In King Renly Baratheon's tent in the Stormlands, the young king tells Lady Catelyn Stark that he and her son Robb would make natural allies. She begs him not to go to war with his brother Stannis, but Renly won't listen. As he asks Catelyn to take his terms to Robb, a shadowy cloud billows into the room. It coalesces into the shape of a man and plunges a dark blade through the king's chest; Lady Brienne of Tarth looks on screaming. Before anyone can react, the creature disappears and Renly's guards rush into the tent to attack Brienne, assuming she's the killer. She makes short work of the men and then collapses in tears across Renly's body. With no other choice, Brienne and Cat flee into the night.
The king's death throws the camp into disarray, and as Stannis' ships appear on the horizon, Littlefinger counsels Margaery and Loras Tyrell to flee while they still can. Loras agrees to postpone his revenge, and after he leaves, Margaery tells Littlefinger: "I want to be the queen."
In King's landing, Tyrion Lannister brings the news of Renly's death to his sister, Cersei Baratheon, who is drinking her way through the day. She's still angry with Tyrion for marrying Myrcella off, and she refuses to tell him what Joffrey has planned for the defense of King's Landing. Her cousin and lover Lancel Lannister, however, has been recruited as Tyrion's spy and tells the dwarf that Joffrey wants to launch pots of a mystical compound called "wildfire" from the city walls.
King Stannis Baratheon and his adviser Davos Seaworth walk through Renly's former camp. Stannis has recruited most of his dead brother's men and is ready to sail against King's Landing, but Davos begs him not to pursue his victory with witchcraft. "Loyal service means telling hard truths," Davos says, convincing Stannis to at least leave Melisandre behind when he launches his attack.
Tyrion walks the streets of King's Landing, where he hears a street performer refer to him as a "demon monkey." He meets with a man from the Alchemists' Guild, who explains that wildfire will melt wood, stone, steel ... and flesh. Holding a pot of the green substance, Tyrion asks how much of the weapon they've created, and the alchemist leads Tyrion to a room stacked from floor to ceiling with more than 7,000 jars of the substance.
Theon Greyjoy stands on the docks of Pyke, admiring his ship, but his crewmen aren't impressed with their new captain. One man outright threatens to mutiny and take the ship, but when Theon's sister Yara arrives and addresses the group, the men break into affectionate laughter. One of Theon's men, Dagmer, tells him, "They're not going to respect you until you prove yourself." This gives the young Greyjoy an idea.
Arya Stark serves food for Tywin Lannister and his bannermen at the haunted castle of Harrenhal. Tywin tells his commanders to stop waiting for Robb to fail and start finding a way to stop him, but none of the men have any ideas. Tywin picks up on the fact that Arya is from the North and asks her what she knows of Robb. "They call him the young wolf," she says. "They say he can't be killed." She leaves to fetch water for Tywin and finds Jaqen H'ghar, one of the prisoners Yoren kept in a cage. In exchange for Arya's saving his life, Jaqen offers her three deaths. "Speak three names," he tells her, "and a man will do the rest." She names the Mountain's torture master: the Tickler.
North of the Wall, the men of the Night's Watch trudge through the snow, waiting for the legendary ranger Qhorin Halfhand to meet them. They make camp at the Fist of the First Men, building up the ancient fortification to defend against wildlings. Qhorin arrives and tells Mormont and his men about Mance Rayder's massive army, "They'll hit us in force, and they won't run away when we hit back." Qhorin leads a small party - including Jon Snow -to take out Mance's lookouts.
Daenerys Targaryen and her handmaiden Irri play with one of her dragons in their new home of Qarth. Xaro Xhaon Daxos has sent her a dress, demonstrating his wealth, but Dany quips, "The last time a rich man gave me a dress, he was selling me to Khal Drogo." Still, she wears the garment and joins a gathering in the gardens, where she meets the warlock Pyat Pree, who creates an illusion and invites her to the House of the Undying. A masked woman warns Jorah to watch over Daenerys.
Catelyn and Brienne ride for Robb's camp, shaken by what they've seen. Brienne wants to return to kill Stannis, but Catelyn tells her it would be suicide. Instead, Brienne pledges to serve Catelyn. "I will give my life for yours, if it comes to that," she says.
Bran holds court at Winterfell, granting a farmer some orphaned boys to help tend his flock, when Ser Rodrik Cassel enters with news that Torrhen's Square has fallen under siege. Bran sends Rodrik and his remaining troops to fight off the invaders.
