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The Pointy End

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"The Pointy End"
Game of Thrones episode
Game of Thrones S01E08 - The Pointy End.png
Khal Drogo fighting Mago, a Dothraki warrior
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 8
Directed byDaniel Minahan
Written byGeorge R. R. Martin
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byMatthew Jensen
Editing byMartin Nicholson
Original air dateJune 5, 2011 (2011-06-05)
Running time59 minutes[1]
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Pointy End" is the eighth episode of the first season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. First aired on June 5, 2011, the episode was directed by Daniel Minahan and written by George R. R. Martin, the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels on which the show is based.[2]

The plot covers the aftermath of Eddard Stark's capture. While the Lannisters seek to capture his daughters, his son and heir, Robb, raises an army in the North. Meanwhile, Daenerys witnesses a Dothraki raid on a peaceful village, and Jon Snow faces a new threat at the Wall. The episode's title refers to the sword fighting lesson that Jon gave to Arya before their farewell: "Stick them with the pointy end."

The episode was well received by critics, who praised Martin's adaptation of his own work as well as the actors' performances. It was dedicated to Ralph Vicinanza, an executive producer who died of natural causes. In the United States, the episode achieved a viewership of 2.72 million in its initial broadcast. The episode garnered an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Costumes for a Series, but lost to The Borgias.


Like previous episodes, "The Pointy End" interweaves action in multiple separate locations in and around the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

In the Mountains of the Moon[edit]

As Tyrion and Bronn head towards Tywin Lannister's camp, they are surrounded by one of the barbarian hill tribes of the Vale, led by Shagga. Tyrion convinces them to serve as his escorts by promising them gold, weapons and an army to help them seize the Vale of Arryn. Tywin is displeased, but agrees to keep Tyrion's promises if the hill tribes join the fight against the Starks. The tribesmen agree, but want Tyrion to follow them as insurance, much to Tyrion's discomfort.

In the Eyrie[edit]

Catelyn confronts her sister Lysa about the letter Catelyn received regarding events at King's Landing. Lysa refuses to send troops to help the Starks against the Lannisters because she only cares for the safety of her son Robin. A disgusted Catelyn leaves the Eyrie.

In the North[edit]

After receiving a letter from Sansa (see below), Maester Luwin concludes Sansa is being manipulated by Cersei. Robb calls his family's bannermen to war against the Lannisters, much to Theon Greyjoy's pleasure. After gaining the respect of Stark bannerman Lord "Greatjon" Umber and leaving Bran in charge of Winterfell, Robb and his army march south.

In the Riverlands[edit]

The Stark forces, having made camp in the Riverlands, are joined by Catelyn. During a council of war at which Robb ponders whether to attack Tywin's or Jaime's forces, his men present him with a captured Lannister scout. Robb decides to let him go with a message to Tywin that "winter is coming" for him, but tricks him into thinking Robb is sending his entire army of 20,000 men to attack Tywin.

At the Wall[edit]

Jon Snow, Sam and their party return to the Wall after finding two frozen corpses. Lord Commander Mormont recognizes them as Benjen Stark's fellow rangers and orders their bodies examined. Sam points out that there is no sign of decay on their corpses, even though they have apparently been dead for weeks. Later, Mormont informs Jon about events in the south and warns him to keep his commitment to the Night's Watch. Jon loses his temper after Ser Alliser Thorne mocks Eddard Stark's treason. Enraged, Jon charges at Thorne with a knife but is held back by his companions and confined to his quarters by Mormont.

Later that night, Jon's direwolf Ghost behaves strangely, prompting Jon to investigate Mormont's quarters. As Jon enters, he is attacked by one of the dead rangers, returned to life as a wight. The undead monster is immune to Jon's sword, continuing to attack even after being run through and losing an arm. As Mormont enters, Jon throws a lantern at the wight, setting the wight ablaze and finally destroying 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.

