Game of Thrones: Please, ANYONE But Joffrey!

All those out there who do NOT want to claim the Iron Throne and rule Westeros, raise your hand. [Ned Stark is the only one to raise his hand.] Our honorable friend Ned Stark just wants to chill out in Winterfell and stock up for winter (in case you haven't heard, it's coming) but now he's embroiled in a struggle for the Iron Throne—a struggle he'd rather not be a part of.

Let's all hope the title for Episode 7, "You Win Or You Die," is not prophetic. Because Ned is both literally and figuratively in the Lion's den, accused of treason for not bending his knee and swearing loyalty to that punk-jerk boy-king Joffrey. Heck, one of Joffrey's first orders as king was to kill everyone in the room. Not exactly the beginning of a forgiving and peaceful reign.

The question of the day seems to be: "Did Ned play this game of thrones correctly?" I love watching real-time reactions to Game of Thrones on Twitter, and Sunday night there seemed to be equal parts "Poor Ned!" and "Dude, you should have seen that coming." Ned's weaknesses are his honor and his expectation that everyone else should live their lives with honor as well. And those weaknesses bit him in the ass.

I like to imagine that every time Ned says the name "Littlefinger," he does it in the same way that Jerry Seinfeld always said "Newman!" Ned had no reason to think Littlefinger would pull out his middle finger at the last second, turning his promised guards against Ned and his men. Sure, we knew Littlefinger might have had something up his sleeve, but with Ned's back to the wall, I don't think he had much choice but to seek a desperate alliance with Littlefinger, who'd previously pledged loyalty to Catelyn. But alas, Cat and Ned aren't really the same person, and longtime crushes burn deep within men. Did Littlefinger betray Ned as a means of eliminating the competition for the woman he's always loved, or was he siding with the team he thought would ascend the throne? It's probably a two birds/one stone situation.

Now Ned is in the hands of the Lannisters, Joffrey is sitting on the throne (barf!), and the only man who was keeping Ned from being torn to shreds by the Lion Lannisters is dead. To love Game of Thrones is also to be a masochist: There's little room for good news in this world. There's certainly no shortage of dramatic tension—but that means the "good" characters are metaphorical punching bags and the unscrupulous characters (and those who are twats in general) get all the good things in life. Sigh.

Even Jon Snow, who arrived at Camp Wall the most skilled swordsman and rider of all the recruits, had his dream of becoming a Ranger of the Night's Watch crushed. Instead, he'll be changing bed pans for Lord Mormont as his Mormont's steward, which is a nice way of saying man-servant. What a rip-off! On the plus side, as Samwell pointed out, it's possible Jon is being groomed for something more important than being a simple foot soldier, and at least he won't have to trot out in the unknown and face whatever evil lurks beyond The Wall. Though it looks like a bummer in the short term, in the long term, it might actually be a rare instance of good news.

Things were only slightly better (and could have been much worse) for Dany, who avoided a special vintage of wine called Le Queenkiller while wandering through a random market. If that wine guy was able to come close to collecting the bounty on her head, there will surely be others looking to do the same. The situation is clear: Dany (and her unborn son) won't be safe until the threat from across the sea is stopped.

And now's when we get to the undisputed MVP of the episode, Mr. Khal Drogo. Until now, we've mostly known Drogo as a rapist of unwilling blonde teen queens, a quiet man who enjoyed a celebratory disemboweling at his wedding, and a mumbling warrior who is scared to death of water. But that was before someone tried to mess with his baby mama, and his Maori warrior hype-up was the first time we've seen such passion from him. It was impossible to sit idly by and not want to cross the sea and lay Westeros to waste in an orgy of blood. It was like a Coach Taylor pre-game speech on Friday Night Lights, but with more guyliner, biceps, and rape-y promises. Team Drogo!

We also met Tywin Lannister, father of Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion, who is played by the bad guy from Last Action Hero (Charles Dance). When we met him, he was appropriately carving up a stag (the sigil of House Baratheon), though I'm fairly surprised we didn't see him urinating on a wolfskin rug. In a show that's for the most part been nailing its casting, Dance as Tywin may be the best yet. He's got the gravitas to be as sinister as the head of the Lannister clan needs to be, and his condescending looks to Jaime were ice cold. He's just got that Lannister dick-ishness built into him. He's perfect.

But I can't finish this article without talking a little more about that devious Littlefinger. I know we're all supposed to hate the guy, but I can't help but love him. Of course, I anyone who, in the middle of a story about how he was scarred for life physically and emotionally, can casually drop a "play with her assssss" into the conversation. That guy is such a pimp.

Notes from the ravens:
... No Arya in this episode. Are you okay with how some characters aren't showing up at all in certain episodes? I think it serves the story better when the writers are able to give more screentime to those involved with the principal storylines. If that means we don't get to see Arya or Robb or whoever, I think that's fine. They'll be back.

