Previously on Game of Thrones: The King’s Hand died/was killed, so the king asked his old buddy, Ned Stark, to take the job and marry the oldest Stark daughter to the king’s oldest son. Meanwhile, the last male member of the Targaryen royal line pimped his sister out to a nomadic warlord, so he could score himself an army.
The Dothraki are on the move. Daenerys, mounted on her lovely grey horse, takes a break and watches the others pass by. Jorah joins her and offers her some jerky to eat. He notes her sad face and tells her things will get better. One can only hope so.
That night, the tribe makes camp and Jorah helps Daenerys off her horse. A few maids come over and help her limp away to a nearby tent. Jorah urges Viserys to take a few days to rest (and let his sister rest) at Pentos but Viserys won’t hear of it.
In Winterfell, Tyrion wakes in the kennel, looking confused. Joffrey, his dickhead little nephew, grins that the dogs are better looking than most of the women Tyrion wakes up to. Tyrion ignores that and tells the kid he’s to call on the Starks and offer their sympathies before they all leave. Joffrey doesn’t want to and s kind of a jerk about it, so Tyrion slaps him. Niiiice. Joffrey whines that he’ll tell his mommy, which gets him another slap from Tyrion, who tells him to go right ahead and tattle, but go see the Starks first. Joffrey finally runs off, and the imposing, badly scarred knight who was with him tells Tyrion the kid will remember that. Tyrion hopes so, and so do I.
Tyrion heads inside and orders up a big breakfast before sitting down with his siblings and his less hateful younger nephew and niece. He’s cute with the kids, who are apparently missing the asshole gene their older brother got. The girl asks if Bran’s going to die and Tyrion says it seems he won’t, though he’s in a coma. They exposit a little about Tyrion’s plan to go north and visit The Wall, just to see it. Cersei gets annoyed with him and takes off with her younger products of incest (I’m guessing), and Jaime goes back to the subject of Bran, saying it would be a shame if the kid lived, since he’d be a cripple, a grotesque. Tyrion speaks on behalf of the grotesques to disagree, because being alive is much better than being dead, when all is said and done. He hopes the kid wakes, because he’d be interested to hear what he has to say.
Cersei goes to see Cate, who’s keeping vigil at Bran’s bedside. Cersei tells a sad story about how her own firstborn son died, and how badly it affected both her and Robert. It’s a touching story, but it’s hard to tell if it’s true, knowing how manipulative this woman is.
Jon’s out in the courtyard, watching a new sword get made. Jaime guesses it’s for him, since he’s heading to The Wall soon. He gets sort of philosophical about what it’s like to kill a man, then shakes Jon’s hand to thank him for what he’s doing. Somehow, he manages to make even that sinister.
Arya’s packing, adorably helped by her direwolf. Jon joins her and she complains about having to pack and go south. He has her close the door so he can give her a present. It’s the sword that was just being made. He carefully hands it over to her, warns her not to be reckless with it, and asks her how she likes it. She definitely likes it. Awww, that was sweet of him. They hug and he tells her all the best swords have names.
Jon next goes to say goodbye to Bran. Cate visibly grimaces when he enters the room. Poor Jon, imagine having to grow up with that all your life. I mean, I feel for Cate too, but the situation isn’t Jon’s fault. He sweetly bids the boy farewell and tells him he’s heading north with Uncle Benjy. Cate rather harshly tells Jon to leave, and he obliges her. Damn, Cate. Have a heart.
Ned takes his son’s place and she remembers how, 17 years ago, Ned rode off with Robert and came back with another woman’s kid. And now he’s going off again. Ned claims not to have a choice, but she thinks he does. She bursts into tears and tells him she can’t bear it. He tells her, as gently as he can, that she can and she must.
Jon goes out to the courtyard and is met by Robb, who asks how things went with Cate. Jon generously says she was very kind. Robb’s glad to hear it, and he’s sure Bran’s not going to die. Jon saddles up his horse, and they share a brief, manly hug before he mounts up, ready to go.
The court, Ned, Jon, Benjy, Arya and Sansa are all heading south. At a fork in the road, Benjy peels off and heads in the opposite direction. Ned takes a moment to encourage his son, finally telling him that he’s truly a Stark, whether that’s his last name or not. Jon asks about his mother, whether she’s alive and knows anything about his life. Ned promises to tell him about his mother when they meet next. He rejoins the court and John canters to catch up to Benjy.
