Review: HBO’s Game of Thrones, Episode 7 – ‘You Win or You Die’

This episode aired on HBO Go (Online) the same night as episode 6 did which was a welcome treat and a precursor to one of the best episodes yet. So if you haven’t watched episode 7 online then there are major spoilers awaiting you ahead. This episode will air on TV May 29th.

We start the episode by finally getting to see Tywin Lannister on screen, who is definitely one of the characters people will grow to hate most over the course of the show. He’s one of those characters you love to hate and in the scene he has with Jaime you get to see what his ambitions are and the expectations of his house. Tywin is currently moving with 60,000 Lannister soldiers to protect the honor of his house against the Starks and their allies. As he questions and lectures Jaime, Tywin guts and skins a deer which for some reason made the scene all that better for me. He tells Jaime that they should have acted decisively, where if Tyrion was taken by Catelyn then Jaime should have killed Ned instead of leaving him alive. Jaime claims that he didn’t finish him because of the interference by one of their men and it wouldn’t have been a clean kill which Tywin scoffs at. Jaime, despite what everyone thinks of him, has a measure of honor that is his alone.

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As the show goes on and we get more into his character it will become evident that Jaime has almost no identity for himself. He is constantly trying to live up to roles that others assign him from Aerys Targaryen to Tywin Lannister and later you will see from Cersei too. It all began with Aerys raising him to the Kingsguard years ago, which angered Tywin to the point of resigning his position of Hand of the King since his heir was now under oath to serve until death thanks to the “Mad King”. That is why Tywin tells Jaime that he needs to him to become the man he was meant to be now and not later. The look on Jaime’s face before he leaves clearly shows us that he has almost no idea what he wants, which is a great precursor of the route his character will take in future seasons.

Finally after being MIA for a couple episodes, Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch return to our screens albeit briefly. After Benjen’s horse is found riderless at the Wall entrance, we get to see Jon, Sam, Grenn and Pip all graduate. This is accompanied by the big disappointment of Jon not being made a ranger but a steward. Stewards are the caretakers of the Night’s Watch, they clean up, send ravens and do the menial day to day tasks in all of the castles of the Wall. So you might see why a swordsman like Jon might be a little pissed off about it. But as Sam points out, Maester Aemon assigned him to be the attendant to Lord Commander Mormont where Jon will learn of all the functions of the Night’s Watch and it’s command structure at Castle Black. More than likely Jon will eventually succeed Lord Commander Mormont.

We also get to see Jon and the recently converted (To the Old Gods) Sam recite their oaths in the Godswood a mile North of the Wall. It was a nicely touching scene until Ghost ruins it by bringing back a severed and frozen hand from somewhere in the woods. Imagine being Jon and wondering if that were your Uncle’s hand your pet direwolf brought back. Not that any of us has ever had a pet direwolf but you get where I’m coming from.

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After the last episode with the Targaryens, it will be hard to follow up in this one. I still can’t get over seeing the pot of molten gold poured over Viserys’ head. It will live on as one of the best TV deaths of all time. Daenerys is trying to convince Drogo to eventually invade the Seven Kingdoms where their son will rule, but Drogo is reluctant telling her a king does not need a throne, only a horse to sit atop. However, after an assassin in the marketplace attempts to give Daenerys poisoned wine to cash in on the bounty on her head, Drogo is furious and in Vaes Dothrak he vows to invade and destroy the Seven Kingdoms for the attempt on his wife and child’s lives. This was a very powerful scene that I can’t come close to putting into a review as words. I have to give credit to Jason Momoa for sounding so convincing in a language created for the books and the series!

