Fans of George R. R. Martin's book series probably have no trouble following along with the lavish Game of Thrones series, but those new to the material might have had a hard time telling Westeros from Winterfell. If you're a longtime fan, you'll definitely want to check out Greg Tito's commentary on the series, but if you're a confused newbie, fear not! We'll be here with your weekly recap to help you keep it all straight. Or at least as straight as we can keep anything involving the Lannisters, anyway. We'll be doing these recaps each week. Let's go!
This week's episode raised a lot of questions that it never really addressed - why is it so odd to see Direwolves this far south? What are White Walkers? What happened to Ned's sister and why is Fat Bob still so angry about it? - but there's no real need to try and keep them straight just at the moment. They'll all come up again in the future. For now, let's just learn the major players in this particular Game.
The episode begins with three soldiers, clad in black, riding out from THE WALL into the snowy countryside. These are members of the NIGHT'S WATCH, who guard the northernmost border of civilization against, among other things, WILDLINGS. These three guys are apparently meant to be looking into recent Wildling activities. After poking around a bit, one of them finds a campsite with several mutilated bodies arranged in a design on the forest floor, and a small girl impaled on a nearby tree. He collects his companions to show them, but when they return to the campsite, the bodies are gone. Now, anyone with a lick of sense would know that while hacked-to-bits bodies is bad, missing hacked-to-bits bodies is worse, and the guy who found the bodies proves that he's the smartest of the bunch by suggesting they all get the hell outta Dodge. But these guys decide to do some more looking around, anyway, and it's not long before a white creature with too-blue eyes arrives to kill them, which leads to the first beheading of the evening. Yes, this is the kind of show that has a "first beheading."
We leave the final member of the Night's Watch trio to his fate and nip over to the very muddy WINTERFELL, home of the STARK family. A young boy, BRAN STARK, is practicing his archery, while his parents, EDDARD (NED to his pals) and CATELYN look on affectionately from above. Bran kind of sucks at archery, but hey, he's only 10, so give the kid a break. While the boys work on their bow and arrow skills, we see a group of girls, including the daintily demure SANSA STARK and her tomboy sister ARYA working on their stitchery. Sansa impresses her teacher with her skills while Arya nips outside to show up Bran with her bow-work. Sibling rivalry ensues and the grownups, including Bran's older brother ROBB get a good "remember when we were that young?" chuckle out of it.