Game of Thrones S1E8 “The Pointy End”
“You Win or You Die” left the political game in King’s Landing in a very volatile situation in which the tables turned on Ned. “The Pointy End” presents a rude awakening to almost everyone as news of Ned’s imprisonment spreads throughout all corners of the Seven Kingdoms. As Ned finds himself hopelessly rotting away in the dungeons of the Red Keep, everyone else decides what they’re next move is going to be as the Stark girls try to escape Cersei’s grasp, Robb makes a big decision, Tywin and Tyrion prepare for battle, and Jon is reminded that there are much bigger issues to deal with than those of his family. And away we go.
Before we start with Ned, I would like to point out how amazing Sean Bean was in his portrayal of the Lord of Winterfell in this episode. He doesn’t have the screen for more than five minutes but he dominates his screen time, ironically by showing how undominant he is right now. Varys pays a visit to Ned down in the dungeons of the Red Keep which look absolutely woeful, the only light being when Varys shows up. Varys kind of steps in for the viewers here and proclaims his surprise for how horrendously Ned plays the game of thrones. Trusting Littlefinger was a bad move but Varys has the most shock for Ned actually telling Cersei that he knew about her children. Ned did it out of mercy for the innocent children but Varys points out that this mercy is the reason that Robert is dead. Lastly, Varys tells Ned that the Starks have lost all bargaining power as Tyrion is no longer a prisoner of Cat. Wondering why they don’t just kill him now, Varys tells Ned that today is not the day. Before he leaves, Ned asks Varys who he really serves and in what might be his most honest line yet, he says he serves the realm, “someone has to”. Conleth Hill does a great job in this scene as well with his role of Varys and this short extremely dark scene may be the best one in this frantic episode.
Staying in the capital, Cersei turns her attention to detaining Sansa and Arya to make very valuable hostages and bargaining chips. If you root for the Starks like most people do, there’s some good news and some bad news. I suppose we’ll start with the good news which in this case is Arya. Even still it’s not all entirely good news as we find Arya having another sword/dancing lesson with Syrio. Things are going just fine until Lannister guards come by and ask Arya to come with them “Your father wants to see you” they say. Arya is far too smart to actually think that her father would send for her with Lannister guards and refuses to go. These guards won’t be taking no for an answer though so it falls on Syrio to protect her to which to his credit, he actually does disarm the majority of them with a wooden sword. The task ultimately proves too much though as kingsguard member Ser Meryn Trant shatters Syrio’s wooden sword. All the while, Syrio tells Arya to leave and to remember that the only thing you say to the god of death is “not today”. Arya flees and we are left to assume Syrio dies. A real shame, the Arya Syrio scenes were among the best the show has offered to this point.
Hoping to find the Stark men who were going to take her home, Arya heads to the stables to find the place ransacked. Luckily for Arya, her sword Needle is there and undamaged. Shortly thereafter, a stable boy comes by trying to take Arya to get a reward from the queen but Arya inadvertently sticks him with the pointy end (there’s your episode title) of Needle and kills him. In shock, Arya continues her escape.
While Arya found a way to avoid Cersei’s grasp, her sister Sansa was not so lucky. She too was unaware of the drastic change of events happening and was preparing to depart back for Winterfell. Her Septa realizes that something is amiss and tells Sansa to lock herself in her room. The Septa goes to investigate and is promptly killed by Lannister guards. She sadly dies in vain as Sansa is intercepted by The Hound before she can get to her room.
The Hound brings Sansa to Cersei where she plans to make use of her. Fully aware that the Starks are going to want to retaliate, she convinces Sansa to write a letter to his brother Robb to bend the knee to Joffrey if they want their father back. Does this work? Not really. Robb receives the letter some time later and Maester Luwin correctly deduces that Cersei forced Sansa to write it. Robb decides to make the fateful decision of calling the banners to declare war. After welcoming his lords and their men, they devise their strategy and depart for the south. Robb says his goodbyes to Bran and declares him Lord of Winterfell in his absence. Bran better get used to it because you get the feeling Robb won’t be coming home anytime soon.
As Robb and his 20,000 strong army marches their way south, they set up camp where Cat finds herself seeing Robb for the first time in a while. Cat has returned disappointingly empty handed. She started the episode in the Eyrie with her sister and asked her to call her banners and send her men to join forces with Robb’s. Lysa refuses to do so which is really ironic because her letter to Cat in which she suspected the Lannisters of Jon Arryn’s murder led to this crazy sequence of events happening in the first place. But should we really be surprised? We’ve gotten to know Lysa and she is far from the most stable and rational thinking person so Cat has no choice but to leave with no extra men to bring to her son’s cause.
Later on as Robb and his lords discuss whether to attack Jaime’s army or Tywin’s army, they are interrupted as one of their guards has captured a Lannister scout. Robb makes the unpopular decision to let the boy live and to use him as a messenger. Robb tells the scout to tell Tywin that winter is coming, along with 20,000 northerners. Will Robb actually go all in on the Tywin front or is it a bait and switch? We’ll find out later.
