As the opening credits fade, we see Bran, standing in the yard at Winterfell
, practicing his archery, which is strange since last episode he was a paraplegic. He sees a large crow or raven and follows it through the courtyard, only to realise it has three eyes—this far from Springfield
, this is disturbing—but then he wakes up, and realises he's still crippled. Theon Greyjoy comes in and tells him they have visitors; Hodor, a large bearded man who can apparently say nothing but his name, is brought in to serve as a low-tech wheelchair. They go down to meet the visitor, who turns out to be Tyrion Lannister. He asks if Bran remembers anything from his accident, and Maester Luwin swiftly assures him that he remembers nothing from that day. Tyrion has also brought a present for Bran—a design for a saddle that will allow Bran to sit a horse without using his legs. Robb questions Tyrion's motives, but Tyrion points out that he has a soft spot for cripples, bastards, and broken things
. Realising he's been kind of a dick, Robb offers Tyrion Winterfell's hospitality, but Tyrion says he'll bed down elsewhere and everyone will be more comfortable for it.
On his way out, Tyrion runs into Theon Greyjoy, and deduces very quickly that Catelyn Stark has left Winterfell. Tyrion also mocks Theon about his family; as it turns out, Theon's father lead a rebellion at some point, while outnumbered ten to one, and all of Theon's brothers were killed in the fighting. Theon himself seems to get along with the Starks as well as can be expected for a glorified hostage, but he's not pleased by Tyrion talking down to him.
Meanwhile, on the Wall
, Alliser Thorne introduces a new recruit, Samwell Tarly, and has him "spar" with the others. Samwell is fat, shy, timid, and definitely no swordsman; in fairness, he does about as well as 98% of the people watching the show would, and is very quickly overwhelmed. He's knocked over and yields, and Thorne has one of the boys keep hitting him to "encourage" him to rise. Eventually, Jon Snow steps in to defend Sam, and Thorne sets three other students to attacking him. When they're defeated, Jon storms off in disgust, and receives Sam's profuse thanks. Sam also confesses that's he's a coward, which makes some of the other boys nervous.
We cut to Vaes Dothrak
, the City of the Horse Lords, where Khal Drogo's horde has just arrived. Viserys grumbles about the mud and the lack of fancy architecture, and when Daenerys tells him not to speak of her people that way, he throws a tantrum and rides off. Daenerys asks Ser Jorah Mormont if Viserys could actually take the Seven Kingdoms if he did have an army of Dothraki at his command, and while Jorah is very diplomatic about it, and takes the time to mention a plot point that the Dothraki fear water their horses can't drink, his answer still boils down to "are you kidding me? Hell no." He also relates his own backstory: he sold slaves (poachers, specifically, to a Tyroshi), which is illegal in the Seven Kingdoms: "I had no money, and an expensive wife."
Viserys is in a bathtub, and Doreah is with him. This whole scene is what has been called a "Sexposition
" scene, in which characters deliver a series of Infodumps
whilst shagging each other. We're going to skip the shagging and stick to the exposition: the Targaryens were able to conquer the Seven Kingdoms because they were Dragon Riders
. Also, the Iron Throne is actually made
of swords, not just in the shape of them, all melted together by a dragon's breath. While the last dragons died many years ago, their skulls used to hang in the throne room at the Red Keep. Viserys names as many of them as he can remember before he gets Distracted By The Sex
, but the pertinent ones for us are Vhagar, Meraxes and Balerion, the three dragons whom the Targaryens first rode in on. One was cream-and-gold, one was green-and-bronze, and one was black-and-red. Sound familiar?Hint
Speaking of the Iron Throne, in King's Landing
Sansa visits it in the company of Septa Mordane, who tells her about the bright and happy future she has ahead of her as Joffrey's queen. Sansa, who is still broken up about Lady, isn't having it. Eddard Stark, for his part, is receiving an update from a man who is evidently in charge of the city's police; his name isn't mentioned onscreen, but it's Janos Slynt, and he is indeed Lord Commander of the City Watch, called the "gold cloaks" for their distinctive capes. Slynt is reporting on unrest caused by the large number of people who have come to King's Landing for the tournament. Obviously, Ned did not succeed in dissuading Robert from throwing it.
