Recap of Season 1, Episode 1: “Winter is Coming”


The show begins on a cold open, literally and figuratively. A gate slides open and three men on horseback are riding through a tunnel. We don’t know who these characters are or what they are doing. One of the men comes across the aftermath of a slaughter – dead bodies, mutilated, bloody, strewn in almost a ritualistic fashion. He turns to run and comes face to face with a young girl’s corpse nailed to a tree.

white walker 101

The man, a ranger from the Night’s Watch we later learn, runs back to tell the other two. He has seen enough and wants to head back to the castle where they rode from, but the leader of the group says they should investigate further to find out what killed them. Big mistake. That man is attacked and killed by something large coming up from behind him. We see a scary sight – the young girl from the tree is now moving. She’s ghostly white with shocking blue eyes and blood around her mouth. Children of the Corn meets The Walking Dead. Just then the second man is beheaded. And fade to black.


The opening credits give you a map of the locations in each episode. No fast forwarding through this part. You are introduced to King’s Landing, Winterfell, the Wall, and Pentos. You also see the Game of Thrones insignia, with the lion, dragon, direwolf, and stag profiles. These are the sigils (symbols) of four of the great families of Westeros – the Lannisters, the Targaryens, the Starks, and the Baratheons. Learn those names.


The next scene opens on men from Winterfell coming across the last of the three men who had the close encounter with the carnage (and scary blue-eyed girl) north of the Wall. In the previous scene, that man had been told if he were to escape and head south, he would be captured and punished for treason. Weighing his options, he apparently chose a nice, warm beheading over the craziness in the snow.


Switch to Winterfell where a young boy is practicing his archery. That is Bran Stark, one of the five children of Eddard (Ned) and Catelyn Stark (née Tully). He is there, we later learn, with his brothers Jon, Robb and Rickon.

sansa sewing

In a different part of Winterfell we see girls working on their sewing, two of whom are the Stark sisters Sansa and Arya.

News comes to Winterfell that guardsmen have captured a deserter from the Night’s Watch. Ned heads off to deal with the deserter. We hear the man mumbling something about “white walkers.” He admits to being a deserter and knows he should have gone back to the Wall to warn others, but he saw what he saw. Ned, as Warden of the North, sentences the deserter to death and then executes him.

Eddard (Ned) Stark

Bran heard the deserter mention the white walkers and asks his father about that, but Ned tells him not to worry. The white walkers have been dead for thousands of years. He also has some fatherly advice about the one issuing the sentence being the one to execute it. This was young Bran’s first time at a beheading, an apparent rite-of-passage in these parts.


On the way back to Winterfell, they come across a stag that had been killed by some kind of animal. They explore the area further and find a dead direwolf that had apparently fought the stag. They also find five newborn wolf pups. The children convince Ned to let them keep the pups as there is one for each of the five Stark children and the direwolf is the sigil (symbol) of the Stark house. One of the boys notes the strangeness of a direwolf being south of the Wall. Ned lets each child take one of the pups. As they leave, they find a sixth pup, all white, and they say that one belongs to Jon, the dark-haired boy who we later learn is Ned’s son.


Next we move to King’s Landing, capital of the Seven Kingdoms. Bells are ringing and a man is lying in state. We meet a brother and sister who talk of their childhood together raised in the House Lannister. This is Jaime and Cersei Lannister and they have a special relationship as twins. The woman is worried, “what if Jon Arryn told someone?” Her brother is less concerned, “Who would he tell?” … “If he told the king [her husband], both of our heads would be skewered on the city gates by now.” “Whatever Jon Arryn knew died with him,” Jaime assures her.

catelyn ned woods 101

Back at Winterfell, we get a little taste of the relationship between Ned and Catelyn – they’re from different areas with different religions, yet these crazy kids have seemed to overcome these problems to be happily married (despite his having bedded another woman and fathered a child during the marriage, the dark-haired Jon Snow — snow being the Westerosi way of denoting a bastard child of the north).

Catelyn brings news to Ned that his old friend Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died. Arryn’s wife (Catelyn’s sister) and son are fine, by the way. The king is heading to Winterfell with the queen and an entourage in tow.

Bran climbs the wall of the castle and sees the king arriving. His mother catches him and scolds him, pulling from him a promise that he never climb again. Meaning that he will climb again and it will go very badly.


The king and his legions arrive and you can tell that Ned and King Robert have a long, fond history together. You can also tell that the queen is not at all as warm and fuzzy as her husband. Or as a piranha. Her twin, when he takes off his helm and shakes loose his sandy brown hair, looks like he should be kissing a dozing princess or returning another’s glass slipper. Twice, Arya Stark asks “where is the Imp?” and Cersei also asks the whereabouts of her younger brother who we meet…

ned robert crypt 101

But first, King Robert and Ned are down in the crypt visiting dead family members and talking old times. Robert asks Ned to take over for Jon Arryn and be the new Hand of the King to run the realm while he he does what he apparently does best – “eat, drink and whore my way to an early grave.” How can Ned say no to an offer like that? Plus, Robert pulls out his secret weapon, reminding Ned how they were almost brothers – Robert had been in love with Ned’s sister, Lyanna, but she died before they could wed and then Robert had to settle for marrying the Ice Princess Cersei.


…At last, Arya’s question is answer. The “Imp” is being visited by a lovely lady of the evening, though it’s the middle of the day, who teases him about his identity while giving him quite the welcome to the north. As she mounts Lord Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother to the queen, they are interrupted by his brother Jaime. Unlike his humorless sister, Jaime seems much more relaxed. He kids around with his brother and even brings in a handful of additional whores to entertain Tyrion before the banquet. Tyrion, we are told, has a reputation for debauchery and drunkenness. He also has a quick tongue.

Back to the crypt, Robert is pining over the dead Lyanna and blames it all on the House Targaryen, whose king his rebellion had dethroned. Despite sitting on the throne and defeating them, Robert still wants revenge. Ned reminds him that the Targaryens are long gone, Robert says not all of them, so we are whisked away to see two not-gone Targaryen children, Viserys and Daeneyrs, across the narrow sea, on Pentos.


They are white haired and golden eyed. The brother is unctuous and perverted, derobing his sister to inspect her; the sister is a fair-haired goddess. He makes odd threats about not waking the dragon and talks about how things will be when he takes the throne. Daenerys steps into a scalding bath despite her hand maiden’s warning. She prepares for her wedding day. We see her intended, Khal Drogo, king of a sect of the Dothraki, the khalasar. He is dark and intense, with long braids signifying that he has never lost a battle. When they wed, she will be his queen and his army will belong to Viserys.

Drogo quickly inspects his future bride then rides off, the courting and engagement period more truncated than on The Bachelor. She is acceptable. Viserys’ plan is once his sister is wed, he will take Drogo’s army across the narrow sea and reclaim King’s Landing on behalf of the House Targaryen. But Daenerys doesn’t want to do her part (marrying a total stranger who speaks another language and looks like he could break her in two on their wedding night). Like Dorothy, she just wants to go home. Her brother says, not without an army. And, in a touching brother-sister moment, he tells her that he would let Drogo’s entire tribe, all 40,000 men and their horses too, rape her if that’s what it took to get his army. Such a sentimental fool!


Elsewhere, Ned’s daughter Sansa is hoping that she can wed a future king. She has her eyes on King Robert’s son Joffrey. As appalled as Daenerys is at her matrimonial obligations, that’s how much Sansa hopes her father will agree to her marrying the future king. Such a, if you pardon the pun, stark contrast between the two.

jon snow 101

The dinner celebration for the king has music, wine and merriment, but outside Ned’s bastard son Jon is taking his adolescent angst (I’m not good enough to be at the feast) out on a pretend foe as his uncle Benjen Stark arrives from the north. Benjen lets his nephew know he always has a home “on the wall” and Jon is all gung ho to go off with his uncle to join the Night’s Watch. He knows it means taking an oath, giving up his family, having no sons, bedding no women, but none of that is dissuading him. Is this because Catelyn has made him feel not one of the family, or for some other reason? While Jon entertains the notion of taking the black (as it’s called), Benjen says he best get inside to rescue Ned from his guest…not unlike Jaime asking his brother Tyrion to come to the feast and rescue him from the Starks.

Tyrion Jon 101

After Uncle Benjen departs, Tyrion Lannister comes over to talk to Jon. We don’t know how much of their conversation he heard, but Tyrion discusses with Jon the Night’s Watch and his own interest in seeing the famed wall. He is direct with Jon and calls him by what he is – the bastard. Jon is in no mood to be reminded of this and bristles, but Tyrion gives him some good advice: “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.” When Jon questions how Tyrion would know what it’s like for him, Tyrion shows how not unalike they are. “All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes.” Yet Tyrion is welcome in the feast and Jon remains outside.


Remember that guy who was spooked at the beginning of the episode and later beheaded by Ned for deserting the Night’s Watch? Ned asks his brother about the boy and tells Benjen the crazy thing the deserter said about seeing “white walkers.” Benjen muses that the whole world is mad – talk of white walkers, direwolves found south of the wall and now his brother Ned to be Hand of the King. And we hear the saying of the House Stark and the episode’s title, “Winter is Coming.”

Catelyn tries to make small talk with Cersei about her first trip to the north, but Cersei is not in the mood to make friends. Sansa comes to the table and Cersei gives her the once-over and she seems to pass muster – she’s young, pretty, tall and she can sew! What more would a woman want for her son and future king? Sansa makes googly eyes at Joffrey and he extends her a lipless grin.

jaime eddard

Jaime puffs out his chest a bit and gets into it with Ned Stark over news that Ned may be the next Hand of the King. There is a little macho BS between them and we can only assume there’s a good backstory for why they dislike each other so much, considering they both seem to be on the side of the same king, Robert Baratheon.

After the feast, Ned continues to protest leaving his home and family in the north and moving south to become Hand of the King, thus starting a theme that will persist throughout the show. Family versus honor. Ned wants to be a good father and husband and to do that, he believes he should stay in Winterfell. But his king and friend is asking for his help in running the kingdom, meaning he should move to King’s Landing. Which side does he choose?

ned catelyn 101 bed

Ned says prophetically “King takes what he wants. He’s king,” as he and Catelyn talk post-feast. Maester Luwin (maesters are scholars/healers/advisers) comes in with news of a rider in the night with a message from Catelyn’s sister in the Eyrie (a location which surprises her). Her sister has fled the capital (King’s Landing) and claims that the Lannisters had her husband Jon Arryn killed and that the king’s life is in danger. Now, hearing that the last Hand of the King may have been killed, this is not a job anyone would want. Catelyn, speaking for “family,” says as much. But Maester Luwin, speaking for “honor,” asks who but Ned could stop the Lannisters and protect Robert?

Catelyn tries one more Hail Mary – reminding Ned that his own father had gone south to serve a king and that didn’t turn out all that well. Maester Luwin waves that away, “different time, different king.”


Back to the wedded bliss of the very distressed Daenerys Targaryen and the snarling Khal Drogo. They have yet to consummate and already her brother wants to discuss gathering the army and planning the invasion. He’s told to cool his heels and wait for the Dothraki stars to align, but the future UN ambassador says he “pisses on their omens.” Way to make friends, Viserys. The tribal music, forced sex and violence are upsetting Daenerys, but this is apparently a typical Dothraki wedding. One party guest stands out from the rest – Ser Jorah Mormont, who’s not from around there but from Bear Island. He brings as a gift some books about the seven kingdoms and says he had served her father and hopes to always serve “the rightful king.”

Her wedding gift registry included dragon’s eggs, and she scored three from the shadow lands beyond the shire. Now, they are very old and fossilized, but her family’s sigil is the dragon and so they are much appreciated and will not be regifted any time soon. Even better, her new husband gets her a horse as white blond as she is. We learn the Dothraki have no word for “thank you,” so she won’t have to spend all that tedious time sending appreciative notes for all the gifts.

