Starks and Recreation
Episode 1x01: Pilot
“In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Director of the Winterfell Parks Department, I do sentence you to leave with pay.”
Deputy Director Catelyn Tully gaped in disbelief of her superior's cruel sentence.
“But, Ned, I-”
“No buts, Cat,” the stern man replied coldly. “I warned you specifically not to take the plans to turn the Wall into a museum to the public. They devoured you alive out there.”
Catelyn stood silent, waiting for her boss to say anything else. Her patience was in vain.
“My name is Catelyn Tully,” she told our camera crew enthusiastically. “I am Deputy Director of the Winterfell Parks Department. I used to live in Riverrun, but there's just something amazing about the North. The people here are as bitter as the wind, but gods, do I love them.”
“Catelyn's a good kid,” Ned later told us in private. “She's got a big heart. But she's wasting her efforts with Winterfell. She's trying her hardest, but the people of the North won't go for that crap. I firmly believe that the Parks Department, not to mention all government departments, should be privatized. Winter is coming and we should be more concerned with surviving, not politics.”
“Lord Stark,” Maester Luwin interrupted our interview. “There are... pressing political matters that must be discussed at once.”
“Thank you, Maester,” Ned nodded before turning to the camera. “Are we done?”
Later that night, Catelyn walked alone through the frigid streets of Winterfell, pacing aimlessly down empty alleys and dark, lonesome cobbled roads into the weirwoods of the North.
“There's something amazing about Winterfell at night,” Catelyn later told us dreamily. “The silence is somehow soothing and calming. It makes a long day look so short and fleeting. Like I've climbed a mountain and descended to the other side. Every day is a new mountain here in Winterfell.”
She paced silently until she found Ned Stark alone, cleaning his greatsword, Ice.
“My lord, there was a raven from King's Landing,” she told Ned solemnly. “Jon Arryn is dead.”
Ned Stark looked at his deputy director with astonishment before the tears came. She wrapped her arms around her superior.
“Me and Catelyn?” Ned later responded to our question with another question before cracking into sardonic laughter. “But, no, Catelyn and I enjoy a strictly business relationship.”
“We're married with five children,” Catelyn answered quickly to the same question in a following interview.
Back in the weirwood, Ned wept proudly. “And your sister?”
“She is in good health,” Catelyn assured him. “As is the boy.”
“Jon Arryn was like a father to Ned,” Catelyn filled us in. “He was director of the Parks Department in the Eyrie and helped Ned and Robert become the men they are today. He was truly a phenomenal politician.”
“Jon hated the government,” Ned told us with pride and respect.
“The raven brings more news,” Catelyn continued. “The King rides for Winterfell. Him and all the rest of them.”
“And by 'rest of them' I mean the Lannisters. Robert's queen and her brother are sons of Tywin Lannister, director of the Parks Department in Casterly Rock,” Cat continued, making sure to drip her words with venom. “They've won the Best Parks in the Seven Kingdoms award thirteen years running. I'll make sure they don't win a fourteenth year.”
“Damn,” Ned shook his head in stress. “The annual budget meeting is this Thursday. I'm ending your suspension, then. I need you right now, Catelyn.”
“Yeah,” Catelyn nodded assuredly. “The only problem is... we have nothing going on right now. Our parks are... well, frankly, we don't have any. Come on, Ned, let me go through with a park already.”
“I told you already,” Ned replied callously. “The Wall is a disaster of an idea. We need something else.”
“I know!” Cat shouted happily as it dawned on her. “I'll hold a town hall meeting on Tuesday and get the community involved!”
“Dammit, Catelyn, I warned you-” Ned shouted in vain.
“Thanks, gotta go write the agenda!” Catelyn shouted back at her boss as she rushed back toward the castle.
“They're going to eat her alive,” Ned told us, shaking his head.
* * *
“I call this town hall meeting to order at 6:51 P.M.,” Catelyn shouted as she pounded with her gavel. Ned Stark looked on with a mixture of delight and worry.
“Catelyn may be one of my employees,” Ned explained to us backstage later. “And I may be concerned for her, but I still find it enjoyable watching someone feed themselves to the direwolves.” He cracked a devious and excited smile. “It really gets my blood boiling.”
“I have called upon this meeting to generate ideas to develop a park,” Catelyn explained. “So ideas, who's got 'em?”
The audience remained quiet.
A single hand shot up.
“Yes, yes, you there!”
“Hodor,” said Hodor.
“Okay, then...,” Catelyn cleared her throat awkwardly. “Anybody else?”
Old Nan rose to her feet. “There should be more toilet paper in the ladies' room at the Inns.”
“Thank you for your input, Nan,” Catelyn gulped. “But that is business that should be taken up with the Department of Sanitation and we kind of live in the dark ages. Anybody else?”
“How about...,” Catelyn scanned the audience desperately. “You there, lady in red! Surely you have an idea?”
