Mar 26 2014 11:00am

What Happened in Game of Thrones? A Refresher Before Season 4 Begins

Game of Thrones season 4 refresher

The fourth season of Game of Thrones begins on April 6th, basically covering the events of the last half of George R. R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords. It’s been a while since we last saw Westeros, though, and one can’t be blamed if memories of a certain wedding have since blotted out all other details about the show.

Here’s a handy guide to where all the key Game of Thrones characters are by the end of season 3.


Bran Stark, Jojen and Meera Reed, Hodor, Osha

By the end of season 3, Bran Stark and company reached The Wall and have been shown by Samwell Tarly how to pass through it. Bran shared a touching goodbye with his younger brother Rickon, whom he sent south with Osha and Shaggydog to seek refuge with the Umbers, loyal bannermen to the Starks. Bran’s warg powers have become more prevalent, thanks in part to some coaching from Jojen Reed. At the end of the season Bran jumped inside the mind of his direwolf Summer to help his brother Jon Snow fend off Wildlings, as well as inside the mind of Hodor, to prevent Hodor from being too loud and giving away their hiding place. In response, Hodor was all, “Hodorrrrrr” which is Hodor for “That was the creepiest thing ever, kid, please don’t do that again.”


Samwell Tarly, Jon Snow, Ygritte

Samwell Tarly spent most of his time on screen cowering or making self-deprecating jokes, but showed some true bravery by the end of season 3, rescuing Gilly and her newborn son from both the riot at Craster’s Keep and a stray White Walker. He and Gilly (along with the newly named baby Sam—how cute is that?) reached Castle Black, where they warned Maester Aemon about the army of White Walkers seen north of the Wall. Jon Snow also returned to the Night’s Watch, though he was somewhat worse for wear after fleeing the group of Wildlings who have made it south of the Wall. Ygritte, not one to take betrayal and abandonment lightly, managed to bury three arrows in Jon as he fled on horseback, and he barely made it to Castle Black alive.


Stannis, Melisandre, Davos, Gendry

Melisandre returned to Dragonstone, where she continued to be totally creepy in her devotion to Stannis Baratheon and her god, the Lord of Light. She’d become a little obsessed with the magical powers of “king’s blood,” and so had big sacrificial plans in mind for Gendry, the illegitimate son of the late King Robert. Having been reinstated as Hand of the King, Davos tried to sway Stannis against the use of Melisandre’s blood magic. But when it became clear that Stannis was desperate enough to try anything, Davos freed Gendry and set him out to sea in a rowboat. Davos then presented Stannis with a message from the Night’s Watch explaining the threat of the White Walkers, and even Melisandre agreeded that the war brewing in the North was more important than battle for the Iron Throne.



Catelyn, Robb, and Talisa Stark

Walder Frey hosted the wedding of the century, joining his daughter Roslin to Edmure Tully. The ceremony was lovely and they all lived happily ever after LA LA LA WE CAN’T HEAR YOU. Oh okay, fine. Turns out ol’ Walder was still a bit peeved about Robb Stark’s secret marriage to Talisa, so after making a side deal with the Lannisters, Frey betrayed the entire Stark family and slaughtered them during the wedding feast. Talisa and her unborn son were stabbed to death, Robb was punctured by multiple arrows, then stabbed by Roose Bolton, and Catelyn got her throat cut, but not before she grief-murdered Walder’s young wife. If that wasn’t bad enough, Walder’s men also killed Robb’s direwolf Grey Wind and sewed his head onto Robb’s corpse. Great, now we’re crying all over again.


Arya Stark, The Hound

Arya Stark was traveling with Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, who planned to deliver her back to her mother—for a modest fee, of course. They arrived at The Twins just in time for the chaotic aftermath of the Red Wedding, which is maybe the saddest thing ever. Arya later stabbed a man to death in the woods for claiming to have sewn Grey Wind’s head onto Robb’s body, marking the first time she killed a man on purpose. We’d be lying if we said this plotline wasn’t at least a little awesome (we want Arya and the Hound to hang out together FOREVER), but it’s also rather distressing to see Arya go from “adventuring tomboy” to “robotic, dead-eyed murderer.”


