Saturday, May 11, 2019

"Previously On Game Of Thrones ... "

'It's I, Claudius with dragons,' dear blog reader. 'It's The Hollow Crown with tits.' 'It's The Lord Of The Rings with swearing. And tits. And a - slightly - smaller budget.' It is something which some people have never - not never - watched a single episode of and, as a consequence, wish to inform the entire Interweb concerning their glorious self-sacrifice. That there Game Of Thrones, let it be noted, is many things to many different people. Not least, the source of numerous allegedly 'amusing' Interweb memes. Like this one, for instance. (There are one or two others, apparently.)
First and foremost, of course, Game Of Thrones is a television drama, based on a series of novels by an author called George RR Martin (no, not the late producer of The Be-Atles, a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them). And, it's a bloody good one. In fact, this blogger - who, as previously mentioned on several occasions, was somewhat late to the party - would go so far as to say he thinks it's been great. Now, it is about to end. So, after eight series and around seventy odd hours of 'uge, tool-stiffeningly violent and sexy action, you may be forgiven for having somewhat lost the plot. You wouldn't be the only one (several of the characters certainly have). What follows, therefore, is a brief(ish) - highly spoilerised - summerisation of how we've got to where we are prior to the final episode. Please feel free to revise the following history extensively (and take copious notes where appropriate) as The Exam will follow in due course.
Long ago, dear blog reader, in a fantasy world far, far away ... The continent of Westeros is a harsh realm where winters can, quite literally, last for a lifetime. Particularly considering how short a lifetime can be in those benighted lands. Meteorology in Westeros is an equally inexact science and, once the winter snows begin to fall, it could be years, or even decades, before they stop.
Westeros is a complicated network of regions, cities and cultures which once existed as separate entities. Centuries ago, a dragon-riding man called Aegon and his two dragon-riding sister-wives conquered these feuding factions 'with fire and blood.' Which must've been one Hell of a sight, frankly.
House Targaryen then became the ruling dynasty of the, now unified, Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Their reign lasted for hundreds of years, before it was brought crashing down through The Mad King, Aerys Targaryen's murderous reign of terror and insanity and a combined alliance of the majority of the kingdoms' noble Houses during a civil war known as 'Robert's Rebellion.'
The semi-monastic Night's Watch are an ancient warrior order whose solemn duty is to guard the ancient rampart, The Wall, the snow-covered Northern border of The Seven Kingdoms. A group of Night's Watch rangers encounter a supernatural being known as a White Walker which was previously assumed to be mythical. Only, it isn't. And that was the end of their shit. Except for the one who got scared and ran away. But, he later had his head cut off for being a traitor. So, to be fair, it was a bit of a personal disaster all round.
Ned Stark (Sean Bean), The Warden Of The North, having done the righteous beheading himself is then visited at his home of Winterfell by his old friend King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) and his massive royal entourage. After Robert has paid respect at the tomb of Lyanna Stark, his late fiancée and one true love, her brother Ned is invited to serve at his King's side following the recent and sudden death of Jon Arryn, the previous Hand Of The King. Stark, somewhat reluctantly, accepts the offer and when the King's entourage makes the return journey, Ned and his daughters Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) travel the thousand miles to King's Landing where he will take up his new post.
There, they find the corrupt city-state mired in conspiracy and plot and with all manner of sinister malarkey afoot. Baratheon's Queen, the icy, dangerous Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is alleged to have been behind the murder of Arryn, though no one actually has any evidence of this. Meanwhile, Ned's young son, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), has witnessed Cersei having The Sex with her own twin brother, Jaime The Kingslayer (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). To prevent Bran from revealing their incestuous tryst, Jamie shoves the boy from a high tower window. Bran miraculously survives the fall but is left paralysed and can't remember (or, claims not to remember) the circumstances of his 'accident.'
Cersei and Jaime's younger brother, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), a dilettante of diminished stature but with a quite brilliant mind, accompanies Ned's bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) to investigate The White Walker incident at The Wall after which Snow 'takes Black' and joins The Night Watch. During his return journey to King's Landing, Tyrion is arrested at the behest of Ned's wife, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), who believes - on very circumstantial evidence and, as it turns out, quite wrongly - that Tyrion was responsible for an (unsuccessful) assassination attempt on Bran's life. This prompts a trial by combat to decide Tyrion's fate.
Imprisoned in The Vale under the watchful eye of Catelyn's absolutely mad-as-toast sister, Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie), Tyrion enlists itinerant swordsman Bronn (Jerome Flynn) to fight on his behalf with the promise of much gold if he wins and in the certain knowledge that a Lannister always pays his debts. Bronn defeats Arryn's chosen champion and Tyrion is, reluctantly, freed by Catelyn. Who, despite being a vengeful mother is, also, a woman of her word. Ned, meanwhile, discovers that a young King's Landing blacksmith, Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is, actually, King Robert's bastard son.
