We begin in King's Landing
, where Eddard Stark stirs fitfully in his bed, his leg broken from the events of the previous episode. He awakens to find King Robert Baratheon and Queen Cersei Lannister looming above him, each angry for their own reasons—Cersei for her brother's kidnapping, Robert for the disruption of the peace. It isn't long before the two of them are bickering... and not long after that before Robert slaps her across the face. Jaime has fled the city, of course, and Robert denies Ned the chance to bring him to justice, declaring the feud over. He then gives Ned the silver-hand badge, officially refusing to accept Ned's resignation. It will be Ned's job to handle things whilst Robert hunts in the kingswood.Across the narrow sea
, Daenerys continues her obsession with her dragon eggs. Today she tries putting one on the coals of the fire. Nothing happens, even when she picks it up—including the "Oww, my burnt hands!" reaction you'd expect when someone picks up a red-hot glowing stone. Dany's hands are unblemished. Huh
Bran is having another "three-eyed crow" dream, venturing deeper into the crypts beneath Winterfell
, when Hodor bursts in with the saddle Tyrion designed for him. Next thing we know, Bran is riding around on his horse Dancer, hooting and hollering, whilst Robb and Theon discuss how House Stark should react to Ned's injury. Their strategy session is interrupted by the realization that they've misplaced Bran. (Good going, guys.) Bran is elsewhere in the forest, waylaid now by four wildlings who have made their way south of the Wall, at least one of whom is a deserter from the Night's Watch. Robb and Theon arrive, precipitating a short, tense confrontation, resulting in three dead men dead and the lone woman, Osha, taken prisoner.
Two more check-ins: first in the Eyrie
, where Tyrion is in the sky cells. He tries to bribe the gaoler Mord with gold, but his purse was confiscated by Ser Rodrik Cassel, and the astonishingly stupid Mord demands money upfront, and refuses to listen Tyrion's promises of payment later, ultimately rebuffing the bribery attempt with the blunt end of his club. ("Sometimes possession is an abstract concept... Ow!") Meanwhile, in King's Landing
, Arya is pre-occupied by her father's injury, but Forel pushes her anyway, pointing out that fighting rarely happens when you're clear-headed, and a distracted water dancer is a dead one. "There is only one god, and his name is Death. There is only one thing we say to death: Not today
At Vaes Dothrak
, Daenerys is eating a horse's heart. It's part of a Dothraki ritual which gets a lot more explanation in the books
, but suffice it to say that her child is to be "The Stallion that Mounts the World," some form of ultra-awesome Dothraki superman. The TV show also adds Viserys to the mix. He sees how Dany has become integrated into the Dothraki culture and, in a jealous rage, tries to steal her dragon eggs. He's stopped by Jorah Mormont, who all but declares outright that his allegiance is to the princess now. We also get the first intimations of Ser Jorah's Bodyguard Crush
on Daenerys, which is likely to prove important later.
In the Eyrie
, Tyrion manages, after much slow and careful talking, to convince Mord that helping him will be beneficial, as even an imbecile like Mord turns out to know the good old saying "A Lannister always his debts." And so Tyrion tells Mord that he will be richly rewarded if he can relay a message to Lysa Arryn; that he is ready to confess. And it works, as Tyrion is let out of his cell and brought before the court, but much to the fair lady's annoyance, he instead launches into a litany of sins which have to be seen to be believed, while he persists in proclaiming his innocence in the matter of Lord Arryn's death and Bran's botched slaying, and demands a Trial by Combat
. Ser Vardis Egen, Lysa's Dragon
, champions her cause, while Tyrion manages to get Bronn to stand for him.