Once the meeting is over, Ned consults with Grand Maester Pycelle, who was Jon Arryn's personal physician during his passing. Pycelle mentions that Lord Arryn visited him the night before he died, inquiring after a particular book: "The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms
, with descriptions of many high lords and noble ladies and their children." The book is as much a Doorstopper
as the name would imply. When asked about Lord Arryn's last hours, Pycelle mentions that he kept saying, "The seed is strong," but ascribes this to meaningless deathbed babble. When asked about the possibility that Arryn was poisoned, Pycelle describes poison as the weapon of women, cravens... and eunuchs. "Did you know
Lord Varys is a eunuch?" "Everybody knows that," Ned retorts. As he returns to his quarters with the book, he comes across Arya standing on one toe, practicing lessons from Syrio. She's sad that Bran will have to make a new way in the world, since he can't be a Knight in Shining Armor
anymore, but as far as she's concerned her own course is set: she's going to be an Action Girl
Jon Snow is keeping watch at the top of the Wall
when Samwell Tarly shuffles up. The two share a fire, the watch and some back stories; Sam reveals that his father gave him the choice between taking the black and having a "hunting accident
." Sam worries that he'll be made to spar again on the morrow: "I'm not going to get better." "Well," Jon observes with a smile, "you can't get any worse." And, just like that, he has a new friend.
Back in King's Landing
, Ned and Littlefinger take a page from Aaron Sorkin
's book with a pedeconference
. (Who knew that
technique was Older Than Steam
?) Littlefinger offers the identity of Jon Arryn's former squire, "Ser Hugh of the Vale," who was knighted almost immediately after Arryn's death. Hmm, that's not suspicious at all. Littlefinger also points out all the spies in the area: there's one of Varys's "little birds," a gardener in the pay of the queen, and a septa who works for Littlefinger himself. All of them are keeping tabs on Ned Stark. Littlefinger tells him to send a deputy to question Ser Hugh, and then suggests a visit to an armorer on the Street of Steel, whom (according to Littlefinger's spies) Lord Arryn visited a number of times just prior to his death. Does any of this reek of Petyr Baelish just dropping a little too much information? Because to Ned Stark, Honor Before Reason
personified, it doesn't. He thanks Littlefinger and apologizes for not trusting him. But Littlefinger smiles that little smile of his he does so well, and says, "Distrusting me was the wisest thing you've done since you got off your horse."
Jory Cassel goes to interview Ser Hugh but finds him pompous and arrogant. The armorer (name: Tobho Mott) is more obliging, and introduces Ned to the object of Lord Arryn's interest: "the boy". His name is Gendry. He has fashioned himself a helm in the style of a bull and was clearly born to Drop the Hammer
, which serves him in his current profession as The Blacksmith
. He has black hair
and blue eyes. Does This Remind You of Anything?
? It reminds Ned of someone: when Jory asks him, he confirms that Gendry is Robert Baratheon's bastard son.
Up at the Wall
, Jon gathers the other new recruits and hands down the law: nobody is to lay a hand on Samwell Tarly in sparring, no matter how Ser Alliser yells at them. "Sam's no different
from the rest of us. There was no place for him in the world
, so he's come here." Pyp and Grenn fall in line, but Rast decides to keep bullying... At least until the other three ambush him while he sleeps and lets him look down the snarling gullet of a direwolf. Come morn, all plays out as Jon has ordained, and Sam survives training, even managing to "defeat" Grenn. Unfortunately, Ser Alliser manages to ruin everything by coming up with a good point
: "When you're out there, beyond the Wall, with the sun going down
, do you want a man at your back? Or a snivelling boy?"
In Vaes Dothrak
, Daenerys is minding her own business in her tent when Viserys happens, spitting anger and dragging poor Doreah by the hair. "You sent this whore
to give me commands!" Dany explains that something must have been lost in translation, because she was actually trying to invite Viserys over for a meal. She also had Dothraki-style riding garments made for him, a leather vest and a gold-medallion-encrusted belt, but he throws them back in her face (literally), Turns Red
, and begins to bully her physically, claiming she's "woken the dragon." Dany seizes the belt and smacks him across the face with it. It only takes the one cut over his cheekbone to make him back off, prompting her to spell out in no uncertain terms just what will happen if he dare do anything like that ever again, while he stares dumbfounded at her. Anticlimax Boss
Next there's a scene in Castle Black
, where Jon and Sam gossip about how members of the Night's Watch visit the brothel in nearby Mole's Town, despite their vows of celibacy. Sam admits his frustration with girls, and Jon admits he's just as untouched as Sam: while he had an opportunity to bed Ros, the red-haired whore so beloved of Theon, he didn't go through with it because he didn't want to visit on some other child his own surname of "Snow"; the name given to all bastards in the North. Anyway, they're interrupted by Ser Alliser, who gives some post-drama grumbling about the last time he went beyond the Wall. Evidently it was very traumatic. The Aesop
of the tale? Once they take their vows, "They will call you men of the Night's Watch, but you'd be fools to believe it. And come the winter, you will die like flies."