... Earlier in the season, I wrote an article defending the sex in Game of Thrones, insisting it was necessary to tell the story. But this week's scene with Littlefinger, Ros, and the other whore didn't seem like it had to be as explicit as it was. That said, as a fan of redheads, I'm not going to complain. Side note: The actress who plays Ros is British burlesque star Esmé Bianco, who is the face of lingerie line The Modern Courtesan. You can see more of her on the web site (NSFW). I do this research for you, dear reader.

... I wonder how the show goes about casting some of its smaller roles. How many people line up for a role with a character description that says, "A wine merchant who tries to poison the queen and then is dragged, naked, behind a horse (your penis will be seen by millions)," or "Prostitute who gets her ass played with." Just wonderin'.

... Do you think Renly is going to make a claim for the throne? What about Stannis, who we haven't seen? Who do you think should sit on the Iron Throne?

... Have you ever seen a suit of armor more badass than The Hound's?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Ehhhhm regarding the two fights which Ned looses. In the first the Lannisters got the element of surprise and ranged weapons. Still Jory takes out 3 or so before getting killed by Jaime who is one of the best. In the second they are heavily outnumbered and actually thought the city guard was on their side. Basically neither is a fair fight, and why would the Lannisters fight fairly in the first place?
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Great show. But they better not stuff up the dragons!
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Hilarious! I was laughing my head off at the pimp hat. You are awesome Tim! A highlight for me was the guy who saved Tyrion; an old English legend; look him up! Hoping to see more of him sometime soon. I've downloaded an app to help me keep up with all the characters and already the series is starting to make more sense to me (eg. name dropping of place names). Would recommend it!
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@daedLink Think the "marital experience" comment was on the nose, my wife could rip you a new one with barely a flick of her wooden spoon and anyone with marital experience knows what I'm saying! lol



Seeing Tywin telling Jaime to grow up was awesome too. Great acting from Jaime too, you could see he felt about an inch high by the end of his father's rant.



Only negative about that scene was that you really should be more careful with continuity when skinning animals. Poor stag went from fully skinned to half-skinned and back again at least once!!
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Also, if cheesy CGI'd out Dragons start showing up on this show next season, I think i'm out.
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@daedLink, again your passing judgement from your claimed extensive MMA "martial" experience. lol I just got back from a stint in Afghanistan working with ISAF. So you can guess my profession and also note I know something about real combat. However both my experience and your karate knowledge doesn't translate to medieval fantasy combat. Your missing the point entirely, I am simply stating I think if the creators intent was show us the northmen are supposed to be good soldiers they should do better job at showing us that these guys can defend themselves. From what we have seen so far, their getting shanked left and right, while I'm sure this will change in the coming episodes. My comments were made out of humor. Ned Stark - "I need you best two swords," bam dead before they could react. I find that funny is all. So don't get your "littlefinger" panties in a bunch. =)
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DO YOU KNOW WHO'S GONNA PLAY STANNIS?WICH ACTOR??
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@ChuckDW
Wow, my misspelling of "martial" really did make my whole spiel kinda silly. I'll own that one.
However I stand by the fact that I doubt you have any experience in combat to be able to make the judgement you made about the northern guards. As for your strawman argument, no I do not larp, etc. I do train in BJJ, Muay Thai and other MMA styles as well as Kali/Eskrima armed combat. So, I do have an idea of what I'm talking about. But you are correct in saying that this argument is useless so I will end it here. I will also agree with you that fladimir7 makes the best point.
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I don't understand half the stuff they are talking about on this show
but i enjoy watching it lol
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Just want to comment on the issue of the northmen and their fighting skills.
In this show (and the books) there are no super fighter who will win battles against all odds.
Its a fiction, but some things are kept as real as possible.
You wont see few who wins against many even if it will cause a major character to loose or even die.
Its realistic and its annoying - as real life is annoying when you don't get what you want.
This is one of the good things of this story, there is no band of people who embark on a journey to destroy some evil dude and survive against legions of foes. Tim said you need to be a masochist to watch and love this show. He is right :), No more Hollywood happy endings. Let them good (and bad) guys suffer for a change!