Then we get the forcible sex scene. Drogo wipes away a tear from his bride and speaks as softly as he can, yet we can’t ignore that he is raping her on their wedding night. She does not want this and though the only word he says is no, there is yes in his eyes.

Back at Winterfell, Tyrion is feeling the after effects of a night of partying and is commiserating with Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, who works for the Lannisters. Ned is going off with King Robert and we see Bran defy his mother’s orders not to climb. As he reaches to top, he comes across the Lannister twins mid-coitus. Well, that’s awkward. He is spotted, it’s clear what he’s seen. What to do?

bran push

Cersei is in a cold panic. Jaime is calm. He considers his options, then sighs, “the things I do for love,” as he pushes the ten-year-old out the window.

And end of the first episode. If you’re like me, that was a lot to digest. Ned and Catelyn and their five children, Ned’s bastard son, another boy who hung with them but was unnamed, a maester and a septa (the lady who was teaching the girls to sew), and Ned’s brother Benjen just in Winterfell. Then with the King’s arrival, we have King Robert Baratheon, Queen Cersei, her twin Jaime Lannister, their brother Tyrion, the royal children Joffrey and his siblings, and their entourage. Across the narrow sea we have tens of thousands of Dothraki, their leader Khal Drogo, his new bride Daenerys Targaryen and her brother Viserys, and the fugitive from Westeros Jorah Mormont. We’ve also heard mention of Jon Arryn (the late Hand of the King and Catelyn’s brother-in-law), his widow and son. And we’ve seen zombie-like people and direwolves. Finally, we’ve already seen the debate of what to do when honor and family collide, with Ned picking honor (leaving his family to serve the king) and Jaime picking family (pushing the boy out the window lest the incest become known).

Favorite quotes:

Ned (to Bran): The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

Robert: Lord Eddard Stark, I would name you the Hand of the King.

Ned (kneeling): I’m not worthy of the honor.
Robert: I’m not trying to honor you. I’m trying to get you to run my kingdom while I can eat, drink and whore my way to an early grave. Damn it, Ned, stand up. You helped me win the Iron Throne, now help me keep the damned thing.

Tyrion: Should I explain the meaning of a closed door in a whorehouse to you, brother?
Jaime: You’ve much to teach me, no doubt, but our sister craves your attention.
Tyrion: She has odd cravings, our sister.
Jaime: A family trait.

Ned (of King Robert): How did he get so fat?
Catelyn: He only stops eating when it’s time to drink.

Viserys (to Daenerys): You don’t want to wake the Dragon do you?

Tyrion: Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.
Jon: What the hell do you know about being a bastard?
Tyrion: All dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes.

Jaime: The things I do for love.

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Recap of Season 1, Episode 2: “The Kingsroad”

The map opens just beyond the narrow sea, at King’s Landing (where we see the Baratheon stag sigil), north to Winterfell (where we see the Stark direwolf sigil), north to the Wall, then back down and east to the Dothraki Sea, and across Vaes Dothrak.


Episode 1 ended with Bran Stark falling out of a high castle window courtesy of Jaime Lannister, the incestuous twin brother of the reigning queen. So, naturally, we begin episode 2 … with the Dothraki. They are marching across a vast wasteland and Daenerys (Dany) is not happy with an endless trek and nothing but horse jerky for dinner. To cheer her up, Jorah Mormont tells her the Dothraki end-of-the-world fable about dead “ghost grass” covering the world. Maybe storytelling is just not his thing. Dany’s brother Viserys is traveling with them, since he doesn’t want Drogo backing out of his deal. We learn a little more about Ser Jorah. He was banished from the seven kingdoms and is wanted by Ned Stark for trying to sell poachers he caught on his land to slavers (slavery is illegal and punishable by death) rather than turning the poachers over to the Night’s Watch.

tyrion dogs

Tyrion Lannister wakes up in Winterfell doggie day care and his nephew Joffrey Baratheon is there for the gratuitous one-liner of the morning “better looking bitches than you’re used to, Uncle.” Tyrion ignores the gibe and instead reminds his nephew of his duty and tells him to send his sympathy to Lord and Lady Stark before they all head off for King’s Landing. Joffrey tries to act cool and macho. He won’t send his sympathies, the boy meant nothing to him and he can’t stand the wailing of women. He turns to Sandor Clegane (aka The Hound) for a knowing look, gets none, and when he turns back, whap! His foot shorter uncle just slapped the hell out of him.


He looks shocked, whimpers, then gets another. Tyrion tells his nephew what is expected of him and the boy argues a third time. So he gets a third slap.

The Hound warns the Imp that the Prince won’t forget that. Tyrion seems unconcerned and merrily heads off for a good post-slapfest breakfast with his family. He talks about joining the trek up north to see the infamous wall. Jaime kids him about taking the black and Tyrion jokes, “and go celibate? The whores would go begging from Dorne to Casterly Rock.” Instead, he tells them, he wants to “stand on top of the wall and piss off the edge of the earth.”

tyrio breakfast

After good-natured interplay with his younger niece and nephew – see, Tyrion can be a nice uncle if not provoked – he mentions that Bran will not die from the fall. They could have told us that at the beginning of the episode! The little girl (Myrcella) is happy to hear that, her mother Cersei, not so much. The queen tries to hide her concern with false mercy, saying how she doesn’t want the poor boy to suffer. Jamie picks up the party line and says they shouldn’t spare the boy’s life as he’ll end up a cripple, grotesque. “Give me a good clean death any day,” Jaime adds. Their diminutive brother does not take kindly to the implication that being less-than-perfect means having a life not worth living.

When Tyrion curiously says he’d love to hear what Bran had to say about his fall, Jaime questions what side Tyrion is on and Tyrion is taken aback. “You know how much I love my family.”


Speaking of loving family, Catelyn is sitting vigil over Bran as he lingers in a coma. Cersei comes by and talks about the son she lost. A black-haired beauty taken from her by a fever. Cersei says she is praying for Bran and she has tears in her eyes. But is that because she fears he’ll die or live?

jaime jon

Jon Snow is outside watching as a sword is being forged and Jaime Lannister comes up to tweak him a bit. Jon is an open wound – he must feel like an outsider even if he is Ned’s son and is becoming a member of the Night’s guard as much to have a place to fit in as to guard the realm from what lies beyond the wall. Jaime can’t help but poke at him, exposing and irritating Jon’s every raw nerve.

arya jon

Jon has a better time saying goodbye to Arya. He presents her with a gift before he leaves, her own sword. Arya is ecstatic with her gift. Jon tells her to practice and then gives her her first lesson, “Stick’em with the pointy end.” Not bad advice.

They have a sweet embrace and Arya tells him she’ll name the sword “needle.” Sansa has her sewing needles, and Arya will have this one. After this tender goodbye, Jon goes to say farewell to Bran but is met with icy detachment by Catelyn. He focuses on Bran, tells him about his plans and his hope that Bran can someday visit him at the Wall. And how does Lady Stark, the matriarch of this old and noble family, handle Jon’s departure? With all the warmth of Cersei, she hisses, “I want you to leave.” Way to blame the child for your husband’s broken vows. Catelyn is mad at Ned for leaving again with Robert (last time he brought back a bastard child, what this time?), but she’s not talking him out of his decision.

robb jon

Jon gets a kinder farewell from his brother Robb and his father and off he goes North, to join the Night’s Watch, take the black, and break girls’ hearts with his vow of chastity. Along the Kingsroad Ned and Robert talk old wild times, but Ned is tight lipped about the details of his past indiscretions. They discuss Dany Targaryen and her potential threat as the offspring of the Mad King and the new wife of the Dothraki Khal and Robert is concerned, but Ned dismisses Dany as just a child.


We switch over to see what Dany and the Dothraki (decent band name) are up to and basically Dany is on the receiving end of some unwanted rough sex from her new husband, but she goes from pain to pleasure upon the sight of her dragon eggs.


On the road to the Wall, Jon starts to learn more about just what he’s gotten himself into. The noble Night’s Watch is more like a halfway house for felons. Tyrion knows what Jon is yet to learn about the once revered group, that they’re now mostly a motley group of ex-rapers, thieves and miscreants of various persuasions. Jon still believes he’s on a noble calling to protect the world from threats north of the Wall, but Tyrion dismisses those as fables of “grumpkins and snarks.” Still, while Jaime had been insulting and demeaning to Jon, Tyrion seems to be more gently kidding in his approach.

We also learn more about Tyrion and his family. His father Tywin had been hand of the previous king…until his brother Jaime killed the king (hence Jaime’s obvious if well-deserved nickname, The Kingslayer). Recognizing his own physical limitations, Tyrion arms himself with knowledge which is why if his nose isn’t in some whore or goblet of wine, it’s in a book. This is how he honors his house.

catelyn bran luwin

Back to Catelyn standing vigil over Bran. Maester Luwin comes by to discuss business, but she’s in no mood. Robb to the rescue! He pointedly reminds Catelyn that she has other children beside Bran, but she’s not really interested in doing anything else but wait for Bran to wake. A fire outside the castle draws Robb out of the room, but Catelyn stays. Suddenly, some creepy guy comes and tries to kill Bran. Catelyn fights back fiercely, but it is Bran’s direwolf who ultimately saves the day.

Dany is being tended by her handmaidens and they chat about dragons, which of course leads to discussions about how to satisfy your husband without having him rape you. Dany was intrigued by the idea that men talk when they are happy and satisfied, so it looks like her goal is to enhance the relationship to gain her husband’s confidence.

the wall

Jon’s, and our, first sight of the wall is upon us. It is a huge, stark and desolate structure, all icy crags and sheer lines that extend as far as the eye can see. But still more warm and inviting than Catelyn.


Back at Winterfell, Catelyn goes CSI: Westeros, trying to reenact Bran’s fall, looking for clues. It’s obvious now, with the attempted assassination of the boy, that this was not an ordinary fall. She calls together her team and tells them of her suspicions. Master-at-arms Rodrik Cassel (long braided sideburns guy) inspects the dagger that was used to attack her and says it is Valyrian steel, which is too expensive for an ordinary criminal. They all agree that it seems the Lannisters (with their vast wealth) would be behind this, though they still don’t know why. Theon Greyjoy is all ready to team up with Robb to go to war against the Lannisters, but Maester Luwin urges caution.

It is decided that Catelyn will travel the Kingsroad (what a coincidence, everyone’s on the road they named this episode after!) to tell Ned about her suspicions and Braidburns will accompany her. She tells Robb he must stay back home because there must always be a Stark in Winterfell (and technically she is a Tully, just a Stark by marriage). She puts some weird arts and crafts thing (with some possible religious significance to “the seven” to whom she’s been praying) over his bed and says goodbye to Bran.


From that we go to Dany’s sex lessons on how not to make love like a slave. She’s concerned he won’t like it, but her fears are quickly put to rest as Drogo like quite a bit.

Sansa is out walking her pet direwolf when she keeps bumping into scary looking men, including the royal executioner Ser Illyn Payne who we are told is not too talkative since the Mad King had his tongue pulled out with hot pincers. Another scary man, the Hound, may look fierce but he is rather nonthreatening to her. Joffrey comes up and shoos the Hound away to protect his lady, and the two go off for a nice walk.


Joffrey and Sansa come upon Arya who is play-fencing with a ginger friend of hers – the butcher’s boy. They’re having fun laughing and playing alongside a stream, then the fun stops. Joffrey pulls out his real sword and challenges the butcher’s boy to fight for real with his wooden, play sword. Things take a terrible turn – Joffrey starts to hurt the boy, Arya defends him by attacking Joffrey, Joffrey fights back and threatens her, then Arya’s direwolf Nymeria comes to the rescue and chews up Joffrey, all while Sansa whines about how they are ruining everything. Arya looks ready to kill Joffrey, but as he whimpers for mercy, she just throws away his sword rather than impaling him (much to our disappointment). But Joffrey is royally pissed and going to take out his anger on someone.