Back in Vaes Dothrak
, Dany paces in her tent and agonizes over offending her brother. Ser Jorah, though, is basically dismissive of her concerns. He asks if she really wants to see Viserys sit on the Iron Throne, and Daenerys admits the truth, possibly for the first time: "My brother will never take back the Seven Kingdoms. He couldn't lead an army if even if my husband gave him one. He'll never take us home."
Back in King's Landing
, "The Hand's" tourney is beginning. Sansa, Arya and Septa Mordane, in the stands, are visited by Petyr Baelish, who introduces himself as an old friend of their mother's. (He also explains his nickname, for those who were wondering: he hails from a peninsula of the Vale called "The Fingers" and was a bit of a runt when he was young.) King Robert, bored, yells for the jousts to begin, and with some helpful narration from from Littlefinger, we are introduced to the first two contestants: Ser Hugh of the Vale, and Ser Gregor Clegane, the Hound's older brother, called "The Mountain." The first tilt is inconclusive, but the second ends with Ser Hugh on the ground, two feet of broken-off lance through his throat. As his corpse is dragged off, his career as a tourney knight at an end, Littlefinger leans close and delivers another Info Dump
: how the Hound got his scars. Young Sandor was playing with one of his brother's toys when Gregor came in and happened to notice. He shoved his brother's face into the fire and held it there. And Now You Know
! Isn't that a sweet and heartwarming story?
Finally we return to the Inn at the Crossroads
, where Sansa's direwolf met such a sad end two episodes ago. Catelyn and Ser Rodrik have stopped for a meal and are being plagued by a singer, Marillion, who attempts without success to entertain them. They shut up and draw up their hoods themselves when two unexpected visitors arrive: Yoren, the Night's Watch recruiter, and Tyrion Lannister, the Imp. With judicious application of some gold, he manages to buy someone's room reservation for the night (the offerer is a sellsword named Bronn), whilst Catelyn and Ser Rodrik keep their mouths shut. Unfortunately, it's for naught: Marillion offers to sing for him, drawing him right to them. Catelyn admits that her surname was "Tully" the last time she stayed here, and then stands up and begins to greet by name and sigil the men she sees around her: one bearing the black bat of Lady Whent of Harrenhal, another the red stallion of Jonos Bracken of Stone Hedge, an entire squad emblazoned with the twin towers of those who serve Walder Frey at the Twins... all lords who have sworn fealty to Catelyn's father, Lord Hoster Tully of Riverrun. And having placed herself quite firmly atop the feudal heirarchy, she does what any good noble does in time of war and calls her banners
"This man came into my house as a guest and there conspired to murder my son, a boy of ten. In the name of King Robert and the good lords you serve, I call upon you to seize him and help me return him to Winterfell to await the king's justice."
And suddenly Catelyn Tully has fielded a small army, and all of them have swords pointed at Tyrion Lannister.
- Abusive Parents: Sam was forced to join the Night's Watch by his father, Lord Randyll, who told him he was unfit to inherit and if he didn't go voluntarily, he would tragically fall from his horse while hunting.
- A Man Is Always Eager: Subverted. Jon tells Sam the story of how he almost lost his virginity to a whore, but couldn't go through with it due to anxiety about fathering another bastard, just like him.
- Armour-Piercing Slap: Not a literal slap, but when Daenerys swings a medallion belt into Viserys' face it has much the same effect.
- As You Know:
- Tyrion supplies some backstory by telling Theon Greyjoy about his own family's failed rebellion. It's justified by Tyrion disliking the Greyjoys for burning the Lannister fleet, and wanting to rub their loss in Theon's face.
- Pycelle tells Ned that Varys is a eunuch, and Ned remarks that everyone knows that.
- Badass Boast: "I am a Khaleesi of the Dothraki. I am the wife of the great Khal, and I carry his son inside me. The next time you raise a hand to me, it will be the last time you have hands!"
- Blood from the Mouth: Exactly what happens when you get the tip of a jousting lance rammed into your neck and bleed out. Somehow, they always seem to leave that part out of the songs.
- Brick Joke: Tyrion tosses some spare change to Theon, saying "your next tumble with Ros is on me". Ros does get that coin two eps later.
- Tyrion taunts Theon by noting "Nothing prettier than watching sailors burn alive." Later, Tyrion suggests the Greek Fire Ship defense which saves King's Landing in "Blackwater"
- Censored Title: Sky's EPG not only censored the second word of this title, they censored the first.
- Covert Pervert: Sam reveals himself to be this when discussing Ros. "I like girls, the same as you! They might not like me so much..."
