The fourth season of “Game of Thrones” premieres this Sunday on HBO. It’s been almost a year since we last saw the inhabitants of Westeros. Whether you’re still crying over the Red Wedding or can’t remember anyone’s names (or both), this handy dandy season three recap can catch you up to speed. I hope it will anyway. At the very least there are pretty pictures. (Note: while the show has a lot of gore and nudity at times, all the images in this recap are safe for work for the most part.)
Looking back on it, season three of “Game of Thrones” was a downer. It was quickly established in season one that Westeros is not the place for the faint of heart, but last season made it clear that it doesn’t matter what side you’re on or what family you’re from; you can and will get burned.
Since “Game of Thrones” covers so many stories, I’ve decided to divide this recap by location and character the same way the show does. Here we go!
KINGS LANDING: ASSORTED LANNISTERS, THE TYRELLS AND POOR SANSA STARK
King Joffrey continued to be the worst. He threw his weight around, killed a prostitute for funsies, and continued to harass poor Sansa Stark. Sure, Joffrey’s grandfather Tywin Lannister reminded him more than once he really didn’t have much weight to throw around, but not once did he do so with a slap to the face. Yep, season three didn’t include a single Joffrey slap. What a missed opportunity.
Almost everyone was sent scrambling after Tywin’s return to King’s Landing. He took over the role of Hand of the King from his injured son Tyrion and took every opportunity to loudly judge his children for every decision they ever made. After finding out the Tyrells planned to unite Loras Tyrell and Sansa Stark in politically beneficial matrimony, he quickly betrothed his daughter Cersei to Loras despite the fact that Cersei was pining after her missing twin brother Jaime and Loras is gay. Poor Sansa (seriously, she can’t catch a break!) ended up with Tyrion, and then suffered through what ended up being the second most depressing wedding of the season.
Even though Tywin put a stop to one of their plans, the Tyrell women proved that they know how to play the game and win. Much to her fiancé Joffrey’s surprise, Margaery Tyrell wooed the populace of King’s Landing simply by being nice to them. She then wooed him to her side by appealing to his love of violence. One person she didn’t fool was Cersei, who couldn’t stand her.
Tywin Lannister also wrote a lot of letters. Their significance became clear late in the season.
ACROSS THE NARROW SEA: DAENARYS TARGARYGEN
Daenerys started the season off with a bang. In one fail swoop she secured an enslaved army, freed said army and used her dragons to burn their former slavers to a crisp.
She declared it her mission to not only secure the throne but to also free every slave she came across. The details of that plan remain hazy. In her defense, she had more than one attempt on her life to deal with. The second assassination attempt was stopped by the mercenary Daario Naharis. He then swore fealty to her and joined her ranks along with his mercenary group The Second Sons. There was also flirting, because why not?
At the end of the season, in a moment that should have been cast and staged differently, Daenarys freed a bunch of slaves who then immediately exalted her as their “Mhysa” (mother).
EN ROUTE TO KING’S LANDING: BRIENNE & JAIME
While on their way back to King’s Landing, Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister were captured by supposed Stark ally Roose Bolton. Champion letter writer Tywin secured Jaime’s freedom, but not before one of Bolton’s men chopped off Jaime’s sword hand.
Brienne did not escape unscathed either. She’d been forced to battle a bear when the already freed Jaime came back for her. The pair finally made it to King’s Landing in the season’s final episode.
IN THE NORTH & BEYOND THE WALL: JON SNOW, SAM, AND THE BABY STARKS
Jon Snow (who knows nothing) went undercover with the Wildlings. In the process he fell in love with the Wildling woman Ygritte. After Jon could not bring himself kill an old man, the Wildlings realized he was still loyal to the Night’s Watch. Jon didn’t know it, but his brother Bran helped him escape death. Ygritte chased Jon but didn’t kill him. Instead she sent him on his way with more than one arrow wound to remember her by. Despite his injuries, Jon made it back to The Wall.
Unlike so many people in Westeros, Sam Tarly had a string of fantastic luck. Not only did he survive two encounters with the White Walkers, he was reunited with his crush Gilly and her newborn son, and escaped a deadly fight among members of the Night Watch.
