A new king rises in the north; a Khaleesi finds new hope.
Following hard on the close of the final episode, we begin with a look at the bloody sword of Eddard Stark, used to behead the Lord of Winterfell by the King’s Justice Ser Ilyn Payne. The crowd roars and cheers when the Hound picks up the severed head and shows it to the crowd. At the same time, Yoren of the Night’s Watch is holding Arya to him, and insisting she look at him, wondering if the “boy” remembers him. Yoren carries her off as Arya looks silently at her father’s body being dragged away, and Sansa falling in a faint. Carried down some steps, Yoren takes out a knife and tells the “boy” to keep her mouth shut… and then begins to slice off her long hair, telling her they’re going North.
Bran dreams of practicing archery, when the crow arrives again, leading him into the crypt of Winterfell. Then he’s being carried by Osha, to whom he tells his dream: a three-eyed crow that spoke to him, and down in the crypts they met his father. Bran insists Osha is afraid of the crypt, like Hodor, and shames her into carrying him down. Bran shows her the statues of his dead ancestors, including Lord Rickard who was burned alive by the Mad King, and Lyanna who had been carried off by Prince Rhaegar before she could marry Robert Baratheon. We learn Robert fought and won the war for her, killing Rhaegar, but she died anyway. Then Bran points out the alcove where he saw his father. Osha notes there’s nothing there…
When a shadow moves in the alcove, and then charges at them snarling. “Here, Shaggydog,” little Rickon Stark calls. Osha yells that the direwolf should be chained in the kennels, but Rickon replies that he doesn’t like it. Bran tells Rickon to come up with them, but Rickon refuses, saying he saw their father there last night while he slept—he had the same dream as Bran. Out of the crypt, Osha tries to reassure Bran that it’s coincidence, that they both miss Lord Eddard…. but Maester Luwin stands in the yard, holding a letter. He looks up to them, and with emotion in his voice calls Bran’s name and moves to him.
At the northmen’s encampment, Lady Catelyn walks silently out of its boundaries, as grave soldiers and guards bow respectfully. At the edge of the wood, she breaks down, gasping for breath, fighting her tears. Then she hears the sound of angry exertion and metal slamming against wood. She moves towards it, and sees an enraged, tearful Robb ruining his sword as he swings without stop at a tree. Catelyn comes to him, and she takes him into her arms. He swears he’ll kill them all. “My boy,” she says, “they have your sisters. We have to get the girls back… And then we will kill them all.”
In the throne room of the Red Keep, the court watches as the singer, Marillion, reprises a song he created concerning King Robert’s death and his marriage to Cersei. Though a satire against the Lannisters and Robert, Joffrey leads the applause and insists it’s quite amusing, saying it must have been even better received in a tavern. Marillion swears he’ll never sing it again. The king asks Marillion whether he favors his fingers or his tongue. Marillion hesitates, until Joffrey says he could just cut his throat. The singer finally admits every man needs hands. “Good,” Joffrey replies with a smile. “Then tongue it is.” Ser Ilyn (himself a mute after the Mad King tore out his tongue years before) comes forward at the king’s command, to tear the singer’s tongue out as guards hold him.
Joffrey leaves as Ilyn comes forward with the hot knife, leaving the rest to Queen Cersei. The Hound (in Kingsguard armor) and Ser Meryn follow the king as he comes up to Sansa. He says she looks well, and she thanks him. Joffrey insists she walk with him, and the Hound tells her to do as she’s bid. Outside, Joffrey informs her that as soon as she has her blood, he’ll get a child in her, which his mother says won’t take long. Then he shows her why he had her come with him: heads on spikes, Lord Eddard and other members of her household. She tries to look away, saying that Joffrey swore he’d be merciful; the king replies he was, giving Lord Eddard a clean death. He insists she looks, and she tries to beg off, asking to be sent home. Joffrey says Cersei tells him he will marry Sansa, and so she must remain. In the end, she looks up with dead eyes, not really seeing. Joffrey points out Septa Mordane’s head as well.
