The premiere of the final season of the biggest television drama is almost upon us. We sympathise if you do not recall the events of previous seasons that well.
The story of the show is intricate and there is a huge cast of characters. There are dozens of noble houses, all vying for the Iron Thrones. There are multiple continents, several religions, cultures, and so on. It can all get overwhelming.
The show does not explain the backstory and the world overmuch — which is good, but it can spoil your immersion into the story unless you have read the books or the official guides provided by HBO.
Also, there was no Game of Thrones last year. It has thus been two years since we last saw the show.
Fret not, however, as here we are providing a brief summary of everything that has happened in the show so far. Not that it is an alternative to actually watching all the previous seasons, but it will certainly help you recall key events and characters if you have seen every episode so far.
The story begins in the North, in Winterfell, the ancestral castle of the house of Stark. The continent is Westeros. Lord Eddard Stark has two daughters and four sons (one of them a bastard). He is close friends with King Robert of the house Baratheon, who rules from King’s Landing in the South. Robert and Eddard were foster brothers who took part in Robert’s Rebellion, a war they waged against the Targaryen house, which was the ruling house before Baratheon. The reason was Eddard’s sister was seemingly kidnapped and raped by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Eddard’s father and elder brother were also burned alive by the Mad King.
Now, Robert asks Eddard to be the Hand of the King. Eddard agrees, not just because of Robert, but also because he receives a letter from his wife Catelyn’s sister Lysa, who lived in King’s Landing with her husband and the previous Hand Jon Arryn, but has escaped to Eyrie, her home. The letter says the Lannisters are conspiring against the throne. Eddard soon comes into conflict with the Lannisters in King’s Landing, particularly when he is told that the Lannisters are behind the crippling of his youngest son, Bran Stark, who discovered Jaime and Cersei Lannister’s incestuous relationship.
Eddard is arrested and beheaded even as his daughters watch. King Robert had died earlier while hunting boars. Eddard’s son Robb assumes the command of the Northern armies and declares war against the Lannisters
Jon, Eddard’s bastard, goes to the Wall to man it as a brother of the Night’s Watch. Initially hating it, he comes to like the place especially when he realises the importance of his job. Beyond the Wall, which serves as a border of the realm, live the wildlings and the Whitewalkers, who are superhumanly strong beings who are almost impossible to kill. They are led by the Night King, who is the primary antagonist of the show.
Across the Narrow Sea, in Essos, is where the remnants of the Targaryens live — Viserys and his younger sister Daenerys. Danereys is given to Khal Drogo of the Dothraki, who she comes to love despite his savage ways. Viserys is killed by the Khal due to his invading the Dothraki sacred place. Dany is only relieved since he used to bully her. Drogo gets injured in a battle and dies. Dany walks into his funeral pyre and emerges unscathed, and with three dragons, who hatched from the three eggs that were given to her.
The youngest Lannister sibling, the dwarf Tyrion, is sent to King’s Landing to serve as the Hand by his father, Lord Tywin. His sister is suspicious and contemptuous of him and the two engaged in a struggle of power. One of the Baratheons, Robert’s brother Stannis has adopted the religion of the Lord of Light. He is in a sexual relationship with the priestess Melisandre, who burns people for fun. However, she also has great powers and gets Stannis’ brother and rival Renly killed.
Robb Stark marches South with the Northern armies and defeats and captures Jaime Lannister. Theon Greyjoy, who was hostage among the Starks, is sent to Iron Islands by Robb to forge an alliance with his father Lord Balon Greyjoy. Instead his father sends him to capture Winterfell, which he does. Sansa, one of the Stark girls, is still at King’s Landing, and Catelyn, who thinks the younger, fiercer Arya is also still there, sends Brienne of Tarth with Jaime to exchange him for her daughters. Arya, vengeful, is on the run and finally escapes to Braavos in Essos to train as an assassin.
Stannis attacks King’s Landing, but Tyrion defeats him with a little help from wildfire and the arrival of the Lannister army led by Tywin himself. Daenerys, across the Narrow Sea, is either burning cities to the ground or liberating the slaves from their masters.
Joffrey Baratheon, who was betrothed to Sansa, is now marrying Margaery Tyrell of the powerful and rich house from the south. In the North, Jon is the agent of the Night’s Watch and is living among the wildlings, who he learns are escaping the White Walkers. He is also falling in love with Ygritte, a belligerent wildling girl.
