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.
Ned refuses to participate in Robert's plan to assassinate the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen, and resigns as Robert's Hand, angering him. 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, leaving him wounded as his forces leave the capital.
After the joust, Ned visits the dead body of Ser Hugh. He wonders who determined the uneven draw. He and Ser Bannister talk about their admiration for Ned's father. Ned is bothered that Hugh was a squire until a few months ago and was now wearing a fancy suit of armor. Where did he get the money to afford such finery? Ned visits King Robert trying to squeeze into his suit of armor. Robert taunts his squire cousin Lannister, sending him on a fool's errand to look for a "breast plate stretcher". Ned tries to explain to his king that anyone he jousts with will let him win. Robert explains Cersei made him take the young Lannister on as a squire. He's drunk, as usual, and Ned has to remind him to get dressed before he goes back out. At the next match, Ser Loras Tyrell, the effeminate Knight of the Flowers, presents one to Sansa but makes eyes at Lord Renly Baratheon (the king's brother). He's up against Ser Gregor, "the Mountain." Sansa worries that the knight is toast. Instead, they race at each other and Loras wins, knocking the Mountain of a man down to everyone's surprise. Loras used a bit of trickery by riding a mare in heat which agitated the stallion that Gregor was on. Petyr makes a crack about Loras' being gay, but before that goes any further a very angry Gregor picks up his giant sword and cleanly beheads his losing horse. Then he goes after the man who beat him, but soon his brother The Hound steps in. They fight until the King calls a stop to it.Ser Loras Tyrell thanks him for saving his life and lifts the Hound's hand in victory. A tied-up Tyrion Lannister is brought before Catelyn Stark. They're not on the King's Road, to Westeros. He realizes they're going to the Vale, to her sister's. Tyrion says her sister is a bit "touched." Tyrion asks what kind of imbecile arms an assassin with his own blade.They're interrupted by rocks flying out of the hills and an attacking horde. Catelyn and Tyrion duck for cover and she acquiesces to his request that she untie him. He's about to jump on a horse when he sees Lady Stark is about to be attacked. He steps in with a shield and whacks her attacker, knocking him down. He beats him senseless, pounding his face to a bloody pulp. When it is over only a handful of Lady Stark's people remain. One of them looks at Tyrion appreciatively and suggests that after a fight they need a woman. Tyrion glances at Catelyn and jokes "I'm willing if she is." At Winterfell, Bran practices his recitations of the Houses, their sigils and their words with Maester Luwin. He deliberately errs on the Lannister motto. Bran is hurt that his mother left. He watches Theon Greyjoy practice archery and wonders if he'll ever shoot again. Luwin says if he can ride a horse he should be able to fire arrows from the saddle too. Later Theon enjoys the company of Roz, the best hooker in town.. He compares himself to Tyrion, then brags about the House of Greyjoy. The whore reminds him he's Ned Stark's ward because his father rebelled against King Robert. Varys the eunuch has a private moment with Ned, telling him the king is a "fool" and "doomed" unless Ned saves him. After a month, Varys finally trusts him. He says the King is at risk from the same thing that got to Jon Arryn, a clear tasteless poison. He says someone he trusted gave it to him. Ned guesses it was Ser Hugh. Ned asks who paid him and why, after Arryn had been the hand for 17 years. "He started asking questions," Varys says. Arya chases a cat down into the cellar and overhears Varys telling someone that Ned is getting closer to the truth. He mentions "the fools tried to kill his son," but botched it. "We will be at war soon," Varys says. The man he's talking to (Illyrio) suggests another hand could die, but Varys says Ned isn't like Arryn. Illyrio says Khal Drogo won't attack until his son is born. Varys slinks up on Petyr in the throne room. Petyr invites him to visit his brothel and they use the conversation to show off who knows more about various unnamed people's sexual peccadilloes. Who's got more intel and dirt. Varys lets Petyr know he has eyes on him. He mentions that it would be bad if word got out that he helped convince Ned that the Lannisters were behind the injury to Bran. He thinks