Game of Thrones S01E07 Recap & Review: 'You Win or You Die'
'You Win or You Die': Game of Thrones S01E07 Recap & Review [Spoiler Alert]
[I watched S01E07 via HBO Go on an iPad at SFO last week. A very nice stranger saw (and heard) me writing up the recap for S01E06 and asked if I wanted to watch the new episode. So this is up before S01E07 airs on HBO. There are spoilers. You have been warned. Hey, at least I waited for the air date.]
We open on a sea of red tents: gotta be the Lannister camp. Tywin Lannister, elbow-deep in an elk, tells Jaime that "Lannisters don't act like fools". Clearly Tywin doesn't read my Game of Thrones recaps. He's annoyed that Ned Stark is still alive, and admonishes Jaime for actually giving a shit what people think of him. See, Jaime is like a pop star: he wants us to think he doesn't give a fuck what we think, but he totally does.
Anyway, Tywin tells Jaime to take 30,000 of his men (!!!) and retrieve Tyrion Lannister from Catelyn Stark. It's all about maintaining the family name. Has this guy ever seen The Great Santini? OK, now he gives Jaime the Lord of the Rings Aragorn speech: "become the man you were meant to be!"
I Know What You Did Last Soomer
Meanwhile, in King's Landing, Ned Stark tells Cersei Lannister that he knows about how she does the nasty with her brother, and that Joffrey is the child of incest, as opposed to the child of Robert. He also knows that his own son, Bran, was pushed from the tower because he caught Cersei and Jaime mid-shag. Cersei is totally unrepentant. Okay, Cersei, TMI: we don't want to know what you do with Robert when he stumbles drunk into your room. That's why the old gods invented MediaTakeout. Cersei's been jealous of Ned's dead sister ever since her wedding night. That sucks.
Ned tells Cersei to get the hell out of Dodge, or she and her kids are toast once he tells Robert… because he's going to tell Robert. Cersei doesn't back down: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die". Lots of men call strong women "bitches" out of insecurity, but Cersei is both a strong woman and a legit bitch. She's not a bitch for bitchiness' sake, though, but because she has business to take care of.
Petyr Baelish is watching porn. Well, in Westeros they have no HBO on which to watch HBO sex, so he has two ladies doin' some girl-on-girl in his living room. Wait, he has TiVo! He can pause and rewind! Hey, isn't that Winterfell's favorite whore? It totally is. Her name is Ros, by the way. Petyr's all, "You be the man and you be the woman." See? Lesbian porn is totally made by straight men. Petyr's training the chicks, and telling them about how he hasn't had a chance to nail the woman he loves, since her boyfriend kicked his ass, then died, and then she married her brother. He's talking about Catelyn, isn't he? I bet he is. "Play with her arse." Petyr said that, not me. I think Petyr Baelish and Tyrion Lannister should go bowling and talk about how hot Catelyn is. Tyrion was totally scoping that while they were riding to the Eyrie, we all saw it.
Petyr's all, "I don't fight people… I fuck them". Call him Freddy Mercury, because he wants it all, and he wants it now. I bet you work with at least one person who's like Petyr Baelish.
[Imagine how awkward it was to watch the above scene with a 40-something woman you've never met. Had she seen the episode already? Did she know she was about to watch Westeros softcore with a stranger? I was too busy scribbling notes, but now that I think about it...]
Theon Greyjoy: 'Respect Mah Authoritaah!'
Theon Greyjoy is telling the captive Wilding woman that, in the Iron Islands, they ain't got no love for ho's. He's pulling rank on the Wilding prisoner, since he has no rank here in Westeros. She's calling bullshit, and she's kind of right. She also calls the Northerners Southerners, since they're from south of where she is. Funny, she doesn't sound Geordie. Theon's putting the forcible moves on her (because she's below him on the pecking order- a new experience for him), when he's cockblocked by that monk guy. She tells the monk guy that some scary-ass things are stirring north of The Wall…
Meanwhile, at the Wall, Jon Snow and Sam Tarly see a horse returning without its rider, i.e. Benjen, Jon's uncle. Oh, shit.
