Game of Thrones Episode 7 ‘You Win or You Die’ Recap & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated September 18th, 2012 at 8:21 am,

Game of Thrones never fails to amaze. The HBO series (based on the uber-popular fantasy books by George R. R. Martin) just keeps getting better, and better, and better – in all respects, without avail.

Every seemingly minor detail is important. Every conversation, every line of dialogue, every scalding hot bath. Just when you think they’ve added too many elements to the show – too many characters, subplots, and what have you – the hefty creative reward for those elements becomes immediately apparent.

Read-on for our recap and reactions to the latest episode, number 7, “You Win or You Die.” It goes without saying that what follows will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for Game of Thrones episodes 1-7. Continue reading at your own risk.

Last week’s episode, “A Golden Crown,” saw so many major plot points go down it was almost too much to bear.

The wrongfully captive and infinitely likable Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) – more commonly known as “The Imp”– was released from custody when his champion brutally defeated Lisa Arryn’s in sword-to-sword combat. But not before Tyrion uttered a hilarious monologue reminiscent of Chunk’s confession from The Goonies.

game of thrones imp Game of Thrones Episode 7 ‘You Win or You Die’ Recap & Discussion

Elsewhere, Ned Stark (Sean Bean), the current Hand of the King, discovered the reason behind his predecessor’s untimely death. It turns out Prince Joffrey Baratheon (as close to a literal monster as any human child has ever been) is not the true son of King Robert, but rather the incestuous offspring of Jaime and Queen Cersei Lannister – a union that led to the crippling of Bran Stark, the middle son of Ned.

Lastly, the sniveling Prince Viserys Targaryen interfered for the last time in Princess Daenerys Targaryen’s new Dothraki lifestyle, and her husband, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa, A.K.A. the new Conan), bathed his bleach-blonde head in liquid molten gold, killing him instantly.

And so, with just four episodes left in the season, here we are at the seventh, “You Win or You Die.” Is war between the Starks and the Lannisters brewing to the point of being inevitable? What about the potential war between the Dothraki and the entire realm? And what, pray tell, is the latest news with regard to those mysterious and horrifying White Walkers, whose existence threatens everything, everywhere? Read on to find out…

game of thrones ned stark cersei lannister Game of Thrones Episode 7 ‘You Win or You Die’ Recap & Discussion

This episode of Game of Thrones – “You Win or You Die” – shows just how far the art of television has come, and how it’s beginning to surpass mainstream movies by and large. It used to be that Hollywood movies developed their characters and plots as thoroughly as possible; now, character and plot development has taken a backseat to action scenes created by animators and their computers.

Not so with television; not so with Thrones. This series is all about the art of story, intrigue, drama, and suspense – nebulous things that aren’t so easily constructed as CGI crutches. And yet, this medium is catching up to film in terms of production values, as well. The look of episode 7 is perfect. Gritty but beautiful.

“You Win or You Die” (and Thrones as a whole) is not unlike the grand movies of yester, yester, yesteryear. The characters and the plot aren’t just in the front seat, so to speak – they’re driving, too. The dialogue is all-important in terms of delivering information about those characters and that plot. For instance, we learn (via a throwaway remark) that Ned Stark had the opportunity to take the throne for himself – he even forced Jaime Lannister down from it – but refused because he didn’t feel it was just. His “thing” is honor and justice with a hint of sadness, but he’s not so simple as that.

Because we know the ins and outs of Ned, of his wife, of his awesome (save for that unbearable redhead!) children, of his bastard, and so forth, we’ve come to genuinely care about them in ways we rarely do in today’s films. When “action” invades the scene, we worry like we just don’t worry watching Thor, The Expendables, and so forth. In fact, the ending of this episode is so wonderfully worrisome, it’ll be almost unbearable to wait one more week to find out what happens next. Alas, episode 8 won’t be available on HBO GO tonight like episode 7 was last week, so we’ll just have to make do.