Arya sends her direwolf away to protect her and stays in hiding. She is eventually found (Jory Cassel tells her father, who’s been out looking for her, that the Lannisters found her). She is in front of the King and surrounded by Cersei and others who are taking Joffrey’s side. Her sister is brought in to tell what she saw and she is confused about what to do – align with Joffrey and become queen one day, side with Arya and lose her prince. She doesn’t exactly stab Arya in the back, she instead feigns amnesia about the whole affair. It looks like each side will punish their own child, Arya dodging a bullet, but Cersei will have none of this tit-for-tat. She wants someone to suffer, anyone but her darling Joffrey, so she sees to it that the Stark children pay with the life of their direwolf. Since Nymeria can’t be located, it is Sansa’s sweet Lady who must die.


But there is still a price to be paid and we find out who paid and with what when we see the Hound coming back with the body of the butcher’s boy.

bran wakes

In a drawn-out scene, Ned reluctantly kill Sansa’s direwolf and then the scene abruptly switches and we see Bran waking suddenly. Duh duh duh.

Favorite lines:

Jaime: But even if the boy lives, he would be a cripple, a grotesque. Give me a good, clean death any day.
Tyrion: Speaking for the grotesques, I have to disagree. Death is so final, yet life is full of possibilities. 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 whose side you’re on.
Tyrion: My dear brother, you wound me. You know how much I love my family.

Jon: First lesson – Stick ’em with the pointy end.
Arya: I know which end to use.

Tyrion: Everything’s better with some wine in the belly.

Tyrion: A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone. That’s why I read so much, Jon Snow.

Robert: I swear, if I weren’t your king, you’d have hit me already.
Ned: The worst thing about your coronation, I’ll never get to hit you again.

The Hound (about the Butcher’s boy): He ran. Not very fast.

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Recap of Season 1, Episode 3: “Lord Snow”

Title sequence begins with King’s Landing, held by the House Baratheon whose sigil is the stag. Next to Winterfell, where we see the direwolf sigil of the House Stark. Up to the Wall and then down and east to the Vaes Dothrak.

And so we begin with Ned Stark finally arriving at King’s Landing. He is summoned to the meeting of the Small Council, the advisory group that serves the king of the seven kingdoms. Members of this group of king’s advisors include the Hand of the King, who serves in the king’s stead in his absence, as well as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, the Grand Maester, the Maester of Coins, the Maester of Whisperers, the Maester of Laws and the Maester of Ships.


We enter the throne room and see the iron throne at the far end of the vast room. The Kingslayer Jaime Lannister is sitting on the steps in front of the throne. While everyone seems to covet the throne, it is actually quite uncomfortable having been forged out of the swords of vanquished foes. Jaime, who enjoys a good sword fight, also enjoys verbal sparring and he and Ned go at it. Jaime reminds Ned that he had witnessed his (Ned’s) father and brother murdered there in that room. They were executed – possibly burned to death – on the order of the former king, Aerys Targaryen, whom Jaime served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Jaime had stood by and watched the slaughter, doing nothing. But later, when the Mad King died, Jaime was there for that too and, he tells Ned, “it felt like justice.”

It was Jaime who killed the Mad King, sticking a knife in his back, though he was sworn to protect him. Hence the “Kingslayer” epithet he now carries.


At the meeting of the Small Council we meet Grand Maester Pycelle, the Master of Whisperers Lord Varys, Maester of Law Lord Renly Baratheon (the king’s youngest brother) and Master of Coins Lord Petyr Baelish (nicknamed “Littlefinger”). Renly and Ned knew each other and are old friends. Lord Baelish mentions that Ned’s wife and he were acquainted. We also learn that Lord Baelish was familiar with Ned’s brother Brandon, whom apparently wounded Lord Baelish quite extensively in a duel. This is getting juicier. Seems Baelish and Brandon had dueled over Catelyn! Interesting that she ended up with neither. Ned is familiar with Pycelle as well and mentions that he had served another king, a sore point probably as no one wants to be associated with the Mad King.


The first order of business is a tournament to be held in honor of Ned’s appointment. It’s an expensive affair and one which the treasury can’t bear as they are already greatly in debt to the Lannisters to the tune of six million – which whatever the value of their currency is a lot. Ned is questioning just what he’s gotten himself into.

At another part of the capital, Cersei is tending to Joffrey’s wounds (physical and emotional) and tries to flatter him with how bravely he fought the direwolf, but Joffrey may be mean and horrible, he’s not stupid. He knows he is not brave and he recoils as well at her suggestion that he’s just like his father, the king. As far as the “truth” of his bravery, Cersei teaches him a dangerous lesson – when you sit on the throne, “the truth will be what you make it.” He’s not happy that he has to marry Sansa Stark but his mother is on a roll with her advice today and lets him know he’s free to sleep around as long as he knocks the Stark girl up now and then with an heir to the throne.


Joffrey is still not happy. He doesn’t like the Northeners, he doesn’t want them having as much autonomy and power as they have. Things will be different when he’s in charge. He’d take Winterfell away from the Starks if it were up to him and install a Lannister to run the place. Cersei is concerned he doesn’t understand just how different the Northerners are and how impossible a task it would be to take and hold the North, especially once winter came. But once you’ve told your child that they are special and can have whatever they want, they’re going to ask for the North.


We see some of that fight that is in the Northeners as Arya is practicing stabbing things at dinner (she imagines her dinner is Joffrey). Joffrey ordered the Hound to kill her friend the butcher’s boy and she won’t soon forget that. She also blames Sansa for not telling the truth which she believes would have saved the boy’s life.


Septa Mordane, the girls’ governess, is not pleased with Arya’s behavior and seems to prefer the more ladylike Sansa. Ned brings Sansa a gift, but it’s for a much younger girl and she runs off insulted. Having no luck trying to make Sansa feel better, Ned tries reasoning with his younger daughter, Arya. He sees the sword she has and recognizes where it was made and seems surprised to learn she has named her sword. Arya tells him that she was practicing with the butcher’s boy and she now holds herself responsible for what happened to him.

Arya is mad at everyone, including her sister. But her father teaches her a hard truth – that as the future wife of the future king, Sansa has to side with Joffrey even when he’s wrong. Winter is coming, after a decade-long summer, and the Starks have to protect themselves, even if that means aligning with people like Joffrey.

old nan

A crow caws in the window outside of Bran’s bedroom. He is being tended to by Old Nan, famous for her scary stories. She warns him he doesn’t know what fear is, being a child of the summer, and goes on to warn him about the winter to come, “when the white walkers move through the woods.” Wonder if she saw the first episode?

Robb comes in and asks Bran if he remembers how he fell, but Bran remembers nothing. He knows he’ll never walk again and says he’d rather he was dead.


Catelyn is accompanied by Rodrik Cassel as she heads into King’s Landing. She thought no one knew of her plans, so she was surprised when men from the City Watch greet her at the gates. She is brought into her old friend Petyr Baelish’s business establishment – a brothel. She’s furious until she understands why. Lord Varys, an old friend, had arranged with Baelish (aka Littlefinger) to bring Catelyn where she could be safely hidden away. He knows exactly why Catelyn is there and asks pointedly about the dagger.

This is a good time to point out that Varys, the Maester of Whisperers, has a team of “ears” at all points in the realm and perhaps beyond. It is his business to know what is going on and his “little birds” spy for him.


Varys inspects the dagger and recognizes it is of Valyrian steel, but admits to being unaware of whose dagger it is. Littlefinger, on the other hand, can identify the dagger as his. But he lost the dagger during the prince’s name day joust when he bet on Jaime Lannister who was bested by Loras Tyrell, the Lord of Flowers. And who won the dagger? Tyrion Lannister.


Tyrion is still up north, watching the new Night’s Guard recruits at Castle Black. Jon Snow is battling against his fellow recruits and was given the derisive nickname, and title for this episode, Lord Snow, to signify that, though a bastard, Jon was raised in a privileged and storied home. Jon proves himself a worthy warrior and he earns some faint praise from Master-at-Arms Alliser Thorne for his prowess with a sword.

jeor mormont tyrion lannister 103

Tyrion and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont chat about the new recruits, then Mormont gives Tyrion a message that came for Jon. Back at King’s Landing, Maester Pycelle brings a message to Ned Stark that came earlier in the day from Winterfell. Littlefinger walks up just as Ned is reading the note and suggests that he share the news with his wife. Ned says Catelyn is is Winterfell, but of course Littlefinger knows that is not true.

baelish cat

Littlefinger takes Ned to his whorehouse to see his wife and Ned thinks this is all a joke and he grabs Littlefinger around the throat and slams him into the wall. Littlefinger has already told us how Ned’s brother cut him open and how he fought a duel for Ned’s wife, so there is already enough bad blood there. Ned eventually finds out Littlefinger wasn’t punking him, Catelyn is there at the brothel. Awkward.


Before they reunite, we’re back up north with Jon and he’s being razzed by his fellow Night’s Watch recruits. They give him a hard time and he’s done with it – he was miserable under Catelyn’s roof in Winterfell and came to Castle Black looking to find a new family, only for it to be more of the same. He’s feeling sorry for himself, until Tyrion talks some sense into him. But first, Tyrion must talk some sense into the boys who were attacking Jon, and mentioning how nice each of their heads would look on spikes at King’s Landing was enough to get them to disband. Tyrion then brings the note to Jon about Bran’s awakening.

Littlefinger suggests the Starks tread carefully before accusing the queen’s brother of attempted murder, noting that Tyrion will simply say the dagger had been stolen from him. Catelyn urges Ned to trust Littlefinger who she considers to be like a little brother to her. He promises to do his best to keep Ned safe.


Jaime and Cersei discuss what to do about Bran, but Jaime is not worried. No one will believe a child and he’ll go to war for her…love… if he has to. He vows to kill the boy, Ned Stark and everyone if he has to, until they are the only people left in this world. It would be so darn romantic if they weren’t brother and sister.


Catelyn says goodbye to Ned and heads back to Winterfell. It’s a sad farewell, but necessary. They each tell the other to be careful with their temper as they can both be a bit hotheaded (exhibit A, Ned almost killing Littlefinger).

King Robert is chatting with Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, about their first time. At first we think it’s when they lost their virginity, but then we realize they’re reminiscing about their first kill. For Robert it was during the time of his rebellion against the old Mad King and he recalls bringing his hammer down on a member of the Tarly family during the battle of Summerhall.


Robert scares his squire, Lancel Lannister (one of his wife’s cousins), then calls for Jaime Lannister to come join the chat. Jaime is serving as a member of the Kingsguard, defending Robert, but he makes the job sound demeaning and beneath Jaime. Jaime turns the table when discussing one of his first kills, Robert’s predecessor on the throne.

What did the Mad King say when Jaime stabbed him in the back, Robert asks Jaime, probably to unnerve or embarrass him by pointing out that he had not faced the man he killed. But Jaime’s recollection is quite sobering and reminds us the person he killed was an insane killer himself. So what did King Aerys say? The same thing he’d been saying for hours. “Burn them all.”

Dany Rakharo Jorah 103

The Dothraki convoy continues and Dany learns more about them from Jorah. The Dothraki don’t believe in money and so they don’t buy their slaves, they are given as “gifts” by those who don’t wish to be conquered. The Khals can be brutal and arbitrary. Hearing this, and seeing one of the men beat a slave, she decides to start wielding some power of her own. She commands the convoy to stop, then goes for a walk. Her brother Viserys comes after her, furious. He is the future king, he is the dragon, he does not take commands from a girl.


Viserys puts a knife to her throat and one of Khal’s men, Rahkaro, lassos him and pulls him off of her. He wants to kill her brother, or at least cut off Viserys’ ear to teach him a lesson, but she spares him. Upon his release, Viserys commands Jorah to kill Rahkaro, but he doesn’t take his orders from Viserys. Dany’s brother must return to the Khalasar humiliated.


