The bloody sword. The first thing we see is the sword that took the life of Ned Stark. We hear the crowd cheering, we see Ned’s head being raised by the executioner, Ilyn Payne, and then we’re faced with poor Arya, clutching Yoren, yet looking so alone among those who cheer her “traitor” father’s death.
Yoren says to her, “you remember me boy?” He keeps saying “boy,” how she’s a smart boy and will be coming with him. He picks up her up and carries her away. Elsewhere, we see her sister Sansa passing out. Yoren has Arya alone and he finally gets his point across to her. He’ll take her North, to safety, but it’ll be easier for him to leave with a boy recruit for the Night’s Watch than the late Ned Stark’s daughter.
Cawing means one thing, Bran is having that dream again. He follows the three-eyed raven into the Stark family crypt, it rests on the direwolf, and Bran follows it. His father is there. Bran tells Osha about the dream as she carries him towards the crypt (Hodor is afraid to go in there). As they walk through, he tells her his family’s history, his grandfather Rickard, burned alive by the Mad King Aerys, his aunt Lyanna, kidnapped and killed by Raeghar Targaryen, Bran points to where in the dream he saw Ned, and Osha shows Bran that he’s not there, it was just a dream.
Suddenly, we hear a strange growling sound. A direwolf charges for them, and it turns out it’s Rickon’s wolf Shaggydog. Rickon is down in the crypt to see their father. Bran reminds him that father is back at King’s Landing with Arya and Sansa, but Rickon swears he saw him in the crypt last night…when he was sleeping. So Rickon has pretty accurate dreams, too.
Osha and Bran leave the crypt and Osha is telling Bran that it’s perfectly normal for them to dream about their dad, whom they miss, but that it doesn’t mean anything. Then we see Maester Luwin reading a parchment and we can tell he just received the news about Ned.
Catelyn is walking, emotionless, through a line of soldiers who drop to their knees as she passes and you know they all know what happened at King’s Landing. When she is alone, she starts to lose control. Then she hears steel clanging and grunting and she finds Robb beside himself with grief, taking all his anger and hurt out on a poor, defenseless tree. He collapses in her arms and cries that he’ll kill them all. But Catelyn reminds him that “they” have her sisters. “We have to get the girls back,” she says. “And then we will kill them all.”
In the throne room, King Joffrey is sitting in judgment. Marillion, a troubadour, is singing a song about the late King Robert that mocks the king’s rotundity and his ball-buster of a widow Cersei. Joffrey fake applauds the song (possibly inventing the slow-clap) and then asks the troubadour what punishment would be appropriate for him singing that offensive song in a tavern. Would he prefer to lose his fingers or his tongue, keeping in mind that slitting his throat is not off the table. Marillion says a man needs his hands, so Joffrey orders Ser Ilyn Payne as the ideal candidate to cut out the man’s tongue.
Having ordered the torture and mutilation, Joffrey is done for the day. He walks by a red-faced and nearly catatonic Sansa and tells her she looks nice. If possible, that moment is even creepier than his sentencing the troubadour, which we see and hear carried out at the same moment. Joffrey suggests they take a walk. What could possibly be bad about that? Oh, wait, this is Joffrey we’re talking about. He tells her that as soon as she’s able to conceive, he’ll put a baby in her. He’s such a romantic! And, look, here’s what he wants to show her – her father’s head on a spike. And her Septa and others loyal to the Starks. He’s such a giver.
In fact, he promises to give Sansa her brother Robb’s head as well. Sansa defiantly responds, “Or he’ll give me yours,” and we realize that he hasn’t killed her spirit. There’s still some Stark in there. He stays calm, saying his mother said he cannot hit his intended, so instead he orders Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard to do it for him. Stay classy, Joffrey. They’re standing on a bridge and after Sansa is struck, it occurs to her that she could shove Joffrey over the edge. She moves towards him, but the Hound stops her. Surprisingly, instead of letting Joffrey know what she was planning, the Hound acts as if he just wanted to wipe away her blood. The Hound gives her some advice, “Save yourself some pain, girl. Give him what he wants.” That was kinda nice of him.
Back at Robb’s camp, they’re discussing their next move. Some suggest pledging themselves to Lord Renly and moving south to join his army. Robb disagrees. Renly has no claim, he is Robert’s youngest brother. If anyone has a rightful claim to the throne, it’s Stannis. Greatjon Umber says, a pox on both of them. The North should be self-ruling. The North bowed to the dragons, but now that the dragons are dead, the North should rule itself. The only king he would recognize is Robb, The King in the North. Theon declares himself for “his brother” Robb. One by one, each of the men takes a knee proclaiming Robb the King in the North.
Catelyn goes to see her prisoner, Jaime Lannister. He starts baiting her, making rude sexual innuendos to Ned’s widow. She picks up a rock and hits him alongside the head. They spar verbally; he is all cockiness and bravado, she is full of anger and hatred. He mocks her late husband’s gods, she tells him what a vile person he is. She asks about Bran and Jaime confesses to pushing him out the window. Why? “I thought the fall would kill him.” Well, you ask as stupid question…. Either Jaime has a huge death wish, or he realizes he is worth more alive than dead.
