Last season on Game Of Thrones, Cersei had her revenge, Dany set sail for Westeros, and Jon Snow and Darth Sansa took out Ramsay Bolton. Also: Bran got Hodor killed and figured out Jon Snow's true parentage, Arya broke up with the Faceless Men and traveled back to Westeros, the Tyrells allied with Dorne to support Dany, and Lyanna Mormont was the biggest badass in the Known World. GOT is all about how people jockey for power, so click through for our pre-season seven Game of Thrones Power Rankings. The new season debuts on July 16th.
But before we get into anything... WARNING: There will be spoilers for the first six seasons, and some minor, vague spoilers for season seven. Seeing as how almost no one has seen any of the new episodes yet, you don't have to worry about anything too spoilery.
First things first: it's been a full year since the season six finale "The Winds Of Winter," and you couldn't be blamed if you're having a hard time telling your Hot Pies from your Harrenhals. If you just want to know exactly where we left off with everyone at the end of season six, check out this video.
And here's the entire plot of all six seasons in five succinct minutes:
Or you can watch the only recap that matters: dogs reacting to GoT.
And here is the excellent season seven trailer:
1. The Wars To Come Are Here: For years, we've heard the ominous refrain about "the wars to come." And finally, with the penultimate seventh season upon us, we're about to get a whole lot of action in addition to the usual mix of place-setting, character-colliding, and Tyrion one-liners. Epic showdowns like "The Battle Of The Bastards" and "Hardhome" are apparently mere appetizers for the clashes we're about to witness: "When we thought about this penultimate season we thought it would ramp into the final season with less action and more conversations" co-creator David Benioff told EW. "And I think we told [executive producer Bernie Caulfield] that and then we started planning the actual season and started realizing all the conflicts that were about to occur."
Expect the pacing over these seven episodes to be noticeably quicker than before. "Things are moving faster because in the world of these characters the war that they’ve been waiting for is upon them, the conflicts that have been building the past six years are upon them and those facts give them a sense of urgency that makes them move faster," added Weiss. Killing off a substantial portion of King's Landing last season really has worked wonders for the new episodes: "If you kill enough people, if you kill a couple dozen characters, the people who are left just by default need to carry more dramatic weight," he added. "As the worlds start to converge characters who haven’t met each other before start to meet each other and there are more and more main characters together in each other’s storylines than there have ever been before."
A couple more tantalizing teasers: Kit Harrington told Time that season seven represented a "huge seismic shift" for Jon Snow. The magazine also witnessed Dany riding a giant mechanical rig that represents Drogon, mentioning that she was "getting blasted with water and fake snow and whatever else they decide to chuck at her through the fans," which seems like a really major hint at where she might be headed (Alan Taylor, who directed the season two finale before jumping to films, was the one directing her on the bull, which means this was for episode six). Sound designer Paula Fairfield told reporters at Con Of Thrones, "There’s not so much having to hold back and plan, because there’s a lot of dragon action this year, and it’s fabulous."
2. The End Is Near (And Super-Sized): Take a deep breath: there are only 13 episodes left of GoT (seven this season, just six next season). With so many huge battles and reunions to come, it feels unfair that there are so few individual installments left for us to mill about Westeros. But what we lack in quantity of episodes will be made up for in quantity of time. Almost every episode this season is super-sized, with only one episode reportedly not passing the 59 minute mark—that includes three episodes over an hour each (the final two are 71 and 81 minutes apiece).
And those final six may be even bigger: reports from fan convention Con of Thrones indicate that every season eight episode could be in the 80-plus-minute range, which means we'll be getting six mini-feature films.
3. The Continuing Confluences Of Characters & Storylines: Nothing gets us more excited than seeing characters we've been following for years start to crash into one another in unexpected combinations and with surprising outcomes. And the same is true for showrunners Benioff and Weiss: "To me what’s most exciting is being able to play interactions between various characters that for years we haven’t been able to play," Weiss recently told EW. "There’s a whole bunch of reunions and first time meetings that people have been waiting for for a long time and when you put it on paper you just want to do justice to the work that these guys have done building these characters over so many years. You want to give them as much as you can."
And based on last season's finale, those tantalizing new alliances & pairings are already paying off: House Dorne and House Tyrell and House Targaryen and House Greyjoy (well, the Theon/Yara part of it) and House Dothraki and House Unsullied and House Second Sons and House Tyrion Lannister are all riding into battle together! We can only pray we get plenty more scenes of Varys and the Queen of Thorns raising their eyebrows at one another. And just imagine the possibilities ahead: will (probable distant relatives) Jon and Dany finally meet and make-out, as I've predicted in my personal fan fiction for years? How is Arya going to handle reuniting with Tree Bran and Darth Sansa? Don't you think Ser Bronn and Tormund would be buds? What about The Hound and Davos? Jon and Beric Dondarrion sure have stuff to talk about! And Varys, Theon and Grey Worm could all compare notes on life as eunuchs.
