A new house appears in the opening credits! The Twins is featured, a mirror image castle belonging to Lord Frey and his rather large family. House Frey is a bannerman to House Tully of the Riverlands.
In the opening scene, Varys visits Ned in the gloomy dark dungeon. Varys informs Ned of Sansa’s deeds to save his life and that Varys does not want Ned to die. We get a little history of Varys life and his explanation of his current role in the king’s court. When Ned pleads for a straight answer to what Varys wants, he replies “Peace” and then informs Ned about Rob commanding an army of Northmen and his march south. Varys goes on to speak of Stannis Baratheon and Ned steadfastly claims Stannis as the rightful heir to the throne. That’s when Varys speaks sly words of wisdom for Ned to support Joffery’s reign to save his life. He urges Ned to submit to the Lannister rule, to call off his son’s army and most of all support the realm. The dishonor in Varys’ suggestions almost makes Ned spontaneously combust as he is not willing to trade his precious honor in order to live. He is not afraid to die. That’s when Varys reminds Ned that his decision will also affect his daughters’ lives, giving Ned something to stew over as he sits in the dark abyss.
At The Twins a raven carrying a message is shot down by Theon. Rob thinks the message seems non-threatening, but Theon is not so sure. Cat orders Theon to continue killing the avian messengers least a message get to the Lannisters about Rob’s true position. Rob is perplexed as Frey is a bannerman to his grandfather and should support Rob, but he is rightfully warned not to expect much of Lord Frey. There is some disagreement on how to move forward and cross The Trident. Cat practically suggests she be the one to speak with Frey as she has known him the longest and she believes he would never harm her. Then someone reminds her “unless there is profit in it.” In the end, she is the one that meets with Lord Walder Frey (David Bradley).
Frey in his ornery senior years speaks harshly and then lords over his sons who try to speak reason to their elder. Cat asks for more privacy and Frey reluctantly dismisses his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons. Frey speaks after his young wife and then chides Cat on the absence of her father at their wedding. Cat reminds him that her father is ill, but it Frey whines like a schoolboy as his feelings are gravely hurt. When they finally get to the point: Rob needs safe passage across The Trident with his men, Frey is not amused or frightened by the size of the army at his door. It seems he doesn’t care a lick about any of the High Houses and is one tough egg to crack, this crossing will cost Rob.
At The Wall, The Old Bear asks after Jon’s injured hand and then presents him with a gift. A sword made of the rare Valyrian steel, complete with a white wolf fashioned on its pummel. The sword is a Mormont family heirloom and has been in the family for centuries. Long Claw, is Jon’s payment for saving the commander’s life. Jeor then informs Jon that Ser Alliser Thorne has been ordered to take the zombie!hand to the new king. As Jon leaves his master he is congratulated by his brothers in black for his brave antics. He then shows off the sword, but notice not all the brothers are excited by Jon’s new elevated status. Jon takes a seat next to Sam and finds his friend is sitting on a large secret. Sam struggles a bit before he decides to tell his friend the news brought by a raven, news of Rob’s march south to war. Surprised, Jon wishes to be with his brother.
Back at The Twins, Cat returns to her son’s camp with news that not only has their crossing been approved but also Lord Frey is sending some of his men to join up with Rob’s army. The price? Rob will have a new Frey squire, Ayra will have a Frey husband when she is old enough and Rob will also have his choice of one of the Frey girls to wed. Rob asks after their attractiveness while Theon sniggers and Cat doesn’t give a very comforting response. Rob agrees to the terms rather reluctantly and the army moves across the river.
Further North to The Wall, Jon visits Maester Aemon upon request. As Jon feeds the squawking ravens Aemon speaks of love (or lack thereof) and duty as a “have one or the other” (see Jedi code here). Aemon speaks wise words for Jon to heed when Jon interprets them incorrectly Aemon gives him a surprising history lesson on his lineage. Aemon is a Targaryen, son and brother of kings, uncle to the Mad King Aerys. He too was forced to make a decision between love and duty. Aemon leaves the choice to Jon on whether he should stay at the Wall or desert to follow his brother.
Across the Narrow Sea, the Dothraki are on the move again. In the lead is Dany with her beloved Khal who is slums in his saddle and appears to be in grave pain. Dany calls after her husband until he commits a BIG Dothraki no-no: He falls off his horse. He is delirious and his people now question his fit to rule. Dany orders the camp to be set up and struggles to get the soldiers to obey her. The healer Mirri Maz Duur is summoned and Dany is left to worry over her husband.
In the Lannister camp, Tyrion joins his father’s meeting and feast as they are being debriefed on Rob Stark’s whereabouts. Tywin comments on Tyrion’s mountain men and then proceeds to inform his youngest son that he and his men will fight in the Vanguard or first charge in the next morning’s battle, Tyrion is clever enough to read between the lines and is no longer hungry. He leaves and goes back to his tent where a very beautiful brown haired woman is waiting for him. A fulfilled mission of Bronn’s, who leaves shortly to find his own when Tyrion gives him the news of their position for tomorrow’s battle. The girl’s name is Shae (Sibel Kekilli). Terms and conditions are made and proposals are accepted.
