What, you don’t remember that time Trogdor helped Daenerys burninate Meereen? With so many characters and plot lines (not to mention major deviations from books) it’s easy to lose track of the finer details from Game of Thrones—like how did Stannis get all the way over there, and who the heck is Hizdhar zo Loraq, anyway? So with the new episodes just over the horizon, here’s a handy refresher guide to where all the key characters are before the start of season 5.
Spoilers ahead, naturally.
King’s Landing—The King is Dead, Long Live the King!
In a perfect moment of schadenfreude, King Joffrey drinks poisoned wine at his own wedding feast, choking to death in a spectacularly violent/violet fashion and leaving a very confused Tyrion holding the King’s wine goblet. J’ACCUSE! Tyrion demands a trial by combat, expecting that Bronn will fight for him, but Cersei has already bribed the sellsword with an arranged marriage to a noble woman and the promise of fabulous wealth.
Visiting heartthrob Oberyn Martell volunteers as Tyrion’s champion so that he may face Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, the man who killed his sister Elia and her children during Robert’s Rebellion. Ellaria Sand is concerned for her lover when she sees Gregor’s size, but Oberyn’s agility allows him a chance at victory. Instead of killing The Mountain quickly, however, Oberyn demands that he confess his crimes; a misstep puts him in reach of the giant warrior, who crushes Oberyn’s head like an overripe melon. Oberyn at least managed to poison The Mountain with venom laced on his spear, but maester school drop-out Qyburn claims he can save him WITH SCIENCE. Qyburn cryptically warns that his methods may “change” Gregor, so I guess we can all look forward to a potentially unstoppable zombie-Frankenstein creature in the future…
Before Tyrion’s trial, we learn that Olenna Tyrell is actually responsible for Joffrey’s death, using poison hidden in the necklace of a guileless Sansa Stark. Olenna advises Margaery to seduce Tommen and therefore secure their marriage (and her place as Queen) before Cersei can move against her. She visits the young king’s bedchambers, and the well-timed arrival of Tommen’s cat Ser Pounce keeps everything above board. Meanwhile, Cersei tries to break her betrothal to Loras, telling Tywin that she will not be shipped off to Highgarden and separated from Tommen. Cersei claims that if he forces her to wed, she will publicly admit to her incestuous relationship with Jaime, thereby undoing all of Tywin’s work to ensure his legacy. Cersei leaves and reunites with Jaime, proclaiming that she loves and chooses him.
In the dead of night, Jaime frees Tyrion from his cell and instructs him how to find Varys, who has arranged to smuggle him out of King’s Landing. But Tyrion takes a detour to the Tower of the Hand, where he finds Shae in his father’s bed and strangles her. He then takes a crossbow and confronts Tywin in the privy; when his father unwisely refers to Shae as a whore, Tyrion kills him. After finally making his way to a rather worried Varys, Tyrion is hidden in a crate and loaded onto a boat bound for the Free Cities; Varys elects to sail with Tyrion when he hears the alarm bells clanging in the city.
After smuggling Sansa Stark out of King’s Landing, Petyr “Littefinger” Baelish continues to creep all over her. They travel to the Vale to see her aunt Lysa Arryn, where she must pretend to be Petyr’s niece under the assumed name Alayne Stone. Lysa and Petyr are married practically immediately, and Lysa informally betroths Sansa to her son Robin, who is as annoying as ever. When Lysa sees Petyr passionately kissing Sansa (ick), she jealously threatens to throw Sansa through the Moon Door; Petyr intervenes and instead pushes Lysa to her death.
A council of nobles from the Vale don’t believe Petyr’s story that Lysa committed suicide, but Sansa convinces them with half-truths and some seriously scary acting talent. Petyr then insists it’s time for Robin to leave the Eyrie and travel through the Vale. As they ready themselves for the journey, Sansa emerges in hand-made traveling clothes adorned with mockingbird feathers, the sigil of Littlefinger’s self-styled House. We’re not sure where this plotline is going, but we’re kind of digging Sansa’s new eeevil look, a la Mia Sara’s theatrical getup in Legend.
Wandering the Seven Kingdoms
In order to fulfill her vow to the late Catelyn Stark, Brienne is on a quest to find Sansa and shield her from the Lannisters; Jaime sends her off from King’s Landing with his sword, Oathkeeper, and Tyrion’s former squire Podrick. They happen upon the inn where Hot Pie works as a kitchen boy; he tells them he last saw Sansa’s sister Arya with the Brotherhood Without Banners, who had also captured The Hound. Pod suggests that the Brotherhood may try to ransom Arya to her Aunt Lysa, and so the two head off towards the Vale.
Turns out Pod wasn’t far off: Arya Stark travels towards the Vale in the custody of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, but they arrive too late and are told at the Black Gate that Lysa has recently died. Comedy of Errors with these two. On their way back through the Vale they run into Pod and Brienne, and Brienne challenges the Hound for guardianship over Arya. (Sidenote: why couldn’t Brienne have saved Hot Pie’s gift of wolf-shaped bread to show Arya?? They could have been BEST FRIENDZ.) The battle ends with Brienne biting off the Hound’s ear and pummeling him with a rock until he falls backward over the edge of a cliff. Do not mess with Brienne, y’all. Arya easily evades Pod and slips down into the valley to find the Hound. Knowing that he is mortally wounded, he asks to be put out of his misery, but Stone Cold Arya refuses to grant him a quick death and walks off. She finds a ship bound for Braavos and pays for her passage with the iron coin Jaqen H’ghar gifted her way back in the second season.
Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose Bolton, continues his campaign of psychological terror against Reek, the artist formerly known as Theon Greyjoy. Theon’s sister Yara mounts a rescue attempt, sneaking into the Dreadfort at night. She finds Theon locked in the kennels with the dogs, but he refuses to go with her. Yara is forced to leave Theon behind and barely escapes herself, declaring to her countrymen that her brother is dead. Now that Reek has proven himself loyal, Ramsay hatches a plan for the broken former prince to “pretend” to be Theon in order to offer terms to the Iron Islands troops under siege at Moat Cailin. Of course, when the Ironborn do surrender, Ramsay slaughters them, because that’s the kind of stand-up guy he is. And as a reward, Roose names Ramsay his legitimate heir, making him officially a Bolton. Three cheers for the worst family in Westeros!
Jon Snow tries to convince Ser Alliser Thorne to take the impending Wildling attack seriously, but Alliser and Janos Slynt scoff at Jon’s stories of giants and mammoths. Tormund leads the Wildling raiders towards Castle Black from the south, attacking villages along the way; the normally ruthless Ygritte spares Gilly and baby Sam during the massacre at Mole’s Town. On the night of the attack, Sam fights the raiders in the courtyard along with Pyp, who is shot and killed by Ygritte. Jon leads the men on the Wall, firing arrows and launching barrels of pitch at the first wave of Mance Rayder’s army. Grenn and a small group of men are killed while defending the tunnel gates from giants. When Alliser is injured, Jon joins the fight against the raiders and encounters Ygritte; she has her bow drawn but hesitates, and is herself struck and killed by an arrow. The raiders are subdued and the Wildlings retreat back into the woods at daybreak. Jon heads out through the tunnel to negotiate with Mance, possibly with the intent to kill him.
SURPRISE! Stannis Baratheon and Davos arrive at the head of an army on horseback, scattering the Wildling encampment before Mance orders his men to stand down. Jon identifies himself as the son of Ned Stark, and advises Stannis to take Mance prisoner rather than execute him. Previously in the season, Stannis and Davos traveled to Braavos, using his claim to the Crown to borrow money from the Iron Bank and hire Salladhor Saan’s fleet of ships to bring them north. The red witch Melisandre also attends the king, and she has insisted that Stannis’ wife Selyse and daughter Shireen make the journey with them, claiming that the Lord of Light “needs” the girl. Um, yikes.
North of the Wall
Bran Stark and company are in a holding pattern for most of the season, having been taken hostage by the Night’s Watch mutineers at Craster’s Keep. They escape during Jon Snow’s raid; Bran wargs into Hodor to fight off an attacker, snapping the man’s neck and giving Hodor some serious PTSD. They continue north along with Meera and Jojen Reed and Bran’s direwolf, Summer. They eventually find the giant weirwood tree from Bran’s vision, but are attacked by skeletal White Walkers as they approach. Jojen is killed, but the others are rescued by a member of the ancient race of forest folk referred to as the Children. She leads them into a cave where they meet with an old man bound in the roots of the weirwood tree, whom Bran recognizes as the human form of the Three-Eyed Raven he’d been seeing in his dreams. He tells Bran that he will never walk again, “but you will fly.”
Note: Bran and the others will not be appearing in season 5, but hopefully we’ll get a Rocky-style training montage at the top of season 6 to highlight whatever new mystical powers he learns off-screen.
Daenerys Targaryen was great at conquering the cities of Slaver’s Bay thanks to her army of Unsullied and three dragons, but now that she’s settled down to actually rule in Meereen, things aren’t going too well. Nobleman Hizdahr zo Loraq asks Dany to allow him to bury his father, one of the Masters she had crucified upon her arrival (apparently unjustly in his case). Even some of the newly freed slaves ask to return to their old lives. Worse still, Drogon grows more unruly, snapping at Dany and eventually killing a goatherd’s small child before disappearing over the Black Cliffs. Realizing she is no longer capable of controlling her “children,” Dany chooses to lock the smaller two dragons, Viserion and Rhaegal, in the catacombs below the city. Dany also continues her ill-advised flirtation with Daario Naharis, but honestly it’s kind of great when she commands him to take his clothes off. She then sends Daario to retake the city of Yunkai with the Second Sons; on the advice of Jorah, she also sends Hizdahr to the city as her ambassador.
While out patrolling the city, Ser Barristan Selmy is handed a royal pardon for Jorah Mormont signed by the late Robert Baratheon. Jorah admits to spying on Dany in the past, and correctly surmises that Tywin Lannister sent the pardon in order to separate him from the young queen. Unable to see her in private, Jorah approaches Dany formally in the throne room, begging forgiveness. But Dany is furious, remembering the assassins Robert had sent after her and her unborn child. She dismisses Jorah, exiling him and warning that he will be executed if he is seen in Meereen again. Womp womp.
Phew. That should be everyone! With more characters striking out on their own and crossing into new territories next season, things are bound to get interesting…
Sarah Tolf is the production assistant at Tor.com. She had way too much fun putting the post together, poring over all the Game of Thrones gifs and memes she could find.