In Lhazar[edit]

Khal Drogo's khalasar sacks a Lhazareen village in order to gather funds for the ships they need to invade the Seven Kingdoms. Daenerys Targaryen is dismayed by their brutality, and after seeing Dothraki raiders gather several village women for use as sex slaves, she orders Ser Jorah Mormont and her bodyguards to claim the women as hers. Challenged in front of Drogo, she defends her actions as her right as khaleesi, and demands that the raiders marry rather than enslave the women they desire. Impressed, Drogo sides with his wife, but the leading raider, Mago, is unimpressed and challenges the Khal to a duel. Mago is swiftly killed by Drogo, but not before inflicting a deep wound. Daenerys worries about the wound, and the Khal reluctantly allows one of the spared villagers, a healer by the name of Mirri Maz Duur, to treat his wounds. This attracts further ire from the Dothraki, who derisively call the woman "maegi", a witch.

In King's Landing[edit]

After Ned Stark is imprisoned following his failed attempt to arrest Joffrey and Cersei Lannister, the Lannisters move against the rest of the Stark household. While Ned's eldest daughter Sansa is detained, Arya is able to escape after her fencing teacher Syrio Forel holds off the Lannister men. As Arya runs outside looking for her sword, a stable boy tries to detain her for the Queen, but she fatally stabs him before fleeing the castle.

Cersei convinces Sansa that to save her father's life, she must write a letter to her brother Robb imploring him to come to King's Landing and swear fealty to Joffrey. Later, Joffrey and Cersei hold court, where they reward Janos Slynt, the Captain of the City Watch, with a lordship, while Tywin Lannister is named the new Hand of the King. Joffrey also relieves Ser Barristan Selmy as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and gives his post to Jaime Lannister. Selmy is offered a castle and land in recognition of his service, but a furious Selmy, regarding the offer as an insult, throws his sword at Joffrey's feet and storms out in disgust. Sansa takes the opportunity to publicly plead for her father's life, and Joffrey agrees to show mercy if Ned will confess to treason and accept him as the rightful king.



The episode was written by A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin.

The episode was written by George R. R. Martin, the author of the book A Game of Thrones on which the series is based. Content from this episode is derived from chapters 43, 51-54, 55-58, and 61(Tyrion VI, Arya IV, Sansa IV, Jon VII, Bran VI, Catelyn VIII, Tyrion VII, Sansa V, the early part of Eddard XV, and Daenerys VII).[3] Martin has extensive experience in television writing, but it had been a decade since he had produced a teleplay. He said that he found writing this episode very easy because of his familiarity with the characters and the story, and that the hardest part was "getting used to the new screenwriting software that [he] had to use."[4]

Martin 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."[5] In fact, one scene that Martin wrote – Robb Stark calling his father's Northern bannermen, with a montage of eight different castles receiving the summons and riding out – was deemed impossible to film.[6]

The first scenes depicting Tyrion descending with Bronn from the Mountains of the Moon and encountering the clansmen were not written by Martin. Since they were originally intended to be part of episode seven, they were written by that episode's authors, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. As often happens in TV production, the scene was moved from one episode to another during editing.[7]


"The Pointy End" includes the first appearance of two significant recurring characters in the book series: Clive Mantle as the Northern bannerman Lord Jon Umber, known as the Greatjon due to his size, and Ian Gelder as Lord Tywin's brother and right-hand man Ser Kevan Lannister.[8]

Audley's Castle was used as one of the ruined towers of Moat Cailin that defend the Neck.

Filming locations[edit]

Interior scenes were filmed at The Paint Hall studio, in Belfast, including all the scenes set in the Red Keep and Winterfell.[9] The exterior of the Stark and Lannister war camps were shot on location in the Castle Ward estate, near the village of Strangford. Audley's Castle in the estate doubled as the ruined remains of one of Moat Cailin's towers, seen when Catelyn and Rodrik join Robb's army.[9]

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.[10] For the exterior of the Red Keep where Arya recovers her sword Needle, San Anton Palace was used.[11]


The episode was 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 who handled George R. R. Martin's foreign language rights, and (with Vince Gerardis) one of the co-founders of the management company Created By, which aimed at developing feature films and television shows based on the works of Vicinanza's clients. He was instrumental in bringing Martin's work to the screen, recommending the books to David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and leading the negotiations with HBO. He died a few days after HBO greenlighted the series.[12]