Back at the Dothraki camp, Drogo is doing no better as he mutters feverishly. Jorah takes a look at the festering wound and regretfully informs the bride that her husband will not make it through the night. Dany refuses to accept the news while Jorah urges her to flee quickly as she will no longer be protected once the Khal perishes. Dany refuses this also. Mirri enters and tells them what they already know, Drogo is dying. One of the Khal’s bloodriders accuses her of harming the Khal and then makes threats. It becomes clear that all hell will break loose when Drogo dies. Dany stands her ground as “Blood of the Dragon” and the bloodrider is not intimidated when he reminds her that all the dragons are dead. Dany instructs Jorah to wear his armor before she pleads with Mirri to save the Khal. Mirri insist there is nothing she can do until Dany mentions magic. Well now, she does know “a spell.” Dany orders her to perform it. Mirri reminds her that there is a price, death pays for life. Mirri asks for Drogo’s horse which is promptly brought to her kicking and screaming, its fate known. Dany’s bodyguards plead with her to change her mind, but she does not. Mirri tells them all to leave, but Dany will not go until Mirri tells her that she must because “the dead will dance here tonight.” The horse is slain and Dany exits to a crowd of onlookers. A now suited Jorah comes up and asks Dany what she done. He scolds her gently as they walk away and hear hellish howling from within the tent. A fight starts and Dany is thrown on her swelled belly. Jorah performs a deadly dance with the bloodrider which works out in the exiled knight’s favor. He then goes to Dany’s side and she informs him that the baby is coming. Jorah takes her into the tent where the dead walk, na¯ve of the consequences.
Back in Tyrion’s tent the eve before battle, Shea, Bronn and Tyrion play some sort of candle burning on flesh drinking game. The game changes to another popular Westeros drinking game where we learn Tyrion is an excellent judge of character…when it comes to Bronn. We also get the full story of Tyrion’s star-crossed love affair and how monstrous his father can be.
In the morning, Lannister soldiers hastily assemble. Tyrion and Shae are woken abruptly by Bronn, Stark’s soldiers rode through the night and are only a mile away. It’s time to suit up for war. The camp is in a tizzy of preparation as Bronn and Tyrion ready themselves. Bronn gives him some helpful battle survival techniques before Tyrion rallies his mountain men. Amidst cheers of “Half-Man” Tyrion is knocked down early by his own men and misses the battle? Err…read the books for the full account of the battle, Tyrion rocks hard!
The battle is over and the Lannisters have “won.” Yet it was Rob Stark who had the last laugh by only sending 10% of his army to face Tywin while the other portion crossed The Twins to Riverrun and Jamie. Tyrion is injured by alive.
Outside of Riverrun, Cat waits with a few guards as the real battle rages in the distance. Rodrick pleads with her to leave but she will have none of it as she watches her eldest son return with his captive. Jamie of House Lannister is bound and thrown at her feet as Rob recounts the ambush. Cat demands her daughters and her husband returned and Theon urges his best friend to kill Jamie. Rob thinks the captive is more use alive and Cat commands he be put in irons. Jamie challenges Rob to one-on-one combat, an idea Rob denies him. Rob addresses his men in a speech fit for a king as he declares the war far from over.
Bells toll in King’s Landing as Arya kills a pigeon for food. She begs a baker for some hot pies and is rudely turned away when she notices all the citizens migrating in the same direction. A boy informs her that Ned Stark is being brought to the Sept of Baelor and Arya falls in line with the crowd. She pushes through to get a better view as her father is brought out to the assembled crowd. He sees her sitting on the statue but does nothing to draw attention to her as he is ushered through the crowd, until he sees Yoren and discretely informs him. Ned is brought before the King, the Regent Queen, his daughter and the small council.
Eddard Stark addresses the crowd and confesses his crimes (aka he lies). He declares Joffrey as the one true heir to the throne much to the boy king’s delight. Pycelle preaches justice and mercy before he asks the king for a sentence.
Joffrey informs the crowd of his mother’s and Sansa’s wishes, to let Ned join the Night’s Watch. He lightly rebukes them as his sadistic nature shines. He refuses the women’s wishes and sentences Ned to death. Sansa screams and cries in terror and Arya runs through the crowd before she is stopped by Yoren and her vision is protected from what happens next. Cersei pleads with her son to change his mind and Joffrey smiles, thoroughly amused and high on the crowd’s approval of him. The sword is drawn and Ned watches the cheering crowd before he succumbs to his death and loses his head.
Don’t forget to check out my other “Game of Thrones” recaps:
Episode 1, Episdoe 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6Episode 7 and Episode 8