Everything You Missed Over the Last 6 Seasons of 'Game of Thrones'
In April of 2011, HBO introduced the world to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss's Game of Thrones, an adaptation of author George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series. Sixty episodes later, the show has blown past the narrative of the novels towards a conclusion that will rain the armies of the Night King down upon the peoples of Westeros.
From the officially released previews for Season 7, it looks like events will be occurring in quick succession now that the bulk of the storytelling has been meticulously built. Because that meticulousness can sometimes get lost in the grand spectacle of gigantic battles between men and wights and the occasional flight of dragons, teasing the world-building details and foreshadowing hints, we rewatched the entire series to shed light on the intricate tapestry that has been Game of Thrones.
Previously on Season 1...
Dany on fire
Daenerys' first scene makes the argument that she cannot be burnt. Ever. This is different from the Song of Ice and Fire books where George R.R. Martin has said "it was never the case that all Targaryens are immune to all fire at all times." When Emilia Clarke is introduced in the series, she steps into a bath that is "too hot" according to one of her slave handmaidens. On first watch, the scene plays like the girl is so depressed about her predicament that she doesn't care that she's burning herself, but knowing what we know now about Dany and fire, it looks like a Targaryen on television just won't burn.
The White Walkers are artists
And they've been making dead wildling art since the early days of the show. They repeat this pattern in Season 3 at the Fist of the First Men, but in their appearances since, they haven't stopped to make any spiral art. The reason for the spiral isn't revealed until Bran's Greensight takes hold in Season 6. This first symbol remains a mystery.
So much Direwolf foreshadowing
In the pilot episode, Ned Stark and his sons run across a direwolf that has died defending her litter of pups from a stag, who also died. There is a direwolf pup for each of the Stark children -- even an albino one for the bastard son, Jon Snow. A few episodes later, a Baratheon (whose house sigil is a stag) beheads Ned Stark (sigil, direwolf), orphaning all the Stark children like the direwolf puppies. So far, all the direwolves are dead besides Ghost (Jon Snow's) and Nymeria (Arya), while most of their Stark counterparts are still alive (except Rickon, who didn't run in a serpentine manner).
Remember the boar
While we're on animal foreshadowing, it took until the fifth season for Lancel Lannister to speak out loud that he had conspired with Cersei to have Robert killed by a boar on his hunting trip, but in the episode Robert Baratheon dies, we are introduced to Tywin Lannister -- head of House Lannister -- skinning a stag from the belly out.
A destructive backstory
Several times throughout the series, the Starks and Lannisters mention the Mad King burning people alive. As the series progressed, we've learned more about wildfire and it's destructive properties, but the show's dialogue doesn't shoot straight about Aerys II Targaryen actually burning Ned Stark's father, Rickard, to death or that he had his brother Brandon strangled. On the show, a lot of references are made of Robert Baratheon starting "Robert's Rebellion" to save Lyanna Stark, Ned's sister, but little direct dialogue references that the Starks joined the Baratheons in the Rebellion after the former Warden of the North was burned alive.
The twisted story of Lyanna Stark
The story of Lyanna is first introduced in the pilot when King Robert visits the crypts of Winterfell, and is later repeated in the Season 5 with Sansa and Littlefinger in that same crypt, just before we learn what we've known is a lie. In the first season, the important thing that we know is that Rhaegar Targaryen, son of the Mad King, stole Lyanna (Ned's sister and Robert's betrothed), and raped her to death, kicking off the rebellion that put Robert on the throne. Naturally, that story is almost entirely false, but there's only a few hints in the first season that this isn't what happened. Most of interest is a scene between Ned and Robert on the Kingsroad back to King's Landing where Robert tries to get Ned to discuss Jon Snow's mother and Ned has to avoid talking about his sister.
Overheard in King's Landing
While Arya is chasing cats in King's Landing, she overhears a conversation between Varys, the small council's Master of Whispers, and Illyrio Mopatis, the character we see introduce Daenerys Targaryen to Khal Drogo for the first time. In that speech, Varys basically lays out what's going to happen over the second, third, and fourth seasons by explaining how the War of the Five Kings is going to go. In Season 5, when Varys and Tyrion make it to Essos, the first safe space they stay at is Illyrio Mopatis' villa. The Targaryen restoration movement was there, and very plainly spoken, since the beginning.
A brief introduction to a huge threat
At the tail end of Season 1, Sam Tarly witnesses the beginning of a White Walker attack on the Fist of the First Men -- an ancient location north of The Wall. The season break skips over the battle, with Season 3 picking up in the aftermath. The event is actually huge in the story. This one battle convinces the majority of the Night's Watch that wights and White Walkers are actually real.
Previously on Season 2...
