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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 The Escapist’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!

We got a lot of new characters and information dumped on us this week. It was a lot to take in, but we’re starting to get answers to some of the questions that were raised in the first two episodes. Let’s dig in!

NED STARK and company arrive at KING’S LANDING, which looks golden and warm – a stark (ha!) contrast to the barren cold of WINTERFELL. No sooner have they arrived than Ned is told that GRAND MAESTER PYCELLE has called a meeting of the SMALL COUNCIL, the King’s advisors. As Ned makes his way toward the meeting room, we get our first glimpse of the IRON THRONE and see JAIME LANNISTER lounging across the dais. He rises to greet Ned, asking him if he feels uncomfortable in the throne room – the very room where Ned’s father and brother died bravely at the hand of the Mad King, who burned them alive. This is the King that Jaime stabbed in the back to earn his title of Kingslayer – it also happens to be Aerys Targaryen, Viserys and Daenerys’ dad.

Ned heads into the council room, where we’re introduced to PETYR BAELISH, Grand Maester Pycelle, VARYS (not to be confused with Viserys), and RENLY BARATHEON in rapid succession. (To help keep them straight, Pycelle is the old one, Varys is the fat, bald one, Petyr looks just like an older Cameron Frye and Renly is … the other one.) King Robert (aka Fat Bob) wants to hold a tournament in honor of Ned becoming Hand, but it turns out that the crown is six million gold in debt. Petyr figures they’ll just borrow even more money from the Lannisters to pay for the tournament – which will cost a measly 80,000, (heck, chump change by comparison!), but Ned actually likes to have the money to pay for things and insists on talking to Fat Bob before preparations for the tourney go any further.

Meanwhile, CERSEI is tending the bite JOFFREY got from ARYA’s wolf, and he is, true to form, complaining and whining like the little bitch he is. As spineless as he is, he does at least have an accurate view of what happened, which is he got his ass whupped in front of a couple of girls. Cersei doesn’t quite remember it that way, displaying a remarkable ability to reject your reality and replace it with her own. He doesn’t want to marry Sansa, thinks all Northerners are barbaric peasants and declares that, were he king, he’d take the North by force and make them all bend the knee to him. Cersei indulges his little self-important outburst, then reminds him that the North is too large and wild to be held. Joffrey declares the Starks his enemy; Cersei refines that by saying anyone “not us” is the enemy.

Arya, still pissed at … well, the world, really … is stabbing the table while Sansa sulks nearby. As Ned comes in, Arya storms off the way that only young girls can. Ned gives Sansa a doll to try to make up for having to kill her wolf, but she snottily declares that she hasn’t played with dolls since she was 8 and then she storms off. (Has there been a kid on this show yet that isn’t a complete pill? Might be the most effective birth control ever developed.) Ned follows Arya to her room, where he discovers her playing with NEEDLE. When Ned tells her that ladies shouldn’t play with swords, Arya tells him she wasn’t playing and doesn’t want to be a lady. Mission accomplished, buttercup. Arya is really angry with Sansa for not sticking up for her about the whole Joffrey incident, but Ned explains that she couldn’t really – she is supposed to marry Joffrey, after all, and publicly calling him a liar isn’t exactly the best way to start things off. The Starks are in dangerous lands, he says, giving us the warmer, fuzzier version of what Cersei was saying to Joffrey. It’s Starks vs. Lannisters in King’s Landing, and the bad guys have home field advantage.

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Back at Winterfell, BRAN is lying in bed, utterly miserable as an old woman sits nearby, knitting. She has plenty of stories, but he tells her he only wants to hear the scary ones. So she stars telling him about Winter. He was summer-born, so he has no idea of the hell that’s about to descend upon them: 100-ft snows, women killing their own babies rather than have them starve to death, and, worst of all, the White Walkers coming on their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders. Bran looks appropriately terrified. (As does a good chunk of the audience, I imagine.) ROBB STARK comes to see if Bran remembers anything about his accident, but the young boy doesn’t. Bran tells his older brother that he’d rather be dead than crippled.

CATELYN STARK arrives at King’s Landing. She hopes to sneak in unrecognized, but a pair of guards descends upon her as soon as she’s through the gate. Turns out they were sent by her old friend Petyr Baelish, who has her escorted to a local whorehouse that he happens to own. Cat is less than amused. Varys knew she was coming, it seems, but he can’t identify the dagger that Bran’s assassin used. Petyr, however, can – it’s his. Or well, it was, before he lost it in a bet to TYRION LANNISTER. Ok, everyone who thinks someone who serves his family with his brain would be stupid enough to use his one-of-a-kind dagger to off Ned Stark’s kid, raise your hand. Yeah, didn’t think so.

