The Pointy End

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"The Pointy End"
Game of Thrones
Season 1  —  Episode 8
Sansa Stark HBO.jpg
Original air date June 5, 2011
Directed by Daniel Minahan
Written by George R. R. Martin
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"The Pointy End" is the eighth episode of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones, first aired on June 5, 2011. Run timve 59 minutes. The episode is significant in that it was written by George R. R. Martin, the author of the book series the tv show is based on. It was directed by Daniel Minahan.[1] The plot deals with the aftermath of Eddard Stark's capture. While the Lannisters are going after his daughters, his son and heir Robb raises an army to give battle. Meanwhile, Daenerys witnesses a Dothraki raid to a peaceful village and Jon Snow faces a new threat at the Wall. The episode's title recalls the first lesson about sword fighting that Jon gave to Arya before their farewell: "stick them with the pointy end".


At King's Landing

After Ned's (Sean Bean) downfall and imprisonment following his failed attempt to arrest Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headley), the Lannisters move against the rest of his household. While they manage to capture Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is able to escape thanks to her fencing teacher Syrio Forel(Miltos Yerolemou) who holds off the Lannister men. As Arya runs outside looking for her sword, Needle, a stable boy sees her and tries to capture her, but she inadvertently stabs him in self-defense before fleeing the castle walls. Cersei convinces Sansa that in order to save her father's life, she has to write a letter to her brother Robb and tell him to come to King's Landing and swear his fealty to King Joffrey Baratheon. Later, court is held by the new king, where Joffrey and Cersei reward Janos Slynt, the Captain of the City Watch, with the title of Lordship while Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) is named the new Hand of the King. However, Joffrey forces Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) into early retirement as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and gives his post to Jaime much to Barristan's anger. Sansa takes the opportunity to plead mercy for her father's life publicly, and Joffrey agrees to spare him if Ned accepts him as the rightful king.

At the Lannister Camp

As Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) head towards Tywin Lannister's camp, they are surrounded by a barbarian hill tribe. Tyrion manages to convince them to spare them and be his escorts after promising them gold, weapons and an army to help them attack the nobles of Eyrie, the tribe's longtime enemy. Tywin is displeased, but agrees to keep Tyrion's promises if the hill tribes join them against the Starks. The tribesmen agree, but want Tyrion to follow their group as insurance, much to Tyrion's displeasure.

In the Vale

Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) confronts her sister Lysa (Kate Dickie) about the letter sent over the recent events at King Landing's. After failing to convince Lysa to send her knights to help the Starks against the Lannisters (as she only cares for the safety of her son Robin (Lino Facioli)), Catelyn leaves the Eyrie.

In the North

After receiving his sister's letter, Robb Stark (Richard Madden) knows that Cersei is manipulating Sansa, so he calls all of his family's bannermen to go to war with the Lannisters, much to Theon Greyjoy's (Alfie Allen) pleasure. After gaining the respect of bannerman Lord Greatjon Umber (Clive Mantle) and saying goodbye to Bran and leaving him in charge of Winterfell, Robb and his army marches South and is later joined by his mother Catelyn. During a war council where Robb is pondering whether to attack Tywin's forces or Jaime's forces, his men captures a Lannister scout, which Robb decides to let him go but gives him a message to Tywin that he and the Northerners are coming for him.

At the Wall

Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and their party return to the Wall after finding two dead bodies, which Commander Mormont (James Cosmo) recognizes as [[Benjen Starks|Benjen}]'s fellow rangers who followed him and wants their bodies examined, despite Sam's worries. Later, Mormont informs Jon over the recent events happening outside of the Wall and warns him not to lose his cool as he still has a commitment to the Night's Watch. However, Jon loses his temper after Ser Alliser (Owen Teale) mocks about his father being a traitor and tries to stab him with a knife, only to be held back by his companions. Disappointed, Mormont orders Jon to be confined to his quarters. But later that night, Jon's direwolf, Ghost, detects something outside which Jon investigates and head towards Mormont's quarters. As he enters, Jon is attacked by one of the dead rangers he found, and despite cutting one of its arms and impaling it with his sword, it refuses to fall. As Mormont enters, Jon grabs his lantern and throws it at the dead ranger, finally killing it. The next morning, Mormont and the Night's Watch burn the two bodies, and Sam tells them that he read that corpses touched by the White Walkers are reanimated, and can only be killed by fire.

