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!
Last week, Ned and his daughters started to realize that they weren’t entirely welcome at King’s Landing, and Catelyn started investigating Bran’s “fall.” The tension increases this week.
The episode opens with Bran following a raven through the courtyard at Winterfell, which is moderately odd, given that he’s crippled from the waist down. Ah, but a closer inspection of the raven reveals the bird’s sporting a third eye in the middle of its head, and that Bran is dreaming. After he wakes up, HODOR, the gentle giant that is the Blaster to Bran’s Master, scoops him up and brings him down to greet the visitor talking with Robb – it’s only polite, after all. The visitor is in fact Tyrion Lannister, who’s trading barbs with Robb in the main hall. Tyrion asks if Bran remembers anything from before his accident and Maester Luwin swiftly assures him that nope, Bran’s a blank slate as far as that’s concerned. Tyrion reveals that he’s brought Bran a gift: the design for a special saddle that will let Bran ride, despite not being able to use his legs. Robb is highly suspicious, but Tyrion says he has a soft spot for “cripples, bastards and broken things.” Realizing he may have just been kind of a dick, Robb offers Tyrion the hospitality of Winterfell. Tyrion, however, says he’d rather stay at the local whorehouse.
On his way out, Tyrion runs into THEON GREYJOY, who recommends a whore named Roz if Tyrion is in the mood for a redhead. (Who isn’t, though, really?) Tyrion asks Greyjoy where Catelyn Stark is, interpreting boy’s excuses to mean that Cat is not, in fact, at Winterfell, despite what everyone claims. Greyjoy’s dad led a rebellion but apparently lost in a very big way – Theon’s brothers are dead and Theon himself is “his enemy’s squire”, as Tyrion puts it. You wouldn’t think it would be possible for someone so short to look down on someone, but, man, is Tyrion good at it.
Up at The Wall, ALLISER THORNE brings in a new recruit, the rotund SAMWELL TARLEY, and tells him to spar with the other recruits. Sam is quickly revealed to be a lousy soldier, dropping to the ground and yielding after a single hit. Thorne tells one of the other boys to keep hitting Sam until he gets up, but Jon Snow gets sick of seeing the poor boy cowering in the dirt and steps in. As punishment for having a kind heart, Thorne sets two of his fellows on him, but Jon handles them easily. Sam thanks Jon for sticking up for him and reveals that he didn’t get up because he’s a stone cold coward. Thanks, Sam, but we’d pretty much figured that one out for ourselves.
Meanwhile, out where it’s not quite so god-awful cold, the Dothraki horde has arrived at Vaes Dothrak, City of the Horse Lords. Viserys is less than impressed by primitive architecture and calls the horsemen “savages”. Daenerys warns him not to speak of her people that way, clearly really getting into her role as Khaleesi. Daenerys asks Ser Jorah if Viserys could actually get his throne back if he had an army of Dothraki at his command. Jorah says “Oh, HELL no” about as diplomatically as he can, but Daenerys gets the picture, just the same.
Now, we haven’t really seen all that much of the Dothraki storyline, which is what makes this next scene so very odd. Doreah, the ex-whore who Viserys bought to teach his sister how to screw like a champ, is sharing a tub with Viserys, chatting about how much she’d like to see a dragon. Not a euphemism – she means the actual big flying lizards. The scene stretches on for ages, but essentially reveals two things: The throne room at King’s Landing used to be lined with dragon skulls, and Viserys is a real jerk. One of these facts is news to us. I can’t really understand why so much time was devoted to this scene, when so much of Daenerys’ relationship with Drogo was mercilessly cut. It’s an odd and disappointing choice.
The Small Council is going over problems with the tourney – yep, they decided to have it anyway, despite the fact that they can’t afford it. The City Watch is having trouble dealing with the influx of people, so Ned says he’ll give 20 of his household guard to help keep the peace. The meeting breaks up, and Ned asks Pycelle about Jon Arryn. Turns out that the night before he died, Jon asked Pycelle for a book: Lineages and History of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, with descriptions of many highborns, noble ladies and their children. It’s basically family tree stuff, with physical descriptions of hair and eye color thrown in for good measure. Arryn didn’t say what he wanted with it, but interestingly kept saying “The seed is strong” as he was dying. Ned suggests that perhaps he was poisoned, which leads Pycelle to comment that poison is the tool of women, craven and eunuchs, oh, and hey, Ned, did you know Varys was a eunuch? Just putting that out there. Subtle, Pycelle.
Arya is practicing her “dancing” by balancing on one foot and tells her father that tomorrow she’ll be chasing cats. She’s quoting her teacher, Syrio Forel as though he was the font of wisdom himself, which Ned finds adorable. But when Arya asks if she could be lord of a holdfast someday, Ned tells her that she’ll marry a high lord and run his castle, and her sons will be knights. She’s about as horrified by that vision of the future as she could be and quickly goes back to balancing on one foot. Oh, Ned. You look, but you do not see.
Jon Snow is on watch at The Wall when Sam comes to join him as watch partner and reveals that not only is he afraid of heights, he can’t actually see that well. So, let’s review: crap in a fight, can’t see, scared of heights. What the hell’s he doing on The Wall? As it turns out, on the morning of his 18th birthday, Sam’s dad gave him a choice – take the black or suffer a hunting “accident.” Either decision was fine by pop. Sam frets that he’s going to have to fight again tomorrow, but Jon reassures him by pointing out that it’s not like he can get any worse, after all. They share a laugh over that. That’s a true friend, right there, folks.
