Ned finally makes his way to his own tournament, where dead Hugh is being cleaned up and stitched up for burial. Ned observes that young Hugh was wearing brand new armor, and he wonders how a kid who was just a squire until recently could afford new armor. Like me, he thinks this death is mighty suspicious. He chats a bit with Ser Barrister, who tells him Robert wants to join the joust.
Ned next goes to the king’s tent, where that poor young Lannister lad’s trying to squeeze fat Robert into armor that just won’t fit. Robert barks at the kid to go find the breastplate stretcher, which doesn’t exist, but the kid scuttles off anyway, probably happy for an excuse to leave. Ned and the king tease each other a bit, and then Ned tells him not to joust, because everyone would just let him win. Well, maybe this would be a good way to avoid more bloodshed, then. Robert puts up a bit of a fight but ultimately agrees not to ride.
The jousts resume, with Gregor riding against some handsome young man Sansa identifies as “The Knight of the Flowers”. Flowers rides into the arena with a red rose in his hand, which he presents to Sansa, who smiles
happily. Flowers exchanges a meaningful look with Renly Baratheon, who’s sitting just behind Sansa and Ned, before bowing to the king, putting on his helmet, and picking up his lance. Sansa starts to get anxious that Gregor will hurt Flowers, as Petyr offers to bet on the winner with Renly. The riders charge, and unexpectedly, Flowers manages to knock Gregor right off his horse. Renly wins his bet, and Petyr, annoyed, makes a pointed reference to Renly’s apparent relationship with Flowers. Gregor proves to be one of the sorest losers ever by
calling for a sword and beheading his horse right then and there. He then goes completely nuts and attacks Flowers, pulling him off his horse and nearly killing him. The Hound jumps in and starts fighting his brother in Flowers’s defense, and after a little while Robert recovers from his shock at this display and calls a halt. Gregor stomps off, Flowers thanks the hound for saving his life and shares his victory with him.
On the road north, Cate and her entourage stop for a rest and pull Tyrion off his horse, removing his blindfold for apparently the first time in a while. Tyrion quickly realizes they’re not heading for Winterfell at all, and nobody will know where he is. He hints at a bribe for letting him go, but there are no takers, so instead he exposits for the rest of us that they’re heading for the Vale, where Cate’s sister has taken refuge. He asks Cate when she last saw her sister, because it seems Lysa’s gone a bit crazy in the last few years. He insists he had noting to do with Bran’s attack, and he’d have to be completely stupid to use his own knife to attack the kid. And if there’s anything we know about Tyrion, it’s that he’s not stupid. Not at all. Before anyone can fully digest the fact that Tyrion’s speaking sense, they get attacked by…wild people? I don’t know who they are. Tyrion convinces Cate to untie his hands, so he can fight back, and he quickly arms himself with a shield that he
uses to brutally bash one of the attackers’ faces in. Just because he’s small doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his family’s fighting spirit.
Luwin’s running Bran through his lessons while Bran sadly watches Theon practice archery at Winterfell. Bran’s not interested in reeling off information about the various houses, because he’s too busy playing with a
fish-shaped pin and being pissed that his mom left him. This kid’s gotten seriously bitter since he woke up. He mourns the fact that he’ll never shoot another bow, but Luwin says if he can ride, he’ll be able to shoot from
horseback, so there’s hope yet.
Later, Theon’s got his favorite whore, Roz, in the castle, where she’s not really supposed to be. After they finish up, he starts asking how Tyrion is in bed, for some reason. Pretty good, according to Roz. They provide a little bit of exposition about Theon being a ward of the Stark family, because his family raised a rebellion years before, which I think we already knew from last week.
In King’s Landing, Arya’s chasing cats around the castle, on her fencing master’s orders.
Ned, meanwhile, is in a meeting with Varys, who asks after Bran as he closes the door and checks that nobody’s listening in. Once he’s sure it’s safe, he starts talking straight, telling Ned he knows the king’s a fool and he needs Ned to save him. He thinks the king’s going to be poisoned as Arryn was, using a clear and tasteless liquid Varys knows about. He doesn’t know who was behind the poisoning, but he seems to suspect Hugh had a hand in it. And it happened because Arryn was asking too many questions.
Arya follows the cat down to a subterranean area of the castle, where she finds one of the enormous dragon skulls Viserys was talking about last week. She stares at it in wonder, then hides in its gaping jaw when she hears two men coming. The men glide right past her, very carelessly talking about how Jaime tried to kill Bran, and soon enough Ned will be dead too, and the country will be at war again. As soon as they go, Arya leaves her hiding place, finds the door back to the castle locked, and takes another route.
Petyr runs into Varys in the throne room, and they have this little verbal dance that basically boils down to this: Petyr knows a lot of very dirty secrets about some very important people, thanks to his portfolio of whorehouses, he might have broken the law to accommodate their grosser requests, and he and Varys don’t really like each other much and are eternally suspicious. Oh, and they both know the other’s been speaking with Ned. Renly finally comes along and breaks up the boys to hustle them into a council meeting.
Arya, meanwhile, emerges from the sewers, I suppose, and makes her way back to the castle, where the guards mistake her for a beggar. Not for nothing is she Lord Stark’s daughter, though, and she tells them who she is and just what her father will do if they don’t let her pass immediately.
She’s called to the carpet by Ned, who scolds her for disappearing again. She’s got more important things on her mind, though, and blurts out that someone wants to kill Ned. He doesn’t have time to ask her many questions before a Night’s Watchman is announced and shown in. He asks to speak to Ned in private, so Ned sends Arya off. The Watchman—the same one who was traveling with Tyrion—tells Ned that Cate’s taken Tyrion prisoner.