4. Unanswered Questions That Are Unlikely To Be Addressed: Is Edmure Tully still locked up in the dungeons of the Riverlands (or did Arya free him)? Who is in charge of the Riverlands now anyway? Was Cersei actually next in line for the Iron Throne or was everyone just afraid of her? How did Varys get from Dorne back to Meereen so quickly? Is Jon Snow going to hook up with someone he's distantly related to? Is Jon's rightful last name Targaryen? Are there any consequences for Arya for leaving the Face-Shifting Assassin Monks Who Speak In The Third Person And Occasionally Blind And/Or Stab You In The Gut To Teach You Some Sort Of O Henry-esque Lesson? Is Ned Stark secretly still alive? Where should we address our Lyanna Mormont spin-off spec scripts to?
5. Season Seven Predictions That One Could Charitably Call "Educated Guesses" (Or Less Charitably Call "Wildly Dumb Speculation"):
- Cersei won't agree to any alliances or arrangements with Dany if she can't kill Tyrion. She WILL ask Dany to drink wine with her in the middle of the day though.
- The Kingslayer will be turned into the Queenslayer (though this depends on whether they are stretching Cersei's story out to season eight or ending it here in season seven).
- Jon & Sansa will reunite with Tree Bran. Jon will learn his true parentage at some point, and will probably sulk like it's season one all over again.
- Jon and someone TBD (Tyrion?) will ride dragons alongside Dany (although they may save this for the final season. But it WILL be the final shot in an episode).
- Jon will sleep with a distant relative (but WHICH one?!?).
- Arya will run into the full Brotherhood Without Banners and The Hound again, and will have to decide whether to kill him.
- The next time we see him, Jorah will have turned into The Thing.
- All of the Sand Snakes will die, because they are perfect cannon fodder for the war (Cersei vs Dany) before The Great War (Everyone vs White Walkers).
- Cleagane Bowl (The Hound vs Zombie Mountain) will finally happen.
- The Night's King and the White Walkers will destroy The Wall.
- Lady Stoneheart will not appear.
- Rickon will still be dead.
6. The Unsullied & The Bookwalkers: In addition to being one of the most popular shows on TV (averaging over 25 million viewers per episode in 2016), GoT has become the most viral show ever (as one example, Reddit had more subscribers for its main Game of Thrones section than for the NFL, Star Wars, or Marvel). And that is all due to the very passionate fan community, the people who have created GoT chatbots, come up with GoT party menus, explored the scientific realities of Hodoring, and developing an endless series of brilliant, funny, and creative videos.
Like if GoT were an '80s sitcom:
This person hand-drew every major GoT death:
What if Joffrey were the hero all along?
The Red Keep recreated in Legos.
And of course, my beloved pugs of Westeros:
GoT isn't just an epic fantasy/war saga, it's also educational! Sophie Turner learned all about oral sex from reading the scripts. And this dude picked up enough about sword play (okay, he picked up an interest in it) from the show, he used it in real life to to save a woman from assault.
7. Dreaming Up Even More Titles For Daenerys Stormborn Of The House Targaryen, The First Of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals And The First Men, Khaleesi Of The Great Grass Sea, Breaker Of Chains, Mother Of Dragons, Sleeper Of Daario, Inadvertent Incinerator Of Little Children, The Meereen Machine, Into The Distance Starer, High Lord Of Title-Heavy Introductions, Queen Of Nothing, Arriver At Opportune Times, Master Of Smooth Breakups: Nicknames are the best! Don't forget about...
- Darth Sansa's Increasingly Difficult To Parse Motivations
- Write-In Campaign To Elect Lord Lyanna Mormont King Of The Seven Kingdoms
- Tyrion Lannister, World's Greatest Work Wife
- Bran, The Worst Teenager North Of The Wall
- Zombie Uncle Benjen's Eyeliner Game
- Jaime "C+" Lannister
- Tormund Eloquencebane
- Brienne Of Fucking Tarth
- World's Oldest Squire Podrick Payne
- The Accent Formerly Known As Littlefinger/Whisperfinger
- Melisandre's Depressed Libido
- Inspirational Ser Davos Speeches In Which He Threatens To Execute Someone
- Varys' Top Secret Teleportation Device
- Ser Friendzone/Ser Friendstone/Ser Desperatestone/Damnit Jorah!/Ser IJustReallyStronglyFeelLikeWeShouldBeMoreThanFriends/Ser SayAnything
— Tasha Robinson (@TashaRobinson) June 27, 2017
8. All Men Must Die: We would be remiss if we did not yet again pay tribute to the many, many fallen characters we've lost across the past six seasons. We've bid adieu to a large portion of the Stark Clan (Ned, Catelyn, Robb, Talisa, Rickon), several kings, would-be kings and small-time rulers (Stannis Baratheon, Robert Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon, Tommen Baratheon, Viserys Targaryen, Tywin Lannister, Mance Rayder), Myrcella Baratheon, Margaery Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, High Sparrow, Lancel Lannister, Kevan Lannister, The Lord Oaf Of Highgarden, Grand Maester Pycelle, Ygritte, Khal Drogo, Roz, Shae, Oberyn Martell, Jojen Reed, Hodor, Lysa Aryn, Jeor Mormont, Janos Slynt, Maester Aemon, Shireen Baratheon, Selyse Baratheon, Hizdahr zo Loraq, Ser Barristan Selmy, Myranda, Ramsay Bolton, Roose Bolton, Meryn Trant, Osha, the Three-Eyed Raven, Wun-Wun, The Blackfish, Walder Frey, a lot of people from Mole's Town, a lot of Free Folk from Hardhome, and 29 pages worth of other names.
