Tonight is dark and full of terrors, as Game of Thrones finally ends its longest hiatus yet with the premiere of season seven.
More than a year has passed since the last new episode of HBO’s massive fantasy series aired, an hour filled with even more fire and blood than usual. Major characters died in the installments leading up to the epic season six finale, while those who survived weathered game-changing experiences of their own. If you’re hopping into the Thrones premiere tonight mostly blind to how things last left off, you’re quickly running out of time to catch up.
With that said, here’s one final reminder of where everything stands heading into season seven, based on location:
In the North
Beyond the Wall, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) was last seen headed south with Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick), the only other survivor of a White Walker attack on their companions. (Rest in peace, Summer and Hodor.) Now Bran functions as the new Three-Eyed Raven, an all-seeing prophet destined for a central role in the great war to come.
Below the Wall, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was crowned King in the North, earning the title from his fellow Northerners after defeating Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) at the Battle of the Bastards. The other big development involves something he does not yet know: that he isn’t the bastard son of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) after all. According to Bran’s vision, Jon is the secret son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, which only furthers his status as one of the two or three most important characters on the show.
There are a few other political shifts happening in Winterfell. First up: Jon banished Melisandre (Carice van Houten) from his company, after learning from Davos (Liam Cunningham) that she burned Shireen Baratheon alive as a sacrifice to R’hllor. The Red Woman was last seen on horseback, her next destination unknown. For her part, Sansa (Sophie Turner) was last seen exchanging a chilling glance with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), who wants to sit upon the Iron Throne alongside Sansa more than anything else in the world — likely at Jon Snow’s expense. It’s still unclear if Sansa wants the same thing.
In King’s Landing
Hard to forget what happened in King’s Landing, isn’t it? Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) enacted a massive wildfire assault on her worst enemies, including Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). She was even harsher toward Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham), last seen being tortured at the hands of Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson).
Cersei conquered her enemies, but she lost her final shred of humanity in the process as well: Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), the sweet young king who committed suicide after watching his mother’s horrifying actions. In light of his death, Cersei ascended to the Throne, earning the power she always wanted at the expense of soul-shattering tragedy.
In his final scene of season six, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) returned to King’s Landing just in time to watch his sister and lover’s coronation. The look on his face says Jaime might not be in Cersei’s corner for the long haul.
Across the Narrow Sea
Someone is coming to snatch Cersei’s crown: Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains. After spending the season in unwitting exile, Dany returned to her kingdom of Meereen, reclaimed control over Slaver’s Bay, and decided once and for all that it’s time to sail toward her birthright.
The Dragon Queen heads to Westeros alongside the most impressive entourage the show has put ever together: Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) as Hand of the Queen, Varys (Conleth Hill) forging pacts with Highgarden’s Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) and Dorne’s Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) and her resurgent brother Theon (Alfie Allen) at the helm of the Iron Fleet, the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and the dragons Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal. Yeah, good luck going up against all of that, Team Lannister.
Unfortunately, Daenerys sailed for Westeros without Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman), leaving him behind to safeguard Meereen. In happier news, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) is still out there in the world, on a search to find the cure for greyscale.
Elsewhere in Westeros
Several other characters and stories are kicking around throughout the Seven Kingdoms. For instance, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) just arrived at the Citadel in Oldtown, where he’s hoping to discover a way to stop the White Walkers. Further up the coast, Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) rules as king of the Iron Islands, plotting vengeance against the niece and nephew who ran away with half of his fleet.
In the Riverlands, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) was last seen putting her newfound face-changing abilities to good use, infiltrating the Twins and killing Walder Frey (David Bradley). It’s a true return to form for Arya, who spent the last two seasons acting as an actual “No One.”
And then there’s Arya’s former traveling companion: Sandor Clegane, alias the Hound (Rory McCann). In his final appearance in season six, Clegane joined up with Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) and the rest of the Brotherhood Without Banners for a dangerous trek into the heart of winter — a one-way collision course with the White Walker army threatening to invade the Seven Kingdoms before too much longer.
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