Pre-Red Wedding mishegoss
Robb Stark is surprisingly good at war. Because the show didn't have it's latter-season budget for battles, we only get the aftermath of clashes or quick asides during scenes where characters discuss strategy, but Robb Stark doesn't seem to lose a single battle in the War of the Five Kings, and he looms large in Season 2 as the boy with a just cause that is off to rescue his sisters and avenge his father. It isn't until he lets Talisa get to him that you feel things start to turn against him, but Tywin Lannister is concerned about Robb's victories up until the very end, which is why he cheats in war with the Red Wedding assassinations.
How Brienne enters the picture
Brienne of Tarth becomes a member of Renly Baratheon's Kingsguard because she beats Sir Loras Tyrell in single combat. Later on, we get the whole backstory about why Brienne has been pining for Renly since her youth, but for her initial introduction, she's laying out the Immortal Iron Fist.
Catelyn Stark's bad decisions
She makes a few in Season 2. First Catelyn lets Jaime Lannister go because she trusts Littlefinger, who meets with her secretly in the camp of Renly Baratheon. Her visit is so perfectly timed that she's in the tent when Stannis' Shadow Baby kills Renly -- not a good look. Plus, she trusts Littlefinger, and does enough to think that letting Robb's prize prisoner free will actually bring her daughters back. Letting Jamie go most notably is the rift between Robb and his mother that makes the son undervalue all Catelyn's warnings about the Freys.
Melisandre's magical moment
The Red Woman's necklace pulses when she's doing magic things, like giving birth to a smoke baby. While it's all happening, the glow is easy to miss, but knowing what we know now about Melisandre and her necklace of eternal beauty, it's cool that the magic item tracks to her introductory season.
The mystery masked woman gave cryptic information to Jorah Mormont in Qarth during Season 2. The first time Jorah talks to Quaithe she says "I am no-one, but she is the Mother of Dragons. She needs true protectors, now more than ever." We've heard people describe themselves as "no-one" when they are assassins of the House of Black and White, but we don't see Quaithe kill anyone. The second time she talks to Jorah, she's painting on a sailor and says "This man must sail past Old Valyria. All who travel too close to the Doom must have protection." Later, Jorah and Tyrion sail through Old Valyria without protection and Jorah gets touched by a stone man. Finally, her mask in the series is designed to be visually similar to Melisandre's necklace because "they are both from Asahi" (according to a costume featurette from Season 2). Quaithe has never come up again, but the character seemed to know what was happening and what was going to happen by some magical means.
Did Littlefinger recognize Arya at Harrenhal?
There's a tense scene where Arya, serving as Cup Bearer for Tywin Lannister, spies on Littlefinger proposing an alliance with the Tyrells. We're supposed to focus on the tension of Arya trying to avoid Littlefinger's gaze, but book-readers heard Baelish lay out the surprise ending to the Battle of the Blackwater. The last shot of the scene has Littlefinger changing the subject just as Arya is able to get out of the room. The question is: Did Littlefinger recognize Arya? At this point, not many in Westeros know that Arya made it out of the Red Keep after her father was murdered. Granted, Littlefinger doesn't tell Tywin before Arya can escape Harrenhal, but given what we know about Littlefinger's self-serving lies, we don't know for sure if he spotted the youngest Stark. He does smile in Season 3 when Sansa asks if Arya is alive, but a Littlefinger smile could mean anything.
A guarded reveal
Sir Loras wears Renly Baratheon's armor at the battle of the Blackwater. It's lost in the excitement of an entire episode devoted to a battle, and at the time we're wondering if Cersei is going to poison her son Tommen, so it's easy to miss that when Tywin and Loras enter the throne room to tell Cersei they've won, the "big reveal" of Loras under the armor doesn't play as big as it's supposed to. It's really messed up for Stannis, who is forced to retreat when what appears to be the ghost of his murdered brother turns up with Lannister soldiers. Instead, the show doesn't spend a lot of time making a big deal about the armor switch... until Season 5 when the Faith Militant bring it up at Loras' inquest.
Previously on Season 3...
Gendry exits the show after ingratiating us to the Arya-on-the-run plotline for a whole season. Although it looks like Gendry is going to join Beric Dondarrion and his Brotherhood without Banners, he is kidnapped by Melisandre, told about his true parentage, then he gets a leech attached to his penis. Ser Davos sneaks Gendry out of a Dragonstone holding cell, defying Stannis who planned to burn him alive for his Kingsblood. Gendry rows off into the sea and... we haven't seen him again since.
Speaking of the Brotherhood Without Banners...
We finally get to meet some of them in Season 3, including Beric and Thoros of Myr (a red priest). Viewers might have forgotten that we'd seen Dondarrion before, but can be forgiven because he was recast between appearances. Previously we saw Ned Stark, acting as Hand of the King in Season 1, send him to arrest or kill The Mountain who was raiding villages in the Riverlands. When we rejoin him, he's been brought back to life several times. When he tells his story, it turns out his first death was dealt by The Mountain.
