Recap: Game of Thrones S1 Ep7 ~ “You Win Or You Die”
Some stellar moments in this week’s Game of Thrones.
The Lannister patriarch, played to excellent effect by Charles Dance, certainly made a memorable first impression. Methodically butchering an animal whilst dressing down his son Jaime for not killing Ned when he was injured. Jaime claims he doesn’t care what others think, implying he only cares about his opinion of himself. The ruthless father then goes on to order his son to rescue Tyrion for appearances sake rather than love to inspire fear and respect.
You can find great role models in the Game of Thrones, the Lannisters and Littlefinger in particular. They teach us that you’ve got to get your hands bloody, to manipulate, manipulate, manipulate, to prostitute yourself (figuratively and literally) and just generally fuck everyone over. It really doesn’t matter because as long as you attain your goal it’s all acceptable. Who says honour is a valuable commodity? Er, Ned Stark actually. Machiavelli would be proud.
Speaking of Ned, he
stupidly naively puts all his cards on the table when he reveals his knowledge of Joffrey’s true parentage to Cersei who admits to twincest and reasons it was because Robert was in love with a dead girl, Lyanna, Ned’s sister. Ned gives her an ultimatum: you tell Robert, or I will. She responds by informing Ned he could’ve taken the throne when Jaime killed the Mad King but he doesn’t regret it. He never wanted to be king. Because being the king sucks. They tend to die horrible deaths.
”When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” ~ Cersei
We then move to an added scene which doesn’t appear in the similarly named book but which fills in the audience on some history and find Theon’s Ros in Littlefinger’s whorehouse in a girl-on-girl training session with Peter Baelish recounting his childhood relationship with and unrequited love for the then Catelyn Tully, now Stark, and his desire for revenge for his rebuffed advances by her and her family. A warning for what’s to come.
Robert tells an apparently stricken (was he faking?) and despicable Joffrey that he should’ve spent more time with him and that he was “never meant to be a father” which considering his numerous and neglected offspring, is blatantly obvious. When Ned and Robert are left alone Ned decides not to inform him of his wife’s betrayal and instead changes the words of Robert’s last wishes from leaving the throne to “my son” to “my rightful heir”. Sneaky but the act adheres to Stark’s rigid code of ethics. And then Robert dies, “murdered by a pig”. How brave and honourable a death it was. Not. It was fitting taking into account his lack of care and responsibility as king.
Barristan Selmy feels guilty for the king’s death but Ned reassures him that no one could protect Robert from himself after which Varys points out the wine and the man dispensing it – a Lannister, inferring his death could be murder. Another one? Jon Arryn’s death is still unsolved. Is this Murder, She Wrote? Are the Lannisters Jessica Fletcher in disguise with death and distruction following them everywhere? It’s mightily suspicious. I always did wonder if it was Jessica who was offing everyone and framing her trusted friends and family.
Not wanting to be king himself, Ned is presented with other possibilities:
1) Renly advises him to take Joffrey for whomever has the heir controls the Seven Kingdoms.
2) Ned states Stannis is the rightful heir even though he “inspires no love or loyalty”, he’s a soldier but good soldiers don’t always “make good kings”. Look at Robert.
3) Confronted with the truth, Littlefinger suggests moulding Joffrey into a respectable king and if that fails crown Renly.
4) Well, there was no #4 but I wanted to add Robert’s bastards. They may not be able to inherit but they deserve a mention.
And who does Ned choose? He picks Stannis. The man nobody backs. When will he learn? Ned sends him a letter and asks Littlefinger to make a deal with the Kingsguard to get the Gold Cloaks to follow him instead of the Lannisters but fails to realise they’ll only follow those who’ll pay them the most and well, the Lannisters are the richest people around so you can guess where this is going can’t you?
Ned’s presence is requested by “King” Joffrey and is informed by Varys that Renly has fled with his lover, Loras. In the throne room Cersei encourages Ned to “bend the knee”, Ned refuses, produces Robert’s last decree which she shreds. Ned calls on the Gold Cloaks and for a moment he thinks he’s safe until they turn and kill his men while Littlefinger puts a knife to his throat and whispers “I did warn you not to trust me.”
Meanwhile, Dany fails to persuade Khal Drogo to cross the sea to take the Iron Throne until a wine merchant tries to poison the “moon of his life”. Previously the Khal has uttered few words so it was shocking to hear him bellow his pledge of the Iron Throne and its Seven Kingdoms to his unborn son and watch him beat his chest and roar with rage declaring his intent to rape their women and make slaves of their children for attempting to murder his pregnant Khaleesi. On the one hand this barbarian’s masculine display seemed silly but on the other it was downright sexy.
Jorah receiving his royal pardon from Varys, aka the Spider, and subsequently saving Dany from the wine vendor’s poisoned wares was an added bonus for fans of the book and an indication of where Ser Jorah’s allegiance now truly lies.
With Robert’s death there’s no longer a reason to attack the Seven Kingdoms. The Khal’s enemy is dead. However, his death now opens up a world of opportunity. Few like the Lannisters. Stannis is the rightful heir with his brother Renly also a contender for the crown. Some interesting times ahead, not to mention Osha’s warning to Maester Luwin at Winterfell, that the Others were only sleeping and they’re not sleeping no more. This sense of foreboding is enhanced when Benjen’s horse returns riderless and Ghost finds a severed hand north of the Wall itself.
From now on events are going to be explosive. This is where the game of thrones truly begins.
Winter is coming…
Preview of episode 8: “The Pointy End”