The Boltons and The Greyjoys

After siding with the Lannisters and Walder Frey, sneaky turncoat Roose Bolton was named Warden of the North. In his absence, Roose’s bastard son Ramsay has the run of the place and he’s spent most of his time inventively torturing the world’s scruffiest punching bag, Theon Greyjoy. After being castrated, Theon begged his captor for death, but Ramsay just laughed before rechristening him “Reek.” Theon’s father Balon Greyjoy received a ransom note demanding that the Iron Islands’ troops leave the North, along with a box containing Theon’s “favorite toy.” (HIS PENIS.) Balon basically gave his son up for dead and refused to either halt the attack or send help. Theon’s sister Yara—somehow surprised that Balon is not about to win any father-of-the-year awards—has formed plans to mount a rescue on her own.



Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish may be the only person in Westeros who’s actually come out ahead by the end of season 3. After being elevated to Lord of Harrenhal, Littlefinger convinced the Small Council that it would be in the Crown’s best interest if he offered a marriage proposal to Lysa Arryn (Catelyn’s sister), thus bringing her into an alliance with the Lannisters. He originally planned to smuggle Sansa Stark out of the city, but when he learned of her secret engagement to Loras Tyrell (which would have put her out of his creeper reach), he sold her out to the Lannisters. Littlefinger hasn’t been seen since his departure from King’s Landing, but you can bet he’s waiting somewhere in the wings.


The Lannisters

As Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister overshadowed his progeny and essentially ruled the kingdom himself last season; he constantly scowled at Joffrey (once literally sending the king to bed), arranged politically advantageous marriages for both Tyrion and Cersei (against their wishes, of course), and quietly set the Red Wedding in motion. Newlyweds Tyrion and Sansa were just starting to get along when news of her family’s deaths arrived in King’s Landing. Awkward. Tyrion’s relationship with his family was strained further by his position as Master of Coin, as he struggled to fund the upcoming royal wedding. With her twin absent, Cersei had to console herself with all the wine she could get her hands on. Not that we blame her, of course. She openly opposed her father regarding her engagment to Loras Tyrell (not that her arguments have done much good so far), and even admitted to Tyrion that Joffrey is a monster, which is still a bit of an understatement. King Joffrey’s psychopathic tendencies reached a fever pitch in season 3 when he crossbow-ed poor Ros to death and later gleefully planned to serve Robb’s head to Sansa at his wedding feast. Ugh, this kid.


The Tyrells

Olenna Tyrell spent her time on screen being a total badass, throwing shade left and right. She sparred with Tywin, but ultimately agreed to wed Loras to Cersei in order to keep him out of the Kingsguard and to secure Margaery’s engagement to Joffrey. Margaery, meanwhile, expertly flattered Joffrey (an impressive skill when you consider he once pointed a crossbow in her general direction), trolled Cersei, and ingratiated herself to the populace; clearly she’s learned how to game the system from her awesome grandma. Seriously, the ladies of House Tyrell are amazing.


Varys, Shae

Varys had better watch his back, because during season 3 he had a hard time masking his facial expressions whenever Joffrey threw a temper tantrum. To be fair, he was probably just distracted after Littlefinger foiled so many of his plans, most notably his move to wed Sansa to Loras Tyrell. He tried to lay the groundwork for a new scheme by offering Shae money to hightail it out of King’s Landing; he explained that she’s a distraction for Tyrion, whom Varys sees as the only person capable of saving the kingdom. But Shae refused to leave, both because she loves Tyrion and because she wishes to protect Sansa.


