First things first: Ned is definitely dead. We see his head up on a pike, and there's no body attached to it. So if you were trying to hold on to a tiny bit of hope there, forget it.
So first we have to deal with the fallout. Sansa is still engaged to King Joffrey, who shows how caring and thoughtful he is by promising never to hit her. He has large, burly knights to do that for him. Yoren manages to get Arya out of the city, but now she's disguised as a boy and is in the company of the kind of seedy jerk who's been plucked out of the dungeons to go serve at The Wall. Oh, and that one bastard of Robert's who was an armorer's apprentice.
Up north, Bran and Rickon have a prophetic dream about Ned's death. Although they might have had it after he died, which is kind of cheating. It's less prophetic that way. And at The Wall, Jon Snow deserts his new brothers. Then he comes back to his new brothers. It was dramatic at the time, I promise.
In the central war, Robb Stark's advisors decide to name him "The King in the North" on the theory that maybe they can just cut themselves off from the Seven Kingdoms entirely. Robb likes this plan fine, except that he also wants to kill Joffrey and Cersei and everyone else even a little responsible for killing Ned. And Tywin Lannister knows that, so he sends Tyrion down to King's Landing to be his stand-in as Hand of the King. He's supposed to make Joffrey be a little more sensible and less bloodthirsty, I think.
Meanwhile, Daenerys's baby was born a monster. A dead monster, because apparently its life was taken to keep Khal Drogo alive. But he's in some sort of magic-induced coma, so Dany smothers him with a pillow. Then she has a large pyre built, Drogo and her dragon eggs placed on top of it, and the witch tied to it. Then she walks into the flames. And the next day, among the ashes, all her clothes have been burned off, but she's okay. And she's got three bouncing baby dragons to keep her company!
The season finale? Already? That seemed like it just flew by, didn't it? Well, let's get to it. The opening credits don't have The Twins or The Eyrie or any of those other, less important places. Just the basics: King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, and Vaes Dothrak. Even though a lot of the action is taking place outside of the actual cities. I guess that field the Lannisters are camped in doesn't have a name. Although I guess if something sufficiently horrific happens there, it might get a name later. I've just noticed that the official "Game of Thrones" logo has a stag (House Baratheon), a wolf (House Stark), a dragon (House Targaryen), and a lion (House Lannister) sticking out of it. Even though there are more Baratheons than Targaryens around, the stag still feels odd to me. I guess it's because Renly and Stannis are both offstage and Joffrey doesn't really feel like a Baratheon, even to the people in the show who don't know he's 100% Lannister. Anyway, there you go. The opening credits, won't you?
The tip of a sword drips with blood. Ned Stark's blood. Because they cut his head off in the last episode, remember? Just to make sure, his head is picked up off the ground and shown to the crowd. Down in the crowd, Yoren makes Arya look at him and not the head. And he calls Arya "boy" over and over. Like this: "You'll be coming with me, boy. And you'll be keeping your mouth shut." Meanwhile, up on the royal dais, Sansa faints. I want to make fun of her for fainting, because it's the sort of thing that frail, royal ladies are always doing. But her father did just get decapitated a few feet from her, so I'm going to allow it.
Yoren drags Arya into a back corridor. It's convenient that it's empty, but I guess everyone's still out in the main square in case there's more to the show. Maybe the executioner is going to do a ventriloquist act with Ned's head. Or something else; I don't know. My point is that although the primary entertainment is over, everyone's still watching, enthralled. Joffrey's probably making a speech about traitors or something. Yoren keeps calling Arya "boy" and she keeps protesting that she's not a boy. I guess this is why they had those scenes where people didn't realize she was a girl, although I personally never thought she looked particularly boy-like. Yoren tells her she's clearly not a smart boy and pulls out a knife. He doesn't cut her throat with it; he just cuts her hair off. Then he tells her, "North, boy. We're going north." Remember, Yoren was down in King's Landing looking for people to take back to The Wall.
Bran's having that dream again. There's the archery practice, there's the crow, there's Bran walking after it. As he does so, he narrates what he's doing, which is a little strange. I mean, this is at least the third time we've seen this, so we don't really need him to explain what's happening. So he follows the three-eyed crow into the crypt, where he sees his father. We cut back to reality, in which the crazy lady is carrying Bran around on her shoulders. He wants to go into the crypt to check things out, but she thinks that's a bad idea. Bran's argument is that if his father isn't there, it's basically just a hole with dead things in it. And anyway, she's from north of The Wall, so she's supposed to be okay with spooky nonsense like that. He eventually shames her into it by pointing out that he, a crippled boy, isn't afraid to go in there.