Yes, the action is sparse. So what? That doesn’t mean it’s not good, because it’s absolutely good. It’s brutal and well-choreographed. The gore is realistic and yet exploitative – in that always enjoyable HBO sort of way. But we’re not over-saturated with the stuff, so we appreciate it more whenever it occurs. We also appreciate it because of what it means to the characters and the story, rather than just appreciating “how cool that one move looked,” or whatever.

Everything has been perfectly developed in this show, from the characters to the plot to the numerous sub-plots. In “You Win or You Die,” King Robert has been mortally wounded by a hog on the hunt, and thus, everything we’ve seen inklings of – Ned Stark’s political war with Cersei Lannister and the fact that Robert’s son is not actually blood-related (and therefore not the heir to the throne) – is about to come to a head. How does one undo this decades-long charade created by the Lannisters, especially when the Lannisters are there to stop it? How does one prevent the horribly spoiled Joffrey from becoming king of all there is? Ned has a lot to deal with in the crumbling of a kindgom, and perhaps not the cruelness of heart to do it.

tywin lannister Game of Thrones Episode 7 ‘You Win or You Die’ Recap & Discussion

For the first time, we’re introduced to the crafty, formidable Lord Tywin Lannister, father of Tyrion and the Wonder Twins – err, that is to say, Jaime and Cersei Lannister – as played by the awesome Charles Dance (you probably know him best for his villainous roles in The Golden Child, Last Action Hero, and Space Truckers). Tywin is handing out life lessons to his vain, arrogant son Jaime about the importance of family while he guts a stag and cleans it for consumption. This is a man who, wealthy and lordly though he is, isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and do what needs to be done.

One of the best exchanges from his and Jaime’s scene goes like this:

Tywin: “You spend too much time worrying about what other people think of you.”

Jaime: “I could care less what anyone thinks of me.”

Tywin: That’s what you want people to think of you.”

There’s so much going on in those three lines of dialogue. There’s wisdom, cleverness, and insight. Can you say the same for the whole of your average movie?

game of thrones white walker zombie Game of Thrones Episode 7 ‘You Win or You Die’ Recap & Discussion

We receive more hints of the existence of the White Walkers – known more prominently as “the Others” in the books – giant, blue-eyed monsters who live north of The Wall (a gigantic barrier created exclusively to keep these monsters at bay). They’ve been gone – sleeping – since before anyone can remember. Many believe them to be myth, but we, the viewers, know they’re more than that. And they’re coming to kill everything.

If there’s one complaint for this episode (and really, it’s a minor one), it’s that the sexual content verges on totally gratuitous. Some of it seems necessary for a variety of reasons, but there are a few minutes near the beginning – you’ll know it when you see it – that appear to cross the line from “necessary for the sake of realism” to “Game of Thrones obviously needed to fill its HBO-mandated monthly nudity quota.” And fill it, it does. There may, in fact, be a surplus for next month.

At this point, it’s safe to say that Game of Thrones isn’t the kind of show that you just casually watch every week because it’s consistently enjoyable. Rather, Game of Thrones is the kind of show that you pine for. It’s the kind of show you find yourself restlessly daydreaming about the Monday after it airs, the Tuesday after it airs, the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after it airs.

game of thrones jaime lannister Game of Thrones Episode 7 ‘You Win or You Die’ Recap & Discussion

You can’t help but be addicted to this thing because the characters are so likable and well-rounded, the dialogue is so crisp and well-crafted, the story is so enthralling and – holy crap – stressfully intense. Got a graduation party to attend Sunday at 9 p.m.? Skip it, because Game of Thrones is on. Need to go to bed early because you’ve got to be at work on Mondays extra early for some reason? Too bad, power through it, Game of Thrones is on.

ATTENTION: If you’re going to comment below, assume that everyone has seen the episode but that no one has read the novels. Even if you include a “Spoiler Alert,” the comments section are a completely inappropriate place for such, well, comments. Stay on topic and talk about the show, not the novels.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays @9pm on HBO

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

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  1. I’m glad your giving this show the love it deserves…

  2. Ohhhh! Just when you think the Lannisters are the ones who will need to dig their way out of a hole, Ned’s episode-long vacillation turns out to be his undoing. Things seemed a little drawn out in parts, but then that ending hits!

