Beyond The Wall, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's rangers arrive at Craster's Keep having passed several abandoned wildling villages. Jon Snow, Grenn, Dolorous Edd and Samwell Tarly are repulsed by Craster, who has many wives, most of whom are also his own daughters, but who seemingly has no sons. Craster tells Jeor that he has not seen the missing Benjen Stark and reports that the other wildlings are assembling for the King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder. Jon challenges their host, who is low and crude, but is demanding and demeaning when he is talking to the noble Commander Mormont (who ignores his insulting behavior). When Craster refers to them as southerners, Jon argues with him. Jeor reprimands Jon, noting that Craster may be disgusting, but the Night's Watch needs him. His information and shelter in the harsh conditions north of the Wall have helped them many times before. Mormont asks Jon if someday he wants to lead and tells him that first he needs to "learn how to follow."
Little Waiting Time...
At King's Landing, King Joffrey Baratheon holds a tournament to celebrate his nameday on the walls of the Red Keep. He is irritated by Ser Dontos Hollard, who arrives both late and intoxicated for his bout. Joffrey orders his guards to pour an entire barrel of wine down Dontos' throat with a funnel. Sansa Stark intercedes telling Joffrey that ordering a death on one's name day is bad luck.
Joffrey dismisses this as a mindless superstition, but Sandor Clegane seconds her. Sansa convinces Joffrey to instead make Dontos his court fool, for which Dontos is grateful. Tyrion Lannister arrives back in King's Landing, to Joffrey's disdain, but to the delight of Tommen and Myrcella who had worried that he was dead.
The small council are in session to discuss the Conclave's announcement that the long summer has ended. Cersei orders the city gates closed to refugees from the war in the Riverlands. When Tyrion arrives with a letter from Lord Tywin, appointing him as acting Hand of the King in Tywin's stead, Cersei becomes livid. She is suspicious that Tyrion is taking power for himself, but he convinces her that he is there to act as an advisor. He criticizes his sister for failing to rein in Joffrey and overseeing numerous bad decisions, particularly the execution of Ned Stark. Their actions have sparked a war, which, he adds, their side is currently losing. He is even more incredulous when he learns that Arya Stark escaped, pointing out how much stronger their position could have been with three Stark hostages. Tyrion hides his lover Shae in his chambers in the Tower of the Hand because he was forbidden by his father to bring her with him. She is initially thrilled at being brought to the capital, and says that big cities make her "want to fuck".
Cersei tasks Petyr Baelish with finding Arya. She needles Petyr about his unrequited love for Catelyn and he counters by referencing her relationship with Jaime, telling her that knowledge is power. She responds by threatening his life in a demonstration of her control over her guards, ordering them to first seize Baelish and cut his throat and almost immediately rescinding the order. She warns him that power is power.
Joffrey redecorates his throne room, hoping to restore the intimidating grandeur it held under the Targaryens. He refuses his mother's suggestion that they ask Tywin Lannister for aid in the search for Arya because he does not feel it is necessary to find her and does not feel it is fitting for a king to ask for help. He blames Tywin for their losses in the war and the capture of Jaime. Having heard rumors about his parentage, he confronts his mother. She dismisses it as gossip spread by his enemies. He questions her about his father's bastard children and insults her by saying that Robert had grown tired of her. She slaps him, and he warns her never to hit him again under threat of death.
At Winterfell, Bran Stark suffers through the petty complaints of his vassals, facing unrest at Robb Stark calling his banners and taking the young men south. Maester Luwin guides him in carrying out a lord's duties. Bran dreams that he is his direwolf Summer walking in the Godswood, and when he looks in the pool, he sees Summer's reflection not his own which wakes him. He has Osha and Hodor take him to the pool and is reassured to find that his waking reflection is his own. They discuss the phenomenon of the Red Comet, as many people think it means different things. Osha tells him she believes it signifies the return of dragons to the world.