I saved the best for last in the events that are going down at King’s Landing. Cersei confronts Ned in a garden in the Red Keep, telling him that she thinks it’s time he went home to Winterfell after everything that has happened. Ned then reveals the realization he had come to in the previous episode; that Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella are all Jaime’s children and not Robert’s. Cersei admits to it, telling Ned of how Robert always loved Lyanna Stark even after he married her and that her and Jaime belong together. Ned offers her an ultimatum to take her children and leave King’s Landing before Robert returns from the hunt because he will be one angry King. Robert does indeed return from the hunt but he is gravely injured…by a boar. He missed his thrust and the tusks damaged him beyond repair, but at least good ole’ Robert killed it in the end. He has Ned write his last wishes, which are that Ned become protector of the realm until Joffrey comes of age. Ned writes everything but changes “son” to “heir” on the parchment, because Joffrey has no claim if he is a product of his mother and uncle’s incest. Robert also tells Ned to cancel the order of assassination against Daenerys, telling him that Ned was right. Unfortunately according to Lord Varys “those birds have flown”. This is when things start to heat up even more as Ned lets two important opportunities pass him up due to his great sense of honor.

The first opportunity is presented by Renly Baratheon, who is the King’s youngest brother if you haven’t figured that out. He urges Ned to seize Joffrey in the middle of the night so that as protector he can hold all of the power against the Lannisters. Renly even offers him a hundred men loyal to him in assistance of Ned in this task. Ned however refuses to shed blood in the castle that Robert ruled and to taking children from their beds in the middle of the night. So not only has Ned shown his cards to Cersei and alerted her that he knows of her incest, he has refused Renly’s support which would have been a great help. Next Ned summons Petyr Littlefinger Baelish to help him in taking Cersei and her children captive during the day with minimal to no bloodshed.

The Lannister men and guards far outnumber anything Ned has left with him and he asks that Littlefinger secure the 2000 men of the City Watch to help them. Littlefinger agrees even after he refuses Lord Baelish’s plan to securing the throne. Baelish tells Ned that he should install Joffrey as King and watch over him closely (pretty much as a hostage) and use his tainted birth as blackmail should he or the Lannisters ever step out of line. And if Joffrey was removed then he suggests that the more likeable Renly be brought in as King, even though Stannis is the older brother. Stannis though is so rigid and uncompromising that the kingdoms would fall into war with no one supporting his claim. Ned however will not let someone not even having Baratheon blood sit on the throne, let alone the youngest Baratheon brother. Even if it means the realm certainly falling into war, Ned’s honor only allows him to do things by the book.

Ned confronts the Lannisters in the throne room, presenting Robert’s letter making him protector of the realm and even denouncing Joffrey as having no rights to the throne. Cersei rips the letter up before everyone, ordering Ser Barristan Selmy to arrest Stark immediately. Just as the City Guard seems ready to fight the Lannisters they turn on the Stark men killing them all while Littlefinger places a dagger to Ned’s throat telling him -“You were right not to trust me.” Things are not looking good for Ned and the Starks. I promise the next episode will show why George R.R. Martin’s books stand alone from any other fantasy books out there.

I give this episode a 4.5 bears out of 5, because despite being absent of much action there was plenty of plot and character development. I can already tell that the next episode will be a five out of five and the viewers are either going to love it or hate it.


Episode 6 Review
Episode 5 Review
Episode 4 Review
Episode 3 Review
Episode 2 Review
Episode 1 Review
Most Anticipated Scenes from Game of Thrones

4 thoughts on “Review: HBO’s Game of Thrones, Episode 7 – ‘You Win or You Die’”

  1. Great review ! I would like to ask you a question : You seem to have read the book, so can you tell me if the next episode will be as good as this one, or even better ?

    You say “The next episode will show why George R.R. Martin’s books stand alone from any other fantasy books out there”, and it increases my expectations !

    Like

  2. you never get a sense of how and mighty ed was until you see it on film.

    so glad to finally see this happen.

    Like

  3. Great review – but you got the last quote wrong!
    “I did warn you not to trust me.” – that’s what little finger told Lord Stark, referring to following dialog in the garden:
    “Lord Petyr,” Ned called after him. “I . . . am grateful for your help. Perhaps I was wrong to distrust you.”
    Littlefinger fingered his small pointed beard. “You are slow to learn, Lord Eddard. Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed down off your horse.”

    Like

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