When King Robert is fatally wounded in a - highly suspicious - hunting 'accident', Ned is named provisional Protector Of The Realm until Cersei's sadistic and cowardly teenage son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) comes of age. Ned, however, plans to back Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), the dead King's estranged brother, as successor to The Iron Throne. Ned is subsequently betrayed by Lord Petyr Littlefinger Baelish (Aidan Gillan) and other members of The Small Council, notably Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) and publicly decapitated by the King's executioner (Wilko Johnson) on Joffrey's orders. And that was the end of Sean Bean's shit (which was a Hell of a shock at the time as most people who hadn't read the books had assumed, up to this point, that he was the star of the series). Sansa is arrested by the Lannisters and held captive over her father's alleged 'crimes' though Arya manages to escape their clutches, rescued by The Night's Watch recruiter Yoren (Francis Magee) and leaves the city disguised as a boy. In response, Stark's eldest son, Robb (Richard Madden) is named The King Of The North and rallies those Houses loyal to the Starks to rise up against the Lannisters and give them a right good twatting.
Across The Narrow Sea, in Pentos the exiled Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) plots to reclaim his late father's throne from Baratheon and, with the aid the powerful merchant magister Illyrio (Roger Allam), brokers a marriage between his sister, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), the youngest daughter of The Mad King and the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo Jason Mamoa). As wedding gifts, Daenerys is given books of The Seven Kingdoms from Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), an exiled and disgraced knight loyal to the Targaryens and three petrified dragon eggs from Illyrio. Daenerys believes herself to be the true heir to The Iron Throne and plots an assault on Westeros after her new husband has her sadistic and, frankly, not much use brother extremely killed. For being a git, basically. Drogo himself then dies after being hexed by a vengeful witch. Daenerys avenges him and - in a manner never fully explained - hatches the three dragon eggs. As 'The Mother Of Dragons' she soon acquires an almost mythical stature and the ripples of her potential power and following are felt all the way back in Westeros.
Tyrion takes up the post of Hand in the hope of softening Joffrey's deranged and nasty ways. Inevitably, he doesn't get very far. Stannis falls under the spell of The Red Priestess, Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) and, publicly, lays claim to the throne on the basis of Joffrey's probable illegitimacy. And, because he quite fancies the job himself. Even though the hours are long and arduous and the pay isn't great. Robb Stark's armies, meanwhile, progress South winning some battles against Lannister forces and with a captured Jaime Lannister as their prisoner.
Robb sends Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), who grew up in the Stark household, to seek an alliance with Theon's father, the Lord of the rebellious Iron Islands, Balon (Patrick Malahide). Instead, Theon proves easily manipulated when reunited with his family and is dispatched to capture Winterfell in his father's name instead. Bran along with his younger brother, Rickon (Art Parkinson), is forced to escape to the wilderness with a motley group of helpers. Winterfell, however, is soon surrounded by hostile forces and Theon suffers a mutiny amongst The Ironborn, led by Dagmar Cleftjaw (Ralph Ineson). Theon is abandoned to his fate whilst the Starks' loyal servant Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) is murdered.
While Robb Stark invades The Westerlands, Greatjon Umber (Clive Mantle) is tasked with liberating The Riverlands from Lannister occupation. Lord Umber expels the Lannisters from Raventree Hall and then wins another victory at Stone Hedge. Robb sends Catelyn to meet Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), the younger sibling of Robert and Stannis who also has a claim to The Iron Throne. Catelyn suggests that the surviving brothers join forces to defeat their common enemy, the Lannisters. Renly, however, is at this point murdered by an evil spirit conjured by Melisandre. And, that was the end of his shit.
Catelyn and Renly's bodyguard, Brienne Of Tarth (Gwendolyn Christie), are - falsely - accused of the assassination and are forced to flee. Uniting with Robb once more, Catelyn decides to return Jaime to King's Landing in the hope of exchanging his freedom for that of Sansa and sends Brienne with Jaime to make sure he gets there in one piece. Raiding beyond The Wall, Jon uncovers evidence of infant sacrifices carried out by The Night's Watch's ally Craster (Robert Pugh) and various other nefarious skulduggery afoot. He goes undercover as an alleged defector from The Night's Watch, joining The Wildlings to learn of their plans. Meanwhile, his Night's Watch friend, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) falls in lust with one of Craster's women slaves, Gilly (Hannah Murray) and, ultimately, helps her and her baby to escape.
Arya is captured by Lannister soldiers, imprisoned at the castle of Harrenhal and taken on as a servant by the Lannister patriarch, Tywin (Charles Dance) who believes her to be a boy. She soon escapes with the aid of her stout friend, Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey) and Jaqen H'ghar (Thomas Wlaschiha), one of The Faceless Men Of Essos and, again, attempts to find her way back to her family in The North. Stannis tries to invade King's Landing by sea, but his forces are defeated in an 'uge, fek-off naval battle by Tyrion's cunning use of wildfire and, after Tyrion has roused the city's defenders with a magnificently defiant speech, by the last-moment arrival of Tywin's army and their allies the Tyrells of Highgarden.
