Game of Thrones Recap: Honor Thy Family

So it has come to this. Decisions will be made. Do you honor thy family, or do you complete your duty to the realm? These are the questions that haunt the men and women of Westeros and the outlying areas. There is much at stake, and one false move will topple all the pieces set in motion, and there is no going back. So what do you do?

Who is it that you are really living for?

Down Here in Hell With You: We open in pitch blackness and the labored breathing of a what? A dragon? Some tawdry sex scene starring Theon Greyjoy, the Stark’s butler? Or hopefully Khal Drogo? This is HBO so it could be anything. Maybe somebody ate Thai food, right? Then there’s light and we find that we are visiting Ned Stark yet again in the midst of his imprisonment. Varys, the Perez Hilton of the realm has come again to update Ned on Kim Kardashian’s impending nuptials and the good deed his daughter Sansa did by coming to court to plead for his life. And like us, Ned is a bit confused by Varys’ frequent visits and commentary. Just what does he want? Yes, exactly.

If he’s not there to free Ned why the continued visits? To update his website? Yes, that must be it. What he explains after telling Ned that someone “cut off his balls with a hot knife.”…thanks for the vision Varys, that his role is to be the master of whispers, to be sly, and to report daily on the world’s gossip and to cry when Will. I. Am punches him in the face, since he is really no hero. He is but an actor. Ned is tired of Varys’ games, as are we. He asks to be set free and when Varys declines, Ned wants to know what he really wants. Varys tells him he wants two things…to host the Bad Girls Club Reunion Show and peace for the realm. He informs Ned that Robb is marching North with his men, and implores that Ned call for peace by confessing his treason and telling Robb to stand down. This is a hard pill for Ned to swallow since Cersei is the talentless shrew who “murdered the king, butchered my men, and crippled my son.” Well, yes, that does seem a bit far fetched. Short of giving Sansa a poisoned apple…Cersei is competing quite favorably to be the best evil queen ever. Varys assures Ned that if he names Joffrey the rightful heir, keeps Cersei’s secret, and acknowledges his treason, Cersei will recognize Ned’s honor and let him live out his days serving at the Wall of Celibacy with Benjen (lost) and Jon (zombie killer).  Ned is like, “Whoa, Mr. Ghost of Gonads, you think I’d trade my honor to spend the rest of my days on that big ice block staring at my kneecaps? Nah, dude. My peeps were soldiers…we know how to die with honor.”  And Perez counters with the only thing that could make Ned pause, “And what of your daughter’s life? Is that a precious thing to you?” Checkmate.

Who’s That Tramping Over My Bridge?: So Robb’s little Billy goats want to cross a bridge. Well, that bridge is watched by a crusty, old hickory knob troll named Lord Walder Frey. Robb has been shooting down all Ravens leaving the Frey castle, called the Twins, because Big Pointy Castle was taken, just in case Troll Frey wants to send a Raven alerting the Lannisters of the Stark army’s movement. For some reason the army can’t cross the Frey bridge, which they have guarded for 600 years a) like Trolls b) and there’s some sort of toll for crossing c) like Trolls.

So everyone’s pretty sure that if Robb goes and asks what sort of payment the Troll would like, perhaps a few radishes and onions, a shiny new penny, or a few Gawker comments, that he’ll surely be captured. So Catlyn decides that she’ll go and find out what sort of old newspapers and melon rinds the old troll wants in exchange for letting the army pass. She tries flattery, but since the troll knows he’s a troll, he doesn’t buy it. He surmises that no one really wants to talk to him, and he’s right. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to actually engage a troll. That just can’t be productive. And then wait….urgh. The grungy, screeching, gross Bilbo Baggins of the Troll world, Lord Walder, starts fondling a young girl standing beside him, and we have no idea if she’s related to him or not. The Game of Thrones sort of enjoys crazy people having conversations with Catlyn Stark while they do wildly inappropriate things. He then further icks us out by raking his dry, festering mouth across Catlyn’s hand and she looks like her lunch just lurched a bit. She wants to talk in private (yuck) and after much histrionics, the troll tells his court to leave, so the entire lot of mole-people shrug their way out of the room like a deluge of compost leaving a dumpster.

