Tyrion: I hope the boy does wake. I'd be very interested to hear what he has to say.
Jaime: My dear brother, there are times you make me wonder what side you're on.
We open with the same glorious credits
... except that they've changed
! Now, instead of showing Pentos, they show the Dothraki grasslands and Vaes Dothrak
. We learn in the first scene that this is where Daenerys is now, travelling with her new husband and his tribe. Daenerys is having a bad day; she's tired, she's sick of eating dried horse meat, and she's so saddle sore that she needs the help of three maids just to get off her horse and walk to a tent. Jorah Mormont tells her that it will get easier, but Daenerys doesn't look like she's buying it. Jorah then takes Viserys aside to suggest he return to Pentos and wait in comfort for the Dothraki to return, but Viserys wants to personally ensure Khal Drogo holds up his end of the bargain. He also asks Jorah what happened in Westeros to make him flee across the Narrow Sea; turns out Jorah caught some poachers on his land and sold them to a slaver. Hang on, isn't he meant to be a good guy?
We return to Winterfell
, to find Tyrion Lannister waking up in a kennel, very hungover and cuddling a dog. His nephew Joffrey is there with his bodyguard. Tyrion informs Joffrey that he will give his sympathies to the Starks before they leave. When Joffrey complains that he can't abide the wailing of women, Tyrion slaps him!
Three times! And when Joffrey cries and attempts to protest, Tyrion outright orders him to go to the Starks and pay his proper respects to them.
Tyrion joins his siblings and Cersei's other children, Myrcella and Tommen, for breakfast. Myrcella asks if Bran is going to die, and Tyrion says apparently not. All signs suggest Bran will survive "falling" from that tower. Though Bran lingers in a coma, Infant Immortality
may be in play after all! (Cersei and Jaime look very uncomfortable about this.) Tyrion then announces he's going north to see the Wall before they go home. Jaime says he'd rather die cleanly than live as a cripple or a grotesque; Tyrion disagrees, naturally, and mentions that he'd be interested to hear what the boy might have to say.
Cersei visits Catelyn at Bran's bedside, and tells her about her first son, a little boy with black hair who died of a fever. Jaime, meanwhile, visits Winterfell's armory, where he finds Jon Snow helping to forge a sword. Jaime
sarcastically thanks him for guarding them all from the perils beyond the Wall. "I'm sure it will be thrilling to serve with such an elite force. And if not, well, it's only for life." After he's done smithing, Jon goes to visit Arya, who is packing to leave Winterfell, helped by her pet wolf Nymeria. Jon tells her he has a present for her, and to close the door. He gives her the sword he was helping Mikken forge. It's small and skinny, just like Arya. "First lesson: stick them with the pointy end." Arya names the sword Needle, and she and Jon say their goodbyes. Finally, Jon goes to visit Bran. Catelyn's not happy to have him there, but allows him to speak to Bran. Jon tells the still-comatose Bran to come and visit him at the Wall when he's well. After a few minutes, Catelyn harshly throws him out.
Ned and Jon say their goodbyes, as Ned leaves for King's Landing and Jon leaves for the Wall. Ned promises that the next time they see each other, he will tell Jon who his mother is. The topic comes up again at lunch, with Ned and King Robert by the side of the road reminiscing about old times. Robert mentions that there's only been one woman who has made Ned Stark forget his honor. In between Robert dredging up names (mostly of women he's
bedded; "Thank the gods for Bessie! And
her tits!"), Ned names her "Wylla," but will not speak of her. Finally, Robert gets down to business: he's received a message updating him on Daenerys Targaryen's marital status. It ignites Robert's legendary hatred of the Targaryens, despite Ned reminding him that there's an ocean between Westeros and this hypothetical avenging Dothraki horde, and that the Dothraki have no fleet.
Speaking of Dothraki, in the grasslands
Khal Drogo is still bending Daenerys over horsie-style every night. She doesn't look like she's having fun. But she seems to find solace in a fire-filled dream where flames crackle and dragons hiss...
On the journey to the Wall
. Jon and Tyrion discuss the falling standards of the Watch as most brothers are captured thieves, rapists and other motley scum. Young Snow is appropriately disenchanted with the Imp's helpful advice: "Life is full of these little ironies." Like how he himself would have been killed had he not been born into the wealthiest family in all the Seven Kingdoms and how a bastard with nothing to inherit can only earn honor by trying to forge his own path. Jon takes a stiff drink of wine after their campfire conversation.
, Catelyn continues her vigil over sleeping Bran, explicitly neglecting her duties as the Lady of Winterfell and causing Robb to step up in her stead. Robb gives her the first paragraph of a "What the Hell, Hero?
