After six seasons and 60 episodes, keeping track of Game Of Thrones’ many threads can be as difficult as persuading George R.R. Martin to sit down and get some goddamn writing done. As a service to you, the reader (and a refresher for ourselves), here’s The A.V. Club’s quick catch-up guide to the goings-on in Westeros and beyond, broken down by regions of the known world.
Where we last left off: After a long run under the banners of House Bolton, Winterfell was finally restored to the Starks—though not without a whole lot of bloodshed, and with only the most tenuous of victories (as per usual). Currently not-dead Jon Snow vanquished Ramsay Bolton in the Battle Of The Bastards with the help of his wildling army; Westeros’ toughest 10-year-old, Lyanna Mormont; and a last-minute intervention from the Knights Of The Vale that Sansa didn’t tell him about, just to keep things exciting. And while Jon got to hear another group of beardos loudly swear fealty to him, it came at the cost of yet another brother, Rickon (plus his direwolf and his wildling nanny, Osha). Not to mention, this whole, shout-based system of government remains incredibly fragile—especially with Littlefinger whispering in Sansa’s ear about his plans to take the Iron Throne for himself with her by his side. And with Melisandre banished south after Davos discovers she barbecued Shireen, there’s currently no one around to resurrect Jon should his loyal subjects get stabby again. Then there’s that pesky white raven, heralding the fact that, oh yeah, winter has finally arrived.
What’s next (we think): All that unease—exacerbated by Sansa’s growing, Littlefinger-influenced discontent, as well as Jon’s typically terrible communication skills—will make it difficult for him to rally the North against the White Walkers, a threat most Westerosi already seem to take about as seriously as climate change. So for his inevitable trip back beyond the Wall, Jon will have to marshal forces outside of those fickle and feral men he’s assembled and forge some new alliances, presumably beginning with his long-awaited hooking up with his aunt, Daenerys. (Knowing this show, maybe in more ways than one.)
Who’s gonna die: There aren’t many beloved characters left to kill in this particular region, so maybe it’s finally Littlefinger’s turn? He’s had it coming from the business end of a Stark ever since he first betrayed Eddard, and by expressing his open desires for Sansa—probably the most honest thing Littlefinger has ever said—he broke his own code about always keeping your foes confused, leaving him vulnerable to a little deadly conning of his own. [Sean O’Neal]
Where we last left off: Season six saw action move from the Wall farther south, as the two characters we care about there—Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly—left to seek their fortunes away from what’s got to be one of the shittiest places in Westeros. After fighting tirelessly against the White Walkers and on behalf of the wildlings, Jon’s perseverance was rewarded with murder at the hands of his fellow Night’s Watchmen, though it does provide the technicality that he has served to the death, which allows him to leave the Wall. Samwell, meanwhile, traveled to the Citadel, along with Gilly and her baby.
What’s next (we think): Sam will presumably put his maester training to good use and find something helpful in the upcoming battle against the White Walkers; Gilly will do… something. As the only person in a position of power who cares about the encroaching White Walkers, Jon will probably enlist the help of the Night’s Watch to bring them down. But with him in Winterfell, there’s a good chance we won’t see much of what happens on the Wall this season.
Who’s gonna die: Lots of wildlings, members of the Night’s Watch, and White Walkers, presumably. [Caity PenzeyMoog]
Where we last left off: The Riverlands haven’t seen much action since the Red Wedding, when Lord Frey murdered Robb and Catelyn and took Edmure—Catelyn’s brother and the lord of House Tully—hostage. Catelyn and Edmure’s uncle, the wily Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully, had taken over Riverrun and presented a lingering threat to the Lannisters’ hold over central Westeros. That came to a head when Jaime Lannister arrived on the scene in season six to take charge of the inept Frey boys. Threatening to kill Edmure’s son, Jaime convinced him to return to Riverrun to tell his men to stand down. They did, recognizing Edmure as the rightful lord of Riverrun, causing The Blackfish to fight to the death—though not before helping Brienne Of Tarth and Podrick escape, who were there delivering a letter from Sansa pleading for her great uncle’s help in the North. The Blackfish’s death happened offscreen, so it’s possible he avoided death by swimming down the river, which would be in keeping with his character. At the end of the season, Arya murders Lord Frey’s sons, cooks them in a pie, serves it to Lord Frey, then kills him, too.
