The last time a new Game of Thrones episode aired was just under two years ago — August 2017. The Avengers hadn’t yet Infinity War’d. The Mueller report was still in its infant stages.
Suffice to say, it’s been a while, so it’s totally understandable if you’ve forgotten what’s happenings in Westeros — especially since, at any given time on Game of Thrones, there are multiple subplots, double-crosses, and fake-outs spinning around.
With the show’s eighth and final season less than a week away, here’s a brief season seven refresher on who’s headed where, who’s shagging who, and who wants to kill everyone (Cersei, all the time).
House Lannister (and their allies)
Ever since she wiped out her enemies at the Great Sept of Baelor with Wildfire at the end of season six, Cersei has been in rebuilding, reloading, and revenge mode. She’s now the queen, and spent season seven working toward revenge on everyone she feels has wronged her, and everyone who allied with Daenerys Targaryen against her.
This includes the Sand Snakes and Ellaria Sand (for killing Cersei’s daughter Myrcella) and Lady Olenna Tyrell for joining the Sand Snakes, Ellaria, and Yara Greyjoy in backing Daenerys as their new queen. Olenna in particular was a strategic kill, since Cersei needs money, and sacking Olenna’s rich and prosperous Highgarden eliminated that problem.
At the end of season seven, Cersei joined forces with Euron Greyjoy and his navy, and she sent for the Golden Company, the largest and most powerful mercenary army around.
Although Jon Snow, Daenerys, Tyrion, and their cohort warned Cersei that the White Walkers are coming and Cersei promised them that she would help defend the living, Cersei is plotting to let the Night King decimate the Targaryen and Stark forces — and then to blitz what’s left of either side.
Finally, as we learned in the seventh season’s fifth episode, “Eastwatch,” Cersei is also pregnant with Jaime’s child, which gives her an heir to the throne.
But consider the prophecy that Cersei received from Maggy the Frog all the way back in season five:
The king will have 20 children, and you will have three. Gold will be their crowns. Gold, their shrouds … you’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another — younger, more beautiful — to cast you down and take all you hold dear…
With Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen all dead, we now know those shrouds were meant to be burial shrouds, and with Dany’s sights set on King’s Landing and Jaime leaving Cersei behind to join the forces of the North to repel the White Walkers, it seems like Cersei will need to buck fate this season to survive, let alone win the Iron Throne.
Jaime spent the second half of season seven commanding the Lannister army, and doling out payback on Cersei’s behalf. The character’s most memorable moment of the season was when he and Olenna Tyrell had a sit-down, you’re-about-to-die conversation before he served her the poison they both knew would kill her. After she swallowed it, Olenna revealed that it was she who had killed Joffrey, and declared that Cersei is a monster.
“If she’s driven you this far, it’s gone beyond your control,” Olenna tells Jaime. “She’s a disease. I regret my role in spreading it.”
Olenna’s words came to fruition at the end of the season when Jaime learned that Cersei had no intention of actually sending the Lannister army north to help repel the White Walker army, despite Cersei “promising” to do so. Cersei called Jaime an idiot for what’s ostensibly going to be seen as doing the right thing and fighting for the living. He realized that Cersei loves power more than anything or anyone, and doesn’t see morality as part of that equation. Jaime abandons her at King’s Landing and heads North to fight against the White Walkers.
Since killing his father and being smuggled away from King’s Landing by Varys in season four, Tyrion has been an adviser to Daenerys Targaryen, guiding her as she forms her army and shaping strategic designs to help the Mother of Dragons take the Iron Throne. But that relationship has been rocky of late, with Daenerys questioning Tyrion’s ideas — his suggestion to show mercy to the Tarlys, his hesitation to strike the Lannister army, his suggestion to use restraint at Meereen, and his advice to conquer Casterly Rock while leaving Highgarden unguarded and ripe for the taking. Headed into season eight, Tyrion is still advising Dany, but he seems to be in a tenuous position as Dany’s relationship with Jon Snow grows stronger.
The Mountain a.k.a. Gregor Clegane
Thanks to the season five efforts of Qyburn, the Mountain — who was slowly dying from being wounded by Oberyn Martell’s venom-tipped spear after their eye-popping duel in season four — is now a “changed” man who serves as Cersei’s silent and possibly undead bodyguard. He’s still very creepy, very quiet, and very into protecting Cersei.
In season seven, Euron fought and won against Dany’s allies and Cersei’s enemies — the Sand Snakes and Euron’s niece, Yara Greyjoy. Euron killed two of the Sand Snakes, then delivered Ellaria Sand (the Snakes’ mother) and the last surviving Snake, Tyene Sand, to Cersei, while keeping Yara prisoner. At the end of season seven, he was sent by Cersei to transport the Golden Company, her newly hired mercenary army, back to King’s Landing.
