On July 16th, 2017, what must be the most popular show in the world right now comes back from its long hiatus. Game of Thrones appeals to just about everyone right now, from action/adventure fans to high fantasy nerds to people who just love to theorize. The world of Westeros is one of the best examples of modern world-building, and the characters are just as complex to match. While we took care to try not to invest ourselves emotionally into any specific characters, they were all so compelling to watch that we couldn’t help but root for some of them. That made it hurt that much more when they were killed in horribly creative ways. Season Six of Game of Thrones was one of the most action-packed and compelling seasons of television last year, and Season 7 promises to be the same with fewer episodes but more time per episode. However, you’d be forgiven for forgetting what happened last season. After all, it’s been about a year since the last season ended and there was a delay in shooting, pushing back this year’s premiere date.
This is where we come in. We’re going to give you the best recap of last season that we can, in addition to reminding you of some plot threads that were either dropped or faded into the background for whatever reason that promise to be a big deal this season. You might not know who has Valyrian steel in their possession or everyone on a certain teenage assassin’s hit list, but we do. We also need to cover the stage being set for season 7, where three unlikely figures have seized power and are making a play for world domination. There’s also the fact that this season promises a villain that makes Joffrey Lannister and Ramsay Snow look like sweet boys who just lost their way. Here’s what you need to know about the previous seasons of Game of Thrones in order to understand Season Seven.
15. What Is Dragonglass?
For those who are forgetting their earlier knowledge of Game of Thrones, dragonglass is essential if you’re stuck in a fight with a White Walker and don’t have Valyrian steel to help you out.
In reality, dragonglass is just a fancy name for obsidian, and the Children of the Forest (the plant people who hung out with Bran during season six) used it to make weapons. Incidentally, they also used it to make the White Walkers in the first place, as we learned last season when Bran saw it thanks to his Three Eyed Raven powers.
With that knowledge, it makes sense that the thing that made the White Walkers is also the thing that kills them. Samwell Tarly of the Night’s Watch kills a White Walker by stabbing it with dragonglass, making him the first in the present timeline to actually kill one. Despite the fact that he’s a self-professed coward, he killed a White Walker before the Lord Commander Jon Snow did, which is pretty cool.
In the books, Stannis made it a point to make sure obsidian was being mined so R’hllor could turn the fight against the ice zombies in the favor of humanity. With Samwell hanging out in Oldtown for what’s essentially Westerosi medical school and Bran hanging out beyond the Wall with Meera, both are feasible players in the game of thrones and are able to pass this knowledge on to those who need it.
14. Who Has Valyrian Steel?
The only swords able to do damage to a White Walker are the ones made of Valyrian steel. Valyrian steel is a type of metal that was forged in a time before the Doom of Valyria. Swords made of this type of metal are especially sharp and stay sharp forever.
A few characters started off with Valyrian steel, and a few more acquire it over the course of the series. Eddard Stark starts off with a Valyrian steel sword, Ice, that was so big, it made two Valyrian steel swords when Tywin Lannister had it melted down to give Valyrian steel to his own family. When Ice was melted down, it made two swords: Oathkeeper, Brienne‘s sword, and Widow’s Wail, which was originally Joffrey’s sword before it was passed on to his father-uncle Jaime Lannister.
There’s also Longclaw, by far the most familiar Valyrian steel sword to us, which started off as the sword of Jorah Mormont’s father, Jeor, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, before he passed it on to Jon Snow, who used it to kill a White Walker at Hardhome.
Samwell Tarly has also come into possession of his own family sword, Heartsbane.
13. Three Major Teams Left
Coming into season 7, we have three definitive sides of an upcoming war. First, you have Cersei Lannister, who stands alone against the whole world. She came into power by blowing up the Sept of Baelor and stepping over the bodies of her in-laws the Tyrells and her own son Tommen to take the Iron Throne. She has Jaime by her side, but no one else.
Next, you have Jon Snow, who has united the whole North (with help from the Vale) behind his cause and taken his place as Robb Stark’s heir to the title of King of the North (which is what Robb actually wanted before Talisa Maegyr got pregnant and they went to the Red Wedding).
