Ahead of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, here’s a refresher of everything you need to know from season 1. (Check out our guides for seasons 2-7 and our list of essential episodes down below.)

Episode 1: “Winter Is Coming”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Tim Van Patten
Plot: After the death of his right-hand man, King Robert Baratheon travels north to Winterfell to ask his old friend Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark to assume the role. The queen, Cersei; her twin brother, Jaime Lannister; and their brother Tyrion Lannister arrive with the king. The two families intermingle to devastating result: Bran (the second youngest of the Stark children) interrupts Jaime and Cersei having incestuous sex, so Jaime pushes him from a tower window to silence him. Across the Narrow Sea in Pentos, exiled prince Viserys Targaryen forces his sister, Daenerys, to wed Khal Drogo, the leader of a Dothraki tribe, in exchange for an army so he can return to Westeros and reclaim his father’s Iron Throne.
Introduces: Everyone, plus White Walkers (the undead entities that live Beyond the Wall), the Starks’ pet direwolves, their ward Theon Greyjoy, and the treacherous prince Joffrey.
Historic moment: Dany receives three petrified dragon eggs as a wedding gift.
Grade: A–

Episode 2: “The Kingsroad”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Tim Van Patten
Plot: Ned and his two daughters, Arya and Sansa, leave Winterfell for the capital. En route south, Joffrey orchestrates the beheading of Sansa’s direwolf. At Winterfell, Ned’s wife, Catelyn Stark, fights off an assassin at crippled Bran’s bedside. Suspicious of the Lannisters’ involvement, she journeys to King’s Landing to warn her husband. Bran awakens from his coma after she leaves.
Historic moment: Jon Snow, Ned’s bastard son, heads north to the Wall — an enormous ice structure that separates the Seven Kingdoms from what’s beyond, and is manned by a military order, the Night’s Watch.
Grade: B+

Episode 3: “Lord Snow”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Brian Kirk
Plot: In King’s Landing, Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, a former childhood friend of Catelyn, helps Lady Stark when she arrives seeking Ned. He claims Bran’s would-be-assassin’s dagger belongs to Tyrion. Ned and Catelyn enlist his help to find the truth. Across the Narrow Sea, Dany — now pregnant with her husband’s child — bonds with exiled knight Ser Jorah Mormont as she settles into her role as Khaleesi (a Queen of the Dothraki), to her brother’s annoyance. Arya begins sword-fighting classes with a renowned trainer from Braavos.
Introduces: The Small Council: a conniving motley crew consisting of the king’s brother, Lord Renly; the eunuch Lord Varys; Grand Maester Pycelle; and the Master of Coin, Littlefinger.
Historic moment: We learn that Jaime killed the “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen (Dany’s father), and is therefore known as “Kingslayer.”
Grade: B+

Episode 4: “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”

Writer: Bryan Cogman
Director: Brian Kirk
Plot: Tyrion stops at Winterfell with a gift for paralyzed Bran: blueprints for a saddle that allows him to ride without the use of his legs. Samwell Tarly arrives at the Wall and Jon takes pity on his weakness. At King’s Landing, Ned looks into the previous Hand of the King Jon Arryn’s death. He meets an armorer’s apprentice, Gendry, King Robert’s bastard son. On the road back north, Catelyn runs into Tyrion. She accuses him of conspiring to murder her son Bran, and announces she’s taking him back to Winterfell to await the King’s justice.
Introduces: Gendry: one legitimate heir to the throne, and the suggestion that Robert’s blond-haired offspring are unlikely to have come from his “strong seed.”
Historic moment: Dany stands up to her brother.
Grade: B

Episode 5: “The Wolf and the Lion”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Brian Kirk
Plot: Catelyn takes Tyrion to the Eyrie where her sister/Jon Arryn’s widow, Lysa, resides. Lysa has become unhinged and still breastfeeds her preadolescent son. At King’s Landing, Varys warns Ned that Robert’s life is in jeopardy, believing Jon Arryn was poisoned. The king hears (via Jorah, who is trading secrets in exchange for a pardon) that Dany is pregnant and calls for her assassination. Ned refuses to have any part in it and gives up his position as Hand. He plans to leave for Winterfell, but first visits a brothel on Littlefinger’s suggestion, where he finds another of Robert’s illegitimate children. On leaving, Ned is surrounded by Jaime — angry that Catelyn has taken his brother prisoner — and his men.
Introduces: Ser Loras Tyrell, the “Knight of Flowers” and Renly Baratheon’s lover.
Historic moment: The Stark/Lannister tension comes to a head when Jaime and Ned fight, almost to the death.
Grade: B+

Episode 6: “A Golden Crown”

