Things are starting to get complicated...
At the Wall, Jon has decided that he's going to desert the brotherhood and go help Robb take revenge on the Lannisters. Sam tries feebly to stop him, and then resorts to what every powerless child learns early in life...he tells on him. Not to Commander Mormont, but to Pyp and the other friends. They track Jon down and convince him to return. Back at the Wall, Mormont reveals that he knew Jon had a "moonlight ride", and then reveals that he is leading the Night's Watch in force North of the Wall - to find Benjen Stark, to uncover the mystery of the Wildling's abandoned villages, and to find out the truth of the White Walkers. Honestly, Mormont's speech here is as good as writing gets.
Powerful scenes begin and end this episode, both centered around Ned Stark. So we'll start and end with Ned, too.
Varys the Spider approaches Ned in his cell in the dungeon, to plead with him to swallow his pride and his honor, confess whatever the queen wants him to confess, save his life and his daughters' lives, and go live out his days with the Night's Watch. He makes it sound so reasonable, and yet Ned's honor and integrity are worth more than his own life. He doesn't even hesitate to make that decision. But are they worth more than his daughters' lives?
When last we left Ned Stark, his guardsmen were getting the old spear-through-the-belly treatment from the treacherous Janos Slynt and the City Watch, on the orders of the treacherous Petyr Baelish. This week, all of his retainers follow suit. Cersei has declared an all-you-can-kill Stark special, and the Lannisters ably demonstrate their appetite for such fare.
A great episode this week, despite the fact that there were no appearances by Tyrion and Arya, two of my favorite characters. Also, no Robb or Bran.
We finally meet Tywin, the patriarch of the Lannister clan. He has taken the field with 60,000 warriors, although it's unclear at this point what his intent is. Mostly, we get to see him cleaning a stag (I assume for two reasons - to show how workmanlike he is around cutting out guts, and for the symbolism, since the stag is the symbol of House Baratheon) and berating his son Jaime for not being more than he is.
This week, a few questions are answered, and several more are raised.
In King's Landing:
Robert Baratheon reinstates Ned Stark as the Hand of the King. He orders that Ned put his differences with the Lannisters aside. This means that Ned must order Catelyn to release Tyrion. It also means that Ned doesn't get to pursue justice vis-a-vis Jaime and his murdering of Ned's guardsmen.
Catelyn Tully Stark showed her craftiness and her irrational nature at the end of last week. Irrational, because how could she NOT know that there would be repercussions from kidnapping Tyrion Lannister? Craftiness, because she told everyone at the inn that she was taking Tyrion to Winterfell...but she's not. Instead of going North to Winterfell, she flees East to the Vale. To get to the Vale, they have to pass through some lands that are increasingly threatened by hill tribes. During an encounter on the road, Catelyn is forced to untie Tyrion, who then saves Catelyn by bashing a tribesman's head in with a shield. You may have noticed that the scruffy guy with the group fought very well. His name is Bronn, and he's a mercenary. Having defeated the hillsmen, the group move on to the Vale, which is ruled by Catelyn's nephew (named Robin - Robert in the book, but I guess that would confuse) now that his dad Jon Arryn is dead, but Catelyn's sister Lysa is the regent. Lysa is cuckoo, in case you didn't realize that from the fact that she's breastfeeding her way-too-old-to-be-breastfeeding son in front of the court. You should also know a couple more names. Ser Vardis is the knight who meets them and leads them to the Eyrie (the castle that commands the Vale). Mord is the jailer who puts Tyrion in the sky cell. Catelyn now has a bit of a quandary - Tyrion is Cat's prisoner, but her sister Lysa has a pretty big grievance against the Lannisters of her own.
As those far younger than I are fond of saying - shit's about to get real.
Ned Stark is blundering around trying to find out whether/why Jon Arryn was murdered. He speaks with Grand Maester Pycelle and discovers that, just prior to his death, Arryn was interested in the genealogies of the great houses. Pycelle also mentions that Arryn's dying words were "the seed is strong". From Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger), Ned learns that Arryn had been a frequent visitor to a local armorer. Ned *should* have learned a bit of subtlety from Baelish as well, but as I said in the episode 1 recap, Ned is too straightforward and impatient to hide his motivations and intentions. There was a great exchange there, right? The essence of the conversation:
Good synopsis of Game of Thrones:
Let's start with what's going on with the Dothraki. Daenerys is pregnant with Drogo's son - that's a big deal because Drogo's son is likely to be the next Khal. Jorah Mormont had an interesting reaction to that news, didn't he? The other news here is that Daenerys is obviously becoming more and more a Dothraki, and Viserys doesn't care much for that. He tries to take out his anger on his sister, but one of the Khal's bloodriders (bodyguards, essentially) named Jhogo lets him know that the Khaleesi is not to be handled that way. They make him walk behind the horde. For the Dothraki, to be on foot is to be less than a man.
Once again, the intention of the thread is to provide a little more context than you can get in one viewing of the episode.
We're starting to see some story lines start to solidify. The tension between Stark, Lannister and Baratheon. The evolution of Daenerys from timid subservience to the flexing of power. The rebelliousness of Arya. Robert's difficulty in managing the throne and his marriage. Good stuff and very well done. Mostly true to the book, as well, except in minor ways.
House Stark - Eddard Stark is the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. He is a longtime friend of the king (Robert Baratheon), and in fact helped the king get his throne. He married Catelyn Tully, and they had 5 kids. Robb is the oldest, followed by Sansa (redhead), Arya (tomboy), Bran (boy who loves to climb), and Rickon. Eddard had a sister, Lyanna, who was promised to the king, and as you saw in the pilot, the king still loves her. Eddard also had a brother who died. The other young man in the family is Jon Snow. Jon is of Stark blood, but because he's a bastard in the North, he is given the surname of Snow - the custom for illegitimate children is to carry a surname that indicates what part of the country they are from (other examples - Stone, Rivers). Another Stark is Benjen, Ned's only living sibling and the First Ranger of the Night's Watch, the force that mans that giant wall you saw at the beginning of the show. The Night's Watch protects the kingdom from the "Wildlings" - who are men and women born north of the Wall, or people (or their descendants) that for one reason or another abandoned the kingdom to go live beyond the Wall, and from the "White Walkers" - who many believe are myth, and who you don't need to dwell on too much at this point.