Cate and her crew are met just outside the Vale by a bunch of knights who ask what her business is at the Vale. She tells him she wants to bring Tyrion before her sister. Just curious—why? What does Lysa have to do with this, exactly? Does she think the attack on Bran is connected with Arryn’s death? I thought they’d determined it was due to something Bran saw? Maybe we’ll find out soon.
Ned’s on his way to see Robert when he’s intercepted and dragged into a council meeting, where Robert’s actually bothered to show up for once, because he’s just gotten word that Daenerys is pregnant. Robert doesn’t want a Targaryen at the head of a Dothraki army, so he tells Ned to go and kill her before she can give birth. Ned, naturally, isn’t keen on the idea, and even the other council members blanch a bit at the thought. Ned claims that Jorah’s word on the matter can’t be trusted (hmm, is Jorah a double agent, working with the Targaryens and informing on them?) but Robert doesn’t care—he wants Daenerys dead. A few of the other council members chime in, saying that if Daenerys gives birth, and the Dothraki eventually invade, many innocents will die. Better to just get this over with now. Ned still won’t do it, so Robert angrily fires him as King’s Hand. Ned gives back the King’s Hand pin, tells Robert he thought he was a better man, and leaves. How long before he gets killed, do you think?
Ned goes back to his rooms to start packing up and tells Jory to get the girls ready to leave. Petyr comes in and tells Ned the king raved about him for a while after he left. He also offers to take Ned to see the last person Arryn visted before his death.
Oh God. Cate’s standing before her sister, who’s up on a throne in a big, cavernous room, with her kid, who looks to be about eight or so, breastfeeding off of her. Holy crap, this is a whole other level of messed up. Lyse’s shrilling about Cate bringing Tyrion and polluting her home with his presence. Tyrion’s face as he watches this woman rave and act all crazy is priceless. Cate looks pretty sad to see how cracked up her sister is. The boy detaches long enough to ask who Tyrion is, and Lyse claims he murdered Arryn. Tyrion’s interested to hear that he’s committed two murders now. The boy says he wants to see “the bad man fly” and Cate steps in, saying Tyrion’s her prisoner and she won’t see him harmed. Maybe you should have thought of that before you came to see your batshit crazy sister, Cate. Lyse sends Tyrion to a prison cell that’s cut into the side of the mountain where the Vale is, and has one whole side missing and a very long drop to the bottom. He retreats to the far wall and sinks to the floor.
Renly and Flowers (whose name is actually Loras Tyrell) are having some alone time, and Loras is shaving Renly’s chest. Renly’s not delighted, but he submits. They talk a bit about how they’ve never been to war, and the fact that Robert thinks such men are wimps. Loras finishes the chest and goes for the underarms. Gossip turns to the Lannisters and how rich they are, and then Loras comments that Renly should really be king. Renly thinks that’s unlikely, so Loras cuts him a little and tells him he needs to get used to seeing quite a bit of blood, if he’s ever going to hold the throne. Renly looks down at it as Loras tells him people love him, because he’s a nice guy, and he could be a good king. Then he dips down below to, I guess, admire his earlier shave job.
Cersei goes in to see her husband and tells him she’s sorry things didn’t work out with Ned. He thinks she’s there to nag him to give the job to Jaime, but surprisingly she’s not. He stresses about the Dothraki attacking, but she reminds him that the Dothraki don’t have ships or armor and can’t do much against the castles of the seven kingdoms. Robert paints a hypothetical picture for her, of the Dothraki invading and him and his knights holing up in their castles while the Dothraki kill all the livestock and crops and slowly starve them out.
Robert goes on to say that the Dothraki are one big army, united under a common cause, whereas he has several separate armies that all fight for a different lord, and bringing them all together will be tough, to say the least. He wonders just what it is that’s holding the country together, and Cersei cracks that it’s their marriage. They laugh together, and then she asks him about Ned’s dead sister, Leanna, Robert’s first (and possibly only) love. Robert admits he can’t even remember what she looked like, but he knows she was the one thing he ever wanted, and nothing has ever managed to fill that void. Cersei quietly tells him she felt something for him once, and she asks if he ever really felt anything for her. He bluntly tells her no.
Apparently the last person Arryn went to see was one of Petyr’s whores, the mother of yet another one of Robert’s bastards. This one’s a baby girl, and the very young mother is full of praise for her and asks after Robert. Poor thing. Ned gently asks her what Arryn wanted when he came to see her and she says he just wanted to know how the baby was doing. Ned reassures the girl her child will want for nothing before rejoining Petyr, who’s reclining in another room. Ned asks him what he knows about Robert’s illegitimate children. He knows Robert has more than Ned, but he doesn’t know why Arryn was tracking them all down. Frustrated, Ned collects Jory and leaves.
Just outside, they’re accosted by Jaime and a whole crew of his men. Jaime’s pissed about his brother being taken. Ned says Tyrion was taken at his command, to answer for his crimes against Ned’s family. Jaime draws his sword, but Ned calmly tells him Tyrion’s dead if they harm him. Jaime shrugs and tells his men to take Stark alive but to kill his men. A quick but very bloody battle ensues that only ends when Jaime stabs Jory right through the frigging eye, and then one of his men stabs Ned in the back of the leg with a lance. Farewell, Jory, we hardly knew ye. Jaime mounts his horse and tells Ned he wants his brother back, pronto.