Game of Thrones is finally on the way back for its final season, promising to bring answers to all of our questions about dragons, white walkers, and, presumably, whether Hot Pie’s new restaurant business was a success. Still, it’s it’s been a while since we’ve visited the Seven Kingdoms, so before we get the final piece of HBO’s epic hit series, here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know before you watch Game of Thrones Season 8.
The most shattering reveal of Season 7 came in the finale, confirming one of the longest-held theories in all of Game of Thrones fandom.
Jon Snow is not, it turns out, the bastard son of Ned Stark. He’s actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, which makes him the rightful-ish heir to the Iron Throne. As his sister Lyanna was close to death due to childbirth complications, Ned promised to keep her secret at all costs, lying about Jon’s parentage to protect his identity. Not even Jon knows he’s a Targaryen, which is why, in true GoT fashion, this reveal was intercut with shots of Jon making out with Daenerys Targaryen, his secret aunt.
Surprisingly, that’s not the most shocking thing about the scene. Instead, it’s the ramifications of Jon having both Targaryen and Stark blood coursing through his veins. As we learned from the Three-Eyed Raven, Jon’s a walking, talking one-man song of ice and fire with roots that go back to Robert’s Rebellion, the big brawl in Westeros that predates the events of the series. Robert Baratheon cut down Rhaegar on the battlefield and seized the Iron Throne, setting into motion the narrative we’ve been following for seven seasons, but it was all based on a lie. When Lyanna left Robert to run off with Rhaegar, the story throughout the Seven Kingdoms was that she was kidnapped. In reality, though, it seems Rhaegar and Lyanna were deeply in love, marrying in secret just before they met their ultimate fates.
Game of Thrones has used “Winter is coming” as its ominous tagline since 2011, and Season 7 finally delivered on that promise. As the final image of the season, we see the undead army of White Walkers on horseback advancing on the Seven Kingdoms. The woefully outmatched remnants of the free folk and the Night’s Watch helplessly watch as the Night King flexes on the realms of men by having his new ice dragon huff, puff, and blow the Wall down. That’s right: the Night King has resurrected an undead, unkillable dragon as the deadliest weapon in his considerable arsenal.
So what’s the deal with all the ice zombies? In short, wights are the undead hordes of soldiers who serve the White Walkers, former humans turned into zombie-like ice monsters that serve under the Night King. The Night King’s true motives aren’t yet known, but we know that he’s extremely powerful and can control the entire army with a sort of telepathy. Fire can destroy the wights, but only dragon fire, dragonglass, and Valyrian steel can kill White Walkers. Samwell Tarly has discovered that Dragonstone, the historical seat of House Targaryen, is sitting on a mountain of dragonglass, and Jon Snow and his men have been mining it and turning it into weapons in preparation ever since. As for the Night King, it’s unclear if anything can stop him. Keep watching the video to know what you should know before watching Game Of Thrones season 8.
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Season 7’s big reveal | 0:23
Winter is here | 1:51
The Three-Eyed Raven | 3:05
Winterfell | 3:57
King’s Landing parley | 5:38
The Lannisters | 6:40
Cersei’s plan | 7:31
The Red Lady | 8:24
Tyrion: the Wild Card | 9:17