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GAME OF THRONES Re-Throned: “The Pointy End” (S1, E8)

Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly re-watch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what’s to come and, therefore, with more information about the unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though: that means this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.

Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.


Season 1, Episode 8: “The Pointy End”

Original Air Date: June 5th, 2011
Director: Danial Minihan
Written by: George R.R. Martin

“The Pointy End,” the eighth episode from Game of Thrones (the first written by George R.R. Martin himself), is probably most notable for what happened to the members of House Stark throughout the realm, all the way from King’s Landing to the Vale, up to Winterfell and the Wall. However, re-watching it now, after the final image of season six showed a powerful Daenerys heading back to the Seven Kingdoms with all of the Dothraki at her side, it’s hard not to wonder if she will be the worst thing to happen to Westeros yet.

In this episode Daenerys sees what a Dothraki conquest looks like. It is brutal and merciless, where the Dothraki slaughter the peaceful “Lamb men,” rape the women, and enslave whomever is left behind. Here it is particularly brutal since they are doing this in part to get gold for Daenerys herself.

Daenerys: “I thought the Dothraki didn’t believe in money.”
Jorah: “Gold to hire ships, Princess. Ships to sail to Westeros.”

Daenerys then steps in to save some of the women from their fate, claiming them as her own, and in turn robbing the Dothraki men of what they believe to be their rightful spoils of war. It is a noble and benevolent act, one she undertakes even as Jorah tries to explain this is how it has always been, but we know it backfires, as it immediately causes a problem within the khalasar, and much worse for Daenerys personally later. One of the women she saves is Mirri Maz Duur, who offers to clean Drogo’s wound (the one he got fighting one of his men who challenged Drogo for acquiescing to his foreign wife’s orders). However, Mirri Maz Duur ends up betraying Daenerys, leading to the deaths of Daeny’s unborn son and her husband.

The lessons learned from that betrayal is something Daenerys still carries with her all these years later. It was an event that hardened her and taught her a valuable lesson about treachery, but what she has seemingly forgotten from that is what an appearing Khalasar means to the people you conquer.

Drogo’s was 40 thousand strong (not all warriors, that includes women, children, and the elderly), and the one she is taking to Westeros now is over 100 thousand. What will that mean for the people of the Seven Kingdoms? Where will these conquerors go? Where will their people live? How will the survivors of their invasion live alongside them, and how will the Dothraki be able to live with them and their customs?

She wants to return “home” and take the Iron Throne, but all she brings with her is death and destruction. Her dragons will take castles from the air while her Dothraki take them from the streets. Even her allies in the Martells of Dorne and the Tyrells of Highgarden won’t be safe when a race of people that only know plunder are their neighbors. It’s like if 100 thousand Ironborn suddenly came ashore, but with dragons and a proficiency with horses. None of the Seven Kingdoms would stand for that, so why would they want it from a foreign invader?

It’s not that Westeros doesn’t know slaughter and cruelty. The episode opens with the Lannister forces in King’s Landing slaughtering every member of House Stark in the city, save for Ned (in a dungeon), Sansa (being manipulated by Cersei as a de facto prisoner), and Arya (who fled). But there are still laws and customs. It might sound weird to praise the subjects of the realm for being awful people who care about slaughtering with a code, but it is the way of life there, and not one that will make sense for the Dothraki.

Daenerys said she wants to “break the wheel” that is Westeros—and it looks like she will do that—but as evil and awful as Cersei is, and for all of the bloodshed her family has caused, at the end of the day Westeros still stands and will survive her tyrannical rule the same way it survived the Mad King and Robert’s Rebellion.

That will not be so for Daenerys leading her Dothraki. When her ancestor Aegon the Conqueror came to Westeros with his two sisters and their dragons, he didn’t destroy the Seven Kingdoms. He let people bend the knee, named them Protectors, and showed mercy before adopting their way of life. It will be impossible for Daenerys to conquer and also bring peace with her.

Meanwhile, in this episode her nephew Jon is killing wights and truly protecting the Realm. In fairness, Daenerys doesn’t know about the coming of the Long Night, but that makes her like every other leader in Westeros, like Robb who called his bannerman to march on King’s Landing here, or Lysa Tully who refused to help Catelyn by sending the Knights of the Vale to join her son, and Cersei who is trying to guarantee peace for her own son through coercion and threats.

They are all serving themselves, which is what Daenerys is doing too, by attempting to take Westeros by destroying it.

The differences between her and Cersei are great, and one of them has a sense of honor and kindness the other doesn’t, but because Daenerys has forgotten what she saw on this day she is an even greater threat. She wants to take the Iron Throne and the power that comes with it, but what will she rule over? A kingdom of chaos and unhappiness? Where the life of peace the people seek is impossible?

Southerners don’t understand the way of life in the North, and Northerners can’t handle the lifestyle of the Freefolk, so what will any of them make of the Dothraki, and vice versa?

The best hope is that Daenerys and her army will be able to help serve Westeros in the only war that truly matters, the one between the Light and the Dark, between the living and the dead.

But even then, what use will the Dothraki be in the snow?

What do you think? Did we see the future of Westeros here, when Daenerys tried to control the ways of the Dothraki but couldn’t? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Images: HBO

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