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.
Having accepted his new role as the Hand of the King, Eddard leaves Winterfell with his daughters Sansa and Arya, while Catelyn stays behind to tend to Bran. The unconscious Bran is attacked by an assassin, but his direwolf saves him. Catelyn decides to go to King's Landing to tell Eddard about the attempt and suspected Lannister involvement. Jon Snow, Eddard's illegitimate son, heads north to join the brotherhood of the Night's Watch, protectors of the Wall that keeps the White Walkers and the wildlings from entering civilized Westeros. Tyrion, Cersei's brother, decides to forego the trip south with his family and instead accompanies Snow's entourage to the Wall. When Joffrey threatens Arya and her friend, Arya's direwolf defends her and escapes, provoking a conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters. To resolve the insult, Robert ordering Eddard to execute Sansa's direwolf. In Winterfell, Brandon awakens from unconsciousness. Meanwhile, Daenerys focuses her attention on learning how to please Drogo.
As Khal Drogo's khalasar ride through the Dothraki Sea, Ser Jorah Mormont approaches Dany, who looks visibly depressed. He says that she must eat, but Dany doesn't like the horse meat. Jorah says that the Dothraki have two things in abundance, horses and grass, and that people can't survive on grass. He begins telling her about the Dothraki Sea and the Shadow Lands of Asshai, but she doesn't seem interested. Jorah sees Dany staring at Drogo, and he tells her that "it will get easier." The khalasar make camp, and Dany is helped off her horse and carried into her tent by her new handmaidens. Jorah approaches Viserys and tells him that Illyrio has extended the hospitality of Pentos to Viserys still, so that he doesn't have to travel with the khalasar. Viserys rejects this, saying that he'll stay with the khalasar until Drogo fulfills his promise and gives him an army. Viserys inquires about why Jorah fled Westeros, and he tells him that he caught some poachers on his land, so he tried to sell them into slavery. When Ned Stark found out, and intended to execute Jorah, Jorah fled across the Narrow Sea. Viserys assures Jorah that under his rule he wouldn't be punished for such nonsense. That night, Drogo enters his tent and roughly has sex with Dany from behind. She cries, but finds solace and smiles at the sight of her dragon eggs. Dany is being tended to by her handmaidens. She asks them about dragons, and if there are any still alive. Irri and Jhiqui say that all of the dragons were killed by brave men, but Doreah says that she had heard a story about when the moon cracked and thousands of dragons came out. The others dismiss this. Dany sends them out so she can talk to Doreah alone. She asks how she knew this, and Doreah tells her that before she was given to Dany, she was whore, and that men would tell her plenty of stories when they were happy. Dany asks Doreah if she can help her make Drogo happy, and she says that she can. Later at night, Doreah is stranding Dany, on top of her. She tells Dany that she must look Drogo in the eyes. Doreah tells her a story of a woman who was such a desired whore that men would burn others and sell their palaces to spend a night with her, and that just her stare could make a man "finish." Dany says that she doesn't think Drogo will like it with her on top, but Doreah dismisses this, saying that "the Dothraki take slaves like a hound takes a bitch." She asks if Dany is a slave, to which she says that she isn't. Doreah tells Dany to not make love like a slave then. Dany climbs on top of Doreah, and Doreah says that inside their tent, Drogo is Dany's. Drogo enters their tent completely naked, and approaches Dany, who is lying down. He grabs her and tries to turn her around, but she refuses, and tells him in Dothraki that she wants to look into his eyes. He relents, and she climbs on top of him, and they start having sex. Tyrion wakes up in the kennels among the dogs. Joffrey and his own dog, Sandor Clegane, are staring at him. Joffrey says that they're to set off for King's Landing that day. Tyrion tells Joffrey to go to Ned and Catelyn and offer them his sympathies, as Joffrey's absence has already been noticed. Joffrey refuses, saying that he doesn't care about Bran and that he "can't stand the wailing of women." Tyrion slaps Joffrey. When Joffrey says he'll tell his mother, Tyrion slaps him again. Tyrion commands him to go and do as he said. Joffrey scurries away. Sandor tells Tyrion that Joffrey will remember that. Tyrion says that he hopes he will, and that if he forgets, Sandor will remind him. Tyrion turns and walks away, going to breakfast. Inside the Great Hall, the other Lannisters are already eating. Tyrion orders breakfast and sits down with them. Myrcella asks Tyrion if Bran will live, to which Tyrion says that the maester believes he will. Cersei remarks that it's no kindness to let him linger