Winter has come! Game of Thrones season 7 premieres tonight, and we’re here to catch you up and run you down on everything you need to know.
It’s been more than a year since television’s hottest dragon-and-incest drama graced our screens, so tonight’s premiere has a lot riding on its lofty wings.
Titled “Dragonstone,” the episode will open Game of Thrones‘ final act as the disparate players combine to combat the evil that looms all around them.
And, most likely, have a bit of sex as well. Hey, it’s not TV, it’s HBO.
But first, a recap!
Previously on Game of Thrones!
Cersei grieved over Myrcella and picked up her pace toward insanity while playing tug-of-war with the High Sparrow over Tommen. After Jaime’s attempt to free Margaery and Loras from the Faith failed, Cersei and the Tyrells were to be tried by the Faith in the Great Sept of Baelor.
But Cersei was like, “Nah,” and blew up the sept with wildfire, removing Margaery, Loras, Mace, Lancel, the High Sparrow, Maester Pycelle, Kevan, and what seems like half the court from the bloody game. Tommen killed himself in response.
Jaime returned from restoring Riverrun to Lannister control to find Cersei crowned queen, a crater in the city, and his son dead; he didn’t look thrilled about this.
Up in the North, Jon Snow was revived by Melisandre, but not before giving all of us a real scare. Jon executed the conspirators against him and was reunited with Sansa, who had escaped Ramsay Bolton’s vile clutches. The sibs got down to the business of getting Winterfell back, which proved quite an ordeal.
After a truly terrific battle during which Ramsay murdered Rickon mere steps from safety, Team Stark was finally victorious. Sansa fed Ramsay to his dogs and rejected Littlefinger’s creeper proposal. Jon banished Melisandre on Davos’s behalf, and was then crowned King of the North, which is a thing that always ends well. Like Jaime, Sansa did not look thrilled about this.
Even farther north, Bran started exploring his family history through the Weirdwood trees. Unfortunately, he also attracted the attention of the Night King, triggering a wight attack that killed the Three-Eyed Raven, Leaf, Summer, and poor, poor Hodor.
Escaping with Meera, Bran found bis long-missing uncle Benjen and completed his family history project. The tree returned him to the battle at the Tower of Joy, in which a young Ned Stark slew Aerys remaining Kingsguard to reach his sister Lyanna’s side. Lyanna, dying from childbirth, revealed that her son is Jon Snow — and (though this is slightly extra-textual) his dad was none other than Rhaegar Targryen.
Meanwhile, Sam and Gilly arrived in Oldtown, and Sandor Clegane was revealed to be alive and cynical about it. After a lot of people died for reasons, he joined Beric Dondarrion’s men and headed north. In Dorne, the Sand Snakes murdered Doran and Tristane, and then allied with Olenna Tyrell for vengeance, baby.
Arya spent the entire season getting back with the Faceless Men, only to lose their favor, turn on them, and return to Westeros. Her first stop was the Twins, where she killed Walder Frey with a look of rapture in her eyes.
Finally, Daenerys was dragged to the Dosh Khaleen and managed to murder all of the Dothraki khals. Returning to Meereen as the leader of the remaining Dothraki, she finds Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm clinging to a precarious peace just in time to save the day.
But don’t worry — we’re not sticking around in Essos anymore. Dany allies with Yara and Theon Greyjoy against their evil uncle Euron, and broke up with Daario so she could return to Westeros. After sending Jorah off to cure his greyscale (…uh-huh…) Dany finally, finally set sail for Westeros!
So what now?
The two major trailers for Game of Thrones season 7 reveal that confluence is likely to be a major theme of the season. The Starks near a reunion; Dany and Tyrion both return to their ancestral homes. Cersei sits at the vortex of her enemies’ attention; war is so close, every character can taste it.
Of “Dragonstone,” (written by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss) HBO seems to suggest we keep our eyes on the big names: “Jon organizes the defense of the North,” the network says, while “Cersei tries to even the odds,” and “Daenerys comes home.”
The stills from Game of Thrones season 7 premiere are Stark-free, though we do get good looks at Cersei and Daenerys.
Meanwhile, stills released for the season at large are broader in range. As per usual on Game of Thrones, no one looks very happy. But from our view, this is — what do the kids say these days? — exciting AF.
From Sansa to Sandor, Arya to Beric, Tormund to Varys, it’s clearer than ever that the work of Game of Thrones season 7 will take the story into a realm more intimate, powerful, and dangerous than ever. Though just seven episodes, we have no doubt that this new winter — arriving, though it does, smack in the middle of summer — will deliver shocks and thrills equal to the series’ most epic moments.
Don’t believe us? Ask Maisie Williams.
i'd start preparing yourselves now
— Maisie Williams (@Maisie_Williams) August 22, 2016
scratch that, nothing will prepare you for this
— Maisie Williams (@Maisie_Williams) August 22, 2016
The Game of Thrones season 7 premiere, “Dragonstone,” airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. on HBO.