On the island of Dragonstone, King Stannis Baratheon allows his advisor Melisandre to burn statues of the gods of the Faith of the Seven as an offering to her deity the Lord of Light. Maester Cressen is outraged at the affront to his gods and fearful that Melisandre is leading Stannis into a war that he cannot win. Melisandre proclaims Stannis a champion of the Lord of Light, as he draws a burning sword from one of the statues. Cressen asks Davos Seaworth to help him intervene but Davos says that it is not the right time.
Stannis has received Ned Stark's letter, informing him that he was the true heir of King Robert Baratheon, so he will send copies of a letter announcing his claim to the throne of the Seven Kingdoms to Lords throughout the realm. He details the incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jaime Lannister and challenges Joffrey's legitimacy. He rejects Davos's appeal to consider an alliance with his brother Renly Baratheon, while Renly is claiming the throne for himself, despite Renly having widespread support, or even with Robb Stark, since while Robb does not seek the Iron Throne, he desires Northern independence, which Stannis sees as Robb "stealing the Northern half of his kingdom." Cressen feigns an apology in an effort to trick Melisandre into sharing a cup of poisoned wine with him. Davos sees him drop the poison in the cup, and tries to stop him. He drinks first and hands the cup to her. Melisandre is aware of what Cressen is doing, but smiling she drinks anyway and is unaffected by the poison, and Cressen dies in vain.
Robb receives the letter and interrogates the captive Jaime about his reasons for crippling Bran. Jaime reveals nothing and attacks Robb's decision to keep him in his mobile camp rather than with one of his bannermen as demonstrating a lack of trust. Robb asserts his faith in his men and his concern at the lengths House Lannister would go to in order to free Jaime. His direwolf Grey Wind is almost fully grown and menaces Jaime during the questioning. Robb sends his prisoner Alton Lannister to King's Landing with peace terms. His demands include the release of his sisters, the return of his father's remains along with the remains of all those who served him, and the recognition of the North as a free and independent kingdom. Theon Greyjoy appeals to Robb to send him to Pyke to seek an alliance with his father Balon citing their need for a fleet in order to attack King's Landing. Catelyn counsels against putting trust in Balon because of his history of rebellion. She asks Robb to consider exchanging Jaime for his sisters. She then asks to return to her younger sons at Winterfell but Robb tasks her with seeking an alliance with Renly and sends Ser Rodrik Cassel instead to Winterfell.
Lord Janos Slynt leads a city-wide massacre of Robert's bastards. The infant Barra is killed in Petyr's brothel in front of her mother and the prostitute Ros. Tobho Mott is interrogated and reveals that Gendry has left the city as a recruit of the Night's Watch. He says that Gendry can be identified by his bull's head helm. Gendry and Arya are travelling north on the Kingsroad with Yoren's recruits.
At The Red Waste, Daenerys Targaryen leads her diminished khalasar east into the Red Waste to avoid her rivals. She is surrounded by powerful enemies who Ser Jorah tells her will kill her and take her dragons. The deadly emptiness of the Red Waste is her only option. She struggles to make her dragons eat what little meat she has, and her people face starvation. Her beloved white mare, her first gift from Khal Drogo, dies prompting her to halt the march and send three of her bloodriders in three different directions to scout for sustenance and refuge.
Winter is coming as the Night Watch go to meet the threat north of the Wall, the standoff between the Stark and the Lannisters boils with new rumors of King Joffrey's birthright and the rise of the Baratheon brothers in the warfare. All the while Dany leads her band of broken things through the dead lands barely hanging on. Trust...Joffrey will do whatever it takes to keep his crown.
PETER DINKLAGE ( Tyrion Lannister )
NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU ( Jaime Lannister )
MICHELLE FAIRLEY ( Catelyn Stark )
LENA HEADEY ( Cersei Lannister )
EMILIA CLARKE ( Daenerys Targaryen )