We’re now less than a month away from Game of Thrones’ final season. Is your binge-watch catch up on track, or running a bit awry? Either way, let us help with our season-by-season breakdown of what you actually need to remember before it all goes to hell in season eight.
Previously on Game of Catch-Up, season three left us with a shocking bloodbath in the Riverlands, and Dany taking on her approximately four billionth title as Mhysa, liberator of slaves. Things are coming to a head all over Westeros, and there’s even another wedding of an ominous colour on the way!
But there’s a lot more than just that. If you need a short and sharp look at what you should remember before heading into the final season, check out our 90-second video recap above. But if you want something meatier than a pie full of pigeons, our full breakdown of the important storylines in season four can be found below.
- Things are strained — even more than usual — between Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister, following the death of Catelyn and Robb Stark. Sansa is now desperate to escape King’s Landing, and Petyr Baelish promises to help her. Tyrion’s mistress Shae is also frustrated, as Tyrion continues trying to distance himself from her in an attempt to protect her.
- Sansa is gifted a necklace from Dontos Hollard, as thanks for her saving his life by insisting Joffrey make him the court fool.
Everything comes to a head at King Joffrey and Queen Margaery’s wedding (damn, these events are unlucky).
First, Joffrey is gifted with Widow’s Wail, one of the two Valyrian steel swords that had been crafted from Ned Stark’s Ice. The other went to Jaime Lannister, who eventually gave it to Brienne of Tarth, naming it Oathkeeper as part of her vow.
Joffrey drinks wine from a poisoned cup and dies — pointing a finger to Tyrion in his final moments. Cersei has Tyrion arrested for the murder, but it turns out he had nothing to do with it. Petyr later tells Sansa that one of the gems in the necklace contained a poison, and that’s what was used to kill Joffrey.
Sansa and Petyr escape, with Sansa posing as his relative, and they head to the Vale so Littlefinger can marry Sansa’s aunt, Lysa Arryn. Unfortunately, Lysa is a jealous and irrational woman and eventually accuses Sansa and Littlefinger of having an affair.
Petyr’s response is to reveal that the only woman he’ll ever love is Catelyn Stark before pushing Lysa to her death. Sansa later covers for Littlefinger, revealing her true identity and getting a sweet outfit as the new Lady of the Vale.
- Back in King’s Landing, Tommen is named the new king of Westeros. Margaery moves quickly to establish herself as his new queen, secretly visiting him in his bedroom and playing with his cat, Ser Pounce.
- Tyrion is put on trial for the murder of Joffrey. The so-called evidence, largely cultivated by Cersei and Tywin, frames him for the crime. Even Shea testifies against him, claiming that she overheard him and Sansa planned the murder together.
Knowing there’s no other recourse, Tyrion demands trial by combat. The only man to step up is Oberyn Martell, who was in town for Joffrey’s wedding.
But Oberyn has his own reason for volunteering, and it has little to do with Tyrion. He’s eager to face off against Ser Gregor Clegane, AKA The Mountain, to make him and Tywin pay for the murders of his sister and nephew during the Sack of King’s Landing.
- The battle between The Mountain and The Viper commences, and Oberyn is gruesomely killed. But before his death, he did enact his revenge (in a sense) by stabbing Clegane with his poison-tipped spear, and The Mountain starts to die. Qyburn, the formerly disgraced maester, tells Cersei he can resurrect him… though it’s through questionable means.
Tyrion manages to escape before his own execution, thanks to Varys. Before he leaves, he goes to confront his father — finding Shea in his bed. He strangles Shea and then murders Tywin on the toilet.
Upon realising what Tyrion had done, and that there is no going back, Varys too boards the ship heading for Essos. And, eventually, to Daenerys’ side.
- Daenerys and her Unsullied army continue their conquest by marching to Meereen, quickly taking control of the city. But she finds that being a ruler is more about conquering, freeing the slaves and moving on, and she starts meeting with supplicants in an attempt to address concerns within the city.
