All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
Season 1, Episode 7: You Win or You Die
Let’s start off with the Scene of the Episode: After hearing tons and tons of stories about how much money the Lannisters have, we are finally introduced to the head of the family: Tywin Lannister, who has some of the best entrances of the show’s entire course. We first meet Tywin as he is gutting a stag (because symbolism) and also verbally abusing the crap out of Jaime. They don’t nearly have as complicated of a relationship as Tywin and Tyrion do, but it’s clear that Tywin has high expectations of his children- in Jaime’s case, Tywin badly wants him to recognize his family duties, specifically with the Lannister name.
Tywin is obsessed with preserving the Lannister reputation, but this isn’t elaborated on until later on in the show (Season 3, I think). The specific story that doesn’t make its way into the show is that Tywin spent his life from the age of about 12 restoring power and prestige to House Lannister. His father ruled with a weak hand and allowed other houses to walk all over him, giving out loans but not collecting the debt. For a while, House Lannister wasn’t taken seriously and there were lots of jokes made about toothless lions. As a result other houses rose in power, appearing more suitable to rule the Westerlands; as this was happening, Tywin was growing up at court, forging alliances with Baratheons and serving Targaryens. When his father died and the title passed to Tywin, he made it his mission to ensure the legacy of House Lannister never be questioned again- first by demanding payment on loans and reestablishing the family’s wealth, as well as keeping certain families in debt to ensure that the Lannisters could always make demands in being owed. Tywin also wiped out the houses who were closing in on the Lannister’s power over the Westerlands- ending lines, setting fire to their lands, and cementing the Lannisters as the noble house of the Westerlands for at least the rest of his life.
So needless to say, Tywin wants to make sure his legacy doesn’t just carry on- but that it’s also left in secure hands. Jaime, the picturesque and obvious heir to the title, should be commanding at Casterly Rock and producing more Lannisters but refuses in order to stay close to Cersei (which his father chooses not to see) serving as nothing more than a “glorified bodyguard.”
Fun fact about this scene, they shot it on location, it was freezing, and a butcher taught Charles Dance how to skin the stag. And yes- that’s a real stag. Another spot-on casting- Dance delivers so much meat to all of Tywin’s dialogue and Tywin ranks among my top 5 favorite characters, right next to Cat.
Moving north to Winterfell, Osha is working the house… making… brooms? That’s what it looks like. It’s like she has a sample boom and has to make others that look like it. Theon gets a bit handsy with her and says she’s a prisoner and Maester Luwin’s all, “And how is that different from… a… ward..?” Sick burn, Maester Luwin. Osha’s really trying to tell whoever she can about how dangerous North of the Wall is but by being SUSPICIOUS and OMINOUS. I feel like four seasons could have been saved if she had just taken Luwin aside and explicitly said, “The White Walkers are awake, this is what I saw,” and Luwin would have remembered something he read from the books at the Citadel, reached out to Aemon and the Night’s Watch, gathered evidence, presented it to the court, and we would have had a four-season show, no Red Wedding, and we’d all be drinking with Oberyn in Dorne right now.
Even more north and up at the Wall, Benjen’s horse returns from the ranging mission but without Benjen. Jon and the rest of the men are getting ready to take his vows and Jon is noticeably wearing the only gray and white furs in a sea of grey. Nice visual. Anyway, he gets named to the Stewards instead of the Rangers (kind of like the marching band vs. the football team) and immediately takes offense until Sam points out Jeor requested him personally and he’ll have firsthand knowledge of what the Lord Commander’s duties are like- Jeor is grooming him to take over the Night’s Watch and recognizes Jon’s capabilities.
Sam and Jon take their
marriage Night’s Watch vows at a weirwood and Ghost, Jon’s direwolf, brings Jon a dead hand because direwolves are fun and, like cats, bring their masters gifts every once in a while.
Down south at King’s Landing, Cersei and Ned meet in the garden and we get the “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground” speech. Ned accuses Jaime of being the father of all Cersei’s children, something she doesn’t at all try to deny and even justifies by saying the Targaryen dynasty is partially in thanks to marrying each other. Cersei also states that her wedding day was the happiest of her life- until Robert called her Lyanna when consummating the marriage. Someone, please give me a reason why Cersei shouldn’t be upset by any of Robert’s treatment because I’m really siding with her in about 40 percent of her actions. Regardless if her lover was her sibling or not, I can’t blame her for seeking affection elsewhere- and who’s to say that if Robert had treated his wife as Ned treated Cat, Cersei would have even had an affair or anything to have led to where we are in the series? Ned says he’s going to tell Robert about Joffrey and Tommen and that Cersei should leave King’s Landing.
