We've always known that NED wasn't really cut out for life at court, but this week's episode really brought that fact into sharp relief. First, Ned did a truly noble thing - he told CERSEI that he was well aware that none of the royal children were, in fact, the offspring of the King, and had instead been sired by their Uncle JAIME. Cersei didn't bother denying it, instead placing the blame squarely at FAT BOB'S doorstep. Cersei had worshipped him, and what did she get in return? He loved a corpse - that'd be Ned's dead sister - more than he ever loved Cersei. You can see why she wouldn't feel particularly bad about cuckolding her husband, though her choice of bedmates is still rather icky. Ned wanted her to know that he planned on telling Robert the truth as soon as Bob got back from the hunt, and that Cersei should take the kids and run.
As if Cersei would run.
In case you ever wondered how Jaime, Cersei, and TYRION ended up they way they did, you need look no further than the scene where Jaime is dressed down by his father, TYWIN. The Lannister scion basically tells his golden boy to nut up and stop being a poncy bodyguard for crappy kings. An extremely gifted bodyguard, to be sure - gifts that are going to waste because Jaime cares what people think about him. Tywin is cold and brutal, but watching him, it's small wonder that his family has become so powerful.
As it turns out, Ned never does have that little confab with King Robert, because Bob got the bad end of a boar tusk while he was out hunting. He'd been drinking - how very out of character! - and zigged when he should have zagged. There was some question as to whether or not someone doctored the wine, but the main issue was that Robert was dying. He secretly named Ned as Protector of the Realm and asked him to serve as Regent until JOFFREY came of age. Ned quietly changed the wording in the document to refer to Bob's "rightful heir" instead of calling Joffrey by name.
LITTLEFINGER knows that Ned has been named Protector and urges him to make nice with the Lannisters. The truth about Joffrey's parentage could be revealed if and when the boy ever proved problematic for the realm - or for Ned and Littlefinger's personal plans. Ned, being the honorable man that he is, refuses to play politics - which is not the smartest thing to do, but given that Cersei tried to kill his son, you can understand why he might not be too interested in going along to get along. Interesting little tidbit about Littlefinger - he once fought a duel for CATELYN STARK'S affections. He lost, naturally, and realized that he can't fight men like Ned Stark head on; instead, he has to fuck them. Another interesting little tidbit? His duel wasn't with Ned, it was with Ned's brother.
Anticipating a showdown with Cersei, Ned asks Littlefinger for his help - or, more accurately, the support of the GOLD CLOAKS, the members of the city guard that Littlefinger pays. Littlefinger says sure, of course, no problem, which turns out to be a big fat lie. Sure enough, once Robert is dead, Cersei puts Joffrey's ass on the Iron Throne, and when Ned produces the document that names him Protector, she rips it up, the Gold Cloaks turn on him, and Littlefinger himself puts a knife to Ned's throat. Oh, Ned, you sweet, honorable, fool of a man. You should've left when you had the chance.
Another honorable man not meant for courtly life is KHAL DROGO, who could not be much less interested in the "iron chair" that Daenerys keeps talking about. At least, not until a certain associate of VARYS' tries to give DANY a particularly robust vintage of wine - it's the poison that gives it those earthy tones. Fat Bob called off the hit on Daenerys, but the wheels were already in motion. Fortunately, SER JORAH sussed the sitch before Dany was harmed, but the attempt on her life really, really pissed off her adoring husband. You haven't seen "enraged" until you've seen a Horse Lord going off about how he's going to go all scorched Earth on anyone who would dare keep his son from his rightful place on the Iron Chair. The would-be assassin getting dragged naked behind Dany's horse? He's getting off easy by comparison.
OSHA, the Wildling girl who helped attack BRAN STARK, is also getting off pretty easy. On the upside, she got taken back to WINTERFELL as a prisoner/cheap help; on the downside, she didn't get as far south as she'd hoped. There are things moving above THE WALL. Creepy things that come out at night. Things that JON SNOW was hoping he might get a chance to take a whack at after he's named a Ranger of the NIGHT'S WATCH. Unfortunately, he was named a Steward instead, which will also prevent him from searching for his Uncle BENJEN, who is missing somewhere north of The Wall. (Smart money says he's dead, but Jon's convinced he's still kicking.) SAM points out that yeah, he's been made a steward, but it's the steward of the Watch Commander. Jon might be doing laundry and fetching meals, but he'll also see and hear everything the Commander does - what better way to learn how to lead the Watch?
So, Ned is looking pretty screwed. He maybe could've gotten out with his skin if he'd just kept his yap shut about Joffrey and his siblings, but he's too honorable to just let that slide. And maybe he was wrong about not killing Daenerys - Drogo is coming, and he's bringing his horde of riders with him.
What do you guys think? Was King Robert right to order Daenerys' assassination? And do you think that his steward - a Lannister, remember - messed with his wine during the hunt, or was he just plain drunk and unlucky? Share your predictions in the comments and please, if you've read the books and know what's coming, put your thoughts in spoiler tags.