HBO’s wildly popular epic fantasy series Game of Thrones returns for season four tonight (April 6). It’s been nearly a year since viewers last visited the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the endless plains of Essos.
Your High Valyrian getting a little bit rusty? Can’t quite remember which old white dude with a beard is which? Can’t tell the difference between a White Walker and a wight? Never fear, Dork Shelf is here with our Game of Thrones Season 3 Refresher. It’s everything you need to know (and more) about the season three adventures of the largest (and most confusing) cast of characters in TV history.
But seriously, what is the name of the youngest Stark kid again?
That one place with the rocks and water (Stannis, Melisandre, Davos et al.)
In season two, Scarlett Witch Crazy Bitch (government name: Melisandre) wasn’t able to birth enough smoke assassin babies to help Stannis win the Battle of Blackwater. Scarlett Witch Crazy Bitch (SWCB) tries to blame the loss on Stannis’ bearded BFF Davos, who then tries to kill her. Stannis and Yoko shrug this off and put Davos in the dungeon, because hey, what’s a little attempted assassination between friends??
SWCB then leaves Stannis to go on a Lord of Light mission to seek King’s blood.
In SWCB’s absence, Stannis remembers that he has a wife. In a legendary move stolen from PhD-carrying gold diggers, SWCB convinced Stannis’ wife that adultery and abandoning your disfigured daughter is totally a good thing. In a very Driving Miss Daisy moment, Stannis’ daughter sneaks down to the dungeons and teaches Davos to read.
SWCB comes back with Gendry, King Robert Baratheon’s bastard son (and Stannis’ nephew). Using the power of her magical vagina, SWCB pins Gendry down and draws his royal blood. Stannis and SWCB then burn the leeches while speaking the name of the three usurpers to his throne: Robb Stark, Theon Greyjoy’s father Balon, and Joffrey Baratheon.
Davos, not being as crazy as Stannis, allows Gendry to escape in a rickety boat.
Beyond the Wall (Jon Snow, Sam, Ygritte et al.)
We learned very early on in the series that the White Walkers, much like Batman and The Punisher, are fond of spending enormous amounts of time creating large “fear me” postmodern art that is scary to no one. Sorry dude, but I’m not that intimidated by the fact that you prioritized rearranging horse meat in the Arctic over marching somewhere and creating more zombie victims (Wights). OOoooOOOooh, your form of OCD is gross. Super cool, Howard Hughes. Your jars of pee don’t scare me!
Instead of making fun of a real psychiatric condition like I did, the Night’s Watch men, having been slightly slaughtered, pledge to return to the Seven Kingdoms and warn everyone of the incoming danger. Why do they have to do this? Why, because Sam didn’t send the ravens.
Later on, the remaining Night’s Watch men seek shelter at the house of the creepy guy who has sex with all of his daughters (Craster). Creepy incest guy runs the B&B shittily enough to piss off the one guy in the Night’s Watch with anger issues. Everything then gets all murder-y and both Craster and the Night’s Watch commander die. Sam, meanwhile, runs away with the girl from Skins (Gilly) and her chubby baby.
Despite being a bit derpy, Sam proves his bravery when he saves Skins girl from a White Walker using a piece of dragonglass. Sam and Gilly then plan to cross the ice wall using the entrance at the Nightfort, an abandoned castle. The three then arrive at Castle Black (a Night’s Watch stronghold) and send ravens to all of Westeros warning of the White Walkers.
Somewhere else in Frigid Snow Land (aka “Toronto Winter 2013/2014”), hottie and sparse beard owner Jon Snow is captured by the Wildlings. There, he is forced to go before Wildling King (Mance Rayder) and pledge his loyalty to them. Jon is then all “Aw man, allying with the gross guy who has sex with all his daughters in season two was suuuuuper gross. I hate the Night’s Watch because of that now, despite having been indoctrinated to devote my entire life to those chaste motherfuckers.” Everyone but the one wildling who was in Pirates of the Caribbean buys this.
Feral Katniss (Ygritte) eventually steals Jon away into a cave and they shed their furs and totally bang. Despite being a virgin who has never even touched a boob, Jon is apparently proficient at going down on a girl. The two become an item, with Feral Katniss really showing all of her cards.
The Wildlings then scale the gigantic ice wall in order to catch the Night’s Watch men off guard. Once south of the wall, the Wildlings raid a horse breeder’s home and ask Jon to kill the man in order to prove his loyalty. When Jon hesitates, Feral Katniss shoots the old man. Once Jon’s true feelings are found out, the Wildlings move to kill him. With the help of Bran’s direwolf, Jon escapes on a horse, despite being shot in the leg with an arrow by a heartbroken Feral Katniss. Jon then ends up at Castle Black, passed out from his injuries.