'King Robert Baratheon, Murdered by a Pig'
Oh, double-shit. In King's Landing, it looks like Robert got gored by a boar when he mixed hunting and binge drinking. You should have seen the boar. Robert gets Ned to write down his final command: Ned Stark is now Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm until Joffrey Baratheon (aka "the little whiny-ass wuss who got punked by a wolf and a little girl") comes of age. Robert signs the edict with surprisingly neat handwriting. He admits that he was a bit... hasty in wanting to kill Daenerys Targaryen, and wants to make sure Navy Seal Team Six aborts the mission.
Hang on… wasn't the squire a Lannister? The gears in Ned's head are turning… can you hear them? That rusty clanking sound? Could this be... a Lannister plot? I remember, though, the king being pretty frikkin' eager to swig down that wine; he didn't need much encouragement. In fact, the squire couldn't seem to bring the wine fast enough.
Dude, You Can Cross the Ocean. Srsly.
Daenerys Targaryen is chilling with her husband,
Dave Navarro Khal Drogo, just combing his hair and telling him that it is actually possible to cross the ocean, which should be obvious, since that's where she came from. Her Dothraki is pretty good. I'd call it "conversational", though she gets some little words wrong.
Khal Drogo doesn't want to play the game of iron chairs. Or the game of thrones. He only cares about horses. Daenerys wants to play the game of thrones, though, and wants Ser Jorah Mormont to step up plans to make that happen. They're in the market, where there's absolutely no way that anyone would be able to kill her. Ooh, Jorah just got a message: a pardon from
Uncle Fester The Spider.
Jorah suspects that this free cask of wine offered to Daenerys may be poison. He insists that the wineseller taste it first. Turns out Jorah is right: the wineseller tries to do a runner, but gets taken down. Shopping trip is over.
Jon Snow Wants to Be a Ranger; Sam Wants to Be a Wizard
It's graduation day at The Wall: the new recruits are taking the oath to join the Night's Watch. They get to start over, and put their crappy past lives behind them… in exchange for a crappy new life of freezing one's ass off at The Wall. Yay. Wait, Jon Snow got assigned to the stewards?! That's bogus. Jon's the ass-kickingest guy up there. This is straight-up politics.
Wait, it gets worse: Jon Snow's gonna be Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's personal
bitch servant. That's bogi: more than bogus. Sam's trying to put some shine on the situation, but it' s not working. Did you know that he wanted to be a wizard? True story. He does remind me of Neville Longbottom, though. [My SFO viewing partner went, "Aaaw!" Every time Sam came onscreen.]
Renly Baratheon wants Ned Stark to pull a Richard III and take Joffrey prisoner before Robert dies and Cersei moves against Ned. ("A wolf! A wolf! My kingdom for a wolf!" Sorry.) Renly doesn't even trust his older brother Stannis. Renly wants the throne for himself, that's what this is about. Either way, Ned doesn't want to play the game of thrones. Kind of a shame, really, since he's standing in the middle of the pitch.
Ned's sending an encrypted email to Stannis when Petyr Baelish pops in to hit him with some knowledge: let Joffrey take the throne and let Sansa become queen. Remember: it's only treason if you lose. Ned still ain't playing that throne game. Still, he needs Petyr's help to organize a private army to protect his family from the Lannisters.
A Wolf, a Vow and a Hand
Well, finally we get to see a wolf. Jon and Sam are headed north of The Wall to take their Night's Watch vows before a spooky tree with bleeding eyes. It sounds like they're taking a vow to be Batman.
The wolf brought back a frozen human arm. It's rough oop north. You know, that bit reminds me of the "Eastern Europe" scene in Eurotrip.
What's Dothraki for 'Come at Me, Bro'?
Daenerys is getting the lowdown on what happens to a guy who tries to kill a Dothraki queen. The short version: he's fuckin' dead. Jorah knows that Robert was behind this, and warns Daenerys that more attempts will follow. Wait, here comes Khal Drogo. he looks pissed off. He's now willing to take over the Seven Kingdoms out of spite… and that means sailing over the ocean. It's on: we're talking invasion, mass murder, rape, slavery, total destruction: Khal Drogo's gonna do it all, and he's starting right fucking now. Jorah gets a horse.
