Lady Arryn and Robin.
As dawn breaks on the second day of the tourney, Lord Eddard Stark, Hand of the King, comes down to visit the corpse of Ser Hugh of the Vale, slain the day before in a joust with Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane. Ned is not only concerned over the body receiving proper treatment, but is curious as to how this boy Hugh, knighted only a few months ago, could afford a new suit of armor. However, Ned is soon distracted from his detecting by the news that Robert plans to enter the lists. Ned is able to dissuade him only by pointing out that all the knights in the kingdom will lose to him in the hopes of currying favor. (He's also too fat for his jousting armor
.) Ned also gets another disquieting clue by noticing that Robert's squire Lancel is, of course, a Lannister, foisted on him by Cersei.
The next tilt shown is between Ser Gregor Clegane against Ser Loras Tyrell, called "The Knight of Flowers," by universal acclaim the prettiest
knight in the Seven Kingdoms. He wins by riding a mare in heat, causing Clegane to have trouble controlling his stallion. Whilst Littlefinger and Sansa debate whether this makes Loras a Combat Pragmatist
or a cheater, The Mountain deals with his recalcitrant horse by hacking off its head
and then going after his opponent. He is stopped only by the intervention of his brother The Hound, and then the booming commands of his king. For his decisive action, Sandor Clegane is proclaimed the hero of the day.
On the eastern road, Tyrion is unbound and discovers that Catelyn is taking him to the Eyrie, ruling seat of her sister, Jon Arryn's widow Lysa, despite having announced ("often, and loudly") that they were making for Winterfell. The ragged party, including a sellsword named Bronn and a singer named Marillion, are almost immediately waylaid by one of the Mountain Clans of the Vale, and Tyrion first shows his Badass Bookworm
side by beating one of them to death with a shield. Tyrion ends the battle in much better state than he began: no longer tied up, a bit of rapport with Bronn, and doubts planted in Catelyn's mind after he points out, correctly, that had he sent a mercenary after Bran, he would not have armed the man with his own blade.
At Winterfell, Bran plays Mister Exposition
as Maester Luwin quizzes him on the major houses of Westeros. Bran's resentment over his now-Missing Mom
comes out, but there's a spark of hope as well when Maester Luwin mentions that the Dothraki are excellent mounted archers. Theon, meanwhile, works out his
resentments over his family issues by mounting Ros from behind. He's a hostage of House Stark and hasn't seen his actual family for more than a decade. This will be important next season.
Ned consults with Varys. Varys, as per usual, bears bad news: the king is in great danger and Eddard Stark is the only one who can save him. Varys, like the queen, has bided his time to try and get the measure of their new Hand, and Varys (at least) has come to trust him. He reveals that Lord Arryn was killed by a poison called "the tears of Lys," and implies that the poisoner was the former squire, Ser Hugh. When asked why Lord Arryn was killed now and not any time in the seventeen years of his Handship, Varys only replies, "He started asking questions."
Meanwhile, elswhere in the Red Keep, Arya is chasing cats as per her instructions from Syrio. It flees into a storage basement crowded with dragon skulls—hey, remember Viserys's ruminations last episode? There's the answer!—and then ducks into the shadows when two strangers walk by holding a cryptic conversation. It's Varys - and Magister Illyrio, the man who sheltered the Targaryen siblings in Pentos! Conspiracy! They recap what has happened so far with between the wolf and the lion
, discuss whether Khal Drogo is ready to invade, and imply that Ned's sleuthing might put him in danger. Arya hurriedly returns to their house to warn her father — and is mistaken twice for a boy in the process
— but can only recount bits of the conversation, since she didn't understand half of it, lacks the context for the rest, and has no idea who the conspirators were. (In the book, she can only describe them via appearance since she's never met either of them, and Varys, a Master of Disguise
to begin with, is unrecognizeable anyway. Unobservant readers might never have figured out their identities at all.) And while she manages to blurt out that they suggested killing Ned, death threats aren't really news to him. In the end, she is led away by Jory whilst Yoren, who was present for Catelyn's little kidnapping enterprise at the end of the last episode, drops in and updates Ned on what he saw.
