Expert chess players are experts because they not only have the ability to memorize a shit-ton of moves, but the ability to instantly recognize patterns that indicate which of the many moves they’ve memorized to employ. You only get to this position by learning how to manipulate the pieces over and over and over again. All of this means that Ned Stark should have spent more time playing the game than worrying about manners and honor.
We start our adventure in a foggy, misty field where red tents spread as far as the eye can see. It’s a city that can quickly be on the move. This is the Lannister camp, and with a face slap of foreshadowing, Tywin Lannister has donned an executioner’s apron and butchers (poorly) a massive elk. (When you slit the entrails, you have to be delicate or you spill the bowels and ruin the meat. He did do an excellent job skinning it, I will say.) Although… Guess who’s house is the stag? Robert Baratheon.
Jaime Lannister is reading the summons that Ned sent off, calling him to court to account for his crimes. Tywin is quite irritated with his son. Sure, Tywin thinks his dwarf son is the “lowest of the low” (hurr) but by Gods, he’s a Lannister, which makes him better than most. Jaime needs to handle family business, and quickly. Any time a Lannister is made to look bad, that lowers their power and position. Jaime doesn’t matter, Cersei doesn’t matter. What matters is that the legacy they leave behind. Ahem.
Tywin ups Jaime’s experience points by giving him half of their tens of thousands of forces. He will take this army to Riverrun and kill Catelyn for laying hands on Tyrion. Then he will take out anyone that opposed the Lannisters and they will begin their greatest dynasty. That means, of course, that it’s time for Jaime to start making babies. “I need you to become that man you were always meant to be.” Oh, Daddy Lannister. What you’re about to learn.
In King’s Landing, Ned has called a courtyard meeting with Cersei. She simpers and snipes at him for a bit, trying to get him to leave, and he pulls out all the stops.
Ned: “Tell your brother lover that I know your kids are his. Also, gross!”
Cersei: “Pfft, it’s more like masturbation, not incest, because we’re twins.”
Ned: “That makes no sense. Also, you’re being really cavalier about this conversation out in the open!”
Cersei: “The Targaryens mated brother to sister for hundreds of years to keep their bloodlines pure.”
Ned: “That explains crazy Gold Head… Wait, I’m still really grossed out. Also, your husband is my best friend! Even though he’s a drunken boor.”
Cersei: “Oh, I loved him, once. But when he took my virginity-
Jaime: Hundreds of miles away, gets the urge to laugh, doesn’t know why
Cersei: “-that night he called out your sister’s name. So that really sucked.”
Ned: “Er, yeah. Nonetheless, I’m telling, you better gather your gross, pinched faced flowers from your creepy attic and fly away, little starling, fly fly fly, because Robert is going to hunt you down and kill you all. I assume.”
Cersei: “Hey Ned? You’re kind of an idiot. You think what you think, and I’m going to keep manipulating the game board. Bye, bye!”
It’s been a while since we’ve been to a whorehouse, and guess who’s there in a sort of audition? Ros, of course. Baelish is… trying her out. Well, he’s not personally, he’s just listening to her ridiculous performance on one of his other girls.
“No, no, no, this isn’t some silly Whores Gone Wild episode, everyone knows you’re to be paid for, your job is to make them forget they paid for this! And you’re supposed to be the greatest whore in all of Westeros?”
Ros then engages in a little light anal play (wow) while Baelish tells his tale of lost love, and of course he means Catelyn Stark. He was just a boy, they were best friends, she wasn’t a looker, but she would talk about horses to him. What’s not to love? She didn’t think of him like that, it seems, and he’s never gotten over it. Ros moves on to some fisting (good lord) and Baelish tells them, “I learned that I’ll never win. I’m not going to fight them, I’m going to fuck them.”
Speaking of, giant climax, a slap on the ass, and it seems Ros has the job. (I should say so!) Baelish simpers, sends them off to clean up, and schemes.