    • Those Lannisters are a crafty, resourceful bunch….plus they have lots of money.

  3. The series is awsome, can’t get enough of it wish it was a couple of episodes longer.

    • A season per book, already renewed for the second season. And the fifth book is being released in July. Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty more.

  4. Great show, Sean Bean is pitch perfect.

  5. They’re definitely doing a good job of following the plot of the book. That’s why the series has been so good so far. But as a reader, I can’t help but miss some things that were covered in the books – so I agree with Luis, this series actually could have used at least two more episodes.

    But overall, it’s been well done. Only the first episode has left me feeling a little cold – the only episode I think could have used a little more work. The rest has been well done. Cheers to them.

  6. Awesome show. It continues to get better week after week. I haven’t read the books which for me makes it better as I have no idea of how this show could play out.
    Every episode leaves you thinking “That can’t be it…more..please!!”.

    The reviews on here are spot on and I read them every week after I’ve watched the episodes. Great show.

    Let’s just hope they don’t cancel this one like they do every other good show we get into. (Still mourning the loss of SGU)

    • Freak yes!
      Maybe HBO can save Eli?
      Does he need saving?


    • Best show on tv. I’m hooked. I haven’t read the books so each episode is a total treat. Let’s speculate for a moment. There are a number of good souls in the picture, among them are the Stark children (Bastard included), the “Imp” and maybe the Khal’s wife. If the white walkers invade there must be an alliance of the age old enemies. Who proposes the alliance? Which of the younger generation could be married to cement alliances?

    • While plenty of great shows have been cancelled it seems HBO cancels less great shows than most other stations.

      still no need to worry in this case. Shows get cancelled for low ratings not because the networks are just jerks and game Of thrones is bringing in some fantastic ratings. Huge numbers for HBO. Rest assured this is not a series they want to let go of anytime soon. Don’t expect it to turn out to be Deadwood.

      • I could be mistaken but I thought Deadwood and Rome were both cancelled for production costs not for ratings.

  7. Another Fantastic episode. I’ve read a few reviews from various places before posting however none seemed to have aknowledged Neds conclusion or confrontation with Cersei that she and her brother where behind Brans fall & Injury. Excellent review keep up good work!

  8. I’m at the second half of second book, and boy, are you guys in for a treat. Can’t wait for the last 3 episodes!

    • I’m in the exact same spot! ;-)

  9. Awesome show,showing that tv can be more epic then films,
    would love to see the prequel of the story of the mad king.

  10. I’m very impressed. Cheers to screen rant for posting this article. Loved every word. Its depressing sometimes when I come on here and read people saying they look forward to Transformers 3 and that Thor was at one point 80 percent on Rotten tomatoes. Finally we have a show that is good for the right reasons. I just dont know why hollywood keeps churning out crap. Why can an Xmen movie have story telling like this??? (as good as First class looks it can be better) Why cant I have a Batman film like Se7en???(as good as dark knight was any batman fan knows it was just the tip) These things can be taken to so many levels within levels of great story telling. But no one wants to take any risks so I doubt we’ll ever get there…

  11. Great article. I could not agree with it more. This is the titan of television.

    Please get those Lannister’s out of there. Even though “The Imp” is one of my favorite characters. He should run that family.

  12. Hahaha, I have to say the sex scene had me laughing just because it was so over the top. They were in a brothel though, so much like seeing knights training in the yard(Jon Snow a couple of episodes back), I guess the ladies need on the job training too!

  13. I didn’t really see the purpose of the sex scene. As a viewer, how can you take anything that Littlefinger was saying seriously? He was delivering some important dialogue regarding his feelings for Cat (and thus the Starks), but it’s completely minimized by some girl-on-girl action. Just poor, poor execution in my opinion.

    I was glad that Jon FINALLY returned. He’s such a cool character. But alas, when one great character comes back, another (Tyrion) gets the week off. Bah.

