Unless you’ve been meditating in some cave for the past 10 years, then you’ve probably heard of Game of Thrones. While George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series has been around since 1996, it wasn’t until it was adapted into a drama by HBO in 2011 that it exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. Betrayal, (lots of) sex, and character deaths galore have made it one of the most compelling shows on television—and it’s all about to come to and end. While GRRM has only published five of the planned seven books, the show has trudged on to its eighth and final season, which may just be the most anticipated event in television history. Still, it’s been more than a year and a half since the previous episode aired, so here’s a brief recap of the major events of season seven.
Using her abilities and knowledge as a Faceless Man (an assassin that can assume the appearance of other people), Arya Stark crossed another name off her list. She disguised herself as Walder Frey, and poisons the members of the House Frey as revenge for the Red Wedding, where her mother and brother were slain. In Winterfell, Sansa Stark and Jon Snow begin their preparations for the coming battle with the White Walkers and their undead legions. Jon decided that their best move is to ally with Daenerys Targaryen who had just crossed the ocean and made landing in Dragonstone, along with her army of Unsullied and Dothraki. The alliance would be beneficial, not just for their numbers, but for Daenerys’ dragons’ fiery breath, and the dragonglass beneath Dragonstone; two of the few things in the world that could actually kill the undead wights.
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Meanwhile, over in King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister rules unopposed but grows wary from the news that Daenerys had arrived in Westeros. Jamie, her brother and lover, points out that they had very few allies. Euron Greyjoy in the meantime offers his loyalty and his fleet, the mightiest in all of Westeros, to Cersei in exchange for her hand in marriage.
Bran Stark and Arya arrive in Winterfell soon after, and despite the sisters enjoying their reunion, Bran displays knowledge of things he could not know, due to his seer-like powers as the new Three Eyed Raven. Jon and Daenerys form a tenuous alliance, but the Khaleesi wishes for him to submit to her which he cannot do. Tyrion Lannister, now an advisor to Daenerys, decides that with the impending threat of the undead, they’ll need all the help they can get, and so he meets with Jamie in secret in the hopes that he can convince Cersei of the threat and declare a truce until the threat is dealt with.
Upon returning to Dragonstone, Tyrion suggests that they capture a wight to prove to Cersei that the undead threat is real. Jon, along with men from the Brotherhood without Banners and some wildlings venture north beyond the wall and manage to successfully capture an animated wight, but they are soon pursued by the undead legion. The survivors manage to stay alive by making a stand on an island in the middle of the frozen lake, with thin ice separating them from the horde. As the temperature drops, however, the ice becomes solid once more and the wights attack. Just as the group are about to be overwhelmed, Daenerys and her three dragons arrive, managing to drive back the undead with their flames. Just as they are about to escape though, the Night King manages to kill one of her dragons and soon after raises it back into his service.
Back in Winterfell, tensions appear to have risen between Arya and Sansa due to Littlefinger's manipulations. At a gathering of all the Lords of the North, it appears that Sansa will denounce Arya, but instead accuses Littlefinger of treason. Finding no supporters, Littlefinger is executed by Arya. Jon and Daenerys meet with Cersei and her entourage and show her the wight. Shaken, Cersei declares that she will agree to the truce and send her army north to join the fight against the undead. Once her guests have left though, she reveals that she lied and will simply lie in wait and destroy the presumably weakened victor of the great war. Disgusted, Jamie rides for Winterfell on his own despite Cersei's orders.
Daenerys and Jon travel by ship to Winterfell and soon both give in to their feelings for each other. Unbeknownst to them, it has been discovered that Jon is in fact not the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, but that of Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys’ brother, and Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister. At that moment, the Night King launches an assault on the Wall, riding the undead dragon. Using the dragon’s fiery breath, they collapse a large section of the wall and finally allowing the undead hordes to invade the Seven Kingdoms.
Despite some pacing issues, season 7 was still highly lauded, and fans can’t wait to find out what happens next. Will Tyrion do some dragon riding of his own? Can Jon and Daenerys somehow make it work? Will Jamie be able to redeem his tarnished reputation, or will Cersei end up outwitting them all? What happens next is anyone’s guess. We’re sure to see more epic moments, and get our hearts broken more than a few times along the way. The one thing for sure is that this is going to be a finale that fans will be discussing for decades to come.
Photographs from HBO