By the way... I keep saying good and bad, but the real bad guys are not the humans, but those white walkers beyond the wall, so let them humans kill one another as long as in the end, they will survive the winter.
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Ned should sit on the Iron Throne but we know that's not gonna happen
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I know too much about story-telling to root for the Dothraki, but I think I am anyway, kill them all.
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I cant wait for next weeks episode!
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Well, Littlefinger has tried to warn Ned and keep him from making big mistakes. But Ned's honor keeps him from taking that advice. I think he's never stopped feeling what he felt for Catelyn but that doesn't extend to her spouse or kids. Ned's honor didn't even let him side with Renly when he had the chance and it also led him to send off half his guards to help others. I think the show is good at showing how awful war is and that even the good guys suffer a lot. Honor prevented assassinating Hitler and saving millions of lives so it can seem mistaken in hindsight. The most amazing part for me is how closely the series has followed the first book, sometimes whole sections of dialog are word-for-word. I'm glad they resisted the temptation to tinker too much and hope that continues. It's hard not to root for Dany, Arya, Jon and even Littlefinger. But if I remember the first book correctly, all of the main characters do their own share of suffering.
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Wow people defending the northern guards like their from there. lol Ridiculous. It's a fictional show folks, calm down. My statement is that from what we have seen so far, the show runners are giving us the perception that the Stark guards are useless, kind of like this argument. I understand their situations and being outnumbered. Fladmir makes the best point, however. As for daedLink, don't assume people don't have "martial experience" just because they're making a fair assessments from a TV show. Just because you larp in your mother's basement with your wooden swords and read Fantasy novels doesn't make you expert enough to pass judgment on anybody. It's pretentious and idiotic to assume your the master of medieval fantasy combat. "lighting bolt!"
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@ChuckDW, i disagree with your assessment as well that the northerners suck at fighting. What they really lack, it's thinking or a good commander. All of these situations could've easily been avoided had Ned not put his honor notions before every decisions. If he had been more careful instead of underestimating everyone in the castle, even after they warned him not to. Ned is the reason those northerners have been killed so far.
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@ChuckDW To be fair Ned's men never would've expected the Queen's brother to attack the Hand of the King in the streets of the capital and on top of that they were outnumbered. Jory did the best he could but he is no match for Jamie Lannister and the second time they were attacked yet again they were caught off guard, ambushed, and outnumbered.
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I love how people with no marital experience are making comments on how the Stark bannermen suck at fighting. Understand that the fight is not fair. No matter how good of a swordsman you are, you are at a disadvantage against an experienced spearman, especially if they get the jump on you. In the confrontation with Jaime, the spears were launched at them. For Jory, Jaime is considered one of if not the best swordsman in the 7 kingdoms. In the throne room, you had less than 10 northerners against a MUCH larger force with spears.
This is gritty, dirty violence. If you want fancy fighting, go watch a marital arts flick.
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raziela12, ok we get it a lot people like you who read the books but please would stop giving things way. All it's doing is spoiling it for the rest of us. Also the northmen do suck at fighting. Episode 7 wasn't only time they got cut down without a fight. Remember back in episode 5 when Ned told Rory "Place your two best two swords at the front of the brothel." Not only are these dudes smocked before they draw out their swords, Rory (Ned's best man) is shanked in the eyeball with the pointing end before he could even land a blow on Jaime. I am just saying from what we have seen so far, the Stark guards are pretty useless.
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the only thing that is hard to follow sometimes are the names of people. me and my partner will be watching and going like huh? whats going on? its like they start speaking in a different language
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I think Stannis will come claim the throne and bail out Ned next season.
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"i think that the Iron Throne is rightfully Dany's,she and her family were robbed of the Throne a while back (so what if their dad was a little cooky,the throne was theirs) and it's only fair for Dany to get it back."