he has the upper hand, but then Petyr mentions he saw him talking with Ned that morning and then later with a certain "foreign dignitary"."Of course you would have friends from across the Narrow Sea," Petyr says. He mentions vaguely how bad it would be if that word got out. They're interrupted by Lord Renly. Varys says there's disturbing news from far away. "Hadn't you heard?" he taunts. Arya follows the secret exit from the castle out onto the shore and back into the castle. Two guards think she's a beggar boy, but she threatens to turn them over to her dad. She tells Ned what she heard. She's not sure who said it but she thinks one was fat. She relays that they said he found the bastard and something about a savage and about the wolf fighting the lion. They're interrupted by a Night's Watchman, looking for recruits. He says he came for Benjen's sake and that the whole city will know by tomorrow. He wants to speak in private. He tells Ned that his wife has "taken the imp." Catelyn runs into Lady Arryn's guards. She identifies Tyrion as her prisoner and they head off to the Eyrie. Ned is summoned to see the king and the council; Robert has just learned Daenerys is pregnant. He wants her and her baby and her brother Viserys killed. Ned argues that would make them no better than the Mad King and questions where Varys got his information. He says Jorah Mormont told him. Ned mocks that the information came from a traitor. Ned isn't worried about the Dothraki crossing the Narrow Sea. King Robert is apoplectic. Maester Pycelle argues killing her might stave off war. The council is all for it, but Ned tells the king he won't do it. The King tells him to do as he commands or he'll find a Hand who will. Ned removes his sigil and resigns. The king bellows at him, running him off back to Winterfell. Back in his room, Ned packs furiously. Petyr visits, saying if Ned stick around until night he'll take him to see the last person Jon Arryn spoke with before he fell ill. Ned orders his daughters protected as he goes with Petyr. At Lady Lysa Arryn's, Tyrion and Catelyn try not to stare as Lysa, Jon Arryn's widow, nurses her much-too-old-for-nursing son, Robin. Lysa rants about all Lannisters being liars. Robin wants to see him "fly." Catelyn reminds her nutty sister that Tyrion is her prisoner. The men of the Vale take Tyrion to a dungeon that opens up to open sky and shows just how impossibly high up they are. Renly complains to his lover Loras that his brother the king doesn't consider him a man because he hasn't been to war. He thinks Robert will forgive Ned. He thinks killing Daenerys is the way to go. Renly thinks Robert became king because he was good at killing things. Loras suggests that Renly would make a better king, even though he doesn't love killing, because he does what is necessary, including killing, when it's best for the kingdom; the people love him because he cares for them. Cersei gloats to King Robert about Ned leaving. Robert worries about the Dorthraki crossing the sea. She reminds him Dothraki don't sail. But he's still worried about their skilled, united army, and realizes their kingdom is only loosely united. He wonders what keeps their back-stabbing kingdom together. "Our marriage," she suggests. They share a good laugh. "How long can hate hold a thing together?" he asks. "Well, 17 years is quite a long time," she says. Cersei asks what "she" was like, the first time she's ever asked. She says there's no harm Lyanna Stark's memory could do what they haven't done to each other already. Robert responds with, "someone took her away from me and Seven Kingdoms couldn't fill the hole she left behind." Cersei says she felt something for him once, before their first boy died. She asks if he feels the same. No. But that doesn't make her feel anything. Ned meets with the mother of King Robert's illegitimate daughter. She says Jon Arryn only wanted to know if the baby was happy. Ned asks Petyr why Arryn tracked down all the king's bastards. He doesn't really have the answer. Jamie Lannister rides up outside the brothel. He asks Ned what happened to Tyrion. Ned says he was taken on his command. Jamie draws his sword. He orders Ned taken alive and his men killed. Jory fights Jaime, who draws a dagger and stabs him through the eye. Jaime and Ned fight fiercely, Jaime gaining the upperhand on the older Stark, until one of Jaime's men skewers Ned through the back of the leg. Frustrated Jaime responds by knocking his own man out. "My brother, Lord Stark, I want him back," Jaime says and rides off.