Game of Thrones Review: “You Win or You Die”

I’ll say this, Game of Thrones is certainly moving ahead a lot more quickly than I thought it would. After taking a few episodes to spool up, things are quickly shifting into overdrive, with two action-packed installments in a row.

As much as I loved the last one however, I felt this latest effort was a touch predictable, and it seemed like I was able to call every moment before it happened, be it by a week’s time or a few minutes.

For example, I mused last week that the attempt on Daenyrs’s life would surely send Khal Drogo into a rage and inspire him to invade the mainland when he was previously lacking a reason. And that’s just what happened, making it seem all rather ham-handed.

Who would have thought?

The Queen is about to be poisoned, seemingly in line with a plan executed by the Spider and her closest aide, whose name I keep forgetting but you guys will let me know of in the comments. He appears to have a last minute change of heart, despite receiving a pardon for his crimes, and he steps in to stop the Queen from her fate. I’m not exactly sure why he did this, nor how he chooses his loyalties, but the attempt, as expected, sent Khal Drogo off the edge and determined to ride “wooden horses” (boats) to give his unborn son his mother’s father’s throne. Well…shit.

The crux of the episode was Ned Stark revealing to Cersei that he had uncovered her dirty little secret. How the hell he got from “kid has blonde hair” to “you’re f***ing your twin brother and he is your unholy offspring” is a mystery to me, and I don’t know why Cersei just could have laughed it off and asked him for proof.

King Robert’s injury via drunk hunting came as perhaps the night’s only surprise, and I’m mildly annoyed such a great character was killed off so unceremoniously to further the plot forward. Again, Ned’s plan seemed incredibly foolhardy, as what real proof did he have that Jauffre wasn’t his son? And even if that was accepted as fact, it’s been clear for a while now that Petyr LOATHES Ned and is in love with his wife (as the lesbian sex soliloquy further explained) , and we’ve already heard that the Spider was part of the plot against his family, so to see him walk into the throne room with the both of them at his back was a head-shaking moment as you had to know what was about to happen.

You have chosen…poorly.

What I don’t know is where things go from here. I’m out of predictions as the Stark clan would seem to be in dire straits. I think this show needs a few more heroes, and a few less villains, and there doesn’t quite seem to be many who straddle both sides, other than Tyrion Lannister who was unfortunately absent from the episode.

What possible reason does Petyr or the Lannisters have to keep Ned alive now? I can’t think of a damn thing that would cause them to do so, as assuredly he could only make for trouble later. Maybe to give him back to his family in exchange for a promise of peace? But you have to wonder why they just don’t go wipe out the entire Stark clan now that they have literally every ounce of power that’s possible to grab.

I predict an imprisoned Ned might get help from that one old guard that everyone respects and was hesitant about Cersei tearing up the King’s orders. But past that? I have no idea. I guess the show is done being predictable for at least a little while.

Will you fight some shit already?

The remaining plotline of the evening seemed disjointed from everything else, as Jon Snow managed to get even less interesting as he was made a Steward rather than a Ranger, which means he gets to do no fun thing. There was a hint of more White Walker mayhem to come, but it still seems a ways off, despite dire warning from the Stark family’s newest house slave.

It doesn’t feel like things could get any worse, and even though it might have been easy to predict where we ended up, I have no idea how we’re going to get out of the hole. And for that reason, I am extremely excited for next week.


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  1. They mentioned earlier in the series that the reason they don’t march on winterfell and the North is because the North would just destroy them, the people south of winterfell have no idea the landscape of the North, they have no idea how to fight in the North, I believe it is Ceresei who tells Joffrey that, when Joffrey mentions how he would march on the north if he was king and ceresei says he is foolish for such a thought. thats why i think they are not just trying to get rid of the Starks

    I do not believe that the pardon recieved was for the plan to poison her wine, I believe it was for the years of information that he provided to the spider about Danny and her brother, I think he just figured out that the wine merchant was the assassin and what the plot was, not that he helped think of it and then changed his mind, or he is realizing how much Danny is growing into her own and will eventually get Drogo to ride across the sea.

