Game of Thrones: Table-setting and brain-burning in “You Win or You Die”

Game of thrones - you win or you die00003

Read in deictic terms—in which the names and pronouns within a context point to items present in it—you would think that “Poor Ned Stark” referred to the beast being butchered. It obviously doesn’t, but it’s not a coincidence that Tywin is berating Jaime for unsuccessfully murdering Stark while he’s breaking down the beast. This accounts for why Jaime’s eyeline matches, as above, consistently lead to the floor, or that wall there, or anywhere other than the beast. It represents his failure to take care of his business himself: he hunted down and wounded Stark, but he failed to kill him. Jaime’s attempt wasn’t

Game of thrones - you win or you die00031

That pun on “clean” wasn’t an accident. Tywin is “cleaning” that carcass, which means that the pun doubles back on itself, because “cleaning” a carcass involves getting your hands dirty:

Game of thrones - you win or you die00032

The slight smile on Tywin’s face as he does to this beast what Jaime failed to do to its double, Ned Stark, only makes the audience feel more animosity towards Lannisters. Note that no new emotional manipulation is at work here: the general feeling the audience has toward these houses is merely being intensified by this opening scene. Foremost in the audience’s mind as this episode begins, then, is the fact that the head of House Lannister enjoys a bloody hands-on approach to his politicking, especially when it involves

Game of thrones - you win or you die00027

Just in case you think I’m overemphasizing Tywin’s significance in this scene, I should point out that the shot ratio is two-to-one in his favor. As you can see from the above, we have the foregrounded Tywin in medium close-up, but because both he and Jaime face the camera, there’s no traditional reverse, just a zoom into a medium on Jaime:

Game of thrones - you win or you die00019

And a reverse-on-action of Tywin:

Page 2 of 4 | Previous page | Next page