Can you believe we’re just a couple of weeks from the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones? It’s so close you can almost taste the dragon breath. Here at io9, we’re catching y’all up on everything major that happened so far. Take a journey with us into season six.
Season five ended on a cliffhanger—one that still hasn’t been resolved in George R.R. Martin’s books. Holy shit: Jon Snow is dead! Or is he? Plus, there’s the whole question of how Cersei will handle the High Sparrow and his religious cult having taken over King’s Landing. The answer is: blowing shit up.
If you’re short on time, we’ve got your 90-second recap in the video above. A more detailed synopsis is available below.
- Jon Snow is dead. Davos, Edd Tollett, and Ghost struggle to protect his body from the mutineers of the Night’s Watch, as Melisandre promises she can resurrect him. Eventually, Edd is able to get the help of the wildlings, who secure Castle Black and give Melisandre the space she needs to perform the ritual. It seems to fail, as Melisandre has lost her faith in the Lord of Light, but eventually, Jon is brought back from the dead.
- Jon oversees the hanging of the men who betrayed him, including Alliser and Olly, but rejects the request to take his place as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (instead unofficially giving the position to Edd). Jon has died, and therefore his watch has ended.
- Right at that moment, Sansa Stark arrives at Castle Black, accompanied by Brienne of Tarth and Podrick. It’s the first time Jon and Sansa have seen each other since the beginning of the series. She wants Jon’s help in taking back Winterfell, but Jon initially refuses, saying he’s done with fighting.
- But that doesn’t mean Ramsay Bolton is. He wants to attack Castle Black for “protecting” Sansa from him, but Roose Bolton says it would cause a revolt. Ramsay also learns that Roose’s new wife has given birth to a son. Fearing his title, Ramsay murders Roose and feeds his wife and son to the hounds, taking over as the new Lord of Winterfell. He immediately sends a letter to Jon, threatening to kill their brother Rickon if Sansa isn’t returned to him, and Jon agrees with Sansa to take the fight to Ramsay.
- Jon and Sansa have trouble securing allies for the fight to retake Winterfell. Some of the Northern houses have sworn allegiance to House Bolton, and others are too afraid, weakened, or angry at House Stark to fight back. Sansa sends Brienne to Riverrun to get the Brynden Tully aka the Blackfish, and Jon gets the support of the smaller House Mormont on Bear Island, headed by the young Lyanna Mormont (better known as the greatest character in the series). Petyr Baelish also promises the Knights of the Vale for Sansa, but she refuses, still angry with him over arranging her marriage to Ramsay Bolton.
- It’s time for the Battle of the Bastards. After watching Rickon get murdered in front of his eyes, Jon recklessly takes on Ramsay’s forces with a limited army that mostly consists of wildlings, and Ramsay eventually gains the advantage. Right as Jon and his forces are about to be defeated, the Knights of the Vale arrive and turn the tide—Sansa had contacted Littlefinger and accepted his aid. Jon wins the battle, and Sansa finally gets her revenge by feeding Ramsay to his own hounds.
- Davos discovers that Melisandre helped murder Shireen Baratheon and demands her execution. Jon Snow chooses to exile her from the North, and she agrees to leave.
- Jon Snow is named King in the North, and a white raven arrives in Winterfell, signaling that winter is here.
Beyond The Wall
- Bran Stark is training with the Three-Eyed Raven and has visions of his family’s past, including seeing Hodor/Wylis as a child and watching his father as a young man fighting soldiers outside the Tower of Joy. Eventually, Bran is shown how the Children of the Forest created the original White Walker during their fight against the First Men.
- During an unsanctioned solo vision quest, Bran comes across the Night King—removing the seal of protection around the grove. The Three-Eyed Raven is killed, but Bran and Meera manage to escape, thanks to Bran controlling Hodor through his past self to keep him blocking the way against the wights. It’s there we learn that Bran was responsible for Hodor’s condition, as the young man was forced to experience his own death, forever repeating the command to “hold the door.”
- Bran and Meera are eventually saved from the wights by the long-missing Benjen Stark. He was rescued by the Children of the Forest, who stopped the magic that would’ve turned him into a wight. He’s now between life and death, making him a super cool badass.
- Benjen brings the pair to a weirwood tree near the Wall, allowing Bran to finally “see” the truth we’ve been waiting for the entire series. Bran has a vision of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen’s secret marriage, proving that their love was real and he hadn’t kidnapped her (meaning Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie). Bran sees Ned finding his sister, Lyanna, bloodied and dying in the Tower of Joy. She has just given birth to a son, and asks Ned to protect him at all costs. His name: Aegon Targaryen. But you know him better as Jon Snow.
- Arya, still blind, resorts to begging in the streets. She’s continually beaten up by the Waif and tested by Jaqen H’ghar, who promises to restore her sight if she simply says her name—but she refuses, calling herself “no one.” She eventually gets back in the good graces of the Many-Faced God, earning her place among the Faceless Men and getting her sight back.
- She’s tasked with murdering Lady Crane, an actress playing Cersei Lannister in a bawdy play that mocks the Lannister family and royal court. Only Arya can’t bring herself to do it, and saves Lady Crane’s life. The Waif witnesses this, tells Jaqen, and they decide Arya must die.
- Arya plans her escape to Westeros, but the Waif arrives and stabs Arya repeatedly in the gut, leaving her to die (even though she’d promised Jaqen she’d make the death painless). She’s saved by Lady Crane, who treats her wounds—only to be murdered by the Waif, finishing the job that Arya had failed to do. Arya tricks the Waif into following her into a trap, leading her with a trail of blood to a darkened area where she’s prepared to fight the Waif to the death. She succeeds, and brings the Waif’s face back to the House of Black and White. Jaqen says she’s passed her final test and can become a Faceless Man, but Arya chooses to go home instead.