Jaime Lannister, Brienne

Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth had the worst luck in season 3, starting with Brienne’s near-rape and the loss of Jaime’s sword hand—both perpetrated by House Bolton’s professional slimeball, Locke. Before heading off to the Red Wedding, Roose Bolton released Jaime as a show of good faith to the Lannisters, but Jaime returned to Harrenhal to rescue Brienne from Locke’s bear-baiting pit. The pair arrived back in King’s Landing as anonymous travelers, and Jaime was reunited with Cersei at the very end of the season.


Daenerys, Daario, Barristan Selmy, Jorah Mormont, Grey Worm, the dragons

Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen conquered her way up the Ghiscari coast in season 3, starting out with nothing but three young dragons and ending with an army of freed Astaporian Unsullied, led by Grey Worm, and the entire freed slave population of the city of Yunkai praising her as their mhysa, or “Mother.” Ser Barristan Selmy revealed himself to Daenerys in Astapor, seeking her out after being unceremoniously booted from Joffrey's Kingsguard way back in season 1, and offered her his services and fealty as military advisor. Upon reaching Yunkai and declaring her intention to free its slaves, Dany is met by mercenary company the Second Sons, including their heavily flirtatious and opportunistic lieutenant Daario Nahaaris. In order to test their loyalty, Daenerys ordered Daario, Jorah, and Grey Worm to sneak into Yunkai and open its gates, which they pull off successfully. In the course of events Daario beheaded the Second Sons’ leader and declares the mercenary group now loyal to Daenerys. Meanwhile, Jorah Mormont’s unrequited feelings for Daenerys continued to simmer.

When season 4 begins, Daenerys sets her sights on the next slaver metropolis up the coast: Meereen. Her dragons continue to grow, but they’re now showing greater ferocity, even towards Daenerys herself. And they are becoming far too large to keep chained or caged....


That’s everyone! (We think.) The premiere episode of season 4 itself does a good job of continuing the various story threads from this point on, and it very cleanly introduces the Dornish and their objectives. We’ll see you on April 6th, when A Storm of Swords begins its intense conclusion!

1. MM
pretty sure theon's sister is asha, not yara
Deana Whitney
2. Braid_Tug
@1, it is in the books. HBO changed it to Yara for the show.
I don't know why. Guessing her story will be different.
Tom Smith
3. phuzz
@1 They've changed her name from the books, so nobody can get her confused with Osha.

It might be worth pointing out that there's a new actor for Daario, Michiel Huisman, who I think is awsome but still doesn't have the daft beard from the books FOR SHAME!
4. Galena

They changed her name from the book in the show, so show-wise she's Yara (
Chris Nelly
5. Aeryl
Actually it was prior to the Red Wedding that Bolton released Jaime, which hinted that all was not as it should be for House Stark.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
@1, I've taken to just calling her YarAsha all the time.
Eric Scharf
7. EricScharf
"Following the Red Wedding, Roose Bolton released Jaime as a show of good faith to the Lannisters..."

Tellingly, Bolton sent Jaime on his way _before_ the Red Wedding.
Rob Munnelly
8. RobMRobM
Should add in Blackfish info to the Robb, Cat, Talisa para. He left party to uninate, missed the in-room slaughter, and is at large as far as we know.
9. Lisa Herzog
I believe Sansa was going to ne wed to Willas, not Loras as she would have had it.
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
@9. Willas doesn't exist in the show world.
Bridget McGovern
11. BMcGovern
Re: Willas, I'm not sure that he doesn't exist entirely, since both Willas and Garlan appear on HBO's Tyrell family tree, but it's true that he hasn't played into events on the show thus far. He could pop up in the future, or he could be cut entirely, but I don't think that's been announced either way?
Rob Munnelly
12. RobMRobM
BM - I believe Loras has been referred to in-show as the only son, but I can't come up with specifics.
Chris Nelly
13. Aeryl
Yeah, the only reason that Tywin's threat of putting Loras in the KG had any weight, is that it would put Highgarden directly in the hands of Margaery and Joff's children, in other words, it would become an extended Lannister holding.
Marty Beck
14. martytargaryen
@12 Rob, yes you are correct. Although I don't recall the episode.
Joe Vondracek
15. joev
I've only watched the first season and didn't realize they'd changed so much from the books. That's too bad. I guess someone decided that, rather than confuse viewers with characters who get little screen time ("Wait, who is that? Another Tyrell son? How many are there? That's just crazy!"), they'd rather confuse people in other ways ("Hey, wasn't the guy who was going to marry Sansa and is now going to marry Cersei the same guy who was having sexy-sexy time with Renly? What's up with that?"). Some changes don't make sense though. Who's minding the store at Riverrun if the Blackfish went to the Twins for the wedding?

