The Starks have trouble making friends, and Dany makes a big discovery

May 02, 2011 at 01:57 AM EDT

“The third episode was the best one yet!” says my friend.

“It was my least favorite of the first six,” I reply.

And we both gave the same reason: “There’s tons of character development.”

How you felt about the third hour likely hinges on whether you like scenes where folks just hang out and drink and get to know each other. There were no deaths, no wolves and no sex this week — let alone death from sex with wolves, which is practically what we expect from the always shocking Thrones (For the curious, I’d rank the first six episodes in this order: six, five, two, four, one, three).

Let’s go: Lord Ned Stark arrives in Kings Landing, looking grimy and annoyed. He’s met by a minion who says King Robert’s other advisers are waiting for him, then gives Stark’s leather-daddy outfit a once-over and suggests, “If you’d like to change into something more appropriate…”

And Ned just dead-stares him, as if thinking: What TV show do you think I’m on? Change into what? Westeros business casual? A suit from Men’s Wearhouse? (“The king’s council will love the way you look, I guarantee it.”) Besides, fantasy characters rarely change  clothes, it’s an unwritten a rule. Farm boy Luke Skywalker wore his bathrobe all the way to the Death Star.

Ned goes to the Throne Room and we get our first good look at … The World’s Most Uncomfortable Office Chair! This is the deal in the Seven Kingdoms. Everybody wants to be king, but if you get the gig you have sit on the Iron Throne, a chair made of 1,000 swords of conquered enemies that were fused together and are still sharp, like a bus stop seat designed by the City of Santa Monica to keep homeless people from sleeping on it.

According to the books, the idea behind this masochistic piece of furniture was that “no king should sit comfortably on the throne,” and there’s sure as hell little chance of that. You have to stay very still and remain very alert during long court sessions, so it’s not a good gig for those with ADD. And gods forbid you stumble getting into it, you could end up impaled on your own chair, how embarrassing would that be? On the plus side, the Iron Throne is potentially excellent for your posture and makes an intimidating statement for any executive. Imagine your boss calls you into his office and he’s sitting behind his desk in that freaking’ thing.

So Ned runs into The Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister, and they have a tense conversation about Aerys “Mad King” Targaryen. There’s a lot of chatter about the Mad King in the TV version of Thrones and I’m surprised producers put so much in. For those who had trouble piecing together the references, here’s the ultra-short version: Aerys was the last ruler of the Targaryen dynasty and fathered Dany and Viserys. Jamie was a member of his Kingsguard. Aerys went nuts and did a bunch of really horrible things, including roasting Ned Stark’s father alive inside his armor. Jaime assassinated him — an act both heroic and a betrayal of his oath.

Jaime locks eyes with Ned and says…

NEXT: Cersei assures Joffrey he can be a horrible ruler AND a terrible husband!

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HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin’s novels
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