Where Everything Stands Heading Into 'Game of Thrones' Season 8
It's been nearly two years since we last saw Jon, Daenerys, Cersei, and those giant dragons on our television sets (unless you, like so many of us, have been madly ripping through all seven previous seasons of Game of Thrones for the past few months to prepare yourselves for the series finale). Given this show's propensity to pick up more or less where it left off, there's a lot you'll want to remember about Season 7 before diving into the first episode of Season 8. From zombie dragons to people zooming around Westeros at unprecedented speeds, it's hard to recall where everyone is -- and how many of them are still among the living.
Let's go through everyone and everything preparing for the war against the dead that will close out perhaps HBO's most popular series ever:
At the Wall
Who's there: Tormund Giantsbane, Beric Dondarrion, Dolorous Edd Tollett, the Night King a huge and possibly unstoppable army of undead White Walkers and wights
What they're doing: With the series' first full trailer, we thankfully learned that Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion had somehow survived zombie Viserion's ice fire blast that took out a huge portion of the Wall at the Watch's stronghold Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. The last time we saw Baratheon bastard Gendry was also at Eastwatch, after he sprinted back to tell Daenerys to go save Jon Snow's expedition with her dragons. Thanks to the trailer, we know he made it to Winterfell.
Night's Watch fan favorite Dolorous Edd Tollett thankfully let an exhausted Bran Stark and Meera Reed through the gate at Castle Black in the middle of Season 7... and then was never heard from again. Fingers crossed the Night King doesn't take a detour, and Edd and the rest of the Night's Watch make it to a safer location away from the Wall.
Meanwhile, the undead (or whatever he is) Night King and his new zombified reptile are currently leading their army south from Eastwatch, having finally bested the Wall for good. Who knows how far they've made it, but now that they're through to the land of the living, things aren't looking good for anyone with a heartbeat.
Who's there: Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Gendry, Lyanna Mormont, Samwell Tarly, Gilly, little Sam, Ghost
What they're doing: All the remaining Stark siblings are back where they belong: Sansa is ruling the North in Jon Snow's absence; Arya, with Petyr Baelish's Valyrian steel dagger, is acting as her personal executioner when not sparring with knights far more seasoned than her; and Bran Stark is having visions and being weird, as is the Three-Eyed Raven's destiny. Bran was the one who finally revealed to Samwell Tarly that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and Sam told him that Rhaegar and Lyanna actually got legitimately married, making Jon (whose name is actually Aegon Targaryen) the rightful heir to Westeros. Three-Eyed Ravens don't have time to peruse maesters' diaries, I guess. Sam also brought Gilly and little Sam with him from the maesters' citadel at Oldtown.
We know from the trailer that Daenerys' crew makes it to Winterfell, where nearly every major character will either meet for the first time, or have an auspicious reunion. Sansa hasn't seen her "husband" Tyrion since she fled the Purple Wedding. Sansa also hasn't seen Sandor "The Hound" Clegane since he left King's Landing, and Arya hasn't seen him since she left him for dead in a field, and will probably be nonplussed by his moral glow-up. They've also never met Daenerys, but the jury's out on whether or not they'll be duly impressed. Arya will probably be into the dragons, but her reunion with Jon, her favorite brother (he gave her Needle), will be the reunion to see.
Gendry also made it to Winterfell, where he'll be working in the forges, fashioning dragonglass weapons for the soldiers to use against the wights. Fiery little Lyanna Mormont is still holding court with all the other Northern lords loyal to the Stark family, who elected Jon their King in the North. Telling them that Jon finally bent the knee and pledged fealty to Daenerys is gonna be real awkward. Ghost, one of two remaining direwolves in the North (that we know of) was also left there when Jon left to meet Daenerys.
Sam and Bran are going to have to tell Jon about his parentage eventually, though once they find out that he and Daenerys are dating, that will make the task extra awkward. Lyanna's going to be a tough nut to crack, as will the other Northern lords once they have a gander at the full Unsullied army.
On a boat to White Harbor, en route to Winterfell
Who's there: Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, Jorah Mormont, Missandei, Unsullied commander Grey Worm, Davos Seaworth, Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne, Varys, and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane
What they're doing: We last saw Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen getting it on in the middle of a ship sailing to White Harbor while Sam and Bran simultaneously revealed to each other that Daenerys is actually Jon's aunt, and Jon may have a better claim on the Iron Throne than she does -- being a dude and all that. It'll never not feel weird to call Jon "Aegon." Jon also still has Longclaw, the Mormont family's Valyrian steel sword that the Lord Commander gave him many seasons ago, having fitted the pommel with a carved white wolf in place of a bear.
We also last saw Tyrion Lannister looking on knowingly as Jon knock-knocked on Daenerys' door. He probably isn't aware of the whole Aegon thing, but he does know that two headstrong rulers like Jon and Dany having sex with each other is going to make things very, very complicated.
Jorah Mormont, his skin baby soft from his anti-greyscale treatment in Oldtown (thanks Sam!), accompanied Daenerys' motley retinue to King's Landing and returned with them after Cersei "agreed" to send her troops to the North. He's also in possession of the Tarly family's Valyrian steel sword Heartsbane (thanks Sam!) when he finally gets to Winterfell.
We can also assume that Daenerys' remaining retinue, consisting of translator-in-chief Missandei, Unsullied commander Grey Worm, Davos Seaworth, Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne, and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane are on the boat with her, though we don't see them in the Season 7 finale. Brienne, if you recall, wields the sword Oathkeeper, which was a gift to her from Jaime Lannister, having been reforged from Ned Stark's huge Valyrian steel sword Ice. The Hound is also carrying around Gendry's big honkin' warhammer, which he took a liking to during the Night's Watch's wight hunt beyond the wall. All of these people, along with dragons Rhaegal and Drogon, are gonna end up in Winterfell when Daenerys' army comes to fight the Night King.