- Daenerys starts a sexual relationship with Daario, who’s now played by a different actor (surprise!). Jorah Mormont immediately gets jealous. We also see hints of a possible relationship between Grey Worm and Missandei.
- Things go south for Jorah when Ser Barristan Selmy receives a scroll, sent by the now-deceased Robert Baratheon, officially pardoning Jorah for his crimes of slave-trading in exchange for acting as a spy for Westeros. Daenerys confronts Jorah about these accusations, tells him he’s betrayed her trust, and orders him to leave Meereen.
- Daenerys decides to stay in Meereen to figure out how to be a true queen, instead of just a conqueror. One of her first sacrifices: Her own dragons. As they’ve grown in size, they’ve started attacking nearby villages and killing livestock. Daenerys ends up chaining Rhaegal and Viserion in the catacombs underneath Meereen, but Drogon is nowhere to be found.
Jon Snow and Beyond the Wall
Jon has returned to Castle Black but doesn’t receive a warm welcome. Some of his fellow brothers don’t feel they can trust him, especially as the wildlings’ advance continue to ransack northern villages and kill innocent people.
Jon suggests they head Beyond the Wall to kill the traitors at Craster’s Keep, to not only avenge the death of Lord Commander Mormont but to make sure Mance Rader and his army of wildings (which are currently heading to Castle Black) don’t get to them first.
- Meanwhile, Bran and his party are heading north, following a vision Bran received from the Three-Eyed Raven. They come across Craster’s Keep and are taken hostage by the traitors currently residing there.
- Jon and his Night’s Watch party attack Craster’s Keep and start killing the traitors, not knowing that Bran is also there. Bran spots Jon in the fighting and yearns to go to him, but ultimately decides that his quest is more important and doesn’t alert Jon to his presence. Jon succeeds and Craster’s Keep is burned to the ground.
The Battle at Castle Black. The wildlings attack the stronghold in an attempt to get south of the Wall and escape the approaching white walkers. The battle is rough and leads to Ygritte getting killed, but it ultimately ends in a stalemate.
The next day, realising that the wildlings would win the next battle, Jon decides to go to Mance Rader’s camp so he can assassinate him, knowing it would lead to his death. Mance instead offers a compromise, saying he only wants safety for his people.
But before anything can happen, Stannis Baratheon arrives with his army and incapacitates the wildlings, forcing them to surrender.
Meanwhile, Bran and his crew arrive at their destination, only to find themselves being attacked by wights. Jojen Reed, who’d been training Bran in the art of sight, is killed.
Luckily, the rest are saved by the last surviving Children of the Forest, an ancient race who lived in Westeros long before humans. They take Bran to the Three-Eyed Raven, who promises to teach him to fly.
Elsewhere in Westeros
Ramsay Snow continues to torment Theon Greyjoy, now going by the name Reek. Yara unsuccessfully tries to free Theon, who’s been so traumatised that he refuses to leave Ramsay’s side, and Ramsay responds by taking back Moat Cailin from the Greyjoys.
He’s rewarded for this by officially becoming Roose Bolton’s heir, being renamed Ramsay Bolton. However, it’s also revealed that Roose has remarried, which could threaten Ramsay’s claim.
- Arya Stark and the Hound are on a road trip! The Hound is taking her to Lysa to collect a ransom, with Brienne of Tarth and her new squire Podrick hot on their trail. Unfortunately, they arrive just after Petyr murdered Lysa, leaving them without options. Don’t worry, Arya at least managed to get Needle back from the man who stole it.
Brienne eventually catches up with the Hound and a fight ensues over Arya, who hides away so that Brienne and Podrick can’t find her. The Hound is badly injured, near death. Even though he’s on her kill list, Arya ultimately refuses to put him out of his misery and leaves him to die.
She steals his money and comes across a man from Braavos, giving him her special coin… along with the phrase “Valar morghulis” (“All men must die”). As the season ends, Arya boards a ship to Braavos, and an unknown future.