Yeah and they took it from someone else. If you remember what Viserys said, his family conquered the kingdom with dragons. So i'm inclined to agree with Jorah in that the throne doesn't "belong" to anyone except whoever can gain it and keep it.
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Still most impressed with Peter as Tyrion but agree all the casting has been really good. As with most book adaptions there's a ton that doesn't translate or make it to TV. These books are worth the read! OH so much more to it all!!
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Just wanted to add something Mormont said to Dani, (although he doubted the existence of dragons...) Aegon the Conquerer seized the 7 kingdoms cuz he had the power and dragons... the kingdom was not the right of the Targaryens; just as it was not the right of Robert, who later usurped them.---- Therefore, Dani being the rightful heir is a matter of perspective to say the least. Although I really do like her, and Emilia Clarke has been brilliant. Also, the actor who plays Varys has been great .I love that slithery way he speaks. It's really on point with the character.
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Only 3 episodes left!!!!
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My vote goes to Dany. She's come a long way since her wedding, and now that she's finally rid of that hateful bother of hers and Drogo has pledged himself to her cause, there will be no stopping her. I liked King Robert - ineffectual drunkard that he was - but now that he's no more, I am rooting for Dany.
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Kudos on writing funny awesome reviews, Mr. Surette! :)
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I am really worried about Drogo from the previews for next week. I love him and Dany and would hate to lose him. Let the Dothraki invasion begin. I would love to see the blacksmith's apprentice become contender for the crown.
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Why doesn't Ned ever listen to anybody? Poor noble bastard... Aiden Gillen is killing it as "Littlefinger". Interested to see where Renly ends up in all of this and very interested to meet Stannis Bartheon. Always loved Joseph Dempsie on "Skins" and wondering if he isn't the King Arthur of this whole story. Can't hurt working for the blacksmith. Isn't Drogo the most interesting husband on television currently? Dany for the win.
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the thing with thrones is, whoever is on them is king. I don't like that Joffrey is sitting on the throne or any lannister for that matter but it is clearly ned's fault. Any of the very good offers he got from renly and littlefinger were better for him and the realm but he had to go and be honorable...
Then again all that is meaningless since the dothraki are on their way
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I find myself clamoring for more, I love the way the show is edited including several different kingdoms. Someone said the show is hard to follow, I don't see that at all, I think it's dispersed beautifully and the cast to die for. Sean Bean is brilliant as Ned Stark, I wouldn't count him out just yet.
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i think that the Iron Throne is rightfully Dany's,she and her family were robbed of the Throne a while back (so what if their dad was a little cooky,the throne was theirs) and it's only fair for Dany to get it back.
When theTargeriens were on the throne,everything was so cooler,they had dragons and sh*t,probably owed no money to the Lannisters as well.The Seven Kingdoms now is puny and weak,a brothel for Littlefingers and Lannisters alike. Yeah,Dany should get in there and kick some serious as*!
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I mean seriously anyone but Joffery. But I do feel sorry for kid because the Dothraki are coming. Even though he has the Kings Landing and Lannister Army behind him I don't think its going to make a difference. Anyway the ones I want to see on the iron throne is either Ned or Dany. Stannis is the rightful heir and we haven't seen yet you could go with him. But Ned and Dany are my two top choices at the moment.
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WOW! GoT is hot and smoking
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The hounds helm looks silly.

Nice episode. Though the little finger with lesbian scene was wayyy too long.
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I am so going to enjoy hating Joffrey, even more than in the books I reckon.
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It was a great episode! And great review Tim! ;)
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shocking episode,WOW,I'm glad that i'm watching this series
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Tim Surette... brother u are one awesome writer......
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awesome episode. love the show
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I love reading the reactions from the people that are completely new to the story. GoT just isn't predictable at all, and that's what makes it so great.

How can people say the northmen are bad at fighting? They were just impaled from behind, it like to see you fight that...

@Taccado, you're not exactly right here. Yes many of the good characters face tragedies, well not many, come to think of it, I think even all of them^^. But so do the "bad" guys. There's no one that won't have a bumpy road ahead of them. The only difference is that the "bad" guys have a bit more good times before they get slapped in the face. And I don't really see a bad guy in the story at all, except maybe Joffrey but he's just an entitled psychopathic kid.
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LOL...Joffrey would be a figure-head...See how he looks too his mother for every decision, well whenever his impulses don't get the better of him. A little blonde puppet. A tool of Cersei and the rest of the Lannisters. Poor Silly Honourable Ned Stark. In the time there, I cannot believe that he ignored the lesson of "He who controls the most gold, rules the realm."
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"Ned had no reason to think Littlefinger would pull out his middle finger at the last second"

You mean besides Littlefinger outright telling Ned not to trust him, right? Which was sort of the whole point.
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Well, maybe he prevented something harsh, but even if Littlefinger hadn`t jump in, the Lannister wouldnt kill Ned since they dont know yet that Tyrion is free. They wouldnt risk the Imp`s life killing Ned.
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Well, maybe he prevented something harsh, but even if Littlefinger hadn`t jump in, the Lannister wouldn
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What ChuckDW said. I mean, aren't people from the North supposed to be a bit better at fighting? It'd be one thing if Ned's guards were even putting up a decent fight, but they're just getting massacred. Seems a bit one-sided... ;p
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Littlefinger actually saved Ned's life at the end. Why else would he have put himself right in the middle of the massacre that he knew was coming? If he hadn't quickly put the knife to Ned's throat, Ned would have gone down fighting.
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I'd like to see robert's bastard (chris from skins 1&2) prepped to be king though I know that probably isn't the least bit possible.
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You know there are a lot of dark characters in a show when the group who want to invade a country and "rape the women and take the children as slaves" are considered the good guys.

Ned is one of my favorite characters on the show and I hate what Littlefinger did but I still can't help but like Littlefinger. There is just something about the character that is enjoyable to watch.
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Great review and wicked episode! After this episode I'm just hoping that the Dothraki annihilate King's Landing and Khal Drogo gets to do everything he said after the wine dude tried to kill Dany. ANYONE But Joffrey indeed!
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