As she carries him into the crypt, he narrates the tombs they pass. There's his grandfather Rickard, who was killed by Aerys Targaryen. And his aunt Lyanna, who was supposed to marry Robert Baratheon but got kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen. He provides some pleasantly specific backstory on what happened before the show started: "Robert started a war to win her back. He killed Rhaegar, but she died anyway." And then they get to the spot reserved for Eddard Stark, and the lady seems quite relieved to find it empty. And then there's a wolf attack! Rickon's wolf "Shaggydog" roars out of the darkness, but stops short of mauling her to death. She complains that it's supposed to be in chains, but Rickon dismisses that. Rickon's also down in the crypts because he saw his father down there in a dream. Huh. There's a coincidence! Bran is carried back up to ground level. As the lady tells him it's only natural to have dreams about one's father, Maester Luwin brings Bran a note. So what's your rational explanation now, Crazy Lady?
Catelyn walks through the Stark encampment. I think it's interesting that I can recognize her just from the way she walks. And the weird horizontal braid across the back of her head. Frankly, with most shows, I probably can't identify the backs of people's heads. She's walking solemnly, but I had to see her face to determine that. Everyone is watching her pass and making a big point of not getting in her way. Once she reaches the relatively unpopulated woods, she allows herself to break down. So I guess she's heard about Ned. And now she has to deal with Robb, who is furiously hacking at a tree with his sword. I don't think that's good for the edge. It seems more like a job for an axe. And Catelyn agrees with me, which pleases me more than it should: "You've ruined your sword." He should get some of that Valyrian steel I've been hearing so much about. Now that he's been distracted from his urgent tree-killing, he has a new agenda to run past his mother: "I'll kill 'em all. Every one of them." That's a little light on details, but at least he's got a goal, right? And I'm sure the trees will be glad to know he's going to direct his rage somewhere else. Cat says that the Lannisters have Arya and Sansa, and getting them back is her first priority. Priority Number Two? Killing them all.
Ah, King's Landing. Let's check in on King Joffrey, who's holding court. A minstrel sings a cheerful song. At first I was impressed that Joffrey's first order of business was auditioning minstrels, because that's the sort of thing a lot of young kings forget to do. They inherit the throne and start cutting heads off without a thought for the important business of hiring somebody to wear motley and recite ancient puns. But it turns out that Joffrey is just like everyone else; he's only listening to the minstrel because he sang an insulting song in a tavern. The primary element is how Robert, who was very fat, was killed by a boar, which was also fat. There are also references to Cersei: "The lion ripped his balls off aaaaand the boar did all the rest." It's that sort of thing. There was only one verse, but I have to assume that legions of filkers are elaborating on the theme and getting full-length versions ready for the summer convention season.
When the song is done, Joffrey claps sarcastically and claims to have found it "very amusing." The minstrel is pretty nervous at this point and promises that he'll never, ever sing that song again. Joffrey asks whether he'd prefer to keep his fingers or his tongue. Tough call. When the minstrel doesn't have an answer right away, Joffrey muses about just cutting his throat. That made his mind up: "Every man needs hands, your grace..." So! Tongue it is! And that means it's time for the red-hot pincers. Joffrey's goon only has regular pincers at the moment, but he also has a roaring fire, so they should be red hot pretty soon. For the rest of the scene, the minstrel's tongue is going to be ripped out in the background. But it's blurry, so that makes it funny!
So while that goes on, Joffrey announces that he's done for the day. He hands off the rest of the day's docket to Cersei and tells Sansa she looks pretty. When she thanks him, she calls him "My Lord," but it's supposed to be "Your Grace" now that he's king. You know, there's a lot wrong with Sansa, but I'm not sure I buy that she'd forget the right honorific to use. She's exactly the sort of person who stays up all night practicing the correct way to introduce a Monsignor to an Archduke. Or whatever the equivalents are in Westeros. Joffrey tells her to come with him, and she sulks. Then the Hound looms a