Across The Narrow Sea, Daenerys arrives at Qarth, hoping to gain support for her proposed invasion of Westeros. She ends up imprisoned in The House Of The Undying, along with her dragons, after being drawn into a usurpation plot. She eventually escapes and pillages the city in her considerable wrath and righteous fury. With the burning and the death and the screaming and that. Tyrion - despite being an injured war hero - is demoted from Hand by Tywin, who has always blamed Tyrion for causing his wife's death in childbirth. Tyrion also, dangerously for a Lannister, has something approaching a functioning moral compass.
Tywin spitefully forces Tyrion to marry Sansa. You know, for a laugh. Joffrey is, meanwhile, engaged to Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), Renly's widow, in the hopes of cementing the current Lannister-Tyrell alliance. Beyond The Wall, Jon encounters the Wildling leader Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) who anticipates a coming battle with The White Walkers. Snow finds himself in a complex relationship with his one-time prisoner-turned-captor, Ygritte (Rose Leslie). One involving quite a lot of The Sex.
In probably the worst decision ever made by anyone in the entire history of Westeros, Robb decides against marrying Roslin Frey (Alexandra Dowling) to whom he had been betrothed in an arranged inter-house alliance after he falls extremely in lust with Talisa (Oona Chaplin), a healer. Nevertheless, the Starks are still invited to Roslin's rearranged wedding to Robb's uncle, Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies). This turns out to be a ghastly trap, sprung by Roslin's resentful father, Walder Frey (David Bradley). Robb, Catelyn, the pregnant Talisa and most of their bannermen are butchered at the wedding reception, with the active blessing of the Lannisters to whom Frey has secretly allied himself (and who 'send their regards'). The killings are witnessed by the recently-arrived Arya, who has found a reluctant protector in the formidable shape of former Lannister bodyguard The Hound, Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann). For his part in the massacre, the treacherous Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) is made Warden Of The North.
Bran Stark discovers that he can project himself into the body of a dire wolf and do various other spooky supernatural shit. Brienne and Jaime continue their journey South and develop a curious mutual respect amid constant bitchy insults. Daenerys gathers an army of eight thousand Unsullied in the East. Joffrey meets his - very satisfying - end after being served poisoned wine at his own wedding to Margaery. And that was the end of his shit.
In the confused aftermath of this shocking and stunning turn of events, Sansa is smuggled to freedom at the instigation of Littlefinger (and his curiously wandering accent), who takes her to Lysa Arryn at The Vale. But, Arryn proves to be an unfit guardian to her niece and is later killed by Baelish, whom she had expected to marry, after she attempts to push Sansa to her death through The Moon Door. With Lysa's young son, Robin (Lino Facioli) now the heir to House Tully, Littlefinger becomes an effective regent of The Vale, leaving young Robin in the care of Lord Royce (Rupert Van Sittart) at Runestone. Melisandre and Stannis plan to use Genrdy's royal blood in a ritual to create a 'death curse' upon all of the other various claimants to The Iron Throne. Before they can sacrifice Gendry, however, he escapes.
Jaime (who has lost his hand defending his captor's honour and had it replaced with a brass one) and Brienne arrive at King's Landing to find that Sansa has already escaped. Brienne, now effectively a knight errant, is tasked with tracking down the missing Stark sisters having made an honour-bound pledge to their late mother. A distraught Cersei blames Tyrion for Joffrey's assassination. After a show-trial, his champion, the Dorneish prince, Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), is defeated in yet another trial by combat against The Mountain, Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). Tyrion is imprisoned.
Freed by Jaime, Tyrion discovers his father in bed with Tyrion's duplicitous mistress, Shae (Sibel Kekilli). He executes the pair of them for their naughty ways. In Tywin's case by crossbow whilst the latter is on the netty having a dump. And, that was the - literal - end of Tywin's shit. Tyrion then flees King's Landing and crosses The Narrow Sea - for a time as the captive of Ser Jorah, who is hoping to get himself back into Daenerys' good books after having previously been discovered to have betrayed her. As it happens, Tyrion is willing to go, believing that Daenerys may be the one person who can defeat Cersei and her deranged, over-complicated schemes and unite The Seven Kingdoms. They are subsequently joined by another of King Robert's former Small Council advisers, the scheming spymaster and eunuch Varys (Conleth Hill).
Bran encounters Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick). Jojen shares Bran's 'greensight' and tutors him in his increasingly prophetic visions. During their travels beyond The Wall, Bran and his group arrive at Craster's Keep, where they are captured and held hostage by Night's Watch mutineers led by Tanner (Burn Gorman). Rangers, under Jon's command, eventually attack Craster's Keep and kill the mutineers. Locke (Noah Taylor), a spy for Roose Bolton, attempts to murder the younger Stark. But, he fails. Bran's group reaches The Heart Tree but are set upon by Wights outside the entrance. Jojen is killed, but The Children Of The Forest destroy The Wights and lead Bran into the cave to meet The Three-Eyed Raven.
