(1.2 "The Kingsroad")
It's been a month since Bran's "fall" and the time has come for everyone to leave Winterfell. After smacking Joffery around for being a twat, Tyrion informs his siblings he's off to piss off the end of the world, aka, going to the Wall. After the most painfully awkward goodbyes, and gifting a sword to Arya, Jon sets out for the Wall with his uncle and Tyrion. Tyrion and Jon do some sharing and trust building over some wine, discussing why the former reads so much (books are a whetstone to the mind) and why the former is taking the Black (what options does a bastard have). After a ineffectual guilt trip from the stricken Catelyn, Ned sets off with King and Co. for the capital with his daughters. Along the way Ned and Robert discuss the realm's preparedness should Daenerys land on their shores with her new husband's army. (The consensus is Westros wouldn't fair so well, but don't worry, horse lords won't cross the Narrow Sea.) Dany's got more, um, immediate issues, as her marriage isn't going so well. Her brother is still hanging around and her husband is less than respectful of her in their bed, so she enlists the help of one of her slaves to teach her about sex, and as soon as she establishes some eye contact, she and Drogo start getting along much better. (Yay, I guess.) Luckily Catelyn turns away from the fire that's been set as a diversion and locks eyes with the man whose getting ready to kill Bran, and much to the determent of her hands, wrestles the knife from him and while Summer (Bran's direwolf) rips out the would be assassin's throat. She investigates the tower Bran fell from and decides that he must have been pushed, a theory she shares with Robb, Theon, Rodrik, and Luwin. Catelyn decides to go south to share her suspicions with Ned, Rodrik insists on escorting her. Ned has enough problems already, since while camped Nymeria (Arya's direwolf) attacks Joffery after he attacks her and her friend practicing sword fighting, and when Sansa will not tell the truth to the King about the incident, Cersei insists that if Nymeria has run off Lady (Sansa's direwolf) will be executed for the unprovoked attack on the completely innocent Joffery. Robert does nothing to curtail his queen's cruelty nor pays heed to his old friend's plea for mercy, so Ned dutifully kills his daughter's direwolf. And Bran wakes up.
So we've had a nice introduction to the Starks, let's get to know the Baratheon/Lannister clan a little better.
Tyrion can beat Joffery black and blue with all of my blessings. Tyrion doesn't hit Joffery for the fun of it (though I have to think he kind of enjoyed it, who wouldn't), he is trying to teach Joff a very simple lesson: there are respects due to people who pledge you their fealty, and without that you cannot hope to PEACEFULLY keep the love of your subjects. Of course, there is little hope that Joff listened to his uncle, but even if he had, Lady's execution proved the opposite point. What hope is there for the future, or the present really, when the King literally can not be bothered to enforce the ruling on a matter that he has just given. Robert does not answer Ned when he asks if it is the crown's will that Lady should die in the place of Nymeria, and in that act he effectively hands his power over to Cersei, and his son in turn learns that an effective lie told to the right person with the appropriate show will allow you to exert your will over others. Tyrion uses a strike to teach Joffery about kingship, Cersei uses a hug to teach Joffery about tyranny.
But is Cersei a cold manipulative bitch out of necessity or out of vainglory? Initially I was really disgusted by Cersei visiting Catelyn in Bran's sickroom and telling a story about her first son who died (I think) shortly after being born. It seemed so vile that you would try and empathize with another mother grieving for her child when you are responsible for the condition of that child (and yes, I hold Cersei as responsible for Bran as Jaime). Did loosing her son convince her of a malevolent universe that she must protect herself against without regard to ethics or repercussion? There is no question that her regard for the distinction of her children need have no relation to the truth of their character or the justice of the situation.
In contrast, Catelyn's quest for rank and justice for her children leaves them more humiliated and vulnerable than before. When Sansa goes walking with Joffery she leaves Lady behind in the camp, (mostly) unintentionally choosing her future husband's family over the one she is born into, and her fear that she will loose the chance to be queen, to be esteemed by all, is why she crumbles when asked for the truth about Joffery's injury. Catelyn's abhorrence of Jon, because he is an assault to her honor, has trickled down to her daughter, teaching her that the social perception of a person is more important than their inner substance. And poor Bran has woken up to find both his parents and most of his siblings are gone. His mother, in the name of protecting him, exposes him to the (possibility) of the very real dangers inherent in fear and abandonment.
And Ned sees clearly the danger to his children if they are divided against themselves.
The TV Girl
(I actually started this post a week ago when the episode aired, but well, then it just didn't get finished.)