A Dissertation of Ice & Fire – Episode #7

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In this week’s new chapter of a Dissertation of Ice & Fire, we’re going to change things up a bit. I’ve noticed the past few weeks that I’ve begun to get a little long-winded. I tend to ramble on and on about this series. I’ll still be doing the same reviews of every episode; it’ll just be a more-to-the-point version. With that said, let us begin on the 7th episode of this first season titled “You Win or You Die.”

My whining at the deviations from the source last week were a distant memory almost immediately with the on-screen introduction of Tywin Lannister — played to brilliance by Charles Dance. The showrunners continue to do an amazing job of adding scenes to the show that weren’t in the book and making them absolutely incredible. This interaction never took place on the pages of Game of Thrones, but it is truly a welcome addition. Watch out for this cat, Tywin. Because he doesn’t mess around.

A scene that was in the books is Cersei & Ned’s confrontation in the courtyard where he reveals he knows the truth about her and Jaime’s relationship as well as Robert having no true heir from her. A masterfully played scene that was almost word for word from the books. The only exception being that Cersei did try to seduce Ned only to have the move not reciprocated. He tells her to get out of town and quick because he will be telling Robert everything when he returns from his hunting trip.

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Another deviation from the novel is a particular scene with Littlefinger giving some exposition for the newcomers of the series in the background (and, yes, it really was the background) while giving some pointers to his whores on how to please a man. Now, this scene has rubbed many a viewer the wrong way. I have never heard so many people whining about a gratuitous sex scene the way they have with this one. It seems quite hilarious to me, too, since most of those complaining are the same critics who bang a drum for Spartacus and its soft-core porn. I’ll admit it was a tad over the top, but have you guys watched HBO before? This is nothing new to me and I think the critics are bitching way too much.

A few more additions were Theon trying to be dominant over the Wildling captive, Osha, and some backstory on how Pyp came to be on The Wall. Nothing extremely necessary, but I do love what they’re doing in setting up Theon for his motives in season two which will make a lot more sense to new viewers. Because his moment next year will make viewers understand what all the exposition is about this year.

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Across the narrow Sea we have Jorah receiving a royal pardon and being told he could come home, only to have a change of heart and decide to stay in order to prevent Dany from being poisoned in the assassination attempt that Robert had set for her. Looks like Jorah is in too deep. I’d also like to say welcome to the show, Jason Momoa! This entire season, Momoa has been mostly quiet as Khal Drogo. But him declaring war on Westeros in a three-minute monologue spoken in Dothraki was pretty phenomenal.

Up at The Wall, Jon continues to have a bad time with it. First, his Uncle Benjen has gone missing, and then he is assigned to the Stewards as opposed to the Rangers. It really sets him off, but Samwell is able to talk him down after pointing out that Lord Commander Mormont did this to groom him for command one day. They both go to take their vows (which were word for word from the text) and we actually see Ghost some more. Speaking of Ghost, he finds a human arm from the forearm down and it freaks everyone out a little bit. Remember this, for it will be important later.

Back at King’s Landing, we discover that the King has been mortally wounded on the hunt. On his deathbed, he has Ned write his final decree in which he names Ned the protector of the realm until his “rightful heir” can take the throne. He seals it and asks to be given something for the pain before he dies. A scene I knew I would dread for the fact that losing Mark Addy from the show is going to be a big loss. Afterwards, Ned questions if foul play was involved in Robert’s “accident” and Renly says that they need to take action against Joffrey and Cersei by detaining them before Robert dies. A very wise offer in which the honorable Ned declines. He says that Renly’s older brother, Stannis, is the rightful heir and the crown will pass to him. Ned then tells Littlefinger the truth about the Baratheon children and wants him to assure that the gold cloaks will take his side in the confrontation with the new King, Joffrey. Petyr agrees and we head to the throne room where Ned has Ser Barristan read Robert’s final decree, only to have Cersei tear it up. Ned orders the gold cloaks to arrest Joffrey and Cersei, but they instead turn on Ned’s men. The episode ends with Littlefinger putting a knife to Ned’s throat declaring, “I did warn you not to trust me.”

The final ten minutes of this episode were terrific. I knew what was coming and my heart was still pounding. The fact that there was no Tyrion this episode couldn’t even slow it down for me. Probably my favorite episode so far this season. And that is no small achievement. Onto the bests of the night:

Best Overall PerformanceJason Momoa as Khal Drogo

After weeks of silence, we see now why HBO submitted Momoa’s name for Emmy consideration. His monologue after the failed assassination attempt on “The Moon of His Life” he went on a rampage of strength and emotion as he described how he would gift the Iron Throne and the seven kingdoms to his unborn child.

Best QuoteLena Headey as Cersei Baratheon/Lannister

I know it was overused a lot in the promotion leading up to the show, but the line “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win… or you die” couldn’t be more truthful. While Ned was busy playing checkers this episode, Cersei proved that she was playing chess.

Best VisualThe Throne Room at King’s Landing

The atmosphere and the cinematography as the view followed Ned and his men into the Throne Room to confront Cersei and Joffrey in the final scene this week was as powerful as it was stunning. At times, you forget just how epic in scale this series really is until you see something like that.

So what have we to look forward to now that the shit has truly hit the fan? What fate will befall Ned since he basically committed treason? What about his two daughters, Sansa and Arya, who are still in the capital? How will they be treated after what has just happened with Ned? How will the rest of the Stark clan react to the demands from Cersei that they come to King’s Landing and bend the knee to the new King? What is up with the arm Ghost found in the snow? How will Dany, Drogo and the 40,000 Dothraki make it across the Narrow Sea to attack Westeros? And what fate has become of Bronn and Tyrion since they left The Eyrie? There are still a lot of chapters to cover in just three episodes. Buckle up, because it is all high speed from here. Check the preview below.