40 Days. 40 Episodes. Game of Thrones, S1E10.

So that’s what Bryan meant by a “Ned’s Head” moment… In the penultimate episode of the season, they just go and chop off the head of one of the most boring characters. What was that moment like going into Episode 10? I don’t remember because by the time I got to it, the series had ended and I was binge-watching them all at once. So this is my ongoing series of recapping every Game of Thrones episode in the 40 days before the Season 5 premiere. Season 1, Episode 10.

I did NOT remember how this episode opens with a close-up of Ilyn Payne’s sword dripping with Ned’s blood and slowly the crowd’s cheering comes up. It pans down to Arya clutching to Yoren as he repeatedly calls her boy and says the menacing: “You’ll be coming with me and keep your mouth shut.” They’re going north.

Which is a cue to cut to Bran’s new three-eyed raven dream in which he goes down to the crypt and sees his father there. He’s describing it to Osha as she carries him down there. Rickon’s wolf leaps out at them. Then Rickon appears. He is such the forgotten child. Is anything cool going to happen with him? Or did GRRM create this extra son of the Starks and then decide he had nothing cool to do? Anyway, Rickon has had the same dream Bran did. Osha assures them both that everything’s all right. And as soon as they emerge from the crypt, Luwin is there with a really dark look on his face and a message from a raven.

Then we see Cat walking through the army’s camp and everyone respectfully greeting her. She heads to the woods to break down where she hears Robb chopping at a tree with his sword. “I’ll kill them all,” he says. But she corrects him. “We have to get the girls back and then we will kill them all.” Sounds good, Cat. Hope you didn’t make any terrible deals that will undermine that.

Back at court, Sansa has to mourn alone among the enemy. Some terrible singer is singing some terrible song about Robert’s death. Turns out Joffrey is torturing him by making him sing a song mocking Robert and the Lannisters in front of court. He then asks the singer if he prefers to keep his fingers or his tongue and orders the tongueless Ilyn to carry out the sentence. I guess I remember Joffrey’s cruelty getting worse through Seasons 2 and 3 but he was just as awful in Season 1.

Joffrey leaves the actual business of the court to his mother and tours Sansa to the see her father’s head on a pike. But even as he’s torturing her, he says, “Mother says I’m still to marry you.” For a psychopath, this boy is a real whipped psychopath. Sansa approaches him as if to push him off the walkway where he’s standing and the damn Hound stops her. Wouldn’t it have been great if she’d ended it right there?

At Robb’s camp, one of Renly’s men is asking Robb to swear fealty to Renly and questioning Robb’s intentions. Greatjon (that is Greatjon, right?) declares that the Northerners don’t need the South and bends his knee to Robb, The King in the North. Theon even makes a big show of saying his sword his Robb’s. All the men kneel to Robb.

And then Cat is going to see Jaime. Cat–always fucking things up Cat–is going to see Jaime to screw this up for Robb as well. She really doesn’t understand negotiations. Cat does get an answer from Jaime on Bran. “I pushed him out the window.” Why? “I hoped the fall would kill him.” He’s honest, I guess.

Then in Cersei’s chambers, the young squire (what’s his name? he’s also her cousin) who helped her kill Robert is nude and talking way too much. I’d also forgotten that we saw that side of her in Season 1.

The Lannisters hold a council to figure out their next move and only Tyrion talks sense. Though he basically says that psychopath Joffrey fucked up all chances for peace when he killed Ned. Tywin dismisses them all and holds Tyrion back to say: you’re right. Tywin and Tyrion really are two sides of the same tactical mind. Tywin declares Ser Gregor will set the Riverlands on fire and Tyrion will head to King’s Landing to serve as Hand.

I don’t know, man. From the first episode, I thought that the frozen undead were way scarier than the politicians in the south so every time the Lannisters start burning things I think, this is such an apt analogy for politicians and real concerns.

Dany wakes from her sickness. Jorah tells her the boy did not live. (I know you’ll hate to hear this but the scene of Dany giving birth in the books was so much more horrifying.) Dany demands to see Drogo on whom the witch doctor’s spells were equally useless. Dany discovers the Khalasar has dispersed and Drogo is a living zombie. The witch doctor is full of riddles as to when he’ll be normal again.

As I recall, the relationship between Dany and Mirri Maz Duur is really confusing in the books. Here in this confrontation, at least it’s clarified a bit. Mirri Maz Duur was just playing a slow revenge plot on Dany.

Jon tells Sam he’s going to help Robb. Sam cries.

Tyrion, just as he’s won some approval from his father, is with Shae preparing to annoy his father by bringing Shae to court.

Jon rides. Ghost barks. Other riders follow. Sam falls off his horse. They recite their vows to Jon so it sounds like a glee club trying to woo a former member back for the big finale performance.

Dany washes the zombie Drogo. She speaks to him, cries with him, and then puts a pillow over his face to kill him.

In what seemed like such a weird jump at the time, the scene switches to Pycelle’s quarters where the old man is rambling on about kings while Roz gets washed and dressed. Ick. But you know, she works for Littlefinger so this is great for him. She leaves and Pycelle does some weird stretches. You’d think this means he’s just playing the role of a feeble old man but he really isn’t that bright.

Littlefinger and Varys stare at the Iron Throne and discuss what they’d do with it. Then Littlefinger takes some really weak swipes at Varys’s eunuch status. At least they both admit they admire each other.

Yoren renames Arya, Arry, which doesn’t seem like a great pseudonym all things considered. Arry gets bullied immediately by the other boys. Hot Pie is especially a jerk. Gendry is there and takes up for Arry. It’s endearing.

Mormont tells Jon he knows he ran away and returned in the night. Mormont gives Jon a real reality check. It amounts to: when the dead walk, does it matter who sits on the Iron Throne? Mormont announces his plans to head beyond the Wall to confront what’s out there.

After Ned’s execution, this episode seems especially motionless. I thought that at the time too. It’s an episode full of exposition except for the last 5 minutes. Sure, the Night’s Watch mount up but they’re just riding to a cliff-hanger.

It’s the next scene with the funeral pyre that Dany has built to burn Drogo, kill Mirri, and bathe herself that provides any forward motion. It’s her ascent into leadership. She frees her slaves and announces her intentions. It’s powerful. And then, you know she walks into the fire and emerges naked with dragons suckling to her.

I still think it would be better if she emerged bald. Like in the book.