Also making his way out of the Eyrie, Tyrion makes his return to the show after a bye week, heading on home with Bronn. Seeing how crafty Bronn is, he promises to pay him all the gold he needs to stick around and protect him. They both seem fine with this being a business relationship but they’re great on screen together so I imagine they’ll become friends before long. One night as they’re sleeping, a group of Hill Tribe folk ambush Tyrion and Bronn and things look bleak. Tyrion once again proves his intellectual brilliance by striking a deal with the Hill Tribe folk. If they escort Tyrion and Bronn to the former’s father’s war camp, Tyrion will use his family’s immense wealth to fund a Hill Tribe attempt at seizing control of the Vale. The Hill Tribes have always been looked down upon by the lords of the Vale so this plan catches their attention and they ultimately decide to go through with it. Later on they arrive at Tywin’s camp and Tywin decides to make the best of an uncalled for situation. He decides to make the Hill Tribe folk fight for him in the upcoming battle and in return will give them even more than Tyrion offered them. Shagga and the rest of the Hill Tribe folk accept, under one condition, Tyrion has to fight alongside them. Tyrion fighting on the front lines of a battle? Who would have guessed Tyrion getting back behind Lannister lines would only bring him into even more danger than he was into before? I worry for him, how much can intelligence help you on the front lines of a battle?
Back at the Wall, the two corpses have been identified but Sam notes it peculiar that they had been dead for weeks but the corpses do not smell. Jon is summoned to Mormont’s chambers where Mormont gives Jon a letter revealing the news of Jon’s father’s arrest. Mormont warns him not to do anything stupid but Jon cannot heed the warning as Thorne mocks him calling him the bastard of a traitor. Jon charges at him with a knife but is restrained by his friends and Mormont punishes Jon by sending him to his chambers. While Jon is serving what is effectively a time out in his room, Ghost whines and keeps scratching the door. Jon, suspicious of Ghost’s behavior, opens the door and follows Ghost as he leads them to Mormont’s chambers. In a terrifying scene, Jon finds the reanimated corpse from earlier on. White Walkers brought them back to life and they are known as “wights”. The wight tries to kill Jon and Jon is terrified to find out that no amount of sword piercing does anything to kill the wight. Mormont comes down to investigate and in an act of desperation, Jon throws Mormont’s lantern at the wight. Turns out fire does the trick as the wight dies. Other than a burnt hand of Jon’s, the situation went about as well as it could have gone. Later on Sam confirms that if this was the work of white walkers, only fire can kill wights. He ominously says that if they really are back, he hopes the wall is high enough to hold them back. After a long hiatus dating back to the first scene of the first episode, the white walkers make their return, reminding Jon and the viewers that the game of thrones is meaningless relative to the white walker threat.
With so much action taking place in Westeros, you almost forget that we did check in With Dany, Drogo, and Jorah across the Narrow Sea. Drogo has officially started the charge to Westeros, which involves raiding villages and taking the villagers as slaves to sell for ships. Dany is particularly upset that the women get raped as a result of this and asks Jorah to make them stop. Jorah tells her that this is the price of funding a war but Dany is having none of it and commands the khalasar to stop their raping by taking the women for her own, among them Mirri Maz Duur, a healer who the Dothraki refer to as a witch. Naturally, the men of the khalasar are upset at this request and one in particular brings the issue to Drogo. Drogo calls his wife over and asks for her side of the story. Dany confirms that she asked them to stop. Drogo sides with his wife but the other guy isn’t listening and challenges Drogo to a fight. Drogo violently kills him but not before Drogo is given a deep flesh wound on the chest. At Dany’s request, he allows Mirri Maz Duur to cleanse the wound while everyone else disapproves calling Mirri Maz Duur a witch. While Drogo continues to side with his wife, Dany seems to be isolating the rest of the khalasar. It should be interesting to see if more dissent is coming Dany’s way.
All starring cast members who are still alive appear in this episode, except for Jaime. You didn’t really notice it with how packed this episode was.
This was the first episode written by George RR Martin, the author of the books that inspired the show. Certain characters that have felt a little flat so far such as Sansa, really work better in this episode.
Cersei’s agenda seems to be going pretty well. Tywin is the new hand of the king while Selmy has been relieved of his Kingsguard duties, with the vacancy going to Jaime. The Lannister seizing of power is going well.
Sansa begs for mercy for her father to Joffrey to end the episode. Joffrey agrees if Ned bends the knee and accepts him as king. Will Joffrey keep his word? Will Ned even put his honor away to make this question more than just a hypothetical one?
Quote of the Day comes from Tyrion, answering Shagga’s question of how he would like to die. “In my own bed, at the age of 80. With a belly full of wine and a girls mouth around my cock”. Everyone breaks out in laughter, can you blame them? Peter Dinklage continues to kill the role of Tyrion.
“The Pointy End” takes us everywhere and gives us meaningful scenes everywhere as war is imminent.