Game of Thrones Review: "You Win or You Die"

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I know there is a lot of concern about the lack of action in Game of Thrones.

But what George R. R. Martin did, and what translates so well to screen, were the incredibly dark and direct conversations between characters. In the first two scenes in "You Win or You Die, for instance, we learned more about some of our characters than we had in the previous six episodes.

You Win or You Die Scene

Jaime, so arrogant and strong when standing in front of his father, was still a little boy, yearning for his dad's acceptance. He was taken by surprise that his father was willing to give him 30,000 men to regain possession of Tyrion. As much as Jaime loves Tyrion, he had never expected to hear this from his father.

Jaime also admitted being called Kingslayer behind his back was unpleasant. Somehow, I figured he was wearing it as a badge of honor. I look forward to what other good things there are to learn about this character as the series progresses.

I laughed out loud at Littlefinger's "no no no" to Roz, as he was teaching her and her "partner" how to make love without using what is now standard pornography technique as their background. There was some action for you! Spiced with excessive dialog by Baelish that, frankly, I found difficult to take in.

He was so in love with someone, Catelyn, that the action in front of him didn't draw out even a hint of desire. That man has it bad.

Is it wrong that I despise Theon Greyjoy? I absolutely loved the wildling questioning his title of Lord. I wish Robb would see what poison it is that Theon spreads just by being at Winterfell. He learned nothing of being a prisoner and guest of the Starks. With all Hell breaking loose and his loyalty faltering, will he prove friend or foe in the future?

And why did the showrunners decide that we needed more Greyjoy gracing our screens than we did of Robb and Bran Stark? They are wrong in that assumption. These are two characters sorely in need of development, and yet it would appear we will not get as much development of the Stark children as we do of Greyjoy.

I was incredibly impressed with the market scene, where they attempted to kill Daenerys with a bit of wine. It was exactly as I imagined from the book. The life brought to the scene made me giddy. Jorah also had an opportunity to show just how much he cared for Daenerys. He may have been sent to ensure her death, but he chose otherwise.

Khal Drogo was so enraged that he vowed to give to Daenerys and her son the crown of the Seven Kingdoms. His incredible love for her gave me chills. If all arranged marriages turned out as did theirs, I would be begging for one myself. And if he was one like Drogo? Even more.

Ned couldn't have timed his decision to have his talk with Cersei any worse. He should never have shown his cards so quickly. Of course, how was he to know that within days the King would be no more? It was a sad commentary that Robert made so little impact during his rule that even his last words were disregarded without a second thought.

Something that arose in the episode that I didn't garner from reading the book was that the wine given to Robert during the hunt may have been poisoned. There was so much to the books, and the show, that reading and watching one time was hardly enough to catch the nuances. Also lost on me was just how many promised to help Ned hold the realm. His honor got in his way.

With Robert dead, the Game of Thrones is on, again. It seems everyone in the Seven Kingdoms wants the the throne for themselves except the one person to whom it was given, Ned Stark. Seeing Joffrey's tiny, smug behind in the throne commanding orders, I wished with all my heart for the swords making up the throne to come to life and take care of the child with haste.

As battle erupted in the throne room, Baelish himself held a knife to Ned's neck to take him prisoner, just hours after suggesting what an incredible ally he could be. Even being careful who you trust isn't enough in the Seven Kingdoms, as you could be stabbed in the back at any turn.

The hour went very quickly, and yet the landscape of Westeros and the Free Cities changed forever. Two brothers, a queen and a Khal now want the throne. And that is only the beginning.

I don't want to leave out that the recent class of the Night's Watch took their vows, right after Benjen's horse returned riderless. In a stunning move, Jon was not made a ranger, but rather a steward, to the Lord Commander himself.

While Jon was insulted, Samwell turned his head in the right direction. No other on the Night's Watch will be privy to the information Jon will witness going forward. Could it be that he will be groomed for Lord Commander himself?

Finally, we had a fleeting glance of Ghost. The lone direwolf on set, but always enough to bring a smile to my face, even when he's delivering a disembodied hand to his master. Could that haven been Benjen's?

You Win or You Die Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (104 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Game of Thrones Season 1 Episode 7 Quotes

Cersei: Targareyans wed brothers and sisters for 300 years to keep the bloodline pure. Jaime and I are more than brother and sister. We shared a womb. We came into this world together, we belong together.
Ned: My son saw you with him.
Cersei: Do you love your children?
Ned: With all my heart.
Cersei: As do I.
Ned: And they're all Jaime's.
Cersei: Thank the Gods for that.

Your mother's dead, before long I'll be dead, and you, and your brother, and your sister and all of her children. All of us dead, all of us rotting in the ground. It's the family name that lives on. That's all that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honor, but family. Do you understand?