Varys, meanwhile, goes on to have a conversation with Littlefinger in front of the Iron Throne, in which Baelish reveals he knows about Illyrio's brief visit and Varys taunts him with his
knowledge of the weird fetishes Littlefinger's brothels accomodate, not to mention his lingering crush on Catelyn. Each has the other over a barrel, and both of them know it, but neither is able to act on their threats before real
news arrives from abroad. "The WHORE is pregnant
," Robert growls. The information is from Varys's spy, Ser Jorah Mormont, a slaver and a man of questionable repute, but Robert is too angry to be wise. He gives orders to have the Targaryens slain, and the small council falls in line. When Eddard sees that he will have no support, he resigns his Handship in protest, and departs the chamber with Robert's furious rants echoing behind him.
Catelyn's audience with her younger sister Lysa goes rather differently than anyone expected—except maybe Tyrion, who warned her that Lysa has changed since Catelyn last saw her. For one, Lysa is absolutely paranoid and is cowering in the Vale from perceived enemies. For two, her son is a spoiled and creepy brat—he's eight and she's still breastfeeding him. Lysa tells Catelyn that her letter was a warning, not an invitation... but now that she's got
Tyrion, she accuses him of slaying Lord Arryn as well. ("Oh!, did I kill him too?" Tyrion replies with enviable sarcasm
(He basically hits every note short of telling Lysa to go drink some Hershey's syrup so the kid can have chocolate milk
). "I've been a very
busy man.") Tyrion is locked up in the sky cells despite Catelyn's protests.
And now: Distraction By Sexy
! Loras and Renly have a Shirtless Scene
! Loras is shaving Renly's chest! They're both petulant, whining and complaining about how unfair life is! Loras thinks Renly would be a much better king! Renly gets faint at the sight of blood! ...Seven hells, Loras is going down on Renly! Unlike the books, we're not gonna need Word of Gay
guys any time soon! Boy, that's some noisy stuff going on down there! ...Sorry, where were we?
Whilst Ned packs furiously, Robert and Cersei fret over what to do if the Dothraki do invade, and the absolute PR disaster it would be. They then have a startlingly heart-felt conversation, toasting each other and 17 years' mutual resentment, and wonder whether they ever had a chance at making their marriage work. (The verdict: Lyanna says no
.) As for Ned, he's distracted when Littlefinger offers to take him to "the last person Jon Arryn spoke with before falling ill." It's a whore, barely more than a child, who has borne Robert Baratheon's bastard baby. "She looks like him, don't she, m'lord? She has his nose, his black hair." Jon Arryn, when he came to visit, merely enquired into the health of the child; Littlefinger doesn't know why. But as they leave, a new problem emerges: the Kingslayer rides up with a score of Lannister guardsmen and demands the return of the Imp. While Littlefinger runs to summon the gold cloaks, the Kingslayer has Ned's three guardsmen killed. Wil and Hewett go down on the instant; Jory gives a good account of himself, but he's no match for the Kingslayer. But Ned Stark is, and the wolf and the lion go at it in a furious Sword Fight
that ends only when one of the Lannister guardsmen, on his own initiative, stabs Ned through the thigh. The Lannister contingent rides away, leaving Eddard Stark in the street with his dead.
- Absentee Actor: Emilia Clarke, Jason Momoa, Iain Glen and Harry Lloyd (Daenerys, Khal Drogo, Ser Jorah Mormont and Viserys Targaryen) do not appear, though their characters remain the subject of some heated debate.
- Afraid of Blood: Renly is squeamish around anything that is the least bit gory.
- Ascended Extra: Ser Loras Tyrell's screen time in this episode is larger than his very minor role in the A Game of Thrones novel.
- Ascended Meme: In-universe example, the unofficial Lannister "words" (motto): "A Lannister always pays his debts." Tyrion says it and at a later scene, Bran mistakenly says it when asked for the House Lannister words (which are "Hear Me Roar".)
- Badass Boast: Tyrion delivers one on behalf of his brother.
Lysa: These men are knights of the Vale. Every one of them loved Jon Arryn. Every one of them would die for me.
Tyrion: If any harm comes to me, my brother Jaime will see that they do.
"My father is Hand of the King. I am not a boy, I am Arya Stark of Winterfell. And if you lay a hand on me my father will have both of your heads on spikes. Now, are you going to let me by, or do I have to smack you on the ear to help you with your hearing?
