After all that talk of ‘coming’, winter is finally here as Game Of Thrones enters its penultimate Season. The pace has picked up significantly and there are lots of threads to keep hold of so we're here, like a digital archmaester, to lend a helping hand. Below are all the pressing questions you may have about what's currently going down in Westeros this Season and every answer our little birds can provide. We'll update it each week as new questions arise.
Needless to say, this article is to spoilers what going beyond The Wall is for walking corpses. You have been warned.
The Night King brought down The Wall?!
That he did. The Wall is imbued with powerful magic to stop the dead from passing and it's hard to imagine how the Night King might have ever got past it if Daenerys hadn't ranged North and inadvertently given him the means to do so. With zombie Viserion at his side, he was able to use undead dragonfire (blue, naturally) to melt the wall (it's ice, after all) and cause it to collapse. Now there's nothing between him and the North (or the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, for that matter) except whatever foces Jon and Daenerys can muster.
Did the whole Wall come down?
No, just the Easternmost section abutted by the castle Eastwatch-By-The-Sea. Enough to get his entire army through, though.
Hang on, I saw the edge of the wall. It only jutted a few hundred metres into the ocean. Couldn't the dead/wildlings have just sailed around it all along.
So Jon's real name is Aegon?
Yes, named after Aegon the conqueror, who first came to Westeros with his army (and three dragons) three hundred years ago and forged the Iron Throne from the swords of his enemies. Jon's not the first Aegon since then (Targaryens are hardly original with nomenclature) but it's quite the title to live up to.
Yep, it turns out chaos might be a ladder but unless you have someone holding the bottom it's very easy to fall off. Westeros' master schemer finally got his comeuppance and while we'll miss his inspired skullduggery, there are more direct threats to deal with now and his usefulness as a plot device at this point is questionable. Also, it's nice to see the Stark sisters all made up again.
A dragon! Dead! Which one was it?
Viserion, named after Daenerys' ill-fated brother. A shame to be sure but who doesn't love a zombie dragon, right? Will it breathe ice or blue fire? We can't wait to find out. It being Viserion actually makes a certain amount of sense as it leaves Drogon for Daenerys to ride and then a Rhaegal (named after Jon's father, Rhaegar) as a possible future mount for the King In The North.
All that talk of succession was a bit pointed, am I missing something?
It's actually a thornier issue than either Tyrion or Daenerys reaslise. Not only does Dany have no heir, she is unable to bear children — Or is she? We only have Mirri Maz Duur's word for that, after all — but given Jon's parentage, Daenerys isn't even first in the line of succession. This is a problem that gets cleared up if the pair do eventually marry but doesn't solve the problem of who will reign after them.
Who saved Jon Snow from the wights?
That was his uncle, Benjen Stark, former First Ranger of the Night's Watch. We've not seen him since last season when he rescued Bran and Meera in a similar fashion. He's a kind of non-wight, having been 'killed' by a White Walker but saved from turning into a traditional walking corpse by the Children Of The Forest. He's no less dead because of it and now, having been eviscerated by The Night King's forces, presumably reduced to bloody chunks.
Who did the wights kill?
Thoros of Myr died of his injuries but, surprisingly, everyone else emerged unscathed. The only other contributions to The Night King's growing corpse pile were Viserion, Benjen Stark (who was already dead) and a couple of no-name wildlings — the Game Of Thrones equivalent of Star Trek redshirts.
What was the note Arya found in episode 5?
This harks all the way back to Season 2. Remember when Ned was arrested and Cersei (at Littlefinger's behest) gets Sansa to 'prove her loyalty?' This is the note she pressured her to write to her brother Robb back in Winterfell. The full text reads:
Robb, I write to you with a heavy heart. Our good king Robert is dead, killed from wounds he took in a boar hunt. Father has been charged with treason. He conspired with Robert’s brothers against my beloved Joffrey and tried to steal his throne. The Lannisters are treating me very well and provide me with every comfort. I beg you: come to King’s Landing, swear fealty to King Joffrey and prevent any strife between the great houses of Lannister and Stark.
Hardly her finest hour but do bear in mind that she was a hopelessly naive girl back then, with her father's life hanging in the balance and Cersei still pretending to be her friend.
Did Robb believe the note when he read it? I can't remember.
For a moment. Thankfully Maester Luwin jumped in and nipped that one in the bud: "It's your sister's hand but the queen's words."
What's the note's significance now?
Simply, that Arya isn't nearly as clever (or stealthy) as she thinks she is and that Littlefinger is three steps ahead of her. As showrunner D.B. Weiss subsequently explained:
"[Arya] gets roped into spying on somebody who is actually leading her by the nose. He’s looking for a way to prevent this sister bond from developing further, because the tighter they are, the more definitively he is caught on the outside of it.
On the Sansa end of the relationship, he’s seen the opening, and now all he needs to do is give Arya a cause to display real rage towards Sansa. He knows full well that with what’s going on in Sansa’s head with regards to Arya and how dangerous she is, when Arya starts to act dangerous and act angry, he knows where Sansa is going to turn."