Jon Snow takes the medieval elevator up to the top of the Wall, because he wasn’t cold enough down below. He finds warmth in the form of his Uncle Benjen who is there to see Jon’s first view of the land north of the Wall. He tells Jon that he’ll be leaving Castle Black the next day as his job as First Ranger requires him to patrol the North. He mentions there have been “disturbing reports” that he hopes are untrue. But we, like the rangers in the first episode, saw what we saw. Jon wants to go with him, but Benjen says, no. He’s no ranger. At least not yet. He has to earn it.


Back on the ground, Tyrion is having a grand ole time chatting it up with Yoren, a recruiter for the Night’s Watch. They are exchanging ribald stories that give us one of Tyrion’s famous quips. When asked what was the strangest thing he’s eaten, Tyrion replies, “Do Dornish girls count?” Oh those exotic southern girls!

yoren benjen 103

Benjen Stark ends the jocularity with some sober facts for Tyrion. Half the boys training will die north of the wall so “plump little lords like you can enjoy their summer afternoons in peace and comfort.” Tyrion is not insensitive, but he simply doesn’t believe that the Night’s Watch is protecting the realm from white walkers and other magical/mystical beings. He’s not that concerned with the wildlings either, who he dismisses as nothing more than unfortunately situated people, living on the wrong side of the wall.

Tyrion picks up Yoren to travel with back down to King’s Landing and he promises Yoren that traveling with a Lannister means traveling in style.


Dany is learning the Dothraki language when she gets felt up by her handmaiden only to discover she’s pregnant! Jorah and Rakharo are discussing fighting when the conversation turns to Jorah’s father, Jeor Marmont, Lord Commander of the Knight’s Watch, whom Jorah calls a man of great honor whom he betrayed.


When Jorah learns that Dany is with Dothraki child, he decides he must travel to Qohor. The Khalasar is on their way to Vaes Dothrak, and he’ll meet up with them there.

Jon has had a change in attitude and now is helping his brothers of the Night’s Watch as they learn to fight. Tyrion notices that his little pep talk must have helped! He speaks to Maester Aemon, the elderly maester (teacher/healer) who tells him that the Stark’s family motto will be coming true shortly – Winter is Coming. And it will be a long one, “and dark things will come with it.”


Lord Commander says that wildlings have been heading south recently, saying they’re fleeing the white walkers. Maester Aemon worries that the Night’s Watch, its numbers dwindling to just a thousand boys and old men, will not be able to protect the realm. They ask Tyrion for his sister’s help so they can be properly manned before winter comes.


Dany and Drogo are lying together and she tells him he’s going to be a dad and that they’re having a boy. Maybe whoever built the elevator also created a sonogram?

Scratch pissing over the edge of the world off Tyrion Lannister’s bucket list. Jon is sad to see Tyrion go, as he recognizes that Tyrion has been a friend up north. He asks Tyrion to send a message to his brother Bran as he passes through Winterfell on his way back to King’s Landing.


Arya meets Syrio Forel, her new “dancing master.” He will teach her to use her sword. He is exotic and a little crazy and looks like he’ll be a great teacher. He was “first sword” to the Sealord of Braavos, after all. Her father comes by to watch her first lesson and smiles. Just so.

Favorite lines:

Ned: Glad to see your protecting the throne.
Jaime: This sturdy old thing? How many kings asses have polished it, I wonder. And, what’s the line? The King s**ts, and the Hand wipes.

Joffrey: So you agree, the Starks are our enemies.

Cersei: Anyone who isn’t us is our enemy.

Grand Maester Pycelle: Should we begin?
Ned: Without the king?
Renly: Winter may be coming, but I’m afraid the same cannot be said for my brother.

Robert: We’re telling war stories. Who was your first kill, not counting old men?
Jaime: One of the outlaws in the Brotherhood.
Barristan Selmy (to Jaime): I was there that day. You were only a squire, sixteen years old.
Jaime (to Selmy): You killed Simon Toyne with a counter riposte. Best move I ever saw.
Barristan: Good fighter, Toyne, but he lacked stamina.
Robert: Your outlaw… any last words?
Jaime: I cut his head off, so… no.
Robert: What about Aerys Targaryen? What did the Mad King say when you stabbed him in the back? I never asked. Did he call you a traitor? Did he plead for a reprieve?
Jaime: He said the same thing he had been saying for hours… “burn them all.”

Ned: Handsome armor. Not a scratch on it.
Jaime: I know. People have been swinging at me for years and they always seem to miss.
Ned: Chosen your opponents wisely, then.
Jaime: I have a knack for it.

Yoren (to Tyrion Lannister): What about you, my lord? What’s the strangest thing you’ve eaten?
Tyrion: Do Dornish girls count?

Cersei (to Joffrey): When Aerys Targaryen sat on the Iron Throne, your father was a rebel and a traitor. Someday, you’ll sit on the throne, and the truth will be what you make it.
* * *
Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy.

Ned: War was easier than daughters!

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Recap of Season 1, Episode 4: “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things”

At the start of the episode, note not only the various locales identified for the episode, but look closely at each actor’s name. In front of their name is a thumbnail of their character’s house sigil!


A raven is cawing and we see Bran standing and walking and shooting arrows. He follows the raven into the crypt at Winterfell, as it turns towards him we see it has three eyes. Suddenly Bran wakes and he’s back in bed; he’d been dreaming again. Theon Greyjoy tells Bran that he has company; his brother Robb wants to see him. But Bran is pretty cranky about almost dying and becoming a cripple and isn’t in the mood.

Theon ignores him. Robb is the Lord of Winterfell now and he gets what he wants. He calls in Hodor, a very large, simple-minded man who helps carry the younger Stark.


As he promised Jon, Tyrion Lannister has come to Winterfell on his way back to King’s Landing with a message for Robb, accompanied by Yoren from the Night’s Watch. Tyrion is receiving an icy reception from Robb, but he ignores that. He has something for Bran – a design for a saddle that will help the boy be able to ride despite his injury. Robb is suspect, why would Tyrion want to help Bran? “I have a soft spot for cripples, bastards and broken things.”


Tyrion is poking at Theon a bit. He calls Robb Theon’s master and questions Theon calling Catelyn Stark “my lady” saying “your loyalty to your captors is touching.” We don’t yet know who Theon is or what his relationship to the Starks is, but we’ve seen him hanging with the Stark children since the first episode. Tyrion asks how would Balon Greyjoy feel to see his only surviving son turn into a “lackey.” So that answers that! Well, the who, anyway, if not yet the why.

Tyrion mentions his family’s fleet burning in Lannisport and that Theon’s uncles were responsible. But the Greyjoy rebellion was short-lived; they were outnumbered ten-to-one and Theon’s brothers were among those killed in the losing effort and Theon became a ward of the Starks. And now we have…the rest of the story.


At the Wall, Jon is continuing to help train his fellow recruits. A new recruit shows up and he is immediately made the butt of jokes for his size. He is Samwell Tarly of Horn Hill. Sam has obviously never fought before. Ser Allison Thorne instructs one of the knights to continue to beat on Sam until he stands, which is both nonsensical and cruel. Eventually, Jon has seen enough and goes to Sam’s defense. Thorne thinks he’s clever, and sends three of the recruits to go after Sam, all they have to do is get past Jon. But Jon kicks ass and Sam is safe for today. But he’s going to have to learn to defend himself. He says he’s a coward; that’s what his father says anyway (what would this show be without daddy issues??). The Wall is no place for a coward.


Dany and company arrive at the idyllic Vaes Dothrak, which looks a lot like the California coast. But Viserys is unimpressed, calling it mud, shit and twigs. His social skills need some work, but he’s probably counting on no one translating his insults to the Khal. He whines about Drogo marching his army the wrong way.

Dany and Jorah are talking (we don’t hear anything about Jorah’s side trip to Qohor that was mentioned in the last episode) and she asks if Viserys gets the Dothraki army, will they be able to take the seven kingdoms. Jorah is dubious; the Dothraki have never crossed the narrow sea and are afraid of the water. But if they somehow managed to get across, it is possible. King Robert might meet them in the open with his troops, although others in his council might be more wise. It’s a toss up. Jorah is in an interesting spot, he knows those people. His father is among those people. Another of them, Ned Stark, chased him off out of the realm and still wants his head. Dany seems troubled that Jorah had sold slaves and he tries to explain why he did (he needed the money, expensive wife and all that).


Elsewhere, her brother Viserys is being tended to by Doreah, a concubine from Lys. She asks him about having dragon’s blood in his veins and he said it’s quite possible. She asked what happened to the dragons, and he said brave men rode them from Valyria to build the greatest civilization this world has ever seen. Viserys has never seen a dragon, only their skulls that were used to decorate the throne room in the Red Keep.

In King’s Landing, Septa Mordane talks to Sansa about her life as the future queen. Sansa is worried and tells her Septa that she thinks Joffrey hates her, but Septa won’t hear of it. Instead, she quizzes Sansa on her knowledge of the Iron Throne and the Red Keep. Sansa doesn’t want to play, she’s too upset, too angry, especially with her father who she claims she will never forgive.

Her father has troubles of his own with the small council. Janos Slynt, Commander of the City Watch, comes before them with a laundry list of problems facing the capital. There isn’t enough money to give him the extra men he needs, so Ned offers him 20 of his own men.


When all but Maester Pycelle leave, Ned mentions that he wanted to discuss Jon Arryn, the former hand of the king who died suddenly. He was under Pycelle’s care at the time, but he could not help him. “His sickness struck him very hard and very fast.” Pycelle mentions that Jon Arryn came to him the night before he died and asked for a book. It was “The lineages and histories of the great houses of the seven kingdoms.” Ned thumbs through the book and sees the dull recitation of bloodlines. Was there anything else Jon Arryn said? Yes, he repeated on phrase, “The seed is strong.”

Ned pointedly asks if there is any possibility that Jon Arryn was poisoned, but Pycelle thinks that impossible. Jon Arryn was loved by all. Pycelle shifts the conversation to Lord Varys, who he reminds Ned is a eunuch, as he wonders aloud how such a man found himself on the council.


From that odd conversation, Ned comes across an odd sight – his daughter Arya standing on one foot, balancing on the edge of a stairway. This is part of her training as a “water dancer,” the type of sword fighting of the Braavosi. They talk about what Bran can now do, in light of his limitations, but what bothers Arya is how limited her options are considering she’s a girl. As she says to Ned, he doesn’t understand her at all.

Jon is on watch duties tonight and he is joined by Sam, his new watch partner. Sam doesn’t see well. He’s afraid of heights. What is he doing there? On his 18th name day, his father told Sam that he was not worthy of his land or his title and that he would forsake his inheritance and take the black. If he did not, his father implied, there would be other ways to make sure he wasn’t around to inherit anything. Perhaps Sam’s dad should meet Catelyn. Sam’s sad story touched Jon so much, he almost cracked a joke. When Sam says he’s not going to get any better at fighting, Jon kids, saying he can’t get any worse! Good for you, Jon!


Littlefinger has heard from Pycelle that Ned was looking at the book on Westeros lineage. Someone can’t keep his mouth shut! But he’s not alone, and Littlefinger shows Ned just how many ears there are in the capital. It seems impossible to do anything without being noticed. Littlefinger hints at something nefarious about the fact that Jon Arryn’s squire, Ser Hugh, was knighted right after his master’s untimely demise. He suggests that Ned send someone he trusts to talk to the squire, though he adds quickly that there is probably no one that Ned should trust. He also suspects that the armorer may have some helpful information for Ned.

Ser Hugh of the Vale is questioned by Jory Cassel, captain of the guard of Winterfell, and the person Ned trusts the most with his investigation into Jon Arryn’s death. Ser Hugh won’t talk to Jory, but he will talk to Ned.


Meanwhile, Ned goes to talk to the armorer, who says that Jon Arryn did come talk to him several times, though never bought anything. Instead, he came to see a boy who works there. He asked the boy about his mother, who she was, what she looked like. The boy said she died when he was little and she had yellow hair (unlike his own dark hair). Ned looks at the boy closely and after he leaves, he tells Jory that was King Robert’s bastard son.