Roose Bolton returns to Winterfell from The Red Wedding to find that his son, the psychotic bastard (in every sense of the word) Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) has captured and tortured Theon. And, chopped off his manhood, leaving him crushed and broken. Jon returns from the Wildling camp to warn The Night's Watch of Mance Rayder's advancing forces. The Wildlings duly lay siege to Castle Black. But Stannis Baratheon's men ride to the rescue, backed by the financiers of The Iron Bank ('service with a smile and a stab') and their representative, Nestoris (Mark Gatiss). Arya and The Hound are found by Brienne, who defeats Clegane in mortal combat. Arya, mistrusting Brienne's motives, leaves Clegane for dead and runs away to study under Jaqan H'ghar at The House Of Black & White in Braavos.
Stannis has the defeated Rayder burned at the stake. Jon Snow, advised by the wise, aged Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan), is elected the new leader of The Night's Watch, much to the scowling disapproval of a faction of the guard's elders. Ooo, pure dead vexed, so they were. Stannis is later convinced by Melisandre to sacrifice his own daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), to appease The Lord Of Light and hold back the coming winter snows. He burns the little girl to death, losing the respect of his own troops and, particularly, his loyal but principled adviser, Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham). Shireen's mother, Selsye (Tara Fitzgerald) having initially gone along with this cock-and-bull supernatural bollocks, soon becomes grief-stricken and hangs herself.
Littlefinger takes Sansa to Ramsay Bolton with the intention of marrying them, an alliance which would mean the return of a Stark to Winterfell. But, also, a really miserable time ahead for Sansa. Stannis arrives to fight the Boltons but, in the event, is easily defeated when his men desert him over doubts about his pagan zealotry. He is slain by Brienne, who has followed Sansa to Winterfell, in revenge for his part in the plot to kill his brother, Renly. Melisandre flees to Castle Black. Sansa manages to escape from Ramsey's rapist clutches, with the help of Theon who, at least in part, begins to atone for his earlier betrayal of Sansa's family.
In Essos, Arya is accepted into The House Of Black & White though she proves slow to subsume her individual identity into the collective of The Faceless Men. That she has much to learn before becoming 'no one' is confirmed, as she spots Ser Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie), a sadistic knight of the Kingsguard and one of those on her - quite lengthy - revenge-list. Assuming the likeness of a child prostitute, Arya shortens her list by one. And that was the end of his shit. As punishment for betraying her sacred vows, Arya is struck (temporarily) blind.
At King's Landing, Cersei conspires against her daughter-in-law Margaery, who has subsequently married Joffrey's naïve younger brother, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), now the King. After initially backing The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), leader of a puritanical religious cult The Faith Militant, for her own nefarious purposes, Cersei's sexual hypocrisy is soon exposed. She is first imprisoned and then forced to enact a humiliating naked Walk of Shame through the streets of the capital. Back in the safety of The Red Keep she plots a vicious and horrific revenge upon those whom she considers to have wronged her.
Daenerys takes over the desert slave-city of Meereen with her Unsullied army, led by the stoic Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) crucifying the city's elite. Because she can. However, she struggles to retain control of the city when a collective of assassins, The Sons Of The Harpy, rise against her. After a battle between her guards and The Harpies, one of Daenerys's dragons whisks her away and into the midst of a distant Dothraki horde. But not before Tyrion has met Daenerys, won her trust and is left to rule the city in her absence. Ser Jorah and Daenerys' new lover Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) of The Second Sons set off to rescue her.
In The North, Jon Snow takes a group of Night's Watchmen to meet with the Wildlings in the hope of forming an alliance. As negotiations are progressing, The Night King (Richard Brake, later Vladimir Furdik) arrives and puts the screaming bejesus up pretty much everyone. Upon returning to The Wall, a band of mutineering Watchmen, led by the bitter Ser Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) have Jon extremely stabbed to death. But, oddly, that wasn't the end of his shit.
After Jon is subsequently raised from the dead by Melisandre at the instigation of Ser Davos, he regains control of The Night's Watch, extracts severe justice on his murderers and plans to reclaim Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton, who has since slain his own family. Jon is also reunited with Sansa who arrives at Castle Black with the aid of Brienne. The Hound - just - survived his duel with Brianne; he is discovered by a warrior-turned-septon, Ray (Ian McShane), who nurses him back to health. Clegane assists Ray and his followers in building a church but the villagers are slaughtered by rogue members of The Brotherhood Without Banners. Clegane hunts down those responsible and discovers them about to be hanged by The Brotherhood's leaders, Lord Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Thoros Of Myr (Paul Kaye). Beric allows Clegane to execute the outlaws and invites him to join what remains of The Brotherhood on their journey North to face The White Walkers.