Still waiting for Cleganebowl
Edmure Tully, Catelyn's younger brother, screws everything up in Season 3, commanding his soldiers too close to Lannister troops to execute Robb Stark's plan to draw The Mountain into friendly country and surround him. The screw up allows The Mountain live and show up for next season's showdown with Oberyn Martell. And then... ?
Sam kills a stray White Walker
If you look at a map of the lands Beyond The Wall (above), you'll realize that the Fist of the First Men -- where the Army of the Dead fought the Night's Watch between Seasons 2 and 3, and Hardhome, where we next see the full army of the dead, aren't closer to The Wall than Craster's Keep. The White Walker Sam kills is somewhere between Craster's Keep and The Wall, which is the furthest south we've seen one.
Yes, people survive the Red Wedding
Two Tullys survive the encounter, in fact: Ser Edmure, who was the groom at said wedding and is taken prisoner (after fathering a child on his wedding night), and "The Blackfish" Ser Brynden Tully who had gone to pee outside and avoided the slaughter. The characters don't resurface again until Season 6.
Two stories actually converge
Sam and Bran meet on one of the abandoned castles on The Wall! Sam knows about a way in that's hidden from reading histories of the Night's Watch, but on the other end of that tunnel is Bran's traveling crew. Bran asks Sam to take him North of the Wall and Sam refuses, but Sam does make it a point to tell Jon that Bran is alive once he, Gilly, and Little Sam get back to Castle Black.
Previously on Season 4...
So much fire
Melisandre burns some of Stannis' subjects alive, including Ser Axell Florent, Stannis' brother-in-law. We see The Red Woman burn idols of The Seven gods of Westeros, and we memorably see her burn things with Kingsblood, but this is the only time Stannis burns his own non-believer subjects simply as a tribute to The Lord of Light.
A major campaign we never see
During the little person re-enactment of the War of the Five Kings at Joffery's wedding, we're reminded Balon Greyjoy was one of the Five Kings. The War of the Five Kings takes up most of the Westeros plotting in Seasons 2 and 4, but the way the show unfolds, you wouldn't know who the last surviving king. Theon commands all Greyjoy-related attention when he decides to take Winterfell and seals his Reek-fate with a major karma no-no, relegating all other family drama to the background. When Theon's dad, Balon Greyjoy, refuses to bend the knee to Robb as the new "King of the North," he begins to raid the coast near the Iron Islands and declares himself a king. Thanks to some re-shuffling to plots from the novels, Balon Greyjoy is actually the last surviving "King" of the second season's war, not meeting his end until Season 6.
Four seasons later, an answer
While Littlefinger and Sansa are at the Eyrie, Lysa Arryn can't help but keep confess to being part of the event that started the whole series: The death of her husband and former Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn. Lysa talks about how Littlefinger helped her poison him and how Littlefinger told her to send a letter to Catelyn Stark blaming the Lannisters. Both of those things lead to Ned Stark coming to King's Landing, and Robert needing a new Hand brought Cersei and Jamie to Winterfell in the pilot, where Bran got pushed out a window. Littlefinger has been behind the whole first four seasons of the show, including Joffery's poisoning.
The showdown between The Mountain and Oberyn Martell dominates memories of the same episode ("The Mountain and The Viper") that it's easy to miss Littlefinger telling Robyn Arryn: "People die at their dinner tables. They die in their beds. They die squatting over their chamber pots. Everybody dies sooner or later." All the examples are linked to Tyrion: Joffery died at his dinner table and Tyrion is (falsely) accused of his murder; two episodes later, Tyrion kills Shea in a bed and Tywin on a chamber pot.
Valyrian Easter eggs
In "Breaker of Chains," Daario Naharis defeats a champion of Master-run Meereen by killing his horse first. Before his death, the champion is spewing insults in ancient Valyrian. According to the official Game of Thrones Valyrian translator, the champion is actually repeating insults from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, like "You don't frighten us, English pig-dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person."
Previously on Season 5...
Before they were No One, they were Someone
The Faceless Men founded the Free City of Braavos, according to Jaqen H'ghar. Originally slaves, they came to worship death as the Many-Faced God, derived from the many religions they brought with them when captured and enslaved. Predictably, the first Faceless Man was "no one," but after amassing great numbers who wished to be crazy assassins who can switch faces to better serve death, they moved on and founded the city with the large Titan standing over it's bay.
Only serious fans caught this one
Almost indistinguishable on screen, two of the faces in the Hall of Faces are series co-creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss.
The Game of Thrones-themed Roland Emmerich disaster movie we never got
We learn from Tyrion Lannister that people say "The Doom" still reigns in Valeriya. The ruins where Jorah and Tyrion fight off the Stone Men on a boat used to be the most technologically advanced and thriving city in the world 400 years before the events in the show. Then, suddenly, it was overtaken by "The Doom" which is memorialized in a poem Jorah and Tyrion recite:
"They held each other close and turned their backs upon the end.