Finally, you have Daenerys Targaryen, who is finally done horsing around in Slaver’s Bay after picking up some seafaring allies and leaving her ex-boyfriend Daario in charge of her gains in Meereen. She has the Unsullied, the Greyjoys, Dorne, and Tyrion Lannister behind her.
12. The Prophecy That’s Defined Cersei Lannister’s Life
Cersei Lannister’s entire life was laid out in front of her when she was a young girl. Maggy the Frog predicted what was going to happen to her, prompting her to spend her life trying to prevent it to no success. Maggy the Frog told her that she wasn’t going to marry “the prince” Rhaegar Targaryen (who she was potentially going to be betrothed to at the time), but she was going to marry a king with sixteen children while she only had three. That actually happened when she married Robert Baratheon and he had over a dozen bastard children while she had her three kids by her twin-boyfriend Jaime.
According to Maggy: “Queen you shall be . . . until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.” That prompted Cersei to distrust Margaery Tyrell to the point of blowing her up along with her entire family.
As for her children? “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds,” Maggy said. “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar (Valyrian for “little brother”) shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Cersei spent her whole life thinking it would be Tyrion (who admittedly doesn’t like Cersei very much), but the chances are bigger that the little brother in question is Jaime, who just discovered that Cersei used Aerys’ wildfire to blow up hundreds of people.
11. Will Jon Snow Join The Greyjoy-Targaryen Alliance?
Daenerys was more than ready to go and take Westeros but ran into a major problem when she and her advisers realized that she had no navy to speak of, not to mention a contingent of her army (the Dothraki) hates the “poison water” because horses can’t drink it. It was actually very lucky that Theon and Yara Greyjoy found their way to Meereen after fleeing their crazy uncle Euron, who told them about Daenerys and her dragons to begin with.
Their alliance is strong, but it depends on Daenerys giving the Iron Islands their independence and Euron Greyjoy being dead at the end of everything, This alliance might be pretty smooth sailing, except for the fact that Jon Snow and his crew in the North might not be so keen to ally with Team Meereen when he sees Theon, the guy who betrayed Robb and took the credit for killing Bran and Rickon. He might even fight her because of it, Targaryen heritage aside.
10. Who Wants To Be Ruler Of The North?
Jon Snow is the King of the North, but we in the audience know that he would never have lived long enough to be crowned had Sansa Stark not saved his butt during the Battle of the Bastards. She’s also the key to Jon’s alliance with the Vale thanks to Littlefinger, who spent a lot of time making that alliance happen back in seasons 4 and 5.
While Jon Snow is definitely the guy you want leading you into battle and is a capable leader in his own right, he’s not a Stark. I don’t even mean this because he’s a bastard, I mean this because he’s actually a Targaryen. As much as Jon wants to be a Stark deep down, he’s not, and Sansa is.
While they don’t know that Jon’s a Targaryen yet, I think that this is going to be a major point of contention for Jon and Sansa, especially if/when Bran and Arya come into the picture. For one thing, once Bran comes into the picture, he’s King of the North as Robb’s last living male blood relative. For another thing, the Vale might be more partial to a Queen of the North in Sansa than they would be to Jon Snow.
9. Who’s Left On Arya’s Hit List?
Everyone’s favorite childhood assassin is back from her two-season sojourn in Braavos, where she learned how to put on other people’s faces. Early on in the show (and the books), Arya started lulling herself to sleep by repeating the names of everyone that she wants dead. Her list has grown as she’s met other terrible people, but it’s changed as she’s made progress and grown as a person.
So far, she’s killed Meryn Trant, the pedophile Kingsguard who killed Syrio Forel, the guy who taught her how to use Needle and the First Sword of Braavos, Polliver, the guy who took her sword and killed her friend Lommy, and Walder Frey, the guy behind the Red Wedding.
Joffrey Baratheon, The Mountain, and Tywin Lannister also made the list, but they all died by other means (or became silent pseudo-zombies by other means).
The people who are still alive on the list (Thoros of Myr, Beric Dondarrion, Melisandre, Ilyn Payne, and Cersei Lannister) should probably watch out since she’s back in Westeros with an axe to grind. The Hound is also on the list, but she has complicated feelings about him and thinks he’s dead anyway, so he’s a special case.
