Previously on Game of Thrones: Ned’s idiocy got him thrown into prison, which pissed off Robb, so he gathered a big ol’ army and started marching on the Lannisters. Up on The Wall, Jon proved his worth by saving Mormont from a zombie. Oh, and Drogo got a scratch on him in a fight that I’m sure will somehow wind up being fatal.
The darkness of Ned’s cell is pierced by a burning torch borne by Varys, who’s come for another visit so he can give Ned water and tell him Sansa begged publicly for his life. Ned assumes Varys laughed at her with the others, which is kind of a dickish thing to say to the only person who’s been showing you any kindness or has been trying tohelp you out over the last few days or weeks or however long it’s been. Varys tells Ned he doesn’t want him harmed or dead. Ned asks if Varys could free him from the prison, and Varys replies that he could, but he won’t. Ned asks what he wants and Varys says he wants peace, which is not in the foreseeable future, since Robb’s on his way south with the army. Varys finally speaks for at least some of the audience as he urges Ned to put aside his damn pride for a second and play ball with Cersei, for his whole family’s sake. All Ned has to do is confess his treason, accept Joffrey as heir, and go live on The Wall as a member of the Night’s Watch. Ned refuses to trade his honor for a few more years alive, so Varys reminds him that he’s got a couple of young kids with him in King’s Landing, and is he so willing to risk their lives along with his own?
A raven flies out of a tall tower and is promptly shot down by Theon, who reads the message attatched to it and reports it’s just a birthday card. Theon, along with Robb, Cate, and their army are facing the tower, which guards a long bridge stretching across some body of water to another tower on the other side. Cate tells Theon to keep shooting the ravens down, so Lord Frey inside can’t send a message that the army’s there. They need Frey’s permission to cross the bridge, though, so maybe killing all his messenger birds right now isn’t such a hot idea. Robb’s ready to go in and deal with Frey himself, but the other commanders think it’s too dangerous. Cate offers to go instead, claiming she’s known Frey since she was a kid and he’d never harm her. When are these people going to learn that you can’t trust anyone in this world? Haven’t they had enough proof of that?
Nevertheless, Cate goes in and meets with Frey (who’s played by David Bradley, which is so, so perfect, because nobody plays icky and creepy old man better than him) in his dismal keep, where he’s surrounded by his numerous offspring and has his newest wife, a teenager by the look of her, perched on his armrest. Cate tries to butter him up, but he’ll have none of that. He takes a little while to insult his sons, then slobbers grossly over Cate’s hand. She asks for privacy, so he sends all the kids away, along with the miserable little wife. Cate tries not to throw up when he tells her the girl’s only 15. Frey starts grousing over how Cate’s family has always looked down on him and the other Freys, then finally asks what she wants. Cate says they want to cross the waterway and reminds Frey that he swore an oath to her father to work with them. Frey says he swore an oath to the crown, too, but in the end, he doesn’t really give a crap who’s in charge or who’s fighting who.
At The Wall, Mormont presents Jon with a “thanks for saving me from the creepy zombie” gift—a handsome sword that’s been in his family for centuries. It was supposed to go to Mormont’s son, Jorah, but he turned out to be a disgrace, so he’s giving it to Jon. He tells Jon to let his beef with his trainer, Thorne, go, and Jon offers to apologize to him, but he’s been sent to King’s Landing with part of the zombie Jon killed. That seems unwise, but whatever. Jon leaves and is congratulated all the way down to the kitchens by other Night’s Watchmen. In the kitchen, the other stewards admire it, except for Sam, who’s all glum and, after very little prodding, tells Jon that Robb’s leading an army south. Jon gets all serious and says he should be with them.
Cate returns from her mission and tells Robb that they can cross, on a few conditions. One: Robb will have to take one of the Frey boys as a squire; two: Arya will have to marry another one of the sons when they come of age; and finally: Robb himself will have to marry one of the (sadly unattractive) Frey daughters once the fighting is over. Theon thinks this is hilarious. Robb doesn’t, but he agrees, because he has no choice. Way to take one for the team, Robb.