Bothered by her lack of response, he promises he’ll give Sansa her brother’s head. Sansa replies that perhaps Robb will give her Joffrey’s head instead. He moves forward, then stops: the queen has told him that striking his lady is never kingly. So he has Ser Meryn Trant do it, slapping her twice. Her lip is broken and bleeding, as she looks at Joffrey and the platform he’s on… and the high height that they’re at. She starts to move toward him, when the Hound comes up and grabs her shoulder, turning her as he lifts a kerchief to her mouth to clean the blood. Joffrey departs. The Hound tells her to give Joffrey whatever he wants. When she tries to return the kerchief, he tells her she’ll be needing it again.
At a Stark war council at some ruined keep, a lord—probably representing Jonos Bracken—says their course is clear, that they should swear fealt to King Renly and join forces with him. But Robb says that Renly is not king, being Robert’s youngest brother; it should be Stannis instead. The lord asks if Robb means to follow Stannis, but that’s a course Robb seems less certain of. The lords start to argue when the Greatjon gets up and shows what he has to say to both Baratheon kings: he spits on the ground, which leads to some laughter. The Greatjon says that the Baratheons are nothing to him, and why should they rule him or his from a flowery seat in the south? They know nothing of the Wall, or the wolfswood, and even their gods are wrong. Maege Mormont laughs at that.
The Greatjon says the North bowed to the dragons, and the dragons are dead. Then drawing his sword, the Greatjon points it at Robb and declares that he is the only king he’ll bend his knee to. He kneels, shouting, “The King in the North!” Rickard Karstark stands and announces he’ll have peace on those terms, that the southerners can keep their Red Keep and iron chair, and joins Greatjon Umber. Robb rises as these men swear to themselves, and then Theon stands, asking Robb if he’s Theon’s brother now and always. Robb says he is, and Theon swears himself to him. The shout, “The King in the North! The King in the North!” rises as more men kneel, placing their swords at his feet. Catelyn looks on as Robb looks back to her; she looks grave as her son becomes a king in troubled times.
Lady Catelyn walks out to where two guards stand watch, and insists she wishes to see the Kingslayer. They take her to him, passing cages holding over prisoners. Catelyn tells the guard to leave, while the Kingslayer is seated, bound to a stake. As Ser Jaime tells her she looks lovely, and that widowhood must become her. He wonders if her bed is lonely, and if that’s her reason for visiting. As he starts to suggest she slip out of a gown, she slams a rock across his face. He spits blood, and then tells her he does like a violent woman. Angrily, she tells him she’ll kill him and send his head in a box to her sister. He dares her, telling her to hit him again and again. She says he wants the world to believe death holds no fear for him. “But I don’t, my lady,” he replies. “The dark is coming for all of us. Why grab at it?”
She says if the gods are just, he’ll go to the deepest of the seven hells. Jaime casts doubt on the existence of the gods, wondering why the world is so full of injustice. “Because of men like you,” she says. He replies, “There are no men like me. Only me.” Stopping, she looks at him for a long moment, and then asks about how Bran fell. Jaime admits he pushed him out the window. She asks why, shocked, and he replies he hoped the fall would kill Bran. She asks why again…. but instead he tells Catelyn that she should get some sleep, because it will be a long war. She drops the rock in her hand and departs, not saying anything more.
At the Red Keep, a naked Lancel Lannister sits at a table and admits surprise that there’s a war. He asks if it was the same when his companion, who stands at a balcony, was young: it’s Queen Cersei, who is his cousin, dressed in a night gown. He moves up behind her, trying to put his hands on her, when he asks if Robb’s been captured yet and what their next move is. She pulls away and tells him to stop talking, sending him back to bed.
At the Lannister camp, Tywin reveals that Jaime has been captured. Rumors claim that Robb’s direwolf killed a dozen men and as many horses. Ser Kevan confirms the news that both Baratheon brothers are taking up against them. Ser Kevan says it’s a catastrophe, with Jaime captured and his army scattered. He suggests considering suing for peace, when Tyrion knocks a glass to the ground. He tells his uncle that that’s his peace: broken when Joffrey took Lord Eddard’s head. Now Robb is winning, and there’s nothing the Lannisters can do to convince him to make peace. Ser Kevan replies that they have their sisters, while one of the western lords says the first order of business should be ransoming Jaime. The lords begin to argue among themselves, when Lord Tywin turns and shouts, “They have my son!” He sends them all out, except for Tyrion.