8. The Martell And Tyrell Alliance Might Not Make It
The Martells and Tyrells have a few things in common. For one, they have a lot of faith in the women of their family. For another, gender roles and sexuality don’t mean all that much to them, or at least not as much as they do to the rest of Westeros. The Dornish law of inheritance has women take the throne all the time, and bastards enjoy full rights like legitimate children do. As for the Tyrells, they don’t seem to care that Loras is gay and Margaery’s sexuality is a big question mark. Most importantly, they have been treated horribly by the Lannisters. Olenna Tyrell’s entire family was killed by Cersei, while Ellaria and the Sand Snakes lost Oberyn Martell after Joffrey got killed.
This alliance might very well crumble over the fact that Olenna was the one who actually killed Joffrey and Oberyn died defending Tyrion, who didn’t actually do it. There’s also the fact that the Targaryens, another member of their alliance, have a stake in this. Tyrion would probably be really angry with Olenna for putting him through everything he went through in season four when she knew he didn’t actually kill Joffrey. There’s also the fact that Ellaria Sand killed Myrcella Baratheon, Tyrion’s sweetheart of a niece that he actually liked. There are a lot of secrets in this alliance that could send it unraveling fast.
7. Where’s The Red Woman?
Melisandre was an important player in the first half of Season 6. After all, without her, Jon Snow would still be a corpse with some holes in him. However, once she did that, she wasn’t really around anymore, except to finally confess to burning Shireen Baratheon alive. When Davos freaked out at the news (quite rightly since Shireen Baratheon was too good for this sinful earth), Jon Snow banished her instead of killing her (since he still owed her for that resurrection thing), so we don’t actually know where Melisandre of Asshai is right now.
From what we’ve seen from the trailers for the upcoming season, it looks like she’s headed to Dragonstone, where she will no doubt run into Daenerys. She’s in a sort of personal crisis because she spent the entire show backing Stannis, burning his daughter and catalyzing the death of the legitimate Baratheon line, making it so there are no Baratheons in play anymore (except for Arya’s friend Gendry, who’s been rowing a boat for three seasons now).
We can look forward to seeing Melisandre be a lot more vulnerable now, which could very well make her an excellent ally for Daenerys. The only problem is dealing with Team Stark when Team Meereen comes across them with Melisandre in tow.
6. Bran’s Game Of Tag With The Night’s King
Ever since Bran hooked up with the Three-Eyed Raven at the end of season 4, he’s essentially been keeping one hand on base while he plays a game of tag with the Night’s King, the real villain in the fight for Westeros. No matter who takes the Iron Throne, the place is still going to the ice zombies if he’s not taken out.
Bran was doing well enough before he went on a Three-Eyed drug trip to try and see his dad in the past, running into the Night’s King instead, who tagged him with some sort of ice zombie magic before Bran’s mind got pulled out of the tree. That essentially made it so the White Walkers could get near the Three-Eyed Raven’s tree, and the resulting fight killed him, the Children of the Forest, Bran’s direwolf Summer, and finally Hodor, in one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of Game of Thrones ever.
Evidently, the Wall is protected by the same magic that protected the Three-Eyed Raven’s house, so if Bran crosses the Wall, he might break the magic on the Wall, effectively rendering it useless against the White Walkers.
5. Where’s The Burned Man?
The Hound was left to die back in season 4’s finale, and we didn’t know where he was until season 6. He spent some time building houses with a septon before his entire crew died, compelling the Hound to pick up his sword again. He then runs into the Brotherhood without Banners, who are hanging the guys he’s been chasing.
The new trailer shows The Hound in a brand new costume, showing that he’s going somewhere much colder than King’s Landing. There’s also the fact that he’s got a new costume change for the HBO promos. He’s not wearing armor that ties him to any known alliance or house, so chances are he’s going his own way for season 7 or even hanging out with the Brotherhood without Banners still.
We also need to consider the Hound’s story arc in the books, which has him forming a sort of romantic attachment to Sansa, who seems to reciprocate. Personally, I don’t know if the show is going that way, but the books certainly did so that’s still a possibility.