In my mind, Tyrion in the image at the top is saying, "Yeah, they changed the story for the TV show. Whaddya gonna do?"
16. Johnnyboy

I'm pretty sure Loras and Renly get it on in the books aswell, that's not just a show creation. It's very subtle though.
Chris Nelly
17. Aeryl
@15, I don't find it confusing at all and I read the books and watch the show. They took away the Willas plot and gave it all to Loras, who's been threatened with the Kingsguard if he doesn't marry Cersei, and it's obvious he's not happy about it, and he continues his relations with other men.
18. vjj
They stole the name "Yara" from Robert E Howard's "Tower of the Elephant" which, considering the actress they cast, is quite appropriate.

The only character I'm eager to see make a quick exit is "Ygritte" - I cannot stand her. Like Rustin Cohle once said, you can smell the crazy on that p**sy - or something like that.
Joe Vondracek
19. joev
@16, @17: Sorry, I do not express myself well. Any time a book is adapted for screen, changes are made to the story and the characters. Often that is done because it's easier to show something than it is to explain it. Sometimes the changes are due to logistical reasons, e.g., it's difficult to tie up a lot of actors in multi-year contracts. And sometimes changes are made because the producers seemingly don't want to confuse viewers who are unfamiliar with the book(s), e.g., Yara = Asha not Osha. (I remember watching The Fellowship of the Ring at the movies when it first came out, and at the end, a couple sitting nearby exclaimed, "That's it?! They didn't get to where they were going! How can that be the end?!")

So, yes, Loras + Renly in the books was not terribly explicit in the books, but it was there and was made evident in the show. That's not confusing, whether you've read the books or not. I was trying to say that what *might* be confusing to the show-only viewer is having an obviously gay character first almost-married to one woman and then betrothed to another, and threatening him with membership in an exclusive men-only "club". Why wouldn't Loras want to be in the Kingsguard? Story-wise, that makes less sense than if they'd hewed closer to the books and combined Garlan and Willas into one character, Garlas, and left Loras joining the Kingsguard as a protector for Margaery. To a show-only viewer, that would seem to be less confusing than what they've done.

I was just trying to give an example of a change that was made to a character or plot point for the TV show that doesn't seem necessary as part of the adaptation. In this particular instance, it's disappointing that Garlan was left out of the show. Based on his description in the books, he's one of the better swordsmen in Westeros and also one of the few who has treated Tyrion with any courtesy/sympathy. I was hoping that this would come into play later in the series, but apparently GRRM has him destined to remain a minor side-character.
Church Tucker
20. Church
@18 That's acting. C.f. her mousy character in Downton Abbey.
21. Crusader75
I do not really get why anyone would want Arya stuck with Hound permenently. He is not a good person and has not Arya suffered enough? @19 - I am not sure why Loras getting married or betrothed would be confusing. He is a member of a great house. They don't often get married for love or sexual pleasure, but for political alliances and producing heirs. His sexual orientation is only marginally relevent to those concerns.
22. Keeks
Or you could just say: Nothing changed all season at Dragonstone. I think that's one of the main reasons the Red Wedding got to me so much -- Stannis keeps pacing around sulking, and Lord of Light's witch continues to twirl around and act mysteriously evil, and THESE PEOPLE ARE STILL ALIVE???! Hate that whole storyline.

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