Jory goes with a message for King Robert, but is met outside of his chamber by his guard, Jaime Lannister. Jaime is happy to complain about how the king insults his sister by entertaining whores while her brother guards his door. TMI, Kingslayer. Jory just wants to deliver the message and leave, but instead they get into a discussion. Jory had fought side-by-side with Jaime at the Siege of Pyke, when Balon Greyjoy revolted against King Robert. They reminisce about how Thoros of Myr charged with his burning sword to help win the victory against the Greyjoys. Jaime mentioned how he saw the Greyjoy son Theon at Winterfell, which he says was like seeing a shark on a mountaintop. Jory said he’s a good lad, Jaime isn’t so sure.

Back at the Wall, Jon has finished his watch and is sitting down for dinner. The other recruits start ragging on Jon, but he won’t stand for it. Sam is no different than the rest, he’s just trying to find where he belongs. One of the rapers-turned-brothers, Rast, won’t have any of this and he promises to continue to make Sam’s life hell. While he sleeps, Jon and his friends pay Rast a visit. Jon’s direwolf is there as well, and they explain to Rast that he will not be giving Sam any more trouble.

The next day, Rast wants no part of Sam. The boys try and help him during training, but Ser Alliser Thorne is none too pleased. This is no game, they are all that stands between the kingdom and what lies beyond the Wall. Point taken.


At Vaes Dothrak, Viserys is angry with his sister. He won’t have her telling his concubines what to do and he won’t have her running his life. He is the dragon, after all. He has no love for the Dothraki or their ways and just wants his army as soon as possible. He hits her but she hits him right back and he is stunned. This is no little scared girl. She is a Khaleesi now and if he ever raises a hand to her again it’ll be the last time he has hands.

Sam and Jon are doing some steward work and discussing the unfairness of the vow of celibacy, especially since Sam is convinced that the higher ups sneak off and break their vows regularly. Sam is surprised to find out that the dreamy Jon Snow is a virgin, like he is. Jon said he came close once, with Ros the prostitute (Tyrion and Theon had discussed her last episode). But he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t bring another bastard child into the world.

Alliser Thorne comes in and talks to the boys about his last winter beyond the wall, when he was in search of Mance Rayder and the wildlings who fight with him. He scares them with horror stories of a brutal winter. He reminds them that soon they’ll get their assignments and be official men of the Night’s Watch and then new recruits will come in for training. But they are still boys. And come the winter they will die like flies. Quite the pep talk!

Dany is worried, she hit her brother, she hit “the dragon.” But Jorah thinks he is no dragon. While she knows the plan she also knows it will fail. Viserys can never lead an army and he will not help them get home.

King Robert is many banners to the wind as the celebration is to commence. Sansa smiles at Joffrey but he doesn’t return her smile. Lord Baelish sees this and comments. We learn of his nickname, Littlefinger, which he says came from the fact that he lived in a region called the Fingers and was quite small as a child.

The joust finally begins. First up is Ser Gregor Clegane, also known as The Mountain. He is one scary looking guy. He is the older brother of The Hound. He will be jousting against Ser Hugh of the Vale, the squire Jory tried to talk to earlier (who had been Jon Arryn’s squire just before he died). On the second pass, the Hound jams his lance right into Hugh’s gullet and the poor boy bleeds to death.


As if witnessing such a violent death isn’t bad enough, Littlefinger proceeds to tell Sansa the story of The Mountain and The Hound. This will not be a future Disney project. The Mountain was a jealous little kid and when he saw his six-year-old brother playing with one of his toys by the fire, a wooden knight, the Mountain pushed his brother’s face into the burning coals and held him there while he screamed and his face melted away.

While the tournament goes on outside, Queen Cersei comes to see Ned Stark. She proposes letting bygones be bygones, even admitting calling for the direwolf Lady’s death may have been extreme. But then she asks why Ned is there and doesn’t seem satisfied with his answer that he’s there to serve the King until he is no longer needed. She says serving the King is a fool’s errand, but Ned counters that it is his job.

She says Ned is not the leader his brother Brandon was. Ned is more of a soldier. He says he was trained to kill his enemies, Cersei coolly replies, “As was I.” Yikes, a threat and proper grammar!

Catelyn and Rodrick stop at the Inn at the Crossroads on their way back to Winterfell from King’s Landing. Who should show up but Tyrion Lannister. The innkeeper tries to tell him there’s no room, but he is a Lannister and he has enough money to get whatever he wants. One of the men offers Tyrion his room.

Tyrion notices Catelyn, who had been trying to stay incognito. She stands and surveys the room, noting the banners of the various guests and reminding them of their allegiance to her family, the Tullys of Riverrun. And why is she doing this? Because she is convinced that Tyrion tried to have Bran killed. She makes her accusation and asks for help in seizing Tyrion and taking him to Winterfell to stand for his crimes.


The guests all take up their swords on behalf of Lady Stark and Tyrion is surrounded.


We learned some interesting back stories today. Theon is a ward of the Starks, handed over by the defeated Balon Greyjoy after Ned Stark helped put down the Greyjoy rebellion against King Robert some nine years earlier. The Greyjoys had some early victories, including setting fire to the Lannister fleet Lannisport, but they were ultimately defeated when Robert led a siege on their stronghold at Pyke. Jaime Lannister, Jory Cassel and Thoros of Myr (and his flaming sword) fought alongside Ned Stark and the King to defeat the Greyjoys, killing the two oldest sons in the process. Despite originally coming to live with the Starks as a prisoner, Theon seems to have a close relationship with Robb and certainly doesn’t act like he’s still a prisoner of the Starks.

We also learned that The Hound and the Mountain may be brothers, and may both be fierce killers, but there is no love between the two and the Hound learned a very painful lesson early in life about crossing his brother. Jorah Mormont is an exile from Westeros, banished by Ned Stark after being caught selling slaves. And we know that Jon Arryn’s death is looking more and more like murder, but we don’t yet know the why or who of it.

Favorite quotes:

Tyrion: I have a soft spot for cripples, bastards and broken things.

Bran: I’m not a cripple
Tyrion: Then I’m not a dwarf. My father will rejoice to hear it.

Tyrion (to Theon): I’m a constant disappointment to my own father and I’ve learned to live with it.

Ned: Perhaps I was wrong to distrust you.
Petyr: Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed off your horse.

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Recap of Season 1, Episode 5: “The Wolf and the Lion”

The opening credits include a new location for this episode, the Eyrie.  But we start in King’s Landing, dealing with the aftermath of the joust that saw Ser Hugh of the Vale taking a lance to the throat courtesy of The Mountain.  Ser Barristan Selmy has been standing vigil as the former squire has no family there. Ned Stark talks to him about the boy and is suspicious how a former squire became a knight, gained a new suit of armor, and managed to draw the most feared competitor at the joust.  Too many things do not add up.


Barristan and Ned go to gather the King, who is late for the start of the festivities.  Robert wants to joust today, but he has become too fat to fit in his armor.  The king berates young Lancel Lannister, blaming him and scaring the poor boy, until Ned defuses the situation.  Robert grumbles about how Jon Arryn talked him into marrying Cersei Lannister and now he’s stuck with her and has to do what she says, like hiring her cousin Lancel as a squire.

sansa loras rose

Robert joins Sansa in the stands to watch the rest of the tournament.  First up is Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of the Flowers, who Sansa seems to fancy. He presents her with a rose and she blushes, while Lord Renly looks on.  Loras is battling the Mountain, but he is a much more wily opponent than Hugh was and he knocks Ser Gregor Clegane right off his horse.

hound loras

But you don’t get the kind of reputation the Mountain has by taking defeat lying down, so he goes apeshit. He demands his sword and slices his horse’s head off, then turns his attention to Ser Loras.  But Gregor’s brother Sandor (“the Hound”) comes to defend the Knight of Flowers.  King Robert’s seen enough and demands they stop at once.  Ser Loras forfeits his win and gives it to the Hound.

tyrion kidnapped

Catelyn and her bannermen are taking their captive Lord Tyrion somewhere, but not to Winterfell as Tyrion learns when he is unhooded.  Catelyn had loudly proclaimed her intentions so that the Lannisters would be looking for Tyrion in the wrong place.  Instead, they are on the eastern road, headed to the Vale, to take him before her sister, Jon Arryn’s widow.  Tyrion warns Catelyn that she doesn’t know her sister any more, she’s changed.  But there’s little time to discuss this as they are attacked by a marauding hill tribe.


Tyrion thinks this gives him a chance to escape while the fighting is going on. But he sees Catelyn under attack and comes to her rescue! Tyrion may disparage his fighting prowess, but he gets the job done. It’s his first kill.  Ser Rodrik Cassel and the dark haired man who had offered Tyrion his room in exchange for gold managed to kill the rest.

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Back at Winterfell, Bran is studying up on the houses of Westeros while Theon is practicing his archery.  Bran mentions the Iron Islands, sigil kracken, words “we do not sow.” Theon is from the Iron Islands and his family the Greyjoys are the lords.  Going through the other houses, Bran has a point to make when he gets to his mother’s house, the Tullys.  Their motto is “Family, Duty, Honor” and Bran notes that family comes first but not for his mother who is not with her family right now.  Maester Luwin tries to explain that the mission she is on is for the family, but Bran is unconvinced.

Later, Theon is with Ros the whore who puts him in his place when he goes all “the Greyjoys blah blah, Iron Islands blah blah, 300 years blah blah.”  She points out that he is a captive of the Starks, no matter what he wants to call it, and that he is beholden to them.

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Big shift, over to Arya practicing her footwork by trying to catch a cat.

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Varys wants to talk to Ned in private, somewhat ironic for someone who makes it his business to know what everyone else is saying. He tells him what we’ve all deduced: the king is a fool.  He is not the man Ned knew once.  The eunuch believes he can trust Ned because, after observing him for a month, he can tell Ned is an honest, honorable man.  The King, he tells Ned, is doomed, doomed as in on his way to join his former hand Jon Arryn in the Great Beyond.  He believes Jon Arryn was poisoned and that Robert is next.

Varys believes that the squire, Hugh of the Vale, was the one who gave Jon Arryn the poison. Ned can’t imagine why anyone would have wanted to kill Jon Arryn, but Varys believes he knows why.  The former Hand of the King was asking too many questions.

As Arya continues looking for her cat, she stumbles beneath the castle to the dungeons where the dragon skulls are kept.  There she overhears snippets of a conversation.  “He’s found one bastard already.” “He has the book.” Someone knows Ned is dangerously close to learning the truth that Jon Arryn was also searching for, and was killed for.  The other man asks, when he knows the truth, what will he do?  Whoever is speaking did not try to have Bran killed.  They are also not aligned with either the Starks or the Lannisters.  The first man says someone tried to kill him  (Bran) and “what’s worse, they botched it.” “The wolf and the lion will be at each other’s throats. We will be at war soon.” The other man replies, “We’re not ready.”

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It is Varys talking with Illyrio Mopatis, the man who arranged the marriage between Dany Targaryen and Khal Drogo.  Mopatis asks Varys, “if one hand can die, why not another?” Varys responds, “this hand is not the other.”  Mopatis tells him that Drogo is not yet read to send his army to attack the seven kingdoms.  Illyrio says they need time for Drogo’s son to be born, that he won’t attack until then.  But Varys says not to delay.

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Varys and Baelish, the Spider and Littlefinger, have a testy conversation in the throne room about sexual proclivities and legalities and it’s all about subtext and power.  They have so much in common, lowborn men now sitting in the seat of power, trading on secrets and information, but they also appear to be at odds.  Littlefinger knows all about Varys’ conversation with Illyrio and that seems to surprise and trouble Varys. They are interrupted by Lord Renly who announces an immediate meeting of the small council.