The hills that split asunder and the black that ate the skies;
The flames that shot so high and hot that even dragons burned;
Would never be the final sights that fell upon their eyes.
A fly upon a wall, the waves the sea wind whipped and churned —
The city of a thousand years, and all that men had learned;
The Doom consumed it all alike, and neither of them turned"
The Doom of Valyria was when a string of fourteen volcanoes near the city all violently erupted at once and earthquakes shook the peninsula. The result was the instant destruction of the city, its people, its dragons, and its knowledge. No one knows if the Doom was a natural disaster or if was provoked by evil sorcery from within the city. OK, George R.R. Martin probably knows.
Book reference alert
In the Song of Ice and Fire novels, Arya becomes "Cat of the Canals" as part of her Faceless Men training. On the show, the character's name was changed to Lana, the girl who sold oysters to the gambling man (Thin Man) in the harbor. As a nod to the books, when Arya is describing Lana's backstory he voiceover includes "every morning, I make my way down to the canals," and on the first mention, a cat crosses Lana's path in the frame.
A Lannister kinda always pays her debts
Previously, Stannis went to the Iron Bank in Braavos and Davos to argue that they should back Stannis with ships and men in his claim to the Iron Throne. In Season 5, Cersei sends Mace Tyrell to Braavos to negotiate a better deal on the Iron Bank's demand that the crown pay 10% of their debt (which they can not afford). Neither of these debts have been resolved on the show... yet.
Previously on Season 6...
The look says it all
In Season 3, Melisandre is amazed that Thoros of Myr is capable of bringing people back from the dead. Thoros tells her that he didn't even know it was going to work the first time he did it. In Season 6, Melisandre doesn't directly reference this encounter, but when Ser Davos asks if she knows any magic that can bring back Lord Commander Jon Snow, her sideward glance is recalling that moment with the Brotherhood without Banners.
Bran's superpowers, revealed
Flashes that Bran sees as he's becoming the Three-Eyed Raven finally give us the truth of Jon Snow's parentage, but two things stood out: one is the shadow of a dragon over King's Landing (a vision Daenerys shared in the House of the Undying) and the other was of a massive green Wildfyre explosion. Both events had happened in the history of Westeros, but it wasn't until the Wildfyre explosion shot turned up in the season finale when Cersei blows up the sept that it's confirmed that Bran can see into the future as well as the past.
There's been a lot speculation about what the pendant on the collarbone of the Night King's armor is, and in "Hold the Door" we see the creation of the Night King by the Children of the Forest. They make him by shoving a sliver of dragonglass into his heart, a sliver that looks strangely like the elongated diamond on the armor.
Why won't Game of Thrones let us laugh?
Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm have a pleasant drinking conversation about jokes right before the masters of the slave cities start attacking Meereen from the sea. Once it looks like everyone was getting into the swing of things, Tyrion launches into a joke: "I once walked into a brothel with a honeycomb and a jackass, the madam says -- " then he is cut off. Tyrion previously tried to tell this joke to Lysa Arryn at the Vale in Season 1, by saying "I once brought a honeycomb and a jackass into a brothel -- " but he was cut off then too. What's the punchline?
The member of the Brotherhood Without Banners who gets beheaded with an axe once The Hound catches up with him is actually YouTube impressionist Steve Love who got the production's attention by doing impressions of Game of Thrones characters.
That feeling when you left the show, but then you come back for one episode and die
Osha, Rickon, and Shaggydog part ways with Bran Stark and the Reed siblings to go to House Umber back in Season 3, which at the time seemed like their exit from the series since the novels never name Rickon as "Ramsey's Prisoner." The show does, and when Ramsey starts to speak about partnering with House Umber to hold the North, we should have known things were going to go bad for the trio.
House of cards
The Battle of the Bastards is between the Boltons and the Starks, but since the Starks pulled a win out, the Northern Houses rally around a new King of the North. Much is made about House Glover re-joining the Stark alliance after turning down Sansa and Jon before the battle. Lyanna Mormont gives a great speech about how House Mormont answered the call. The other two houses to answer Jon's call were House Mazin and House Hornwood, and -- of course -- the Knights of the Vale right at the end.
So that's what that was
When Sam enters the Great Library at the Citadel in Oldtown, hanging high above the floor are a series of metal gyroscopic rings. The camera does a quick move around them, but eagle-eyed viewers will recognize them as the rotating rings depicting the sigils of the families of Westeros that we see rotating in the opening credits.
Now on Season 7...
Follow our Game of Thrones hub "Beyond the Wall" for all the latest spoiler-filled recaps, news, and features.