The episode was seen by 2.7 million viewers for the first airing, a season high, and by another additional 900,000 for the repeat. It therefore obtained a total audience of 3.6 million for the night.[13]

Critical response[edit]

"The Pointy End" was well received by critics. Among the most enthusiastic was Maureen Ryan from AOL TV, who called it "the best episode yet," and wrote that she was "extremely impressed with how many moving parts were deployed smoothly and how the hour just flowed."[14] IGN's Matt Fowler remarked that this mostly Ned-less episode was very busy; he enjoyed that Robb got to share the spotlight as viewers witnessed part of his "maturation."[15]

The episode's multiple perspectives were commented on: 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."[16] At HitFix, Alan Sepinwall called it "by far the busiest episode of the series to date," remarking that it 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."[17] David Sims from the A.V. Club wrote that 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."[18] On his blog Cultural Learnings, 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."[19]

"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[14]

Many critics considered that a great part of the episode's merits were due to George R. R. Martin's script. Sepinwall felt 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.[17] Mo Ryan concluded that anyone who was doubting whether Martin had forgotten about writing television scripts should now put their doubts to rest.[14] 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."[20]

The scenes with Sansa Stark were also noted. 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."[21] Many reviewers agreed with this sentiment, commenting on the transition from a "spoiled brat" to a young, confused, but courageous teenager were noted by several reviewers positively.[14][17][22] Time's reviewer James Poniewozik emphasized the growth of Robb Stark's character, praising both Martin's writing and Richard Madden's acting.[23] Maureen Ryan highlighted the scene where Syrio Forel confronts the Lannister men to allow Arya's escape, which she considered masterfully staged.[14]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2011 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Costumes for a Series Michele Clapton and Rachael Webb-Crozier Nominated [24]


  1. ^ "Game of Thrones 08". HBO. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  2. ^ "Episode Guide". Winter is Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  3. ^ Garcia, Elio; Antonsson, Linda (March 31, 2012). "EP108: The Pointy End". Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  4. ^ Radish, Christina. "George R. R. Martin Interview". Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  5. ^ Martin, George R.R. "May Day". Not a blog. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  6. ^ Bennett, Tara. "How George R.R. Martin was won over by Games of Thrones miniseries". Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  7. ^ Martin, George R.R. "The Pointy End". Not a blog. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  8. ^ "Game of Thrones Episode: "The Pointy End"". TV Guide. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Locations of Thrones: Northern Ireland". Culture Addict/History Nerd!. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  10. ^ Cogman, Bryan. "Dispatches From The Seven Kingdoms: Speaking Dothraki". Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  11. ^ Cogman, Bryan. "Dispatches From The Seven Kingdoms: The Favored Hand". Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  12. ^ Martin, George R.R. "Ralph". Not a blog. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  13. ^ Rice, Lynette. "'Game of Thrones' hits ratings high". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  14. ^ a b c d e Ryan, Maureen. "'Game of Thrones' Season 1, Episode 8 Recap". Aol TV. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  15. ^ Fowler, Matt. "Game of Thrones: "The Pointy End" Review". IGN. Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  16. ^ Hibberd, James. "'Game of Thrones' recap: Unleash the Direwolves of War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  17. ^ a b c Sepinwall, Alan. "Review: 'Game of Thrones' – 'The Pointy End': Family feud". HitFix. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  18. ^ Sims, David. ""The Pointy End" (for newbies)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  19. ^ McNutt, Myles. "Game of Thrones – "The Pointy End"". Cultural Learnings. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  20. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd. ""The Pointy End" (for experts)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  21. ^ Garcia, Elio. "EP108: The Pointy End". Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  22. ^ Meslow, Scott. "'Game of Thrones': The Sins of Ned Stark". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  23. ^ Poniewozik, James (June 6, 2011). "Game of Thrones Watch: The Quality of Mercy". Time. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  24. ^ "Game Of Thrones". Retrieved February 24, 2013.

External links[edit]