Yes, King Joffrey. Robert Baratheon died offscreen. Meanwhile, Renly has left the building… he took his crew and split. Looks like Petyr's plan is afoot, whether Ned is ready or not. Joffrey is lord of the Seven Kingdoms and, wait, Protector of the Realm?! Wait until they read Robert's final message… Cersei will not be happy. Not one little bit. In fact, she casually tears it up: "We have a new king now." She demands that Ned bow before Joffrey… or die.
Hon, don't put Eddard Stark in that position: he'll only do the stupidest and least politically-expedient thing possible, like, for example, declare Joffrey a bastard in front of the entire court.
Joffrey makes a Grace van Cutsem face and commands his new henchmen to kill Ned and his crew. 'Ang on, though: Ned has the upper hand… since Petyr Baelish pays the royal guards, he owns their loyalty.
Ned orders the Lannister guards to lay down their weapons nice and slow, and there will be no bloodshed. However, since this is Game of Thrones, nobody does what Ned says and there most certainly is bloodshed: Petyr totally fucked Ned over, and now has a knife at his throat. Ah, fook.
Okay, let's review: King Robert died. Joffrey is king. Petyr is allying himself with the Lannisters (didn't see that coming), and Jon Snow is a butler.
This episode gets five out of five sneaky double-crosses.
One out of five violent deaths: a few people die, but nobody we know; Robert dies offscreen, which is just weak.
One-half of one out of five snarling dire wolves: it only counts if the wolf severs the hand. Finding it isn't enough, even if the hand may belong to Benjen. [My viewing partner didn't understand why I was so into the wolves. You either get it or you don't.]
No Tyrion Lannister action at all. Minus five points.
However, five extra points for extended HBO sex: this is the most NSFW episode yet, even if Petyr doesn't dig it as much as you do.
Ten extra points for bringing Khal Drogo and the Dothraki back into the picture: they're off of the festival circuit now and presenting a direct threat to the Seven Kingdoms. Ned Stark may make a new friend, a friend who looks a lot like Conan. I'm thinking that Jorah's pardon is part of Petyr's scheme: maybe, if he's welcomed back to King's Landing, Jorah Mormont will give up on planning an invasion. Let's face it: Joffrey would last about seven and a half seconds against Khal Drogo, and six of those seconds would be spent gaping in horror as Drogo screams scary stuff in a language he can't understand.
So, do you think that Petyr's main motivation is that he never got past the Friend Zone with Catelyn, or is this strictly business? I'm guessing the former. As for Cersei, she thinks she can run the Seven Kingdoms better than Robert. Let's be honest: she's probably right. Robert Baratheon was a total gong show, and he was the first to admit it. Because of primogeniture, Cersei can't assume the throne herself, so she needs Joffrey as a puppet.
Overall, this was a great episode: while there wasn't nearly enough violence, there was enough plot development to keep things exciting. Glad we're past the chunky expositions. The death of Robert seemed to come out of nowhere: I hope that his demise was a Lannister plot, since death by boar is way to arbitrary to fit into a story with so many tightly-fit pieces.
This week's MVP: Aiden Gillen as Petyr Baelish. Not just anyone can deliver a monologue over two women getting it on, and still get us to pay attention to every word he's saying. He does the inscrutable thing very well, while still letting us see his moment-by-moment feelings. We don't' know what Petyr's endgame is, but Gillen is great at letting us in on each scene's stratagem. That's good work. [The nice woman with whom I watched this episode at SFO declared Jason Momoa as this week's MVP. At every opportunity.]
Look, Ned. Get with the program like Drogo is doing. You're playing the game whether you want to or not. You know why the naked guy won Survivor? Because he played the game. Every other reality-TV contestant has learned from that, why can't you? First things first, though: don't let Petyr kill you in the first two seconds of next week's episode.
While we're making S01E08 requests, how about those wolves? Can we get some more wolves? Please? Thanks.
Special shoutout to HBO Go, the iPad, and the kindness of strangers at SFO's International Terminal.