Cersei is alone with a naked Lancel (her late husband’s squire and her cousin), and he’s excited at the prospect of war. Elsewhere, his father Kevan, Tywin’s brother, is at a war meeting with Tywin, Tyrion and various others. They are discussing Robb taking Jaime hostage and that fact that both Renly and Stannis Baratheon have declared against the Lannisters. Jaime’s army was destroyed and things are looking bleak. Someone suggests suing for peace and Tyrion says the chance for peace ended when Ned Stark lost his head.
Tywin Lannister cuts through all the jibber jabber of what should be done next by booming, “They have my son!” One wonders if Tywin acted the same when Tyrion was taken captive. Putting that aside, Tywin agrees with his youngest son – if Ned Stark were alive they would have a bargaining chip to use to get Jaime back and they would have time to deal with the Baratheon brothers. For now, the plan is for the Mountain to take the Riverland and the rest will regroup at Harrenhall (NW of King’s Landing and just south of the Trident). As for Tyrion, he’ll go back to King’s Landing. To do what, he asks. To rule, to be Hand of the King in Tywin’s stead. Tyrion is shocked. Why him? “You’re my son.” How does Tywin manage to sound so pained making such a simple statement? One more thing, Tyrion can’t take “his whore” with him.
Daenerys wakes up and Jorah, who had been at her bedside, tells her that her son is dead. He was born dead, his body twisted and scaled like a lizard with wings like a bat. Mirri had delivered the baby and she tells Dany what happened and then adds that she had warned Dany that only death can pay for life. She may possibly have the world’s worst bedside manner. Dany says if her son’s life was the price she paid to save Drogo, so be it. She demands to see her sun and stars.
As they go to see Drogo, Jorah tells Dany that the khalasar has left. There are just a few of the Dothraki left. Dany sees Drogo and, yes, he’s alive, but in a vegetative state. He’s just a shell. Mirri has had her fun. She promised a life for a life, she didn’t say anything about the quality of that life. She did this to spite them all. They burned her temple, murdered and raped her people, and this is what they deserve. Dany and Drogo’s son would have burned down cities; with his death, the cities are safe. Dany is incredulous. “I saved you!” But Mirri tells her she’d already been raped by three men by the time Dany “saved” her.
We finally know what Jon has decided. Sam cries out, “You can’t,” but Jon is leaving the Wall to go and fight for Ned, for Robb. Sam tries his hardest to stop him and warns Jon what happens to deserters, but Jon used to watch his old man chop the heads off of deserters, so he’s aware of the risk he’s taking.
Shae is not thrilled to learn about Tyrion’s promotion, especially as it means she can’t come with him. She’s ticked that she’s being treated like a common whore since, I suspect, she thinks she’s an uncommon one. But she has Tyrion wrapped around her finger, so she pouts and he gives in.
Jon is running away with Ghost his direwolf by his side when he hears sounds of hooves coming up behind and then shouts and the name “Samwell!” He turns around to find Pyp, Sam and Grenn out in the woods to find him and bring him back to Castle Black before anyone finds that he has left. Jon tells them that he has to go help his brother, but Sam reminds him that “we’re your brothers now.” Awww, how can you say no to that? You can’t, and neither can Jon. Especially when each of his friends recite the vow they took, it’s all pretty sweet.
Dany is taking care of Drogo and talking to him, hoping to see some sign that he’s still in there. Slowly, she comes to realize that he’s gone and never coming back, just like Mirri said. She kisses him one last time and then puts a pillow over his face and smothers him.
It’s sexposition time, brought to you by Maester Pycelle. Really not someone you want to have in a sentence with the word sex in it. He’s awfully chatty, regaling Ros, our favorite redheaded whore, with all the kings he’s served. Aerys Targaryen, who had once been a good man until he was consumed by dreams of fire and blood and fell into madness. Robert Baratheon, a powerful man and a great warrior, but not nearly as adept as ruling the kingdom as he was at winning it.
He praises the current king as a capable young man with a strong military mind, stern. Perhaps he’s been sucking too much milk of the poppy if he thinks what Joffrey does can be labeled stern. He goes on to say he sees true greatness with Joffrey. And he thinks Aerys was mad? So Ros leaves and he’s been coughing and asking her to repeat things and basically acting like a doddering old man. Until she shuts the door, and he stands straight up, starts doing calisthenics to put Jack LaLane to shame, and we discover that Pycelle is not what he seems.
We see Littlefinger standing in the throne room, looking up at the Iron Throne. Varys walks in and asks him what his vision is of life when he’s ruling Westeros. Littlefinger doesn’t skip a beat and accepts that he has ambitions. He asks what Varys would do, and he responds that he’s probably one of the few men who does not want to be king. Littlefinger takes a few jabs at the eunuch, asking him some delicate questions. Their exchange is rather heated for one in such hushed tones, with such a veneer of civility. There is animus and posturing, but each appears wary of the other.