Across the Narrow Sea

Khal Drogo's (Jason Momoa) horde sack a village in order to fund the ships they need to invade the Seven Kingdoms, and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is shocked by their brutality. After witnessing a group of Dothraki raiders gathering several village women to be sold into slavery, Daenerys orders Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) and her bodyguards to claim those women as hers. When one of the raiders complains to Drogo, she defends her actions as her right as khaleesi and if the raiders want the women, they take them as wives, not slaves. Impressed, Drogo sides with his wife which displeases the raider who challenges the Khal to a duel, in which Drogo quickly kills him while receiving only a minor wound. Daenerys is worried about Drogo's wound. Drogo reluctantly allows one of the spared villagers, a healer, to treat his wounds.



This episode was written by the original book's author George R. R. Martin. Martin had extensive experience in scripting for television after spending many years working in Hollywood, but it had been a decade since he had produced a teleplay. He claimed that he found writing this episode very easy because he was very familiar with the characters and the story, and that the hardest part was "getting used to the new screenwriting software that I had to use".[2] He delivered the first draft of the script to the show's executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss on May 1, 2010, admitting that it was probably "too long and too expensive".[3] Actually, the scene that Martin wrote with Robb Stark calling his father's Northern bannermen, with a montage depicting the eight different castles receiving the letters and riding out, was deemed impossible to film.[4] The chapters of the book covered in this episode are Tyrion VI, Arya IV, Sansa IV, Jon VII, Bran VI, Catelyn VIII, Tyrion VII, Sansa V, Eddard XV and Daenerys VII (42, 50 to 53, 55 to 58 and 61). Among the new scenes created for the show are Robb's decision to call the banners, the confrontation at the Eyrie between Catelyn and her sister Lysa, and the subplot of the captured Lannister spy. Other changes from the books include making Arya's killing of the stableboy more of an accident than a deliberate murder (although fear driven), the reduction of most of the bannermen of the North (Rickard Karstark, Roose Bolton, the Manderlys or the Glovers are not introduced), or Drogo receiving a wound not fighting another khalasar but one of his men that resents Daenerys' influence over him.[5] The first scenes that depict Tyrion descending with Bronn from the Mountains of the Moon and encountering the clansmen were intended to belong to episode 7. Therefore they were not written by Martin, but by episode seven's authors David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. As is commonplace in television series, the scene was moved from one episode to another during editing.[6]


"The Pointy End" marks the first appearances of two significant recurrent characters in the book series: Clive Mantle takes the role of the Northern bannerman Lord Jon Umber, known as the Greatjon for his size, and Ian Gelder enters the scene as Lord Tywin's brother and right-hand man Ser Kevan Lannister.

Guests Cast

Filming locations

The episode's interiors were filmed at The Paint Hall studio, in Belfast, including all the Red Keep and Winterfell sets. Exterior filming of both the Stark and Lannister war camps was shot on location in the Castle Ward estate, near the village of Strangford. Within the state there is Audley's Castle, which doubled as the ruined remains of one of Moat Cailin's towers seen when Catelyn and Rodrik join Robb's army.[7] The scenes at the village of the Lamb Men that is sacked by the Dothraki were filmed towards the end of October 2010 in Malta, at the farming town of Manikata.[8] And for the exteriors of the Red Keep where Arya recovers Needle the production used San Anton Palace.[9]



This episode reached a season high of 2.7 million viewers for the first airing, with another additional 900,000 for the repeat thus gathering a total viewership of 3.6 million for the night.[10]

Critical response

"The Pointy End" received very favorable reviews by the critics. Among the most enthusiastic was Maureen Ryan from AOL TV, who claimed it was the best episode yet, and that she was "extremely impressed with how many moving parts were deployed smoothly and how the hour just flowed", which was even more impressive when "considering all the varied things it had to do".[11] The episode's multiple perspectives were touched upon by commenters: James Hibberd wrote for Entertainment Weekly that "for a show that can often seem disjointed due by having so many storylines unfolding in different locations, this was the most cohesive episode we've seen yet, as the entire realm was impacted by Ned Stark being arrested for treason".[12] At HitFix Alan Sepinwall called it "by far the busiest episode of the series to date", remarking that not only moved "pieces around the chess board to set things up for the season's final two episodes" but also included "some crackling dialogue, a few good character moments and some of the best action the show has featured to date."[13] David Sims, from the A.V. Club, said the episode "masterfully kept us abreast of everything going on, while sticking to the point-of-view style the show has held from the start."[14] In Cultural Learning's reviewer Myles McNutt found the episode "filled with moments where much is done with very little. We don't really spend a sustained period in any one location, with only brief scenes possible to establish some pretty substantial story developments."[15]