Later, Robert and Ned stop for a lovely picnic, during which they reminisce about their younger days of warring and getting laid. Robert tries to prod Ned to start talking about Jon’s mother as well, but Ned remains tightlipped. Robert hands over a message that came the previous night. It’s a wedding announcement about Daenerys and Khal Drogo. Ned doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but Robert hates all the Targaryens and wants them wiped off the earth. Ned tells him to relax, because the Dothraki are all across the sea and have no ships. Robert says there are some in the kingdom who think he’s a usurper and they’d support the Targaryens if they did manage to cross the sea. Ned remains unconcerned.
Speak of the devil. Khal Drogo finishes drinking with his buddies to go and have seriously unsexy doggy-style sex with his wife, who is definitely not enjoying it. I’ve heard counting out loud sometimes works, Daenerys.
Jon, Benjy, Tyrion, and the two guards they’re traveling with make camp and are soon joined by new recruits: a pair of rapists who have the choice of either joining the others on The Wall or being castrated. Excellent choice, that. Tyrion comments that most men go for the gelding. Damn. How hard is life on The Wall, anyway?
Jon asks Tyrion why he reads so much. Without looking up from his book, Tyrion explains that things are expected of him, coming from such an illustrious family. He can’t be a fighter, so he has to keep his mind sharp instead, and you do that by reading.
Cate’s still at Bran’s bedside. Luwen comes in and quietly tells her she needs to review the accounts and do some hiring, to replace the staff members who went south with Ned. She’s not willing to take the task on, so Robb steps in and tells Luwen he’ll do the hiring and they’ll talk about it in the morning. Luwen bows and leaves. Robb goes and opens the window and asks his mother when the last time she left the room was. Sounding a little cracked, she insists she needs to take care of Bran, who needs her. Robb tells her she has a younger son who needs her too, because he’s tiny and scared and follows his big brother around all the time. Awww. Cate can’t deal with that and snaps at him to close the window. He turns back to it, then spots a fire blazing in the distance. He hurries out to investigate, and Cate goes to the window to look. When she turns around, there’s a seriously creepy looking man in black standing behind her. The man says she’s not supposed to be there, and then he pulls out a knife and goes to kill little Bran. Cate throws herself at the man and puts up a hell of a fight, because we’re talking about a mother here, and there are precious few things on earth that can match a mom’s ferocity. She can’t quite get the best of the man, but luckily Bran’s direwolf is there to bite the assassin’s throat right out. The wolf then calmly curls up on the bed next to Bran and goes back to sleep. Dogs are awesome.
Dothraki camp. Daenerys is with her ladies, who are putting balms and salves on her beaten up hands. She and the ladies chat a bit, and then she sends all but one of them away. The remaining maid is her slave, apparently, and she used to be a prostitute. Daenerys asks her to teach her how to make Khal Drogo happy.
Far in the wintry north, Jon and co. reach The Wall. It’s pretty damn impressive—like a mountain, and in this world, it’s supposed to be man-made.
Cate has finally managed to tear herself away from Bran’s bedside. She goes to the wall where he fell, and heads up to the abandoned attic of twinsex. There, she starts looking around and finds a single, long, flaxen hair on the floor. Ohhh, this is going to go badly for someone, someday.
Cate gathers Robb, Luwin, Cassel, and a few other guys, swears them to secrecy, and tells them she thinks Bran was thrown off the wall, because he saw something he wasn’t supposed to. Luwin agrees that Bran was always surefooted before. Cate doesn’t know what Bran saw, but she’s sure the Lanisters were involved. Cassel comments that the knife the assassin used is way too nice for that type of man. Robb’s pissed about this whole thing and is ready to go kicking some Lanister ass. Luwin talks him down and says that Ned needs to be told. Robb offers to go with the message but Cate says she’ll go herself, without guards, so she doesn’t attract unwanted attention. She doesn’t want the Lanisters to know she’s coming. Couldn’t she just pretend she’s paying a visit to her husband? Would the Lanisters care? Actually, they probably would. Cassel asks her to at least take him with her, because the road’s dangerous for a woman alone. She agrees. Road trip!
Cate hangs some sort of dreamcatcher thing in Bran’s room, smoothes his hair off his forehead, and kisses him before leaving.
Sex lessons. It’s not quite as titillating as most HBO subscribers might expect. Basically, Daenerys’s slave is showing her the joys of being on top and actually looking at the person you’re having sex with. Novel!