Sansa confronts Littlefinger about his decision to marry her to Ramsay. He lies that he was ignorant of Ramsay's - obvious - cruel and unusual ways and begs her forgiveness. In exchange, he offers the support of The Vale in her attempt to retake Winterfell. Littlefinger reveals that her great-uncle, Brynden Tully, The Blackfish (Clive Russell), has just retaken Riverrun. Sansa orders Brienne to recruit The Blackfish to the Stark's cause. Smalljon Umber (Dean Jagger) meets with Ramsay and his ally Harald Karstark (Paul Rattrey). Despite his dislike of Roose Bolton and his refusal to pledge fealty to Ramsay, Umber wishes to join forces with the Boltons to destroy the Wildlings that Jon has allowed to settle South of the Wall. To demonstrate his loyalty, Smalljon presents two hooded figures who are revealed to be Rickon Stark and his protector Osha (Natalia Tena). Ramsey subsequently kills Rickon before he can be rescued by an enraged Jon. In the ensuing Battle Of The Bastards at Winterfell, Ramsay's army are defeated when Littlefinger and The Knights Of The Vale unexpectedly arrive to join Jon Snow's forces with the battle seemingly lost. Ramsay is captured and fed to his own dogs. And, that was the end of his shit.
Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), Oberyn's lover, goes to Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig), the Prince of Dorne, to persuade him to take revenge on the Lannisters for his brother's death. Doran refuses. Ellaria discovers that Jaime Lannister is sailing to Dorne, planning to rescue his and Cersei's daughter Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), who is betrothed to Doran's son, Trystane (Toby Sebastian). When Jaime arrives at The Water Gardens, the Sand Snakes, Oberyn's bastard daughters, attack Jaime and Bronn. Doran and Jaime agree that Trystane will still marry Myrcella, but that the two will live in King's Landing and Trystane will be granted a seat on the King's Council. Ellaria is threatened by Doran that if she defies him again he will have her killed and she feigns allegiance. And, although he doesn't know it yet, that was the end of his shit. Ellaria kisses Myrcella goodbye at the docks whilst wearing lipstick coated with a slow-acting poison, which kills Myrcella as the ship heads for King's Landing.
Cersei faces a forthcoming trial for her various high crimes and naughty misdemeanours as The High Sparrow continues to dominate the weak-as-piss King Tommen. The Queen Mother, therefore, takes matters into her own hands, blowing up The Great Sept Of Baelor real good with wildfire, killing Margaery, her brother Loras (Finn Jones), The High Sparrow and many others - including some members of her own family - in the process. In his grief, Tommen commits suicide. And, that was the end of his shit. Cersei, with all of her children dead - as a witch once predicted to her - seizes The Iron Throne for herself. Daenerys is now a prisoner of The Dhothraki. The barbarians expect the wife of their late Khal to live in seclusion like other noble Dhothraki widows. She soon persuades them of her divine powers by walking unharmed through a burning building and, along with Jorah and Daario, returns to Meereen as their leader. Meanwhile, in her absence, the wily Tyrion, aided by Varys, has brought an uneasy peace to the gaff. Though, that doesn't last very long when the lady with the dragons rocks up backed by her massive new army.
Theon returns to The Iron Islands, where he conspires with his tough, bisexual sister, Yara (Gemma Whelan) to take The Salt Throne and, when that plan fails, to steal the Greyjoy fleet from their piratical uncle, Euron (Pilou Asbaek) and the island's high priest, Aeron (Michael Feast). They sail for Essos and join Daenerys's growing forces whilst Varys brokers another unlikely alliance between Daenerys and both the House of Tyrell and Elleria's Dorneish forces. Also in Essos, Arya regains her sight and overcomes the machinations of her nemesis, The Waif (Faye Marsay) after she refuses to assassinate an actress, Lady Crane (Essie Davis), part of a theatrical troupe led by Izembaro (Richard E Grant). Leaving The House Of Black & White as an elite assassin but, importantly, still her own person, Arya immediately avenges her mother and brother by travelling to Riverrun and slitting the throat of Walder Frey. Then, wearing Frey's own face, she poisons most of the rest of the Frey family. Apart from two of Walder's sons whom she had cooked in a pie for Walder to eat. And, that was the end of their shit.
There was also some right bollocks about Ed Sheeran which cropped up around this point. But, fortunately, it didn't last very long and he ended up getting his face burned off - tragically off-screen - by a dragon. A sorry fate which, hopefully, also befell the drummer out of Coldplay. On general principle and all that. Anyway ...
Bran, who has been training with the mystical Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow), encounters The Night King, who kills the aged Raven, enabling Bran, to succeed him. Bran escapes a White Walker attack, though at the tragic cost of the life of his loyal servant, Hodor (Kristian Nairn).
