So I haven’t posted any Game of Thrones reviews since episode 3; but that doesn’t mean I stopped watching the show.  I haven’t missed a single episode since the show started.  I even signed up for HBO Go so I could go back and watch episodes again.

Let me get this out of the way, this review is going to contain spoilers.  So if you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now.  There is just no way to talk about this episode without giving some MAJOR plot points away.

With only one episode left in this season, things are heating up in the Seven Kingdoms.  King Robert’s death has brought about life changing consequences for everyone and it seems that nothing will ever be the same.  Ned Stark is in irons in the dungeons of King’s Landing.  His eldest son Robb is leading an army to rescue his father and sisters, Sansa and Arya.  Sansa is being manipulated by Queen Cersei and has pleaded with Joffery for her father’s life.  Arya has fled the castle and is hiding on the streets of King’s Landing searching for a way to escape.

Ned Stark is visited from Varys who urges him to take King Joffery’s offer and admit to treason.  Living out his days in service to the Knight’s Watch, stripped of all titles and lands and having the lives of his family spared.  Ned has to choose between his honor and the safety of his young daughters.

Across the Narrow Sea, Khal Drogo is on death’s door.  He is dying from his wound and Daenerys is willing to do everything possible to keep him alive.  His warriors are beginning to lose faith and turn on him.  Daenerys employs a witch to help save Drogo but soon has more pressing matters of her own.  A fall has accelerated the birth of her son and now she faces losing both her baby and her husband.

On the Wall, Jon Snow is rewarded for his brave actions saving Lord Commander Mormont from a White Walker.  But his celebrations soon end when he receives news of his brother Rob’s march on King’s Landing.  Jon is learning the price of swearing his life to the Knight’s Watch.  Knowing his father is imprisoned and his brother is marching off to war, he cannot help thinking of running off to join them.  He receives council from Maester Aemon and knows he must choose quickly.

Tyrion Lannister learns from his father that he and his band of Wildlings will be leading the charge against Robb Stark’s forces.  He realizes that his military career may be short lived and is not all that he imagined.  He finds temporary solace with a whore and we get to see a side of Tyrion we’ve never seen with some information about his past.  His first battle is cut short when he is knocked unconscious by his own men.  He awakes later to learn that even though the battle went in their favor, it was a hollow victory.

Robb Stark returns from the battle with a special gift for his mother.  While 2000 of their forces kept Tywin and Tyrion Lannister occupied, the rest of their army engaged Jaime Lannister’s forces and succeed in capturing him.  Catelyn having had one Lannister slip through her fingers is not about to let this one go so easily.  Jaime offers to end the war there and then with a one on one duel between himself and Robb.  Robb is smart enough to know that he would not stand a chance against Jaime and locks him away.

Back in King’s Landing Ned is brought before King Joffery to confess his crimes against the realm.  Arya watches her father from the crowd as he confesses and confirms Joffery’s appointment as king.  The young king decides to go against the wishes of his mother and ignores the pleas from Sansa to have mercy on her father.  Joffery orders that Ned be executed for treason.  Sansa and Arya watch in horror as their father is beheaded.

After watching, I just sat in silent shock.  I am currently reading the books, but have not gotten that far in them.  I was totally unprepared for what happened.  Next to Arya Stark, Ned is my favorite character.  I was so upset to see him killed off.  I know this won’t mean an end to the series but I am having a hard time dealing with how things will be now that Ned is gone.  As the season is about to end, I am eager to dive further into the novels to see what’s in store for next season.

Ned’s death is tragic in many ways.  He has sacrificed and suffered (mostly in silence) more than any of the other characters.  From having to leave his home in Winterfell to serve as the Hand of the King to having to determine the line of succession after the death of Robert Baratheon.  Ned has served faithfully while constantly being spied on and conspired against.  Bran’s fall then being attacked and having his men slaughtered all at the hand of Jaime Lannister.  His clashes with Jaime and Cersie and the betrayal by Littlefinger.  It will be interesting to see how the Stark family repays those who so wrongfully mistreated their father.

It’s surprising to know that last night’s episode was the highest rated episode to date.  With rating up 22 percent this marks another hit for HBO and another obsession for fans.  Ironically, the week after GOT’s season end, the new season of True Blood starts.  Life is truly good.