With gratuitous nude scenes, brothels, knights and sword fights aplenty, one might think Game of Thrones is just a supersized testosterone-boosted bloodfest. And while for the past six seasons you might have been partially right, going into season seven, women are the real power in Westeros.
While a resurrected Jon Snow might be the new king of the North, Sansa seems to be wielding the real power. Daenerys has a Khalasar, Cersei is now queen and there’s just so much going on that most viewers have forgotten some major plot points. The houses are all fractured, and the women of Westeros seem to be playing chess while the men are playing checkers.
Before Sunday night’s season premiere, here’s your refresher on where things currently stand.
John Snow is now the new King of the North and it took a while to get there. At the beginning of last season he came back from the dead thanks to Melisandre, known as The Red Woman. Albeit he first had to take care of the people who killed him, including little Olly, after which he promptly relinquished his title of Lord Commander and headed out to recruit some help to reclaim Winterfell and his brother Rickon from Ramsay Bolton. He also had to get a little revenge for his sister, Sansa.
While John fumbled around with being king, it’s Sansa who had been moving pieces on the board. Sansa, unsure of her brother’s troops, sent Brienne of Tarth to help with recruiting efforts and to convince her uncle, the Blackfish, to join their campaign. This led to a chance encounter with Jaime Lannister. Sansa decided their numbers are still too few to take back Winterfell and took matters into her own hands. A battle included the death of Rickon. Sansa went to Littlefinger, who now controls the Vale and brought to the battlefield the knights of the Vale to save the day. Sansa then had the pleasure of feeding Ramsay to his own dogs.
Everyone’s favorite femme fatale Arya had been busy in Braavos learning from the faceless men. After messing up her second assignment, the Waif was sent to kill her. Arya turned the tables and ended up killing her, and after confronting Jaqen H’ghar she headed back home. The first stop on her list was the Riverlands and the home of Walder Frey who killed her brother, mother, step sister, nephew and many of the Stark banner men. She used her new skills to infiltrate the keep and served Walder Frey two of his sons remains in a pie before she killed him.
After enduring humiliation at the hands of the Sparrow and even having her son turn against her for the charismatic religious leader, Cersei had enough. She lost her daughter, her eldest son and her father. Her brother— and lover—had come back a shell of himself and her baby brother who she blamed for the killing of her son had slipped through her fingers. Cersei had come to the realization that the only person that could look out for her is herself. So she executed a plan that centralized her power with those who were loyal to her and got rid of the competition. Using the same idea that forced Jamie to break his oath and slay the Mad King, Cersei ignited the wildfire under the sept of Baylor during the trial of Loris Tyrell. In one shocking moment she had removed major players from the board including her son king Tommen, Margaery and Loras Tyrell, her uncle Kevan Lannister and her cousin and former bed warmer Lancel Lannister. Jaime returned to King’s Landing just in time to see her crowning ceremony.
Daenerys is indeed fireproof. Everything kept trying to take her down but she always seemed to come out unscathed last season. At the beginning of season 6, she was captured by the Dothraki. Mereen was under revolt and we wondered if she would be the next one to bite the dust. But the Mother of Dragons not only trapped and burned her Dothraki captors alive, she also became their undisputed leader. She then returned to Meereen to crush the insurgency at Slaver’s Bay which incidentally got her closer to the number of ships that she needed to return to Westeros.
Daenerys’ leadership and cunningness earned her an army comprised of the freed Unsullied who have stayed by her side, the Dothraki horse lords, her confidant Missandei, Tyrion Lannister as newly named Hand of the Queen and thanks to some machinations orchestrated by Lord Varys, the cooperation of Dorne Via Ellaria Sand and the Tyrell army via Lady Olenna.
After the death of her father and the return of her brother Theon, Yara thought she had the Iron Islands in hand. That is until her uncle Euron showed up, and admitted he killed her father. He came to claim the Salt Throne as well as the lives of his niece and nephew by bragging about his sea prowess and his plans to build a large navy for Daenerys. Yara beat Euron to the punch, by fleeing to Meereen and offering her fleet as well as her services to Daenerys. After striking a deal we find the fleet setting sail for Westeros with Daenerys in command.