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Arya runs to tell her father what she overheard, but he doesn’t know what to make of what she’s saying and then he’s interrupted by word from Yoren (of the Night’s Watch) who tells Ned that his wife has taken Tyrion Lannister hostage. He wanted Ned to know before word got out to everyone, as a favor to Benjen.


Tyrion may have saved Catelyn’s life, but she still believes he tried to kill Bran, so they continue on their way to the Vale.  They are stopped along the way by the guard of the Vale and then escorted the rest of the way.

Small Council

At the small council meeting, King Robert orders Daenyers Targaryen (along with her unborn child) killed.  And her brother Viserys as well.  Ned advises against it, that it will disgrace the king’s honor.  Robert is furious, the Targaryen threat must be eliminated for the good of the seven kingdoms.  Ned rejects the idea as barbaric and doubts the information is even true.  But Varys has it on very good authority – Ser Jorah Mormont who is one of his spies, serving the realm by feeding information on the Targaryen plans.

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Ned is stubborn.  Even if the information is correct, even if there will be a Targaryen leading a Dothraki army, there is still the matter of the sea between them and Westeros.  He does not believe murdering the girl and her baby is the answer. Varys tries to talk sense to Ned; if the Targaryen child is a boy, he will lead an attack on the realm.  Killing her will save untold thousands of life and the kingdom.  Ned disagrees and he and Robert exchange heated words and Ned resigns his post, with the king mocking his “honor” as he walks out.  Littlefinger follows Ned back to his room and tells him the word “treason” was thrown about.  But before he leaves the capital, Littlefinger can arrange for Ned to speak to the last person Jon Arryn spoke with before his death.

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Up at the Vale, Catelyn has brought Tyrion before her sister, Jon Arryn’s widow, to stand for his crime.  Lysa is on a throne with her son at her bosom which would not be so disturbing if the boy were not old enough to be a Cub Scout.  Lysa and her son already want to see Tyrion dead (“Mommy, make the bad man fly”), but Catelyn says he’s her prisoner and not to hurt him.  Lysa sends him to see Mord.

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Mord is the jailer at one of the best ideas for a jail ever.  You’re not really locked up and are free to leave whenever you want.  If you can fly, you’re in really good shape.


Renly, the king’s younger brother, is being manscaped by Loras, the Knight of Flowers.  So that was why they were looking at each other before the joust.  While chatting about capital gossip, the conversation turns to Loras telling Renly that he would make a better king than Robert.  His family, the Tyrells, are almost as rich as the Lannisters and with their money, perhaps Renly could take the throne.  Loras is brilliant at this, flattering Renly and convincing him to ignore little things like lines of succession and make the decision to become king.  And he sure knows how to bring home his point!

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Cersei comes to visit Robert to gloat about the rift between him and Ned. Strangely, she appears to be defending Ned, but perhaps she just liked having him close by where she could keep her eye on him. Robert is worried about Daeneyrs and her Dothraki husband, but Cersei dismisses his concern.  Every schoolgirl knows the Dothraki won’t cross the Narrow Sea.  But if they did, it would spell the ruin of the kingdom, that’s what worries Robert.

Robert realizes that with the end of the Mad King – a common enemy for the rebels – there is no one unified kingdom.  There are many smaller groups each with its own agenda.  The Lannisters want to own everything, the Starks just want to live in peace up North, they are no longer of one mind.  All that’s holding the realm together was the forced marriage/alliance between Cersei Lannister and Robert Baratheon.

Theirs is by no means a happy marriage, for many reasons, and Cersei turns the conversation to Robert’s one true love, Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna.  Cersei admits that she once loved Robert and wonders if he ever could have loved her, but the answer is no.  Nothing will ever replace Lyanna.  Hard not to feel bad for Cersei at this moment.

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Ned goes to visit the last person Jon Arryn spoke to before he fell ill and it’s a young mother, holding her dark-haired baby who looks just like his father, the King.  She tells Ned to let the King know how beautiful his baby is.  Ned find out from Littlefinger that Robert had many bastards and that Jon Arryn tracked them all down.

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Ned finds himself surrounded by guards, leading them is Jaime Lannister.  When Jory Cassel tells Jaime to stand back, Jaime reminds him that Ned is no longer Hand of the King.  Jaime knows that Tyrion has been taken prisoner by Catelyn and Ned says it was at his order.  Jaime orders Ned taken into custody and his men killed (he doesn’t want Ned killed as he won’t get Tyrion back then).  Ned’s men are disposed of quickly, including Jory (courtesy of a sword through the eye).  Ned goes after Jaime and though Jaime is the one with the reputation, Ned is keeping up with him.  Just as it seems there’ll be an end to the battle, and one that doesn’t bode well for Ned, one of the Lannister guards stabs him in the leg and brings him down.  Jaime cannot kill him, but has made his point.


Varys is an intriguing character.  He has said consistently that he serves the realm – but what does that mean to him?  It seems as if he takes no side in the lion versus wolf feud, and is looking forward to there being a war for the Seven Kingdoms.  Why does he want war and who does he hope prevails?  He sent Jorah Mormont to spy on the Targaryens’ activities with the Dothraki, but he also counsels Illyrio Mopatis of Pentos on the timing of their planned invasion of Westeros.  Illyrio says the must wait until the baby is born, Varys says there is no time to wait.  During the small council meeting, he did not argue against the plan to murder the pregnant Dany, but why would he want her dead if he wants her son to lead the war?

Honorable men who speak the truth can only get away with doing that for so long, before they are fired or worse.

We know more of the story about Theon Greyjoy, that his family had rebelled against King Robert and as part of the punishment, their surviving son was sent to live with the Starks.

As easy as it is to dislike Cersei, hearing how she was forced into a marriage with someone who did not love her and was still holding a torch for his one true love, you realize that maybe she would be different today had Robert been a more loving husband.

Favorite lines: 

Littlefinger: Tell me… does someone somewhere keep your balls in a little box? I’ve often wondered.
Varys: Do you know, I have no idea where they are, and we had been so close.

Bronn: Nothing like a woman after a fight.
Tyrion (looking at Catelyn): I’m willing if she is.

Tyrion: The Eyrie.  They say it’s impregnable.
Bronn: Give me ten men and some spikes and I’ll impregnate the bitch.
Tyrion: I like you.

Catelyn: I am not a murderer, Lannister.
Tyrion: Neither am I. I had nothing to do with the attempt on your son’s life.
Catelyn: The dagger found…
Tyrion: What sort of imbecile arms an assassin with his own blade?
Rodrik Cassel: Gag him.
Tyrion: Why? Am I starting to make sense?

Ned: The narrow sea still lies between us. I’ll fear the Dothraki the day they teach their horses to run on water.

Cersei: Was it ever possible for us? Was there ever a time, ever a moment?
Robert: No.
[Cersei takes a drink]
Robert: Does that make you feel better or worse?
Cersei: It doesn’t make me feel anything.

Tyrion: Oh, did I kill him too?  I’ve been a very busy man.

Jaime: I’m looking for my brother. You remember my brother, don’t you, Ned Stark? Blond hair, sharp tongue, short man.

Jaime: Come, Stark. I’d rather you die sword in hand.
Jory Cassel: If you threaten my lord again…
Jaime: Threaten? As in, I’m going to open your lord from balls to brains and see what Starks are made of?
Ned: You kill me – your brother is a dead man.
Jaime: [smiles] You’re right.
Jaime (to his soldiers): Take him alive. Kill his men.

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Recap of Season 1, Episode 6: “The Golden Crown”


Ned wakes up in bed with the king and queen standing in front of him. He is not in prison, or dead, but he has angered the queen and he’s badly injured. Cersei tells a false story of him coming out of a brothel, drunk, and attacking her brother, but Robert isn’t fooled. Still, all he wants is peace between his wife and his best friend.

Once Cersei leaves, Robert asks Ned to take his old job back. He wants Ned to send a raven to get Cersei’s brother Tyrion returned and settle his feud with the Lannisters once and for all. Robert gets all sentimental, telling Ned that he never loved his own brothers; Ned was the brother he chose. Subtext, so please put up with my wife and her annoying family for my sake! Robert tells Ned that he needs him now, to run things for him while Robert is out hunting boar. If Ned is to be Robert’s adviser, then he’ll advise – so he again raises the issue of what to do about Daenerys Targaryen. And again Robert is pissed. He wants her dead, that’s the end of the discussion. He tells Ned to take back the ceremonial pin of the Hand of the King. “And if you ever take it off again, I swear to god I’ll pin it on Jaime Lannister.” That should be enough to keep Ned in line!

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Alone in her room, Dany places one of the dragon eggs on hot coals. Though very old, she is testing the egg to see if fire will somehow unleash the dragon inside. Nothing happens. After some time, she picks it up again. Her handmaiden is alarmed; Dany’ll burn herself! She grabs the egg away from Dany and burns her own hands. But Dany’s hands are unaffected by the heat. Hmmm.

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We hear cawing and see Bran standing, aiming an arrow. So it’s dream sequence time! Again, he follows the three-eyed-raven as it lands on a statute of a direwolf then continues on towards the Stark family crypt. Bran awakes suddenly to see Hodor bring in the saddle manufactured based on Tyrion’s drawings. Bran is ecstatic to be back riding again! His brother Robb and Theon watch him.


Theon asks when Robb is going to tell Bran (about the Lannister’s attack on Ned and his men, including the murder of Jory). Theon tells Robb that he should make the Lannisters pay for what they did. Jaime is heading towards the Lannister home in Casterly Rock and Robb should go there to avenge the family’s honor. Robb tells Theon, basically, to butt out, it’s not his duty because it’s not his house. Suddenly, they realize they don’t see or hear Bran and Robb is concerned. But Theon was wounded by Robb’s words and he walks off saying it’s not his house.


Bran is riding out to an area called the Wolfswood, the forest outside of Winterfell. There he is attacked by wildlings, the people who normally live beyond the Wall in the north. They want his silver pin and his horse and anything else of value he might have on him. When they find out he is a Stark, the female of the group realizes that he’s related to Benjen Stark of the Night’s Watch. She thinks they’ve struck gold; imagine what Mance Rayder would give for him. But her compatriots disagree, they’re not going back up North, even to trade the boy in. “We’re going as south as south goes. There ain’t no white walkers down in Dorne.”

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Robb to the rescue. “Drop that knife!” A fight ensues. Robb kills the first wildling, then gets caught up by the girl. Meanwhile a third grabs Bran off his horse and holds him with a knife up to his throat. It’s a standoff. Robb lowers his weapon, lest his brother be killed. Suddenly, the man holding Bran is shot with an arrow in the back. Theon had returned. Instead of being grateful, though, Robb is angry that Theon risked Bran’s life. The woman begs for her life and offers to serve them and Robb decides to spare her life.

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Tyrion wakes up in the high prison and immediately calls for the jailer, Mord. Tyrion has a proposition. The Lannisters are rich, rich beyond imagining, and this money can be his if he helps Tyrion. But Mord doesn’t quite understand the concept of virtual versus actual ownership and he walks out.

arya syrio

There is only one god and his name is death. And there is only one thing we say to death: Not today. That is the lesson Syrio Forel gives Arya today during her lesson. He knows she is distracted, upset at the murder of Jory and the wounding of her father. But Syrio wants her to learn to put all that aside when it’s time to fight.

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This week on Bizarre Foods, Dany must eat the heart of a stallion at some religious Dothraki ceremony which is intended to reveal the future of her unborn child. Her brother doubts she’ll be able to do it, but Jorah has faith in her. She manages to keep the food down and it is proclaimed that her son will be the stallion that mounts the world, the Khal that will unite all the people. Dany speaks at the ceremony, announcing in the Dothraki tongue that her son will be called Rhaego. The people all chant and shower her with love. Viserys in concerned.


