Three solders of the Night's Watch are seen leaving the Wall to track wildlings. As they separate to search the area, one soldier finds a horrifying sight. People have been torn limb from limb, their heads on stakes. As he turns to flee, he sees a young girl hanging from a tree, seemingly looking right at him, though she is dead. When he reports to his commander, the man sneers that they are savages, what does he expect. The reporting soldier says he's never seen wildlings do anything like this. The other soldier wants to head back for the wall, but the commander mocks him for fearing the dead. He orders the men back on their horses so he can examine the area the first soldier found. That soldier tries to get through to him. Whatever did that to those people could do the same to them. The children weren't even spared. The commander quips "It's a good thing we're not children." He tells the man to run away south, but he'll be beheaded as a deserter - unless his commander catches him first. He orders him on his horse for the last time, and the soldier obeys.
When they return to the scene of the massacre, there is nobody there. The second in command tells the soldier to see where they went, thus sparing his life. For when he goes to explore, the commander and his first are brutally attacked. The horses flee, and the young soldier sees the wildling girl again; but this time she's alive, and her eyes are an unearthly blue. He flees. the first is right behind him, and is beheaded before his eyes. Somehow, he escapes.
The young solder is captured by soldiers who answer to Eddard Stark, on Winterfell land. Bran practices his archery as his parents look on. Sansa and Arya practice their needlework. Sansa's is wonderful, but Arya's attention is drawn outside to the archers. Bran is unhappy that he can't even hit the target, never mind the mark. He tries a final time, and the arrow finds the center. Alas, his sister Arya was the shooter. Amidst much whooping and laughter, he gives chase. The family hilarity is interrupted by the report of the captured deserter. Ned leaves, to the dismay of his wife, Catelyn. He orders Bran to join him. She tries to sway him by telling him Bran is too young. Ned says "He won't be a boy forever. And winter is coming." She looks down to her older son, asking with her eyes to guard and guide Bran.
The soldier warns Ned before he is executed. Get word to his family. He knows what he saw. Ned kisses his sword hilt and passes judgment before beheading the man. As he speaks, Jon warns Bran not to look away. Ned will know if he does. He beheads the man, and Bran never blinks. Jon tells him he did well. Robb walks him back to the horses, where Ned explains why he had to be the one who wielded the sword. He passed the sentence, so it was his duty. Bran asks if it's true about the white walkers. Ned tells him they've been gone for thousands of years. So was he lying? Maybe in his mind, they were real.
The team stops when they find a dismembered deer. There are no mountain lions in these woods, so what killed it? They find a dead direwolf mother with her cubs still living. Five cubs. Same as house Stark. But how? There are no direwolves south of the wall. Ned hands one to Bran. Jon points out that the direwolves are an extension of the house. One for each child. Theon Greyjoy almost puts one to death, but Ned stops him at Jon's words. The children are to feed and care for their own wolves. If they die, they will be responsible for burying them. Bran says "What about you?" to Jon. Jon says he's not a Stark, but hears a sound behind him. There was a sixth direwolf cub. His. He may not be a Stark, but Ned IS his father. The runt of the litter is white, like Snow. That one would be his.
At King's Landing, Capital of the Seven Kingdoms, a dead man lies in state. Jaime Lannister approaches Cersei, telling her as his brother, it is his duty to inform her that she worries too much. She returns that he's not serious about anything. She asks if it's possible Jon Arryn told her husband. Jaime figures that if he had, both their heads would be skewered on pikes at the city gates. Whatever Jon knew or didn't know died with him. Jon Arryn was the Hand of the King, and now that he's dead, Cersei figures Jaime should have the job. He doesn't want it.
Back at Winterfell, a raven comes bearing news. Catelyn tracks down her husband to deliver it. When she arrives, she tells him after all these years, she still feels like an outsider in this place. He believes that since she has borne five northern children, she is most certainly not an outsider. She tells him she is deeply sorry, but the raven brought bad news from King's Landing. Jon Arryn is dead. Fever. He was like a father to Ned. His family was spared.
