Here’s everything you need to know before watching ‘Game of Thrones’ season 8

"Game of Thrones" season eight started Sunday evening, and fans are already buzzing about what the season will hold. Photo courtesy of HBO

Molly Atchison | Editor-in-Chief

It’s been 595 days. And now, the next five Sundays will be filled with anticipation and tears as arguably the greatest show ever draws to a close. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has had a seven-season run, and the eighth and final season premiered Sunday night. The first episode offered a “state of the union,” updating viewers on what has happened since the finale of season seven. To recap an entire show in a few short paragraphs is practically impossible. But for the sake of clarity, let’s go through the four major houses of the show and recap where the lead characters have been.


House Stark: The Starks have been split up throughout the seven seasons. The youngest (living) sibling, Bran, ventured beyond the wall after an accident left him crippled and with paranormal visions. He found a mystic sage named “The 3-eyed Raven” and learned powers, which left him with knowledge of the past, present and future.

His sister Arya left the capital, King’s Landing, shortly after the death of her father and traveled across the sea to study sword fighting and other skills with a cult called the Faceless Men. Arya, now a master of killing people and stealth, returns to her homeland of Westeros to reunite with her sister, Sansa.

Sansa was held captive in King’s Landing after her father died, betrothed to merciless Geoffrey Lannister before his early demise, married to his dwarfish uncle Tyrion Lannister and whisked away to her home of Winterfell with the help of Littlefinger, allegiant only to himself. Littlefinger sold Sansa to Ramsey, the cruel son of minor lord Roose Bolton, who tortured and violated her before her half brother Jon defeated him in battle. Sansa is now the lady of Winterfell and, with Arya’s help, killed Littlefinger, gaining the respect and allegiance of the other houses in the North.

Jon Snow, the bastard son of the late Ned Stark (or so we thought), has had an unfortunate adventure at the Wall, which separates the free lands from Westeros. Jon fought the undead at the Wall several times, became Lord Commander of the Wall, died, was brought back to life and now has ventured out to spread the word of imminent demise at the hand of the mysterious Night King beyond the wall and his undead army. Jon, who dislikes the idea of being king, has not only garnered the allegiance of almost every major house and the free people beyond the wall, but also happens to be the son of Ned Stark’s sister, who fell in love with the son of the former Targaryen ruler, the Mad King. This makes Jon Snow the one true heir to the Iron Throne.

House Lannister: The Iron Throne is being guarded by widowed queen Cersei Lannister, one of three surviving members of the Lannister house. Over the seasons, Cersei’s husband and children have all died, leaving her and her brother Jaime, also her lover and the father to her children, in the Red Keep alone. Jaime had some adventures of his own, losing a hand in the process, and has since left his sister in an act of defiance to join the army in the North, preparing to fight the undead invasion.

Their exiled brother, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, is closest to the action, having escaped the wrath of Cersei and befriending the conqueror and “breaker of chains” Daenerys Targaryen in her quest to take the Iron Throne. Tyrion drinks his way through the Seven Kingdoms and offers sage advice to the queen wannabe and her cohort of invaders.

House Targaryen: The only surviving member of the Targaryen house (with the exception of Jon Snow), Daenerys Targaryen was once exiled in Essos across the sea. She was traded by her brother for an army, fell in love with her now-deceased “heathen” husband and killed her brother to claim the “Dragon House” and claim to the throne.

Since then she hatched the first dragons seen in centuries, and with their help has pillaged, plundered and conquered her way into controlling most of Essos. Now Dany has her sights set on the Iron Throne. Jon Snow — the leader who doesn’t want to be leading anyone — approached her in season seven asking for help in defeating the night king. After a bit of persuasion (and a passionate night between the sheets) Dany and Jon have joined forces in an attempt to defeat the dreaded army of the undead.

Night King and The Army of the Undead: While not technically a house, the Night King has effectively turned the entire plot on its head. Mysterious and sneaky, the Night King has been raising the dead in the north and killing more to grow his army and march south beyond the Wall, presumably hoping to take the Iron Throne. In the last two episodes of season seven, the Night King killed one of Daenerys’ three dragon babies and turned it undead and effectively destroyed the Wall. Now he has led his army south and, as of the first episode, has begun wreaking havoc in the Seven Kingdoms.

Season eight began by bringing everyone together, showing us who’s alive and setting the stage. Jaime made it to Winterfell. Sansa, Jon, Arya and Bran have reunited, and those on the Wall have followed the Night King’s army in its trail of destruction. Also, Jon discovered his heritage, and now has to decide whether to stake his claim over the Iron Throne. What will happen next? Now that we’re all caught up, we can officially say that winter has come, and nobody is safe.