A beautiful sorceress stood up from her seat. “Me? I don't know about parks, but as a faithful servant of R'hllor, Lord of Light, I find your chilly winds here quite insulting to my rituals. It always blows out my pyres.”
“This is a thing!” Catelyn nodded, trying to spin the situation her way clumsily. “So, introduce yourself, um...”
“Melisandre, hi,” she waved non-enthusiastically.
“Hello, Melisandre,” Cat greeted before continuing. “How about this? I will propose an indoor park, one free of wind, one where our kids can play, our devout can pray, and our teenagers can secretly sell their lives away for questionable substances. How does that sound?”
A wave of laughter erupted from the audience.
“That sounds... nice, actually,” Melisandre admitted. “Sure, you can talk the talk, but when can we expect this 'indoor park'? Next summer?”
A second wave of chuckles and jeers radiated through the room.
“Winter is coming,” Catelyn shouted above the laughter. “You will see this park before then. I am your public servant, people of Winterfell. This young, devout, concerned citizen has come to me with a vision, and who am I to deny a woman who has lived here amongst us her entire life?”
“I'm from Asshai,” Melisandre informed us later. “I... could care less what happens here. Only that everyone here takes R'hllor to be their one true God. I don't think I ask too much.”
“Let's give Melisandre a big round of applause, everybody!” Catelyn hurrahed.
No one clapped but Hodor.
“Or not...,” Catelyn scowled. “Okay, meeting adjourned. Goodnight everybody!”
“That went well,” Ned told us later with a satisfied grin.
“Catelyn, was it?” Melisandre approached the deputy director.
“That's my name, don't wear it out,” Catelyn failed at cracking a joke.
“I just wanted to say thank you,” Melisandre explained. “You're an inspiring woman, and I want to help you any way I can with this... indoor park thing.”
“So that way the people of Winterfell will come to R'hllor,” Melisandre later added with a wicked laugh.
“Cool!” Cat smiled. “Call me Cat, by the way... Bestie.”
“Excuse me?” Melisandre scowled.
“We're besties, aren't we?” Catelyn asked with a strained tone. “You know, best friends?”
“You met me five minutes ago.”
“Mel is an amazing woman,” Cat told us shortly before her conversation. “We have so much in common. We're both... women and...”
“Okay, well, stop by my office tomorrow,” Cat grinned before leaving. “I'll introduce you to the gang!”
* * *
The next morning, Ned sat in his office as Maester Luwin interrupted his silent meditation.
“Forgive me, my Lord, but the King is upon us.”
Ned sat up in his office chair and rested his elbows on his desk as he rubbed his temples frantically. “Gods kill me now.”
We watched him do this for several minutes before Robert slammed his way into the room.
“Gods be good, Ned, you've got fat!” Robert bellowed as his belly rolls rippled, reaching for his best friend.
“Ned and I go way back,” Robert explained to us. “We're thick as kin, but Ned's always been bad about watching his weight. I blame the winters, turns the
poor bastard into a bear, to hear him tell it. I've been trying to talk him into joining me on this high-protein diet I got from the Department of Nutrition guy down in Oldtown. Would you ever believe that a diet of meat, mead, and big-breasted women would produce a body this gorgeous?”
“It's been a long time,” Ned answered with an annoyed tone, raising his head from his hands.
“Too long,” Robert pursed his lips. “But I'll fix you right up. Come on, Ned, you and me are going out for some cardio. The cold air here is an excellent stimulant of your cardiovascular system. Come on, you fat lout, let's have us a jog. Just like old times.”
Ned glared at the camera with longing discomfort.
In the other side of the Parks office, Catelyn introduced Mel to the rest of the Parks and Recreation Department staff.
“Gods be good, you're as red as my cock,” an extremely short man shouted suavely once he caught sight of Melisandre. “Name's T-Lan, doll.”
“Mel, allow me to introduce you to Tyrion Lannister,” Catelyn proclaimed as Mel and Tyrion shook hands. “He's from a very far away place, very exotic there, I hear, and if I'm not mistaken, the people there are really short. I even hear he's royalty! Something about being the tallest of his people.”
“My name is Tyrion Lannister, I'm from White Harbor, I have a growth defect, and my daddy owns Lord Manderly's personal favorite Burger King,” Tyrion later told us gently, correcting Catelyn's introductions. “Oh and I'm no relation to the Lannisters of Casterly Rock. It's not even my real last name. I legally changed it back in '93 because, guys, let's be real: Tyrion Lannister sounds like a rich mother-*bleep*er. Oh, and my debt collectors kind of pressured me into it.”
“This is Arya,” Catelyn continued toward a young brown-haired girl. “She's our summer intern, which means she's been here her whole life. She happens to be mine and Ned's daughter as well. She's really warm and friendly though. Say hello, Arya.”
