One of the common questions that readers of George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones have had is how the TV version would cut up the novel into episodes. Some folks expressed concern that the first episode moved too fast (which was a weird complaint from my POV) or that it didn’t get far enough.
HBO has just released the synopses for the next six episodes of the series, and they give you a pretty good idea of how the episodic structure works here. These synopses contain major spoilers, so unless you’ve read the book you should stay away. If you have read the book you’ll probably enjoy understanding the shape of the season.
Episode #2: “The Kingsroad”
Bran’s fate remains in doubt. Having agreed to become the King’s Hand, Ned leaves Westeros with daughters Sansa and Arya, while Catelyn stays behind to tend to Bran. Jon Snow heads north to join the brotherhood of the Night’s Watch. Tyrion decides to forego the trip south with his family, instead joining Jon in the entourage heading to the Wall. Viserys bides his time in hopes of winning back the throne, while Daenerys focuses her attention on learning how to please her new husband, Drogo.
Episode #3: “Lord Snow”
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 1 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Other HBO playdates: May 1 (11:00 p.m.), 3 (11:00 p.m.), 4 (10:00 p.m.) and 7 (11:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 2 (9:00 p.m.), 5 (8:00 p.m.), 6 (midnight) and 8 (3:00 p.m.), and June 28 (midnight)
Arriving at King’s Landing after his long journey, Ned (Sean Bean) is shocked to learn of the Crown’s profligacy from his new advisors. At Castle Black, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) impresses Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) at the expense of greener recruits. Suspicious that the Lannisters had a hand in Bran’s fall, Catelyn (Michelle Fairey) covertly follows her husband to King’s Landing, where she is intercepted by Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), aka “Littlefinger,” a shrewd longtime ally and brothel owner. Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) ponder the implications of Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) recovery; Arya (Maisie Williams) studies swordsmanship. On the road to Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) finds herself at odds with Viserys (Harry Lloyd).
Episode #4: “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things”
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 8 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: May 8 (11:00 p.m.), 10 (11:00 p.m.), 11 (10:00 p.m.), 14 (11:45 p.m.) and 25 (8:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 9 (9:00 p.m.), 12 (8:00 p.m.), 13 (midnight) and 15 (6:00 p.m.), and June 29 (10:00 p.m.)
Ned looks to a book for clues to the death of his predecessor, and uncovers one of King Robert’s (Mark Addy) bastards. Robert and his guests witness a tournament honoring Ned. Jon takes measures to protect Samwell (John Bradley) from further abuse at Castle Black; a frustrated Viserys clashes with Daenerys in Vaes Dothrak; Sansa (Sophie Turner) imagines her future as a queen, while Arya envisions a far different future. Catelyn rallies her husband’s allies to make a point, while Tyrion finds himself caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Episode #5: “The Wolf and the Lion”
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 15 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: May 15 (11:00 p.m.), 17 (11:00 p.m.), 18 (10:00 p.m.), 21 (12:15 a.m. ET/11:15 p.m. PT) and 25 (9:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 16 (9:00 p.m.), 19 (8:00 p.m.), 20 (midnight) and 22 (3:30 p.m.), and June 29 (11:00 p.m.)
Incensed over news of Daenerys’ alliance with the Dothrakis, Robert orders a preemptive strike on the Targaryens that drives a wedge in his relationship with Ned. A captive Tyrion helps Catelyn, but receives a cold reception at the Eyrie from her sister, John Arryn’s widow Lysa (Kate Dickie). Sansa is charmed by the dashing Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), aka the Knight of Flowers. Arya overhears a plot against her father.
Episode #6: “A Golden Crown”
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 22 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: May 22 (11:00 p.m.), 24 (11:00 p.m.), 25 (10:00 p.m.) and 28 (11:45 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 23 (9:00 p.m.), 26 (8:00 p.m.), 27 (midnight) and 29 (4:30 p.m.), and June 29 (midnight)
Reinstated as the Hand, Ned sits for the King while Robert is on a hunt, and issues a decree that could have long-term consequences throughout the Seven Kingdoms. At the Eyrie, Tyrion confesses to his “crimes,” and demands that Lysa give him a trial by combat. Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) apologizes to Sansa; Viserys receives his final payment for Daenerys from Drogo (Jason Mamoa).
Episode #7: “You Win or You Die”
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 29 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: May 29 (11:00 p.m.) and 31 (11:00 p.m.), and June 1 (10:00 p.m.), 4 (midnight) and 15 (8:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 30 (9:00 p.m.) and June 2 (8:00 p.m.), 3 (midnight), 5 (2:30 p.m.) and 30 (10:00 p.m.)
Explaining that the future of the Lannisters is at stake, Tywin (Charles Dance) presses Jaime to “be the man you were meant to be” as they prepare for battle. Ned confronts Cersei about the secrets that killed Jon Arryn. With the fate of the missing Benjen (Joseph Mawle) very much on his mind, Jon Snow takes his Night’s Watch vows, though not with the assignment he coveted. After Ser Jorah (Iain Glenn) saves Daenerys from treachery, an enraged Drogo vows to lead the Dothraki where they’ve never gone before. An injured Robert takes pains to ensure an orderly transition at King’s Landing.