That night, Daenerys waits for her husband. When he arrives, he goes to have sex in the usual way, but she pushes him away. There’re a few moments of confusion, and then she manages to tell him, in subtitled Dothraki, that she wants to look on his face. She lays him down, climbs on top, and gets started. And for once, they both actually seem to like it.
The king and court have stopped to rest in a town somewhere. Sansa’s coming back from a walk with her well-behaved direwolf, Lady, when she’s startled by a creepy looking man and the beefy, scarred knight we saw earlier. Scarface tells her the other man makes him nervous too. Sansa politely apologizes for having offended the man, who simply turns and walks away. Scarface tells her the man had his tongue ripped out a good 20 years ago. Lovely!
Joffrey arrives to explain that Silent Man is the king’s executioner, and then he meanly dismisses Scarface, calling him “dog” and saying he’s scaring Sansa. Joffrey invites her to go for a walk with him. She tells Lady to stay and follows him to a nearby stream, where they find Arya play swordfighting (using sticks) with a redheaded boy. The sound of their play attracts Joffrey’s attention and he and Sansa interrupt the game. Sansa scolds Arya but Joffrey’s more interested in bullying the redhead, the butcher’s boy, with whom she was fighting. He urges the boy to pick up his fake sword and fight Joffrey, who has a real live sword to fight with. I knew this kid was going to be a prick. He slices the Butcher’s Boy’s cheek, in retribution for hitting Arya. Arya gets pissed and hits Joffrey with her stick. He starts swinging wildly and dangerously at her with his sword (just as Jon warned her not to do) as Sansa screams on the sidelines. Joffrey gets her down on the ground, swearing to gut her, but her direwolf comes running out of nowhere and sinks her teeth into his arm. Arya wrestles the dog away, and also manages to get Joffrey’s sword, which she throws into the river. She runs off, followed by her direwolf, and Sansa goes to get help for Joffrey, who’s been reduced to a pathetic, sniveling pile.
Knights and guards rip the woods apart, looking for Arya, who’s hiding with her wolf. She hugs the wolf and tells her she has to run away. We’re talking about a member of the canine family, though, and they’re loyal, so of course the wolf won’t leave. So, Arya grabs a rock and lobs it at her pet, who runs off, affronted. Aww!
The search goes on far into the night, led by Ned. Finally, a knight arrives and tells him they’ve found Arya and taken her before the king, on the queen’s orders. Ned returns to the inn where they’re all staying, where poor Arya apologizes about a dozen times. Ned hugs her and demands to know why his kid was dragged in front of the king and scared half to death. Robert apologizes but says they need to sort something out. Cersei claims Arya and the Butcher’s Boy set on Joffrey with clubs and that her direwolf half ripped his arm off. Oh, please. This kid’s such a baby. Arya, of course, claims this isn’t true and Robert gets annoyed that he, the frigging king, has to arbitrate in a dispute between preteens. He asks for Sansa to be brought out. She arrives, and she claims not to remember what happened. What a terrible position to put this girl in: either she tells the truth and calls Joffrey, her future husband, a liar (and you know he and the other Lanisters would make her life hell forever if she did that), or she lies and betrays her sister. Arya doesn’t see it that way, though and sets on her sister as Cersei smiles creepily at the sight. She calls Arya wild and says she wants the girl punished, because Joffrey will have scars for the rest of his life. So? A boy with scars in the medieval period—wasn’t that sort of considered a good thing? Robert sighs that kids fight all the time, and this is no big deal. He also calls Joffrey out for being a wimp. Cersei insists the direwolves go. Arya’s has taken off for parts unknown, but Lady, who never hurt a fly, is still around. Robert lets himself get henpecked into ordering Lady killed. Ned can’t believe this, and his two daughters start to freak out, because Lady was a good wolf. Ned asks Robert if this is his command. Robert just leaves without saying anything. What a pathetic coward.
Cersei tells the executioner to get rid of the wolf but Ned says he’ll do it himself. He doesn’t want her butchered by some jerk. He leaves, Sansa weeps, and Arya stares at Joffrey coldly, no doubt already plotting his death. I’m right there with you, Arya.
Ned goes out to where sweet Lady is tied up, passing the bloodied butcher’s boy being brought in by Scarface, who had to ride the poor child down. Ned pets the wolf for a moment, then delivers the killing blow, just as Bran, way up in Winterfell, suddenlay opens his eyes.