Tyrion sits and reaches for the flagon of wine, which Tywin grabs… only to pour Tyrion a drink by his own hand. He tells his son that he was right about Eddard Stark. With Ned dead, there’s no hope of brokering a peace so that they could deal with Robert’s brothers. “Madness,” he says. “Madness and stupidity.” Tywin admits he always thought that Tyrion was a stunted fool, but perhaps he was wrong. “Half wrong,” Tyrion admits. Then they discuss moving the army elsewhere, because they stand the risk of being surrounded by three armies. Lord Tywin indicates he has already made plans, sending Ser Gregor Clegane out with 500 riders to set the riverlands on fire while the main army regroups at Harrenhal. He then informs Tyrion that he will go to King’s Landing, to rule and serve as Hand of the King. He tells Tyrion to bring Joffrey to heel, and his mother too, if needs be. And if he finds any traitors on the council—Baelish, Varys, Pycelle—then—
“Heads, spikes, walls,” Tyrion replies. He asks why he’s being given this task, rather than Lord Tywin’s brother. Tywin says it’s because Tyrion is his son. But he gives one last command: he’s not to bring “that whore” to court, referring to Shae.
In the red waste, the camp is half-abandoned and silent save for horses. Daenerys wakes, to find Ser Jorah sitting there with a sword drawn. She asks after her son… and Ser Jorah admits that the boy did not live. Daenerys wants to know how her son died. Mormont tells her that the boy never lived, but cannot bring himself to say more. Mirri Maz Duur enters, and tells Daenerys bluntly that the boy was monstrous and twisted, scaled like a lizard, blind, and with leather wings. When she touched him, she claims the skin fell from his bones, and within were graveworms. Mirri reminds her that only death can pay for life, and that Daenerys understood what that meant. Daenerys than insists on seeing Drogo. She comes out to see the khalasar gone but for a few. The Dothraki only follow the strong, as Rakharo and Irri join them to see Drogo.
Drogo sits beside a rock outcrop, silent and still. His eyes are open but unseeing. “He lives,” Mirri tells Dany, even if it’s merely a living body vacant of any will or cognition. When Daenerys asks when he’ll be as he was, Mirri informs her, “When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, when the seas go dry and the mountains blow in the wind, like leaves.” Daenerys tells the others to leave her alone with Mirri. Ser Jorah hesitates, and Dany informs him she has nothing more to fear from Mirri. Mirri tells Daenerys that the Dothraki angered the Great Shepherd when they burned his temple. Dany insists her son was innocent, and Mirri says he was to be the Stallion that Mounts the World; now no cities would be burned or people trampled beneath his khalasar. Daenerys says that she saved Mirri, and Mirri notes that she had already been raped three times when Daenerys “saved” her.
Mirri says that she saw her god’s house burn, where she had healed so many. She saw piles of heads, heads that belonged to people she had known. Mirri wonders what Daenerys saved, in the end, and Daenerys says that she saved Mirri’s life. The maegi directs her to Drogo, to see what life is worth when everything else is gone.
At Castle Black, Jon Snow opens the gate as Samwell tells him he can’t go, insisting others will come for him if he deserts. Jon knows better than Samwell what will happen if he’s caught, but he means to find Robb and then put a sword through Joffrey’s throat. Samwell tries to physically block his way, and Jon rides forward, knocking him aside. Ghost follows behind him.
Shae and Tyrion speak about Tyrion being sent to serve as Hand in King’s Landing. Shae then asks if Tywin said Tyrion could bring no one with him. Tyrion replies that Tywin was quite specific that he could nto bring her with him, in any case, which makes her wonder if Tywin knew her name. As they speak, Shae is packing away Tyrion’s things. Shae wonders if Tyrion is ashamed of her, if he thinks she’ll embarass him by dancing scandalously about the court. Tyrion is briefly amused by her description, and she angrily says, “I’m funny now? I’m Shae the funny whore?”
Tyrion replies that Tywin may be the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms, and certainly the richest, with all seven kingdoms in his pocket. Everyone must do what he wants, everyone. “He’s always been a cunt,” Tyrion finishes. Then, looking at Shae, he has a change of heart. He tells her that the ladies of the court could learn a great deal from her. He asks her to go with him and be the Hand’s lady.