4. Euron Greyjoy: The New Ramsay
With the deaths of Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Snow, we have a bit of a vacuum in Westeros. We no longer have a character that we can love to hate. That role will be more than adequately filled by Euron Greyjoy, Theon and Yara’s uncle and the new King of the Iron Islands. According to actor Pilou Asbæk, Euron will make Joffrey and Ramsay look like sweet little kids in comparison to him. He’s also very scary since he actually knows about Daenerys’ dragons and potentially has a way to bind them to his own will.
There’s also the fact that one of the new chapters in the upcoming book The Winds of Winter (the latest instalment in A Song of Ice and Fire) shows the depths of Euron’s depravity through the eyes of his brother Aeron (the priest who baptized Theon back in season 2). In the chapter, he’s collecting priests for the purposes of black magic. That’s just one example of what Euron is capable of that we might see this season. There’s also the fact that he’s admitted to molesting Aeron and his other brothers. Needless to say, we might have seen nothing yet.
3. The Major Moments Of Season 6
The state of Westeros is in turmoil right now. When we left off at the end of the last episode of season six, Bran had just discovered that his bastard brother is actually his bastard cousin and he’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, making him Daenerys’ nephew. Ramsay Snow was eaten by his own starving dogs at Sansa’s hands, leaving a major, Iwan Rheon shaped hole in our hearts and leaving us without a depraved villain to hate.
Cersei wiped every Tyrell off the map, leaving only a devastated and angry Olenna Tyrell alive. Margaery Tyrell had made her grandmother leave to spare her from the fallout of her brother’s trial but was forced to remain in the sept by the arrogant High Sparrow and blew up for all her trouble. Her death prompted King Tommen, Cersei’s last child and not a bad king by any standard, to kill himself by stepping out of a window and falling to his death.
This leaves Cersei’s twin-boyfriend Jaime Lannister an uncomfortable realization: the woman he loves committed the same atrocity that he tried to prevent when he killed the Mad King.
Fan favorite Tyrion Lannister is the new Hand to Queen Daenerys Targaryen and is heading home for the first time since shooting his father Tywin while he was taking a potty break after sleeping with Tyrion’s girlfriend.
2. The Jaime/Cersei/Brienne Love Triangle
While this isn’t your ordinary love triangle, it’s a love triangle that could very well change the course of everything in Westeros. Jaime Lannister has spent his entire life in love with Cersei, to the point where he’s never been with another woman sexually, but their relationship was complicated by her long-standing marriage to the guy who took over Westeros after he killed the last king (Daenerys’s father Aerys).
Their relationship was complicated even further when Jaime was captured by the Starks and eventually sent back with Brienne of Tarth, and they got very close over the course of the third season after Jaime lost his hand. While his heart still belongs to Cersei as of now, his growing feelings for Brienne were established during Season 6.
Coming into season 7, Jaime is the only one by Cersei’s side, but his face during her crowning shows that he’s not very happy about it. Meanwhile, Brienne is firmly Team Stark and will have no problem with fighting Jaime if it comes down to it, but they still clearly have feelings for each other. If Jaime does end up picking Brienne, hopefully, he does it soon before Tormund Giantsbane gets there first.
1. Sansa And Littlefinger … And Arya With His Dagger?
Littlefinger’s been obsessed with Catelyn Stark for his entire life, to the point that his obsession with her has transferred onto her daughter Sansa. Unlike Catelyn, however, Sansa appears to be a bit more receptive to Littlefinger, if not romantically then as a political ally and friend.
This is the basis of a new theory that’s quickly becoming cemented in the minds of us fans: the idea that Sansa and Littlefinger will get married and Littlefinger will be ultimately outmaneuvered by Sansa and put to death by Arya. The evidence for this theory lies in some promotional photos and the trailer, where Arya is seen with the Valyrian steel dagger that was used in Bran’s assassination attempt. That dagger belongs to Littlefinger, and we saw Catelyn Stark give it back to him back in season 1. We have no reason to believe that he doesn’t have it, and we have no explanation as to why Arya Stark would have it unless she took it from him.
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