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You Win or You Die

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"You Win or You Die" is the seventh episode of the first season of Game of Thrones. It is the seventh episode of the series overall. It first aired on 29 May 2011, but some HBO subscribers were able to see it a week early on the HBO Go digital platform. It was written by executive producers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Daniel Minahan.


Lannister camp

The Lannister army, poised to invade the Riverlands.


Eddard Stark's investigations in King's Landing reach a dramatic climax as he confronts Queen Cersei with his findings. Tywin Lannister prepares his forces for battle and gives Jaime an important assignment. Ser Jorah Mormont's actions inspire Khal Drogo to make an important vow. Jon Snow finally takes his place amongst the Night's Watch.


Tywin and Jaime

Tywin discusses the future of House Lannister with his son, Jaime.

On the borders of the Riverlands, Lord Tywin Lannister has assembled an army of sixty thousand men, with which he plans to oppose the Starks and punish Catelyn's capture of his son, Tyrion. He tells his elder son Jaime that this conflict will decide the fate of their family. He orders Jaime to take thirty thousand men and besiege Riverrun, Catelyn's childhood home and the seat of House Tully. Jaime ponders why Tywin would risk so much for the ugly, stunted son that he hates, but to Tywin a Lannister is a Lannister and any affront must be punished.

Eddard and Cersei 1x07

Eddard Stark confronts Cersei Lannister with his findings.

In King's Landing, Lord Eddard Stark meets with Cersei Lannister. He tells her that he knows the secret that Jon Arryn died for: that Cersei's three children are not Robert's, but the product of incest between her and Jaime. Cersei does not deny the charge and in fact is proud of it, comparing their love to the old Targaryen practice of marrying brother to sister; she also admits to having despised Robert ever since their wedding night, when Robert drunkenly stumbled into Cersei's bed and called her "Lyanna". Eddard angrily tells her to take her children and leave the city immediately. When Robert returns from his hunt, he will tell him the truth of the matter and that Cersei should run as far as she can, lest Robert's wrath find her. Cersei icily calls Ned a fool for turning down the throne himself after the sack of King's Landing and departs with a chilling warning: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

In one of his brothels, Littlefinger instructs the newly-arrived Ros and another prostitute, Armeca, on how to please their customers and make them happy. When they ask him to join them, he refuses, saying that he only has eyes for one woman.

Theon and Osha

Theon attempts to intimidate Osha.

In Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy attempts to bully Osha, the wildling woman captured in the recent raid, but she is unimpressed with his antics. Maester Luwin dismisses Theon and questions Osha about why her band crossed the Wall and were fleeing 'as far south as south goes'. She claims that the White Walkers have awoken after millennia asleep and are coming south, to Luwin's skepticism.

At the Wall, Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly are standing watch when Benjen's horse is spotted returning, but there is no sign of Benjen himself.

Robert's last act

Robert Baratheon signs a document confirming Eddard Stark as Protector of the Realm.

At King's Landing, Renly finds Eddard and tells him that Robert has been badly mauled by a boar and is not expected to survive. Eddard finds Robert telling Joffrey that he wishes he could have been a better father to him. Eddard chooses not to tell Robert about his discoveries to spare his final hours from pain. Robert instructs Eddard to take a letter naming him as the Lord Protector of the Realm, to rule until Joffrey comes of age. Eddard doesn't write Joffrey's name, instead saying 'the rightful heir'. Robert also asks him to cancel the attempt on Daenerys Targaryen's life. Leaving the chamber, Eddard talks to Varys, who slyly points out that Lancel Lannister ensured that the king was kept 'refreshed' with alcohol during the hunt, meaning his reactions were slowed and unreliable. Varys also says it is far too late to stop the attempt on Daenerys' life.

Drogo and Dany

Daenerys tries to convince Drogo to invade Westeros.

In Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys attempts to convince Khal Drogo about the benefits of an invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, but Drogo is reluctant to cross the Narrow Sea, despite the thousands of ships they could find in the Free Cities to do the job. Daenerys travels to the marketplace with Ser Jorah Mormont and her handmaidens. She asks Jorah to help convince her husband since the Seven Kingdoms are hers by birthright but he reminds her that her ancestor Aegon the Conqueror took six of the Seven Kingdoms because he was capable of doing so (due to his dragons), nothing more. Jorah is delivered a message from Varys, a royal pardon for his crimes. Seeing Daenerys with a wineseller who is keen for her to try a particular vintage from the Arbor, Jorah realizes that this is the assassination attempt. Having second thoughts, he steps in and stops Daenerys from drinking it. The wineseller attempts to flee, but Rakharo brings him down with a whip to the ankle.

Wineseller captured

The wineseller is captured after trying to poison Daenerys.

At Castle Black, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont names the trainees as men of the Night's Watch. He hands out assignments, but to Jon's disgust he is being sent to the stewards, not the rangers. He will work directly for the Lord Commander as his personal steward. His attempts to plead his case to Maester Aemon (who has selected Samwell as his own steward) are met with indifference. However, Sam suggests to Jon that whilst this move was probably orchestrated by Ser Alliser Thorne to punish Jon, it is also an opportunity for the Lord Commander to groom Jon directly for command. Both are then surprised when Pypar admits that he was really sent to the Watch for refusing to give sexual favors to a lord, not for stealing a wheel of cheese to feed his sister.

Eddard's letter

The letter Eddard sends to Stannis Baratheon, informing him of his findings.

