Game of Thrones is a show densely packed with characters and narrative arcs. In the four seasons of its run on HBO, the circumstances of each of the characters and the dynamics of the setting have changed drastically and repeatedly.
We are here to offer a refresher on everything that happened in the last season and to get you good an’ prepared for whatever might happen in Game of Thrones Season 5. Since there are so many narrative threads, the easiest way to break them up is by character geographic location.
It goes without saying, but WHEN YOU SPOIL THE GAME OF THRONES YOU DIE!
The Lannisters of Kings Landing
Things were looking pretty cozy for the Lannisters going into Season 4. Robb Stark and his host had unwittingly walked right into Tywin Lannister and Walder Frey’s trap, getting himself, his pregnant wife Talisa and his mother Catelyn murdered. The infamous Red Wedding had effectively ended the would-be King in the North’s bid for independence, leaving Joffrey Baratheon’s hold on the Iron Throne practically unchallenged.
But then, just as the Lannister’s alliance with the Tyrells was about to be solidified by Joffrey and Margaery’s marriage, Joffrey succumbed to poison, by the Hand of Margaery’s own Grandmother Olenna Tyrell. Suddenly, the Lannisters had to groom Joffrey’s younger brother Tommen for kingship. Queen Regent Cersei Lannister immediately accused Tyrion of murdering her son and Tywin Lannister did not hesitate to make Tyrion a scapegoat.
Tyrion, seeing this vindictive culmination of being the Lannister black-sheep his whole life, demanded a trial by combat. Who stepped up to champion him? The Legendary Red Viper of Dorne, Oberyn Martell, brooding with vengeance against the Lannisters for ordering the murder of his sister Elia and her children. Though he bests Cersei’s champion, Gregor Clegane, his cockiness and personal vendetta let him get caught off guard and crushed by Clegane’s Mountainous strength.
Tyrion is resigned to death, but is unexpectedly freed by his brother, Jaime. Perhaps out of a need for some sense of closure, he sneaks back into the Tower of the Hand of the King, his father’s quarters, only to find Shae, the Lorathi consort whom he loved. Shae immediately tries to kill Tyrion but Tyrion manages to strangle her, then kill his father in the privy before escaping Kings Landing by boat with the help of Varys.
Sansa Stark, effectively a political prisoner of the Lannisters throughout the show, finally escaped their clutches through the scheming of Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. He facilitated Joffrey’s murder and took Sansa away with him to the Vale of Arryn. Ever the social climber, Littlefinger did not hesitate to give Sansa’s Aunt Lysa Arryn a long fall and a hard landing when she got too paranoid and upset to control. Through his tutelage, Sansa is finally developing a political and manipulative sense of her own.
Arya Stark was rescued from the Red Wedding by the Hound, Sandor Clegane, still intent on using her as a bargaining chip. They set out to Vale of Arryn but only arrive after Lysa is murdered. Though a grudging respect is built up between them, Arya still leaves the Hound for dead after a brutal duel with Brienne of Tarth, who agreed to find and safeguard the surviving Stark children at the behest of Jaime Lannister. Arya makes her way to an Eastern port and with the coin from Jaqen H’ghar, books passage to Braavos.
Brandon Stark parted ways with his younger brother Rickon and his companion Osha to continue pursuing the source of his visions of a Three-Eyed Raven north of The Wall. Though temped to reunite with his half-brother Jon Snow and saddened by the death of his fellow seer Jojen Reed, Bran encounters the green seeing human who appeared to him in the form of the Three-Eyed Raven. He told Brandon that he would never walk again, but that he would fly.
Brandon was also pursued all the way north of the Wall by a mercenary loyal to House Bolton, Locke. He was offed by Hodor, but the Boltons (Roose and Ramsay) are still due to take up their seats at Winterfell as the new Wardens of the North. If the Boltons can kill or control any of the Stark’s surviving children, their hold on the North will go unchallenged. Having Theon Greyjoy hostage is also proving a powerful card against the restless Greyjoys of the Iron Islands.
Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch
After escaping his undercover stint with the Wildlings and returning to his brothers, Jon Snow did all he could to rally the men of the Night’s Watch against Mance Rayder and his colossal host of wildlings. When his mammoth and giant augmented army finally assaulted The Wall, the Night’s Watch barely managed to hold them off. Jon made a desperate bid to assassinate Mance disguised as diplomacy but both he and Mance were both spared by the unexpected arrival of Stannis Baratheon.
Stannis has come to the Wall to rebuild his power base as he fights to claim the Iron Throne for himself. And to fight the oncoming resurgence of the White Walkers, mostly at the urging of Melisandre, priestess to R’hllor, the Lord of Light.
Daenerys Targaryen in Essos
With her three dragons growing larger and more powerful every day and her pedigree for liberating those in servitude, Daenerys and her retinue set their sights on Meereen, the oldest and most powerful city in Slaver’s Bay. Taking the city proves easy enough. Reshaping the city into one Daenerys is proud of and can rightfully call herself Queen of, is not so easy. Her subjects are unruly and the old slave powers in and out of the city are fighting her rule tooth and nail.
Things get even harder for Daenerys when she discovers that Jorah Mormont, her oldest friend and advisor, was once selling her secrets to Robert Baratheon, who murdered and supplanted Daenerys’s father and tried to assassinate her. She dismisses him in shame. To make things even worse, her dragons have taken to feasting on her own subjects. Drogon flies away but Daenerys is forced to imprison Viserion and Rhaegal.
And that’s where we left our beloved characters of Game of Thrones in Season 4. Looks like there will be plenty more excitement and danger they will have to confront. Game of Thrones Season 5 begins on Sunday April 12th on HBO!