    Ned did make many foolish moves but his game is not politics, he is a man of honor and nobility, Catelyn tells him that Little finger will help him before she left kings landing and Ned bought it, not that I think Cat had anything to do with it but may have helped seal her husbands fate. I did enjoy Littlefinger explaining more about him and how he is not one for battle and that he must use his brain to win what he truly wants, which at this point I do not believe is the throne but catelyn stark, and i didnt jsut enjoy that seen for Roz

    Ned figuring out that Joffrey is not Roberts kid I think was thru that book of lineage and the hair color.

    The one lil tidbit i noticed was who the Kings squire is and how he kept giving the King wine, the squire is a Lannister boy.

  2. DAMIT…don’t know if i should start reading the books, or just wait for the tv series:P Have any of you guys started reading the books after you watched the show?

  3. Forgot to mention the most awesome scene?! Pulling that naked assassin behind her own horse.. how brutal. She’s going to be one amazing royal. I love her so much already.

  4. It might seem like a lot of the TV series can be predicted just based on what you’re seeing (i.e. the Khal being pissed off after the assassination attempt) but you have to keep in mind that it can’t really be helped. The makers of the show want to keep as close to the book as possible, and the book doesn’t have to worry about predictability as much. Without a departure from the source material, I don’t think there will be anything that happens that is stunning…the book doesn’t seem to deal in twists, but rather is more about a slow build up.

  5. And also, how about that offhand comment by Jorah that there were probably no dragons?
    I know you were anxious to see those in the near future, Paul. =]

  6. I don’t know why they would keep Ned alive, especially since Little Finger is the one holding a knife to his throat. That must mean that Cersei intervenes, or some other force appears to rescue Ned. Be happy though as the next episode is the first to be written by George Martin. My guess initially was that Renly and the troops from the Tyrell house may appear to make their claim to the throne. I guess that is kind of unlikely, but I think Cersei may prevent Joffrey from having his future father-in-law executed. Though Sansa has been a bit cold to her father, I doubt she’d approve of his head on a spike as a pre-wedding gift.

    Yea, this episode was pretty predictable, but it set up what is sure to be a fairly surprising episode next week. I think everyone has a few decent ideas of what may happen, but nobody except the book readers are really sure.

  7. I swear to God, I’m going to kill the next person who posts spoilers from the book on these reviews. If what I just heard actually happens next week, I’m closing comments on these posts forever.

  8. @Paul, isn’t there a setting to require the comments are approved by you before they post? Please look into that for future GOT posts. Pleeeeaaassseeeeee. That last comment (now deleted) just ruined my whole week. :'(

    @Yerko91 I plan to start reading the books this week… I don’t think I can wait for HBO to catch me up. lol

  9. @Paul

    If there is a setting to have posts be approved before they show up on the site that would be awesome. I like discussing the show with other fans so closing the comments section would suck. But if it keeps assholes from ruining the show for us then I guess we have no choice.

  10. @JB, Buxxy

    Yeah, but people who have been approved before are allowed to post without me having to specifically let them through. I put that guy in the spam filter, so hopefully that will weed out any future douchiness, but stuff always seems to slip through.

  11. Wanted to say sorry to everybody meant it more as an innocent joke and further more spoiler was NOT TRUE, so no need to worry about show being ruined.

    I am sorry for feelings of anger caused by this.

    Show/Book is so rich even if that was a valid spoiler should not ruin the show for anybody in my opinion. If anybody should be to blame are very bad people at HBO for cliffhangers.

    Why fans didn’t gather and go burn at the stake creators/screenwriters of Lost is beyond me 🙂 after all that “torture” they give you terrible ending. Would make good example to rest of them 🙂

  12. @Dude

    I unflagged you so you could post this so people who did see it would know you were kidding, but yeah, we can’t tell what’s a joke or not from people who have read the books, so best to steer clear of that altogether in the future, thanks.

  13. I couldn’t help but think to myself as I watched GOT this week, “I wonder how pissed Paul is going to be in his review this week?”