Jon reports to the ravenry, where the old blind man (I think his name is Eamon) asks for help and makes it clear he knows Jon wants to slip away and join Robb. Jon gets all angry, telling Eamon he should go and join his brother, and Eamon doesn’t know how he feels, which is a sure setup for a story, and sure enough, Eamon reveals that when he was already an old, blind man, he received word that his whole family, right down to the kids, had been slaughtered. He was a Targaryen, you see, and he’s felt bad ever since that he couldn’t help them. I wouldn’t beat myself up too badly, Eamon—what could you have done? You were old and blind and hundreds of miles away. He tells Jon he won’t tell him to stay or go, but reminds him he’ll have to live with his decision forever.
The Dothraki are on the move, and Drogo’s not looking too good. He tumbles off his horse, mumbling incoherently, and Daenerys runs to him. She tells one of the other Dothraki they’ll make camp there, and he gives her some lip, but she somehow manages to impose her will.
Camp Lannister. Tyrion joins his father and the other captains at dinner a bit late, and is informed by Tywin that Tyrion and his wildling buddies will be in the front lines for tomorrow’s battle. Tyrion’s not excited by the idea and loses his appetite, returning to his palatial tent, where Bron’s waiting for him with a comely young woman. Tyrion tells Bron they’ll be in the vanguard the next day, and after a moment, Bron says he’s going to go find a woman of his own. Heh. Tyrion pours some wine and starts to chat with the woman, whose name is Shay, and she’s not at all shy or intimidated by being around one of the Lannisters. Tyrion lays out her duties, which include sharing his wine and company and sexing him like it’s his last night on earth. In return, she gets lots and lots of money. She’s cool with that.
The Dothraki have made camp, and Drogo’s in his tent, being tended by Daenerys. He’s looking terrible. Jorah joins her, takes one look at Drogo’s wound, and bluntly tells her he’s going to die by nightfall. She refuses to believe it, but Jorah’s switched to practical mode and starts making plans to help her flee. Daenerys insists that she has no reason to run, because her son will be Khal someday, but it seems that’s not how things work with the Dothraki. They don’t just pass titles down the bloodline, they respect fighting skill, and whoever wins the crown through combat will never allow her child to survive and be a rival. Daenerys still refuses to leave.
The man who gave her lip earlier arrives with the healer who was supposed to cure Drogo and threatens to kill the woman, even as she begins to examine Drogo’s wound. Daenerys tells him to leave the woman alone, so he switches and starts threatening her and sneers that, when Drogo dies, she’ll be nothing. Daenerys draws herself to her full height and fiercely tells him she was never nothing, she’s got the blood of the dragon in her. Attitude doesn’t care. After he leaves, Daenerys tells Jorah he should probably go and put on his armor. He agrees and takes off. The healer tells Daenerys Drogo’s beyond help, but Daenerys figures there must be something she can do, some kind of magic. The woman says there is, but it’s a pretty bad one—one that requires a life in return for Drogo’s. Daenerys tells her to do it, and the woman calls for Drogo’s horse. Oh, come on! Not another dead horse!
The poor animal’s brought to the tent, where it promptly starts to freak out. One of the Dothraki men protests the impending spell, but Daenerys shuts him up as the healer gets to work. The healer sends everyone away, telling Daenerys no one must enter the tent once the spell’s begun. The healer shallowly slices the horse’s throat, spraying Daenerys with blood. She staggers out of the tent as the horse stumbles and panics in the background. Jorah, now in his armor, greets her outside, slightly horrified by what’s being done now. Attitude comes as well, just as some strange roaring noises start to emenate from the tent. Attitude gets pissed, throws Daenerys to the ground, and heads toward the tent, only to be stopped by Jorah, who starts battling with him and eventually wins, killing Attitude. I won’t miss him. Daenerys, meanwhile, is groaning in pain. Jorah calls for the midwives, but they won’t come, so Jorah takes her into the tent, to be attended to by the healer. Not a good move, I’m guessing.
