Ahead of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, here’s a refresher of everything you need to know from season 5. (Check out our guides for seasons 1-4 and 6-7 and our list of essential episodes down below.)

Episode 1: “The Wars to Come”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Michael Slovis
Plot: The balance of power starts to readjust in the wake of Tywin’s death. Up north, Stannis fails to persuade the Wildlings to join his army and march on Winterfell. Across the sea, Varys tries to convince a drunk Tyrion to throw his support behind Dany, who is currently struggling with the politics of ruling. Down south, Cersei and Jaime grieve their father’s passing as Margaery plots to pull herself out from under the former’s thumb.
Introduces: Flashbacks! When Cersei was younger, a witch prophesized that all of her children would die and her reign as queen wouldn’t last. Yikes!
Historic moment: Stannis burns Mance at the stake for refusing to bend the knee.
Grade: B

Episode 2: “The House of Black and White”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Michael Slovis
Plot: Brienne runs into Sansa (and Littlefinger) at an inn and offers her protection, but Sansa, like her sister Arya before her, rejects her help. Nevertheless, Brienne resolves to follow her, just in case. Jaime recruits Bronn to travel to Dorne and rescue his and Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella.
Introduces: The titular House of Black and White (a.k.a. the house of the Faceless Men), where Arya is reunited with H’ghar.
Historic moment: Jon is elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
Grade: B+

Episode 3: “High Sparrow”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Mark Mylod
Plot: All about the Starks! H’ghar forces Arya to discard all of her personal belongings, while Jon’s tenure as Lord Commander begins with him executing an insubordinate guard. In Volantis, Mormont recognizes Tyrion in a brothel and kidnaps him as a present for Dany, unknowingly helping the wayward Lannister. In King’s Landing, Margaery and Tommen get married and waste no time consummating their union. (Ew.)
Introduces: The Waif, an assistant to the Faceless Men; the High Sparrow, leader of a fanatic religious order and the future leader of the Faith Militant.
Historic moment: Sansa returns to Winterfell for the first time since the first season because Little-finger has arranged for her to marry the abusive Ramsay, a.k.a. the son of the man who killed her brother Robb.
Grade: B

Episode 4: “Sons of the Harpy”

Writer: Dave Hill
Director: Mark Mylod
Plot: Reactionary and rebellious groups become bolder in both King’s Landing—where Cersei empowers the Sparrows to arrest sinners, including Loras—and in Meereen, where the Sons of the Harpy launch a devastating attack on the Unsullied. Less interestingly, Jaime and Bronn land in Dorne as the Sand Snakes (Oberyn’s bastard daughters) plot to kidnap Myrcella.
Introduces: Jaime learns that his gold hand can be an effective tool in combat. Yay, more making it work!
Historic moment: Ser Selmy perishes while fighting the Sons of the Harpy, a group of former slavers who oppose Dany’s rule over Meereen.
Grade: B

Episode 5: “Kill the Boy”

Writer: Bryan Cogman
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Plot: In the wake of the Sons of the Harpy’s violence, Dany lets her anger get the better of her and feeds a nobleman to her dragons. But after some thinking, she decides to compromise and agrees to reopen the fighting pits to free men — and to marry one of the city’s nobles as a sign of goodwill. Jon also makes nice with enemies: At the Wall, he persuades Tormund to take him to meet the rest of the Wildlings to negotiate a truce, much to the rest of the Night’s Watch’s dismay. Historic moment: Tyrion sees his first dragon right before he and Jorah are attacked by the diseased Stone Men. Unfortunately, one of the infected attackers manages to touch Jorah. At Winterfell, Sansa comes face-to-face with Theon.
Grade: B+

Episode 6: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

  • Writer: Bryan Cogman
  • Director: Jeremy Podeswa
  • Plot: At Cersei’s urging, the Faith Militant begin an inquest and arrest Margaery for lying about her brother’s homosexuality. Similarly, the Dornish guards break up Jaime and Bronn’s tussle with the Sand Snakes and throws the lot of them in jail. Meanwhile, slavers capture Tyrion and Jorah; however, Tyrion convinces them to let Jorah fight for his freedom (and money) in the pits in Meereen.
  • Introduces: After weeks of cleaning corpses — and failing at lying — Arya is finally shown the chamber where the faces are kept in the House of Black and White.
  • Historic moment: This is more meta-textual, but the critiques of the show’s gratuitous use of violence against women came to a boiling point after Ramsay raped Sansa on their wedding night while a horrified Theon looked on.
  • Grade: C+

Episode 7: “The Gift”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Plot: Sansa asks Theon to help her send a message to her allies, but Theon snitches to Ramsay, who flays one of her allies. Cersei visits Margaery in prison, mostly to gloat, but Cersei’s fortunes take a turn when the High Sparrow reveals that he knows about her incestuous relationship with Lancel and has her arrested. In other words, the Queen Mother played herself by empowering the Faith Militant.
Introduces: Meereen’s fighting pits, where Tyrion finally meets the Mother of Dragons.
Historic moment: Maester Aemon dies; Sam loses his virginity to Gilly.
Grade: B+

Episode 8: “Hardhome”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Plot: As a bitter Cersei languishes away in a cell, her brother Tyrion enjoys an audience with Dany, who decides to bring him on as an advisor and banishes Jorah once again. H’ghar sends Arya on her first mission for the Many-Faced God, and Theon reveals to Sansa that he lied about killing her two brothers, who, unless you forgot, don’t appear in season 5 at all.
Historic moment: Jon and Tormund meet with the Wildlings and convince many of them to join their alliance — which is immediately tested when an army of wights attacks Hardhome as the two groups are boarding ships to return to Castle Black. During the battle, Jon discovers that Valyrian steel can shatter a White Walker. As he sails away, he witnesses the Night King resurrect the fallen as wights.
Grade: A

Episode 9: “The Dance of Dragons”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: David Nutter
Plot: In Dorne, Oberyn’s older brother — Prince Doran Martell­ — grants Jaime, Myrcella, and Bronn safe passage back to King’s Landing. And in Braavos, Arya crosses paths with another name on her kill list: Meryn Trant, the pedophilic knight of the Kingsguard who murdered her sword teacher.
Historic moment: Drogon, who’s been mostly MIA, returns to protect his Dany when the Sons of the Harpy attempt to assassinate her on opening day of the fighting pits. And after Ramsay launches a sneak attack on Stannis’ camp, Stannis sees no option other than to follow Melisandre’s advice: He makes the heartbreaking choice to sacrifice his daughter, Shireen, on a pyre in order to assure his victory over the Boltons at Winterfell.
Grade: B+

Episode 10: “Mother’s Mercy”

Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: David Nutter
Plot: Drogon drops Dany off in the middle of nowhere and she ends up getting captured by a horde of Dothraki riders, which can’t be good news. Oberyn’s lover, Ellaria Sand, murders Doran and poisons young Myrcella, who dies in her uncle/father’s arms on their ship bound for King’s Landing. And Sansa and Theon use the cover of Ramsay and Stannis’ battle to jump off the ramparts and escape Winterfell.
Introduces: Blind Arya, who loses her sight because she violated the Faceless Men’s rules by killing Trant.
Historic moment: Where to begin? First off, Cersei endures her shameful and humiliating walk through the streets of King’s Landing after confessing to her sins. Then Brienne fulfills her oath to Renly and kills Stannis, whose army was demolished by the Bolton forces. Finally, the Night’s Watch turn on Jon and murder him for allowing the Wildlings to cross south of the Wall.
Grade: B+

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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.

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