Previously on Game of Thrones: Ned confronted Cersei about her twincestuous ways and then ran about being suicidally stupid, putting his faith into people like Petyr, who ended up betraying him. Maybe. I feel like you can never tell with this show. In other news of dumbassary, the attempt on Daenerys’s life failed and just made Khal Drogo decide to invade Westros after all, and King Robert died from drunk hunting, putting Joffrey on the throne. Joy.
Arya’s having a fencing lesson, blithely unaware of the very real fighting going on a few floors below her. So I guess we’re staring immediately where we left off. Sansa and Septa are walking the halls, wondering where Arya is, when Septa hears the unmistakable sounds of battle and sends Sansa right back to her rooms. Sansa runs off, and Septa is almost immediately confronted by a bunch of guards with bloodied swords. In her lesson, Arya loses, and she’s a terribly sore loser.
The lesson’s interrupted by the arrival of some guards who order her to come with them, because her father wants to talk to her. She goes to follow them, but her teacher holds her back, realizing something’s not right here. Arya puts her foot down and refuses to go with them, and when they try to bring her by force, Syrio handily kicks their asses with a wooden practice sword. Niiiiice. Unfortunately, he can’t quite beat the knight in charge, who slices his sword in half but nicely gives Syrio a chance to tell Arya to get the hell out of there. She flees. Sansa, meanwhile, runs into the Hound, who’s been sent to find her.
Arya makes it to the stables, where she finds their servants slaughtered, but her sword’s still around. As she’s retrieving it, a stableboy tries to drag her off to the queen, so she stabs him. First blood, little Arya.
Ned’s in a dank, dark cell somewhere. Varys shows up and nicely offers him something to drink, advising him to drink it sparingly and hide it so he doesn’t die of thirst. He also brings news: Arya’s disappeared, and Sansa’s still engaged to Joffrey, so she’s safe for the moment. I wouldn’t count on that lasting long. Ned ungratefully gets pissy with Varys for not fighting back during the attack, and Varys reminds him he was unarmed and isn’t trained in combat, so what was he supposed to do? I guess Ned hasn’t regrown any brain cells since he’s been locked up.
Like me, Varys wants to know what the hell Ned was thinking, telling Cersei he’d figured out her secret. Ned says he was hoping she’d take the chance to save her kids. He really is a moron, isn’t he? Varys informs Ned that he’s a dead man walking, and he doesn’t even have Tyrion as a bargaining chip anymore.
Up on The Wall, two bodies are brought in on a sledge. Neither is Benjen, who’s still missing. Sam notes the strange lack of smell for two men who’ve been dead a while. Well, Sam, it is pretty cold up there. Lord Commander Mormont says he wants the bodies checked out before they’re disposed of, and then goes to get a message from King’s Landing.
Jon joins him a few minutes later, as he’s reading his message, and Mormont asks for some ale, and invites him to have some himself. As Jon pours, Mormont informs him the king is dead, and that Ned’s been charged with treason. He breaks the news of that fairly gently, which is nice of him. Jon gets up to go and do…something, but Mormont reminds him he has to stay at The Wall.
Poor Sansa’s in yet another impossible position. She’s facing off with Cersei, Petyr, and Pycelle, who are informing her that her father’s a traitor. Sansa tries to say there’s been some mistake. Cersei says she’s sure Sansa’s not guilty, but she can’t very well marry her son to a traitor’s daughter, can she? Pycelle jumps in to back her up, and Sansa insists she’ll be a good little wifey to Joffrey. Petyr speaks up for her and tells Cersei Sansa deserves a chance to prove her loyalty. Cersei tells her to write to her oldest brother and ask him to come to King’s Landing and swear allegiance to Joffrey. Sansa hesitates and asks to see her father. Cersei’s not about to allow that, and tells Sansa her father’s fate depends on her and her brother.
Robb gets Sansa’s message and reads it with Theon and Luwin, who immediately realizes Cersei’s behind the letter. Robb, of course, is not about to kiss the ass of the kid who threw his dad in jail. He orders Luwin to call all their sworn houses together. Theon nods with approval, and even Luwin looks proud. Ravens fly out of Winterfell, scattering in all directions.
Cate’s still at the Eyrie. Why? Why would she want to stick around her crazy and creepy sister and her equally creepy son? Anyway, Cate finds a message about Ned that was sent to Lysa, who failed to share the news with Cate, and now Cate’s rightfully pissed off. Lysa suggests Cate go and talk her son out of going to war against the Lannisters. Cate figures this means Lysa won’t support Ned’s cause, and she’s totally right. Lysa’s too busy dealing with her kid, who’s whining about being hungry and untying her dress. Ewwww. Lysa sends him off for his bath, and once they’re alone, she reminds Cate that the Lannisters are dangerous people, as they both well know, and she’s worried about keeping her son safe. Ok, I’ll give her that.
