Recap: Game of Thrones S1, Ep8 ~ “The Pointy End”
Well, I think we know why this episode was called the “The Pointy End”, don’t we? Shorter, action-packed scenes with much blood and gore in this one. So much it seems that there was no time for naked breasts. None! Not one. Although we did get a well-endowed naked Hodor. Not sure if people will be turned on in their thousands by a man who can only say one word, and its not even his name but then sometimes we don’t need them to speak when they have…other qualities now, do we ladies?
There were two moments in this episode that really summed everything up:
1) Ned’s response to Varys when he was asked what possessed him to reveal his hand Cersei:
“The madness of mercy”
2) Syrio and Arya’s final scene together as he tells her to run as he faces down her would-be kidnappers:
“What do we say to the god of death?”
Which Varys, presuming he was the god in this case, echoed when Ned told him to just slit his throat to get it over with. “Not today.”
Both of these moments set the tone for the whole episode, establishing a repeating pattern and relationship of mercy-giver and mercy-receiver. There were so many of these I had to go back and watch the whole thing again to check I hadn’t missed anyone.
• Ned’s damnable mercy saw his entire city household murdered, one daughter held hostage and the other fleeing the death of her dance master, and himself locked up awaiting judgement – all for the sake of Cersei’s children whom he hoped to save from death and disgrace if the truth of Joffrey’s parentage should come to light. Did he think of the effect his decision would have on his own children first? Nope. Lesson: Sometimes it’s okay to look after you and yours before others. It’s not selfish, it’s wise.
• Inexperienced and rightly scared “green boy” Robb, is weighed down by responsibility (“If you lose, your father dies, your sisters die. We die.”), leading his host to war (when his older, stupid aunt Lysa will hide away and pretend the war won’t come knocking at her door) and grants mercy to two people:
– Greatjon Umber who refuses to back down, unsheathes his sword provoking Ghost to act on the threat by breaking off two of his fingers to which Robb asserts his knowledge that to arm yourself in the presence of your lord is treason punishable by death and assures everyone he was probably just trying to cut his meat for him to which Umber responds “Your meat is bloody tough!” and laughs it off. Dude, you’re missing some fingers, aren’t you in pain? These are some tough bastards, these Northerners. Lannisters beware.
– A captured Lannister spy. In this case, I’d’ve murdered the bastard and sent his head back to Tywin with the message “Winter is coming” stuffed in his throat instead of letting him run back to the enemy with damaging information. I think the show’s brutality is rubbing off on me.
• Osha had also previously been given a second chance at life by Robb back at Winterfell and while not necessarily classed as a slave she is in chains for her group’s medieval attempt at car-jacking, endangering young Bran’s life in the process.
• Dany’s “gentle heart” was offended at the other “pointy end” -the rape of the sheep women of a conquered village by her Khal’s men, which has been toned down as the book goes into detail about this scene. She saves them from further torture and slavery or dying horribly, and in return she receives the aid of a ‘magi’ or witch whom Dany lets treat her beloved’s wound (also not as gory as in the book) after one of his men takes umbridge at the foreign Khaleesi commanding him to yield his prized ‘mounts’ and spoils of war. Khal Drogo’s appeal sky rocketed when he ripped out the dissenter’s throat and tongue, spraying him with blood. Awesome. My inner cave woman applauded and itched to jump his bones. Down girl!
And now onto what I’ll call strategic mercy. Mercy for the sake of getting something in return rather than pure altruism.
• Bron refuses to steal the supplies and kill Tyrion because of the riches he’ll receive when they make it to Camp Lannister and Tywin’s bottomless purse.
• The Hilltribes acquiesce to Tyrion’s plea to yet again, not kill him when he offers them the Vale whose knights and lord would see him dead. He promises weapons as reward for his safe return to his father, the newly appointed Hand to the king. However, upon their arrival Tywin sees the wisdom in hiring them for the war against the Stark’s 20,000 men (“The wolf rushes into the Lions jaws…so be it”) but unfortunately for Tyrion they’ll only agree if the “little lion” fights alongside them. Eek. Of course, being a disappointment to his father there’s little doubt he’ll be sacrificed to this task. He’s always finding himself in tight spots and he’s survived thus far. Dare we hope he’ll continue to breathe when others haven’t?
• Varys shows mercy to Ned by bringing him water to prevent him from dying of thirst and informs him of the state of his affairs. Not something we’d expect from him unless it was to his advantage to help Ned. Hmm.
• King Joffrey (whose performance impressed me this episode) and his mother, Cersei allow Sansa to plead for mercy on behalf of her allegedly treasonous father. Until now, he’s been kept alive as a hostage used to control his powerful family. Strangely Varys, the only man to serve the realm instead of himself, and Littlefinger back her plea. The poor girl has no idea she’s a pawn, a tool eagerly used by Cersei to send a message to Winterfell. No one was fooled save naive Sansa.
• Ser Barristan Selmy -The rat bastards! Strategically speaking, it would be a bad move to kill the high profile, well-respected and honourable Lord Commander of the Kingsguard (the bodyguards to the king) but his honour would stand in the way of the immoral Lannisters’ machinations. He’d turn traitor faster than anyone could spit. Giving him “a hole to die in” and “men to bury” him together with the promotion of Jaime Lannister, the man who murdered the ‘Mad King’, just added insult to injury. His role was his calling unto death. They all laughed when Littlefinger commented at Selmy’s disrobing of his symbols of office yet everyone quickly drew their weapons when he produced his sword. Obviously not too old to whip their butts, as Joffrey claimed, if that was their reaction.
Arya had no time for mercy and zombies have not the capacity for it. Osha’s warning about sending those soldiers north instead of south had new meaning when one refused to die at the skilled hands of Jon Snow fighting to protect the Wall’s Lord Commander. The mysterious White Walkers had the all ready cowardly Sam looking fearfully at the Wall, hoping it was high enough if what he’d read about them was true.
Will any of these mercy-givers come to regret their mercy in the future when those they’ve granted clemency could turn around and stab them in the back? Just as Ned is experiencing now.
Many met “The Pointy End” and those that didn’t may wish they had now that war has broken out and the bad omens are rolling in thick and fast. Only two episodes left. Will anyone survive?
I’ll leave you with *ichan-02’s interpretation of Jon Snow and his snow-white wolf, Ghost.