This brings us to a cumulative total of 150,000+ deaths (including the major on-screen ones along with hundreds of thousands of red shirt deaths off-screen, and a surprising amount of horses).
9. Wait, Then Who Is Still Alive Going Into Season Seven Anyway? This is a very reasonable question, since we are reaching the point where there are more recognizable dead names than there are alive ones. Here is a (semi-complete) list of every major-ish character still kicking it in the Known World:
Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Meera Reed, Littlefinger, Sam, Gilly, Little Sam, Sam's parents/brother/family, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, Grey Worm, Missendei, Varys, Queen Of Thorns, Ellaria Sands and the Sand Snakes whose names I don't care about, Cersei Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Ser Bronn, Septa Unella, Ser Pounce (???), Brienne Of Fucking Tarth, Pod, Tormund, The Hound, Zombie Mountain, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros Of Myr, Jorah Mormont, Lyanna Mormont, Robyn Arryn (aka Prepubescent Julian Casablancas), Qyburn, Davos, Melisandre, Theon Greyjoy, Yara Greyjoy, Euron Greyjoy, Gendry, Salladhor Saan, Daario Naharis 2.0, Edmure Tully (?), Zombie Benjen, The Children Of The Forest (I'm sure some of them are still kicking), The Faceless Men (I guess they count?), and of course, Hot Pie.
10. RIP Rickon Watch 2016: Is Rickon Still On This Show? Since its inception, The GoT Power Rankings Powers That Be have dedicated most of its energy toward abiding by the real Night's Watch oath: "I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to Rickon Stark of the Corn Moon, for this night and all the nights to come." That all came crashing down during "The Battle Of The Bastards" last season, when Ramsay Bolton shot an arrow through Our Hero to rattle Jon Snow (if only he had watched Prometheus and learned to serpentine).
Rickon may have always been the most expendable Stark to anyone outside of the Powers That Be, so it's wholly unsurprising that he's dead now (although the manner in which he was killed was particular cruel). "The past is gone for good," the Artist Formerly Known As Whisperfinger said at one point to Sansa. "You can sit here mourning its departure, or prepare for the future." We've decided to take a page out of his book—instead of mourning our beloved and utterly useless Rickon Stark, we will instead look to the future...
11. Gendrywatch 2017: Will Gendry Ever Row Back Into This Story? King in the Wharf! A chicken in every pot and a rowboat dude in every stream! Long May He Row! What has rowed shall never drown or something.
12. PSA: Let's clear up some misconceptions about what we do here: the Power Rankings aren't about who we like the most (okay, sometimes it is a little about that)—it's about using a scientifically-derived formula to accurately determine who is the most powerful player of the week. This isn't emotional, this is about pure hard facts (and of course, pure ownage). As an example: we don't necessarily approve of the White Walkers massacring the Free Folk, but that had no bearing on their very-deserved top seeded position for the "Hardhome" episode. We didn't "approve" of Cersei murdering one-third of King's Landing with wildfire, but she sure deserved the top spot in "The Winds Of Winter." We here at GoT Power Rankings HQ pledge that these integrity of these rankings shall never be compromised, no matter how much chicken you try to bribe us with.
13. Awards Season: There has been a Game Of Thrones-shaped hole in our hearts since season six ended with Dany finally sailing to Westeros with her posse (why she didn't use Varys' magical teleportation device to get there, we'll never know). We've missed staying up 'til 4 a.m. on Monday mornings furiously complaining about the Sand Snakes, writing petitions for the return of Ser Pounce, and penning odes to Lyanna Mormont.
We're especially excited to bring back all our favorite recurring awards and weekly shoutouts, including:
- The Viserys Targaryen Memorial Least Powerful Person Of The Week Award
- The Ser Pounce Memorial Most Powerful Pet Of The Week Award
- The Hodoriffic Honorary Minor Character Of The Week Award
- The Memorial Lord Oaf Of Highgarden Oafiest Glimpse Of The Night
- Hey, Remember That Thing That Happened? Of The Week
- The Remember Roz Sexposition Quotient
- Way Beyond The Wall
- The Honorary Olly Award For Person I'm Excited To See Die, Even If It Means I Am Passively Complacent With The Cycle Of Violence & Vengeance
Starting July 17th, check back every Monday morning for the Power Rankings. Until then, enjoy the Floppotron's rendition of the best theme song since Bosom Buddies.
And the ALLin Dance Crew's GoT-inspired dance routine.
And Kristin Chenoweth's interpretation of the theme:
And this Western-themed cover.