Ghost didn't find Uncle Benjen. The severed hand belonged to the corpse of a guy named "Othor" who was a member of Benjen's party. Yes, that was his actual name -- Othor. Very subtle, Martin. Why don't you just name the guy that went after Bran "Lannistor." The Nights Watch men bring the corpses back to the castle because there's something weird about them. The bodies don't rot, and no animals but Ghost will go near them. When Jon gets back to the Castle Black, he finds out via raven letter about all the crazy stuff that's been going down at King's Landing. He can't believe that Eddard is a traitor, and almost knifes Ser Alliser when the knight makes fun of Ned.
Cue "Thriller" music! Darkness falls across the land, at midnite crawls a zombied hand. "Othors" crawl in search of blood, to terrorize Jon's neighborhood. And whosoever shall be found, but Jon's great white wolfhound. Jon and Ghost hear the horn's call, to face undead south of the Wall. The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of several thousand years. And grizzy ghouls from every tomb, are closing in to seal Mormont's doom. And though Jon fights to stay alive, his body starts to shiver. For no mere mortal can resist, the evil of "the Others."
And just like that, Emo Jon was no longer emo. Fighting disfigured, undead zombies justifies infinite whiny blog posts. As Othor attacks, the words of Jon's favorite band Dashboard Confessional echo in his mind: "let it end in flames; let it burn."
Back at Winterfell, a huge army is massing to march south. I thought the Starks were badass, but their neighbors make them look like pansies. Everyone is huge, bearded, and fierce. But the loyalty of Eddard's bannermen was not a sure thing. Robb had to earn every bit, including having Grey Wind bite the fingers off Greatjon Umber's hand. All seem to hold honor, duty, and strength in high regard, the same qualities that doomed Eddard down south. Robb receives Sansa's letter, which is even more infuriating than her actions: it summons him to King's Landing so he can swear fealty to Joffrey to spare Eddard's life.
Bran goes to talk to Osha, the woman who tried to kidnap him a few chapters back. She's Stark-ified now, and dispensing cryptic northern wisdom. She warns that the old gods have no power down south, and that Robb is marching in the wrong direction. At that moment, naked Hodor comes sprinting out of woods. Hodor is the retarded giant stableboy. His "manhood swung long and heavy," and Osha comments, "now there's a big man." It's nice to see Martin isn't above penis humor, but it doesn't lighten the mood in Winterfell. Robb is leaving and may never return, and the two younger brothers remain crippled, Bran physically and Rickon psychologically.
Will the Starks get their happy ending? I hope Robb marches straight into the Red Keep. Remember when Joffrey said that sparring with tourney swords was a children's game? He told Robb to come see him with real steel. Well, he's coming now, and he brought the North with him.