    • I don’t think it was poor execution — they did what they wanted, the way they wanted. HBO shows are known for doing this kind of thing as an attempt at gaining viewers. Like you, though, I think it was unnecessary to do it, at least to the EXTENT that they did.

    • That Littlefinger scene was in the book as well, though.

      • Memory fail… no it wasn’t. I was thinking of another scene.

    • I totally agree with you. I thought it was an unnecessary distraction from the dialogue which you could barely hear over the girls groaning.

    • I belive that the point of the abundance of sex in the scene was put in to emphasise the moral degradation of Littlefinger as well as his indifference to love and lust, all caused by his adoration-turned-bitterness/melancholia towards lady Stark (not the Starks in general though?). And this might help explain why he sided with the Lannisters in the court room showdown at the end of the episode.

      It was also a nice way of linking the diferent locations together by puting Theon’s lost girl in King’s Landing. Nice way of building the world. In my opinion anyway.

      But I do agree that it might have been overdone. It could’ve been toned down a bit.

  14. Terri Wolffe here folks…Where to start? First, loved your article, Ben Moore. Secondly, I feel like a crack fiend desperately in need of my Game of Thrones fix! Desperately combing the web in search of Episode 8! Why didn’t someone warn me? I should never have watched the first episode…I should have waited until the entire season was available on DVD. The waiting…the longing…the anticipation…what’s a girl to do? This is what one calls “existing from Sunday to Sunday.” Get a life, you say? Got one! Important meetings on Monday…deadlines on Tuesday…can’t miss conference calls on Wednesday…people to see on Thursday…places to go on Friday…things to do on Saturday…church to attend on Sunday. My gosh, how will I muddle my way through until Sunday evening?

    There is NO OTHER SHOW on all of television that I’d rather watch…So, I’ll answer my own question. What’s a girl to do? I’ll go back to writing my sequel to Desperate Desires…all the while, I’ll be breathlessly waiting for Episode 8!

  15. “it’ll be almost unbearable to wait one more week to find out what happens next” These damn clif hangers are about driving me nuts. Right when everything is at a high pitch….The credits start to roll ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH……I might just have to record all the last episodes without watching them until the season is completed because of those cliff hangers….Those damn cliff hangers….

  16. It’s gonna be interesting to see how people react to episodes 8-10.

  17. “There’s wisdom, cleverness, and insight”
    And yet a pathetic grammar mistake for such writers.
    “I could care less what anyone thinks of me.”

    • That’s not a grammar mistake. That’s how people talk. Sometimes characters in movies say “ain’t,” too.

      • “ain’t” still means what it’s supposed to mean.
        “Could care less” means the exact opposite. Coming from Jaime Lannister that just sounded wrong.

        • “Could care less” actually means what it means. There are a bunch of phrases and words that originally meant something else but, due to the passage of time and the initial incorrect usage, have come to mean something different (or in the case of “could care less,” the complete opposite). Because “could care less” is so overwhelmingly used, it’s completely acceptable as a means to express how little one cares. It’s slang, man.

          Regardless, this is such a minor point to make. If Game of Thrones were a research paper for someone’s dissertation, I’d agree with you — bad job, writers. Alas, it’s a fictional work where characters say all kinds of slangy or grammatically incorrect stuff.

          • Ben I understand what you are saying and you are completely right.

            However, it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Doesn’t bother me in the show so much, but I hate when people say it. Could Care Less is the most frustrating phrase for me to hear. Because it sounds so dumb given it’s intended meaning.

            • Hey, I totally get why someone would be annoyed by the phrase. Everybody has their thing they can’t stand. But to pull a grammar police move like that on the writers of the show for a line of dialogue is just taking it too far, in my opinion. Especially for a phrase so widely used.

            • It sounds dumb, if every time someone said it, everyone in earshot thinks “wow they said that wrong.” But most people don’t care that much because they know what that person was intending to say. I’ll say, in assistance to you, don’t care about it so much going forward. Then you’ll be happier.