in such pain. She also expresses her disapproval of Tyrion going north to visit the Wall. Jaime says that he hopes Tyrion doesn't intend to join the Night's Watch. Tyrion says he only wishes to "piss off the edge of the world." Cersei is disgusted and takes Tommen and Myrcella away. Jaime says that he'd rather a quick, clean death than living as a cripple. Tyrion says that he is eager to hear what Bran has to say. Jaime glares at Tyrion, and asks who's side he's on, implying that Tyrion knows about the incest. Tyrion assures him that he is loyal to their family. Cersei visits Catelyn, who is sitting by Bran's bedside. She tells Catelyn that once she had a child to Robert, but that the child took ill and died. She grieved and despaired, and Robert beat his fists bloody on the wall. Catelyn says that she had no idea about this, and Cersei says she will pray for Bran. Catelyn thanks her, and Cersei says that "maybe this time the gods will listen." Jaime approaches Jon, who is at the forge having a sword made. He talks to Jon about the Night's Watch, and is openly mocking them. Jon says that "we've guarded the realm for thousand of years." Jaime asks if Jon's taken his vows yet, to which he says he hasn't. Jaime shakes Jon's hand and offers his thanks for his services, clearly being sarcastic. Jon visits Arya, who is packing her clothes away. She complains about it, and is annoyed when her direwolf Nymeria refuses to help her. Jon gives her the sword he had made for her. It's a small rapier, so it can only stab, not slash. He tells Arya that the first lesson of swordfighting is "stick them with the pointy end." She and Jon say how they will miss each other, and hug. Arya names her sword Needle, in mocking of Sansa and her needlework. Jon visits Bran to say goodbye, but Catelyn shows him disdain and coldness. Jon ignores her and tells the comatose Bran that he's going north with Uncle Benjen to join the Night's Watch, and that Bran can visit him when he wakes up. Catelyn tells Jon to leave, and Eddard enters the room. Jon leaves, and Ned approaches Cat, who tells of when he rode south to war with Robert and came back with another woman's son. She expresses frustration that now he is riding south again. Ned tells her that he has to, as it's his duty. Cat says that men always use that excuse. Ned tells Cat that she has to be strong, and leaves. As Jon readies his horse, Robb approaches. He asks if Jon said goodbye to Bran, and if Cat was kind towards him. Jon says that she was, and Robb is clearly relieved. They saw farewell and part ways. Maester Luwin visits Cat and tells her that she has to look over the accounts, since the royal visit cost them quite a bit of money. She dismisses this, and says she doesn't care about it. Robb enters and says that he'll handle it. Luwin is grateful and leaves. Robb tells Catelyn that she's been at Bran's side for weeks, and that Rickon needs her, since he doesn't understand what is happening. Robb sees a fire outside, and rushes out of the room. As Catelyn looks out the window, an assassin appears in the room. He says that she wasn't supposed to be here, and that killing Bran would be a mercy. He takes out a dagger, and Catelyn lunges at him. They struggle for a bit, and the dagger bites into her hand. He slaps her, and she falls. The assassin moves towards Bran, but is attacked by Summer, Bran's direwolf. Summer rips out the man's throat and lies down on the bed by Bran. Catelyn explores the tower that Bran fell from, and notices a long golden hair on the ground. In the godswood, Catelyn confides with Robb, Theon, Luwin and Rodrik that she believes Bran was thrown from the tower, rather than falling. She suspects the Lannisters are behind this, since they already have reason to suspect their loyalty. Rodrik shows them the dagger the assassin used, which was Valaryian Steel, too expensive and rare for such a man to wield. Catelyn tells them that she will ride to King's Landing to tell Ned about what happened. Robb offers to go in her stead, but she tells him that "there must always be a Stark in Winterfell." Ser Rodrik offers to go with her, and she agrees. When Robb asks her about Bran, she says that she's been praying for him for a month, and that he's in the gods' hands now. She visits Bran one last time and kisses his forehead before leaving. On a hill near Winterfell, having just recently left, Eddard approaches Jon. He tells him that there's great honor in serving in the Night's Watch, and that the Starks have manned the Wall for years. Jon asks if his mother knows about him, and what he's going to do. Eddard appears pained at the question, and tells him that when they see each other next, he'll tell Jon about his mother. They part ways, and Jon rides towards Benjen and Tyrion, going north to the Wall. Ned and Robert make camp and have lunch. Robert says that he wishes they could just leave everyone behind and travel the roads by themselves. Eddard says that he should