And now, the bad news. The king rides for Winterfell, with Queen Cersei and all the rest of them. Ned knows that if the king is en route, he's to be picked as the new Hand of the King. The castle is readied for the arrival of the royal party. The young men of the house are prepared for the arrival as well, much to their dismay. Bran watches from the top of the castle. He's like a monkey, clambering from one spot to another by handholds only he knows. His mother sees him and rebukes him. No climbing! How many times has he been told. She makes him promise. No more climbing. He promises, though it pains him. She asks him if he realizes that he always looks at his feet before he lies. They grin at each other before she tells him to run and find his father and tell him the king is in sight.
Arya joins the people watching the party arrive, and her mother notices she's not with the family as expected. She runs and joins them at the last minute, wearing a soldier's helmet. Sansa and Prince Joffrey exchange eyes and smiles. As the king enters the yard, all kneel, heads bowed. Robert walks over and bids Eddard stand. Once he does, the entire courtyard rises.
Robert tells Ned he's gotten fat. Ned gives Robert a quick once-over, and they both burst into laughter. He greets both Ned and Cat with a hug. As they talk, the Queen gets out of a carriage. Robert meets the Stark children. The family greets Cersei formally, as Queen. She's very cold. Ned asks Robert how Jon Arryn passed. He tells him it was quick. They both loved Jon. They stop, and Robert says "Lord Eddard Stark, I would name you the hand of the king." Ned drops to one knee and says he's not worthy. Robert orders him to stand and tells him he helped Robert win the iron throne, now he needs him to help keep it. They were meant to rule together. If Ned's sister had lived, he and Robert would have been bound by blood. He says it's not too late. Joffrey and Sansa can join the houses.
Tyrion sucks down a goblet of wine while a whore does something similar on his behalf. She helps him undress while they chat about the Queen's brothers. She hears they call the one "the imp." The smile falls from Tyrion's face as he informs her that he hears he hates that nickname. Jaime walks in on them. Cersei wants to see him. Tyrion is going to be busy with the whore. Jaime figured that could be true, so he brings in three more so Tyrion will be done by sundown.
Robert mourns at his bride's graveside. He hates that she's underground. She should be above ground, in the sun and breeze. The Targaryen's are responsible for her death, and they're gone. Robert angrily says "Not all of them." In Pentos, Daenerys Targaryen is startled by her brother calling for her. He bears a gift from the man who houses them, Illyrio Mopatis. Dany is confused. They've been there for a year, and he's never asked for anything. Viserys says that's because Illyrio knows he will be remembered when he regains his throne. He disrobes his sister. As he touches her, she remains calm and unresponsive. He wants her to be perfect today. She doesn't want to wake the dragon, does she? Dany shakes her head, then says 'no'. He leaves, and she gets into the tub. A handmaid tries to warn her it's too hot, but Dany just sinks into the water.
She and her brother wait with Illyrio for honored guests. When the company arrives, they are led by Khal Drogo. He introduces Khal and his party to the brother and sister as the rightful heirs to the throne. As he speaks to the visitors, Viserys assures Dany that because the leader has never had his hair cut by losing a fight, he is one of the finest killers alive. A savage, of course. And Dany is to be his queen. She is summoned forward to meet Khal Drogo for the first time. She goes, eyes open and head held high. He turns and rides away from her without a word. Viserys fears they did something wrong, but Illyrio assures him the ceremony is complete. If Dany had displeased him, they would most assuredly have been made aware.
Illyrio and Viserys talk as though Dany is nonexistent. Viserys says he gives Drogo a queen, and Drogo gives him an army. Dany interjects that she does not wish to be his queen. She wants to go home. But they have no way to go home, without Khal Drogo's men. In fact, he'd let 40,000 of Drogo's men, and their horses, have Dany if that's what it took to get his throne back. He kisses her forehead and walks away.
Sansa asks Catelyn if Joffrey will like her, or find her ugly. She finds him handsome, and wants to know when they can wed. Ned hasn't even said yes yet. Why wouldn't he? Catelyn points out that Sansa would have to leave home, leave her mother, to be with Joffrey. Sansa retorts that Catelyn left her home to come to Winterfell. She begs her mother to tell Ned to say yes. A royal feast is served at Winterfell. Robert dances with and kisses another woman before Cersei's eyes.
