GAME OF THRONES “You Win Or You Die” Review

GAME OF THRONES You Win or You Die

GAME OF THRONES “You Win Or You Die” Season 1 Episode 7 – For so long this television series has been gaining momentum, building towards a grand climax as Ned Stark’s investigation into the death of Jon Arryn and the attempted murder of his son leads him deeper and deeper into the belly of the lion, as it were. Of course we’ve known that the Lannister clan were no good since episode one: if the blonde smirks wasn’t a clue, and if you doubted the authenticity of Lyse Tully’s accusatory letter, then certainly Jaime’s brilliant, “The things I do for love,” pushed you over the edge into realizing that the Lannisters were very very bad people. Unfortunately for Ned Stark, the Lannisters are a cunning crowd who’ve been weaned on tricks and manipulation. Years in the north seem to have made Ned rusty and when he confronts Cersei near the beginning of this episode and lays out most of his cards for her to see, he’s made a huge mistake.

Of course no mistake was greater than revealing his trump card, also known as Robert Baratheon’s last will and testament. Instead of “Joffrey” Ned fills in the “rightful heir” thereby allowing himself a snug loophole in which to operate against the Lannisters: it makes the scene in the throne room all the more potent, and the twist all the bigger. Cersei sneers at Ned’s paper shield and literally shreds the will of the king on the dais of the Iron Throne, thereby ensuring the loyalty of the armed men, who quickly dispatch of those loyal to Ned Stark. This entire sequence was thrilling and brilliantly executed thanks to some truly nifty twists and turns. Lena Headey’s triumphant sneer as she holds Robert’s will was just glorious.

I also have to shed a tear for Mark Addy’s Robert Baratheon. Kudos to the creators for giving him some truly memorable scenes, especially the heartfelt one on one with Cersei and his dying scene in this week’s episode, and of course huge credit goes to Addy himself for really hitting those scenes home. A brief but brilliant turn.

The episode opened with Tywin Lannister, the patriarch of the House of Lannister, talking to his son Jaime, simultaneously skinning a freaking deer. What an opening! Tywin was played by Charles Dance, and with Mark Addy’s departure I’m delighted to see the trend of strong casting continue on. Jaime, I’ve mentioned in a previous review, was among my least favorite characters in the books, but he’s truly brought alive onscreen and his scene with his father showed just another side of this man: he’s not just a smug stellar swordsman in gold plated armour.

My least favorite scene and a serious complaint with the series had to go to Littlefinger’s exposition heavy lesbian audition. Feeding us exposition while waggling a bunch of boobs does not make it any more or less dull: well written exposition, which this show has proven more than capable of, can be fascinating. Waggling boobs are waggling boobs. It’s not sexy, it’s not sensual, and with the exception of a few brief shots of Theon Greyjoy’s stuff, it’s mildly misogynistic.

But getting back on track with one of the series’ many strong female characters (though really, should I be applauding that distinction?) Dany had quite an episode as Robert’s assassin attempted to poison her. She was saved by Jory and that Dothraki with the deadly whip, but it was the instigator to everything Varys wanted, just a tad too late: Khal Drogo, his beloved Dany and baby who will mount the world endangered sent him into an emotional tailspin, and he’s now vowing to raise an army, cross the Narrow Sea, and lay waste to the Seven Kingdoms and return Dany Targaryan to her rightful throne. In a series filled with strong casting, I think Emilia Clarke is so far the standout. Not only does she have what I’d consider to be the most difficult role: Dany is completely separated from the main action in the Seven Kingdoms, with the exception of a third party assassin she has not come into contact with any of the Starks, Baratheons or Lannisters, yet she still manages to not only hold our (or at least my) attention, but I actually look forward to her storyline.

Another storyline I look forward to, though one which still didn’t really hit its stride in this episode, is Jon Snow’s role on the Wall. The chemistry between Jon Snow and Sam is so lovely to watch, and their easy going, unlikely friendship has been one of the best parts of the show. I always love some stellar world building, and the religious divides between those who pray to the old gods (like Jon Snow) and those who pray to the new gods (I guess?) has really just added another dimension into this world of Westeros. Being away from Jon Snow, he still didn’t have much to do in this episode aside from moan about being made steward to Mormont and not, as he’d hoped, Ranger of the Night’s Watch. With the cliffhanger at the end of his storyline, hopefully next week’s episode will bring with it more…well, just more.

This episode is definately one of my favorites so far. From Tywin Lannister’s introduction to Cersei’s delicious tearing of her dead husband’s will, the Lannisters truly got their place in the spotlight. With only three episodes left, I personally think this series has been a triumph. Sure, sometimes the plot hijacks the good character stuff, and there are definitely characters I hope to see more of, but this HBO show is proof that fantasy is not only do-able on television: it can be one of the best things on television.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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