Here is your Season 1 recap of the greatest television show of all time: Game of Thrones. We enter the world of Westeros with the brutal slaying of Night’s Watch rangers north of the Wall. The dead rise from their slumber. It’s an early taste of the sheer brutality and otherworldliness of the white walkers. A lone survivor escapes and flees, shirking his duty as a Watcher on the Wall.
On the other side of the Wall we lay eyes upon the famed battlements of Winterfell. Lord Eddard Stark keeps the law around the Stark’s ancestral fortress. It is he who captures the deserter and executes him before several of his children. It’s a tough punishment meted out by a feudal lord, but it foreshadows the importance of the Night’s Watch and a martial education. The children find a litter of dangerous Dire Wolves and adopt one each.
This is a pretty massive moment for Game of Thrones Season 1. The connection between Stark and wolf sets up some of the more prominent themes in later seasons.
The boisterous King Robert Baratheon comes to Winterfell with a plea. He asks Ned, an old friend an ally from his successful rebellion against the last Targaryen king, to join him in the capital, King’s Landing. Ned will be Hand of the King and his eldest daughter Sansa will marry the heir to the throne, Joffrey. Catelyn Stark, lady of Winterfell receives an urgent raven from her sister Lysa, who reveals a Lannister plot. Before Robert’s royal retinue leaves, Bran Stark spies Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime in bed together. Jamie pushes him out of the tower window, crippling him and putting him in a coma.
Across the Narrow Sea in Essos, we meet the surviving Targaryen children that survived Robert Baratheon’s swords years earlier. Viserys is preparing to sell his sister Daenerys to a Dothraki chief in exchange for an army. She receives three dragon eggs as a gift.
Still bereaved by his son’s injury (believed to be an accident), Ned travels to King’s Landing with Sansa and his youngest daughter Arya. He is immediately caught up in and overwhelmed by the political intrigue of the capital. Back in Winterfell, Bran just survives an assassination attempt thanks to his Direwolf and Ned Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow heads north to join the Night’s Watch.
Both Ned in King’s Landing and Jon on the Wall find scenes of disarray. Robert, focused on drinking, has handed control of the kingdom over to his small Council. Ned uncovers the string of murders that killed his predecessor Jon Arryn and in doing so learns of Robert’s illegitimate children. Catelyn travels incognito to the capital to warn Ned of Bran’s attackers, but is drawn into the web of the scheming Petyr “Little Finger” Baelish. On her return journey she runs into Tyrion Lannister and takes him hostage for his role in the plot against her son.
As Dany becomes further ingratiated with the horselord Khal Drogo, conflict emerges with her brother. Viserys, impatient to use the Dothraki army to invade Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne, is frustrated by Dany’s pregnancy. Through a network for spies Robert learns of Dany’s marriage and orders her assassination. Outraged at the prospect of killing a pregnant woman on the other side of the world, Ned resigns.
News of Tyrion’s capture and imprisonment in the Eyrie (home of Lysa Arryn) reaches the capital and Jaime challenges Ned to a duel. A Lannister soldier wounds Ned and the fight is broken up. Furious at the incident, Robert reappoints Ned hand and leaves on a hunting expedition.
Things in the capital heat up as Ned learns that all three of King Robert’s children are in fact born of incest between Jaime and Queen Cersei. Violence plagues the Westeros as Lannister raiders attack and burn villages, Ned demands the family’s patriarch, Tywin, journey to the capital to explain himself. In the Eyrie Lysa Arryn sentences Tyrion to death, only for him to escape when his champion, the mercenary Bronn, defeats a knight in trial by combat.
In a fit of rage, Viserys tries to kill Dany’s unborn child. Khal Drogo kills him in an a rather imaginative way. This may well be the best death in Game of Thrones Season 1.
Ned informs Cersei that he knows about the illegitimacy of her children. King Robert returns deeply wounded by a bore: on the verge of death he names Ned Protector of the Real until Joffrey is of age. As the king dies Ned sends word to Robert’s brother, Stannis, that he must take the throne. Wary that the Lannisters may try to kill him, he enlists Little Finger and the small council to bring the City Watch to his side. But as he moves to challenge Queen Cersei with the truth, Little Finger and the City Watch betray him.
With Sansa and Ned imprisoned in King’s Landing (Arya has escaped), Robb Stark gathers his fathers bannermen to march against the Lannister armies. Westeros is on a war footing and in an early battle, the Young Wolf manages to capture Jaime Lannister. In the capital, Joffrey throws aside earlier forgiveness and has Ned beheaded for a falsified plot. Arya and Sansa watch their father die (thanks a lot George). Sansa is still forced to marry Joffrey.
On the Wall mysterious things occur, Rangers go missing and people begin rising from the dead. Jon, now a steward to the Lord Commander, learns of his hidden Targaryen bloodline. Jon struggles with conflicting loyalties as he learns that the North has seceded from the rule of King’s Landing and has pledged allegiance to Robb Stark.
Khal Drogo is wounded in battle and poisoned by a slave woman who promised to save him. Dany learns her unborn son is dead and in a moment of mercy, kills her comatose husband. Leaderless, the Dothraki begin agitating and fighting amongst themselves. Dany steps onto the funeral pyre with her husband’s body (and Khal Drogo’s poisoner), but when the fire dies down she is perfectly unharmed cradling three newborn dragons. That’s your recap for Season 1!
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