It has been a long wait for the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. With HBO deciding to delay airing the final season of the hit epic fantasy series, fans have had a massive gap between Seasons 7 and 8. And, in a show that is so layered in nuance, many fans have been attempting to binge-watch all the seasons of Game of Thrones in order to remember what is going on ahead of the Season 8 premiere. But, what if you don’t have time for that?
Here’s everything to need to know ahead of the final season’s premiere episode tonight.
Season 1 of Game of Thrones opened with Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) as the one ruler of Westeros. However, a part of his backstory that was not shown in the first season is actually more important.
Robert led what characters refer to as Robert’s Rebellion. This occurred after Rhaegar Targaryen, who was heir to the iron throne and married to Elia Martell from Dorne, rejected his own wife and abducted Robert’s beau, Lyanna Stark. The official story was that Lyanna was raped and murdered and that Rhaegar was the enemy along with all Targaryens, as far as Robert was concerned. As a result of this, Rhaegar’s father, King Aerys II Targaryen (also known as the Mad King) was murdered by Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Robert Baratheon took the iron throne. All Targaryens, except for Maester Aemon who resided at Castle Black and was blind, were murdered.
However, two babies, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd), were smuggled away. Daenerys later rose to a position of power and became known as the mother of dragons after hatching three dragons from eggs that were long considered unviable. Her rise to power threatened Robert, but he was to die before he could really do anything about it.
Whatever else you want to say about #GameOfThrones‘ Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion, you’ve gotta give them this: As Nikolaj Coster-Waldau points out, the children of Tywin Lannister have staying power. https://t.co/XH1kV0rMkq pic.twitter.com/fz150d51bf— TVLine.com (@TVLine) April 9, 2019
Mostly considered to be antagonists in Game of Thrones, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) was married to Robert Baratheon in Season 1. They had three children, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), and Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free). However, unbeknownst to Robert, these children were actually born due to incest between Cersei and her brother, Jaime. Which meant that his position on the iron throne was much more precarious than Robert thought since he had two brothers. Something his eldest brother, Stannis (Stephen Dillane), was working on. In an attempt to take the throne from Robert, Stannis had their other brother, Renly (Gethin Anthony), murdered using magic and a figure made out of black smoke.
As Rolling Stone points out, the threat of Cersei and Jaime’s secret relationship being revealed continues throughout Game of Thrones, and Cersei does everything to keep her own children as the heirs to the iron throne. This includes killing as many of Robert’s bastard children as possible. However, one, Gendry (Joe Dempsie), manages to escape and survives right up to the Season 7 finale of Game of Thrones.
While most of the Lannisters are unliked, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), also known as The Imp, manages to endear the audience thanks to not only being hated by his own sister but because he genuinely seems to care about the realm.
After much plotting, Cersei Lannister very nearly gets Tyrion killed before he is smuggled out of King’s Landing by Varys (Conleth Hill), a former adviser to the crown, and heads over to join with Daenerys against his own family.
Originally billed as the main character in Game of Thrones, Ned Stark (Sean Bean) became Hand of the King to his friend, Robert Baratheon. However, thanks to his knowledge of Cersei and Jaime’s secret relationship and the fact that he was too morally just to keep quiet about it, Cersei conspired against him and Ned eventually lost his head.
This led to his eldest daughter, Sansa (Sophie Turner), being stuck in the capital with the Lannisters as she had been promised to Cersei’s eldest son, Joffrey. Over time, Joffrey puts Sansa aside in favor of Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), and Sansa’s existence is miserable for a large proportion of Game of Thrones. She manages to get implicated in Joffrey’s murder as well as being married off to one of the most brutal families in the realm. However, eventually, she comes into her own and becomes head of her house once more.
Arya (Maisie Williams) manages to escape King’s Landing shortly after her father is beheaded and has many side adventures on her return to Winterfell, the Stark family home. Along the way, she murders Walder Frey (David Bradley) as retribution for his slaughter of Arya’s mother and older brother, Robb (Richard Madden). The known tomboy is happiest when crossing names off her list of people she wants to kill.
Moving forward into Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Arya will finally have the chance to participate in her very first battle, according to E! Online.
Bran Stark, who is the head of the Stark family, broke his back in Season 1 of Game of Thrones. Since then, he has developed his skills for warging (being able to take over the body of someone else) and seeing into the past (called greensighting). As pointed out by Vanity Fair, Bran has taken over the role of Three-Eyed Raven and will now be considered a threat to the Night King.
Rickon (Art Parkinson), the youngest son of Ned and Catelyn, died at the hand of Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) at the Battle of the Bastards when he ran in a straight line rather than zigging and zagging in his mad dash away from Ramsay toward Jon Snow. He also killed his father, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), prior to his departure.
