The Silent Sisters perform rites over Ser Hugh of the Vale's corpse and stitch up the throat wound that killed the young knight. Lord Ned Stark and Ser Barristan Selmy look on, discussing how Ser Hugh recently was raised to knighthood and received enough money to buy some fine new armor. Ned is also suspicious of how the knight came to be matched up against Ser Gregor Clegane, known as The Mountain, in the tourney.
Ned visits King Robert Baratheon in his tent, where the king is having some difficulty fitting his substantial girth into his old armor. Robert intends to fight in the tourney, but Ned manages to find the one argument that will dissuade him: "There's not a man in the Seven Kingdoms who would risk hurting you." Robert can't escape the logic but continues drinking his wine.
At the tourney, Ned sits with Sansa Stark as Ser Loras Tyrell prepares to tilt against The Mountain. Littlefinger makes a bet with Lord Renly Baratheon - who is obviously very fond of Loras - right before the two riders charge each other. The Mountain's horse, however, is acting strangely because Loras' mare is in heat, and when his stallion staggers and falls, The Mountain is enraged. He calls for his sword and nearly slices the animal's head clean off. He then attacks Loras - until his brother Sandor Clegane, known as The Hound, steps in. The two brothers hack at each other until Robert roars a command for order. Loras thanks The Hound for saving his life and raises the burned man's hand in victory.
Lady Catelyn Stark's party travels through the mountains with Tyrion Lannister in tow, on their way to the Eyrie to seek the support of Cat's sister, Lady Lysa Arryn. The dwarf warns Catelyn that her sister has changed since she last saw her - and he also points out that only a fool would arm an assassin with his own dagger. Before Cat can respond, their group is attacked by men of the Hill Tribes. During the bloody battle, the sellsword Bronn dispatches many of the attackers, and Tryion gives up the opportunity to flee and saves Catelyn's life.
When the group arrives at the Eyrie, Lysa - who sits on the weirwood throne breast-feeding her son long past a reasonable age - is furious that her sister brought a Lannister to the castle. Lysa is convinced Tyrion killed her husband as well and orders that he be locked in a sky cell - a three-walled room that opens to a terrifying drop to the rocks below.
At Winterfell, Maester Luwin quizzes Bran Stark on the sigils and words of the major houses of Westeros, as Theon Greyjoy practices archery. The boy knows all the answers but he's not in the mood to participate. Instead, Bran wants to know how his mother could have abandoned the family. Luwin assures the boy that she's doing what's best for him and loves him very much. Luwin also tells Bran that with practice and Tyrion's special saddle, he could learn to shoot a bow from horseback, which is enough to get the boy to brighten.
Theon sneaks Ros into the castle for a bit of paid company, and afterward they jab at each other. He asks her how she could sleep with a dwarf, and she shoots back, wondering how Theon likes living as a hostage.
Lord Varys comes to visit Ned in his chambers to tell him things he "must know." The spymaster says the king is doomed without Ned's help - just like Jon Arryn was. Varys says the previous Hand was poisoned with the Tears of Lys, possibly by Ser Hugh. When Ned asks why, the eunuch responds: "Because he started asking questions."
Later, Arya Stark chases cats as part of her training under Syrio Forel, and she stumbles across a massive dragon skull in the bowels of the castle. When she hears voices, she ducks and hides as Varys walks by with Magister Illyrio of Pentos, talking about how close Ned is getting to the truth. "We will be at war soon," Varys says, and Illyrio worries that Khal Drogo will miss the opportunity to put a Targaryen on the throne.
Later, Littlefinger and Varys cross paths in the throne room and banter pointedly, alluding to the leverage they hold over each other. Varys knows that Littlefinger has been helping the Starks, but Littlefinger has learned that Varys is collaborating with Magister Illyrio. Their conversation is interrupted by Renly, who tells them Robert is attending their council meeting.
Arya wanders her way out of the dungeons and finds that she's left the Red Keep entirely. When she comes to the front gate, she's barely able to convince the guards - who think she's a peasant boy - to let her inside the castle. Ned is angry that she disappeared, but when she tells him that she overheard two men talking about him in the dungeon, her account makes far too much sense. He receives even more bad news when Yoren of the Night's Watch arrives to tell him that Catelyn took Tyrion prisoner on the Kingsroad.
Ned is called to Robert's council meeting, where he learns that Ser Jorah Mormont has reported that Daenerys Targaryen is pregnant with a son. Robert wants the young woman assassinated, and everyone on the council agrees besides Ned. "Cut her throat and be done with it," Littlefinger advises. Ned can't stomach it, however, and resigns his position, walking out of the room as Robert rages behind him. "I'll have your head on a spike!"
Ned rushes to his chambers and orders his men to prepare Arya and Sansa to leave for Winterfell. Littlefinger enters the room and promises to take Ned to meet that last person Jon Arryn spoke with before he died. He takes Ned to his brothel, to meet a whore who gave birth to another of Robert's bastards. Ned talks to her and then leaves the brothel, still unsure of the illegitimate children's importance.
Outside, Jaime Lannister and a group of his guards cut off Ned's exit. Jaime knows his brother was taken prisoner. And when Ned takes credit for ordering Tyrion's arrest, the Lannisters attack, killing all of Ned's men, including Jory Cassel. Ned and Jamie face off in a dizzying swordfight, but in a still moment, one of the guards plunges a spear through Ned's leg. Jaime is furious that his sport has been taken from him and punches the guard in the face before mounting his horse and leaving Ned for dead.
Ned refuses to participate in Robert's plan to assassinate the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen, and resigns as Robert's Hand as a result, much to Robert's anger. Catelyn and Tyrion (who she has taken as her prisoner) arrive at her sister Lysa's home in the Eyrie. News of Tyrion's capture reaches King's Landing where Jaime Lannister, the Queen's twin brother, demands answers from Ned. A vengeful Jaime fights Ned until his man stabs Ned in the leg from behind. Jaime then goes to the Eyrie to save his brother. Meanwhile, Viserys confronts his sister Daenerys when Viserys gets jealous over his sister's power over the Dothraki.