Viserys is done with the Dothraki. He packs up the three dragon eggs and plans to head out. He can sell them to buy himself a ship and a very large army; he’s not waiting around for Khal Drogo to give him what he wants. Jorah comes in as he’s packing up. Viserys tells Jorah that he’s carried the future of the Targaryen dynasty on his shoulders since he was five, yet he’s never received the outpouring of love and respect that his sister just got in that room. So he’s taking what’s his and splitting. Viserys tells Jorah to step aside, but Jorah refuses. He can go, but he’s leaving Dany’s eggs.

tyrion mord

Tyrion tries to reason with Mord again. “Sometimes possession is an abstract concept.” He goes on to explain that when he was captured, they took his purse but the gold in the purse is still his and it can be Mord’s if he helps Tyrion. He’s not having much luck, so he tries another way. “Have you heard the expression, rich as a Lannister?” He butters him up, you’re a smart man, of course you’ve heard that. “I am a Lannister.” He adds another well known truism of the Lannisters, “A Lannister always pay their debts.” Now, if Mord can connect the dots, Tyrion should be home free. Rich, always pay there debts. All he’s asking is for Mord to deliver a message for him. The message – that he wishes to confess his crimes.


In one of the rare cases where the man defending himself does NOT have a fool for a lawyer, Tyrion is masterful:

Where do I begin, my lords and ladies? I am a vile man, I confess it. My crimes and sins are beyond counting. I have lied and cheated, gambled and whored. I’m not particularly good at violence, but I’m good at convincing others to do violence for me. You want specifics, I suppose. When I was seven, I saw a servant girl bathing in the river. I stole her robe and she was forced to return to the castle naked and in tears. I close my eyes, but I can still see her tits bouncing…

When I was ten, I stuffed my uncle’s boots with goat shit. When confronted with my crime, I blamed a squire. Poor boy was flogged, and I escaped justice. When I was twelve I milked my eel into a pot of turtle stew. I flogged the one-eyed snake, I skinned my sausage. I made the bald man cry into the turtle stew, which I do believe my sister ate. At least I hope she did. I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel…

Needless to say, that’s not the confession Catelyn was looking for, but that’s all she’s getting. She has charged him with hiring a man to assassinate her son and conspiring to kill Jon Arryn. Tyrion swears he knows nothing about those crimes. He demands a real trial.

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Lady Lysa tells him about trials up in the Vale. First, she has the moon door opened, and Tyrion now looks down, way, way down, through a hole in the floor. In the Vale, her seven-year-old, still sucking at his mommy’s teat son Lord Robin listens to the evidence and then the accused will leave through one of the two doors. Looking at her son, it’s unlikely he’d find someone innocent and deprive himself of the fun of watching someone fly.


Tyrion has a better idea. He demands a trial by combat. The audience titters, how can he win a battle? Various knights volunteer to take arms against the Imp on behalf of Lady Arryn, but one says it would not be right to fight Tyrion because of his size. Tyrion agrees and asks for a champion to fight on his behalf, his brother Jaime Lannister. Slick move, but one that won’t work. He has to pick someone actually present. It looks like his plan has backfired, until one man volunteers (for a price, the Lannisters always pay their debts after all) to fight on behalf of Tyrion. Not that he looks all that excited about the prospect, but a gig’s a gig.

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At the hunt, the king’s squire Lancel Lannister is keeping the king’s thirst at bay with constant wine refreshment while he, Renly and Barristan are in search of boar. As Robert drinks more, he wants to talk about the great old days, but younger brother Renly is tired of his chatter. The great old days saw the realm at war, thousands dead and a mad man on the throne killing women and children. The great old days before that saw dragons setting men on fire. Robert tells his brother to remember who he’s speaking to. Renly heads off and Robert continues the hunt, after having even more wine.

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Ned is sitting on the Iron Throne, doing the king’s business in his absence, joined by two from the small council, Littlefinger and Grand Maester Pycelle. Some men from the Riverlands come to say that their villages were burned down, their women and children savagely murdered by men led by a large knight. They weren’t thieves, just a ravaging horde bent on wanton destruction. They left a calling card, dead fish. Littlefinger mentions that fish are the sigil of the House Tully, Catelyn’s family. And the large knight they describe sounds like the Mountain, who has been called Tywin Lannister’s mad dog. Littlefinger assumes that the attack was in retaliation for Catelyn taking Tyrion Lannister.


Ned sends Lord Beric Dondarrion and a hundred knights to execute the Mountain in the king’s name. He also orders Pycelle to send a raven to Casterly Rock, demanding Lord Tywin’s presence in court to answer for the crimes of his bannermen or be branded an enemy of the crown and a traitor to the realm. Littlefinger tries to dissuade Ned from going after the richest man in the realm saying gold wins wars. But Ned wants justice.

bronn fight vale

It’s time for the trial by combat. The moon door is opened and the two men face off. Fighting for the Vale is Ser Vardis Egen, fighting for Tyrion Lannister is Bronn, the man he first met in the Inn at the Crossroads who had sold him his room for the night. Ser Vardis is heavily armored, with a helm and a shield. Bronn is light on his feet and unencumbered. He uses speed and agility to run Ser Vardis ragged, exhausting the knight. He wounds him, then delivers a fatal blow before pushing him through the moon door.

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Tyrion is unchained, has his gold returned to him, pays his debt to Mord and leaves with Bronn.

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Sansa is having some typical teen betrothed-to-a-maniac-against-her-will angst and is getting snippy with her Septa during their sewing bee, when her intended walks in. He apologizes for his monstrous behavior and presents her with a gold necklace. He acts so sincere and contrite, Sansa seems smitten once again. She is his lady and she’ll be queen someday and he’ll never disrespect her, never be cruel to her. It’s right out of the abusive royal boyfriend handbook, so call me dubious.


As Theon is out riding, he sees Ros the prostitute in the back of a wagon. She says she’s going to King’s Landing. She heard that Jaime Lannister attacked Ned Stark in the middle of the capital and she assumes the whole realm will be at war soon (brains and beauty?). There’s nothing for her in Winterfell (it’s not like Theon would make an honest woman out of her), so she’s heading to the capital.


Back at the capital, Ned wants to send his daughters back home to Winterfell for their safety. Neither wants to leave. Arya is enjoying her lessons with Syrio and Sansa is in love again. As Sansa is defending Joffrey, she says something that gets Ned’s attention. She calls Joffrey a lion and talks about them having blond-haired children together some day. Arya reminds her sister that Joffrey’s a stag, not a lion, and that seems to settle the matter for Ned. He’s finally figured out the secret that Jon Arryn died for. But if he needed to get hit over the head with the truth, Sansa adds, “he’s nothing like that old drunk king.” Ned goes to the book on lineage of the old families and sees it at last – Baratheon sons all black of hair, until Joffrey, the golden-haired.


At the Temple of the Dosh Kaleen, the Dothraki are having a great time celebrating the Khaleesi’s pregnancy and all the great things it will bring. Everyone is happy…except for Viserys. He comes in drunk and ready to make a scene. He pulls his sword, despite the fact that he is violating Dothraki law by doing so in a temple. He’s also carrying on about being a king and a dragon. Both Jorah and Dany try to save him from himself, but he’s too drunk, too angry and too convinced of his own invincibility. He knows they Dothraki can’t kill him there; they cannot shed blood in their sacred city.


He says he wants what he was promised. He wants his gold crown. Drogo pays up or Viserys will take Dany back from him. As for the baby, he says he’ll cut it out and leave it for him. All the time, Irri is translating what Viserys is saying for Drogo. Drogo speaks and Dany translates for Viserys. Drogo agrees. Viserys shall have a golden crown that men shall tremble to behold. And that is exactly what he receives.

Where we are:

The Starks: Catelyn and Ser Rodrik will likely be leaving the Eyrie soon, probably for Winterfell, now that Tyrion was set free. Ned is taking the girls back to Winterfell for their safety (against their objections). Bran was slightly wounded by the wildlings, but he and his brothers are safe in Winterfell. Jory Cassel, Rodrik’s son, died defending Ned at the hands of Jaime Lannister.

The Baratheons: Robert is out hunting, having brought Ned back into the fold. He and Cersei have a tense relationship, that he’s done little to help soften. Joffrey is pledging to be a good boyfriend from here on out. Renly is tired of his older brother and has been told by his lover that he should be king instead of Robert.

The Lannisters: Tyrion won his trial by combat and is free once again. Jaime has headed back to Casterly Rock after his fight in the town square with Ned and the killing of Ned’s men. Lance, the squire, is still serving the king. Lord Tywin Lannister has been summoned by Ned, on behalf of the king, to come to King’s Landing to answer for the slaughter of the Riverlands by Ser Gregor Clegane (the Mountain). The Mountain has been stripped of all rights and titles and has a death sentence hanging over his head.

The Targaryens: Viserys finally got his golden crown, possibly the first person to die of irony. Dany is loved by the Dothraki and her husband, and carries a future king inside her. But King Robert has issued an order that she be killed.

Favorite lines:

Robert: I’m the king and I get what I want.

Tyrion (to Mord after he tells him he has lots of gold and Mord looks confused): Well I don’t have it here.

Lysa (to Bronn): You don’t fight with honor.
Bronn (looking down the moon door): No. He did.

Robin: Can I make the little man fly now?
Tyrion: Not this little man. This little man is going home.

Sansa (about Joffrey): I don’t want someone brave and gentle and strong. I want him!

Daenerys (about Viserys): He was no dragon.

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Recap of Season 1, Episode 7: “You Win or You Die”

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In a tent set up at the edges of the Riverlands, Jaime Lannister is talking with his father, Lord Tywin Lannister, as the latter skins and butchers a recent kill. Tywin is methodical and precise and seems to possess little humor. Jaime reads him the proclamation demanding Tywin be returned to King’s Landing to face charges related to the attack on Ned Stark by his bannerman Ser Gregor (the Mountain) Clegane. If Tywin fails to return, he will be named an enemy of the crown.

Tywin tells his son that he was stupid to attack Ned Stark. Jaime explained the reason – Catelyn Stark took his brother Tyrion. So why isn’t Ned Stark dead? Jaime explains how his bannerman had interfered and wounded Ned and finishing him off then wouldn’t have been clean. Tywin is disgusted. But he will give Jaime half his army, some 30,000 men, to go to the Riverlands (Catelyn Stark’s childhood home) and remind them that “Lannisters always pay their debts.”

Jaime comments that he didn’t realize Tywin put such a great value on Tyrion’s life. Tywin scoffs, “He’s a Lannister. He might be the lowest of the Lannisters, but he’s one of us. And every day that he remains a prisoner, the less our name commands respect.” It’s not that he cares about Tyrion’s life as his son, but for the message that letting him remain a captive would send about the power and position of the Lannisters. And all that matters to him is that the Lannister name live on.


But Tywin is not done spreading the fatherly love. He lets his eldest son know what a disappointment he has been. He was blessed many times over with gifts and yet he has squandered them. He’s served as a “glorified bodyguard to two kings, one a madman, the other a drunk.” The future of the Lannisters rests on what happens in the next few months. They can establish a dynasty that will live for a thousand years or collapse into nothing like the Targaryens did. Hmm, interesting he should mention them. Wasn’t Viserys talking about his importance to the Targaryen dynasty in the previous episode?

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Back at King’s Landing, Queen Cersei comes to talk with Ned. She tries to encourage him to leave and go back home. Ned tells her that he knows the truth that Jon Arryn died for, the truth about her and Jaime. She doesn’t deny it and said the Targaryens have done the same thing to keep the bloodlines pure. More importantly, she and Jaime have a very special bond. Ned accuses her of trying to kill Bran because he saw them together and she doesn’t deny that either.

But what she does deny is that she never loved Robert and never wished things could be different. She worshiped him, back when he was the handsome young fighter. But he was in love with another, Ned’s sister Lyanna, and there wasn’t room in their marriage for both Lyanna’s corpse and Cersei (she’s speaking figuratively here, but you get the idea).

