Season 1, Episode 7: You Win or You Die
Cersei educates Ned on the rules in the Game of Thrones. [hint: there are two]
When Ned Stark finally confronts Cersei with his knowledge of her children’s paternity, it’s almost as if Cersei feels no fear of consequences since she’s willing to shirk the rules to stay above water, while Ned Stark – in his surprising naivete – has too much honor to go against the rules. She doesn’t even flinch; and while basically admitting that she sleeps with her brother (*shudder*) and that they “belong together,” she also tells us the story of her and Robert’s loveless courtship and marriage. She recounts to Ned how she worshipped him when they wed, yet on their wedding night he whispered Lyanna’s name while having sex with her.
Say what you will about Cersei… but that’s just messed up.
She also tells Ned Stark that the biggest mistake he made was in not taking the throne for himself during Robert’s rebellion. Ned disagrees…because he has morals, or something. But then Cersei lays down serious truth bomb by telling him:
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
Boom. In one scene, we’re able to totally sympathize with Cersei, but also see her for the wreckless, dangerous woman that she is. She’s also able to fit the name of the show AND the episode into the same sentence. How could this moment NOT make the list?
The fact that Cersei just casually strolls away after his threat to reveal her should have sent chills down his spine, but Ned thinks that since he’s in the right, and he has a nifty piece of paper signed by Robert, he’ll still win. And we all know how that turned out.