Considered to be the bastard son of Ned Stark and an unnamed woman, Jon was raised at Winterfell but hated by Ned’s wife, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley). However, over the course of seven seasons, Jon’s importance becomes apparent.
By Season 7, it is learned that Jon Snow is actually the secret child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. It is also revealed that Rhaegar did not take Lyanna by force all those years ago. In addition, she died in childbirth. Ned was present when this happened and he promised to keep Jon’s secret. Knowing how much his friend, Robert Baratheon, hated Targaryens probably helped to silence him.
Prince Rhaegar was the son of the Mad King Aerys, and older brother to Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen. Lyanna was the only daughter of Rickard Stark, and sister to Ned, Benjen, and Brandon.— ƈʀʏքȶօ ɖǟʋɛ™ ????Ӽʀք????(Official) (@CryptoDave13) April 8, 2019
Since Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, that means Daenerys is his aunt. pic.twitter.com/J2dysp6q3N
So, Jon grew up not knowing how important he really was as one of the true heirs to the iron throne thanks to Ned Stark’s death. The situation is complicated further when he meets with Daenerys Targaryen in an effort to join forces against the Night King (Vladimír Furdík). Their attraction is immediate and by the conclusion of Season 7 of Game of Thrones, the couple has consummated their relationship.
Which means there will be likely conflict when Jon finds out that Daenerys is actually his aunt in Season 8 of Game of Thrones.
In addition to this important knowledge, Jon Snow is actually murdered by his fellow crows in Season 5 of Game of Thrones. Fans had to wait until Season 6 to find out that Melisandre (Carice van Houten), a witch, had the power to bring him back to life.
The Night King
Jon Snow initially left Winterfell and joined Castle Black. This community is a gathering of men, known as crows, that protect a huge wall built many years before. This wall is considered to be a defense for Westeros from the threats beyond.
The Night King is one of these threats.
Made by a magical race called the Children of the Forest many years before the events unfolding currently in Game of Thrones, he has become a massive threat — yet very few in Westeros know of his existence. He also has a huge army made up of white walkers and wights. Wights are, essentially, resurrected dead that the Night King can control. White walkers are very hard to kill. Already, viewers know that dragon glass and Valaryan steel are known ways to kill white walkers.
Season 7 of Game of Thrones concluded with the Night King taking possession of one of Daenerys’ dead dragons, resurrecting it and using its blue flame to knock down the wall. Season 8 will likely deal then with the Night King’s assault on Westeros.
What To Expect In Season 8
The fight for the iron throne and — ultimately — Westeros, will likely be sorted out in Season 8 of Game of Thrones.
Cersei Lannister, who is now childless, is sitting on the iron throne but many houses are opposed to her, particularly in the North, where the Starks reside. Even her own brother, Jaime, appears to be falling out of favor with her, and some fans suspect he will join the Northerners against the Night King rather than stay with his sister, who will do anything within her power to maintain her position — even ignoring the dangerous Night King.
Daenerys and Jon are fan favorites to win the fight for the iron throne. However, a potential myth about the Prince Who Was Promised may see one having to kill the other in order to be victorious against the Night King.
OMG! We are getting so many pictures of the Queen and King of Westeros, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. HBO wants to leave no doubt about who this season will belong to. Bend the knee! pic.twitter.com/iBksXylnGs— *:❄️????Oadara⚫️⚪️ *: (@TheRealOadara) April 2, 2019
In addition to Daenerys and Jon’s struggle to defeat the Night King, their familial relationship will also likely be exposed. While Daenerys may be enamored to Jon, the fact that he is also a potential heir to the iron throne could be seen as a threat to Daenerys. Of course, with the Targaryen’s predisposition to bedding relatives in order to keep the bloodline pure, it might actually work in Jon’s favor.
In addition to the constant threats, Game of Thrones director David Nutter has also promised some comic relief in the final season, according to Entertainment Weekly.
“There are a lot of firsts in these episodes,” Nutter revealed.
“There’s the funniest sequence I’ve ever shot on this show, the most emotional and compelling scene I’ve ever shot, and there’s one scene where there’s so many [major characters] together it feels like you’re watching a superhero movie.”
Ultimately, though, Season 8 of Game of Thrones will be filled with the constant threat of the Night King in the North and Cersei Lannister to the South. This means that fans will have to tune in to the final season to find out who will win and lose regarding the game of thrones. However, many of the actors in the series have hinted that the end may be satisfying but not to everyone’s liking.
The final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones will begin on April 14.