Ned begins to look into the death of his predecessor and mentor John Arryn. He learns that Arryn was interested in a particular book and also visited a local blacksmith known for making quality arms. There he meets someone quite interesting. At the northern wall, Jon befriends Samwell Tarly an overweight, bumbling young man whose father gave him the choice of joining the Night's Watch or dying in a hunting 'accident'. Sam is the object of scorn from other trainees and their instructor. Jon makes it clear that no harm will come him. Sansa is still not speaking to her father after he was forced to kill her wolf. She is preparing to become Queen someday. Her sister Arya meanwhile is taking sword fighting lessons and sees herself as a knight. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys defends herself when her brother Vyseris slaps her making it very clear that she too can exercise some authority.
Lord Stark grudgingly presides over preparations for a royal tournament to stimulate morale and economy, despite treasury problems, while Petyr Baelish initiates him in dirty dealings and spies at court, probably also at his family's expense. On the border, noble Jon braves comrade abuse as well as their cynical instructor as protector of Samwell Tarly, the fat recruit, who was 'volunteered' by his abusive father. Throne pretender Viserys Targaryen suffers demeaning physical abuse from Lord Varys, who coerces respect for his sister, now the respected Dothraki queen, but he learns about her rise in bed trough her courtesan coach, now in his intimate service.
Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen have an argument and Viserys hits his sister. However she reacts and tells him that he will lose his hands if he strikes her again. Tyrion Lannister visits Bran at Winterfell and has a cold reception by Robb Stark. The cynical dwarf gives the design of a special saddle for Bran so that he can ride again. The fat and coward Samwell Tarly joins the Night's Watch and is bullied by the other recruits, but Jon Snow protects him. In King's Landing, Ned investigates the death of Jon Arryn and discovers that he was reading a book. Littlefinger sits side by side with Sansa in the tournament and tells the story of two brothers to her. Catelyn and Rodrik Cassel are having lunch in a inn and they have an unexpected encounter with Tyrion.
Ned looks to a book for clues to the death of his predecessor, and uncovers one of King Robert's bastards. Robert and his guests witness a tournament honoring Ned. Jon takes measures to protect Samwell from further abuse at Castle Black; a frustrated Viserys clashes with Daenerys in Vaes Dothrak; Sansa imagines her future as a queen, while Arya envisions a far different future. Catelyn rallies her husband's allies to make a point, while Tyrion finds himself caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Eddard investigates Jon Arryn's murder. Jon befriends Samwell Tarly, a coward who has come to join the Night's Watch.
- Bran follows a raven through the empty courtyard. He's walking. He follows it until he's close enough to see it has three eyes.
He wakes up in bed with his direwolf on his bed and old nanny at his bedside. Theon Grey Joy, the ward of Ned Stark, tells Bran his brother Robb is there to visit.
Tyrion pays a visit to Robb and is put out that he's not greeted more warmly. Someone carries Bran in to see Tyrion. Maester Luwin reiterates that Bran didn't see anything when he fell.
Tyrion gives Bran drawings for a saddle that he can ride without use of his legs.
"I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things," Tyrion says.
But he wants none of Robb's false hospitalities, opting instead for the brothel outside Winterfell.
Outside, Tyrion demands of Theon where Lady Stark is. He mocks Theon for being a captive, asking what his father would think to see him. He brings up his brothers' murders and his family's fall from power, then sets off to visit the whores.
At the Wall, Samwell Tarley of Hornwill arrives to "take the black." [robes of the Night's Watch] but he's quickly knocked off his feet. Jon watches as he's whacked mercilessly, even after he yields. Jon steps in to protect Sam.
As punishment, Jon is ordered to take on three guys at once. He makes short work of them.
Even after the impressive display, he's ordered to go clean the armory.
Sam picks himself up and Jon and the guys tell him he has to defend himself. Sam admits that he's a coward. He's still grateful to Jon for defending him.
Khal Drogo leads the Dothraki to the City of the Horse Lords. Viserys says it's a city of mud and refers to the Dothraki as "savages."
Daenerys says they're her people now and he shouldn't call them that, but he insists they're his people and his army.
Daenerys privately asks Jorah if the Dorthraki could beat the seven kingdoms. He says Ned wants his head for selling slaves. Jorah says he had an expensive wife, but she's in another place with another man.
Viserys gets a spongebath from Daenerys's sex teacher, who asks if he has dragon's blood. He tells her the breath of the greatest dragon forged the iron throne and brave men rode them.
She's very impressed by dragons.
She claims she saw a man who could change his face and a pirate who wore his weight in gold.
Viserys says the last dragon died years before he was born, but he's seen their skulls approaching the Iron Throne. He recites dragon names as foreplay.
She asks what happened to the skulls.
He quickly turns on her for bumming him out and suspiciously asks what he bought her for. She stops talking and starts grinding.
Sansa gets a tour of the Iron Throne. She worries what would happen if she only has girls. She thinks everyone would hate her. She thinks Joffrey hates her. Her nanny distracts her with history lessons.
Sansa asks about her grandfather and uncle being killed in the hall, on the order of the Mad King. When her nanny tells her to ask her dad, she says she's not speaking to him.
Ned and the King's Council hear a report that the city is having a hard time keeping the peace in the build up to the tournament he doesn't want.
When they break, Ned asks Grand Maester Pycelle what happened to Lord Arryn. He says the sickness struck him very hard, and fast. He asked about a book the night he died. Pycelle shows him the book on the lineage and houses of the kingdoms of the seven kings. Ned reads the detailed birth records. Ned wonders what Arryn wanted with it, but Pycelle doesn't know.
