For a summation of the plot without much spoiling, head over to Justin Clouse's recap, but if you're a fan of the books and want more in-depth, spoiler-rich discussion of what happens in "The Pointy End," read on, my friends!
In case that's not crystal clear, there are spoilers in here for both the rest of the TV show and the book series so please, tread carefully if you don't want to know the future events of either.
In a review of HBO's Game of Thrones submitted after she had watched the first few episodes, New York Times reviewer Ginia Bellafante took umbrage with the shots of female nudity and sex. (The Times story is behind a paywall now but you can read the excerpt here.) Bellafante thought such debauchery was actually meant to soften up the otherwise gritty setting of knights and warriors. "Game of Thrones is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population's other half," she wrote. Fantasy fandom, which anecdotally I'd say is more than half female, reared its head at such a preposterous idea. Not only does George R. R. Martin's series appeal to both genders, but he is an expert at writing characters that transcend gender roles. The HBO adaptation proves that Game of Thrones is anything but "boy fiction."
The first seven episodes of Game of Thrones displayed female characters that were active agents in their own lives, something that most chick lit omits, but "The Pointy End" especially showcased women and girls being strong and moving the plot forward. Here are a few moments where I think the women really stood out.
DAENERYS TARGARYEN is learning her power. After the death of her overbearing brother, the young dragon exerts her will on her new people not through strength of arms, but her calm authority. She sees the women about to be raped by her husband's warriors and she firmly claims them for her own. This, of course, upsets the would-be rapist and he confronts KHAL DROGO. Here again, Dany doesn't shy from the truth or offer any excuse, she simply states her will. Drogo accedes, and, before one of the greatest leadups to a fight I've seen in a while, eventually kills the complainer and rips out his tongue. The wound he receives as result, however, is kind of a big deal because it will fester terribly, leading to the death of the once-powerful Khal Drogo.
All this because Daenarys didn't want women to be raped. The moment is one of two subtle but important shifts from the book as written by Martin. In the book, Drogo is wounded in battle against the Lhazareen (or Lamb men) and tended to by the healer MIRRI MAZ DUUR after the wounds don't seem to be healing. In the show, the wound Drogo receives in the duel looks like it will be the fatal one. That means Daenarys is not only responsible for corrupting the wound by asking Maz Duur to tend to it, but she is the reason her husband gets hurt in the first place. Drogo's death is totally her fault.
SANSA STARK has never had much need of a backbone. The young lady was all set to spread her legs and bear babies for her golden-haired JOFFREY, but then NED STARK gets all treasonous and everyone Sansa knows in the city is killed or driven off. Poor Sansa doesn't know who to trust, but she has a feeling that the QUEEN and her cronies of LITTLEFINGER, VARYS, and PYCELLE aren't telling her everything. She takes all the courage she has and goes to court amid accusing stares to plead for her father's life. It's all show, and she is clearly being manipulated even as she does it, but for Sansa, kneeling before the Iron Throne and begging for her father's life is the first brave thing she has ever done. Thankfully, it's not the last.