- Big Damn Heroes: Sandor saving Ser Loras from Ser Gregor; Tyrion saving Catelyn.
- Bling of War: Loras' gleaming and ornate armour.
- Blood Knight: Just look at the smile on Jaime's face when he realises Ned can hold his own.
- However, when his enemy starts getting the better of the exchange, Jaime's smile starts turning into a scowl of rage and fear.
- Bromance: Cersei snarks Robert about how his "marriage" to Ned Snark didn't work out.
- Call Back: Arya is chasing cats, which was mentioned in the previous episode to be her next lesson.
- Also Jory catching Jaime's blade through his eye, after his discussion with Jaime last episode about how he nearly missed getting stabbed through the eye during the Greyjoy rebellion.
- Cain and Abel: Sandor and Gregor. They even duel in this episode.
- Camp Gay: Loras is a borderline example of this trope.
- Cool Helmet: You can look at detailed images of the Knight of Flowers' helm here.
- Crazy Survivalist: Lysa is distrustful of anyone coming to her husband's land, including her sister Catelyn.
- Creepy Child: Lysa's son Robin. "Mummy... I want to see the bad man fly."
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
- Its clear that people consider the most dangerous thing about Tyrion is his acerbic wit... then they see him pick up a shield and promptly beat the hell out of a Tribesman, before bashing his skull in.
- Ser Loras, the Knight of the Flowers, looks like a foppish parody of a Knight in Shining Armor... until he wins a joust through some underhanded tactics. According to Renly, however, Loras is already known as a skilled swordsman.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon
Jory: If you threaten my lord again...
Jaime: Threaten? As in, I'm going to open your lord from balls to brains and see what Stark's are made of?
- Deadpan Snarker:
Tyrion: The Eyrie. They say it's impregnable.
Bronn: Give me ten good men and some climbing spikes, I'll impregnate the bitch.
Tyrion: ...I like you.
"You have to give it to the Lannisters. They may be the most pompous, ponderous cunts the gods have ever suffered to walk the world, but they do have an outrageous amount of money."
Such a shame, Littlefinger! It would've been so nice for you to have a friend. Baelish:
And tell me Lord Renly, when will you be having ''your'' friend? [in reference to Loras]
- Death Glare: Tyrion to the minstrel when he starts acting as The Narrator.
Minstrel: (singing) On that eve, the captive imp / downwards from his horse did limp / No more would he preen and primp / in garb of red and gold.
- It's a quite funny nod to the books, which don't mention the specific lyrics, but do say that after a while, Tyrion was starting to getting pretty sick of listening to him trying to come up with more words that rhymed with "imp."
- Distracted by the Sexy: Jory doesn't notice his boss is leaving Littlefinger's brothel because he's too busy staring at a topless whore who's showing off her breasts for him.
- In a non-human example, Ser Gregor's tempermental stallion was very distracted by Ser Loras' mare, who was in heat.
- Establishing Character Moment: If you have any doubts about what kind of person The Mountain is, go watch the bit with the horse again. Sore loser, much?
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: When Jaime finds out about Tyrion's capture, he's furious and immediately starts making plans to get him back.
- Exact Eavesdropping: Subverted; Arya does overhear a vitally important conversation, but since she's only eleven and the speakers are both cryptic and talking about international politics, she barely understands most of it. When she tries to relay it to her father she can't remember most of what was said and the message ends up garbled beyond coherency.
- Eye Scream: Jory's death.
- Loras and Renly talk about a boy whose eye was dangling out of its socket after he fought in the melee.
- Fan Disservice: Seeing Lysa's breast exposed should be Fanservice, but it's while her son is being breast-fed. And her son's eight.
- Not to mention that Lysa herself isn't exactly attractive.
- Flynning: averted. The Jaime/Ned duel is in deadly earnest, and Coster-Woldau / Bean / their stuntmen must have come away with at least a few bruises, when one of them missed a beat and the other did what you're supposed to do in a Sword Fight: hit the other guy with your sword.
- Ditto for the earlier fight between The Mountain and The Hound, although The Hound seemed more interested in protecting the unarmed Ser Loras than striking his brother.
Knight: [Tyrion] doesn't look like a prisoner.