“I keep a list of people I want to kill and recite their names every night,” Arya told our crew afterward with a plain face, her eyes sharp as daggers. “And I hate cameras.”
“Moving on now,” Catelyn and Mel hurried along until she shouted toward a young man patiently shining shoes. “Hey, Theon! Come say hello to my new bestie, Melisandre!”
“I'm Theon,” the man introduced himself somewhat awkwardly as he shook Melisandre's hand.
“I know,” Mel scoffed. “We dated, remember?”
Catelyn watched in horror as Theon gaped in another sort of horror. “Let's be going now!” She pushed Mel as far away from Theon as possible.
“Mel used to dig me,” Theon Greyjoy filled us in on his failed relationship. “Until my parents kicked me out. They didn't think I'd make it as a musician. Yeah, I am in a band. We call ourselves the Iron Kraken. Thought of it myself. It's really original, you know. Only twelve bands had it back home.”
“And over here we have Osha,” Catelyn pulled Mel to the next room. “She is a wild thang! No but seriously, she was born on the oth-”
“What about that guy?” Mel asked, pointing to a dark-haired man taking phone calls.
“Oh, that's Jon Snow,” Catelyn scoffed. “He's a bastard.”
Jon looked up at Catelyn with an astonished look before returning to his phone calls.
“You've got quite a lively crew here, don't you?” Mel laughed.
“Yes we do,” Cat nodded. “Now let me take you to meet the director himself, Mr. Edda-”
“Long time no see, Catelyn,” a woman's voice came as its owner entered the room. Her blonde locks flowed elegantly, enough to irk Catelyn.
“Queen Cersei,” Cat vented to us profusely after the encounter. “Daughter of perfect Mister Tywin Lannister. She's got it all, doesn't she? Money, status, beauty, the most widely lauded parks in the Seven Kingdoms.”
“Cersei,” Catelyn said in begrudging greeting. “I trust you are well?”
“Of course,” Cersei smirked. “I do happen to be heiress of the Casterly Rock Parks Department. Where are your parks at, anyway? Oh never mind, I saw one on the way in., but you might want to get all that excrement cleaned up. But then again, isn't that the point of a privy?” Cersei cackled bitterly before turning away. “Take care, Tully.”
“She seems nice,” Mel cleared her throat awkwardly. “So now what?”
“We wait,” Catelyn sighed. “For tomorrow.”
“I don't look forward to the budget meeting,” Catelyn reported. “I try my hardest to prove myself, but it's hard in politics. Everyone is always lobbying or murdering each other's families.”
* * *
“Good evening,” Ned Stark boomed regally as he slammed his gavel. “We shall now begin the annual budget meeting. Lady Catelyn Tully will have the floor.”
Catelyn walked up to the podium with grace and forced resolve. She gulped in fear.
“Oh, I'm not even a little nervous,” Catelyn told us later with a sweet smile, which faded quickly into an expression of horror. “I'm a lot nervous.”
“People of Winterfell,” Catelyn spoke aloud as she fired up her PowerPointTM presentation. “Imagine with me... A park. A place of peace. A place of tranquility. A place where one can escape the walls of their abodes... and their bods. I speak of an outdoor nirvana, one where we can bask in the sun, feel the gentle breeze, smell the salt of the sea... Yes, a park is a wonderful outlet of freedom. Now, I ask you, faithful subjects, imagine this outdoor escape from the walls of society... as an indoor sanctuary.”
Catelyn flipped the presentation to a slide detailing the blueprints of the project. “This is Fantasy Meets R'hllority. Sixteen-hundred square-feet of natural habitat, converted to a completely ensheltered paradise. I was R'hllor surprised with the undertaking myself.”
The audience remained silent, except Theon, who burst into hysterical laughter.
“She said R'hllor!” he guffawed breathlessly.
“So...,” Catelyn smiled nervously. “What do you think?”
She was met with complete apathy. At this, Cersei cracked a dark smile. “Looks like your idea's a dud, Tully. Why don't you-”
“Catelyn Tully,” Robert Baratheon rose to his feet with a giant smile. “That was literally the greatest idea I have ever heard in my entire life. I can assure you that you have full financial support from King's Landing. Good luck with the project.”
Cersei and Catelyn both stared on in stark disbelief.
“I did it!” Catelyn danced to herself later during an interview. “By the Gods, I did it!”
“My court and I will stick around briefly and watch as you begin the necessary preparations for the project. I can not properly display how excited I am about this undertaking.”
“My sister didn't seem too thrilled by the news,” Jaime Lannister later told us. “No matter. So, boys, about my career as a hand model...”
* * *
“You did it, Cat,” Ned told his wife later that evening. “You got your park.”
“I know, isn't it exciting?” Cat jumped in glee.
“No comment,” Ned said darkly, staring at the camera. “Now then, about tonight's agenda items.”
Cat smiled silently and the two stepped away into their bedchambers, for the evening's Internal Affairs conference.