Jon rides through the night, only to have other horsemen give chase. He races forward, ducking under a branch… but the horseman nearest to him doesn’t spot it, and falls to the ground. Hearing their voices, Jon goes back to find Samwell being helped up by Pypar and Grenn. Jon tells them to go back, that they’ll be killed, but they tell him he must come back. They insist Jon said the words. Then they each begin to repeat the vow to him, reminding him of his duty and what he swore to do. Samwell goes back to where he fell, and picks up what he dropped: Longclaw, which Jon had left behind in an echo of Lord Commander Mormont’s son Jorah leaving it behind when he disgraced himself and went into exile.
In her tent, Daenerys pours water out and bathes Drogo, speaking to him, trying to get him to respond. She does everything she can, begging him to fight, but Drogo stares sightlessly. There is no response. Later, giving up, Daenerys repeats Mirri’s prophecy as to when Drogo will return to her. Weeping, she kisses him… and then reachs for a pillow. She places it over his face, and holds it down. His body begins to jerk as it suffocates, while Daenerys cries.
In the Red Keep, Pycelle sits in a bed gown, and tells someone about kings. He starts to say that there is a thing to know about kings… but then gets sidetracked. Instead, he notes that in the past 67 years he has truly known more kings than any man alive. He knows how to serve him, he says, and how to keep on serving them before coughing up phlegm. As his companion moves about, he mentions Aerys. Of all the maladies, madness is the worse. Aerys had been a good man, a charmer… but Pycelle watched him melt away, “consumed by dreams of fire and blood.” His naked companion can be seen washing herself, and we see it’s Ros. Grand Maester Pycelle then says Robert was a great warrior, but winning a kingdom is different from ruling it. He suggests Robert was blind to the enemies at his side, as he coughs again. Ros proceeds to dress as Pycelle says that Joffrey is capable, with a strong military mind, and sternness. He says it’s too soon to see what sort of king Joffrey will be, but he senses true greatness.
Ros asks him about what thing she had to understand about kings… but Pycelle’s forgotten it, and doesn’t understand. She starts again, then decides to leave it be, and leaves. She shuts the door and goes… and a few moments later, Pycelle hops out of bed and briskly stretches before walking over to get dressed. He moves with purpose and sureness, and once he’s ready reaches for the door. He pauses, however… and then bends forward with a groan, before opening the door and shuffling out.
In the throneroom, Littlefinger is watching the Iron Throne as Varys comes up to him and wonders what Lord Baelish sees—is it all the lord and ladies who sneered at him now bowing to him? He replies it’s difficult for them to bow, without their heads. “A man with great ambitions and no morals. I wouldn’t bet against you,” Varys replies. Varys says he himself must one of the few men in the city who has no desire for the throne, to which Littlefinger replies that Varys is one of the few men in the city who is not a man. They begin to trade quips about castration, as Littlefinger tries to get a rise out of Varys. Littlefinger admits that he admires Varys, for having continued on to serve one king after another despite being a foreign eunuch that everyone fears. Varys replies that he admires Littlefinger as well, as a man from a minor house with a great talent for making powerful allies. The two stand across from one another, “in mutual admiration and respect”, when Joffrey arrives. The king walks by them, asking them if they’re ready to begin, and leading them on to the council chamber as the Hound and Ser Meryn provide escort.
Walking together in the city, Yoren informs Arya—hair cropped short—that she’s now Arry the orphan boy. Yoren informs her that he has twenty men and boys with him to take to the Wall, the pick of the dungeons. Half of them would turn Arya over for a pardon, while the others would do that but only after they raped her. Yorren tells her to stay or he’ll lock her in a cage on the back of a wagon: one looks brutish and powerful, another has a scarred nose, and the last is wrapped in robes and a hood and can’t be clearly seen. As Arry backs away from them, she bumps into a fat boy, who pushes her away. Another, blond boy appears and they start taunting her and threatening to take the “boy’s” sword. The blond boy claims the other has killed a man, and the fat boy says he kicked him in the balls until he died.