Tyrion and his champion are on the road, heading home on foot. Didn’t that champion have a horse when they arrived at the Vale? Didn’t Tyrion? Oh, the champion’s name is Bron, by the way. Bron complains about Tyrion whistling, but Tyrion’s in a good mood, and tells Bron he can give him pretty much whatever he wants, so I guess he can whistle while he walks if he likes.
Later, Tyrion’s asleep beside a fire and the remains of dinner when Bron wakes him and points out some people coming towards them through the woods. Wildlings, I guess. Tyrion invites them to share their fire and goat dinner. These people aren’t interested in a bit of goat, though. They’re there to do some killin’. The leader (Dagya?) is about to dispatch them, but Tyrion manages to charm them with his humor. Dagya’s ready to take him as entertainment but wants to kill Bron. So, Tyrion tries a different tack and asks them to see them through the mountains, in return for lots and lots of gold. Dagya’s not prepared to play, until Tyrion hands him a handsome ring and offers to give them the whole Vale. Nice deal.
At The Wall, Jon and Sam are at work in the kitchens when their trainer shows up to be a dick for a little while, twisting the knife over Ned’s imprisonment. Jon goes to slice the man a new smile, but two other guys hold him back, and the trainer grins as he tells Jon he’ll hang for that. He fails to notice Mormont watching the whole thing, and once he’s gone, Mormont tells Jon he’s confined to quarters.
In his quarters, his direwolf starts going all crazy over at the door, and it’s more than just “I really need a walk” craziness. Jon grabs his sword and heads out into the night, following the wolf, who leads him to Mormont’s room. Jon goes in and finds no one, except for a really creepy looking bald guy who comes out of nowhere and keeps fighting, even after his arm gets chopped off. That’s dedication right there. Jon finally manages to kill him, or so he thinks. As Mormont comes in from wherever he was, the guy’s eyes fly open and he gets to his feet and pulls Jon’s sword out of his gut. Thinking fast, Jon throws the lantern Mormont’s holding at the attacker and hustles Mormont out of the room as the attacker burns to death. Maybe.
The Dothraki are attacking and sacking a village somewhere, presumably on their side of the ocean, so they can capture slaves to sell in return for ships. Daenerys wanders through the embattled village, not looking too pleased that her throne is coming at this sort of price. She tells Jorah to tell some of the Dothraki men not to go raping the women, but one of her bodyguards says that it’s an honor. Ok, dude, then how about you get in line first? Not such a big honor now, is it? Daenerys insists, so her bodyguards go to put a stop to the assault, as Jorah hustles the near victims away. Daenerys claims them for herself, to protect them.
The would-be rapist goes to Khal Drogo to complain. Drogo asks Daenerys to explain herself, and she readily confesses that she did just as the man claims. Drogo tries to explain that this is just the way things are, but she conters that if the men want these women, they should take them as wives. The wronged warrior sniffs that horses and lambs don’t mate, and she can’t give him orders, but she reminds him that she’s the khaleesi, and she does, in fact, give him orders. Drogo’s amused by the exchange and tells the warrior to go find some other way to amuse himself. The warrior’s not happy about that at all and threatens Drogo, who takes him on in one-on-one combat. Drogo kills him, and then reaches into his sliced throat and rips out his tongue or something.
Drogo calmly goes and sits down and Daenerys notes that he’s been wounded. It doesn’t look that bad, but she calls for healers anyway, and one of the women she just saved steps forward and says she knows how to make healing ointments and the like. She offers to fix Drogo up, and after some begging from Daenerys, he agrees.
A good sized group of men has gathered at Winterfell, and the leaders are enjoying a feast with Robb, Bran, and Theon. One guy makes a case to lead some of the men and threatens to return home with his own crew. Robb tells him he’s free to do so, and when Robb’s done with the Lannisters, he’ll come back for him. The guy gets hotheaded and threatens Robb, so Robb’s direwolf leaps up and takes the man down. Don’t these people know not to mess with the Starks and their wolves by now? The man loses two fingers, gets up, cracks a joke, and the tension’s broken. These people are all bizarre.
That night, Bran’s woken by Robb, who’s there to say goodbye. Bran asks to go along, but Robb says a Stark needs to stay in Winterfell, and that Bran’s going to be in charge while Robb’s gone. He urges Bran to be brave, then leaves. Just after he leaves, a little boy, who I’m guessing is the mysterious younger Stark kid we’ve never seen up until this point, comes in and sadly notes that everyone’s gone and left. Bran tries to reassure him, but he’s unsuccessful. I think this little Stark’s pretty smart.