?" speech, but is derailed by a fire elsewhere in the castle. He rushes away, leaving the window open for the howls of the direwolves to filter in. Whilst he's gone, a creepy-looking man appears into the room with a wickedly-curved blade and almost literally announces his intention to slit Bran's throat. Catelyn fights him with every weapon at her disposal, but it's Bran's direwolf who saves the day. (Direwolf + assassin aimed at direwolf's master = dead assassin.) Summer snuggles up to his bedded master once the douche is bled out; D'awwww!
Back on the Dothraki Sea
, Dany's three handmaids (Irri, Jhiqui and Doreah) fuss over her scrapes and bruises. They trade stories about where dragons come from; most of them believe them to be extinct. ("It is known.
") Daenerys finds out that Doreah is a bed slave and is trained in the arts of pleasure. Dany asks her to teach her how to seduce Khal Drogo. Fanservice
and Les Yay
Back in Winterfell
, Catelyn, with her hands bandaged, visits the tower from whence Bran fell. She finds a single blonde hair
. She then calls a council in the godswood at Winterfell of (herself
, Ser Rodrik Cassel
, Maester Luwin
), and gives voice to her theory: Bran saw something he was not meant to see, warranting not only his Destination Defenestration
but the clumsy assassination attempt
as well. Ser Rodrik also points out that the dagger is too fine a weapon for a mere cutthroat: "The blade is Valyrian steel
, the hilt dragonbone
." Catelyn decides to ride for King's Landing with Rodrik Cassel, leaving Winterfell in the care of Robb and Bran's life in the care of the gods.
We briefly return to the Dothraki Sea
, as Daenerys works up her gumption and manages to first fend off Khal Drogo and then seduce him
. With the Marital Rape License
abolished, the couple have a night of actual tender lovemaking with each other.
The king's procession has stopped for the night at The Inn at the Crossroads
, and Sansa takes the opportunity to wander, her direwolf Lady at her heels. First she runs into Ser Ilyn Payne, the royal headsman, who has no lines because "the Mad King" had his tongue ripped out. Then she's trapped between him and The Hound, and it's hard to say who frightens her more. Prince Joffrey to the rescue! He takes her on a walk out to the river, where they come across two boys using sticks to play at swordfighting. Only, one of them's not a boy: it's Arya. Joffrey takes this opportunity to bully her opponent. His name is Mycah and he is the son of a butcher. He has a stick against Joffrey's real sword, which he uses to slice Mycah's face. When Arya whacks Joff on the back with her stick, he starts slicing at her instead. Once again, direwolves win the day: Nymeria comes out of nowhere and attaches herself to Joffrey's sword arm, teeth first. With Joffrey on the ground crying like a punk, Arya takes his sword and throws it into the river. Sansa tries to comfort the blubbering Joffrey, but he angrily tells her to go away. And while she goes for help, Arya flees into the forest.
Arya, knowing the queen will have Nymeria's head for harming the royal brat, makes Nymeria run away. Nymeria is adorable
. Arya has to throw rocks
It's past nightfall before Arya is found, and she's hauled directly before the queen. Joffrey has a very different version of events than Arya does, and Sansa is brought in as a tie-breaker. She refuses to corroborate either tale
, leading Arya to grab her hair and shriek at her. (Cersei has the most awesome smirk.) King Robert is happy to let each child be disciplined by their father, but Cersei still wants blood, and demands that Nymeria be killed. Well, they don't have
Nymeria... but they do have Lady
. For once, Arya and Sansa
agree on something, but Robert buckles before his wife's scorn. Cersei sends Ser Ilyn Payne, but Ned dismisses him and does it himself.
Outside, the Hound is returning from the hunt with the day's kill slung over his horse's back: Mycah, the butcher's boy. "You rode him down," Ned exclaims. "He ran," the Hound agrees. "But not very fast."
Ned attends his grisly duty, interspersed with shots of Bran in his bed at Winterfell
. As one set of eyes close, the other set opens.
Tropes featured in this episode include:
- Almost Kiss: During her instruction in the art of lovemaking Daenerys suddenly flips Doreah onto her back, starts to lean in...before panicking and backing off.
- Bare-Handed Blade Block: Catelyn grabs the assassin's dagger with her hands. They get very bloody, but they do stop the blade from reaching her throat.
- Blatant Lies
Robb: My mother?
Snow: She was very kind.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Joffrey, adding to the list.
- Brutal Honesty: Both Lannister brothers (in their unique Jerk Ass way) try to discourage Jon Snow from joining the Night's Watch.
- Country Matters: The first instance in the series; uttered fittingly enough by Joffrey, towards Arya after she smacks him one.