Jaime and Bronn lead the Lannister army to Riverrun, where the Lannister allies Lothar Frey (Daniel Tuite) and Walder Rivers (Tim Plester) attempt to coerce The Blackfish into surrendering the castle by threatening to hang his nephew, Edmure. The Blackfish calls their bluff. Disgusted with the Freys' incompetence, Jaime takes charge and, ultimately, gets Edmure to act against his uncle, ending the siege. Daenerys heads to Dragonstone (once the home of the Baratheons) taking her army of Unsullied and Dothraki aboard the Greyjoy ships. Melisandre encourages Daenerys to secure Jon Snow as an ally in both the battle for The Iron Throne and the coming Great War with The Night King and his Army Of The Dead.
Jorah, who has contracted the deadly disease greyscale, returns to Westeros, seeking aid at The Citadel from the Archmaester (Jim Broadbent). Also at The Citadel is Sam, who formerly served under Jorah's late father, Joer (James Cosmo) in The Night's Watch. Sam discovers a cure for Jorah's illness. After receiving an invitation from Daenerys, Jon goes to a meeting at Dragonstone. The pair grow close as they plan how best to defeat the Lannisters and White Walkers. They send Yara and The Unsullied to attack King's Landing. Cersei considers a marriage proposal from Euron Greyjoy and offers him the chance to prove himself every bit as a complete and total bastard as she is by stopping the incoming invaders. Yara and her navy are, subsequently, defeated by Euron's forces and Yara is imprisoned by her uncle.
Jaime seizes control of Highgarden on Cersei's orders. He confronts Margaery's grandmother, Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), granting her a painless death. But, not before she boasts to him that it was she who had Joffrey murdered. Cersei takes revenge on Ellaria Sand by infecting her daughter, Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), with the same poison that Ellaria used to kill Myrcella. Ceresi keeps Ellaria alive purely to watch Tyene die. And then, rot. Cersei also takes revenge on the sole survivor of The Faith Militant, her 'shamer', Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham), whom Cersei leaves with The Mountain to be, slowly, tortured to death.
Battles erupt between Dothraki cavalry and Lannister battalions, led by Jaime. One of Daenerys's dragons, Drogon, is injured by a Scorpion ballista fired by Bronn during the battle, but not before a lot of Lannister soldiers get extremely burned. And, that was the end of their shit. Having seen the dragons in action, Jaime warns Cersei of Daenerys's power. Jon, with a fearless band of brothers - including Ser Jorah, The Hound, Gendry, the Wildling Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and members of The Brotherhood - travel North of The Wall to capture a White Walker and, thus, provide proof of the danger which all of Westeros faces.
They are ultimately successful, mainly thanks to the arrival of Daenerys and her dragons in the nick of time. But, they lose one, Viserion, to The Night King. Jon himself is saved, not for the first time (but certainly for the last) by the bravery of his Uncle Benjen (Joseph Mawle). Jon and Daenerys' sail to King's Landing to discuss an alliance with Cersei to defeat the armies of The Night King, bringing their captured White Walker to convince her. Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion, Ser Davos and their entourage head back to Winterfell after the meeting believing that they have an agreement. But, of course, they don't because this is Cersei we're talking about. On the way, Jon and Daenerys become intimate. Extremely intimate.
Arya and Sansa are reunited with Bran at Winterfell but tensions between the Stark sisters emerge and are exploited by the scheming Littlefinger. His duplicity is eventually exposed, however, when Bran reveals that it was Littlefinger who killed Jon Arryn - the event which instigated the entire 'game of thrones' fiasco in the first place. Sansa has Arya execute Littlefinger's sorry ass. And, that was the end of his shit (and, his curiously wandering accent). Bran, independent of, but at more-or-less the same time as, Sam discovers Jon's true heritage - he is not Ned Stark's bastard after all but is, in fact, a Targaryen-Stark with a legitimate claim to The Iron Throne. And, as a consequence, the woman whom he is currently shafting (and, really enjoying it) is, unbeknownst to either of them, actually his auntie. The Night King and The White Walkers breach The Wall with the aid of their undead ice dragon. Winter has come to Westeros.
Upon reaching Winterfell with their combined armies, Jon and Daenerys learn that The White Walkers are heading South. In response, the Northern Lords and their allies rally at Winterfell but, although loyal to the Starks, they lack trust in Daenerys and (rightly) doubt Cersei's pledge to join the common cause. Loyal to the Starks, that is, except for House Glover, led by the notorious Robett (Tim McInnerny) who, for the third time in living memory, promises to stand with the Starks only to shit his pants and run a mile just before the fighting is due to kick-off.
