"Game of Thrones," Season 1, Ep. 8

Season 1, Ep. 8


  • Courtesy of HBO
  • I HATE YOU *THIS* MUCH: Jason Momoa as Drogo. (Didja know he's the new Conan, too?)

This week’s episode, titled “The Pointy End,” credits as screenwriter George R.R. Martin, author of the original series-in-progress A Song of Ice and Fire on which HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is based. As a scripting gig to thrill genre geeks, “The Pointy End” comes a close second to the May 14 episode of “Doctor Who,” written by Neal Gaiman. Maybe Martin’s inside-out familiarity with the characters brings out so much charm and subtlety this week, or perhaps his closer involvement further motivated “Thrones”’ already talented cast and crew.

Where several of “Thrones”’ early episodes felt more workmanlike than inspired, “The Pointy End” proves to be the best episode yet in terms of pace, characterization and plain old visual panache. Samwell mentions the history of the White Walkers and says he hopes The Wall is high enough. Then — whoa! — we see that The Wall’s pretty damn high already. The battles might be off-stage, but we see armies amassed in huge encampments, and characters stride over hills with mighty forts over their shoulders.

“The Pointy End” takes up where where last week’s episode left off. Ned’s attempt to unseat non-heir Joffrey from the king’s throne has gone pear-shaped, and Lannister loyalists not only butcher the Stark guards, but the servants as well. There’s a touching moment — powerfully framed —when Sansa’s nurse bravely walks toward four guards with backs to the camera and bloody swords upraised. Meanwhile, Arya’s “dancing lessons” reach an unexpected final exam. Her teacher Syrio Forel informs her not to trust anyone — something Ned would’ve done well to learn — when the cutthroats show up. Arya and Syrio take up arms and Syrio outmaneuvers for of them before sending Arya to safety. “What do we say to death?” he prompts her. “Not today!” she says.