Is it just me or did Gilly just stumble across the biggest secret in the Seven Kingdoms?
Yes, that was quite the bombshell she dropped while Sam was busy mansplaining the bleakness of their situation and completely ignoring her. What she stumbled across was a record that Rhaegar Targaryen's marriage to Elia Martell had been annulled and he'd been secretly remarried.
Remarried? Who to whom?
Lyanna Stark. You'll recall her attempted 'rescue' from the Tower Of Joy during Bran's visions in Season 6, when Jon Snow is revealed to be her son, rather than Ned's? This means that he's not the bastard son of Rhaegar after all, but rather the Targaryen heir's trueborn son.
Come on, keep up. That means Jon is in fact the rightful Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne and not Daenerys. Of course all of this has since been helpfully Bransplained by our lad the Three-Eyed Raven in the finale.
Now that Lord Tarly and his son are dead, is Samwell the new Lord of Horn Hill?
No. His father and brother may be toast but Sam took the black and gave up all claim to his father's titles when he joined the Night's Watch.
Is Cersei really pregnant?
It seems entirely likely. Also, it makes sense of Qyburn's parting words in that scene where he offers to give her something (presumably a herbal 'remedy'), which she refuses.
How is that possible?
Well, when a brother and a sister love each other very much...
What was the dagger Littlefinger gave to Bran, which he then gave to Arya?
That was the Valyrian steel blade carried by the assassin sent to kill Bran in Season 1. It's the reason Catelyn Stark abducted Tyrion (Littlefinger told her the dagger belonged to him, ergo he sent the assassin) and what kicked off the whole Stark/Lannister feud in the first place. It's clearly something of a plot point as an illustration of the dagger appeared in a book Sam was poring over at the Citadel.
Was the knife really Tyrion's?
He claims not but the blade's exact ownership has never been explicitly revealed. In the books, it's implied that it belonged to Joffrey and it was he who sent the killer. Update: thanks to the finale, we now know the dagger was Littlefinger's. He was behind it all along, the swine.
Chaos is a ladder? What in R'hllor's name was that all about?
It would seem that was Bran putting Littlefinger in his place. Way back in Season 3, it's something Littlefinger says to Varys while bragging of his scheming:
"Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is."
Bran's use of the phrase implies that with his new powers of sight as the Three-Eyed-Raven, he's very aware of Littlefinger's scheming and perhaps the full extent of his treachery (revealed to be true in the finale when he outs his betrayal of Ned).
What's the current state of Arya's list?
Cersei - alive and kicking.
The Mountain - technically dead but reanimated as a zombie knight so probably needs putting down permanently.
The Red Woman - alive.
Polliver - dead, killed by Arya.
Lord Tywin - dead, killed by Tyrion.
Joffrey - dead, killed by Olenna.
Ser Meryn - dead, killed by Arya.
Walder Frey - dead, killed by Arya.
Ser Ilyn - unknown, he's not been seen since Season 2.
The Hound - very much alive but removed from the list after Arya left him for dead before leaving for Braavos.
Beric Dondarrion - possibly alive, in the wreckage of The Wall.
Thoros of Myr - dead, killed by a zombie bear.
What does 'Dracarys' mean?
It's High Valyrian for 'dragonfire', which is how she gets her dragons to immolate on command.
Did Olenna really kill Joffrey?
Yes, aided by Littlefinger. The necklace Ser Dontos gave Sansa contained the poison (provided by Littlefinger) in one of its stones. Olenna took it from Sansa during the wedding and slipped it into Joffrey's wine. Why? To save her granddaughter from having to marry the sadistic little monster.
What was that business with Arya and the wolf pack?
That would be Nymeria, Arya's long lost direwolf, and the pack of regualr wolves she's since taken to hanging around with. Nymeria clearly remembered Arya enough not to make her lunch but isn't so attached that she bothered to stick around. Remember, Arya drove her off by throwing stones at her back in Season 1 - albeit for her own protection, to prevent Joffrey having her killed. Of the original six direwolves only Nymeria and Ghost still live: Lady was killed by Ned (on Robert's orders), Grey Wind was beheaded at the Red Wedding, Summer was mauled by the walking dead and Shaggydog was killed by the Umbers.
Was that... Ed Sheeran?
Yes it was. Let's never speak of it again.
Was he sitting with Thomas Turgoose?
We told you not to talk about it! But yes, The This Is England star shared that dreadful scene.
Why was The Hound so maudlin about the dead bodies in the house?
Mainly as he killed them - albeit not directly. When he was travelling with Arya in Season 4, they stayed with the farmer and his daughter for the night. The Hound robbed them before they left, thus leaving them unable to feed themselves and contributing to their eventual demise. The new caring Hound was wracked with guilt over the incident and buried them in an effort to make amends.
Have we moved beyond the books now?
Oh yes. Season 6 started to wave goodbye to George R.R. Martin’s source material, with Season 7 romping through entirely uncharted territory.
Why is did Season 7 start three months later than usual?
Quite simply, the weather: they needed to shoot in colder months. “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.”