At King's Landing, Euron returns from Essos with The Golden Company and entices Cersei into consummating their union whilst the necromancer Qyburn (Anton Lesser), acting on Cersei's orders, hires Bronn to assassinate Tyrion and Jaime. Theon rescues Yara, who sets out to retake The Iron Islands, whilst Theon departs for Winterfell to help fight the Army Of The Dead. Jon reunites with Bran and Arya and, with Daenerys' encouragement, learns to ride the dragon Rhaegal. After meeting Daenerys and learning that she executed his father (James Faulkner) and brother, Dickon (Tom Hopper) after the battle at Highgarden, Sam feels it important to tell Jon about Jon's true parentage.
Tormund and Beric, who survived The Wall's destruction, meet Night's Watch leader Edd Tollett (Ben Crompton) and several other Night's Watchmen at Last Hearth, finding its occupants, including the young Lord Ned Umber (Harry Grasby), dead-yet-still-alive and nailed to the wall as a sinister message from The Night King. Jaime arrives at Winterfell and reveals Cersei's deception to the Targaryen-Stark alliance saying that he has come to fight with them 'for the living.' Despite Daenerys and Sansa's obvious mistrust, he joins their forces after Brienne vouches for his honour.
Tyrion appears in danger of losing Daenerys' favour for having believed Cersei, prompting Jorah to ask Daenerys to forgive Tyrion's mistakes. Bran proposes that he lure The Night King, who wishes to destroy The Three-Eyed Raven, into a trap. Gendry makes a weapon for Arya, who - believing that she might die a virgin in the coming battle - abruptly drops her strides and has The Sex him.
Tyrion, Jaime, Davos, Brienne, her squire Podrick (Daniel Portman) and Tormund share a night of drinking and singing on the eve of battle, during which Jaime touchingly knights Brienne. Jorah fails to dissuade his young cousin, Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) from fighting and receives House Tarly's ancestral sword as a gift from Sam. As the Army Of The Dead approaches, Daenerys finds Jon at his mother, Lyanna Stark's tomb and learns about his part-Targaryen lineage. She is, curiously, far less bothered about this incest malarkey than he is. The Army Of The Living meets the Army Of The Dead outside Winterfell, but are quickly overwhelmed by The Night King's superior numbers. The Dothraki army is decimated. And, that was the end of all of their shit. Edd dies heroically saving Sam. The Living retreat into the castle while Melisandre uses magic to ignite a protective fire trench surrounding Winterfell and delay the advancing horde.
Jon and Daenerys, riding Rhaegal and Drogon, engage in an aerial battle with The Night King on Viserion. After breaching the fire trench, The Dead attack Winterfell, scaling its walls. The defenders are swiftly overwhelmed, with Lyanna and Beric dying in the ensuing skirmishes. Melisandre helps Arya to realise what her true destiny is, however. The Night King raises the slain Winterfell defenders as his allies, including those entombed in the crypts who attack the sheltering civilians, Sansa and Tyrion. After Daenerys is pulled from Drogon, Jorah is mortally wounded defending her. The Night King arrives at The Godswood and kills Theon as he bravely fights to protect Bran. Then, Arya stabs The Night King with her Valyrian steel dagger. The Night King and his Wights immediately disintegrate and the Army Of The Dead falls as one. And, that was the end of their shit. With her purpose finally served, Melisandre wanders away from Winterfell into the snow, ages and dies.
The North mourns and then burns their - many - dead. During the subsequent victory celebrations, Daenerys legitimises Gendry and names him Lord of Storm's End. Jaime and Brienne - finally - have The Sex. To protect their relationship, Daenerys begs Jon to conceal his Targaryen ancestry from his family but, he is unable to do so. He and Bran reveal his true identity to Sansa and Arya, swearing them to secrecy. Sansa however - having learned the power of revealing sensitive information at dramatically inappropriate times from Littlefinger - tells Tyrion. Who subsequently tells Varys.
Bronn, convinced that Cersei will lose the coming war, declines to assassinate Jaime and Tyrion in exchange for the Lordship of Highgarden. Daenerys and the fleet sail to King's Landing while Jon leads the Northern forces South on foot. Euron ambushes the fleet and Rhaegal is killed. Daenerys' interpreter and close confidant, Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) is captured and, subsequently, murdered, leading Daenerys to consider seizing King's Landing even if civilians are slaughtered in the process. Varys and Tyrion discuss Daenerys' increasingly erratic state of mind. Varys thinks she may be unfit to rule and suggests Jon replace her, though Tyrion rejects the notion.
Varys attempts to convince Jon to seize The Iron Throne, but Jon refuses to betray Daenerys. Tyrion informs Daenerys of Varys' plot and she has Varys executed by her last remaining dragon. And, that was the - crispy - end of his shit.
Daenerys decides that she wishes to burn King's Landing at daybreak. Tyrion hatches a cunning plan to stop Cersei and avert the coming bloodshed. He meets with Jaime, who has been captured trying to enter the city and asks him to smuggle Cersei to the free city of Pentos after surrendering King's Landing to Daenerys' forces. The next day, both sides prepare for coming apocalypse as Jaime, Arya and The Hound all infiltrate King's Landing, though for vastly different purposes.