Catelyn: My sister will decide what he looks like.
- Robert mentions that the Seven Kingdoms might have a larger population and armies than Dany's Dothraki horde, but they're constantly at each other's throats. Cersei mentions that her marriage to him is what's holding everything together. We see exactly what that means in later episodes.
- Loras' suggestion to Renly that he should make a claim for the throne becomes a major plot point in Season 2.
- Loras cuts Renly with a blade and tells him, "It's just blood, [...] sometimes a little spills." Renly dies in Season 2 after he is stabbed through the heart by a magical shadow "sword," his blood oozing out in copious amounts.
- Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Bronn tells Tyrion there's nothing like a woman after your first kill. Tyrion eyes Catelyn and mutters, "I'm willing if she is."
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Ser Gregor Clegane's response to losing at a jousting match involves chopping off the head of his own horse and attacking the winner from behind before the King and hundreds of witnesses.
- Honor Before Reason: Ned refuses to join Robert and the Small Council's decision to kill Daenerys and her unborn child since doing so would make them no different than the Mad King they toppled 17 years ago.
- Incompatible Orientation: Sansa is charmed by Ser Loras Tyrell after he gives her a red rose, and is completely unaware that the gallant Knight of Flowers is staring at his boyfriend Renly.
- Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Ned does this with his insignia pin when he resigns as hand, after he disagrees with Robert about killing Daenerys. In episode six Robert gives it back to him as he still needs him as Hand.
- I Owe You My Life: Loras says this word-for-word to the Hound after Sandor saves him from the Mountain, and Loras decides to repay the debt by forfeiting the final round of the joust and giving the championship title (plus the substantial award money) to the Hound.
- Lady Macbeth: Despite being a male character, Loras essentially fulfills this trope by planting the idea into Renly's head that he should be king.
- The Ladys Favor: It initially appears to be a gender inversion of this trope when Ser Loras gives Sansa a rose before his joust, but it's quickly subverted when it turns out to be an empty gesture. Lord Renly is his true sweetheart, but Loras obviously cannot offer his favour to another man in a homophobic society, so he simply hands the rose to the young lady who happens to be seated the closest to Renly in the stands.
- The Lost Lenore: Lyanna Stark
Robert: Someone took her away from me, and Seven Kingdoms couldn't fill the hole she left behind.
- Machiavelli Was Wrong: Invoked by Loras as the reason why Renly would be a superior monarch to either of his brothers or Joffrey; Renly would be loved and respected instead of hated and feared.
- Meaningful Look: Loras and Renly share a lingering one at the Tourney of the Hand, and it's our first clue that these two characters are more than friends.
- The Mentally Disturbed:
- Let's just say Lysa has changed much since Catelyn last saw her.
- And her son seems to be a little unhinged himself - he's eight years old, is still being breast-fed, and shows an unhealthy level of enthusiasm for "making the bad man fly".
- The Mole: Ser Jorah Mormont is seemingly a spy for Varys.
- Morton's Fork: Robert really enjoys taunting his squire. When Ned tells Robert that he's too fat for his armor, Lancel nervously joins in the laughter. Robert angrily asks him if he thinks jokes about the king are funny. When Lancel says no, Robert accuses him of insulting Ned by not liking the joke.
- My Beloved Smother: Lysa. Breastfeeding your kid when he's 8?! Squickalicious.
- Necessarily Evil: Why most of the Small Council supports Robert's decision to kill Daenerys. Even Grand Maester Pycelle, the wisest of them, thinks it might be necessary to save thousand of lives.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The preview shows Tyrion talking about how his family will be looking for him, then the group getting attacked, and finally Tyrion smugly asking to be untied. In fact, the attack is a random group of barbarians, and that last clip happens before it, with Tyrion reasoning that he can't run away without dying in the wilderness.
- Non-Action Guy: Renly's brothers look down on him because he's not a warrior.
- Oh Crap: Catelyn's face when she realises that Lysa's off her nut. Varys when Littlefinger reveals he knows about his meeting with Illyrio. Ned when the Kingslayer rides up with his men, whose numbers greatly outmatch his own.
