May 16, 2011 at 03:17 AM EDT


That’s the Game of Thrones roller coaster climbing the hill for the past four episodes, ratcheting up the intrigue, danger and suspense. Tonight, we crested the rise and started the downward plunge which is going to take us through the rest of the first season. Is your lap bar locked? Is your head is firmly against the cushion? Are you holding on to your hat and sunglasses? Because you, my friend, are about to go on a wild ride.

No Jon Snow this week. No Dany either. And just a brief moment with Bran. There’s so much going on at King’s Landing and with Tyrion, we had a full boat just dealing with those two plots. I cannot wait to talk about the big Jaime vs. Ned battle, that bizarre moment when Tyrion meets Catelyn’s sister, the Sky Cells, Ned’s fight with King Robert, and I might even have a shadowcat for you, but we must take things in order:

We start innocuously enough, with Ned growing suspicious about the jousting accident that claimed the life of Jon Arryn’s ex-squire. That’s followed by a bit with King Robert all angry in his tent. It seems Robert cannot fit his armor around his belly because he’s eight months pregnant. Ned once again demonstrates that he’s not afraid to tell the king the blunt truth, both about his weight and that competing in a jousting tournament is pointless since everybody would just let him win anyway.

“Too Fat For My Armor,” the king repeats, and it sounds like a reality TV weight loss competition show on a  Westeros cable network. The king sends out his hapless squire (a Lannister, but a dumb one), to get the “breastplate stretcher” just to mess with him.

Back to the tournament: That sadist, Ser Gregor “The Mountain” (his nickname is short for “The Mountain That Rides”) is set to compete again — killing his last jousting opponent apparently counts as a win. He opens that little stove window in his helmet to show us his grumpy face, while Sansa is enchanted by his opponent, Ser Loras (Nickname: “Knight of the Flowers”), who presents her with a rose while exchanging looks with the King’s brother. Sansa has such a talent for picking out emotionally unavailable men.

Will Ser Gregor claim another victim?

No! Gregor is unhorsed by Ser Loras — who craftily rode a mare in heat, causing Gregor’s stallion to freak out. But Gregor is a sore loser. He grabs his sword and decapitates his horse with one bloody stroke (I remember reading that in the book thinking: “I’ve never seen that before, but there is no way, for either budget or content reasons, it will make it into the HBO version” — wrong!). Then Gregor goes after Loras himself. Suddenly, Sandor, a.k.a. The Hound, jumps down from the stands and gets tapped in to face off against his own brother, like some medieval version of WWE Raw. The crowd is transfixed: This is way better than jousting.

NEXT: Imp attack!

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