After some disgusting talk about his fifteen year old wife’s “honey”, we get that the Freys were kind of like folks from the town of Deliverance. No one wants to hang out and procreate with his bunch of rotten fuglies, and this has gotten on Troll Walder’s nerves. Seeing no way out, Catlyn strikes a deal with the old troll and we don’t like where this is going.  Once back at camp she informs Robb that the deal has been struck. And Robb who’s no fool knows there’s a price. At first he learns that one of Frey’s sons will be his squire i.e. war flunky. Well, that’s okay. But then he senses there’s more…Catlyn then reveals that Arya will have to marry his son Waldron. And we’re like “Yeah, okay. Arya will most likely kill the moleman first.” And then almost comically Robb knows there’s even more shit coming and he won’t like it. Catlyn tells him he will have to marry the Troll’s daughter. And like any young man being forced to marry a troll/moleperson he asks if she’s hot, and his mother basically says, “Have you seen the mole people? They literally have mole faces. Frightening.” Robb has no choice but to consent if he wants to cross the bridge. Sheesh, troll tax is a bitch! But maybe his mole children will have red hair?

Jon Snow Nowitzki is MVP!: At the Wall, Jon is a bit injured from his run-in with the zombie, but the Commander shows his gratitude and gives Jon a gift of a new sword bearing a wolf on the hilt. Aw, shucks, guy in black, you shouldn’t have. We find out that the sword is made of Valyrian (Like the sleep aid?) steel and should have been a gift to the Commander’s son, Ser Jorah, who has been exiled, and is now serving Dany Targeryan. Random…but okay! We’re also told that the watch dude that attempted to wind Jon up last week with all his “Your father is a traitor talk” has been sent to King’s Landing with the zombie’s hand to show idiot King Joffrey, who will probably look at it and want it chopped up for stew, that zombies are walking around at the ice wall.

With his new sword, suddenly Jon is The Big Man On Campus…he’s getting pats on the back, and it’s almost like the final scene of Teen Wolf when everyone lifts Scott on their shoulders after he makes the winning shot, They’re all shouting Sword, Sword, Sword which is odd because had the commander given him a fancy hairbrush would they have said, hairbrush, hairbrush, hairbrush?! Kids. This is all grand for a while except, well, due to the no women thing there’s no Boof waiting in the background for the final kiss.  Pity that.  Stupid Wall. The only one not cheering is Samwise. Oh, Samwise looks very concerned. Apparently he was reading some Raven Gmail he shouldn’t have. He tells Jon that Robb is marching to war, and we see that Jon is conflicted.

Later as Jon makes his rounds he comes across that old blind asshat who took such joy in telling him that he was a steward. This time though, asshat, imparts a bit of wisdom and says that Jon must make a choice between honor and family with regard to whether he stays at the Wall or goes to help his family. During this little speech we find out that the old Maester is Aemon Targaryen, the uncle of the Mad King. Okay, great.

My Kingdom for a Horse: Well, there’s something obviously very wrong with our eyeliner stud, Drogo. He’s bobbing and weaving on his horse like a bad marionette at a carnival show. Dany is trying surreptitiously to get him to snap out of it knowing the price if it’s seen that he is weak. As he falls off his horse and others notice, one of Drogo’s lieutenant’s says “A Khal who cannot ride is no Khal” and we think “Oh, balls, here we go.” Dany tries desperately to save face by saying, “Oh, this falling thing, Khal meant to do that because this is where we’ll camp.” And everyone is like, “Uh, okay, sister. There’s going to be Khal death tonight, Amirite? Fistbump!”  And we find that Dany has gotten very good at this Dothraki language, but that her authority is waning with every weak breath of air Drogo pulls. At camp, things are looking bleak for Drogo and after taking a look at Drogo’s infected wound, Ser Jorah tells Dany, “Uh, yeah, dude’s bucket is nearly kicked, let’s head for the hills.” Dany says she wants to stay by his side, naïve Gelfling that she is. Jorah basically tells her that there is no blood code amongst the Dothraki and that once Drogo is dead there will be fighting to name his successor and she and her baby will be seen as threats. And to illustrate that point, when mister know it all ambitious horseman enters the tent he sees the writing on the wall and confirms that when the Khal dies Dany is done too. Dany gathers her druthers and attempts to evoke the will of the Dragon…but it falls on deaf ears. “The dragons are all dead, Khaleesi.”

