'Game Of Thrones' Recap: Episode 1, 'Winter Is Coming'

Ned StarkEpisode Title: "Winter Is Coming"

Written By: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Story: Winter finally arrives as "Game of Thrones" premieres on HBO at long last. A mysterious danger looms from the icy wastes north of the fantastical country of Westeros as the king, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) rides north to Winterfell. There he is seeking out Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) to replace his recently deceased second-in-command as the Hand of the King. But the king is a lecherous drunk, and the commitment might be more than Ned is willing to take for his old friend.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is soon to be wed to the barbarian horselord Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) as a part of the plan her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) has concocted to steal back the throne of Westeros. It turns out that Daenerys and Viserys might not have to work too hard for the seat of power after all, though, because the queen, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), and her brothers are playing a game of thrones all unto themselves.

Winter Is Coming: The words of the house Stark never held truer than in the opening moments of this pilot episode. The Others, known here as the White Walkers, have done some awful things to a group of wildlings north of the Wall, but no one heeds the warning of the lone survivor of the attack and instead he is killed. A death in King's Landing has its repercussions as well: the king's second in command, Jon Arryn, died of apparent fever, and now King Robert heads north to Winterfell to ask Ned Stark to be his successor. But there is no truer sign of winter coming than when Ned discovers a dead direwolf, his house sigil, and her six pups -- three boys, two girls and one runt -- to pass on to his children, five legitimate and one bastard.

The Hand Of The King: But Robert is not the same man he was when he claimed the throne, and Ned and his wife Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) are hesitant to move their family on the whim of the king. Ned has yet to make his decision, but it is clear that the queen and her brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) are not pleased about Robert's decision. This also could stem from the fact that Robert actually wanted to marry Ned's sister Lyanna, whose grave he visits immediately upon arrival at Winterfell, but was forced to marry Cersei after Lyanna's untimely demise.

Decisions, Decisions: Ned isn't the only one with a big decision on his plate. His bastard son, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), has to decide whether he will head north to the Wall to join the Night's Watch and protect the kingdom like his uncle Benjen (Joseph Mawle), but also to escape the constant stigma of being a lord's illegitimate child. Ned's eldest daughter, Sansa (Sophie Turner), seeks to win the affection of the heir to the throne, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), with the hope that she will one day be queen of the realm. And once Catelyn finds out from her sister that the Lannisters might have had something to do with Jon Arryn's death, she has to decide whether to stop her husband from becoming the new Hand or to risk him going south to King's Landing.

The Khaleesi And The Queen: Daenerys is married to Khal Drogo, but Viserys still does not receive his Dothraki army to bring to Westeros. But what Dany receives as a wedding gift -- her own horse, and three ancient dragon eggs -- seems to outweigh the cost of marrying a man she doesn't love.

Winter Falls: Back at Winterfell, Ned's middle son, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), defies his mother by climbing the walls of Winterfell, and stumbles across the queen and her brother caught in an incestuous encounter. Jaime Lannister, only thinking to protect the reputation of himself and his sister, pushes Bran out the tower window and down to the ground while Bran's direwolf howls a warning with no one around to hear.

Dark Wings, Dark Words: "The things I do for love." -- Jaime Lannister as he does the unthinkable to protect he and his twin sister's secret.

Winter Looms Closer: Next week, Ned and the Starks head to King's Landing while Jon heads north to serve his time at the wall. The king discovers that Viserys and Daeneys are building an army in Pentos and orders Ned to make sure they are killed once and for all. Meanwhile, Catelyn believes she has discovered the truth behind Bran's fall and seeks to stop the Lannisters in their seemingly bloodthirsty ways.

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