After escaping from the burned ruins of Winterfell; Bran, Rickon, Osha and Hodor ran into Jojen and Meera Reed. Jojen told Bran he’s a Warg and can enter the minds of animals. The ragtag group traveled together, searching for the three-eyed crow Bran saw in his dreams. While resting in an abandoned mill, Bran was able to enter Hodor’s mind to calm him down. He also entered the mind of Jon’s direwolf and helped him escape from the Wildlings. With the search for the three-eyed crowd leading him beyond the wall, Bran parted ways with his brother, Osha and Hodor.
WHO KNOWS: THEON GREYJOY
Let’s keep this short ‘cause this storyline was a repetitive, violent mess. Theon was tortured by Roose Bolton’s bastard son Ramsay for weeks even after he admitted he did not kill the youngest Stark children. Why? ‘Cause Ramsay Bolton is crazy…or bored…or several episodes were running short. Who knows? Anyway, after Theon’s penis forcefully parted ways with the rest of his body and was sent to his family in a box, his sister Yara vowed to rescue him.
THE RIVERLANDS: ASSORTED STARKS
After last season’s escape from Harrenhal; Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie ran into the guerrilla group The Brothers Without Banners. The Hound, held captive by the Brotherhood, revealed Arya’s true identity. The Brotherhood then sentenced The Hound to a trial by combat for his crimes, which he won. Ayra wasn’t having that, and tried to kill The Hound herself.
Arya quickly grew disillusioned with the Brotherhood after they sold Gendry to Melisandre and didn’t take her to her mother’s hometown of Riverrun. She ran off, but The Hound caught her. He took her to Walder Frey’s home, the Twins.
Starks can apparently never prosper for long in Westeros, and Robb and Catelyn learned that the hard way. At the beginning of the season, some of Robb’s men were already mad because Robb broke an oath and married Talisa instead of one of Walder Frey’s daughters and Catelyn let Jaime Lannister go. Robb then made some bad decisions, as young and inexperienced rulers are wont to do. He killed Lord Karstark after the lord killed two young Lannisters. Desperately in need of forces after the entire Karstark force left his side, Robb decided to make nice with the Freys. As part of a new deal, Catelyn’s brother Edmure married Roslin Frey.
The wedding appeared to go off without a hitch until the “Rains of Castamere” began to play. Catelyn realized the wedding was a trap, but it was too late. The Freys and the Boltons, thought to be Stark allies, turned on the family. Robb, his pregnant wife Talisa, and Catelyn were all killed along with most of the Stark Bannermen. Even Robb’s direwolf didn’t make it out alive.
Tywin Lannister rewarded Walder Frey and Roose Bolton for their treachery, giving them both fancy new titles. Who knew a few letters could lead to a bloodbath?
Arya and The Hound arrived at the Twins just in time to witness the slaughter. After hearing one of Frey’s men bragging about it, Arya stabbed him in the neck.
DRAGONSTONE: STANNIS, MELISANDRE & DAVOS
Stannis returned to Dragonstone to lick his wounds after his loss at the Battle of Blackwater and became increasingly dependent on the sorceress Melisandre. When his right hand man Davos returned, he was almost immediately thrown in jail for trying to kill Melisandre.
Needing King’s blood to perform a spell, Melisandre bought Gendry from The Brotherhood Without Banners. She planned to sacrifice him, but after Davos convinced Stannis to reconsider killing one of his only living relatives, she removed some of Gendry’s blood with leeches instead. This was done after sex of course, because this is “Game of Thrones.” If something can take place during or after a sex scene, it most certainly will.
After Robb Stark’s death, Melisandre hopped aboard the sacrificing Gendry train again. This time with fire! Davos helped Gendry escape, and Stannis sentenced to death. Stannis changed his mind after a timely raven from the Night’s Watch about the White Walkers arrived.
Winter is officially coming.
And that was season three! Season four of “Game of Thrones” premieres Sunday, April 6th at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Pacific on HBO.
All “Game of Thrones” screencaps from screencapped.net