Understanding her possible fate, she tells Ser Jorah to wear his armor. Good thinking! And she also tells the witch to save Drogo by any means necessary…even black magic. Uh, Dany, do you know what you’re doing? The witch confirms that there is a spell, but that “some would say death is cleaner.” Foreshadowing! We learn that there is a blood price and that she wants the Khal’s horse. And that made this writer think of the Pet Sematary tagline. ..”Sometimes Death is Better.” Oh, what will they bring back from the dead? An evil Drogo who slices Achilles tendons with teeny tiny scalpels?! Blood magic, yo.  Undeterred, the horse is slayed (not a good series to be a horse in) and we learn that no one must enter the tent during the magic, because the “dead will dance.” And we’re thinking that’s no Dancing With the Stars we’d like to take any part of. Even Jorah is shocked. Ominously, Dany is told that such magic is forbidden and now the Khaleesi is cursed…and from inside the tents we hear the moaning and groaning of monsters or an eyeliner-less Drogo. Hearing the demonic screams, the same ambitious asshole attempts to stop the ceremony and pushes Dany, and then it’s on between him and Jorah. A fight breaks out and we’re glad Jorah has the armor. Dany announces that she is in labor after weeks of not showing at all, but the midwives will not touch her because she is cursed, but the witch doing the ceremony will, and Dany and Jorah enter the demonic tent.

General Maximus Decimus Meridius Tyrionious At Your Service: At the Lannister war camp, we hear Tywin’s frustration that Robb isn’t proving to be so lame at battle after all. As Tyrion sits down to the war breakfast of champions which looks like Wheaties, Wine, and Swine, Tywin tells Tyrion that he hopes the savages he’s hired will come in handy, since they’re already costing him enough in supplies and steel, and Tyrion chimes in that they’re so ready to start fighting that they’ve already started by killing each other over sausages. To make matters worse, Tyrion learns that he and the savages will serve on the Vanguard or the front lines of battle. Why waste a fancy Lannister soldier if you can just use the Wildings as shark chum? Nice. Except our buddy Tyrion will be expected to serve as well, and from the looks of things we imagine that Tywin likes this idea, because certainly one can’t fault him if his “imp” son dies on the battlefield, this is an honorable death, right? Realizing his father feels this way, Tyrion stalks off. Yes, hearing that your father is okay with your death, would make one a little less hungry.

Once back in his tent he finds his Veil champion Bronn there with a quite fetching woman. We’ve decided that we like Bronn. He’s a brute, but a funny brute. When asked where he got the woman, he says, “Oh, from some Ginger Cunt three tents down.” and asked if the Ginger had anything to say about it, Bronn responds ominously, “Oh, he had something to say…but it was hard to hear it with my foot in his face.” Tyrion tells Bronn that they’re going to serve at the Vanguard, and then Bronn says, “Oh, well, I better get a girl too, cause I might die, off to rape…maybe!” And we are introduced to Shae a mysterious woman of unknown background, but who is also quick-witted just like our friend Tyrion. Hmm, we may like her, or she may be the ultimate manipulator. Too soon to tell! We watch as Tyrion, Bronn, and Shae play a few college drinking games before the big battle. We find out that Tyrion is a good judge of character until it comes to Shae. He’s right about Bronn in most ways, but Shae is a true enigma. He keeps trying to call her a prostitute but she refuses every reference, and tells Tyrion not to call her mother a whore lest she pluck his eyes out. Tyrion’s kind of woman. “Look who’s playing to stereotypes now, Imp.” He realizes that he has it all wrong.

Shae wanting to know more about Tyrion asks about him, and Bronn informs her that Tyrion was indeed married. We’ll add this next story on the list of Why We Hate Tywin and Jamie Lannister. Tyrion explains that while young and inexperienced, he and Jaime came across a woman in distress. They rescued her and Tyrion fell in love. He married her, but when his father found out, Tywin told Jaime to tell Tyrion the truth. The girl was a prostitute that Jaime had paid for to please Tyrion. He had arranged the meeting, never intending Tyrion to fall in love. As punishment for his stupidity, Tywin made Tyrion watch while (I’m not sure here if the girl was raped or paid to service) the king’s guard.  Alas, Tyrion learned a very painful lesson.

The next morning, Tyrion is awoken to battle and must join his Wildings. As general, he commands them win and all that good stuff commanding people say, and to that the Wildings, who just want to smash things, cheer Half-Man!, Half-Man! before running off into battle and knocking Tyrion in the head, where he falls, gets nearly trampled, and doesn’t see one second of the battle. When we see him again, he’s floating above the ground, Gladiator-style, and is told he missed everything, but that Robb Stark only sent 2,000 men, while the other 18,000 went to claim Jaime unawares. And they succeed.
Jaime is Robb Stark’s prize, and he wants a little one on one battle to end everything, but Robb isn’t stupid. He knows Jaime would win, tells him as much, and puts him in irons. Good on Robb. But, well, it won’t help matters right now.