Ned gives Cersei the chance to get out of King’s Landing safely. He tells her that she and her children should leave the capital before Robert comes back from the hunt. But Cersei has some advice for Ned. She tells Ned that he should have taken the Iron Throne when he had the chance. Right after King’s Landing fell, Jaime was seated on the throne. He stood up and Ned could have taken his place and been King. This was a mistake, because “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

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Ros and another girl are at Littlefinger’s brothel, interviewing for a job. He gives them pointers at how whoring is done in the capital. Ros asks if Littlefinger wants to join them but he says he’s saving himself for another. Someone who he’s loved most of his life and who loved him too.

In the series’ first example of sexposition, they use the distraction of the girls making out to allow Littlefinger to go into a detailed exposition on his backstory. He starts to tell them the story of his unrequited love for Catelyn Stark. “I was her little confidant, her plaything.” But she told him about the man she wanted to marry, a Northerner with a jaw like an anvil, so Littlefinger challenged him to a duel. Littlefinger was outmatched. “In the end, she wouldn’t even let him kill me.” But the man, who we know was Ned’s older brother, gave Littlefinger a scar to remember him by. In the end, she didn’t even marry him, he was killed before the wedding. She ended up with his younger brother.

So what lesson did Littlefinger take away? That he’d never win, playing their game with their rules. He’s going to fuck them. That’s how he is going to get what he wants, which is everything.

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Theon Greyjoy is talking to Osha, the wildling that was captured after a failed ambush on Bran. He tells her that where he comes from, she wouldn’t have it so easy. He describes how they would slowly kill her for doing the same thing if she were on the Iron Islands. He tries to insult her and put her in her place, but she manages to hold her own. As he gets a little too familiar with her, Maester Luwin breaks it up. But Osha tells Luwin not to worry, she can protect herself.

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Luwin asks why she and her fellow wildlings came down this way, and she explained that their plan was to get as “south as south” goes. There are things that sleep during the day and hunt at night – the white walkers. He tells her they’ve been gone for thousands of years, but she says they weren’t gone. They were sleeping.

Jon and Sam are chilling on top of the Wall, talking about girls, when they see a horse coming their way from the north. It is Benjen Stark’s horse and it has no rider.


Back at King’s Landing, Renly rushes up to Ned with shocking news. King Robert has been critically wounded in the hunt, attacked by a boar. Ned finds Robert lying in bed and talking to Joffrey. Cersei, Luwin, Lord Commander Barristan (of the Kingsguard), and Renly are there as well. Joffrey looks devastated and Robert tries to make peace with him, apologizing for being a terrible father. Robert asks everyone but Ned to leave. Cersei tries to object, but she’s sent away.

Robert knows he’s dying and doesn’t have much time. He asks Ned to write down his wishes and deliver the letter to the council upon his death. Ned will take the place of the king until his son Joffrey comes of age. Knowing now that Joffrey is not Robert’s son, Ned takes creative license and changes the language to “my rightful heir.” Robert signs it and is satisfied that he finally did something right. He also agrees with Ned to take the hit off of Daenerys Targaryen.

Ned leaves and goes to talk to Barristan Selmy who is blaming himself for not stopping Robert. But Robert was too drunk to listen. Varys, standing nearby, asks not-so-innocuously, who plied Robert with all that wine. It was his squire, Lancel Lannister – the queen’s cousin. Ned tries to salvage at least the Targaryen girl’s life, asking Varys to stop the plot before it’s carried out, but he tells Ned she’s likely dead already.

Dany and Drogo discuss her desire to reclaim the Iron Throne. He doesn’t want his men crossing the sea and doesn’t want to talk about getting ships or invading lands across the water just for a throne. He thinks all a man needs to rule is a horse, not a throne. Dany, Jorah and some of her handmaidens go to a local bazaar. There, Jorah goes off on his own to see if there are any letters for him. A young boy tells him there is a message from the Spider (Varys) – a royal pardon allowing Jorah to return to the Seven Kingdoms.


A wine merchant is selling his goods. When Dany comes over, he offers her a very special cask all her own. The very best wine he has. Jorah is suspicious. Is he suspicious because Varys has suddenly freed him from his position as spy? Or is it the way the man reacts to hearing that Dany is the Targaryen heir? Regardless, he interrupts and toys with the wine merchant for a bit until his suspicions are confirmed and demands that the man taste his wine first. The man panics and runs, but Rakharo ropes him like a steer and takes him down.

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At Castle Black, it’s time for the assignment of duties. First, Lord Mormont gives a rousing speech about how, no matter who you were before you came here, you are now a brother of the Night’s Watch. You fight for the realm and all the people in it. Once you take the Black, there’s no going back. The penalty for desertion is death. Those who believe in the old gods, like Jon, can take their vows tonight near the weirwood north of the Wall, like Benjen did. Sam asks if he can join Jon. He was raised with the Seven, not the old gods, but when he becomes a member of the Night’s Watch, he is leaving his old house and joining a new one.

Sam is assigned to be a steward, assisting Maester Aemon in the library. Everyone expects Jon will be a ranger, but when the jobs are all handed out, Jon ends up a steward for Lord Commander Mormont. He’s angry because he doesn’t want to be a servant, he wanted to ride out and find his missing uncle. Sam tries to talk sense to Jon, explaining that working with and for the Lord Commander is actually a great opportunity.

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Renly approaches Ned with a proposition. He knows that his brother appointed Ned protector of the realm after his death. He also knows that Cersei will not stand by and let that happen. So he offers Ned an army to help him fight the Lannisters by taking Joffrey into custody and away from the queen immediately. “By the time Robert dies it will be too late for the both of us.”

Ned is troubled. What about Stannis, Renly’s older brother? Again, Renly tries to warn him. There is no time to worry about lines of succession, there is a narrow window that must be seized. As he points out, succession didn’t matter when Ned and Robert were unseating the Mad King, why is it an issue now. Oh snap.

What’s best for the kingdoms? What’s best for the people we rule? These are the ultimate questions facing everyone in the Game of Thrones. Who would make the best king (or queen). How do you determine what is best for the realm? Ned is faced with making a split second decision that might affect the future of all of Westeros, how do you make that decision? What do you base it on?

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Renly proclaims himself as the rightful king. He commands respect and loyalty. It should fall to him and not Stannis. Ned is furious. Stannis is his idea of a future king – a commander who has led men into war; he destroyed the Greyjoy fleet ending Balon’s Rebellion. But Renly challenges him. Robert was a great commander as well but has been a lousy king. Does Ned still believe great soldiers make great kings?

Ned has decided. “I will not dishonor Robert’s last hours by shedding blood in his halls and dragging frightened children from their beds.”

Ned writes a letter to be delivered to Stannis Baratheon in Dragonstone directly. Littlefinger comes in and bows to his “lord protector.” Sarcasm, bitterness, what is in his voice? Ned gets down to business. Robert has no true heir, his children are actually Jaime Lannister’s bastards. Hard to read Littlefinger’s face – is this a surprise to him? He recognizes immediately that when Robert dies, Stannis is next in line. Littlefinger thinks there’s an out, but Ned has already dug in his heels on this.


Littlefinger’s idea is that Ned side with Joffrey and proclaim him the true heir. This is Ned’s chance to seize power. He can make peace with the Lannisters, return Tyrion, wed Sansa to Joffrey, and take charge of the realm himself. If Joffrey looks like he’ll be a problem, Ned can reveal the truth then. They will have ample time (and men and money) to defeat Stannis. And if Joffrey has to be revealed a bastard, then Renly can take the throne. Interesting that Littlefinger, like Loras Tyrell, both think Renly should be king.

Ned won’t hear of it. He won’t side with the family who tried to kill his son. So Ned will side with Stannis’ claim to the throne and there will be a war. Littlefinger asks why he was summoned if not for his advice. Ned reminds Littlefinger that he promised Catelyn that he would help Ned. Ned knows the queen has hundreds of guards, enough to defeat his. Ned needs the City Watch, the gold cloaks, to side with him. But Littlefinger asks Ned, rhetorically, who will the gold cloaks choose protect when the Hand of the King says one thing and the Queen another. “The man who pays them.”

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It’s time for Jon and Sam to take their vows to become official men of the Night’s Watch. Their celebration is cut short when Jon’s direwolf Ghost trots in carrying a dismembered human hand.

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Dany and Jorah are talking about the fate of the failed wine assassin. She was surprised that King Robert would come after her, and Jorah tells her it won’t be the last time. She is the last of the Targaryens and her child will carry on the dynasty, supported by 40,000 soldiers. Khal Drogo comes in and is relieved to see Dany unhurt. He thanks Jorah for saving her life and gives him his choice of any horse. He has a gift for his unborn son as well – the iron throne.

King Robert’s attempt to get rid of Dany (and the Targaryens) has backfired in a huge way. Drogo had no intention of leading an army into the seven kingdoms, he was happy staying on the safe side of the Narrow Sea. But now he will avenge his wife and their child and help them get what is theirs. He is pumped and ready to rain terror and as he works his men into a frenzy Dany has never been so turned on.

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Robert is king no more. King Joffrey has summoned Ned Stark to the throne room. As he approaches, Littlefinger and Varys are there. Littlefinger promises Ned that the City Watch is on his side, but Lord Renly has left the city taking Ser Loras Tyrell and some 50 retainers with him.

As Ned approaches the throne room, he is met by Janos Slynt, the commander of the City Watch who tells him, “We stand behind you, Lord Stark.” Ned walks up to find Joffrey seated on the Iron Throne, his mother Cersei seated at his right hand, and members of the Kingsguard protecting him. Joffrey orders the council to make all necessary arrangements to have him crowned immediately. He is demanding oaths of loyalty from the council (Varys bows, Littlefinger looks to his right, and Ned stares straight ahead).

Ned asks Ser Barristan Selmy to read the letter he has from the late king regarding succession and he does. Cersei demands to see the letter. She takes the letter and tears it in pieces, asking if Ned intended to use it as his shield. Barristan seems shocked that the queen would ignore the king’s order, but she says we have a new king now and that is more significant to her than a little piece of paper.

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Cersei gives Ned one choice, one chance. Bend the knee, pledge fealty to Joffrey, and spend the rest of his days in quiet retirement up north. But Ned is a man of honor and he will not betray his friend Robert or the realm, so he refuses. He announces that Joffrey has no claim to the throne and Cersei says that he condemns himself with his words. She orders Barristan to take Ned into custody. Barristan approaches; Ned tells his men to hold off from attacking Barristan, and when a standoff appears likely, Cersei tests the range of her power. Joffrey has seen enough; he yells “Kill him!” The Mountain goes for his sword.

But Ned has his own supporters. He instructs Janos to take the queen and her court into custody. The men of the City Watch are ready to fight. But Ned wants no bloodshed. He wants to take the throne away from Cersei (and Joffrey) without resorting to violence. He’s been drinking too much milk of the poppy.

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Cersei looks over at Janos, and you suddenly realize who he’s actually fighting for. He shouts, “Now!” and his men of the City Watch attack Ned’s smaller group of supporters. Littlefinger grabs Ned and puts a dagger to his throat. “I did warn you not to trust me.”

What the hell just happened? Ned had a letter from the King authorizing him to take over as protector of the realm until his heir came of age. He has proof that Joffrey is not the rightful heir. He had an agreement from Littlefinger and he had the City Watch. But he didn’t have the money the Lannisters have nor did he have the “dishonor” to do what it takes, the willingness to shed a little blood when it’s called for. He could have revealed the truth before Robert died. He could have negotiated an agreement with Renly to let him sit the throne. He could have had Cersei and her children rounded up and slaughtered. But he chose the honorable path and now he has a knife to his throat and his men are dead.

Favorite Lines:

Tywin (to Jaime): The lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of the sheep.

Theon: You’ve never heard of the Iron Islands?
Osha: Trust me. You’ve never heard of where I come from neither.

Sam: I always wanted to be a wizard.

Ned: What you suggest is treason.
Littlefinger: Only if we lose.

Littlefinger: We only make peace with our enemies, my lord. That’s why it’s called “making peace.”

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