What’s next (we think): With Lord Frey dead, there’s a power vacuum in the Riverlands. Presumably it’ll be filled by the Lannisters, but it also presents the opportunity for Edmure (or The Blackfish, if he’s alive) to reclaim House Tully’s power and lands.
Who’s gonna die: With many notable names of both House Tully and House Frey murdered, there’s only a few people left. Edmure, the last Tully, could very well play his hand in the game of thrones and die. Or he could be the Lannisters’ puppet and still die. And there’s always more Frey sons to wander around, Monty Python-style, getting into trouble. [Caity PenzeyMoog]
Where we last left off: Arya Stark didn’t last long as either a Faceless Man or a sightless young woman. After enduring abuse after abuse in the Braavosi streets, she was welcomed back to the House Of Black And White, where she participated in the kung-fu-movie portions of season six with only four senses at her disposal, before Jaqen H’Ghar served her a draft that allowed her to see again. This was not to the liking of the perpetually scowling Waif, who spied on Arya while she blended into the Richard E. Grant-led theater troupe that provided her first assassination assignment, as well as the basis for a perfectly good theoretical Game Of Thrones spin on Slings And Arrows. But Arya’s conscience interceded, and a crestfallen Jaqen gave the Waif the news she’d been waiting for all along: The young Stark girl must be eliminated. Much stabbing ensued, followed by Arya’s recovery and the most thrilling chase scene Game Of Thrones has ever staged. The Waif wound up mounted in the Hall Of Faces, Jaqen and The Many-Faced God were pleased, and a girl pulled the biggest twist of the whole identity-switching deal: reclaiming her name without forsaking her training, thereby using it to the bloody ends mentioned above.
What’s next (we think): Arya’s determination typically leads to results, so our bet is she’s going home. Jaqen H’Ghar, meanwhile, will recede to the shadows, bound to return in one of the final battles to give a knowing nod and a wink to his former pupil before his own service to The Many-Faced God comes to an end.
Who’s gonna die: Say it with us now: “Cersei, The Red Woman, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros Of Myr, Ilyn Payne, The Mountain.” [Erik Adams]
Where we last left off: After spending the majority of season six trying to keep the peace among the various adjoining lands that had reverted to slavery in the wake of Daenerys’ abduction by the Dothraki, Varys departed just in time for the slave masters to lead an all-out assault on the city. Luckily, Daenerys returned in peak “I’m pissed off” form, burning the slavers’ fleet to the ground with the assistance of her dragons. (They’re called Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion, and no, nobody remembers all their names.) Having put things right, the Targaryen queen left Daario Naharis and the Second Sons to run things, as she set out across the Narrow Sea to conquer Westeros—accompanied by Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei, as well as her Dothraki, the Unsullied, and a certain pair of Ironborn siblings (see below)—and sit on that Iron Throne she’s heard so much about. And just in case anyone was worried she wouldn’t have enough help, Varys turned up in Dorne, proposing an alliance to take down the Lannisters once and for all. The only one unaccounted for is Jorah Mormont, having been sent off to find a cure for his greyscale skin disease, this being a world where Proactiv doesn’t exist.
What’s next (we think): Daenerys has her heart set on the Iron Throne, meaning the show is probably done with the land of Essos for all intents and purposes, at least until the inevitable Daario Naharis And His Good-Times Sex And Murder Posse spin-off. It’s time to watch the (ostensibly) rightful queen of the Seven Kingdoms rain down vengeance upon anyone who stands in her way, with supporting quips by Tyrion. Of course, that’s assuming she isn’t convinced by Jon Snow that the looming threat beyond the Wall is more important—but if the track record of literally everyone else except Stannis Baratheon (R.I.P.) is any indication, chances aren’t good there.