Head and Shoulders Above Them All: We finally see Arya who looks to be sneaking around King’s Landing on her own. Hungry, she breaks the neck of a pigeon because she’s gangster, but thinks some fruit pies are more appetizing. Looking very much the story of Aladdin, she tries to bargain for the pie, but before she can steal one, everyone is leaving and going to the town square for some kind of meeting. We’re not sure what this is. We’re thinking somehow Arya will either be found by a friend or captured by a foe. We’re not expecting what comes next.

What we hear is that the Hand of the King will be taken to the Baelor. Arya trying to get a better view climbs atop a statue…the stature of Baelor. There she sees the king’s court and her father led out in shackles. As Ned is led through the crowd, I got a very strange feeling…like I’d seen this all before. I won’t say why this imagery was familiar just yet. While walking through a jeering crowd, Ned sees a face he knows. It’s a member of the Watch. Ned’s seen Arya and looks just as stricken to see her there as she does to see him, and in that moment we see how very much father and daughter love each other. He says one word to the Watchman…Baelor which is the statue Arya is perched on, and the true meaning behind the entire episode, and the first season really, is revealed…family.

Once up on this big, grand stage, Ned looks at Sansa, who smiles encouragingly, and at Littlefinger the smug bastard, and we’re waiting with bated breath to hear what Ned will say. He has the floor and everyone is listening. And he confesses. He confesses to…everything. And we’re like WHAT?! DUDE, YOU…WAIT, WHAT?! But then we’re like okay, well, maybe he had to do something to save his family, to save everyone. What really were his choices? One daughter is held captive, Arya is living on the streets, Robb is marching into war sworn to marry an ugly girl, Jon is stuck up in Ice Brick City so he can’t help…everything is just shit, so yeah, maybe saving everyone by lying out his ass isn’t such a bad idea. We’re mad at Ned for being a bit of a puss, but we’ll get over it if life continues for the Starks, right? RIGHT?  He names Joffrey the true heir to the throne and that little fuck preens like a schoolgirl in pigtails. Marley’s Ghost then proclaims that the gods be merciful and asks the king to give his consent for mercy.  Joffrey, the little emperor of shit, smiles and says that the women want Ned to be exiled at the Wall, and we’re like uh-huh just like we talked about earlier….BUT THEN THAT BLOND ABOMINABLE CUNT SAYS that treason shall never go unpunished so long as he’s king and says with great fanfare to Ser llyn, the executioner….BRING ME HIS HEAD! At this point, Spirit is on her feet screaming at the television. We hate Joffrey. Oh, do we hate Joffrey.  We want Joffrey’s little bitch balls in a jar. And swiftly everything happens…Sansa is screaming, the crowd is cheering, Cersei is pleading with Joffrey, and Arya is on the move with her needle and for a second I thought she was going to get in there and mix it up…but it is too late…the King. Has. Spoken.

There is no going back. And I realized where I saw the opening scene when Ned was led in…it was the Tudors when Anne Boleyn was led to her death. That is it. It is over. Deuces. Arya is grabbed by the Night watchman and Ned takes solace that Arya cannot see his execution, so he resigns himself to his fate and he is felled by his own great sword confiscated by the king’s guard, and used by Ned himself to behead a traitor in the first episode. So it shall be. Lord Stark, Hand of the King, is dead.


So this was a pretty heavy episode. There’s a lot to discuss. The fact that HBO allowed the biggest lead on the show to be killed says a lot about their dedication to the series, and the books. While it was unexpected, it was an excellent move on their part, in my opinion. Did you think they handled it well?


  • While effective, some of the pacing in this episode felt a bit rushed, i.e. Dany now in her fifteenth month of pregnancy, Ned’s swift death, did you think so?
  • Was this a good move by HBO? Or will the audience become turned off by the “anyone is marked for death” sentiment?
  • What do you think the future holds for our characters?
  • Does the killing of Ned mean that the story is really about the second generation of leaders of Westeros?

We’ve got one episode left, folks! Are you excited? I am. I can barely contain myself. That little Joffrey makes me want to kick my tv. And could Drogo become a zombie? Does this mean the defeat of the Starks?  We’ll see.

No infographic this week. You guys know who all the key players are. By way of Aol, I came across this little Instant Replay feature. So, if you want a refresher of the gut-wrenching end, take a gander. Arya, my little hero-cat, kills me every time. Sniff.

The Game of Thrones season 1 finale airs 9PM ET Sunday on HBO.

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