Daenerys arrives with Drogon (now renamed Bernie) and dismissively destroys both The Iron Fleet and The Golden Company. And, that was the end of their shit. This allows her armies to breach the gates and enter the city. The remaining Lannister forces soon surrender, but an enraged (and now, seemingly, quite mad) Daenerys stages a deranged dragon attack on the city itself, burning both soldiers and civilians indiscriminately.
The allied armies follows her lead, slaughtering everyone in their path, much to Jon's horror and disgust (although, that doesn't stop him from joining in). The dragonfire ignites hidden caches of wildfire around the city causing yet more untold carnage on the population. Jaime kills Euron - though not before Jaime himself suffers a serious stab wound - and enters The Red Keep. The Hound convinces Arya to give up her long-held plan of killing Cersei and proceeds alone. Sandor engages The Mountain who, in turn, kills Qyburn when he attempts to call him back to protect his Queen. The Hound sacrifices himself to kill his brother, The Mountain whilst, in the crypt below The Red Keep, Cersei and Jaime are reunited.
Their attempt to escape fails, however, when the tunnel collapses on them, killing both along with their unborn child. Jon gives the instruction to his forces to retreat as civilians flee from the crumbling ruins of King's Landing. Arya witnesses the destruction first-hand and is barely able to escape the city alive. Though she does, when she finds a (conveniently unburned) horse.
And so, dear blog reader, like 'The Hokey Cokey', that's what it's all about. In a few days time, the final episode will be broadcast and viewers across the world will discover who has, finally, won the titular game of thrones. And, as previously noted, all of those people who have never - not never - watched a single episode (and, haven't been exactly shy in telling anyone that was interested and, indeed, anyone that wasn't about this), will have to go and find something else not to watch instead.
It's been emotional, dear blog reader. It has been both I, Claudius with dragons and The Hollow Crown with tits. It has had many buckets of blood and more than a few packets of giblets at its disposal. It has been full of swearing, often quite sickening violence, much naughty naked nudity and loads and loads and loads of The Sex. Which was always good for a laugh. It has been a series in which most of the characters were into some seriously fucked-up shit in one form or another and even those characters whom the audience were, in theory at least, supposed to be rooting for, were often marbled by a thick streak of moral ambiguity. Just like real life, in fact. Only, with dragons. A necessary difference, one feels. It has been, it is probably fair to say, the most widely-discussed television series in the world over the last eight years on the Interweb and in both social and the regular media. One, genuinely, wonders what many lives will be like without it. Of course, if that thought scares you at all then, you could just get out your complete series DVD box-set and watch the damn thing all over again. That's what this blogger will be doing.
Edited to add: After King's Landing's near destruction, Grey Worm executes captured Lannister soldiers on Daenerys' orders. Tyrion finds his brother and sister dead in The Red Keep. Daenerys rallies The Unsullied and the Dothraki, declaring that she will 'break the wheel' and 'liberate' the entire world. Whether they wish to be 'liberated' or not. Denouncing Daenerys' tyranny, Tyrion resigns as Hand and is imprisoned for treason to await execution. Fearing that Daenerys will soon kill Sansa and Arya (and, maybe even Jon himself), Tyrion tells Jon that Westeros's fate lies squarely with him. Jon confronts Daenerys in the ruins of The Red Keep and, realising that she had gone absolutely bat-shit crazy via the corrupting influence of unfettered power, stabs her to death during an embrace. And, that was the end of her shit. Drogon, apparently unfussed about Daenerys' death, symbolically melts the Iron Throne and then carries Daenerys' body away.
Tyrion proposes that future monarchs should be chosen by the assembled Westerosi aristocracy, rather than through familial succession (Sam's alternative suggestion of a democratic vote by the people is, laughingly, rejected by everyone). Apart from Sansa asserting an independent autonomous North, the Westerosi House leaders follow Tyrion's proposal, proclaiming Bran as Bran The Broken, the Ruler of the newly formed Six Kingdoms. Bran appoints Tyrion as his Hand and sentences Jon to the return to leading The Night's Watch to appease Daenerys' enraged followers who wish for justice for their assassinated Queen. Grey Worm and The Unsullied sail for Naath. Tyrion organises the new King's Small Council - Brienne, Bronn, Ser Davos and Sam - to rebuild King's Landing (including all of its destroyed brothels, obviously). Sansa is crowned Queen Of The North. Arya sets sail on a voyage of discovery to explore whatever is West of Westeros. At Castle Black, Jon rejoins his friend Tormund, accompanying The Wildlings North of The Wall.
Afterword: Any wise Maester historians who feel that important events have been missed from this - necessarily abridged - lineage do, kindly, send your learned findings to Stately Telly Topping Manor by means of your swiftest raven. Or, you know, e-mail.
Maester Keith Telly Topping.
First Of His Name.