Tyrion Lannister wakes up hungover and filthy in the Starks' dog kennel, with his nephew Prince Joffrey Baratheon standing outside mocking him. Tyrion orders Joffrey to offer his sympathies to their hosts following Bran Stark's fall. The prince laughs at the idea, and Tyrion slaps him hard across the face ... several times. Speechless, Joffrey rushes away.
Tyrion joins his brother and sister, Ser Jaime Lannister and Queen Cersei Baratheon, for breakfast. He tells them that he plans to ride to the Wall ... and that the maester says that Bran will live. Cersei looks concerned, but Jaime seems mostly miffed, saying that he'd prefer a good clean death, rather than living as a crippled grotesque. "Speaking for the grotesques," Tyrion replies, "I'd have to disagree ... I hope the boy does wake. I'd be very interested to hear what he has to say."
Lady Catelyn Stark stands vigil over her unconscious son. The queen visits and tells the story of an infant she lost to a battle with fever. She promises to pray to the Mother for Catelyn, who unknowingly thanks the woman who's responsible for nearly killing her son.
The bastard Jon Snow is preparing to leave for the Wall when Jaime Lannister approaches him at the forge. He shakes Snow's hand and sneers while thanking him for protecting the realm against "white walkers and whatnot." Jon shakes off the insult and visits Arya Stark in her chambers, where she packs her belongings for the journey to King's Landing. Jon gives her a slender sword, which she names "Needle." He hugs his half-sister and gives her a simple primer on swordplay: "Stick them with the pointy end."
Jon visits Bran in his bedchamber to say farewell to the boy, who may never wake up, as Catelyn glares at him. Ned walks in just in time to hear her order Jon to leave the room. She tells her husband she can't bear to stay behind while he rides south again, like he did during the war. But Ned knows there's no alternative. "You can," he tells her. "You must."
Jon and Ned leave Winterfell with the king's riders, and soon the time comes for them to part ways. Jon asks his father if his mother is still alive, and Ned tells him, "Next time we see each other, we'll talk about your mother. I promise." Ned turns south with the king while Jon follows Benjen and Tyrion toward the Wall.
On the trip north, Jon meets some other Night's Watch recruits and learns that the more typical members of the brotherhood are rapers and murderers who've chosen the Wall over the gallows. Amused but sympathetic, Tyrion asks Jon if he really believes that the Watch protects the realm from "grumpkins and snarks" that live beyond the Wall. The young man no longer has an answer.
Robb Stark and Maester Luwin visit Catelyn in Bran's room, pressing her to attend to some household business. Robb begs his mother to leave Bran's side, but before they can finish talking, he notices a fire burning outside and rushes off. A moment later, a hooded man appears with a dagger to kill Bran. Cat fends him off, grabbing the weapon's naked blade with her unprotected fingers, but it's Bran's wolf Summer who saves them, appearing from nowhere to leap on the assassin and tear open his throat.
After her wounds are dressed, Catelyn meets with Ser Rodrik Cassel, Theon Greyjoy, Maester Luwin and Robb in Winterfell's Godswood to discuss the attempt on her life. The expensive dragonbone dagger used in the attack, along with a golden hair she's found in the tower Bran fell from, leads her to believe the Lannisters are involved. She and Rodrik decide to ride south to King's Landing to warn Ned.
Daenerys and her new Dothraki tribe ride east across the plains of Essos, which takes a physical toll she's unaccustomed to. Dehydrated and saddle-sore, Daenerys is led off by her handmaidens. Once camp is set, Khal Drogo comes to Dany's tent and takes her roughly from behind.
Later, her handmaidens tend to all the small wounds she's collected while riding and tell her the various legends they've heard of dragons. Doreah, a Lysene woman, worked in the pleasure houses there. Dany asks Doreah to teach her how to make Drogo "happy," so Doreah shows her how to take control of a man. "If the khal wanted the Dothraki way," the Lysene tells her, "then why did he marry you?" Later, when Drogo approaches her in his usual coarse way, Daenerys climbs on top of him. Though he protests at first, after a few moments they find themselves making a connection for the first time.
Stopping for a meal along the road, Robert and Ned reminisce over their younger days and the battles and women who filled them. Robert tells Ned that he's received word that Daenerys Targaryen has wed a Dothraki horselord. Ned insists she's no threat in Essos, but Robert reminds him that Lyanna and Brandon Stark both died because of the old royal family. "I'll kill every Targaryen I get my hands on," he tells Ned.
Sansa enjoys her journey to the capital, especially one afternoon when Joffrey invites her to take a walk along the Trident River. They come across Arya and Mycah, the son of a butcher, practicing their sword-fighting with sticks. Joffrey pulls his own sword - cold steel, rather than a tree branch - and holds it to the boy's cheek, taunting him. When Joffrey draws blood, Arya smacks him with her stick. The prince comes after her, swinging savagely with his sword as she dodges. Her wolf Nymeria jumps in, biting Joffrey's wrist. Arya throws the prince's dropped sword into the river and runs off into the forest, where she orders Nymeria away, knowing that she'll be killed for biting Joffrey.
The Lannisters' men find Arya in the forest that night and bring her to stand before the king and queen. Ned is furious that his daughter is being handled by Cersei's family but does his best to control his tone. Cersei says that Joffrey was an innocent victim, and Arya immediately protests. The queen calls Sansa forward, and the girl lies and tells the king that she can't remember what happened. Almost satisfied, Cersei demands that the wolf be killed, but the creature is nowhere to be found. The matter is almost settled when Cersei decides Sansa's wolf, Lady, should be put to the knife in Nymeria's place. Ned is shocked at the obvious injustice and looks to Robert to overturn the order, but the king walks out. Ned says he'll do the job himself. "The wolf is of the North," he says. "She deserves better than a butcher."
Outside, Ned crosses paths with the Sandor Clegane (the Hound), who is returning with Mycah's corpse slung of his horse's back. "He ran," the Hound says, "... not very fast." Disgusted, Ned finds Lady and strokes the animal's coat for a few moments before unsheathing his dagger and ending her life.
In Bran's chamber back at Winterfell, the injured boy opens his eyes.
Brandon lies unconscious, his fate in doubt, while Catelyn tells her family that she believes his fall was an attempt on his life by the Lannisters. Having accepted his new role as the King's Hand (the King's closest confidant and prime minister), Ned leaves his home in Winterfell with his daughters Sansa and Arya, while Catelyn stays behind to tend to Brandon. Jon Snow, Ned's bastard son, heads north to join the brotherhood of the Night's Watch, protectors of the Wall that keeps the vicious White Walkers and the savage wildlings from entering civilized Westeros. Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf and the Queen's brother, decides to forego the trip south with his family, instead joining Jon's entourage heading to the Wall. Viserys bides his time in hopes of winning back the throne, while Daenerys focuses her attention on learning how to please her new husband, Drogo. When Prince Joffrey Baratheon threatens Arya Stark and her friend, one of her family's dire wolves defends her, provoking a conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters. Brandon awakens from unconsciousness.