What do we say to the god of death? Not today.
Written by: George R.R. Martin
Directed by: Daniel Minahan
There is reason to be extra excited about watching "The Pointy End": George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels that inspired Game of Thrones, takes on the responsibility of writing the screenplay. Things have heated up big time at this point in season one, so leave it to none other than Martin himself to propel the various plot lines forward and possibly create even more pandemonium. What Martin ends up doing, actually, is give us a more "controlled" episode that dials back a bit on the killing and political scheming, thus allowing Game of Thrones to recharge and not completely flame out on its first season.
Martin changes up the primary sights of blood and death in this episode, this time at the Wall and Essos as opposed to at King's Landing (though there are some killings in King's Landing in this episode, including Arya killing a stable boy). At the Wall, two frozen corpses are found, with Lord Commander Mormont recognizing them as Benjen's Stark two fellow rangers. Samwell points out that the bodies don't have smell like decomposition, despite the fact that the rangers have likely been dead for a few weeks. Later that night, Ghost begins whining and barking, prompting Jon to go check Mormont's quarters. Upon entering, Jon is attacked by one of the dead rangers, having somehow come back to life. Jon is unable to kill the undead ranger with his sword, but finds that fire destroys it for good. The bodies are burned the next morning, with Samwell pointing out that the rangers must have been touched by White Walkers.
Two things to point out here. First, Samwell Tarly is starting to find an identity within the Night's Watch; since he is too clumsy and slow to be a fighter, he might as well use the one thing that isn't slow: his brain. Secondly, the attack by the undead ranger gives us another look at what exactly is the threat that lies deep within the north, beyond the Wall. The truth is that the White Walkers are more of minor characters through the first few seasons, but it's moments like these that are sprinkled throughout the early stages of the show to constantly remind us that the White Walkers are indeed out there, and they are coming for all of the living. Samwell puts it best when he tells his fellow Night's Watch brothers that he hopes the Wall is high enough.
Meanwhile all the way over in Essos, Daenerys gets a firm reminder that the Dothraki are a culture whose only ways of life are pillaging and war. She looks on in horror as the Dothraki raid a village and take several women to be used as sex slaves. Daenerys orders for several of the women to be claimed as her own, but Khal Drogo quickly finds out about this. Daenerys, standing before her husband, states that it is her right as Khaleesi to take the women as her own, demanding that the Dothraki raiders take the village women as wives and not as slaves. If you need proof of how far Daenerys has come this season, look no further than right here: Before, she was completely at Drogo's mercy, at times looking pained to be with him. But now, she has the courage to defend her actions in front of him. Drogo sides with his wife, but this will not stand with the leading raider, Mago, who challenges Drogo to a duel. Mago hits Drogo with a nasty wound, but Drogo swifty kills Mago, one of the filthiest kills we've seen thus far (it is way better for you to just see it rather than for me to describe it here). Leave it to none other than the Khal himself to deliver a kill that makes torture porn look tame by comparison.
Alright, so I've put it off long enough: what happened to Ned Stark following the end of "You Win or You Die?" Ned has been thrown in a dungeon, while Sansa is taken by the Lannister men. Arya is able to escape, however, with the help of Syrio Forel. Later, Sansa asks the new King Joffrey to show mercy for her father, with Joffrey agreeing to do so but only if Ned acknowledges him as the rightful king and swear fealty. GOD DAMN IT is it the most annoying, anger-inducing thing ever to see that little brat Joffrey wearing the king's crown and sitting on the Iron Throne, barking orders as if he is some almighty God. In all honesty though, Jack Gleeson does a fabulous job of playing Joffrey, and it saddens me that people went out of their way to send him hate mail and even death threats.
The Lannisters clamp down on the remaining Stark forces in King's Landing, and the news of Ned's imprisonment reaches the North, where Robb Stark rallies his men to march south and prepare for war. This is an excellent example of how George R.R. Martin loves to show both sides of the story: scenes from both the Stark and the Lannister sides are shown to inform us that we are not dealing with generic "good guys" and "bad guys" here, specific motivations being fleshed out and used to drive the characters to battle. Catelyn Stark leaves the Vale and later joins Robb and the Stark bannermen in the Riverlands, letting Robb know what he is up against and that if he fails, every one of them will die. On the Lannister side, Tyrion and Bronn reach Tywin's camp, accompanied by some tribesmen they meet along the way. Tywin agrees to let the tribesmen fight in the upcoming battle against the Starks, but the tribesmen demand that Tyrion fights alongside them. Oh, Tyrion; he can NEVER catch a break no matter who he's with or where he is. The last place he wants to be is fighting on a battlefield. But anyway, there is certainly more Stark motivation than Lannister motivation shown in this episode, but with the war just beginning, we've got plenty of time to see more of what is going through the Lannister's minds.
So, war is right around the corner, there are undead people lurking about north of the Wall, and Khal Drogo reminds us all of what a badass he is. Although it's a fair criticism to call "The Pointy End" uneventful, because nothing too extreme takes place, George R.R. Martin and Daniel Minahan are still able to craft an engrossing hour of television, putting the spotlight on other characters such as Robb Stark and preventing any of the plot lines from sagging. Martin gets to show more of the themes and ideas inherent to his A Song of Ice and Fire books, all the while getting us geared up for the war that Robert Baratheon told us was coming. Winter is coming as well. The war, however, is coming first.
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