Who’s gonna die: Since David Benioff and D.B. Weiss presumably don’t want to be murdered by a global eruption of furious Game Of Thrones fans, there’s almost no way Daenerys or Tyrion are in any mortal danger—this year, anyway. But the death of either Missandei or Grey Worm is a strong possibility; it’s unlikely Daenerys’ entire small council survives the upcoming battles. [Alex McLevy]
The Iron Islands
Where we last left off: Answering the question, “The hell is a Kingsmoot?” last season found Euron Greyjoy, younger brother of King Balon Greyjoy, returning home to kill his older sibling by throwing him off a bridge. Having thus opened up an empty seat on the Salt Throne, a Kingsmoot was called—that is, a gathering to determine the new ruler of the Ironborn. Despite Yara making her case for the crown (backed by brother Theon), Euron convinced the men he would conquer Westeros by marrying Daenerys and leading them all to victory. Realizing they were about to be the “dead” in the Ironborn slogan, Yara and Theon escape with a fleet of ships, traveling to Meereen, where they cut a deal with Daenerys: In exchange for her support of Yara’s claim to the Salt Throne and the defeat of Euron, Yara is forced to agree to no more reaving of the mainland, leaving a real hole in her future kill-and-pillage plans.
What’s next (we think): Although she’s promised to help them defeat Euron, there’s no way Daenerys is going north to fight without stopping in King’s Landing to annihilate the Lannisters and claim the Iron Throne first. More interesting will be seeing if Euron discovers Yara’s arrangement in time to cut a deal with Cersei Lannister, as he’ll likely need his own alliance to have a prayer of defeating the coming onslaught.
Who’s gonna die: While drowning and coming back is an admittedly badass move, is anyone really betting against whichever side has the dragons? Been nice (briefly) knowing you, Euron Greyjoy. Although to be fair, once he’s in an actual battle, we don’t see Theon surviving much longer either. [Alex McLevy]
Where we last left off: For better or worse, season six wasted no time returning to Dorne after Myrcella’s assassination in the season five finale, “Mother’s Mercy.” But murdering one royal proved insufficient for Ellaria and the Sand Snakes in their quest for vengeance for Oberyn. To head off any retaliation—and to punish their kinsmen for not acting more decisively—the four women murdered Doran and his son Trystane, whereupon Ellaria swore that “weak men will never rule Dorne again.” And to prove she’s not fooling around, Ellaria brokered an alliance with Olenna Tyrell, who was reeling from the massacre of her grandchildren at the destruction of the Great Sept Of Baelor, and Daenerys Targaryen against the Lannisters.
What’s next (we think): Daenerys already named Tyrion her hand of the queen, which probably isn’t going to sit well with Ellaria and her daughters. They’ll have to play nice, though, since they’ll need the Stormborn to legitimize their claim to Dorne—neither Ellaria nor any of her daughters is in line for the throne. Elsewhere, Yara and Ellaria will make up their own coalition of the willing, if that make-out session from the trailer is any indication. And if we’re really lucky, we’ll see Tyrion and Olenna trade poisoning tips.
Who’s gonna die: Given that this faction’s popularity among viewers is inversely proportional to its size, we can see one of the Snakes being eliminated before long. Then again, Ellaria’s technically the most disposable, since she’s not even of bastardly royal birth. [Danette Chavez]
Where we last left off: With a great big bang. The stores of wildfire that weren’t used in the Battle Of The Blackwater went kaboom in “The Winds Of Winter,” a flamboyant elimination of all competing political forces that only Cersei Lannister could pull off. Margaery, The High Sparrow, her own relatives Kevan and Lancel—all were wiped out in one big whoosh of emerald CGI. (As for Grand Maester Pycelle, he met his end and the ends of the stabbing implements held by Qyburn’s little birds.) Already wielding no legitimate power, and relieved of his conciliatory bride, young King Tommen took a suitably impotent leap from on high, thus paving Cersei’s path to the Iron Throne and ticking another box on the prophecy checklist.
What’s next (we think): The remaining item from that checklist: “Then comes another, younger, more beautiful to cast you down and take all you hold dear.” That would-be Targaryen queen now rides across the Narrow Sea, intent on taking the crown with the aid of Cersei’s vengeful younger brother and a few dragons. The wildfire incident is not the last time we’ll see a King’s Landing landmark engulfed in flames.
Who’s gonna die: Cersei, eventually—but probably not until the season finale. Odds are creepy ol’ Qyburn gets it sooner, in ironic fashion at the massive hands of the zombified Mountain. But otherwise, that explosion didn’t really leave many major players to kill off. [Erik Adams]