With the wine seller captured, Drogo quickly arrives in the tent. Instead of killing the seller right away, he first goes to Daenerys to ensure she is okay. Angered, he beings to yell out in Dothraki that his army will cross the seas and take the Iron Throne for his son.

At King's Landing, Renly confronts Eddard and offers him a hundred swords to take the queen and her children into custody, but Eddard refuses to dishonor Robert's last hours by shedding blood in the Red Keep and taking frightened children hostage. Renly suggests that he could make a good king, but Eddard angrily points out that Stannis is Renly's older brother and the true heir. In his study he writes a letter laying out his findings to Lord Stannis and instructs a courier to take the message to Dragonstone, Stannis's island fortress. Littlefinger then arrives and talks to Eddard, who tells him the truth about Joffrey's parentage. Littlefinger suggests that they keep quiet, acknowledge Joffrey as king and make him dance to their tune. If he does not satisfy them, they reveal the truth and crown the more malleable Renly instead. Eddard considers this treason. Instead, he asks Littlefinger to help him win the loyalty of the City Watch. Littlefinger, as the man who pays them, agrees.

Jon and Sam oaths

Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly swear their oaths to the Night's Watch.

Up north, Jon and Sam say their oath of fealty to the Night's Watch in front of a heart tree just inside the eaves of the Haunted Forest and are acknowledged as men of the Watch. However, Ghost finds a severed hand in the woods and brings it back to Jon and a disgusted Sam.

Ned 1x07

Eddard Stark confronts King Joffrey in the throne room.

In King's Landing, Eddard is summoned to the throne room by 'King Joffrey'; Robert has died. He arrives to find Littlefinger and Varys waiting for him, along with Commander Janos Slynt and a detachment of the City Watch. Varys tells him that Renly has fled the city, along with Ser Loras Tyrell and a number of retainers. They were last seen heading south. The party enters the throne room, where Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne. He demands oaths of fealty from his councilors and subjects. Instead, Eddard gives Ser Barristan Selmy the proclamation naming him as Lord Protector of the Realm. To Barristan's shock, Cersei takes the 'paper shield' and tears it up. Instead, she suggests that Eddard bend the knee and swear allegiance. In return he will be allowed to return to Winterfell. Eddard responds that Joffrey has no claim to the Iron Throne and commands Slynt to take the Queen and her son into custody. Instead, the City Watch kill Eddard's bodyguards and Littlefinger holds a knife to his throat, saying, "I did warn you not to trust me."


  • This episode covers approximately the material from Chapters 46, 48-50 and 55 (Eddard 12-14, Jon 6 and Daenerys 6) of the first novel.
  • The revelation that Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen are not Robert's children means that his younger brother, Stannis Baratheon, is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. He appears in the second season.
  • In the establishing shots of the Lannister camp at 3:28 Timett and Chella are seen but should not be there yet; the footage was taken from scenes shot for the next episode "The Pointy End".
  • This is, to date, the only non-appearance of Tyrion Lannister.

Memorable quotes

Cersei Lannister: "Jaime and I are more than brother and sister. We shared a womb. We belong together."

Cersei: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

Littlefinger: "Only by admitting what we are can we get what we want."

Robert Baratheon: "I hereby command Eddard of House Stark to serve as Lord Regent and Protector of the realm until my son Joffrey comes of age."
Eddard Stark (writing): "I hereby command Eddard of House Stark to serve as Lord Regent and Protector of the realm until my rightful heir comes of age."

Eddard: "I will not dishonor Robert's last hours by shedding blood in his halls and dragging frightened children from their beds."

Eddard: "What you suggest is treason."
Littlefinger: "Only if we lose."

Littlefinger: "I did warn you not to trust me."

First appearances

  • Lord Tywin Lannister
  • Armeca, the prostitute whom Ros tutors.
  • Bowen Marsh, amongst the Night's Watch.
  • Jaremy Rykker, amongst the Night's Watch.
  • Othell Yarwyck, amongst the Night's Watch.
  • Dareon, a newly made Steward of the Night's Watch.
  • Luke, a newly made Steward of the Night's Watch.
  • Halder (only mentioned), a newly made Builder of the Night's Watch.
  • Todder aka "Toad" (only mentioned), a newly made Builder of the Night's Watch.
  • Matthar (only mentioned), a newly made Ranger of the Night's Watch.
  • Balian (only mentioned), a newly made Ranger of the Night's Watch.
  • Rancer (only mentioned), a newly made Builder of the Night's Watch.
  • Echiel (only mentioned), a newly made Builder of the Night's Watch.
  • Gordo (only mentioned), a newly made Steward of the Night's Watch.
  • Nicho (only mentioned), a newly made Ranger of the Night's Watch.
  • Escan (only mentioned), a newly made Ranger of the Night's Watch.
  • Vorkoy (only mentioned), a newly made Builder of the Night's Watch.
  • Joby (only mentioned), a newly made stablehand (Steward) of the Night's Watch.
  • Mink (only mentioned), a newly made cook (Steward) of the Night's Watch.
  • Allo (only mentioned), a newly made Builder of the Night's Watch.
  • Nelugo (only mentioned), a newly made Ranger of the Night's Watch.
  • Borcas (only mentioned), a senior steward of the Night's Watch at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.


Image gallery



Also starring

Guest starring

Cast Notes

Game of Thrones Season 1
#01 Winter is Coming#06 A Golden Crown
#02 The Kingsroad#07 You Win or You Die
#03 Lord Snow#08 The Pointy End
#04 Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things#09 Baelor
#05 The Wolf and the Lion#10 Fire and Blood

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