The next day (I’m guessing) Tonks surprises Bran next to that cool looking tree from the first episode, where he’s gone to pray. She tells him if he listens carefully, the Gods will speak to him. She sighs that the old gods won’t be able to help his brother, because they have no power in the south. While they’re talking, that big Odo guy comes running up, stark naked. Well, at least HBO’s trying to balance out all the female nudity, I guess. It seems the man’s an albino in addition to being hulking in every way. Tonks gently teases him and Bran tells him to go find his clothes. Once he’s gone, Bran asks if there are really giants beyond The Wall, and she seriously says that there are much worse things than giants beyond The Wall, and all these armies should really be going north, not south.
Apparently, the big guy who attacked Jon was one of the dead bodies they brought in. They’re burning them now, and Sam remarks that they must have been touched by the White Walkers, which explains how they came back to life. Right, that explains everything. Jon asks him how he knows about this, and Sam explains that he read about it in an old book in a library at The Wall. They ask what else he knows, and all he says is that he hopes the Wall’s high enough to keep the Walkers out.
Cate’s finally cleared out of the Eyrie and finds Robb’s encampment, which she’s pleased to see. Robb’s meeting with the other captains, discussing strategy when his mother comes sweeping in. They have a strangely chilly meeting, and Cate asks for a moment alone with Robb. Two Fingers hustles them out and tells Cate everything’s going to be fine. Once they’re gone, Cate and Robb embrace tightly, and she smiles proudly, though she’s worried about him, of course. Robb produces Sansa’s letter and Cate sits to read it. She notes that there’s no mention of Arya, which distresses her. She reminds Robb that the Lannisters are harsh people, so he’d better not lose this war of his.
Tyrion, Bron, and their new bodyguards make their way toward that tent city where Lannister Senior (Tywin) was chatting with Jaime last week. The whole hoarde heads in, led by Tyrion, who takes them right to his father’s tent. Tywin doesn’t exactly meet him with open arms. Tywin asks about Tyrion’s companions, and Tyrion introduces them and then notes all the soldiers hanging around. Tywin explains that his abduction threatened to bring dishonor to their house, so they had to get ready for war. Even as they speak, Jaime’s out trashing Cate’s pre-marital home, Riverrun. Tyrion gets caught up on the news of Ned’s imprisonment and Robert’s death and Robb’s march south. Tyrion uses this as an opening to ask for the weapons he promised his guides, but then a messenger arrives to tell Tywin the northern army has crossed some area that I guess is rather close, so it’s time to take care of other matters. Tywin fires off some orders, then asks Tyrion’s guides to fight with them, in exchange for riches. They’ll only do so if Tyrion fights alongside them, so they can ensure they’ll actually get their reward.
In the northern camps, Robb and the others talk strategy with Cate in attendence. Two soldiers come in with a Lannister spy, a rather weedy looking lad. Robb lets the kid go and sends him back to Tywin with a message that he’s about to get his ass handed to him. Once the scout goes, Two Fingers scolds Robb for releasing him, but Robb stands his ground.
In King’s Landing, Ned’s roughly wakened by a guard for no apparent reason while Sansa, all dressed up like a southern lady, makes her way into the throne room for some official event. She gets there just in time to hear Tywin Lannister named Hand of the King in Ned’s place. Cersei rises and calls Ser Barristan forward and asks him to retire. Barristan’s not willing, since he took a lifelong oath, but Joffrey meanly tells him he let Robert die and he’s too old to protect anyone. Jaime’s going to be in charge of the Kingsguard from now on. Barristan’s even less excited by that then he is by being made to retire, and he throws a little tantrum before unwisely drawing his sword and throwing it at Joffrey’s feet, telling him to melt it down and add it to his ugly throne. He manages to leave with some dignity, and Cersei retakes her seat. Sansa steps forward, kneels on the floor, and begs for mercy for Ned. Pycell tries to shut her up, but Joffrey urges them to let her speak. Sansa doesn’t deny her father’s crimes, but she figures there must have been a mistake. She claims Ned was on pain meds for his leg wound and must have said the wrong thing. Pycelle’s still unforgiving, even though Varys speaks up for Sansa. Joffrey says he’ll consider letting Ned off the hook, as long as Ned confesses to his crimes and accepts Joffrey as king. Which of course Ned won’t do, because he’s one of those obnoxious characters so often found in these stories who’s so obsessed with honor and everything being black and white that he gives no thought to self-preservation or the preservation of his family. And I really can’t stand characters like that, they’re tiresome. Sansa promises her father will do as Joffrey says. We’ll just see about that.