Back in King's Landing
, Ned sits the Iron Throne for the first time in his life, passing judgment on the petitions of riverlanders who have come to King's Landing for justice. They were attacked in the night by a band of raving rapers, led by a man who chopped the head off a horse in anger. "That sounds like someone we know," Littlefinger whispers to Ned. "The Mountain
." They also left behind a bunch of fish, which Littlefinger observes is the sigil of House Tully. "Can you think of any
reason the Lannisters might possibly
have for being angry with your wife?" Ned commissions a force to bring Clegane to justice, led by Lord Beric Dondarrion, and then passes a royal decree stripping Clegane of his lands, titles and knighthood. He also summons The Mountain's master, Tywin Lannister, to court; he must either declare his loyalty or face the same fate. It's on now, kids
It is time for the trial by combat in the the Eyrie
, as the light-footed Bronn
fights Ser Vardis Egen
, using his heavy gear and the environment against him, and handily dodges his attacks while sticking to striking the knight with small, swift attacks. It's not really a contest, especially since Ser Vardis has Lysa on his side. "Enough, Ser Vardis, finish him," Lysa shouts, after he's already been injured and Bronn doesn't have a scratch on him
... and the brave fool obeys. Bronn instead manages dodge the worn-out knight, slicing his leg, before giving him the Coup de Grāce
and throwing him out of the Moon Door. Much to the dismay of the Tully sisters, Tyrion is returned both his freedom and his purse. One takes him out the door, whilst the other goes to Mord. "A Lannister always pays his debts."
More check-ins: In King's Landing
, Joffrey visits Sansa, interrupting a pretty serious snark-fest between her and Septa Mordane. He gives her a necklace (and a kiss!) and promises never to mistreat her again. Meanwhile, near Winterfell
, Theon finds his favorite whore Ros on the kingsroad, heading to the greener (fleshier?) pastures of the capitol. She gives him one more flash of her cooter. That's the only appropriate word for the circumstances.
We return to King's Landing
, where Ned assembles his daughters and announces that he's sending them home for their own safety. Sansa, her head full of dreams, protests that she has to marry Joffrey: "He'll be the greatest king there ever was, a golden lion, and I'll give him sons with beautiful blond hair!" "The lion's not his sigil, idiot," says Arya with a trace of smugness. "He's a stag, like his father." "He's not, he's nothing like that old drunk king," Sansa retorts. Both of them are completely oblivious to the Eureka Moment
kindling behind their father's eyes. Ned sends them from the room and attends his giant book, The Lineage and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms
, where he sees that black hair is a Baratheon family trait
. Every Baratheon has it, as does Gendry and the whore's infant from last episode. Every Baratheon has it... except Joffrey
It's Vaes Dothrak
, and there's a feast. Things are going pretty well for Drogo and Dany until Viserys stumbles in, either drunk or more insane than usual (he was drunk in the book, but the TV show doesn't say anything either way) and calls for his sister. The Dothraki makes fun of him, and Khal Drogo tells Jorah to offer the prince a seat... In the back of the tent. "That is no place for a King!" the self-proclaimed Dragon spits at the humiliation. "You are no King," answers Drogo in common tongue with a scoff. Angered, the Beggar King draws his sword, and holds first Jorah, then Dany at swordpoint, threatening to spill blood in the sacred city. He demands the golden crown
he was promised in exchange for his sister keeping her skin intact. Drogo agrees. Viserys, happy to have his demands met, lets his guard down, only to get grabbed by the Khal's bodyguards.
While Viserys shouts furious demands for the guards to unhand him, Drogo takes off his medallion-encrusted belt and tosses it into a pot over the cookfire, where the gold begins to melt
, and a horrible realization dawns on Viserys. He starts desperately begging his begging his sister to stop the Dothraki, telling her "I'm the Dragon!", but she just looks coldly at him as Drogo approaches him with the pot of molten metal. The Khal lifts the up pot and once again addresses the Beggar King in common tongue with the words: "A crown for a king." To quote the book: "Viserys began to scream the high, wordless scream of the coward facing death." He gets his golden crown... but he doesn't seem to enjoy it very much. He hits the ground with clanking finality and stays there.
"He was no dragon," Daenerys decides. "Fire cannot kill a dragon."
Tropes in this episode include:
- Absentee Actor: Finn Jones is credited in this episode, but Loras doesn't appear.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Viserys' death could almost come off as this, given how sympathetically he's played in that scene.
