Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 7 “You Win or You Die”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Whoa. Okay, a lot of stuff happened in this episode. Oh, a thing I remembered from last time: Sansa always refers to Syrio as Arya’s “dance teacher” and to Arya taking “dancing lessons”. I’m not sure if this is a euphemism, or if Sansa is really under the impression that Arya is taking dancing lessons, rather than fighting lessons. Anyway:

The Wall: We catch up with Jon Snow and Samwise Samwell. It’s time for them to take their oaths as members of the Night’s Watch, and to be assigned to specific duties. Jon assumes he will be appointed a ranger, ready to patrol north of the Wall. Sam assumes he’ll be a steward, doing menial duties in the guardhouse. Jon worships the Old Gods, and so is given the chance to take his oath at some special tree that exists a bit north of the Wall; Samwell decides to forsake the New Gods because they never treated him well and join Jon. Before the oath, they are given their assignments, and Jon is shocked to also be named a steward. He protests that he is the best fighter there, but Sam points out that he’s probably being groomed to take over from the old commander. This appears to appease Jon a bit. I fear that Sam may be being a bit optimistic, and Jon is being set up for an even bigger disappointment. We shall see.

Benjen’s horse appears from patrol, but without Benjen. Jon is upset that his uncle may be in trouble. But nothing comes of this yet, as he and Sam are escorted to the tree to swear their oaths. This is a tree with a handful of large red leaves, similar to one seen back in Winterfell. I presume this must be a special type of tree that has significance to the people of the region. Finishing their oaths, Jon’s wolf returns carrying a frozen hand… Benjen maybe?!

Winterfell: The mystery squire’s name is Theon Greyjoy, and he’s from the Iron Islands. We learn this as he talks to the ruffian woman captured last time, as she does some menial labour. She says her group were from north of The Wall (how the heck did they get through the Wall??) and travelling as far south as they could go, to get away from the nasty things stirring up there. Theon says they’re old legends, but she says no, they’re real, and they’re coming…

I still have no idea where the other Stark brother (Ned’s fifth child) is, or what his name is.

Somewhere where the Lannisters are from: Jaime has gone home to his father Tywin Lannister, who spends an entire conversation skinning a deer. Tywin has been summoned to King’s Landing to answer charges relating to ordering Sir Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane to attack the village last episode. Tywin tells Jaime various stuff about the Lannisters being the best family ever, and having to stick together and subjugate the other Houses. Seems they’re preparing for war.

King’s Landing: Most of the action takes place here this episode. Ned articulates his conclusion that Joffrey isn’t King Robert’s son, but probably the result of Cersei and Jaime’s incestuous relationship. Cersei confronts Ned in the garden and he lays bare what he’s going to do: Tell Robert, and have Joffrey disinherited. During this conversation Cersei admits the charge and says Robert never loved her at all… he was still in love in with Ned’s sister, who died before Robert could marry her. We’ve heard bits of this story a few times before, in conversations between Robert and Ned. Cersei accuses Ned of not being strong enough to take the throne when the opportunity arose after the Mad King died, and says, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

Ned’s all ready to reveal the truth to Robert and have the Lannisters bundled out of the royal court, when news arrives that the King has been mortally wounded during his hunt, by a boar. Ned rushes to his side. Robert knows he is dying and orders Ned to write his dying wish that Ned serve as Protector of the Realm until Joffrey comes of age to serve as King. Ned can’t bring himself to tell the truth now, and Robert dies soon after signing and sealing the order.

Ned talks to the brothel-owning advisor – I learn his name is Littlefinger. Ned tells him that Joffrey is illegitimate, and thus Robert’s true heir is his brother Stannis. He orders a message sent to Stannis to summon him to King’s Landing. Littlefinger counter-proposes some court intrigue to seize power for Ned himself or something like that. He has lots of men in the royal guard loyal to Ned, and who will back him up. Ned says this is treason and will have no part of it. He also orders the messages to have Daenerys Targaryen killed be stopped. But Varys says it’s too late, they’ve gone, and she may be dead already…

Vaes Dothrak: Daenerys goes for a walk in a market and comes across a wine merchant who offers her a special cask from Westeros. Jorah is suspicious and orders the merchant to drink some of the wine, but it must be poisoned because he flees and is captured. When Drogo finds out, he gets angry and launches into an epic tirade of Dothraki language. In subtitles, he promises to take his army, cross the sea on ships, raze the lands of Westeros, and gain the Iron Throne for his son to sit on. If he fights half as good as he rants, they can’t lose. They set off on horses immediately.

Back in King’s Landing: Ned goes to the throne room, only to find Joffrey sitting on the throne, claiming to be king, supported by Cersei by his side. Ned hands over Robert’s last wishes, ordering Ned to serve as Regent Protector. Cersei just tears it up. The guardsmen loyal to Ned raise weapons, easily outnumbering the guard loyal to Cersei. Ned orders Cersei’s force to stand down to avoid being slaughtered. But suddenly Littlefinger strikes and we see the guard are loyal to him, not Ned, as he sticks a knife to Ned’s throat.

Well. It’s all happening now!

2 Responses to “Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 7 “You Win or You Die””

  1. Lauri T. says:

    Thanks for doing this, I’m really enjoying these recaps! Especially your predictions of what will happen in the future (I’m up to date with the show myself, and have read the books as well). Just a minor correction, since you want to get the spellings right: Sam’s full given name is spelled Samwell, not Samuel.

  2. Ah, thank you. I heard the name and assumed it was simply Samuel without bothering to look it up.

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