- The High Sparrow and his religious order continue their rule over King’s Landing, with the allegiance of King Tommen and Queen Margaery after Margaery confesses her “sins” and embraces a life of piety to keep her position of power. But her heart and loyalty still lie with House Tyrell.
- Cersei is largely confined to the Red Keep, awaiting trial for accusations of incest. Jaime Lannister is stripped of his position in the Kingsguard, but told he can continue to serve King Tommen and the Lannisters outside of King’s Landing. Cersei agrees to send him to Riverrun, believing that her trial will be by combat and she’ll have her undead warrior the Mountain available for that. But lo and behold, King Tommen bans the practice and Cersei is left without options, until Qyburn tells her about a rumor his own spies had told him.
- On the day of Cersei’s trial, she is nowhere to be found. As she looks on from the Red Keep, drinking her wine and smiling, Qyburn’s young spies murder Grand Maester Pycelle and detonate a large stash of wildfire that’s been hidden underneath the Great Sept of Baelor. The High Sparrow, Queen Margaery, and countless others are killed—with King Tommen looking on, helpless to stop it. He ends his own life.
- Cersei is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, but she has lost her third child. According to the witch’s prophecy, this signals her doom.
Elsewhere in Westeros
- Samwell Tarly is heading to the Citadel to train as a maester, accompanied by Gilly and her young son, Little Sam. They make a pitstop at Horn Hill, with Sam hoping that Gilly and Little Sam can stay with his family during his studies. But it doesn’t go well. Eventually, Samwell and Gilly leave in the dead of night, but not before Sam steals Heartsbane, the family’s Valyrian steel sword. They eventually arrive at the Citadel, and Samwell is allowed inside—where he sees all the books.
- The Hound actually survived his injuries and has been living in a peaceful village. A group of rogue Brotherhood Without Banners members show up and try to extort the people living there, but find they don’t have anything of value. Sandor warns the villagers that they’ll come back, and sure enough, they do—they massacre the town while the Hound was out chopping wood. Sandor enacts revenge by killing the folks who’d attacked the village, only to eventually learn the Brotherhood has been dealing out its own justice for the act. The Hound is invited to join the Brotherhood in the fight against the coming winter.
- Walder Frey learns that Brynden has retaken Riverrun, and Frey requests help from King’s Landing to resolve the situation (using his prisoner Edmure Tully as leverage). Jaime arrives with an army of soldiers—followed by Brienne and Podrick, who are seeking Brynden’s help in the battle for Winterfell.
- Brienne agrees to try and help negotiate a surrender, but it doesn’t work. Eventually, Jaime manages to convince Edmure to enter the castle and order the soldiers inside to surrender to the Frey and Lannister forces. Brynden hides out long enough to help Brienne and Podrick escape in a boat, with Brienne and Jaime sharing a solemn goodbye, and Brynden ends up fighting to the death over his ancestral home.
- Walder celebrates his victory back at The Twins, with Jaime reminding him that the Lannisters aren’t happy he lost control of Riverrun. Jaime leaves, and Walder gloats as he’s served a meat pie by a young servant girl he does not recognize. After enjoying several bites, he recoils in horror upon realizing it’s filled with the bodies of his two sons. Arya removes her face mask and slits his throat, checking another name off her list.
- Daenerys has been kidnapped by the Dothraki, who are angry that she did not fulfill her obligations as a khaleesi and volunteer herself to Vaes Dothrak, where she would live out the rest of her life with the rest of the khal widows.
- Meanwhile, Tyrion is struggling to keep peace in Meereen. The Sons of the Harpy continue their attacks, including burning a fleet of ships. Tyrion discovers that the Wise Masters of Yunkai, the Good Masters of Astapor, and the Free City of Volantis have all been funding the Sons of the Harpy. Tyrion makes a deal with the masters, offering a seven-year grace period that would lead to the eventual abolishment of slavery. They agree but Missandei and Grey Worm are not fooled, saying it’s only a matter of time before they’re betrayed.
- In the meantime, Varys leaves to secure more allies, and Tyrion enlists the help of a Red Priestess to spread the gospel of Daenerys to the people—something the priestess immediately agrees to, as their religious order views Daenerys as the Prince That Was Promised. Tyrion also frees Dany’s dragons, after learning they’re refusing to eat, finding that he has the ability to calm them.
- Daenerys spends time with the khal widows, or dosh khaleen, as the Dothraki figure out what to do with her. Jorah Mormont and Daario show up to rescue her, but Daenerys can rescue her own damn self. She has a plan. She’s brought to the Khalar vezhven, a gathering of khals, and tells them that they’re all too weak to lead the Dothraki to glory. She lights the hut on fire, burning everyone inside. As she emerges from the flames, once again naked and unharmed, the Dothraki bow to her as their khaleesi.
- Surprising no one, the masters do betray Tyrion, showing up with a fleet of ships to ransack the city. He and Grey Worm manage to hold off the forces, just in time for Daenerys to show up on the back of Drogon. She offers the masters an opportunity to surrender—when they refuse, she leads her three dragons to burn their ships and destroy their armies. They are all defeated, and Daenerys has finally secured victory in Essos. But she orders Daario to stay in Meereen, much to his dismay, to protect her kingdom and the newly renamed Bay of Dragons.
- Varys succeeds in securing allies in Olenna Tyrell, who’s grieving the loss of her children, and the Sand Snakes, after they staged a coup and took over Dorne. Daenerys also gets the support of Yara and Theon Greyjoy after they were forced to flee the Iron Islands when their uncle, Euron Greyjoy, killed their father and secured enough support to win the Salt Throne. The season ends with Daenerys leading their ships and armies toward Westeros, finally ready to stake her claim to the Seven Kingdoms.
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