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Over the past 9 weeks, we’ve been transported into the world of WESTEROS. We see that peace in the realm has been in delicate balance, because it all comes crashing and spiraling down rather quickly. “Fire and Blood” caps off the first season, but it ultimately serves to set-up much of the story that is to come in the next one and next novel. If you are a fan of the books and are interested in spoiler rich in-depth discussion of the episode, you should head over to Greg Tito’s Fire and Blood commentary.

Our opening shot proves to fulfill the latter half of the episode title’s namesake. We see the goopy bloody sword of SER ILYN PAYNE having freshly freed NED STARKS’ head from his neck. YOREN, the member of the NIGHT’S WATCH we met earlier in the series, is quick to drag ARYA off in the commotion. The court is in an uproar because of JOFFERY’s brash actions and the crowd is simply feeding off it. No one notices the man in black giving Arya a new haircut and instructing her that she is a boy now. She is to call herself Arry now and should she need to use the bathroom she ought to do it in the woods away from everyone else. Yoren has come to KING’S LANDING to raid the dungeons for new recruits for the Night’s Watch, and he is leading a group of them back north to The Wall. In addition to a few unsavory fellows in a barred pen, Arry meets some of the younger boys destined for The Night’s Watch. A rather portly one unsuccessfully tries to take away her sword, and we see that GENDRY, the blacksmith’s apprentice and Robert’s bastard son, is also bound for the Wall.

Ravens travel a fair bit faster than a sad procession of would-be watchmen though and news of Ned’s beheading rapidly begins to spread. In WINTERFELL, both BRAN and his younger brother RICKON dreamed of their father returning to his place in the keep’s crypt before hearing the news from MAESTER LUWIN. The other Starks are taking the news with varying degrees of civility. SANSA is later brought before the severed head of her father by Joffery and he even has one of the Kingsguard slap her around a bit. Ironically enough, we see a bit of kindness towards her from one of the least knightly and chivalrous looking characters, “THE HOUND”. CATELYNCatelyn keeps on a straight face until she is out of view from the rest of the army camp. Her son ROBB seemed to have similar ideas, because she’s drawn to the sound of him trying to hack down some massive tree with his now busted and dulled longsword. They promise to “kill them [Lannisters] all” after rescuring Arya and Sansa.

This is a thought somewhat known to the Lannister’s themselves. With JAIME captured, his army scattered, the Northern men now having joined the FREY and RIVERRUN lords and both RENLY and STANNIS declared for the throne, the Lannister army is in a bad spot. TRYION is also quick to point out that Joffery’s action just beheaded any hope of suing for peace. TYWIN LANNISTER orders his army to regroup at HARRENHALL, but he sends GREGOR out to raid the Riverrun lands and he sends Tyrion to King’s Landing to act, and basically rule, in his stead. It’s clear that the father favors Jaime, but Imp or not he still proclaims Tyrion to be his son and the man for the job in running the kingdom and keeping Joffery and CERSI under control.

Likewise the Nothernmen and Riverlords have their own ideas about who should be ruling now. Following Robb’s crushing defeat of Jaime’s forces, what started merely a means to get his father back has spiraled into something more as they all declare Robb to be the King in the North. It seems they were never quite so happy with the rule from the south in the first place, and now with the Lannisters, Stannis and Renly all vying for the Iron Throne they are all too willing to say to hell with it and let them keep the world’s most uncomfortable chair. Even Theon pledges his eternal loyalty and service to his new “brother” king.

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At Castle Black, JON goes for a little midnight ride on learning the news. He practically runs SAM over to make his escape, but after a short chase through the woods, his friends and now brothers convince him to honor his oath to The Night’s Watch. In the morning the LORD COMMANDER confronts him about it, but seems pleased that he’s returned and mentions that if they killed every man that wandered off for a night that only ghosts would defend the wall. Not that he has any intention of simply standing on the Wall now; the Night’s Watch is going to ride north to scout around in force. With more blue eyed corpses turning up, whole villages of Wildlings being abandoned, rangers going missing and reports of great fires in the mountains Mormont has decided that they are going to go get some answers, though perhaps in more of a stab with swords first and ask questions later kind of way.

That’s not to say that everyone is taking the news so aggressively. Cersi has taken LANCEL as a slightly less creepy stand in for her brother, kissing cousins being only barely better than incestuous twins. GRAND MAESTER PYCELLE is even getting a little action, though I wish they could have found a less see through night gown for him. The seemingly timid old man is also not without a degree of slyness. We see him limber enough for stretches, and his relations with the whore ROZ are implied, but when he goes to leave his chamber he dons the familiar stooped shoulders and hobbling walk of a man so advanced in his years. Finally, VARYS and LITTLEFINGERS get just a little bit of screen time and have another purely verbal sparring match.

Across the ocean, DAENRYS awakes to find that her son did not survive the child birth and it was said that he came out monstrous, with scales and leathery wings. The ritual has preserved DROGO’s life, but only in the most twisted sense of the word. The great Khal is essentially a vegetable, a living body that doesn’t respond. Daenrys accuses MIRRI of tricking her, an accusation she is all too willing to accept. She took her revenge for what was done to her people despite being saved by Daenrys. By this point most of the horde has disbanded, they follow strength as JOREH puts it. So when it becomes apparent that the strength of Drogo is not going to return, Daenrys smothers him instead of forcing him to live out such a sad existence. They build a great funeral pyre for him, complete with dragon eggs and a treacherous witch as some extra kindling. With the bon fire lit and crackling, she steps through the fires into the center of it, seemingly choosing to end her life than live on without him.

Or does she? After a fake fade to black, we see Daenrys alive, though naked and a little ashy, untouched by the fire. Remember all those hints to her enduring heats that would normally hurt another person? More importantly though, those petrified dragon eggs just needed a really good incubator because the three are hatched and we end with them screeching out across the plain and what remains of the khal.

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