Photo: HBO
Season OneGame Of Thrones season one  

Month of Thrones

We’re counting down to Game Of Thrones’ final season by distilling the fantasy epic to 30 essential moments. This is Month Of Thrones.

The moment

Cersei tells Ned Stark, “When you play the game of thrones you win or you die.”

The episode

You Win Or You Die” (season one, episode seven)

In the buildup to one of the first great, memorable lines from Game Of Thrones, Cersei and Ned are finally honest with each other. Ned confronts Cersei about her relationship with Jamie and her children’s true father, while Cersei tells Ned he should have taken the Iron Throne for himself. The fact that he didn’t is what leads her to speak the line “you win or you die,” neatly summing up Ned’s—and many others’—fate.

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The show also got its big first death moments after Cersei and Ned’s garden chat. Remember Robert Baratheon? He won the game of thrones and he still died.

What we said then

Our “newbies” recap made note of the title line. David Sims expressed his surprise about how “shit got impressively real on Game Of Thrones episode seven,” and “it became increasingly obvious that Cersei’s title line (heavily used in the series’ promotion) is going to be very true.” Right you were, David!

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Elsewhere in the episode

David continued his shell-shocked take on the season’s pacing and the death of Robert Baratheon: “I’m amazed at the situation Westeros is in with three episodes to go, i.e., the brink of civil war. I figured maybe we’d be getting to that point by the time the season came to a close. Instead, we get a truly shocking death this episode.” While the Red Wedding wouldn’t splatter the disbelieving faces of fans with main characters’ blood for another two seasons, Game Of Thrones’ easy-come, easy-go attitude toward central characters begins here, with the death of the king of Westeros—or rather, the murder of the king, orchestrated by his wife, which opens up the Iron Throne and the vying for the crown we watched play out over the subsequent 60 episodes.

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Previously: A new location is added to the main titles
Next: The execution of Ned Stark