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Game Of Thrones episode 1 recap: ‘Iron From Ice’ draws blood

Editor’s note: The following is a recap of the events of Game of Thrones: Episode One – Iron From Ice, not a review. We’ll be reviewing the full season once it’s over; the expectation with these recaps is that you’ve played the episode already and you’re here because you want to think and talk about it. This is your water cooler discussion. Expect plenty of spoilers below, since we’re here to talk about what happened. How is your Game of Thrones journey shaping up? Let us know in the comments.

Keep up with our recaps of Telltale’s Game of Thrones right here.

Who are you?

Are you bold? Are you bitter? Are you craven? Are you kind? Are you patient? Are you petulant? Do you show mercy? Or do you have none?

These questions are front-of-mind while playing Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, the newest choose-your-own-adventure-on-steroids offering from the same studio that gifted us with The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and more — and the answers are very much customizable. As with Telltale’s other games, the ways in which you react to and interact with the world of Westeros are entirely up to you — and while many story movements happen no matter what, your path toward inevitability varies wildly.

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I can tell you only about the people I personally have met in the Seven Kingdoms. I met a modest and humble fellow named Gared Tuttle, a squire in service of Lord Gregor of House Forrester. We met just outside of The Twins, the very same night that Walder Frey and the Lannisters betrayed and butchered the Starks and their surrounding Northern forces. Gared abandoned his friend Bowen and left him for dead, too focused on saving his sworn lord to risk his life saving a doomed squire. But Gared’s efforts were too late, helpless to watch as Lord Gregor’s firstborn son Rodrik, and then Gregor himself, were cut down by the Lannister and Frey forces.

Related: Check out all our Game of Thrones Season Four episode recaps

Shortly before his death, Lord Forrester announced his intentions to make my Gared a knight. Even closer to the time of his demise, Gregor gifted Gared with his sword, tasking him with returning the weapon to his seat at Ironrath in the North. Gared, the loyal soldier that he is, complied without complaint, leaving behind the fire and blood outside the Twins to make way for the North.

Do you show mercy? Or do you have none?

But Gared’s days of doom were not behind him. Further along the Kingsroad, near Ironrath, Gared stumbled upon the bloody aftermath of an altercation between his farmer family and a knight in service of Roose Bolton, newly-minted Warden in the North. My Gared challenged these Bolton men to a fight, ruthlessly killing two of the soldiers. From the Boltons’ perspective, Gared is a murderer. In his mind, he brought justice upon the heads of murderers. The truth does not matter, only its impact.

After he told his tale to Ironrath castellan (and Gared’s uncle) Duncan, as well as master-at-arms Royland Degore, the question became what to do with Gared. Rather than let Gared stay in Ironrath and wait to die at the hands of Lord Bolton’s cruel bastard son, Ramsay Snow, Duncan commanded his nephew to go to The Wall — not as a punishment, but as a kindness, and a way to save his life. Before leaving, Gared gifted Duncan with Lord Gregor’s final words, which were meant for Duncan’s ears only : “The North Grove must not be lost.”

The meaning of those words remains a mystery for all except Duncan, and that includes Ironrath’s new lord, Ethan Forrester, Lord Gregor’s young third-born son. My Ethan lacks the cruelty of Joffrey Baratheon, but also lacks the courage and confidence of Robb Stark. He is, in technical terms, a bit of a dingus, far too young to know what’s good for his people in times of great distress. For example, when faced with punishing a thief, he cuts the man’s fingers off, brutally hacking away at the digits with his own unskilled hand. Later, when faced with choosing a sentinel to act as his closest advisor, Ethan selects battle-hungry Royland, rather than calm and collected Duncan.

When I met Ethan, he was faced with the tremendous pressure of how to keep his family’s precious ironwood out of the hands of House Whitehill, wicked and untalented banner men to the all-powerful Boltons. He chose to seek the help of his sister, Mira, a handmaiden of Lady Margaery Tyrell in King’s Landing.

Related: Watch the first trailer for Game of Thrones Season 5

But my Mira, shrewd and savvy as she is, was no match for Queen Cersei’s cunning, stumbling her way through a high-pressure meeting in which Cersei sought to suss out whether Mira’s true allegiance belonged to her family in the North, or her king in this very city. Mira’s lies were told with confidence, but not enough to survive Cersei’s bullshit detector.

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Even Mira’s brave attempt to convince Margaery to use her influence over Joffrey to help the Forresters went without reward. Though Margaery admired Mira’s courage and bent to her request, Joffrey refused to send aid to the rightful heirs of Ironrath. And it gets worse: Margaery can’t do any more favors for Mira at this point, advising Mira to keep her head low and her mouth shut.

While Mira was left to survive in the belly of the beast known as King’s Landing, Gared continued his trek toward The Wall, stopping at one point to witness the cruelty of Ramsay Snow with his own eyes. At a crossroads, Gared watched in horror as Ramsay flayed a prisoner to death, little more than a passing-of-the-time before his next-day arrival at Ironrath. Gared walked away from the situation undetected and unscathed, save for psychological scars.

If only the same could be said for Lord Ethan. Despite a mock show of bravery and solemnity, as advised by Royland, Ethan was unable to keep control over a meeting with Ramsay and Lord Whitehill when the two finally arrived at Ironrath. During the meeting, Ramsay announced that the Whitehills would gain majority possession and control over House Forrester’s precious ironwood, and even flirted with the possibility of stealing Ethan’s twin sister Talia and younger brother Ryon for his own sick purposes.

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But my Ethan would not stand for such an affront. Call it in-character overconfidence and petulance, or call it a rare act of impulsive bravery; however you slice it, Ethan took a stand between Ramsay and his siblings. If he had to tolerate Ramsay handing Ironrath over to the Whitehills, he would not tolerate abuse toward his family.

For this, Ethan was rewarded with a knife to the throat.

Ramsay smiled as he stuck the blade deep into Ethan’s flesh, his family helpless to watch as the blood poured out of their young son’s body. Ethan died right there on the floor of the great hall of Ironrath — another Forrester felled in a war between petty, powerful people.