    Honestly, the show continues to be awesome. I like how they continue to develop the characters and the relationships between the characters in ways both obvious and subtle. The camaraderie between the Night’s Watch trainees was shown in obvious ways before, but Dareon’s story about why he joined the Watch, followed by his comment about not telling the truth to strangers was a touch I quite enjoyed. Sam actually taking the role of pointing things out to Jon rather than the other way around was another nice step in a relationship on the show.

    Drogo’s reaction to the assassination attempt might have been predictable, but it was a powerful scene showing not only the depth of the feelings that he has for Dany now, but why the lords of the Seven Kingdoms fear the Dothraki.

  14. I would set these commits to have to be reviewed or turn them off all together. I unfortunately missed the “spoiler’ so I can’t tell if the commenter was really being an ass and truly spoiling and is now trying to cover it or not. I have read the series so can’t spoil it for me. Total douche move if so though.

    One comment I have is I think people are putting way to much emphases on the “she has a blonde haired kid so the queen is doing her brother” proof. Take the whole series so far into account and you will see there is much more than that. However it was much better done in the books, which is to be expected.

  15. Don’t worry if you thought you could predict everything this episode. The entire build up has been to get to this point and there is no way to guess at everything that is now going to happen.

    Jon being a steward might seem sucky but take it from Sam, it is the best place for him and it is not going to be boring.

    As far as Ned fate right now…..he has only himself to blame– (no spoliers in link) Check it out it is really funny.

    Stupid Ned Stark, stupid, stupid Ned. Love the guy’s honor but it honestly gets in his way.

    I read a great theory on who John Snow’s mom is and it will melt your brain. Even after reading the four books twice I never saw this coming. As far out as the theory goes it makes perfect sense and the guy backs it all up with details and quotes from the books.

    This link has spoilers for all four books–

  16. The reason they don’t immediately kill Ned Stark is sorta complicated. Don’t think of him as the Hand of the King only, remember what he was before…the Lord of Winterfell and the North. It may feel like he just had a castle up North at first glance, but really he is the ruler of the entire northern part of their continent. This includes dozen’s of lesser lords with castles, knights, and guards of their own, and under those lesser lords are tens of thousands of peasants who are all ruled by Ned. Not only is he their ruler in name, but because he is an honorable, fair, and just liege Lord, all of those lesser lords and knights will jump at the chance to defend or avenge anything that happens to him.

    Now the Lannisters can field an equally powerful army from the West, but why start a war when you could hold Ned, call him a traitor, and tell Ned’s son Robb to bend the knee and pledge to King Joffrey? Keep in mind the figurative noose around Ned’s neck.

    Also consider Ned has powerful allies, he is married to the daughter of the Lord of the Riverlands, his wife’s sister was married to the Lord of the Vale (Jon Arryn, who was probably murdered by the Lannisters) and then there is Lord Renly Baratheon and the Tyrells, who all are equally powerful Lords in their own right. There’s no way to tell at this point what these great Lords will do, and that is why the Lannisters have to play it cool and try to regain stability on the throne. The Lannisters are definitely rich, but they aren’t untouchable especially if the other great Lords of the realm would team up.

  17. i’ve noticed that GoT-related forums/comment sections everywhere on the internet are all facing some extensive spoiler-related problems. i’d say 99% of readers are respectful of the fact that there are non-reading viewers of the show and do the proper spoiler tags or avoiding dedicated non-spoiler threads but it only takes one sociopathic asshole to ruin it for everyone. i think because of the merciless nature of the original story, most readers find it delightful when non-readers make naive predictions or react to character deaths. as such, i’ve seen a lot of what i call “stealth-spoilers”… when readers make a broad statement that doesn’t spoil anything specific but hints pretty heavily at what is about to happen. readers might not deem it a spoiler so it doesn’t get the spoiler tag, but for any perceptive non-reader, it would change the way they watch the show and think about the characters. so yeah, there is a lot of resentment on the internet toward GoT readers in general.

  18. Might I make a suggestion that all who have become avid non-reader fans this season become reader fans before season 2! This will help stop douchey spoilers and also give you more of an insight into the show, making you appreciate it even more!

