Even readers of George R.R. Martin’s epic medieval fantasy series “Game of Thrones” can’t be expected to remember all the characters, all the storylines, all the alliances and all of the backstabbing. It’s worse than the early GOP primary race. So, how on earth does an inexperienced recapper even begin to tackle HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’? If y’all have any suggestions that don’t involve flowcharts, please comment.
Let’s start with major plot developments that happened with each of the four main families: Lannisters, Starks, Baratheons and Targaryens.
Real quick, from last season:
The King, Robert Baratheon, was killed in a hunting accident orchestrated by his wife Cersei. Ned Stark, the king’s adviser, finds out that Cersei’s children are the product of incest with her brother Jaime Lannister. Ned tries to stage a coup and gets executed as a traitor by Joffrey, Cersei’s son and the current king. Ned’s older daughter Sansa (who is betrothed to Joffrey) is a prisoner in King’s Landing and his younger daughter, Arya, has disguised herself as a boy and joined a group of travelers heading north.
Ned’s oldest son, Robb Stark, declares war on the Lannisters, raises an army from Winterfell, names himself “King of the North,” wins a lot of battles, and captures Jaime Lannister. Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother of Jaime and Cersei, joins his arrogant father in warring against Robb after a brief stint as a prisoner of Catelyn Stark (Ned’s widow) and her sister Lysa Arryn. Renly and Stannis Baratheon, King Robert’s brothers, each declare themselves the new king.
Ned Stark’s illegitimate son, Jon Snow, is serving with the Night’s Watch at the Wall, which protects the kingdom from the wildlings (people who live up north) and…other creatures.
Daenerys Targaryen, granddaughter of the king whom Robert Baratheon overthrew, has taken leadership of a small band of horse-riders known as the Dothraki. Having hatched three dragons, she sets off to raise an army to recapture the throne. End of Season 1.
Ok, here we go. First episode spoilers, obviously.
— The evil Joffrey
Baratheon is still terrorizing Sansa Stark and “ruling” King’s Landing. Tyrion Lannister, who has been sent back from the battlefield by his father to act as Joffrey’s adviser, reprimands Cersei for not keeping him in check and for losing Arya Stark.
(I just have to note Peter Dinklage’s excellent delivery on this line: “You love your children; it’s your one redeeming quality. That and your cheekbones.”)
— When Joffrey insults Cersei after questioning her about the incest rumors, she does what we all want to do and slaps him across the face.
— Cersei also banishes Petyr Baelish (who betrayed Ned to her) and orders the execution of all Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate children.
— Robb Stark sends a message to the Lannister army: he’ll free Jaime Lannister if they return his sisters Sansa and Arya and declare the North an independent state with Robb as king. He also sends his mother Catelyn and his foster brother, Theon Greyjoy, to make allies with other lords.
— Jon Snow travels beyond the Wall with a group of rangers to track wildling activity. They ask for information from Craster, a wildling who marries his daughters. After Jon insults Craster, the Night’s Watch leader reprimands Jon and tells him he’ll lead the Watch one day.
— Bran Stark, who was crippled by Jaime last season, is learning to rule Winterfell in Robb’s absence. He’s also having dreams in which he possesses the body of his pet direwolf.
— Stannis Baratheon has raised an army that includes the powerful sorceress Melisandre. Melisandre’s insistence that men stop worshiping the “old gods” and pray to her god, the “Lord of Light,” is causing rifts in Stannis’s army.
— Daenerys and her clan of Dothraki have grown weak trying to cross the desert, and her dragons won’t eat. She sends out scouts in three different directions to find shelter.
This episode mostly recalled the motivations of last season’s main cast and introduced a few new characters (Ser Dontos, Stannis, Davos and Melisandre). I hope we’ll see more of Arya Stark in the next.
P.S. I almost forgot to mention: Every scene transitions with a view of a fiery red comet in the skies of Westeros. Everyone interprets the comet as an omen, although they assign it different meanings. Osha’s interpretation seems most likely, as it has already come true: the dragons have returned.