Xaro walks with Dany, asking her why she desires the Iron Throne. She replies that it's hers by rights and tells him that he's a conqueror, too - just less ambitious. He shows her his vault and claims that she could have enough to buy horses, ships and whatever is required to retake her homeland. "Marry me, and I'll give you the Seven Kingdoms," he says. Jorah is against the idea, but Dany is suspicious of the exiled knight's motivations. "You have a gentle heart," he tells her. "Make your own way. The allies we need are in Westeros."
As Gendry forges a sword in Harrenhal, he and Arya hear a scream and rush to the commotion. The Tickler lies dead in courtyard, and as Arya looks around, she spots Jaqen. She has dealt her first death, and she has two remaining.
In Harrenhal, Jaqen H'ghar, one of the three caged prisoners Arya Stark saved from death during her trip to the Wall pledges to kill three people of her choosing in order to repay his debt to her. She accepts and chooses the Tickler as the first, the man who tortures to death the captives that were brought there with her. After Renly's sudden death at the hands of Melisandre's shadowy assassin, Catelyn and Brienne are forced to flee from Renly's camp. Theon sails from Pyke prepared to prove that he is a true Ironborn, with plans to overtake Winterfell while Robb is out fighting the war. The Night's Watch arrive at an ancient fortress called the Fist of the First Men, where they intend to make a stand.
H'ghar, one of the three caged prisoners Arya saved, pledges to kill three people of her choosing in order to repay his debt to her. She accepts and first chooses the Tickler, the man who mortally tortured the captives. After Renly's death at the hands of Melisandre's shadowy assassin, Catelyn and Brienne, who are accused of the murder, are forced to flee from the camp. Excluding the Tyrells, Renly's forces submit to Stannis. Brienne swears loyalty to Catelyn. Theon sails from Pyke prepared to prove that he is a true Ironborn, with plans to capture Winterfell while Robb is absent. Tyrion learns from Lancel about the Wildfire, a burning substance mass produced to destroy Stannis' fleet and army during the upcoming siege. Tyrion takes control of the scheme. The Night's Watch arrives at an ancient fortress called the Fist of the First Men, where Jeor allows Snow to join the team led by a veteran named Halfhand in order to kill the enemy leader. In Qarth, Daxos proposes marriage to Daenerys in exchange for providing her with the wealth to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. Jorah convinces her to gain the support of the Westerosi people instead.
In Renly's camp, Catelyn tells Renly that Robb Stark has no interest in the Iron Throne. Renly says the Starks can have dominion over the North if they swear the same oath of fealty that Ned had done to Robert Baratheon. In return, Renly promises to defeat Stannis's army in the morning. Catelyn asks him again to try to negotiate a peace with Stannis. He won't hear it. He tells her to take his terms to Robb. There's a wind at the tent door and Melisandre's evil black spirit offspring with a resemblance to Stannis enters and stabs Renly in the back. He drops to the ground, dead. Guards rush in and, thinking Brienne did it, attack her. She fights them off and then collapses crying over his body. Catelyn tells her to leave, warning her that they'll hang her. "You can't avenge him if you're dead," she says. The two women take flight. At King's Landing the next morning, Loras and the Queen try to figure out what to do. Petyr warns them Stannis and his boats are near. They don't believe Brienne was responsible. Petyr and the Queen warn Loras that he can't avenge Renly if he's dead. The newly widowed Margaery tells Petyr she wants to be "the Queen." Cersei and Tyrion get the news. They worry about Stannis accumulating power. Cersei is still smarting over Tyrion's plans to send Princess Myrcella away to be married. Cersei says the King is planning their defense; but she won't tell Tyrion the details. Tyrion and his cousin Lancel secretly meet and Cercei's interim lover tells him they're making wildfire with a pyromancer and plan to launch it into Stannis's ships and armies. Davos tries to talk to Stannis about what he saw Melisandre "give birth" to in the cave. Stannis doesn't want to hear it. Stannis plans to sail to King's Landing after he's consolidated his troops. Davos worries about him bringing Melisandre with him. He mentions that some people think he's under her spell. Davos advises Stannis to shore up Renly's bannerman and head to King's Landing without Melisandre. He tells Davos to lead the attack to Back Bay, but takes Davos's advisory to heart -- Melisandre will not be going with him. At King's Landing Tyrion walks through the city and comes upon a man giving speeches to the crowd about the "rotten King." Tyrion thinks Joffrey is a lost