- Any One Can Die: Viserys Targaryen, the first member of the main cast to die.
- As You Know: Littlefinger lets Ned know exactly what's going on as he hears the report of Gregor Clegane's atrocities, including the sigil of his own wife's family. Justified as subtly insulting Ned with how little he's prepared for this.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: It turns out horribly for the "king" who longed to have an impressive crown.
- Berserk Button: Viserys managed to push Khal Drogo's by threatening Daenerys and her unborn son.
- Blatant Lies:
- Tyrion telling Mord, "You're a smart man!" You can see him having to force that one out.
- One can't help cringing when Joffrey says he'll never be cruel to Sansa again.
- When Robert (who is ignorant of his youngest brother's homosexuality) asks him, "Have you ever fucked a Riverlands girl?", Renly's vague response is "Once, I think." Renly's annoyed facial expression indicates that he often uses this line whenever someone inquires about his sexual conquests.
- Captain Obvious: Littlefinger. He feels the need to point out to Ned that fish are the sigal of House Tully. The house of Ned's wife of 17 years. The house that are lords paramount of the Riverlands. A house that ranks in the top ten prominent houses of Westeros. A house who's sigal is being held by a bannerman in front of Ned. See As You Know.
- Combat Pragmatist: Bronn fights Vardis Egan by being evasive and tiring out the heavily-armored knight. Lysa criticizes Bronn for not fighting with honor, which he readily admits.
No, I didn't. *Beat as he looks through the hole he'd pushed the corpse into* He did
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Viserys is killed by melted gold that is poured on his head.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Tyrion mentions that he once "milked his eel" into some stew, which his sister later ate (or at least, he hopes she did.)
- Disproportionate Retribution: In response to Catelyn's vigilante arrest of his son, Tywin Lannister sends out an army to kill, rape, and burn their way across villages under Catelyn's father protection, leaving behind dead fish as a symbol of which family is to blame.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: King Robert boasts of "doing the eight" — screwing a girl from each of the Seven Kingdoms, plus the Riverlands. The next scene involves some peasants from the Riverlands telling of how their farms were burnt and women raped by marauding knights, which makes one wonder how many of the girls Robert had were willing.
- Domestic Abuse: Robert slaps Cersei hard enough to draw blood after she insults his masculinity. And note that he doesn't know anything about her adultery or other possible crimes against him. He regrets his actions moments later.
- Double Meaning Title: "A Golden Crown" can be taken as a reference to two different plot lines in this episode. In the literal sense, the name refers to Viserys' final fate, which is referred to by Kahl Drogo by name. In a more metaphorical sense, the "crown" could be seen as a reference to hair, referring to Joffrey's golden hair being the catalyst of Ned's revelation of his true parentage.
- Eureka Moment: Eddard upon realizing that Joffrey can't be a Baratheon.
- Exact Words:
- Tyrion said he wanted to confess to his crimes; he never said he wanted to confess to the crimes he was accused of.
- Viserys really should have specified what he wanted when he asked for his crown.
- False Reassurance: Drogo's promise to Viserys.
- Funny Background Event: Ser Barristan's silent reaction during Lord Renly's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to King Robert shows that he completely agrees with the younger brother.
- Going Native:
- Daenerys seems to have completely accepted Dothraki culture, to the point that she willingly takes part in a ceremony that involves eating a whole horse's heart.
- Sansa now sports a southern hairstyle and is acting more haughty as she prepares to be a princess.
- Glory Days: Deconstructed by Renly.
- Going Commando: Roz just has to lift her skirt to give Theon his money's worth.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Justified with Mord who's so thick a lord from the richest house in the Seven Kingdoms can't even bribe his way out.
"Sometimes possession is an abstract concept—" *thunk*
- Holy Ground: Daenerys and her brother Viserys travel with the Dothraki to Vaes Dothrak, their holy city in which it is forbidden to draw swords or shed blood. Having no respect for the Dothraki ways, Viserys exploits the fact that they will not violate their own rules, drawing a sword and making demands. He really should have paid attention to the exact phrasing of those rules, they don't actually say "no killing".