- Foreign Fanservice (In-Universe): Dany's appeal to her husband, according to Doreah.
- Cersei's mention of her black-haired firstborn draws attention to her children, whose blond hair is of course seriously significant.
- Jaime tells Tyrion, "But even if the boy lives he would be a cripple, a grotesque. Give me a good, clean death any day." In Season 3, Jaime's right hand is chopped off, and he briefly loses the will to live.
- Girl on Girl Is Hot: Daenerys receives a lesson in seduction from her handmaid Doreah. It's, erm... hands-on, to say the least.
- The Glomp: Arya to Jon before he departs for the Wall.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Sansa and Arya. A possible aversion as even when Arya is furious with Sansa over lying to Robert about what happened, she immediately backs her up when Cersei wants Lady killed. It doesn't do any good, but still...
- He Knows Too Much: Subverted in Bran, who is revealed to have survived his "fall" (though he is still in a coma.) And again when an assassin is sent after him as he sleeps, only to be repelled by Catelyn and Bran's wolf. After this, Catelyn correctly deduces that he was thrown because he saw something he shouldn't have.
- Held Gaze / Intertwined Fingers: Doreah instructs Daenerys on the importance of this in seduction. That and the need to get on top.
- I Call It Vera: Jon tells Arya that all the best swords have names. Arya names hers Needle.
- Infant Immortality: Played straight with Bran, who survived being thrown off a tower (but remains comatose.) Averted, with Mycah, the butcher's boy, who was rode down by the Hound for striking a member of the royal blood.
- Kick the Dog: Or rather cut the direwolf's throat.
- Mama Bear: Catelyn. She takes on an assassin sent for Bran armed with nothing but her bare hands, which are cut to ribbons by the knife he wields. Without the intervention of a direwolf, she would have been screwed, but she was still incredibly brave.
- Never Hurt an Innocent: Zigzagged with the assassin sent for the comatose Bran; he's visibly distressed when he realises his distraction failed, and an innocent woman is in the room with his target, but his target is an innocent child.
- The assassin tries to convince Catelyn that killing Bran would be a Mercy Kill, not clear if the assassin convinced himself of that.
- Never Live It Down: In-universe example. Catelyn is a loving wife and mother, but she still feels the pain of Ned's old infidelity deeply, and does not like having the evidence rubbed in her face—nor does she like him leaving with Robert again, since that's when Jon was conceived. Ned himself is deeply ashamed of the whole thing.
- Though at the same time, the show removes Catelyn's own moment of this from the books, where she snaps at Jon that he should have been the one that fell.
- No Animals Were Harmed: Lampshaded by GRRM on his not-a-blog, in which he recounts all the people who protested Sean Bean's treatment of Zanni, the dog who played Lady. He then goes on to mention that the actor who played Mycah was not harmed either, but nobody asked about him.
- Noble Wolf: Bran's wolf, who defends him as well as his mother from an assassin. Arya's wolf, Nymeria, who savages Joffrey when he threatens Arya with a sword. and Sansa's wolf, Lady, who is sweet-natured, patient, and obedient, and dead at the end of the episode because she stayed with her pack.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Viserys telling Jorah he won't be punished for selling slavers. We later discover Jorah is deeply ashamed by this act.
- Oh Crap: Jon's reaction to seeing the Wall, where he's going to spend the rest of his life.
- Quizzical Tilt: What, you want me to fetch your gloves?
- Reasonable Authority Figure: King Robert fills this role; when his son quarrels with Ned's daughter, he points out that all children fight and that the matter of discipline should really be left up to the parents. Too bad he can't stand up to Cersei.
- Reckless Blade Usage: Arya attempts to hug Jon with a sword in her hand. He makes her put it down before letting her get close to him.
- Revealing Coverup: Jaime Lannister may have gotten away with pushing Bran off the tower, had an assassin not botched the job of finishing him off.
- Royal Brat: Joffrey is getting more and more slappable as the series progresses...
- Shoo the Dog: Nymeria is reluctant to leave, so Arya is forced to throw rocks at her to drive her off.
- Smug Snake: Viserys shows a lot of these traits; he proclaims that Ser Jorah would not have been punished for selling to slavers under his rule, for example.
- That's an Order: A silent version, after the King orders Lady killed.
Is this your command? (King Robert looks coldly at him) Your Grace?
(Robert turns his back on Ned and walks out)
- Villains Out Shopping: Incestuous, murderous twins Cersei and Jaime are seen doing such awful things as having breakfast with their family, giving their condolences to a grieving mother, and offering some friendly advice to a boy aspiring to be a warrior.