"There was a level of sureness and confidence on display in this script, and that makes a whole lot of sense, given that Martin invented this world and created these people. There was no tentativeness when it came to shaping and adapting the material for the small screen. There have been standout scenes in other episodes, and the show has certainly gained confidence and momentum as the season has progressed, but 'The Pointy End' was just on a different level. I loved it." — Maureen Ryan, AOL TV[11]

Many critics considered that a great part of the episode's merits were due to the writing of George R. R. Martin. Sepinwall fel that "Martin didn't get the easiest draw when he wound up having to dramatize the events depicted in "The Pointy End"", but still loved the results.[13] Mo Ryan concluded that anyone who was doubting whether Martin had forgotten about writing television scripts should put now their doubts to rest.[11] The "expert" review from the A.V. club by Todd VanDerWerff noted "a definite sense of Martin's hand at work here. Characters that have never quite worked onscreen—like Sansa—suddenly feel much more alive. Characters that have been working—like Tyrion and Arya—get lots of fun stuff to play that never once feels labored."[16] The scenes with Sansa Stark becoming a Lannister hostage were also reviewed. According to Elio Garcia, from, "Sophie Turner really shines in her scenes. There are a lot of people out there who judge Sansa very harshly, but you would have to have a heart of stone not to sympathize with her plight in this episode"[5] Many reviewers agreed with this sentiment, commenting on the transition from a "spoiled brat" to a young and confused, but still courageous teenager.[17][11][13] Time's James Poniewozik emphasized the growth of Robb Stark's character, praising both Martin's writing and Richard Madden's acting.[18] Ryan highlighted the scene where Syrio Forel confronts the Lannister men to allow Arya to escape, which in her opinion had been masterfully staged by all actors and director Daniel Minahan.[11]


The episode is dedicated to the memory of Ralph Vicinanza. He had been one of the co-executive producers attached to Game of Thrones, and died in his sleep from a cerebral aneurysm on September 25, 2010. Vicinanza was the literary agent that handled George R. R. Martin foreign language rights, and one of the co-founders of the management company Created By aimed to develop feature films and television shows based on the works of Ralph's clients (with his partner Vince Gerardis). He was instrumental in bringing Martin's work to the screen, bringing the books to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and leading the negotiations with HBO. He died only a few days after HBO greenlighted the series.[19]

External links


  1. "Episode Guide". Winter is Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  2. Radish, Christina. "George R. R. Martin Interview". Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  3. Martin, George R.R.. "May Day". Not a blog. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  4. Bennett, Tara. "How George R.R. Martin was won over by Games of Thrones miniseries". Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Garcia, Elio. "EP108: The Pointy End". Retrieved June7, 2011. 
  6. Martin, George R.R.. "The Pointy End". Not a blog. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  7. "Locations of Thrones: Northern Ireland". Culture Addict/History Nerd!. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  8. Cogman, Bryan. "Dispatches From The Seven Kingdoms: Speaking Dothraki". Retrieved June 8, 2011. 
  9. Cogman, Bryan. "Dispatches From The Seven Kingdoms: The Favored Hand". Retrieved June 8, 2011. 
  10. Rice, Lynette. "'Game of Thrones' hits ratings high". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Ryan, Maureen. "'Game of Thrones' Season 1, Episode 8 Recap". Aol TV. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  12. Hibberd, James. "'Game of Thrones' recap: Unleash the Direwolves of War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Sepinwall, Alan. "Review: 'Game of Thrones' - 'The Pointy End': Family feud". HitFix. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  14. Sims, David. ""The Pointy End" (for newbies)". The A.V. Club.,56912/. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  15. McNutt, Myles. "Game of Thrones – "The Pointy End"". Cultural Learnings. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  16. VanDerWerff, Todd. ""The Pointy End" (for experts)". The A.V. Club.,56911/. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  17. Meslow, Scott. "'Game of Thrones': The Sins of Ned Stark". The Atlantic. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  18. Poniewozik, James. "Game of Thrones Watch: The Quality of Mercy". Time. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  19. Martin, George R.R. "Ralph". Not a blog. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 

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