Robb was betrothed to Roslin Frey of the house Frey of the Twins. He falls in love with Talisa. a healer instead. For this, he is murdered along with a pregnant Talisa, Catelyn and a whole lot of Starks and other Northeners. The event is called the Red Wedding. Arya is with Sandor Clegane or the Hound, one of the people she had sworn to kill.
Meanwhile, Bran Stark, now crippled, has discovered that he has magical powers that allow him to control bodies of animals and even humans and make them do his bidding. He goes on a journey to meet the Three-Eyed Raven, somebody who can help him realise his true powers. With him are Hodor, Meera and Jojen Reed.
Joffrey dies in another lethal Game of Thrones wedding — this time between him and Margaery. The perpetrators are Littlefinger and Lady Olenna Tyrell (this we learn later), but Tyrion and Sansa are blamed. Sansa escapes with Littlefinger who takes her to Eyrie. In his hearing, Tyrion demands a trial by combat. Dornish Prince Oberyn Martell volunteers but is brutally killed by the Mountain. Tyrion is sentenced to death.
Jaime and Brienne arrive in King’s Landing to learn that there are no Stark sisters here. Jaime gifts Brienne a Valyrian sword and tasks her to find them and keep them safe.
Tyrion is freed by Jaime and he walks into his father’s chambers. He finds the love of his life, Shae, in his father’s bed. He strangles her and kills his father as well in the privy. He crosses the Narrow Sea to join Danerys Targaryen.
Jon escapes the wildlings to warn the Night’s Watch of the upcoming attack. The wildlings are defeated thanks to Stannis’ sudden arrival and Ygritte shot with arrows. She dies in Jon’s arms. Jon is elected the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
Stannis is defeated and killed and his army routed by Ramsay. This was mostly due to the desertion of a large part of his army after he burned his own daughter at the stake on the insistence of the Red Woman. Stannis loses his men’s respect after this.
Littlefinger arranges for Sansa and Ramsay Bolton’s marriage. Ramsay rapes Sansa on their wedding night.
In King’s Landing, Cersei is conspiring against Margaery. She falls into her own trap, however, and is forced to walk naked across the streets of King’s Landing.
Jon fights the Night King’s army and kills a White Walker in an one-on-one. He brings the surviving wildlings to the Wall and some of his brothers assassinate him in resentment.
Daenerys is still on Essos, burning or liberating cities.
Jon is raised from the dead by the Red Woman. Jon is reunited with Sansa, who has run away from Ramsay. She asks him to reclaim Winterfell from Ramsay. Jon fights against Ramsay and defeats him with the help of wildlings and the arrival of the knights of Vale. Sansa feeds Ramsay to his own hounds as revenge. Jon is declared the King in the North. We also learn he is not a bastard. He is instead the lovechild of Eddard’s sister Lyanna Targaryen
Cersei destroys all her enemies — Margaery, Loras, High Sparrow, the Faith Militant — in King’s Landing in one fell sweep. Her remaining child, Tommen, commits suicide.
Bran Stark is now the Three-Eyed Raven after the Night King invades their hideout with the Children of the Forest and kills the previous Three-Eyed Raven. Hodor and Summer sacrifice themselves so Bran could escape.
Arya destroys the Freys using the skill she learned in Braavos’ House of Black and White.
Daenerys finally sails to Westeros.
Daenerys and Jon meet. Jon is at Dragonstone, where Dany has established herself and her retinue, to ask for her assistance in the upcoming war against the Night King. Dany accepts and they decide to include Cersei as well. Jon and a few others go beyond the Wall to bring the undead wight, the victims of the White Walkers, to present it to Cersei as proof. Just when Jon and others are about to be overwhelmed, Dany arrives with her dragons and rescues them. But she loses one of her three dragons in the process. It is Night King’s mount now as his undead version.
Dany and Jon lead a party to King’s Landing. Cersei feigns belief but is secretly conspiring to defeat them. Jaime finally leaves her in disgust. Jon and Dany are in love and they consummate their relationship. It turns out not only is Jon a Targaryen, he is also the heir to the Iron Throne.
The Night King destroys the Wall. He enters Westeros with Army of the Dead behind him to turn the entire continent into a wasteland.
Game of Thrones season 8 premiers on April 15 in India on Star World and Hotstar.