After all that talk of ‘coming’, winter is finally on its way. (It’s taken its time, hasn’t it?) Details on Game Of Thrones’ seventh season are currently pretty thin on the icy ground, but even so, you’ll want to avoid reading this feature until you’re up-to-date with Thrones Seasons 1-6.
All caught up? Then let’s press on.
Watch the throne
HBO’s official promo doesn’t contain any actual show footage. It is, instead, the very epitome of a ‘tease’. But we already know the score: Season 7 is Jon vs. Cersei vs. Daenerys. Expect a lot of fire, ice, and a healthy dollop of dragon-based activity. Oh, and White Walkers.
The show returns to our screens on 17 July. The tried and tested simulcast will once again see the UK receive each episode at 2am on Sky Atlantic, before a repeat at 9pm for those more fond of their beds.
Beyond the books
Season 6 started to wave goodbye to George R.R. Martin’s source material, with Season 7 entering entirely uncharted territory. We’re also looking at a shorter batch of episodes: seven in total. These seven episodes will reportedly stretch across the same amount of time a 10-episode arc usually requires – so expect big things.
There’s also a very straightforward reason why the show won’t premiere during its usual April slot. The weather. “Now that winter has arrived on Game Of Thrones, executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss felt that the storylines of the next seasons would be better served by starting production a little later than usual, when the weather is changing,” HBO’s President of Programming Casey Bloys told Deadline. “Instead of the show’s traditional spring debut, we’re moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule.”
Belfast remains Season 7’s home, with Spain and Iceland also providing a backdrop for the next set of episodes.
We left Jon Snow very much alive (he made sure all those involved in his murder were executed) and crowned King of the North after defeating Ramsay Bolton and winning back Winterfell. Season 6’s closing episode also cleared up the long-running rumour behind Jon’s true parentage: R+L=J. Yes, one of the show’s biggest fan theories was confirmed at Season 6’s close, as one of Bran’s visions showed Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna giving birth to Rhaegar Targaryen’s child. A child born of fire and ice, it would seem...
Jon was also finally reunited with one of the Stark siblings, Sansa, with Bran rushing (well, dragging) his way over to tell his brother (well, cousin) what he has discovered.
When the mother-of-dragons-and-many-other-titles wasn’t commanding her spiky pets to destroy the slavers in Meereen, she was hatching a plan to win the Seven Kingdoms. With Tyrion at her side and Varys in tow, Dany was last seen setting sail for Westeros. She also has power over the Dothraki since earning their respect (fear?) when emerging unscathed from the fire she set to kill the Khals that took her captive.
She may be a strong, independent Khaleesi, but a husband would definitely help her claim to the Iron Throne. She left poor old Dario Naaharis behind in Meereen, so will Season 7 see her find a new suitor? Jon’s certainly out of the question now we know his true parentage. But will Bran get to him in time? It’s hardly like Game Of Thrones to indulge in a completely successful wedding, now, is it.
After wiping out the majority of King’s Landing (the High Sparrow, Lancel, Margaery and Loras Tyrell to name but a few), Cersei was responsible for Season 6’s final bang. However, her overzealous use of wildfire also had dire consequences for her one remaining son, Tommen, who threw himself from a window after learning of his mother’s betrayal. Unopposed, she planted herself on the Iron Throne. But don’t expect that to last long.
Is there more wildfire left to use before Season 7 is out? We wouldn’t count it out.
Poor Jaime. Not only did Myrcella die in his arms at the end of Season 5, but now he’s returned to King’s Landing (after securing Riverrun) to find his last remaining child dead as well. It’s impossible to imagine this sitting well with Jaime, and, with Tyrion on his way back to Westeros, could the pair finally unite against their tyrannical sister? Don’t forget a witch told a young Cersei she would die at the hands of the ‘valonqar’: ‘little brother’ in High Valyrian.
Somehow, thankfully, Tyrion has made it to Season 7. The fan favourite is now serving as Dany’s right-hand man – sorry Jorah and Dario Naaharis – sailing with her and Varys (who convinced Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand to join Team Targaryen) to Westeros.
After killing the Terminator-like Waif at the end of last season, Arya has finally accepted that she is ready to be a Stark again. But not before feeding Walder Frey pies stuffed with the meat of his sons. And then killing him. Yep: she’s definitely back on that list of hers. By our count, she still has a fair few on said list after the deaths of Joffrey, Tywin, Walder Frey and Meryn Trant. As for The Hound? He may have earned himself some time.
Sansa Stark delivered one of Season 6’s most satisfying moments – feeding Ramsay Bolton to his dogs. Though she’s toughened up considerably, Littlefinger is still creeping around trying to take her as his wife. Hopefully Jon can keep Baelish’s advances at bay. Even more hopefully, will we finally see the Stark sisters back together this season?
One theory that could possibly involve Sansa this season is that of ‘Lady Stoneheart’. In the novels, Catelyn Stark is reborn as the murderous Lady S after The Red Wedding, taking the lives of any who run with the Boltons, Freys, or Lannisters. Some believe this character’s traits could be handed to a more confident Sansa this season.
Books! Sam and Gilly made their way to the Citadel in Oldtown at the end of Season 6, so this season should spend some time with Sam during his Maester training. Could this be under the tutelage of the newly cast Jim Broadbent? To be honest, we’re more interested in how Sam will react when he realises Jon Snow died. And was resurrected. That boy’s missed a lot of drama.
Brienne of Tarth hot-footed it out of Riverrun after failing to convince the Blackfish to fight for Lady Sansa in the Battle of the Bastards. As Jaime, Bronn, and Walder Frey’s army fought (and won), Brienne and Podrick sailed away. We’re not quite sure where the pair are headed just yet, but we’re hoping they bump into Gendry on their travels.
It’s hard to know how to feel about the youngest remaining Stark going into Season 7. We found out he was responsible for ‘Hodor’. He went rogue without the Three-Eyed Raven and led the White Walkers to discover their whereabouts. He got the Three-Eyed Raven killed. It’s not been going too well for Bran and co.
However the young warg’s latest visions have come up trumps since he took over as Three-Eyed Raven, unveiling Jon Snow’s true parentage in the Tower of Joy. Now it’s just a matter of how long it will take Meera to drag Bran all the way to Winterfell. If Jon’s still there by that point.
Is Bran, as some fan theories state, actually responsible for building the wall? Founder of House Stark ‘Bran the Builder’ has been mentioned a few times in the show: a man who built the wall – and Winterfell – with the help of giants. So is he a myth, or is there more to Bran’s warging than previously thought?
Theon and Yara
The Greyjoy siblings have made their allegiances very clear, declaring themselves Team Targaryen – and pledging a thousand ships – on the death of their father. This makes life a little difficult for their cousin Euron, however, who had hoped to marry Daenerys. With the Martells, Tyrells and Greyjoys on Khaleesi’s side, will Euron be forced to pal up with Cersei?
Last season saw Sansa Stark make dog meat of Ramsay Bolton. Will Season 7 have a new big bad? Or will it focus more on Cersei?
What we do know is that Jim Broadbent, is joining in a “significant” part, with Joseph Quinn playing ‘Koner’, a character exclusive to the show.
Mark Gatiss and Bella Ramsey will return as Tycho Nestoris and Lady Lyanna Mormont, respectively, with Tom Hopper taking over from Freddie Stroma in the role of Dickon ‘brother of Sam’ Tarly.
The show’s long line of musical cameos is also set to continue, this time with Ed Sheeran and Bastille rumoured to also pop up.