Writers: Jane Espenson, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss
Director: Daniel Minahan
Plot: Ned wants Jaime brought to justice for butchering his men, but Robert won’t act against his source of wealth. Ned is reinstated as Hand and summons the Lannister patriarch, Tywin, to court to answer for attacking the Riverlands. Bran is set upon by Wildlings in the woods but saved by his older brother Robb and Theon. Tyrion demands a trial by combat and a champion to fight on his behalf; the mercenary Bronn volunteers, fights dirty, wins, and Tyrion is freed. Elsewhere, Dany proves herself to be one of the Dothraki by eating a horse’s heart. A jealous Viserys drunkenly demands a crown from Khal Drogo. Drogo pours molten gold on Viserys’ head, thereby crowning and killing him — painfully.
Introduces: Osha, a Wildling who later looks after the younger Stark children.
Historic moment: Viserys’ death proves he was no dragon; fire can’t kill a dragon.
Grade: B+

Episode 7: “You Win or You Die”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Daniel Minahan
Plot: Having discovered Cersei’s children were born of incest, Ned tells her to flee and escape Robert’s wrath. However, the king is maimed by a boar during a hunt and later succumbs to his injuries. Robert’s dying wish — that Ned serve as Lord Regent until the king’s rightful heir comes of age — is ignored by Cersei, who has Ned seized. Ned realizes Littlefinger has double-crossed him when the city guard doesn’t come to his aid. Renly flees the city. Dany is saved from an assassin by Jorah, and her near-death is enough to convince Drogo to cross the sea and claim the throne. Benjen Stark, Ned’s brother, goes missing north of the Wall, and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (Jorah’s father) requests Jon as his personal steward.
Introduces: Tywin Lannister, who sends Jaime and half of his forces to attack Riverrun, thereby beginning a war.
Historic moment: Jon and Sam take their oath to join the Night’s Watch. Jon’s direwolf appears with a severed hand to add flair to the occasion.
Grade: B+

Episode 8: “The Pointy End”

Writer: George R.R. Martin
Director: Daniel Minahan
Plot: After Ned’s arrest, Arya narrowly escapes, and Cersei forces Sansa to write to her family, telling Robb to swear fealty to Joffrey. Robb calls for his bannermen to march on King’s Landing instead. Catelyn meets Robb on the road, while Tyrion joins his father at the Lannister encampment. King Joffrey names his grandfather, Tywin, his Hand and uncle/dad, Jaime, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. The Dothraki sack a village to help fund Drogo’s throne quest. Dany saves some women from rape, and Drogo is injured defending her honor.
Introduces: Sam’s knowledge that White Walkers can be killed by fire.
Historic moment: Two dead rangers are brought back to Castle Black. They reanimate as wights (zombie-like beings), and Jon saves Commander Mormont from their attack.
Grade: B+

Episode 9 “Baelor”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Alan Taylor
Plot: Robb is granted permission by the gross Lord Walder Frey to cross his fortified bridge if he marries one of Frey’s daughters. Commander Mormont gifts Jon a Valyrian steel sword. Jon’s loyalty to the Watch is tested when he learns Robb is marching south. Tywin’s army (including Tyrion) defeats the northern men with ease, but elsewhere Robb crushes Jaime’s men, taking the Kingslayer captive. Drogo is close to death from his infected wound and the Dothraki are restless, ready to claim his position as Khal. Desperate, Dany asks the “maegi” (witch) to use bloodmagic to save him and goes into premature labor.
Introduces: A prostitute named Shae, for whom Tyrion falls.
Historic moment: In a bid to save his daughters’ lives, Ned confesses to his “sins” and acknowledges Joffrey as king. Joffrey has him beheaded nonetheless.
Grade: A

Episode 10: “Fire and Blood”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Alan Taylor
Plot: Disguised as a boy, Arya is drafted into the Night’s Watch alongside Gendry. Jon rides to meet Robb — who has just been crowned King in the North by his bannermen — but is convinced to return to the Wall by Sam & Co. The Night’s Watch goes beyond the Wall to find Benjen. Dany’s son dies, his life having been traded for Drogo’s by the witch’s spell. Drogo’s tribe has left, with their leader alive but in a vegetative state. Dany smothers him with a pillow.
Introduces: Jaqen H’ghar, a prisoner also recruited for the Night’s Watch.
Historic moment: Dany burns Drogo’s body, her dragon eggs, and the witch. She climbs onto the pyre herself, later emerging from the ash unscathed, holding three baby dragons: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion.
Grade: A

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Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'

  • TV Show
  • 8
  • 73
  • TV-MA
  • David Benioff
  • D.B. Weiss
  • HBO
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