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Here's a refresher of everything you need to know from season 2 of Game of Thrones. (Check out our guides for seasons 1–7, our complete coverage of the final season, and our list of essential episodes down below.)

Episode 1: “The North Remembers”

Director: Alan Taylor

Plot: Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) arrives at King's Landing and informs everyone that Tywin (Charles Dance) — busy with war — has named him acting Hand, much to Cersei's (Lena Headey) dismay. An order goes out to murder all of Robert's (Mark Addy) bastards, but Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is already on the road north. Dany (Emilia Clarke) and the Dothraki — accompanied by her freshly hatched dragons — are struggling in the Red Waste, so she sends three riders off in search of life. The Night's Watch crew enters creepy Craster's (Robert Pugh) home and meets all of his daughters/wives. In Dragonstone, Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten) converts Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), Robert's brother, to the ways of the Lord of Light. Stannis' knight Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) is not a Melisandre fan and wants Stannis to make peace with his brother Renly (Gethin Anthony) or join Robb Stark (Richard Madden), but Stannis, believing himself the rightful heir to the throne, takes a hard pass. He also sends ravens with the news — imparted to him by Ned Stark (Sean Bean) — that Cersei's children are Jaime's (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Robb sends Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) to ask Renly to join them, and Theon (Alfie Allen) offers to secure ships from his dad.

Introduces: Stannis; Melisandre; Davos; Salladhor Saan, the pirate who joins Team Stannis; and Craster and his daughters, including Gilly, who connects with Sam.

Historic moment: Melisandre's "The night is dark and full of terrors."

Grade: B+

Episode 2: “The Night Lands”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Director: Alan Taylor

Plot: Theon heads home to the Iron Islands and promptly hits on his sister, Yara (Gemma Whelan), not recognizing her after so many years away. His cranky father, Balon (Patrick Malahide), is unimpressed by his returning son and says he's not joining Robb's — or anyone's — army. Arya (Maisie Williams) admits to Gendry that she's Ned's daughter. In King's Landing, Tyrion is nervous that Shae (Sibel Kekilli) has met with Varys (Conleth Hill), and a raven arrives with word of the White Walkers.

Historic moment: Jon (Kit Harington) sees a baby boy, abandoned in the woods by Craster, taken by a White Walker.

Introduces: Yara and Balon Greyjoy.

Grade: B+

Episode 3: “What Is Dead May Never Die”

Writer: Bryan Cogman

Director: Alik Sakharov

Plot: Jon shares the horrifying news of Craster's baby sacrifices with Commander Mormont (James Cosmo), who already knew. Catelyn visits Renly in hopes of forging an alliance. Renly later has trouble forging an alliance with his wife, Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), in the bedroom; she helpfully offers to invite her brother, Loras (Finn Jones), in to assist. Tyrion assigns Shae to be Sansa's (Sophie Turner) handmaiden and orders Cersei's daughter, Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), to Dorne to be married. Arya saves H'ghar's (Tom Wlaschiha) and Gendry's lives from Lannister bannermen.

Introduces: Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), who defeats Loras in a match and is invited to join Renly's guard.

Historic moment: In a move that proved to be bad news for a lot of people­ — most of all himself — Theon chooses a side, pledging allegiance to the Iron Islands.

Grade: B+

Episode 4: “Garden of Bones”

Writer: Vanessa Taylor

Director: David Petrarca

Plot: In King's Landing, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) rains more cruelty on Sansa and a pair of prostitutes. Tyrion enlists his sister's young lover, — and cousin, natch — Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), to spy on Cersei. Arya and Gendry wind up prisoners at the very bleak Harrenhal, where Tywin puts Arya to work as a cupbearer since he knows she's a girl. Dany and her road-weary crew are, eventually, welcomed into the gorgeous city of Qarth. The remaining Baratheon bros. meet and come to no peace accord.

Introduces: The ominous smoke monster that Melisandre gives "birth" to in a cave; and Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), one of Robb's generals.

Historic moment: It's love at first sight GoT-style as Robb assists headstrong field nurse Talisa (Oona Chaplin) in an amputation.

Grade: B

Episode 5: “The Ghost of Harrenhal”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Director: David Petrarca

Plot: Catelyn is conferring with Renly when, to her and Brienne's horror, Melisandre's shadow monster enters the tent and kills him. The women flee and Brienne pledges her service to Catelyn. Loras and Margaery also escape as Stannis' troops arrive, and Renly's men switch their allegiance to him. Tyrion gets a load of the wildfire Cersei is cooking up in King's Landing; Dany turns down a proposal of marriage in Qarth; and absolutely everybody dunks on Theon, who is given one ship and got the (not-so-)bright idea to take Winterfell, which triggers Bran's (Isaac Hempstead Wright) dream of the sea crashing into his home.