Tonks is chained up in the dungeons of Winterfell (or maybe the entire place just feels like a dungeon after the sunny openness of King’s Landing?) moving a bunch of straw from one corner to the other. Greyjoy shows up and tries to show off to her, but she’s a Northerner. A true Northerner from the other side of the wall. She’s… seen things. Terrible, horrible things. And the likes of Theon Greyjoy – who is becoming more and more of a dick – isn’t going to frighten or intimidate her. He moves on to getting a little rape-y but is tossed out by Master Luwin who reminds him that he, too, is a special “guest” of the house. Just like Tonks. Greyjoy swallows his pride and stomps off.
Luwin then asks Tonks what on earth she was doing in their area anyway, and Tonks gets a fight or flight look in her eye – the things of the night have woken up and she’s going as far south as a body can get. The owls and night kitties, you mean? Of course she doesn’t, crazy old man. She means the Wight Walkers. But… haven’t they been gone for a thousand years?
It seems they’ve woken up. And you know how hungry you get when you’ve overslept, right?
We continue north to the great wall, seven hundred feet of vertical ice and three hundred miles long. Put on your cloak of warming, because the sun doesn’t really shine up here. Jon and Porkins are on look out, and it seems that Porkins has overcome his crippling fear of heights. Well, enough to stand near the edge and lament the lack of women. Jon spots a horse on the wrong side of the wall racing towards the gate. They hop in the elevator and ride down to see that the frightened horse belongs Jon’s Uncle Benjen. But where is he?
Renly, the younger brother to King Robert, runs to find Ned in the castle. Robert has been gored by a boar and… Well, he better come quickly. (House of Baratheon, sigil of a stag. Oho!) Ned arrives in the King’s chamber to find Joffrey, sad faced at his “father’s” side, and Cersei, who is quite tense. The King sends everyone out so he can talk to Ned. Perfect, Ned can rat out Cersei, Robert can order her killed and Joffrey strung up, his handsome blacksmith of a son can be groomed as King, and peace can reign for a thousand years!
Ha, sorry, I passed out for a moment. Ned takes up a quill and records Robert’s dying words, not sure when he should spill the beans about the Incest Twins. Robert states that his dying wish is for Ned to be Lord Protector and Regent until his son Joffrey comes of age. (Ned thoughtfully writes in “rightful heir” in place of Joffrey’s name.) The last will and testament is signed, sealed, and will be delivered to the Council. Robert also tells Ned to call off the hit on Daenerys Targaryen and that Ned was right to not want to kill her.
Ned calls for Grandmeister Flash to bust out some opiates and give Robert some peace as he dies. Uncle Fester, who never stops spinning more web to ensnare victims, opens his eyes very wide and does his best “innocent train of thought” act and mentions that a Lannister was the King’s squire, and gosh, didn’t he just always make sure the King never wanted of thirst? And hey, Robert was drunk when attacked by the boar, I bet that poor Lannister boy feels dreadful.
Ned, because he was born with a disease that made him susceptible to all suggestion, soaks this up. He then tells the council to stop the hit on Daenerys, but Fester is so saddened to report that the “bird has already flown,” and most likely the girl is already dead. Sad faces all around. How anyone can listen to Uncle Fester talk and not get the heebie jeebies and know he’s full of shit is beyond me. But then, Ned isn’t much for deep thinking, is he?
Speaking of the lovely Dany, she and Drogo are having a chat while the Khal gets his hurr did.
Dany: “Say, you ever think about fulfilling your promise to my brother and taking over the 7 Kingdoms?”
Drogo: “LOL, no. Pass me the horse meat.”
Dany: “Here. You know, you could sit in a big ol’ throne made of the swords of the vanquished?”
Drogo: “That sounds boring. Let’s hit the beach, do it Dothraki-style, and go dancing later.”
Dany: “They have… Hmm. There are tapestries on the wall? I feel like I’m not explaining this right.”
Drogo gives her a sweet kiss – their relationship has really become nice over the months – and sends her off for a day of shopping in the market with Irri, Jorah, and a bodyguard.
Jorah begs off after a few moments (there are only so many coin pouches made of horse testicles a man can look at) and heads over to Ye Olde Raven-Note Shoppe to find out if any missives have arrived for him. And what perfect timing, as The Spider (aka Uncle Fester) has sent his best wishes along with a Royal Pardon (written by who?) and a note that gives Jorah pause.
