With “Game of Thrones” Season 5 premiering tonight, there’s a lot of anticipation to catch up with some of fan favorite characters, locations and plotlines. In a show with so many moving parts, many may need a refresher on where it left off at the Season 4 finale.
[SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this article has full spoilers for Season 1-4 of “Game of Thrones.”]
The Season 4 finale kicked off with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) getting ready to make a suicide assassination attempt against Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) to save his brothers at Castle Black. After successfully beating back the army for the night, Snow knew it was only a matter of time before his weary brothers of the Night's Watch would be overwhelmed by wildling forces. Just as Snow was hitting his do-or-die moment inside Mance's tent, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) arrived with his sell sword army at the 11th hour to rescue him.
With those two worlds colliding for the first time ever on the show, Snow now faces the might of Stannis at the Wall as well as whatever the mysterious woman in red, Melisandre, has in mind for him. She shot him a strange look through the fire, so it's anyone's guess where this will go in Season 5.
Meanwhile, across the water, equally dramatic moments were occurring. After discovering her dragons had taken to roasting children to eat with no regard for human life, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) made the tough decision to shed her "breaker of chains" moniker and lock two of her three dragons away in a dungeon to keep the people of her conquered city safe. It was an incredibly sad and dramatic moment that may end up weakening the queen, who is already spread very thin. After all, she loses a lot of what she had going for her if her dragons will be unusable in the future conquest of Westeros.
The first thing people need to know before we move on to the next plotline in the episode is not every character will return in the new season. No, not because they’re dead, but because there’s no more story to tell just yet. It was revealed early last year that Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) would not appear in the Season 5. Last year's finale saw Bran, Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) and Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) make their way to the mysterious tree in the Stark son’s vision. After battling some Wights and losing poor Jojen, Bran met an ancient group of people called The Children who promised to help him harness his powers. Unfortunately, that’s where Bran’s story ends in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series. Although more is likely coming for Bran in “Winds of Winter,” right now the show is putting the character’s storyline on ice (get it?) until the books reveal more details.
While all of this was going on, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) was boarding a ship for Braavos. Although Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) found her on the road, Arya couldn't believe she was there to take her to safety. Also unable to believe this was her pseudo-protector, Sandor "The Hound" Clegane (Rory McCann). Brienne and the Hound fought over the young Stark in one of the most intense fights of the series. In the end, Brienne gets the better of the Hound and knocks him off a small cliff. Alive but mortally wounded, Arya left him there to die a slow death despite his pleas for her to kill him.
With her whole family dead and the Wall too unsafe and too far away, she decided to take Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) up on his offer from Season 2 to get some training with the Faceless Men in the free city of Braavos. Thanks to him, she received safe passage across the ocean. When Season 5 opens, the Stark girl will likely be learning to protect herself as well as how to cross a few names off of her death list.
Finally, the episode had its climax at King's Landing where it set up some of Season 5. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) are about to have a great bromance in the premiere episode. Tyrion was doomed to be executed after losing his trial by combat in the infamous “Mountain vs. The Viper” fight. His friend Varys and his brother Jaime (Nikoaj Coster-Waldau) orchestrated an elaborate escape plan that would ship him on a boat out of Westeros. Tyrion decided to make a deadly pit stop first.
The biggest cliffhanger from the Season 4 finale was the death of Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). Tyrion wanted to confront his father for all of the egregious insults and mistreatment he’d suffered over the years. The conversation ended with two arrows in the Lannister patriarch’s heart. Fans of the show will know that the character was vital to Westeros. Although he didn’t have the Iron Throne, his influence loomed large over it. Now the Seven Kingdoms are doomed to be at the mercy of its child king and the nefarious characters battling for influence over him. In addition, the Lannisters are in great debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos and no one is qualified to pay off the old man’s debts.
Varys was waiting for the captive only to discover he’d murdered his father before meeting him. While The Spider could hide a prison escape, his head would surely be on the chopping block for the murder -- so he boarded the escape boat with Tyrion. It’s unclear where they’re headed, but Season 5 promos hint he’ll link up with everyone’s favorite slave-freeing queen, Daenerys, who could really use someone of their intellect right now. However, given how she relieved Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) when she discovered he used to be a spy for Varys, odds are good they won't be welcomed with the most loving arms.
Only time will tell what effect the actions of these powerful characters will have in the coming season. Fans will just have to tune into “Game of Thrones” on HBO tonight to find out. The Season 5 premiere airs at 9 p.m. EDT. Click HERE for information on where to watch.