Fun observation- Cersei has stopped wearing the blue and her dresses from here on out- I’m pretty sure- are a light shade of red that will get darker and darker as the Lannisters gain more control.
Across town in Littlefinger’s brothel, Ros has moved down south because that’s where the most business is and Ros wants to be the GOAT of Prostitution in the entire Realm. In what is now known as “sexposition,” Littlefinger talks about Cat as Ros and another prostitute fool around. Littlefinger says he can’t play knight and war in the way the Ned and Brandon Stark could- it’s just not what he was made for- but he could win in other ways, methods that were familiar to him by admitting what he was. Denying physical altercation in favor of more cunning strategies or strategies that play to other strengths is another recurring theme that pops up multiple times over the series.
Back at the Red Keep, Renly tells Ned that Robert was impaled by a boar on the hunt. Robert’s admitting to Joff (in bright red leather again) that he was a terrible father- just what every kid needs to hear- and he has absolutely no words for Cersei. Alone with Ned, he leaves the throne to Joff- but instead of a specific name, Ned writes down “my rightful heir.” Robert’s last command is to leave Dany alone and to let her live. Outside Robert’s room, Barristan says Robert was being fed wine which immediately alerts Ned and Varys to the fact that a Lannister was his cupbearer.
Somewhere in the Vaes Dothrak market, Drogo’s taking his sweet time on getting Dany to Westeros. Impatient, Dany complains to Jorah who says Drogo will move at his own pace and says he has to go take a look at some trinkets. Jorah instead runs into one of Varys’ little birds who brings him the message that the order to kill Dany has been revoked and Jorah reaches Dany just as she is accepting wine from a merchant who is not Lin Manuel Miranda. We get a series of close-ups as everyone is daring each other to drink the wine and it feels like a Western stand-off, where all we see if people’s sweaty faces and darting eyes. Unintentionally comical. This is where Dany’s assassination most definitely would have taken place had Jorah not received that letter and Jorah immediately deflects attention from this particular incident saying Robert will never stop trying to kill her.
This is also the incident where Drogo decides to get off his bum. In the Scene of the Episode’s runner-up, we get Drogo’s declaration of war to invade Westeros to give the moon of his life the Iron Throne. The Dothraki are all on board without question because it basically means they get to raid and rape and pillage and fight. I call this the runner-up because, yes, I’m partial to Tywin, but the Lannister Camp scene has more overall impact to the series.
We’re not done with Renly, who declares to Ned that they should kidnap Joffrey and claim the crown but Ned wants to put Stannis on the throne, simply because it’s the line of succession and Stannis is traditionally next in line. Ned just likes to follow the rules. Renly argues that good soldiers don’t make good kings. Littlefinger appeals to Ned, saying that they should just keep the peace and let Joff rule until he inevitably messes up, and then pull the “Robert has no true heir” cards. Ned, being ever so honorable and dutiful, refuses both and asks Littlefinger for command of the City Watch, casually known as the Gold Cloaks.
Say it with me now: Gold Cloaks = City Watch, White Cloaks = Kingsguard, and Crows = Night’s Watch. Yeah, I got those first two confused all the time too.
It’s announced Robert is dead and Joff immediately calls in Ned while Cersei rips up the will that Robert left behind, saying Ned no longer has any power and is not the Hand anymore. Just as Ned calls for the City Watch to take Joff and Cersei into custody, Joff orders the Kingsguard to kill all the remaining Northmen and Littlefinger appears over Ned’s shoulder with his Valyrian steel dagger, giggling, “I did warn you not to trust me” as the City Watch runs on Ned and his men.
It’s a little hard to figure out exactly where Littlefinger is pulling the strings. I think it’s safe to say he’s fully conspiring with Cersei and is playing the Starks with no intention of helping out Cat, even feeding Jaime Ned’s location back in Episode 5. Meanwhile, Varys really does side with Ned. The difference is that while Varys is out for the good of the realm, Littlefinger wants power, which makes him a natural ally and servant of the Lannisters- as long as they can offer him things.
On Deck: 1.8 The Pointy End