won’t keep her nasty secret. Cersei is proud that all of her children were fathered by her brother instead of her drunken husband. “Jaime and I are more than brother and sister. We shared a womb together, came into this world together. We belong together”. She basically admits that they pushed Bran off the tower because he saw them together. I’m surprised Ned kept his composure as well as he did. The bitch tried to murder his son and left him a cripple at 10-years old!

Despite that fact that Cersei showed him no such consideration, Ned doesn’t want HER childrens’ blood on his hands. He gives her 24 hours to take her kids and run for safety before her treachery becomes public knowledge and the King loses his mind.

But the King is far too busy trying to keep his guts from spewing out to focus on much else. He returns from his trip, ripped open and stinking of death. Skewered by a boar in a hunting mishap, he at least managed to take the beast down with him. The knowledge that he is going to die makes a repentant man of the once raging Robert. He tells Ned to repeal the assassination order on Daenerys Targaryen. He also apologizes to his spoiled son Joffrey for being a piss poor father “I should have spent more time with you … shown you how to be a man.” Joffrey actually looks really upset, which threw me. Reading the book, I got no sense that he had any feeling for his father whatsoever. You have to wonder where Joffrey stands in all of this. Sure he’s a naturally spiteful, horrible little prick, but he does have a messed up existence. It’s like he’s already decided he’s a Lannister, not a Baratheon, even though he supposedly doesn’t know the truth. Does he have any inkling that his uncle is actually his father? If he does, how does he not hate his mother?

Ned can’t bring himself to tell Robert the ugly truth … what good would it do at this point? Robert dictates a letter naming Ned Protector and Ruler of the realm until Joffrey comes of age. Ned discreetly writes ‘the heir comes of age’ instead.

With Robert on his way out, everyone has their own ideas on how to handle the succession of the throne. Ned believes the only honorable move is to write Stannis Baratheon and offer him the crown. Renly wants to plan an immediate strike to get Joffrey away from his mother so the Queen cannot use him to rule the realm herself. “He who holds the King holds the kingdom.” Ned reveals Joffrey’s true parentage to Lord Baelish, who suggests they let Joffrey succeed the throne. Ned can rule as protector of the realm and dangle the truth to keep Joffrey in line. They can drop the bomb whenever they choose and seat Lord Renly instead.

Ned is swayed by nothing but honour and he writes to Stannis immediately. But he does swallow his pride long enough to ask Baelish to pay off the City Guard for him. When he reveals the truth, he’ll need manpower on his side.  

Queen Cersei and ‘King’ Joffrey waste no time asserting their royal authority. Joffrey has made his entitled butt comfortable in the iron throne and the Queen has styled her tresses in a pouffy foot-high hairdo that means business! Joffrey demands oaths of fealty from his subjects and the Queen casually shreds the letter naming Ned ‘Protector of the Realm’. Ned makes his move, ordering the City Watch to seize them both and take them into custody. Instead, The City Watch slaughter Ned’s personal guard while Baelish holds a knife to Ned’s throat: “I did warn you not to trust me.”

The Wall
It’s been two episodes since Jon Snow’s last appearance and my pitter-pattering little heart is certainly glad to see him!

It’s finally time for Jon to ‘take the black’, recite his vows and officially become a member of the Night’s Watch. The Lord Commander makes a big speech about what it means and what they’re giving up … blah, blah, blah … but all I keep hearing is ‘father no children’. So does that mean they have to be totally celibate forever? As in never have sex … ever? Because those vows are for life and I’ll be really bummed out if I never get a romantic plotline involving Jon. It’s a crime to waste that much cuteness!

The recruits are finally getting their assignments and Jon is puffed up like a peacock waiting to be named ranger. He’s crushed when he’s given a stewardship instead and assigned to the Lord Commander. He throws a bit of a hissy fit and although I love him, he was being a thoughtless turd. It’s rude to act horribly insulted about an assignment in front of two other people who just got that same position. Nice going!

Sam brushes right past his lack of class and points out that the Lord Commander requested him personally. Yes, he’ll be serving him tea and drawing his baths, but he’ll also be attending him at meetings and squiring for him in battle. He’ll know the ins and outs of the entire Night’s Watch. The Lord Commander is grooming him for command! Jon feels like a tool and sucks it up. He travels beyond the wall and takes his vows in front of a heart tree, in the presence of the Old Gods. Just as he is leaving, Ghost plods up with a super yummy surprise for his Master … a human hand! Oh dear.

Across the Narrow Sea
Dany and Drogo, who have grown into one hell of an adorable couple, are preening over each other in their tent while Dany tries to convince him to storm the Seven Kingdoms. She speaks softly of wooden horses to carry them across the sea, and thrones for their stallion son to sit upon. Drogo plays along a little, but isn’t moved.

Dany and Sir Jorah travel to a market to check out the delicacies from far off lands. An errand child discreetly attracts Sir Jorah’s attention and presents him with greetings from Varys and a royal pardon. Jorah has obviously been feeding information about Dany and the Dothraki clan back to the King’s Council, but was he aware that they intended to kill her? He must have known something was up because he intervenes just as a merchant is trying to sell her a barrel of poisoned wine. I’m guessing the royal pardon didn’t advocate foiling the King’s assassination attempts so it seems as though Jorah has chosen Dany for the moment.

When Khal Drogo hears that the King of the Seven Kingdoms tried to hurt the ‘moon of his life’, he is PISSED! It’s really sweet and highly frightening at the same time. In one long, impressive, impassioned rant he uses more words than in the previous 6 episodes combined. He grunts, growls and paces around the fire, sounding the war cry to the Dothraki. Rage has driven him to cross the poisoned water on wooden horses and storm the Seven Kingdoms. To his unborn child he pledges “I will give him the Iron Chair that his mother’s father sat upon.” (Woo-hoo!) He’s going to fight the men in iron suits (ALRIGHT!), tear down their stone houses (YES!!!), rape all their women (WOooo – wait, wha?) and take their children as slaves (…..) I wanted to root for you dude, but you kinda lost me near the end there.

Random Annoyances:

I know that I’ve harped on the hyped up sex and violence in this show before, but I’ve accepted its place in this gritty tale. But there were a few moments in this episode that still had me rolling my eyes. Note to writers: If you craft a compelling speech, people will pay attention to it even without a gruesome or titillating sideshow. 

In one scene, Tywin Lannister spouts off to Jaime about the value of the Lannister name and how it must continue to strike fear in the hearts of lesser men. As he chastises his son for wasting his life and challenges him to become the man he was born to be, he is skinning and gutting a dead boar. Maybe it was intended to illustrate Tywin’s strength, but I found it distracting and also hard to believe that the head of a powerful house would be skinning his own boar. Doesn’t he have minions for that stuff?

The worst offense was the scene with Baelish and his brothel girls. He starts instructing them on how to properly stage some ‘girl on girl’ action and tells them his life story as he watches them. The visuals were completely superfluous and pointless. If his backstory is so dull that only lesbian porn can save it, maybe it’s not worth including!

Photo Courtesy of HBO

One thought on “Game of Thrones: You Win or You Die

  1. just a small note… he was skinning a deer. Personally I found that to be awesome. My only reason for thinking this was that we have heard that type of speech before in other shows/movies and frankly it’s a little tired. But Ill tell you what… start skinning an animal while you’re doing it and you have my attention.

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