Uncle Benjen greets Jon in the courtyard. Jon is in the courtyard because Queen Cersei would have been offended by a bastard in their midst. Nobody cares from bastards on the wall. Jon pleads with his uncle to take him with when he returns to the wall. Ned can't tell him no if Benjen asks. Benjen tells him he doesn't know what he's asking. None of them have families. They'll never father sons. Jon doesn't care. Benjen says that could change. He needs to get inside, rescue Ned from his guests.
As he leaves, Tyrion calls out to Jon. "Your uncle's in the Night's Watch." He's out there drinking, preparing for an evening with the Starks. Jon correctly identifies him as the queen's brother, and Tyrion returns the favor by correctly identifying him as Ned Stark's bastard. Jon takes offense, but Tyrion gives him some sound advice. Be who you are. Never forget. Wear it like armor, and the truth can never be used to hurt you. He turns to leave, but Jon calls after him "What the hell would you know about being a bastard?" "All dwarves are bastards, in their father's eyes."
Back at the feast, Benjen and Ned discuss the boy who was beheaded. He tells him about the wights. Wildling ambush. Direwolves south of the wall. Madness. And Ned might be the next Hand of the King. "Winter is coming." Robb greets Benjen with a hug. Catelyn and Cersei chat, and Sansa greets them. Sansa and Joffrey catch each other's eye again. Jaime cuts off Ned and gets in his face about being the Hand, and getting old. Ned stands up to him. Arya starts shooting peas at Sansa, who promptly bursts into tears from the humiliation. Robb is directed wordlessly by his mother to remove Arya. Time for bed.
In bed, Ned discusses the offer with Catelyn. She says she won't let the king take him. He says Robert can do what he wants. He's the king. She says she'll stand up to him. Ned wonders how he got so fat. Cat says he only stops eating when it's time for a drink. They are interrupted by a gentleman with news from Cat's sister, Lysa. She was married to Jon Arryn. It was sent from the Eyrie. What's she doing there? She hasn't been back there since the wedding. Cat burns the letter, but fills Ned in. Lysa said Jon Arryn was murdered by the Lannisters, so she fled the capital. She says the king is in danger. He thinks it's widow grief. Cat disagrees. They murdered the last Hand. Ned shouldn't take the job. He spent half his life fighting Robert's wars. In Catelyn's eyes, Ned owes Robert nothing.
Daenarys sits at Khal Drogo's side at a celebration. Gifts are brought before them. Her brother sits off to the side, and glances at her, then asks Illyrio when he gets his army. He will when Khal is ready. The celebrants begin fighting over the women. Khal looks on in approval. Dany looks sick. A knight delivers a gift to Dany. He served her father for many years, and hopes to again serve the rightful king (this with a nod to Viserys). His name is Ser Jorah Mormont. Illyrio waves him over.
A gift of dragon eggs is delivered to Daenarys. Illyrio tells her time has turned them to stone, but they will always be beautiful. Khal gets up and walks away, leaving Dany behind. Everybody closes in behind her as she walks toward her groom. He waits for her beside a white horse, whose coat and mane are the same color as hers. Khal picks her up and places her on her horse before he mounts his. Her brother's last words to her are "Make him happy."
Dany looks out at the water. Khal sees tears on her face, and says no. It seems to be the only word he knows, and she comments as such. He undresses her, and Dany protectively crosses her arms. He uncrosses them, and begins to caress her. She falls to the ground, crying. Robert and Ned prepare to go out hunting wild boar. Robert thanks him for saying yes. He knows Ned as the last loyal friend he has. He promises to make sure that Ned doesn't look so grim all the time. Bran smiles at his father as he leaves, and his direwolf approaches him.
After they ride off, Bran starts climbing. He arrives at a window, where the sounds of lovemaking are heard. He looks in and sees Jaime making love to his sister, the queen. Cersei. Robert's wife. They look up and see Bran. Jaime grabs him, and asks if he's completely mad. Bran remains mute as Cersei repeats "He saw us!" Jaime sees how far off the ground they are, and asks Bran how old he is. "Ten." Jaime repeats the age, then says "The things I do for love" before shoving Bran into the air. Written By David Sibert Share this article with your friends