Episode Title: "You Win Or You Die"
Story: After attacking Ned Stark and killing his men, Jaime Lannister has fled King's Landing for Casterly Rock, the home of his father, Tywin Lannister, who gives him a lesson in getting the job done. Things aren't going very well for his sister Cersei in King's Landing, though, once Ned confronts her about her relationship with her brother. But the situation is even graver for King Robert, who comes back from his hunt with more slaughtered meat than he bargained for -- a grim reality that leaves Ned with some difficult choices to make.
Across the Narrow Sea, Khal Drogo finds himself compelled to win the Iron Throne of Westeros for his wife Daenerys. Up north at the Wall, Jon Snow frets over his uncle's delayed return as well as his disappointing new assignment for the Night's Watch -- until his portly pal Samwell points out a significant silver lining.
The Hand And The Queen
Thinking he was doing Cersei a favor, Ned confronts the queen to tell her that he knows about her big secret: all of the king's children are actually the children of her brother, Jaime. Cersei doesn't seem too distraught when Ned warns her to leave the city before he goes and tells King Robert, and her lack of fear finds a foundation when Renly returns from Robert's hunt with news that the king had been mortally wounded. Before Robert's death, he names Ned the Protector of the Realm until Joffrey comes of age, but Ned changes the wording on the decree so that it instead called for Robert's "rightful heir."
Across The Black Salt Water
Khal Drogo, like all Dothraki, has a deep fear of sailing on the ocean, so he continues to deny Dany her wish to return to Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne. But when one of Robert's sellswords attempts to poison the Khaleesi in the market, it is enough to push the great Khal over the edge. In his attempt to prevent Dany from being able to reclaim the throne of Westeros, Robert Baratheon actually triggered the events that will send the last living Targaryen across the Narrow Sea.
Jon Snow The Steward
The continued absence of Benjen should have been enough to keep Jon worried, but he also has to deal with the naming of Night's Watch assignments for the young recruits to the Wall. Though Jon is the best swordsman of the new members, he's tasked with playing steward to the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Joer Mormont (the father of Dany's own Jorah Mormont). Jon initially believes the decision was Alliser Thorne's revenge against him, but Sam points out that Mormont asked for Jon specifically for the job. In all likelihood, that means that Jon is being groomed to one day become the Lord Commander himself.
The Plot Thickens
The game of thrones gets more complicated as Littlefinger and Renly show their hands after Robert's death. Renly pleads for Ned, who is now Lord Protector of the Realm, to take Joffrey from Cersei as quickly as he can and bring him somewhere far from his mother's influence. But Ned points out that such a move would make Stannis Baratheon, not Renly, the heir to the throne, much to Renly's disapproval. Ned instead places his trust in Littlefinger, who suggests that Ned bide his time and manipulate the realm from his Lord Protector position, which also goes against Ned's sense of honor. In the end, Ned asks Littlefinger to pay off the King's Guard so they will be on his side — though he ultimately didn't pay them enough. As Cersei said, when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die... and with Ned at Cersei and newly minted King Joffrey's mercy at the end of this episode, thanks in large to Littlefinger's betrayal, it's certainly clear that Ned isn't winning.
Dark Wings, Dark Words
"I'm not going to fight them, I'm going to f*** them. That's what I know. That's what I am. And only by admitting what we are can we get what we want." -- Littlefinger explaining how he plays the game of thrones
Winter Looms Closer
Ned is in deep water with the Lannisters, and they continue to press that advantage home. In his father's defense, Robb Stark raises the men of Winterfell to march south to some climactic results.
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