Bronn of the Blackwater
Bronn saved Jaime from becoming barbecue after Jaime tried to take down a dragon himself, and he shot Daenerys’s dragon with a scorpion, one of the large dragon-skin-piercing crossbows that the Lannister army has. But his relationship with Jaime and the fact that he fought on Cersei’s side don’t necessarily mean he’s loyal. In the season seven finale, he explained to Tyrion that he’s loyal to himself, and whoever is paying him — which seems like Cersei for now.
Randyll and Dickon Tarly
Roasted. They were captured during Daenerys’s assault on the Lannister army after it pillaged High Garden, and refused to bend the knee — so Daenerys had her dragon incinerate them.
House Stark (and their allies)
Arya is back at Winterfell after exacting revenge on her family’s enemies (see: the Freys). She finally reunited with her sister, Sansa, at the end of season seven; in the finale, they satisfyingly bested Littlefinger by surprising the manipulator, charging him with treason, and then slashing his throat. Going into season eight, Arya and Sansa are awaiting their brother Jon’s return.
Jon was resurrected by Melisandre in season six and almost needed that dark magic again in season seven. Jon wanted to convince Cersei of the Night King’s impending invasion and participated in a (very silly) plan to bring a wight back to King’s Landing to show Cersei that the undead army is real. While on that expedition, he was overwhelmed and nearly killed — but then Dany showed up and saved the day with her three dragons (though the Night King killed and zombified one of them). After all that trouble, Jon, Davos, and company finally showed Cersei said wight, and Cersei said she would send Lannister forces north to assist. But anyone who knows Cersei knows that she doesn’t really care about the good of the world.
Also in season seven, Jon bent the knee to Dany and then began a romantic relationship with her; part of the reason she saved him and trusted him was that she had feelings for him. However, it’s unclear if their relationship will continue if and when Jon finds out that he is actually Dany’s nephew — it’s a long story, but Samwell Tarly and Bran Stark found out that the late Ned Stark lied about Jon being his “bastard” son. Ned lied about Jon to protect Jon’s life, because Jon is actually the son of Ned’s sister Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen — meaning he’s the one true heir to the Iron Throne.
As season seven ended, Jon and Dany were on their way to Winterfell.
Sansa has had one of the roughest journeys in Game of Thrones; over the past seven seasons, she’s had to deal with Cersei’s cruelty, Joffrey’s immature vileness, Ramsay’s horrific abuse, and Littlefinger’s manipulations.
But as she explains to Littlefinger before sentencing him to death at the end of season seven, she has learned lessons from each of these horrible people. That’s how she realized that Littlefinger was a traitorous snake; it’s likely also why she isn’t outwardly confident in her brother Jon’s plan to team up with Dany and defeat the Night King.
Because we as viewers know what Sansa’s been through, we are more willing to trust her than Jon is when she warns him that Cersei is more fearsome than the Night King; unlike Sansa, he hasn’t quite experienced Cersei’s dastardly manipulations or ferocity firsthand. Jon left Sansa in charge when he left to meet Dany at Dragonstone, and going into season eight, though Jon clearly trusts the Mother of Dragons, it’s reasonable to assume Sansa has reservations about her.
Bran is now the Three-Eyed Raven, meaning he has the power to see the past, present, and future. But no one is really sure of what he’s capable of, or how much he’s able to see. In one instance in season seven, for example, he told Sansa about the wedding dress she wore during her “marriage” to Ramsay Bolton, totally freaking her out because it signaled to her that he knows about all the trauma and abuse she’s had to endure — even though Bran likely chose to reveal such an intimate and gross event simply to show her how serious he was about his powers.
Bran’s powers are also how we saw the Night King’s whereabouts and his impending march south. But even more important than the Night King when it comes to the Iron Throne is that thanks to his powers, Bran was able to view the day in the past when Jon Snow was born, and — with the aid of Samwell Tarly’s research at the Citadel (more on that below) —now knows Jon Snow’s true parentage, that he’s a Targaryen, and that he’s the true heir to the throne.
Samwell Tarly has been quite a busy student at the Citadel, which is basically a giant library full of scholarly works. In his time there so far, he has: unearthed a cure for Ser Jorah Mormont’s case of greyscale, a disease thought to be terminal and permanent; determined that Dragonstone has a deposit of White Walker-killing obsidian/dragonglass and instructed Jon Snow to go mine there; and stumbled upon a document detailing that Rhaegar Targaryen had annulled his marriage to Elia Martell and was married to another woman.
