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Game Of Thrones 1.08 The Pointy End review

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Writers: David Benioff, DB Weiss, George RR Martin.

Director: Daniel Minahan

The one where: As Ned languishes in a King’s Landing dungeon, Robb calls the banners to come to his father’s aid. Danaerys sees the true horrors of war for herself, Arya escapes the Lannister’s clutches, and Jon has trouble keeping his oath.

Verdict: Wow. Just… wow. Didn’t think Game Of Thrones could get any better? Think again, my friend. George RR Martin broke out the biro to pen “The Pointy End”, and his effortless characterisation shines through. It’s a beautifully written episode: tense, dramatic, heart-rending, hilarious and horrifying all at the same time, and testament to a master’s hand on the tiller behind the scenes.

Complementing the superb script were some of the most beautifully shot scenes to have come out of the series thus far. Ned’s discussions with Varys looked like a living Caravaggio, the pair lit by a single torch, the weight of Westeros etched on their faces as darkness encroached all around. Stunning stuff.

Technical brilliance aside, every strand of the plot took a leap forward this week as war finally descended on the Seven Kingdoms. Arguably the best moment arrived early on, as Lannister men arrived to seize Arya. Miltos Yerolemou has been superb as Arya’s Braavosi ‘dance instructor’, and it was thrilling to see him strut his stuff armed only with a wooden sword against armed knights. That his fate was left to the imagination of the viewer (a trick lifted straight from the novel) is heartening – here’s hoping Martin finds a way to bring the First Sword Of Braavos back at some stage.

The real revelation this episode though was Richard Madden as Robb Stark. Finally given more to do than scowl at visitors to Winterfell, Robb stepped into his father’s lordly shoes with aplomb. The slight smile seen on the face of Maester Lewin as Robb decided to call the banners reflected exactly how I felt watching – that it’s the right thing to do, no matter the outcome, and good on him. Madden does an excellent job as the boy who must become a leader of men almost overnight, and works in echoes of Sean Bean’s performance into his own. He has the same quiet stoicism, honour and fierce courage, and is every inch Winterfell’s Lord, and he's already proving a wily commander - making the call to release the Lannister spy in order to spread disinformation and get a threat to Tywin was a move worthy of the most experienced war monger. Incidentally, how cool was it seeing all the ravens fly off at once to call the men of the north to war?

Robb is not the only one confronted by the realities of war though – across the sea, Dany sees exactly what her return to Westeros with Drogo’s Dothraki army will cost. As the horse lords rape and pillage their way round the village, she once again proves the blood of the dragon flows through her veins by claiming the captured women for her own, and there’s something in Emilia Clarke’s eyes and the set of her jaw that makes you take her very seriously indeed.

We also get to see Khal Drogo proving exactly why everyone is scared witless of him as he fought the foolish Dothraki who insulted his wife. Jason Momoa has been a genuinely frightening presence in the last couple of episodes. He seems to have doubled in size and ferocity, and seeing him rip a man’s tongue out via his throat is proof enough that if you spill this man’s pint, you should buy him another immediately.

Tyrion and Bronn’s journey through the mountains and recruitment of the wild clans gives Peter Dinklage the perfect opportunity to shine. Side-splittingly funny, quick-witted and bursting with the confidence that only comes with an awfully big bank balance, the affection that George RR Martin holds for Tyrion is clear to see.

Another week, another superb episode of Game Of Thrones . With only two episodes left, here’s hoping that they get to work on series two straight away – I’m not sure I can face having to wait too long to return to the Seven Kingdoms.

Don’t I Know You?

Casualty ’s very own Clive Mantle makes a rip-roaring appearance as the mighty Greatjon Umber. An outstanding piece of casting, he fills the role with all the bluster he can muster, just as it required. Can’t wait to see him taking the war to the Lannisters…

Best lines:

With so many to choose from, there had to be more than one this week...

Syrio Forel: “The first sword of Braavos does not run.”

Tyrion: “What do you want Bronn? Gold? Women? Golden women?”

Robb: “Tell Lord Tywin winter is coming for him, 20,000 northerners marching south to find out if he really does shit gold.”

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