He tells him Arryn kept saying "the seed is strong" before he died.
Ned asks if Pycelle is certain he died of a natural illness. Ned suggests poison, a woman's method. Pycelle suggests it's also the method of eunuchs and mentions Varys.
Ned takes the book and finds Arya balancing on one foot at the top of a step, per her sword instructor's teachings.
She asks if Bran is coming to live with them.
She asks what he can do now, and what she can do. Her dad tells her she'll marry and her sons will be knights and princes and lords.
"No, that's not me," she says, and gets back to practicing.
On the Wall, Sam joins Jon to serve as his new watch partner. He's afraid of heights. Jon asks what Sam's doing there.
His father was embarrassed by him and sent him away, under threat of a death in the woods that would look like an accident if he didn't go.
Sam worries he'll be made to fight again. Jon assures him he at least can't get any worse.
Petyr mentions Ser Hugh, Arryn's squire to Ned. As they walk among the courtyard, Petyr mentions all the spies about, reporting back to Varys, the Queen and Petyr himself.
Petyr suggests Ned get someone to inquire to an armorer in the village about a visit he got from Ser Hugh.
When Hugh refuses to talk to Ned's man, Ned goes to see the armorer himself. Ned talks to Gendry, who Lord Arryn talked to. Gendry says Arryn asked about his mother, who she was and what she looked like. Gendry said she had yellow hair but died when he was little.
Ned seems to see something in him.
He tells his man that Gendry is King Robert's bastard son.
Ned's man finds Jaime Lannister outside King Robert's door, listening to him carouse with four women. Jaime says Robert does this when he's on duty, as an insult to his sister.
Ned's man reminds Jaime they fought side by side at the Siege of Pike. Ned's man wants to leave a message from Lord Stark, but Jaime snarls that he doesn't serve Lord Stark.
Back at the Wall, Jon Snow defends Sam against mockery from the other guys. He tells them they're not going to hurt Sam in the training yard, no matter what Thorn says.
One guy mocks Jon, saying he'll cut Sam up.
Later, Jon and the boys pay him a visit at night. They put a gag in his mouth and the white dire wolf snarls at him, and Jon tells him no one touches Sam.
Later in the yard, Thorn commands the man to attack Sam, but the man only pokes at him weakly. Thorn sends another guy in and he promptly takes a dive. Thorn goes after Jon, then turns and asks the men if they want a "sniveling boy" to protect their back.
Viserys drags the whore in by her hair and scolds Daenyrs for sending her to him.
She says she only wanted to invite him to dinner and show him some Dothraki gear she had made for him. He snarls about her trying to turn him into one of them and throws her to the ground, insulting her.
She whacks him with a gold chain, then gets up and tells him she is the Khalessi and the wife of a great warrior. She stands up to him.
"The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands," she warns him.
At the Wall, Jon and Sam scrub tables as Sam complains that they have to be celibate to guard the wall. Sam confesses he's never been with a woman. Jon says he hasn't either.
He says he was alone in a room with a naked girl once, a whore named Roz. But he reminds Sam he's a bastard who knows nothing about his mother. He thought of that and could only think what would happen if he got her pregnant and she had "another bastard named Snow."
Thorn comes and growls at them. He asks if they remember the last winter. He spent six months beyond the Wall during the last winter. He tells them about getting caught unprotected in the weather. First they ate the horses, then each other. He says they should have had boys like Sam along.
He tells them they're not ready to be Men of the Night's Watch. "Come the winter, you'll die, like flies," he says.
Daenerys frets to Jorah about hitting her brother. She admits she doesn't want to see him on the throne. She doesn't think he could take back the Seven Kingdoms. "He couldn't lead an army even if my husband gave him one. He'll never take us home," she says.
At a jousting match in Ned's honor, Sansa tries to make eyes at Joffrey but is rebuffed. Petyr chats up Sansa.
King Robert drunkenly, and impatiently demands the joust begin.
Ser Hugh of the Vale, Arryn's former squire, is taking on Gregor the Mountain, the Hound's larger brother.
They race at each other and miss on the first pass.
But on the second pass the former squire gets a lance through the jugular. Sansa and Arya shriek as the man gurgles in his blood and dies before them.
Petyr tells Sansa a story about when the Mountain and the Hound were boys. Gregor found his little brother playing with his wooden knight one evening by the fire, so without a word Gregor held The Hound's face in the fire, giving him gnarly scars he still bears. Petyr warns Sansa that few people know that story and if The Hound knew she did, no one could save her.
Cersei pays Ned a visit during the tournament. She suggests they put "the ugliness" with the wolves behind them. She says killing the wolf was a bit extreme.
He cuts to the chase, asking what she's doing there.
She says he won't be able to change the king.
She says it makes sense, Ned's older brother was trained to lead and he was trained to follow.
"I was also trained to kill my enemies, your grace," he says.
"As was I," she says, and leaves.
In a pub on the road, Catelyn hides her face as Tyrion comes in, but he sees her.
He outs her in front of the commoners, but she reminds them she was Catelyn Tully last time she stayed there. She picks out men by their cudgels, pointing out for Tyrion's benefit that she knows everyone there and inquiring about their families.
Then she turns on the room and announces that Tyrion came into her house as a guest and conspired to murder her son. She calls upon the crowd to seize him and return him to Winterfell to await the King's justice.
All the men in the room draw their swords on Tyrion, who is trapped.