- Loras has a moment of terror when he realizes that the Mountain is about to attack him with a sword. Loras doesn't have a weapon at this point, only a shield to protect himself.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Tyrion's voice suddenly gets a couple of decibels louder when he mentions to Catelyn that his father will certainly HAVE MEN OUT LOOKING FOR HIM and will be OFFERING A VERY, VERY LARGE REWARD. You get the feeling he's talking more to the sellswords in the background than to her.
- The Otter: One of the variations of this queer-themed trope is the thin, hairy guy, who is referred to as an "otter." Renly's nickname on this entertainment website aimed at gay men is the Otter King. The character has a hairy chest, but the audience never sees it because Loras finds him more attractive with a smooth torso.
- Pants Hit Floor: A rare male version of this trope occurs when Loras removes Renly's pants (and any undergarment the latter may be wearing) in one swift movement and letting them drop to the floor.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Varys and Littlefinger have a bare-knuckled throwdown without even raising their voices.
- Pet the Dog: Three moments where previously established Jerk Ass characters show that they're not quite as assholish as might have been expected: Sandor Clegane saves Ser Loras from his brother, Tyrion decides to save Catelyn's life instead of fleeing, and the whole conversation between Cersei and Robert late in the episode—where they're almost affectionate to one another.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Ned is hobbled by a spear through his leg rather than his leg being crushed when his horse falls on it, which would have been far more difficult to film.
- Pretty Boy: Ser Loras Tyrell.
- Reality Ensues: A Lannister soldier stabs Ned on the leg with a spear during his one on one duel with Jamie.
- Really Gets Around: Robert has fathered an awful lot of bastards. One of them's an infant, and the mother (a prostitute) seems little more than a teenager. From the books
- Relationship Reveal: The scene where Loras is shaving Renly's chest.
- Royally Screwed Up: Lysa and Robin.
- Secret Relationship: Renly and Loras try to keep their romance hidden due to the homophobia which exists in Westerosi society, but Littlefinger clearly knows that they're a couple.
- A Shared Suffering: Robert and Cersei show a rare moment of bonding.
Robert: Sometimes I don't know what holds [the Seven Kingdoms] together.
Cersei: Our marriage. (both crack up laughing)
Robert: So, here we sit, 17 years later, holding it all together. Don't you get tired?
Cersei: Every day.
Robert: How long can hate hold a thing together?
Cersei: Well, 17 years is quite a long time.
- Shield Bash: Tyrion takes down a man with a shield.
- Snipe Hunt: Robert sends Lancel Lannister off to find a "breastplate stretcher." Sadly we don't get to see his efforts.
- Something Else Also Rises: Lord Renly makes a snide comment about the table rising every time Robert rants about killing the Targaryens.
- Spoiled Brat: Renly reveals that his brothers consider him to be a spoiled child. Loras' facial expression and his silence strongly indicate that he agrees. Renly then points out that Loras (whose family is richer than his) is overly-pampered as well.
Renly: And how much did your father pay for that armour of yours?
- Straight Gay: Lord Renly Baratheon has a more masculine appearance and demeanour than his lover.
- Swipe Your Blade Off: Averted — Bronn sheathes his sword without cleaning off the blood, a noticeable error in a series that prides itself on realism.
- Tempting Fate: One minute after Tyrion mentions hill tribesmen will be attacking them soon. Guess who turns up momentarily?
- This Is the Part Where...: Averted; Robert think Cersei has come to ask that her brother become Hand. Cersei, who already knows Jaime doesn't want the job, replies that he's not serious enough for the position.
- The Tourney: Is the setting for an important scene in this episode.
- The Twink: Loras fits the physical description to a tee, but the trope is somewhat subverted with regards to his romance with Renly (who is an "otter" in gay slang) because Loras is the emotionally dominant partner in their relationship despite being a few years younger.
- What The Hell Robert?: Ned calls out Robert on ordering a hit on a pregnant Daenerys.
- What You Are in the Dark: When the party is attacked, Tyrion briefly considers fleeing, but then comes to Cat's rescue, despite the fact that she and the party had taken him prisoner. Made somewhat pragmatic by the fact that Tyrion reasoned he wouldn't have survived had he ran away.
- Wham Line: A subtle one, gone so fast it can easily be missed. "Based on whose information?" "Ser Jorah Mormont."
- White Mare: As befitting a Knight in Shining Armor, Loras rides a white horse.