It’s such a riveting scene, it begs another photo. These two were in the small council, the innermost circle with the last king, who died mysteriously, and now hold the same position with the new king. One admits he wants power, the other has said all he wants is what’s best for the realm. Varys, the eunuch former actor with no significant bloodline and Baelish, aka Littlefinger, the self made man with excellent connections, both advising the most powerful men in the realm.
Introducing Arry the orphan boy. Apparently orphans in the capital get really bad haircuts. But it is a great thing Yoren has done for Arya, giving her a way to be incognito. He’s rounding up some twenty boys to take to the Wall, so she won’t stand out. He tells her she’s not safe as a girl, but if she keeps her head down and stays out of trouble, he should be able to get her up there safely.
Of course, Arya immediately gets in the middle of a scrape with some bigger boys, who were looking for someone to bully. They picked the wrong girl – uh – boy. They try and steal her sword, but she is not giving up Needle. She comes at the fatter and more belligerent of the two boys and tells him she’s already killed a fat boy and would be happy to add him to her Kill Bill-like list.
She backs him up into an older boy who then gives the fat boy even more grief (oh, you like picking on the little ones, do you?). It’s Gendry, the blacksmith that Ned Stark talked to and figured out was one of Robert’s bastards. He scares the bullies away and then talks to Arya for a bit, noticing that the sword she has is of very high quality. He explains that he’s going to the Wall because his master (who he apprenticed for) grew tired of him. Yoren gets them all rounded up and headed 1,000 Leagues to the North. Winter is Coming.
It’s a new morning at Castle Black and Commander Mormont is grousing about his breakfast. He offhandedly asked Jon Snow if he’s tired from his moonlight ride. So Mormont knows about Jon’s desertion. But Jon isn’t in trouble. Everyone tries to run away and at least he had a nobler reason than to find a whorehouse nearby. But no more talk about going south. There are problems north of the Wall, rangers finding whole villages abandoned. A captured wildling said the tribes are joining forces and more of the blue-eyed re-animated corpses (wights) have been found near the wall.
So Mormont asks him: “Do you think your brother’s war is more important than ours?” When he give the right answer, no, he wins a trip beyond the Wall! Mormont is taking a small party out there tomorrow and he wants Jon to come (and bring your direwolf). Being a season-ending episode, Mormont adds a great mini-speech about what he hopes to accomplish (next time!) including finding Benjen Stark, dead or alive.
A funeral pyre is built for Drogo and Dany places the three dragon’s eggs with his body. Jorah discourages her from destroying the eggs, saying she could sell them for enough money to live out the rest of her days a wealthy woman. But she refuses. Jorah knows that Dany intends to join Drogo in the fire and he doesn’t want her to kill herself. But Dany knows what she has to do. She speaks to the small remaining group of slaves. She tells them that they will be her khalasar, not slaves any more. They can go if they wish, or they can stay with her and live free. Mirri finds it funny when a bunch leave and her chuckles did not go unnoticed. Dany orders Jorah to tie Mirri to the pyre.
Dany proclaims herself the dragon’s daughter. As the fires grow higher, and the singing of the sorceress turns to screams, Dany walks into the flames. Jorah looks on, but knows he can’t stop her. The next morning, the freed slaves who stayed are just waking as Jorah and Rakharo walks towards the pile of ashes that was the pyre. There, on the ground, he finds Dany, dirty, naked, but alive. We hear a sound and then we see it, a red baby dragon on her shoulder. Jorah kneels, saying, “Blood of my blood.” The rest of her khalasar bow down to her as she stands, displaying all three of her baby dragons. She’s not only the dragon’s daughter, she’s the mother of dragons.
That’s the end of season one! Dany has dragons! The Night’s Watch is heading north of the wall to fight for the realm. Arya has escaped King’s Landing.
Joffrey: I’ll tell you what. I’m going to give you a present. After I raise my armies, and kill your traitor brother, I’ll give you his head as well.
Sansa: Or maybe he’ll give me yours.
Jaime: You look lovely tonight Lady Stark. Widowhood becomes you. Your bed must be lonely, is that why you came? I’m not at my best, but I think I could be of service. Here, slip out of that gown and we’ll see if I’m up to it.
Jaime: There are no men like me. Only me.
Tywin: I always thought you were a stunted fool. Perhaps I was wrong.
Tyrion: Half wrong.
Tywin: And if you get so much as a whiff of any treason from any of the rest — Baelish, Varys, Pycelle —
Tyrion: Heads, spikes, walls.
Pyp, Sam and Grenn (reciting the Night’s Watch Oath):
Hear my words and bear witness to my vow. Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.
Pycelle: If a man goes through life with his battle visor down, he can often be blind to the enemies at his side.
Varys (to Littlefinger in the throne room): When you imagine yourself up there, how do you look? Does the crown fit? Do all the lords and ladies simper and bow, the ones who sneered at you for years?
Littlefinger: It’s hard for them to simper and bow without heads.
Varys: A man with great ambitions and no morals. I wouldn’t bet against you.
Mormont: Honor made you leave. Honor brought you back.
Jon: My friends brought me back.
Mormont: I didn’t say it was your honor.
Mormont: When dead men and worse come hunting for us in the night, do you think it matters who sits on the Iron Throne?