By the end of season seven, with help from Bran, Sam put the puzzle pieces together and realized that Rhaegar had married Lyanna Stark, and had a son who is Jon Snow.
Meanwhile, Samwell hasn’t yet found out about Dany turning his brother and dad into barbecued Tarlies. Yikes.
Lady Brienne of Tarth
Might have a crush on Tormund Giantsbane. Is still one of the best swordspeople in Westeros. Seems to be very impressed with Arya’s skills as they had a little sparring match when they met at Winterfell.
Definitely has a crush on Brienne of Tarth. Is still one of the most loyal people to Jon Snow in Westeros. He was last seen during the Night King’s assault on the Wall at the end of season seven. Though his current status is unknown, he presumably survived, because while Tormund isn’t exactly a major Game of Thrones character, he has enough clout that he wouldn’t be killed off-screen.
House Targaryen (and their allies)
Daenerys spent much of season seven riding high, but by the end of it, the tides had turned against her. After she forged an alliance with the Sand Snakes, the Tyrells, and the Greyjoys, it seemed like the question wasn’t if she would take the Iron Throne, but when.
However, after a couple of strategic blunders — in particular sending the Unsullied to Casterly Rock and leaving Highgarden unguarded, which led to Cersei sacking Highgarden’s riches and Jaime poisoning Olenna — all of Daenerys’s powerful allies have been captured.
That made Daenerys question her adviser Tyrion’s supposed strategic savvy, in addition to pissing her off. So against his advice, she took matters into her own hands and lashed out, flying on Drogon to meet the Lannister army, decimating their troops, and instilling the fear of dragons into the remaining unroasted.
But there’s something else brewing with Daenerys. She’s fallen for Jon Snow, the King in the North. She has demanded he bend the knee to her, and while there are political reasons aplenty for his fealty, it seems like she wanted him to bend the knee out of affection to her. She allowed him to mine at Dragonstone for obsidian to make Dragonglass, and also saved him after he decided to try to capture a wight to prove to Cersei that there’s an invasion coming. She and Jon finally consummated their relationship in the season finale, but it’s kinda weird since the audience, along with Bran and Sam, know that he’s really her nephew.
It’s unclear how their relationship will change when it’s revealed that Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne, and, well, her blood relative. At the end of season seven, Daenerys and Jon were on their way to the North to help defend it against the White Walker attack.
Daenerys’s three dragons: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion
Daenerys lost one of her dragons in “Beyond The Wall,” while she was saving Jon Snow. The Night King threw a spear at its neck and her dragon died — only to be raised back from the dead in the finale as a zombie dragon (with blue fire). To Daenerys, her dragons — Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion — are her children, and it will be a major sadness and shock for her when she finds out that Viserion is now fighting on the side of the undead.
Missandei and Grey Worm
Missandei and Grey Worm have a romantic relationship that they physically consummated early in season seven; that’s the heftiest storyline that these two Dany associates — she an adviser, he an Unsullied — have. Later in the season, they were mostly around to show their loyalty to Dany and explain why she is a different kind of ruler.
Missandei, specifically, told Davos and Jon that she’s loyal to Dany not because she’s afraid or because she’s being held against her will, but rather because she believes Dany can usher in a new kind of rule that grants freedom to every being in Westeros. At the end of season seven they, along with Dany’s army, were on their way to Winterfell.
Still loves Daenerys. Still not ever going to be anything other than unrequited love. As of the end of season seven, still at Daenerys’s side on the way to the North (where he may be reunited with his niece Lady Lyanna Mormont).
Captured by Euron Greyjoy while transporting the Sand Snakes back to Dorne. Probably stewing in anger at being captured by her jerk uncle.
Killed by poison that Jaime served to her after the Lannister army sacked Highgarden. However, she did get the last word in telling Jaime that Cersei is a monster and that she killed Joffrey.
The Sand Snakes (Obara Sand, Tyene Sand, and Nymeria Sand) and their mother, Ellaria Sand
Yara Greyjoy was transporting the Sand Snakes back to Dorne when they were ambushed by Euron Greyjoy, who intercepted the fleet on behalf of Cersei. Euron captured Yara, killed two of the Snakes, and delivered Ellaria and the surviving Snake, Ellaria’s daughter Tyene, to Cersei. Cersei then took revenge on Ellaria, killing Tyene with the same poison Ellaria used to kill Cersei’s daughter Myrcella.
Dany’s swarthy love interest is an afterthought now; Dany left him in charge of Meereen when she set out for Westeros and Dragonstone. It’s presumed that he still has great hair.
Game of Thrones season eight premieres Sunday, April 14, at 9 pm on HBO.