Introduces: Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong), a Night's Watch ranger, whom Jon joined on a mission to investigate the Wildling army.

Historic moment: H'ghar offers to kill three people for Arya in exchange for the lives, including his, that she saved.

Grade: B+

Episode 6: “The Old Gods and the New”

Writer: Vanessa Taylor

Director: David Nutter

Plot: Theon takes Winterfell in the most honor-free way imaginable, and with no foresight for strategy. Osha (Natalia Tena) manages to escape with Bran, his brother Rickon (Art Parkinson), and a servant, Hodor (Kristian Nairn); Jon and Qhorin come face to face with some Wildlings, including a particularly fierce redhead. In King's Landing, Joffrey's bodyguard, Sandor "the Hound" Clegane (Rory McCann), rescues Sansa from a melee when a crowd rose up against the king. At Harrenhal, H'ghar takes a second man's life, helping Arya narrowly avoid Tywin discovering she's a Stark. Roose tells Robb he'll send his bastard to take Winterfell back from Theon. In Qarth, there's a grand theft dragon!

Introduces: Ygritte (Rose Leslie), the aforementioned redhead.

Historic moment: Ygritte's first, but not last, great Jon Snow zinger: "You're brave. Stupid, but brave."

Grade: B+

Episode 7: “A Man Without Honor”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Director: David Nutter

Plot: Unable to carry out Qhorin's order to kill Ygritte, Jon finds himself captured by her Wildling pals. When Theon discovers Bran and Rickon escaped Winterfell, he kills two local boys and burned their bodies to display as decoys; he feels bad, but also needs to assert himself. A frantic Dany searches for her dragons in Qarth, blood is shed. In King's Landing, Sansa is distraught to discover she got her first period, which means she could now bear Joffrey's children. Meanwhile, Jaime — still in Robb's custody — kills his cousin in an (ultimately botched) escape attempt. During a chat about history, Tywin deduces that Arya is highborn and says she reminds him of Cersei­­.

Introduces: The interior of the House of the Undying.

Historic moment: "You know nothing, Jon Snow."

Grade: B+

Episode 8: “The Prince of Winterfell”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Director: Alan Taylor

Plot: Yara is not impressed with Theon taking a castle so far from the sea and "killing" the strategically valuable Stark children. Both captured, Qhorin tells Jon he should kill him, so the Wildlings will trust him. Robb talks marriage — and gets up close and personal — with Talisa. He also discovers that Catelyn sent Jaime off with Brienne to swap for her daughters, believing Cersei had them both. So naturally, Robb arrests his mother. In the bowels of Winterfell, Osha reveals to Stark loyalist Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) that she, the boys, and Hodor doubled back. Arya, Gendry, and their friend Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey) escape Harrenhal, thanks to H'ghar's final murder on Arya's behalf. Tyrion is rightfully worried that Joffrey, and King's Landing, are not prepared for the fight with Stannis' approaching fleet.

Introduces: How Davos got the nickname "Onion Knight."

Historic moment: The start of the Brienne and Jaime road show.

Grade: B+

Episode 9: “Blackwater”

Director: Neil Marshall

Plot: The Battle of Blackwater is now upon King's Landing. Tyrion's various strategies, including the deployment of wildfire to fend off approaching ships, turn out to be (gruesome) winners. A cowardly Joffrey scuttles away when the tides began to turn, leaving Tyrion to rally the troops to hold the line: "Those are brave men knocking at our door, let's go kill them." All hope seems like it might be lost, and just as Tyrion is injured — by one of his own men — he sees Tywin leading a fresh army to the rescue. Sitting on the Iron Throne, Cersei is poised to poison her youngest son, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), should the keep be breached, but is relieved when a triumphant Tywin strides into the throne room.

Introduces/Historic moment: Wildfire in action.

Grade: A+

Episode 10: “Valar Morghulis”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Director: Alan Taylor

Plot: Victory's spoils include Tywin becoming Hand to Joffrey again, Littlefinger being awarded Harrenhal, and Margaery receiving the booby prize of marrying the king. Tyrion, essentially powerless, nurses his wounds and the knowledge that Cersei orchestrated the attack on him. Robb secretly marries Talisa while the Brienne & Jaime Show continues apace; Roose's bastard son seizes Winterfell from Theon; and Bran and the gang head for the Wall. Dany is reunited with her dragons in Qarth. H'ghar gives Arya a coin that will help her in the future. Back at Dragonstone, Stannis is mad at Melisandre, since he lost the battle. She continues to tell him he'll be king and entrances him with fire. Qhorin goads Jon into killing him, and the Wildlings free him.

Historic moment: Three horns sound: the White Walkers — a whole lot of them — are on the move.

Grade: B+

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Episode Recaps

Beyond-the-Wall
Game of Thrones

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

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