Petyr tells Ned that Ned should be a bit more circumspect about looking into Jon Arryn’s death, indicating that Varys and Cersei have spies everywhere in King’s Landing. Petyr suggests that Ned send a trusted friend to go question Ser Hugh, who was Jon Arryn’s squire, then suddenly got knighted as soon as Jon Arryn was dead. After talking to Ser Hugh, says Petyr, it would be wise to visit a certain armorer that Jon Arryn saw several times before he died. Ned does, indeed, send the captain of his guard, JORY CASSEL, to talk to Ser Hugh, but the knight just blows him off so Ned heads off to the armorer himself. It seems that Jon Arryn was there to see a boy, GENDRY, and though he started off by asking the boy if he enjoyed his work and was being treated well, he eventually started asking Gendry about his mother. What she looked like, who she was. She died when he was little, so Gendry doesn’t remember much, just that she had yellow hair. Gendry, on the other hand, has black hair and blue eyes. Putting that information together with Jon Arryn’s recent taste in reading, Ned comes to a very uncomfortable realization. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to King Robert’s bastard son.
Jon Snow tells his friends to stop making fun of Sam, because he’s their brother now, and it’s their job to protect him. One of the recruits says, ha, if Thorne tells me to, I’ll beat the crap out of him. So Jon, his pals, and his dire wolf Ghost decide to pay that guy a little friendly visit in the middle of the night. Just, you know, to chat. Lo and behold, nobody’s eager to thrash Sam the next day at practice. Funny how attitudes can change! Thorne, sensing that Snow has orchestrated this little bit of protection, is less than thrilled.
Viserys storms into Daenerys’ tent, dragging Doreah by her hair and screaming that Daenerys is not to order him around. She’d sent Doreah to invite Viserys to dinner, but he’s beyond reason, his freakout increasing as he spots the Dothraki-style garb that Daenerys had made for him. He sneers at her, asking, what next, a braid? She sneers back, telling him that he doesn’t deserve a braid because he hasn’t won a victory yet. He slaps her and sends her to the ground. She says the next time you raise a hand to me is the last time you have hands. This isn’t going to end well, people.
Doing chores at The Wall, Jon and Sam bond over the fact they’re both virgins. Jon was once alone in a room with a naked girl, a whore named Roz (wow, she gets around), but he couldn’t do the deed because he’s a bastard. He’s never met his mother; he doesn’t know if she’s living or dead, a noblewoman or a whore. All he could think was, what if he gets this prostitute pregnant, and she has the kid? Another bastard named Snow. Not a good life for a child. Thorne interrupts their conversation to try to impress upon them that Winter really sucks and they’re such sissyboys that they’re both going to die. But, hey, at least they can eat Sam once he’s dead. I bet Thorne doesn’t get invited to a lot of parties, you know?
Daenerys tells Ser Jorah that she hit Viserys. She doesn’t want him on the throne, but she knows the common people are praying for his return. (Gee, wonder where she got that idea?) Ser Jorah assures her that the common people couldn’t really care less – they just want food, a roof, and dry clothes. Daenerys realizes that Viserys will never reclaim the throne because he couldn’t lead an army even if he had one.
At the tournament, Joffrey glares at Sansa, who we learned from an earlier brief scene is so angry at her dad that she never wants to speak to him again. (Find me a single girl who didn’t say that at least once as she was growing up. I think I said it pretty much weekly until I turned 16.) Arya asks Petyr why they call him Littlefinger. When he was young he was very small, and he comes from a little strip of land called the Fingers, so there you have it. Not really as much fun of a nickname now that you know the truth, is it?
The tournament begins and SER GREGOR CLEGANE (aka THE MOUNTAIN, also aka The Hound’s older brother) rolls up, ready to throw down against his opponent, Ser Hugh, aka Jon Arryn’s ex-squire. They joust and Ser Hugh ends up with a whopping great chunk of wood sticking out of his windpipe. As Ser Hugh bleeds out a few feet away, Petyr leands over to tell Sansa about when The Hound was just a pup, six years old maybe, and Gregor was a few years older. One evening, Gregor found his little brother playing by the fire with Gregor’s toy, a wooden knight. Gregor grabbed his brother by the scruff of his neck and shoved his face into the burning coals, which seems a bit excessive, I think you’ll agree. Sansa says she won’t tell anyone and Petyr says good idea; if The Hound heard you speak of it, all the knights in king’s landing couldn’t protect you. So why tell her in the first place?
Cersei comes to visit Ned, who’s blowing off the tourney, and they exchange “I know you know” kind of banter. She asks why he’s in King’s Landing, he replies that he’s there because the King asked him to serve. She tells him he won’t do any good – Fat King Bob will be just as useless whether Ned is there or not – then realizes Ned’s just following orders. He’s just a soldier, but it’s hard to tell whether she pities him or understands him. There’s no question that he understands her, though, as he makes a point of mentioning that soldier or not, he was trained to kill his enemies. Ohhhhh, snap.
Cat is taking a moment to relax at an inn on her way back to Winterfell, but is trying to keep her identity on the downlow. Wouldn’t you know it, in busts Tyrion, making sure to greet her as loudly and grandly as he can. Catelyn then decides to do her own bit of calling people by name, identifying various people in the inn and mentioning their alliance to her parents. Once she’s made her position quite clear, she declares to the room that Tyrion conspired to murder her son, and beseeches them in the name of King Robert and the lords they serve, to sieze Tyrion and take him to Winterfell to await the king’s justice. They are all happy to oblige and suddenly Tyrion appears to be feeling slightly less clever than he did a few moments ago.
Shit’s about to get real, people!