Petyr brings Ned to see Cat in the whorehouse, an awkward situation under the best of circumstances, but made more awkward by the fact that Petyr once courted Cat and is clearly still in love with her. She says he’s like a brother to her. Ouch. Despite being shoved firmly into “friend” territory, Petyr says he’ll help Ned and Cat figure out the truth behind the attack on Bran. Ned sends Cat back to Winterfell where she’ll be safe.

Back at THE WALL, JON SNOW has been owning the other recruits during sword practice, and they decide to take it out on him in the equipment shed. They’re just about to rearrange his anatomy when Tyrion walks in and reminds them that he’s the queen’s brother in just about the most unsubtle way possible. Jon is feeling betrayed because no one told him the truth about what The Wall was really like – no one but Tyrion, that is. He’s shocked to find out that it is full of suck, and out of sorts because he believes himself to be better than everyone else there. Tyrion points out that the other recruits didn’t have the benefit of being trained by a man-at-arms like Jon did, and aren’t there by choice like he is. One was arrested for stealing cheese to feed his starving sister, and the other was abandoned by his father, so maybe Jon should stop being such a whiny prick and count his blessings. He doesn’t actually say that last bit, but it’s definitely implied.

As expected, Cersei is freaking out because Bran’s awake. She’s terrified that he’ll spill the beans to Ned, but Jaime tells her to relax, pointing out that the word of a kid isn’t exactly bulletproof. He assures her that he’ll kill Bran if he has to. And the King. And anyone he has to in order for the two of them to be together. This scene would actually be incredibly romantic if it weren’t for the fact he’s talking to his sister. Yeeeeeeesh.

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Let’s leave the heartwarming crew at King’s Landing for the open plains and the Dothraki horde, shall we? SER JORAH MORMONT is explaining to Daenerys that the Dothraki don’t believe in money; most of their slaves are giving to them by cities that don’t want to be sacked. The Dothraki sometimes go ahead and sack them anyway, if they feel like it. Daenerys sees one of the slaves in the column being beaten and tells Ser Jorah to call a halt. This is kind of a Big Moment for her, because she’s starting to embrace her role as Khaleesi and bossing people around. When she gets off her horse to have a bit of a walk, her brother Viserys rushes up to her and threatens her with his sword. He is beyond enraged that she would dare to order him around (apparently ordering the rest of the Dothraki to halt is fine, but not him). One of the Dothraki snares Viserys with a whip, choking him. He politely offers to kill Viserys, should Daenerys want him to. She declines. Viserys orders Mormont to kill the Dothraki that nearly choked him to death. Mormont declines. Viserys shouts “I am your KING!” Not yet, you’re not, bitch.

Back at The Wall, Jon rides the elevator to the top for his very first look over the edge into the wilderness. UNCLE BENJI is there, but as FIRST RANGER is obligated to leave in the morning to get back to patrolling the forest. The reports from the far side of the wall have been growing more unsettling, but back inside, Tyrion scoffs at them, saying he doesn’t believe in giants and White Walkers and the other supernatural things that the Night’s Watch is supposedly guarding against. The leaders of the Night’s Watch beg Tyrion to put in a good word for them with his sister. They’re understaffed and just barely scraping by; they’d be hard pressed to actually defend against any serious incursion.

Daenerys is practicing her Dothraki when her handmaiden feels her up and announces that Dany is preggo. It’s a blessing from the Great Stallion, which, disappointingly, is the Dothraki deity and not a nickname for Khal Drogo. (HIYO!) When the handmaiden shares the glorious news with Ser Jorah, he says he has to bugger off and will meet up with the horde in VAES DOTHRAK.

Dany tells Drogo that she’s expecting a boy as they’re cuddling in bed. From raping her on the shoreline to snuggling in just two episodes. Impressive, Khal! It’s unfortunate how much of this storyline has been axed, because we’ve seen none of the tenderness that Drogo used to win Daenerys over in the books. The TV version of Khal Drogo is little more than muscles, guyliner, and a penis, apparently existing solely to shutup Dany every so often. It’s a disappointing choice.

Tyrion pisses off the edge of The Wall, just as he said he’d do. Jon asks him to stop in at Winterfell on his way back south and say hi to Bran, which Tyrion promises he’ll do. Back at King’s Landing, Arya begins classes with her “dance instructor,” SYRIO FOREL, a flamboyant master of the Braavos style of sword fighting. Ned looks on with the same kind of parental indulgence that he had for Bran practicing his archery, but the smile soon fades as he hears the sounds of war in his head.

Whew! That was a lot of material to cover, and we have a lot of new things to think about. Did Tyrion really have anything to do with Bran’s assassination? Will the wedding of Joffrey and Sansa go through? What’s going to happen to Bran? If Dany really is carrying a boy, where does that leave Viserys? (Or Fat Bob, for that matter.) Discuss in the comments! (If you’ve read the books and already know the answers, please use spoiler tags for the sake of those who haven’t yet. Thanks!)

Missed our previous recaps or commentary? Just head here to find everything you need.

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