have asked him years ago. Robert tells him that they had wars to win and women to marry. Robert and Ned reminisce on the old days, and women that they knew. When Robert asks Ned about the name of Jon's mother, Eddard grows quiet and says that he doesn't wish to tell Robert. The king says Ned is too hard on himself. He shows Ned a letter he received, which informs them of Daenerys Targaryen marrying Khal Drogo. When Robert suggests they send an assassin after her, Ned says that she's little more than a girl. Robert says that soon she'll give birth to a son, and that son will bind the Dothraki to attacking Westeros. Ned says he isn't worried, since the Dothraki are known for not sailing oceans. Robert says that there are still those in Westeros that call him usurper, and that he senses a war is coming. Jon, Tyrion and Benjen make camp, and Jon stares at the new recruits that are going to the Wall. Tyrion says that they're rapists, and that Jon must feel proud to be serving in such an order. Jon asks Tyrion why he reads so much. Tyrion tells him that "my brother has his sword, and I have me books, and a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone." Tyrion asks Jon about his life, and Jon gets irritated when Tyrion calls him 'bastard.' Tyrion tells him about his responsibilities to his family, and how his brother Jaime was the youngest Kingsguard knight in history. Jon points out that Jaime then killed that king, and Tyrion agrees, saying that life is full of little ironies like that. Tyrion tells Jon that the Night's Watch isn't anything to take seriously, and that Jon is smart enough to realize that. The king's party has stopped at the Inn of the Crossroads. Sansa explores with her direwolf Lady, and is scared when Ser Illyn Payne appears. She tries to talk to him, but he doesn't answer. Sandor Clegane approaches and tells her that the Mad King had his tongue ripped out years ago. Joffrey then appears and says that Ser Illyn is the king's justice, aka the royal executioner. Joffrey asks Sansa if she wishes to walk with him, and she agrees, telling Lady to stay. As they explore the forest, they find Arya fighting with wooden swords with the butcher's boy. Arya tells them to go away, but they approach. Joffrey takes out his sword and starts taunting the butcher's boy, Mhyca. Joffrey tells him that he isn't a real knight, and raises his sword to the boy's face. Arya begs Joffrey not to hurt him, and Joffrey says that he won't hurt him... much. He slices the boy's cheek with his sword. Arya picks up a large stick and hits Joffrey across the back. He screams and runs after her. She falls over and he points his sword at her, threatening to kill her. Arya's direwolf Nymeria jumps on Joffrey and starts tearing at his arm. Arya picks up Joffrey's sword and holds it to Joffrey's face. Nymeria runs away, and Arya throws Joffrey's sword in the river before following her direwolf. Sansa rushes over to Joffrey and offers to help him. He is angry and ashamed. Arya tells Nymeria to run away, since if she is caught she will be killed for attacking Joffrey. When Nymeria doesn't move, Arya picks up a rock and throws it at her. It hits Nymeria, and she runs away. That night, Eddard and his men search the forest for Arya. Jory Cassel approaches Ned and tells him that Arya has been found by the Lannisters and taken before the king. Eddard orders all of his men back to the inn. Eddard pushes past all of the Lannister soldiers and embraces Arya, who begs his forgiveness. Ned demands to know why Arya wasn't taken to him first. Cersei warns Eddard about his tone, but Robert shuts her up and apologizes to Ned. Cersei and Joffrey accuse Arya and the butcher's boy of attacking Joffrey after he was bitten by Nymeria. Arya denies this, and says Joffrey is lying. Cersei calls Sansa forwards, who is asked what happened. She tells them that she can't remember. Arya calls her a liar and attacks her sister. Eddard pulls them apart, and Cersei demands that she be punished. Eddard agrees to discipline Arya, and Robert says he'll do the same for Joffrey. They are about to leave when Cersei demands to know what will become of the direwolf that attacked Joffrey. A Lannister soldier says that they can't find the wolf. Cersei says that they have another one chained outside, but Sansa and Arya point out that that's Lady, not Nymeria, and that Lady is innocent. Sansa begs Ned not to let them kill her. Ned asks Robert what his decision is, but the king just leaves and doesn't say anything. Cersei orders Illyn Payne to kill the direwolf, but Eddard says he'll do it himself, since the wolf is of the north, and deserves a better death. As he leaves the inn, Eddard passes Sandor Clegane, who has the corpse of the butcher's boy slung over the back on his horse. Clegane tells Eddard that the boy ran, but not fast enough. Ned kneels before Lady and pats her before taking out his dagger and killing the direwolf. Back in Winterfell, Bran wakes up.