  18. The sex scene pissed me off since it was 4-5 minutes that could have been spent dealing with other characters and stories.

    • Agreed on that point!

  19. Spell Binding…Magical…and just plain fun to watch. The series totally transports me into another relm. Like others I just can’t wait til Sunday.

  20. Very bothered. I love the show and enjoy watching it and up until last week my Girl friend and I watched it together. She loved it almost as much as me. Sadly I accidentally let slip things that will happen since I had read the book and now she refuses to watch it anymore with me. I’ve lost my viewing partner and had to watch this week alone. She’s so upset about the way things turn out that she said she’s done with the show. I’m gonna stop watching at a certain point, but for now I want to keep going. Now I have to do it alone :(

    The sex scene was pointless. I wasn’t to shocked I watch to many HBO shows to be surprised at their useless sex scenes. They have a lot of great shows that they drag down the quality of trying to meet some sort of sex and or nudity quota. Same with Showtime.

    • You kinda only have yourself to blame for that transgression ;)

      But I can’t blame you, it is very hard not to spoil on some things that’s upcoming that I do think will turn a lot of people off the show, sadly. I’m having that problem myself at the moment, made especially hard with the next three episodes coming up. But I keep telling myself, “maybe the show has been engrossing enough to keep them around regardless.”

      Guess it doesn’t pay sometimes to have read the books first.

      • Guys — you have GOT to stop referencing how sad/depressing/et cetera Game of Thrones is going to get. That may not be a spoiler in the classic sense, but it does spoil the way in which this story will progress if the show adheres to the books.

  21. Yup..your review..nailed exactly how I feel about the series..One actually cares for the characters..and that too in just 7 episodes..good stuff..seriously good stuff..!!

    • This show is just amazing, i’d put it as my 2nd favourite show of all time, just behind band of brothers which was also produced by HBO.

  22. hope they do all the books…read them all…well till feast for crows…..and luved the way they follow up the life of each character….even though it is a lil bit tragic for my taste

  23. I’m assuming Ned’s letter/decree to Stannis Baratheon got sent, right? So even though Cersei/Joffrey have taken the throne, is anyone else expecting Stannis to get involved? It was a very short scene (where Ned tells the messenger to hand it to no one but Stannis Baratheon), but I imagine they included it for a reason.

    • I would think so. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

    • It’s really funny watching you guys wonder about these things, having read the books. I’m glad you’re enjoying it though, and trust me, nothing that gets mentioned in the books isn’t important later on (whether Stannis gets involved or not, you should remember that conversation).

      • Mentioned in the show, I should say.

  24. Agree completely with everything you said, Ben.

  25. I first started watching the show because I was playing Dragon Age, not because of the books or anything related to them.So now after 7 episodes, I can say I’m more hooked than I’ve been in a long time by a western TV show and I can’t wait till next weeks episode and the one after that.

  26. This show is too good and I am glad that it landed with HBO and not regular cable because it would have been cancelled already and that would have been heart breaking.

  27. Did anybody like the Drogo scene in the end where he swore to conquer the Seven Kingdoms? I like watched it five times in a row and it gave me the chills every time. I’m glad he finally got some talkative screentime.

    Absolutely adore the show btw.

  28. scrolled all the way down, quickly to just pop in and say that no one will listen to your gentle pleas to not spoil those of us who haven’t read the books. They’ll come in and spoil just for fun.

    I highly doubt that I will not be able to read the books before season 2 airs, however. Though its arguably FAR more fun watching the show having no idea what is going to happen. We shall see.

    • Yeah, that’s true, someone immediately posted a massive spoiler that I had to delete. Still, I figure we might as well try.

    • It might also be far more rewarding reading the books without having seen the show..

  29. Hell…I can tell you what the last episode of this season will be….A real screamer…And that scream being “ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH” When they leave us even more high and dry than they do at the end of each episode. Just when you’re really getting into the story….The credits start to roll…….The problem of a series being too damn good….You just don’t want to stop……