As he deciphers what all of this means, Daenerys and Irri are approached by a wine vendor. He hears her speaking the Common Tongue, learns that she is Daenerys Targaryen, and wishes her a return to her “rightful place” in the kingdom. As a thank you, he gives her a special cask of wine. Jorah smells a rat and demands the vendor sample his own wares first. The vendor hems and haws and finally books it stage left. The Dothraki bodyguard lassos him and he’s done for. Jorah rushes Daenerys to the safety of her home.
At the opposite end of the map we find the Soon-to-be-Knights of the Night Watch at an induction meeting. They’re about to receive their assignments, be it a Ranger, a Builder, or a Steward. A steward is essentially a man-in-waiting for their better. Bottom rung on the totem pole, a level 1 Cleric with a -5 Charisma who’s only possession is a Bag of Perpetual Longing. The guys will swear their oaths at nightfall, and Jon will swear to a Heart Tree (the cool red-leafed tree in the Winterfell gear-city of the opening sequence) which is the center of a “Godswood” – a sacred grove, if you will (and you will) – and the Heart Tree has a face carved into it.
The assignments are given out and Jon is assigned a ranger. WAIT. HOLD THE PHONE, HE IS ASSIGNED TO BE A STEWARD, INSTEAD. Oooh, sick burn. The trainer Allister smirks and laughs at Jon’s frustration. Jon flounces off to be alone and cry emo tears of woe, possibly fluff his hair some and write bad poetry. Porkins and Pyp race after him, they are to be stewards as well. Jon starts in on how he’s going to have to cut to feel and life is unfair and Pyp tells him to shut his pie hole. Pyp, it turns out, was a bard for a Lord. The Lord got handsy and when Pyp wouldn’t let him see his cock, he was called a thief and sent to live at The Wall. So get off your cryhorse, Jon, you don’t know what pain is.
Red Six Porkins tells Jon that he’s about to be the right hand man to the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. That’s practically as good as being the leader. And maybe if Jon would stop putting on eye liner and listening to MCR he would see that he’s being groomed to be the leader. Hmm. Maybe this isn’t as bad as Jon thought?
In King’s Landing, Robert is at Death’s Door. Renly grabs Ned in a quiet hallway and advises him to wake up and smell the intrigue. Cersei won’t care that Robert named Ned the Lord Protector, she’ll move swiftly to establish Joffrey as the King and the Lannisters will take over, kill House Baratheon and Stark, and that would just really suck.
Ned’s morality needle is stuck on “But the rules state that-” and isn’t quite getting that he is about to be in very grave danger. A golden hand pinned to his vest can easily be ripped off and his eye stabbed, he’s just too thick to realize it. Renly says, “You know who would make a better king than Joffrey? Me.”
Ned shakes his head, “No, you’re not in line. I must stick by the rules and I expect others to adhere to them as well, which is why I’m ultimately a fool.” He thinks that he’s a pawn about to be promoted to the 8th rank, when he’s just about to be knocked out by the Queen – remember, she can move anywhere she likes.
Ned might be thick, but he’s at least smart enough to write a letter to Stannis, Robert’s other brother who is next in line of succession. The courier is told to put that letter in the hand of Stannis, not his page, not his wife, not his butcher, baker or candlestick maker.
Baelish enters the board and tells Ned to let Joffrey become King. Ned needs to make peace with the Lannisters, marry off Sansa, and put on a happy face. And see, if Joffrey doesn’t act like the king Ned and Baelish want him to be, then they’ll just let everyone know that he’s the bastard offspring of an unholy joining of brother-sister loving, and dispose of him and put Renly in charge, everyone’s a winner. Except for poor beheaded Joffrey, of course, but who cares about little weasel face?
This guy is deeper than a bottomless pit, he is not to be trusted.
Ned isn’t too keen on this plan (because it’s not in the Hoyle Book of Rules) and tells Baelish to get the city guard on Ned’s side. They are going to enforce the King’s wishes. Baelish drops a little more foreshadowing in the mix: “Who’s peace do the Gold Cloaks protect? The man who pays them.”
That could mean him – he has all of that whoredom fundage – or the Lannisters – who have all the rest of the Kingdom’s money, it seems.