- Dirty Coward: Sam calls himself a coward, an unheard-of admission in this society; the other recruits respond like it's a disease that he might infect them with.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The Hound's scars are a result of his older brother Gregor shoving his face into a fire when Sandor was a child and Gregor was a teenager. Gregor did this because he caught his little brother playing with one of Gregor's old toys.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Viserys is talking about dragons with a special kind of fervor while Doreah sits in a bathtub with him.
They got bigger... and bigger... and bigger
- Doorstopper: The "ponderous tome"
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Aliser Thorne is never shown doing much more than hurling abuse at his students and encouraging them to beat the tar out of each other. He justifies it by saying that the boys need to be hard to survive on the Wall.
- Foreshadowing: Jory and Jaime reminisce about a battle where Jory almost lost an eye. In the next episode Jaime kills Jory by stabbing him in the eye.
- Sam mentions his father threatening him with a "tragic" fall from his horse unless he took the Black. After taking his vows, he later does suffer a fall from his horse that looks like it could easily break a man's neck. Surprisingly, Sam is relatively unhurt.
- While talking about dragons in the tub, Doreah playfully drips hot wax on Viserys, to which he playfully responds "ow". The fact that the wax burned him could be foreshadowing to the eventual reveal that he is not the dragon he thinks he is.
- Geeky Turnon: Doreah really, really seems to like hearing about Dragons.
- Here There Were Dragons: Dragons are extinct, and have been long since before Viserys was born, and it's implied that towards the end something had gone horribly wrong; the last of them were no larger than dogs and deformed to boot. Their skeletons are all that's leftnote .
- Implied Death Threat
Lord Eddard: I was also trained to kill my enemies, your Grace.
Queen Cersei: As was I.
- In the Blood: Gendry did not only inherit Robert's hair colour, but apparently also his affinity for hammers.
- Kick the Dog:
- King Robert holds his orgies when Jaime Lannister is on duty, knowing he'll be insulted by the disrespect to his sister.
- Tyrion get's a Kick the Dog moment just after his Pet the Dog moment. His insulting Theon really comes out of nowhere as Theon was being uncharacteristically nice to him.
- Jousting Lance: The Mountain murders Ser Hugh with this weapon.
- Lawful Stupid: Ned is clearly in way over his head in the complex politics of King's Landing, not caring at all that Cersei's spies are keeping an eye on his investigation into Jon Arryn's death. Littlefinger tries to teach him the importance of subtlety— even Jory, his right-hand man, thinks he's sticking his neck out— but it doesn't seem to take.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Sam's father threatened to do this to Sam. It's also strongly implied that this is what happened to Ser Hugh, at the end of the episode.
- Mood-Swinger: Jaime Lannister displays some of these traits; he goes from sulking over being forced to guard Robert's orgy, to cheerfully reminiscing about crushing Greyjoy's rebellion with Jory, to snapping at Jory for trying to deliver Ned's message to the king.
- Mythology Gag / Continuity Nod: Doreah throws a bone to the book fans, offhandedly mentioning a dragonglass blade, a Faceless Man and a pirate who may or may not be Euron Crow's-Eye or Saaladhor Saan.
- No Party Like a Donner Party: Once, north of the Wall, Ser Alliser Thorne and the rest of his group were forced into cannibalism.
- Noodle Incident: When Jaime and Jory are standing outside the door to Robert's orgy, the door opens to let some of the women out and Robert can clearly be heard saying "You smell like blackberry jam!" What the hell is going on in there?
- Oblivious Mockery: Marillion to Ser Rodrik. "The only songs the Northerners know is the howling of wolves!"
- Oh, Crap:
- The look on Viserys' face when he pushes Dany a little too far and realizes he's in over his head a little more than he'd anticipated.
- Catelyn when the Imp walks into the inn and recognises her. She quickly gives Tyrion his own Oh, Crap moment in return.
- Pet the Dog: Tyrion gets a moment when he gives a design for a specialty saddle for Bran, allowing him to ride even as a paraplegic.
Robb: Is this some kind of trick? Why do you want to help him?
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Aliser's speech to Jon and Sam subtly cast him as this, which led to his desire to become a Drill Sergeant Nasty - to prepare the recruits for the kind of hardships that lay ahead...which might include eating each other's corpses to survive.
- Third Eye: The creepy crow from Bran's dream has one on its forehead.
- Took a Level in Badass: Daenerys finally standing up to Viserys.
- The Tourney
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: A realistic example; Bran doesn't remember anything of the day of his "accident", which is normal for coma patients.
- Wax On, Wax Off: Syrio's training for Arya seems to be taking this route; she was seen balancing on one leg at the top of a flight of stairs on his say-so, and mentions that tomorrow she's going to be trying to catch cats. A subversion, in that the use of the lessons was actually explained to her, and Arya is delighted to be doing them.