cause. The man refers to Tyrion as a "demon monkey" -- people think he's pulling the king's strings.Theon Greyjoy awaits his crew. They're a rough lot. They're heading to the Stony Shore to rape and pillage and they're not inclined to listen to Theon. One man stares him down, saying he doesn't need a captain. Theon threatens to hunt him down for treason. His sister comes by to taunt him for his pathetic crew and assignment. She has 30 ships to his one, and with an undisciplined crew at that. The first mate tells him he'll have to earn their respect. Theon decides to take Stony Shore, which the Starks hold, and then hold it until they arrive to fight them off. In Harrenhal Arya waits on Tywin and his men as they talk about how Robb Stark, her brother, continues to outperform their expectations. Tywin asks Arya where she's from, then questions her on the sigil. She makes up a new lie when he catches that one. He asks what they say about Robb Stark in the North. She says they say he rides into battle on a dire wolf and can't be killed. He asks if she believes that."No, my lord, anyone can be killed," she wisely responds. She goes to get water but is intercepted by Jaqen H'ghar, one of the prisoners she freed and saved from the fire. He says he always knew she was a girl. He seems menacing, but tells her that a man pays his debts. They stole three deaths from the Red God when she saved him and his fellow prisoners and he says they have to pay them back. She can name any three and he'll kill them. She starts by naming the torturer. Jon Snow and the Night's Watch trek across the vast wintry expanse. Sam goes on about Gilly. There's nothing but snowy mountains as far as they can see. They see a group approaching. Tyrion examines a bowl of wildfire -- it can burn through wood, steel and flesh. Bronn worries about their own fighters handling it and flinging it accurately. The Pyromancer shows them his stash. It fills a vast room. They have 7,811 jars -- at Cersei's order. Bronn thinks it's a "s---" idea. Tyrion agrees, the contents of the room could destroy King's Landing."You won't be making wildfire for my sister anymore; you'll be making it for me," Tyrion says. In Qarth, Daenerys teaches one of her her baby dragons how to scorch his own food. She wears a beautiful gown given to her by Xaro, supposedly the richest man in Qarth, and the one who vouched for them. She suggests her handmaiden flirt up the other men to find out more about him. At a garden party hosted by Xaro, she has to tell her men not to steal the ornamentation. A man greets her on behalf of the warlocks of Qarth and invites her to a reception at the House of the Undying. A woman with her face obscured warns Jorah that Daenerys will need protecting. On the road, Brienne insists it was Stannis who killed Renly, but Catelyn thought it was a "shadow in the shape of a man." They're riding to Robb's camp to tell him what they saw, then Catelyn plans to return to Winterfell. Brienne offers to serve Catelyn, whom she says has "a woman's kind of courage." But she wants permission to kill Stannis when the time comes. Catelyn agrees. They swear vows to each other. Bran listens to requests from the villagers but they're interrupted by Ser Rodrik announcing a town is under attack 40 miles away. Bran doesn't hesitate in telling Rodrik to take the men he needs to defend them. Bran tells Osha that he dreamed the sea had come to Winterfell and the water flooded the castle. Ser Rodrik was one who drowned. The sea is hundreds of miles away. Osha seems disturbed by this and quickly leaves. Back out in the mountains, they see an encampment of Wildlings in the distance. A ranger named Qhorin Halfhand suggests leading a small group of rangers to attack it, and to try getting close to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. Jon Snow wants in on it and Sam offers to take his steward duties while Jon's gone. In Qarth, Xaro asks Daenerys how long Ser Jorah has been in love with her. She denies it. She tells Xaro she wants to retake the Iron Throne and protect her people. She asks him why he let her in. He takes her down to an impenetrable vault door. He has the only key and offers her half of what's inside if she marries him. He promises to help her retake the Seven Kingdoms and tells her that Robert Baratheon is dead. Daenerys talks it over with Jorah, who's against it. He says he just wants to see her on the Iron Throne because she'd be a good ruler. He tells her to get one ship and sail to Westeros to make allies. He promises to find the ship and captain. In Harrenhal, Gendry is back to making swords. Arya watches, giving him the same fighting advice her father and her fencing master Syrio Forel had given her. They hear a scream and run to inspect. The chief torturer is dead in the courtyard of a broken neck. Jaqen H'ghar looks down from above, catching Arya's eye and making a sign. She approves.