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: Tyrion has a truly impressive array of ways to say, "masturbation."
- Kangaroo Court: Lysa says that her son will be judge at Tyrion's trial. Robin claps his hands gleefully as the Moon Door is cranked open to show what awaits if he's found guilty.
"MAKE THE BAD MAN FLY!"
- Large Ham: In-universe, during Tyrion's "confession".
- Mama Bear: Dany turns cold the moment her brother threatens her unborn child.
- Masquerade Ball: Robert mentions that Renly likes to organize these.
- Mythology Gag: At one point, Viserys tries to abscond with Danaerys' dragon eggs, but Ser Jorah Mormont stands in his way, despite everything Viserys says to get him to let him leave.
Viserys: "Does loyalty mean nothing to you?"
Jorah: "It means everything to me."
Viserys: "And yet here you stand."
"And yet here I stand."
The words of House Mormont? "Here I Stand"
- Noodle Incident/Noodle Implements: Tyrion confesses, "I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel..." but he's cut off before he can finish. Robin is particularly interested in hearing what happened next.
- Papa Wolf: You don't threaten Khal Drogo's wife and son. Unless, of course, you wanna have a nice crown.
- Percussive Therapy: Eddard is incredulous that Robert is going off to hunt in the middle of a crisis. The king snaps, "Killing clears my head!" Part of his frustration with Cersei is that he can't work off his anger by beating her, as it's "not kingly".
- A Real Man Is a Killer: "In the Iron Islands, you're not a man until you've killed your first enemy."
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Renly delivers a fantastic one to Robert.
Robert: Those were the days!
Renly: Which days, exactly? The ones when half of Westeros fought the other half and millions died? Or before that, when the Mad King slaughtered women and babies because the voices in his head told him they deserved it? Or way before that, when dragons burnt whole cities to the ground?
Robert: Easy boy, you might be my brother, but you're speaking to the king.
Renly: I suppose it was all rather heroic, if you were drunk enough and had some poor Riverlands whore to shove your prick inside and "make the eight."
- Refuge in Audacity: Tyrion's "confession". His one and only chance of surviving was to get Bronn to see him as a better bet for getting wealth and advancement than Lady Catelyn. No doubt he was ticked off and wanted a chance to annoy his captors, but his only real goal in that scene was to let Bronn see that he wasn't sweating and convince him that he was fully in control of the situation. Considering that he was playing with literally no cards in his hand, Refuge in Audacity was really his only move.
- Schiff One-Liner (also Foreshadowing):
Daenerys: He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon.
- Talking the Monster to Death: Tyrion's long, funny monologue, an attempt to get sympathy from the court of the Vale and to get Bronn on his side.
- Talking Your Way Out
- That Came Out Wrong: Sansa describing her desire to marry Joffrey over a hypothetical lord put forward by her father—"I don't want someone brave and gentle and strong, I want him!" Arya snickers in response and Ned has to hide his smile.
- Too Dumb to Fool: Too dumb to bribe in this case, but that makes Mord quite handy to have as Tyrion's guard.
- Tranquil Fury: When Viserys first enters, Khal Drogo basically sees him as an amusing nuisance. Then, when Viserys pulls out his sword and starts threatening his wife and unborn child, his demeanor changes, but he never raises his voice once.
- Trial by Combat: Tyrion invokes this to save himself from the Eyrie.
- Silence, You Fool!
Lady Lysa: SILENCE!
Robin: What happened next?
- Unusual Euphemism: Tyrion provides quite a few ways to describe A Date with Rosie Palms. "I made the bald man cry!"
- Wham Episode: The first (past the pilot episode) to really emphasize the mood and direction of the story. In most idealized fantasy worlds, Viserys would come to realize that "Smug Snake" and "Impoverished Patrician" don't go well together, and through Character Development would reform into The Wise Prince. In Westeros, we have a Subverted Trope and he's offed unceremoniously for being too much of an asshat.