In King's Landing
Who's there: Cersei Lannister, Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, Maester Qyburn, Bronn
What they're doing: Cersei Lannister plans to sit out the war in the North on the Iron Throne, safe and sound behind the locked doors of the Red Keep. She'll soon have a newborn to protect, if all her unsubtle hints to Jaime and Tyrion are to be believed. With her are the alive-ish Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane and Cersei's pet Maester Victor Frankenst-- sorry, Qyburn, who is probably extra hopeful the Night King comes out on top if only to pick his brain about the best way to resurrect decomposing corpses.
Last time we saw Bronn, he was joking around with Tyrion about selling him to Cersei for a pot of gold, ha-ha. The two old buddies have a laugh, and Bronn goes off with Podrick for a drink during that big meeting in the Dragonpit. Presumably he's still waiting around King's Landing for that castle Jaime promised him that he's never gonna get.
Somewhere in the North
Who's there: Meera Reed, Howland Reed, Nymeria
What they're doing: When Meera Reed took her leave of Bran and left Winterfell, she presumably journeyed to House Reed's family home Greywater Watch, the castle that mysteriously hops around the marshes of the North. Her father, Howland Reed -- who, if you remember, was with Ned Stark in Bran's flashback when he agreed to take in Jon "Aegon Targaryen" Snow as his own -- has been there this whole time, keeping his many, many secrets.
We also know, thanks to one of the coolest scenes of last season, that Arya's direwolf Nymeria has made a home for herself in the North, becoming the matriarch of a large pack of regular wolves patrolling the forests. She's too good for all these petty human conflicts.
In the Vale of Arryn
Who's there: Robin Arryn
What they're doing: We last saw Robin Arryn in Season 6, presiding over the Vale of Arryn after his mother's death. He's still doing fine, holing himself up in the Eyrie and sending the occasional cavalry to Sansa Stark's aid.
Not for nothing, House Corbray, one of the oldest Westerosi houses, also finds their home in the Vale, and are in possession of the Valyrian steel sword Lady Forlorn. It's unlikely they're gonna be major players in the final season, but as long as we're keeping track of who's got some of that sweet, sweet White Walker-killing steel, we might as well keep the Corbrays in mind.
Holding down the Inn at the Crossroads
Who's there: Hot Pie
What they're doing: Hot Pie! We love Hot Pie. And his delicious hot pies. After saying goodbye to "Arry" in Season 3, Hot Pie agreed to stay on as the resident pastry chef of the one inn along the Kingsroad where everything happens. He's spent his time honing his baking skills and making loaves of bread shaped like direwolves.
On a different boat
Who's there: Theon Greyjoy, his ragtag band of Ironborn supporters
What they're doing: Theon Greyjoy, having failed to catch Daenerys at a good time (insert ships passing in the night joke here), has taken a group of Ironborn sailors on a rescue mission to save his sister Yara, whom he abandoned when Euron Greyjoy annihilated Daenerys' fleet. Theon gained his sailors' respect by beating their former leader senseless after the man tried to kick him between the legs in a fight. That move doesn't work if Theon's got nothing down there to kick at. So that's nice… for him… I suppose.
Who's there: The Unsullied
What they're doing: Last season, we learned that the caves underneath Dragonstone housed a giant cache of obsidian "dragonglass," the second-best White Walker deterrent behind Valyrian steel. Daenerys' Unsullied were mining these rocks and making weapons from them to use in the war in the North before they followed her down to King's Landing -- and presumably back up North.
Who's there: Jaqen H'ghar, Tycho Nestoris
What they're doing: Jaqen, or whatever he's calling himself these days is still living in the House of Black and White, having seen Arya off to accept her destiny back in Westeros. Tycho Nestoris, the smarmy banker who loves lending money to Cersei, is also sitting pretty on the funds in the Iron Bank, expecting Cersei to pay back her debts any day now.
Who's there: Euron Greyjoy, Yara Greyjoy, Daario Naharis
What they're doing: Sellsword-with-a-heart-of-gold Daario Naharis is presumably (hopefully!) doing just fine ruling over the people of Meereen after Daenerys informed him that no, he would not be shtupping her all the way to the Iron Throne, but thanks for everything!
Ironborn king Euron Greyjoy, who pledged his loyalty to Cersei in exchange for some hot sex that he's desperately hoping will actually happen, is busy finding and buying the services of the legendary Golden Company: a mercenary army that Cersei plans to use to fight whoever comes out on top in the Northern conflict. Yara, whom he took prisoner after he burned Daenerys' fleet, is presumably also with him.
Who's there: Jaime Lannister, Melisandre
What they're doing: We all cheered when Jaime Lannister left Cersei in disgust after she told him that she'd never agreed to ally herself with Daenerys at all, and that her main goal is to gather the Golden Company to protect her against whatever threat comes down from the North -- living or dead. In photos released a few months ago and in the trailer for the new season, we see Jaime wearing Northern armor and fighting during the long battle sequence that we know takes place entirely at night. Now that he -- along with his Valyrian steel sword Widow's Wail (the other sword forged from Ice, originally given to Joffrey) -- has abandoned his increasingly unhinged sister and joined the forces fighting for the living, it appears Jaime Lannister's hero arc is finally complete.
Melisandre, still shaken from Stannis' defeat and her surprise success at bringing Jon Snow back from the dead, and well aware that Jon hates her for burning Stannis' daughter Shireen alive, decided last season to journey to Volantis, where she has some mysterious business to attend to. When she tells Varys, he presses her to stay there for good, but she tells him she'll be back: "I will return, dear Spider. One last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you." Valar morghulis.