When the boy reaches for the sword, “Arry” pulls it from her belt and tells her she’s already killed one boy, and would be happy to kill another one, as she enjoys it. The boy then bumps into Gendry, who wonders if he likes picking on the little ones. Gendry tells him he’s been hammering an anvil for ten years, and he wonders if the boy will sing like the steel does when he hits it. Gendry lifts up the blade of the sword, identifying it as castle-forged steel, and wondering where it was stolen from. Arya says it was a gift. Gendry doubts it, but says it doesn’t matter where they’re going. Gendry’s just an armorer’s apprentice, but his master got sick of him, and so there he is. Yoren then calls for the men to prepare to move out, stating it’s a thousand leagues to the wall (not actually true, or intended to be true—“a thousand leagues” is a generic term for “very far” in the setting).
It’s morning at Castle Black, and Mormont complains of being given ham again. He asks for beer. Then he notes to Jon Snow that he looks exhausted, and wonders if his midnight ride tired him out. Jon stops, realizing that Mormont knows that he tried to leave. The Lord Commander informs him that if the Watch beheaded every man who left for a night, the Wall would only be defended by ghosts. At least Jon wasn’t whoring in Mole’s Town, Mormont says. He says honor brought him back, but when Jon protests it’s his friends who convinced him to come back, Mormont notes he didn’t say that it was Jon’s honor. Jon starts to say that they killed his father, and Mormont responds brusquely if Jon means to bring Eddard back? When Jon doesn’t respond, Mormont says that’s good, as he’s had enough of dead men coming back to life.
Then Mormont reveals that something’s going on beyond the Wall, reports from rangers about abandoned villages, fires in the mountains burning all night, and captured wildlings claiming that the tribes are uniting at a stronghold. At Eastwatch, Cotter Pyke’s men discovered four blue-eyed corpses, but they were wise enough to burn them. Jon admits that the war in the realm is no more important than what’s happening beyond the Wall. Then the Lord Commander reveals he wants Jon and Ghost with him, because they’re riding the next day in force under his own command to meet the wildlings and anything else they find, and they’ll find what became of Benjen Stark as well. We see the rangers gathering and preparing the next day, and see them passing beneath the Wall as thy go out on their great ranging.
It’s night in the red waste, and Drogo’s body is on a pyre. The Dothraki are there, watching. Daenerys has commanded Rakharo to place the three dragon eggs on the pyre, and despite Jorah’s efforts Daenerys is not dissuaded from burning them. Ser Jorah reveals that he knows she means to join Drogo on the pyre. Daenerys insists she must, and that Mormont doesn’t understand. He tells her he won’t watch her burn… and she asks if that’s what he fears. She kisses his cheek, and then moves to address the remnant of the khalasar that have remained, calling them her khalasar—she frees the slaves and tells them to go if they wish. Some leave, but other stay.
Mirri, on her knees and bound, smiles. Daenerys has her bound to the pyre, something Ser Jorah hesitates to do until she reminds him that he swore obedience. Daenerys declares, “I am Daenerys Stormborn, of House Targaryen, of the blood of old Valyria. I am the dragon’s daughter, and I swear to you that those who would harm you will die screaming.” Mirri shouts that she will not scream, but Daenerys insists that she will… but what she wants is not screams, but rather Mirri’s life. She sets the pyre alight. As the fires rise, Mirri sings a prayer… and then begins to scream in agony.
Daenerys looks to Ser Jorah… and then she walks forward, into the circle of flame surrounding the fire. The Dothraki watch, some kneeling as they watch her join the khal in death, though the flames at first do not seem to touch her.
The next morning, the tiny khalasar rises from sleep, the fire finally having gone out. Ser Jorah walks forward with leaden steps, Rakharo and another Dothraki warrior following him… and thy discover Daenerys alive, naked and soot-covered…. but alive, and unburned. And in her hands, and on her shoulder, and about her feet: three infant, winged dragons, the first to be seen in the world in many years. Born from the ancient, petrified eggs she placed in the flames, a black one with red wings stands on her shoulder as Ser Jorah falls to her knees and swears the bloodrider’s oath, “Blood of my blood!” The rest of the khalasar falls to their knees in worship and homage, as Daenerys stands and the dragon on her shoulder stretches its wings and hisses aloud.
“... and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.”