Tyrion, Shay, and Bron are hanging out, drinking and playing games. Tyrion starts a game of Never Have I Ever, except he makes all the guesses about people’s pasts and they have to drink if he’s right. He’s pretty good with Bron, less so with Shay, who was not, apparently, the daughter of a whore, a child abandoned by her father, or a woman who turned whore to see the world. She is very sensitive about how people talk about her family, though. When it’s her turn, Shay asks Tyrion who he’s been in love with. After some persuading, he spills a story of how, when he was 16, he was out with Jaime when they rescued a young woman from a pair of rapists. Tyrion took her to an inn to feed her, and they ended up in bed together (his first time), and he was so enamored he asked her to marry him. They were all blissful for a couple of weeks, and then his father found out, brought out the girl, and had Jaime explain the whole thing. Seems the situation was cooked up by Jaime and Tywin to help Tyrion feel like a hero and lose his virginity. The girl was a prostitute they hired, and to prove it, Tywin gave her to his guards, paying her well for her services. And he forced Tyrion to watch. Why? I guess because Tywin’s just kind of a mean dad. Shay’s not all that sympathetic—she points out that a woman who’s almost been raped doesn’t tend to fall into bed with the next guy who crosses her path. Tyrion shrugs that he was young and stupid. And then she climbs on top of him, and Bron takes his cue and leaves.
The next morning, he wakes Tyrion roughly and tells him to suit up, because Robb’s men arrived early and they’ve got some battling to do. Tyrion puts on the armor he had made in record time and meets up with Bron, who tells him to stay low throughout the battle. Oh, ha ha. Tyrion rallies his troops, and they’re a really easy crowd, because all he has to say is, basically, “the Vale will be yours!” and they start cheering for him and charge off to battle. One of them is dangerously swinging what appears to be a large mallet, which strikes Tyrion on the head, knocking him out.
He comes to post-battle, as he’s being taken back to camp, Bron strolling next to him. Tyrion’s Wildlings are still brutally hacking people to death on the battlefield and cutting out their fillings or something. Charming. Tywin rides by and notes that Tyrion’s been wounded. Tyrion asks how everything went and learns that they won because they were only up against 2000 men. The other 18,000, plus Robb, are elsewhere.
That ‘elsewhere’ is in the neighborhood of Cate’s childhood home, which, if you’ll remember, was being trashed by Jaime. And speak of the devil—he’s been captured by Robb and a crew of bannermen. Jaime’s dropped at Cate’s feet, and she fiercely tells him to give her her husband back. Jaime can’t oblige, so Theon suggests they cut his head off. Robb sensibly realizes Jaime’s more useful alive, so they go to chain him up. Jaime challenges Robb to a trial by combat, but Robb turns him down and Jaime’s dragged away. Robb sadly reflects that he sent 2,000 men to their deaths that day. Then he goes and pours some cold water on the other soldiers’ celebrations, pointing out that they’ve only won one victory, but not the whole war. Well, fine, Mr. Glass-Half-Empty.
In King’s Landing, Arya comes upon some pigeons and manages to kill one. She’s looking a proper little urchin now. She tries to trade the pigeon for a pie, but the baker isn’t interested. She then notes that everyone’s heading in the same direction, and a passing boy tells her the Hand of the King’s being trotted out to publicly admit his treason. Arya drops her pigeon and rushes to the city square, where she climbs up on the plinth of a statue so Ned can see her.
Ned’s brought out, and the crowd jeers him. He looks out at them in disgust, then spots Arya. Soldiers lead him through the crowd, and as he passes a guy who looks slightly familiar (maybe the messenger he sent to Stannis a couple of episodes ago?), he shouts “Baelor!” at him. I guess that’s the statue Arya was on or something, because the man looks over at it and sees her. Ned climbs a large stone platform, passing by Sansa, Cersei, Petyr, and Joffrey as he goes. Once he’s up there, the crowd quiets down, and Ned confesses to treason, claiming he plotted to murder Joffrey and seize the throne for himself. Someone throws something at him, striking him in the face, and Arya begins to get mad, gripping her sword tightly. Ned accepts Joffrey as king, and Pycelle steps forward and calls on Joffrey to deliver his verdict. Joffrey, enjoying this a little too much, says his mom wants him to send Ned to the Night’s Watch, and that Sansa’s begged for mercy for her father, but he doesn’t care about that, because treason will be punished, so he wants Ned executed right then and there. Sansa freaks out, and Cersei tries to urge Joffrey to take it down a notch, as the headsman puts on his hood and draws his giant sword. Arya dashes through the crowd to do…something, but she’s stopped by Ned’s man, who holds her back and urges her to look at him. Ned looks out at the crowd for a moment, starts to murmur a prayer, and then with one slice his head comes off. Wow. I did not expect that. I mean, I figured he was dead meat eventually, but I didn’t really expect it before the end of the season. Or even season two. Should make next week an interesting episode.