    But to do that, you have to survive a couple more episodes! Interesting times ahead!

  19. It literally pisses me off just looking at the kid in the top picture. He looks just as douchey as he did as a terrified, drugged kid in Batman Begins.

  20. We are probably going to have to wait a year for the second season. I’m sure that will be enough time to read the books. I’ll probably get withdrawal symptoms a week or so after season 1 wraps.

  21. Predictability is not gonna be a problem with this series. It’s gonna get a WHOOOOOLE lot better later on (and pretty soon). You haven’t seen ANYTHING yet.

    I just hope the show continues to do the books justice and maintain its level of quality.

  22. Paul,
    I’d like to know what you thought about the patriarch of the Lannisters.
    I thought that scene was pretty important and was surprised you didn’t mention it.

  23. @ Nick

    Yeah that was a very interesting scene, especially like how it was juxtaposed with him skinning the stag. Symbolism much?

    He was right about how Jaime wasn’t living up to his full potential, as I’d say he has the most “kingly” presence of anyone on this show. I’m looking for a reason as to why Tywin hasn’t been more hands on with all this so far, but I expect we’ll see a lot more of him soon.

  24. Forgot to mention that if you go to the second link in my first post, click on the brown box and indicate which book you finished in order to read articles on that site. Again, it is well worth the read if you have finished the first four books. You will never believe who Jon’s mom is most likely to be.

  25. Cube, I would suggest not posting further links to specific Tower of the Hand essays (although they are great for readers). Paul and many of his readers haven’t read the books and are their enjoyment is coming solely from the show’s universe. Just by hinting that Jon’s mother is hypothetically not who we were told her to be will affect how Paul and other newbies interpret the show’s storytelling. I know your intentions are good, but I think it would be better to keep all discussion here about only what the show has presented to far.

  26. Man, Charles Dance was great in the introduction of Tywin Lannister. I had Alan Dale (Widmore from Lost) in mind and only remembered Dance from Last Action Hero, but Dance is great in this role.

    I didn’t care for the Littlefinger brothel scene. Nice eye candy, but the sex was gratuitous and seemed more reminiscient of Starz.

    Paul, what do you mean by “we’ve already heard that the Spider was part of the plot against his family”?

    George, I believe it was Pypar (Pyp) who told his true backstory in this episode, not Dareon. I could be wrong, however, since I’ve only seen this week’s episode once.

  27. Jeremy, considering that the mystery of Jon’s mother is made a fact on the show once during each the first three episodes of the show (and it is never stated as a fact who it is at anytime, just that there’s a mystery of who she could be)……

    …and I said that the link contains spoilers….

    ….and I mentioned that it was for people who read the books…..

    ….and add the fact that you have to enter which books you have read before you see the article on that site makes even it more secure that people who don’t want to read spoilers will not accidently do so….

    ….and I didn’t even discuss what the article said, I think that it was more than safe to post and share with those who are interested.

    If I hadn’t seen the article before and had read all four books I would have wanted to know about the article and what it has to say.

  28. Hey Cube, I recognize and appreciate that you are very careful regarding spoilers. However, just by mentioning that there is a theory that could melt one’s brain, you (as an experienced book reader) are indicating to newcomers that Jon’s lineage is of special importance, and that can influence how someone interprets the show. Speaking for myself, if I was unfamiliar with the story I would rather have (potentially) important information be revealed through the show by its screenwriters instead. Or maybe I’m just being a worrywart. 😛

    Anyways, no harm was intended or done. Cheers!

  29. It’s no spoiler that there is a question of who is Jon’s mom. As stated before, it is made a point several times in the first three episodes alone. A link to a site with a fan’s detailed idea of who it is is not a spoiler but speculation.

  30. I agree with Jeremy’s point. No reason to bring those theories here, much better to keep them in book related forums for people that have read all of them.

  31. I highly suggest you warn people away from the comments. Sooner or later some asshole will spoil something. Let people know it’s at their own risk.

    You do have to be a real douche to spoil something though.

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