Nightfall at the Wall, and Jon and Porkins head out beyond the wall to the Godswood to make their oath. As they do, the tree cries blood tears. Yikes. They rise as men of the Watch, hugging and laughing and joyous and Ghost, Jon’s Direwolf, races back to them, tail wagging, and something in his mouth. It’s a disembodied and partly frozen hand. But who’s? I’m assuming we’re to believe it’s Benjens, but we’ll have to wait to find out.
Far away in Dothraki, Daenerys learns what the vendor’s punishment will be. When the Dothraki next ride out, he’ll be tethered to a horse and forced to keep up. And if he can’t? Well, then he’ll be dragged along until he dies from it. She thinks King Robert is behind this and Ser Jorah does not try and change her mind. In fact, he tells her that Robert will continue to hunt her until she is dead. Either he knows the Spider wants her to come to King’s Landing and is furthering that plot, or he doesn’t know. We don’t know. No one knows what the hell side anyone is playing on at this point. Well, except for Drogo.
Drogo is playing on his wife’s side. He rushes to her, worried for her safety, kisses her and makes a vow to their unborn child. He will take that throne of iron, I thank you. Oh, and while he’s at it, he’ll take the children and make them his slaves. Aww. He’ll rape their women. (Dude, your wife is right there.) He will tear down their houses, stab their soldiers, and he will not wipe his feet before entering the castle, and you can’t make him. Dany is hot for her man – he is a vision of brute strength. I had hoped that his rage and passion would make his pants burst off, but the writers of the show don’t care about my feelings, it seems.
They ride out and poor wine vendor man is naked and tied to a horse. Guess who’s dongle I didn’t care about folks? WRONG DONGLE.
Ned is once again walking the halls of the castle. This is when you need to play Carmina Burana – O, Fortuna! in the background, folks; we’re about to Rochambeau like a Mo Fo. An aid races to his side, the Queen and King Joffrey demand his presence. Hey, who, what now? King huh? Robert is dead, long live King Weasel Teat! Ned sees Baelish, who tells Ned that “the city watch is yours.”
Ned looks around for Renly, but Spider Fester slithers out of some unseen drain hole and informs them that Renly and his lover and about 50 friends all took off from the south gate in the wee hours. Gosh, there goes that plan! Ned is not to be deterred, though!
His soldiers line up behind him, vowing allegiance. Ned sees Weasel Teat on the throne and fights to hold down his bile. Weasel Teat barks out that they all need to bow before him and swear an oath of fealty. Ned cracks his knuckles and hands over the sealed will from the King to Ser Barrister, the most trusted man in the Kingdom. Barrister reads it out – including the phrase “rightful heir” – to which the Queen bites down hard enough to make her cheek twitch.
She demands the letter, reads it, gives a saucy look to Ned, her expression hard as a rock. He looks back at her knowing paper covers rock! She is not to be trifled with, however. “Uh, paper for a shield? Scissors cut paper!” and she tears up the note. Barrister is horrified, that was an official document! He evidently has the same honor disease as Ned. Cersei then says, “Hey, Dummy? Let me offer you some advice. Bend the knee. Do it right now, tell my son he’s awesome – do not say anything about his weak chin, it’s a birth defect, what are you, an animal? – and we’ll let you crawl back to your cold and ugly home in Winterfell and not kill you. This time.”
Ned motions for his men to gather behind him. “Rock smashes scissors, bitch!” Joffrey tells the Hound to kill everyone (buddy, if you’re going to be King, a little math would do you good. One man vs. a small army? Come on, he’s not that good.) Most of the men in the room appear to stand with Ned but the Queen gives one of the soldiers a look, and almost everyone that isn’t standing right next to Ned thrusts their spears forward, killing half of the guards in the room! CHAOS!
Ned is beyond shocked, he pulls his sword, sees everyone that swore to stand with him has been killed, and OHO WHAT IS THIS, BAELISH HAS A DAGGER AT NED’S THROAT! “I told you not to trust me,” he smiles.
CUT TO BLACK, WHAT?! Cymbals crash! Craziness abounds! Up is down, right is left! Well, come on, he’s always been a slimy git, hasn’t he?
Next week! Ned is in a dungeon, Catelyn has a sad, Sansa has a scare, and Arya might get to use her sword skills after all. How can I wait six more days??