Facepalm Starks (Robb, Momma Catelyn, et al.)
We start off Robb’s season three storyline with him at Harrenhal (that prison that Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry escaped from). Roose Bolton (shifty guy) secretly eggs people on about how stupid Catelyn was for letting Jaime go last season (seriously, how stupid was that?).
Robb receives two letters—one tells him that his gramps died, the other telling him that Winterfell was torched by Iron Islanders (ruled by the Greyjoys). The Northmen then make their way to Riverrun to lay Catelyn’s father to rest. On the way, Catelyn talks about how everything is her fault because she never really loved Ned’s bastard kid, Jon Snow. Everyone is then all “okay drama queen, chill out.”
While in Riverrun, the Starks’ ally Lord Karstark fights murder with murder, and kills two captive Lannister kids as payback for Jaime killing his son in season two. Knob of the North Robb decides that the best thing to do at this time of peak military vulnerability is kill Lord Karstark for treason and piss off half of his supporters. When everyone points out that this is literally the worst idea ever, Robb is all “Hey, lay off! Being super ethical in an unethical society worked out well for my decapitated dad! You don’t know my life! Imma do what I want!”
After killing Karstark, Robb decides that his next move is to attack Casterly Rock, the home of the Lannisters, with the help of Filch from Harry Potter (Lord Walder Frey). Yes, let’s pair up with the shifty guy whose trust you broke in season two by marrying Talisa instead of his daughter, Robb. Yes, this seems good. Apparently ethics are super cool now, but totally weren’t when Robb’s dick was involved.
Filch tells the Starks that he’ll only support Robb if Catelyn’s brother Edmure marries one of the Frey daughters. While Filch seemingly accepts Robb’s apology, Catelyn is all “Robb… are you fuckin’ sure ‘bout this? Because you keep making super shitty decisions and I feel like trusting this asshole is a pretty big mistake.” Robb continues to be an idiot.
At the feast, George R. R. Martin pops out from under a table and proceeds to heartlessly kill everyone you love while cackling wildly and screaming “THERE IS NO GOD!!!!”
Robb, Talisa, Catelyn, and most of the Northern army are all killed due to Frey and Lannister treachery. Catelyn’s uncle “Blackfish” escapes. Roose Bolton is appointed Warden of the North.
Starsky and Hutch (Brienne and Jaime)
In season two, Brienne of Tarth was tasked by Catelyn Stark to give back Jaime to the Lannisters as a trade for Sansa and Arya. On the way to King’s Landing, Roose Bolton’s men capture Brienne and Jaime. Over the course of their trip, Brienne and Jaime trade lots of jabs like “Jaime, your sword skillz aren’t as good as mine!” and “Brienne, you probz gon’ get raped by these guyz, jk! No, but probably…” What delightful scamps! Haha… ha.
Despite the attempted child murder in season one (Bran, y’all) and actual murder in season two (Lord Karstark’s son), Jaime proves he has some shred of human decency in him when he convinces his captors that Brienne’s father is rich enough to pay a ransom for his unharmed daughter. Jaime overplays his hand (get it?), however, when he tries to negotiate his freedom with the ringleader. The leader tricks Jaime into thinking he’s accepted the bribe, only to cut off his right hand.
After losing his second-most important appendage, Jaime becomes catatonic and wants to die. Clearly, he is not thinking about the cool shit you can replace a hand with. Hook! Falcon claw! Steampunk hand! Actual falcon! I mean really, the opportunities are endless. Brienne knocks some sense into Jaime by bringing up that dying means not having sweet, delicious revenge, Lannisters always pay their debts and all that.
The pair is then taken to Harrenhal and delivered to Roose Bolton, who is pissed that Jaime’s been harmed. After the knight is treated for his injuries, he goes to the baths, where he finds Brienne. There, Jaime reveals that he didn’t stab the Mad King Aerys Targaryen because he was a cowardly dick, but rather because Aerys was planning on destroying King’s Landing with wildfire. Brienne resists the urge to yell “you idiot, you’re a hero, why would you hide this??”
Roose Bolton then informs the pair that while Jaime will go to King’s Landing, Brienne will remain under arrest. When Jaime learns that Brienne might be in danger, he sweet talks his guards into taking him back to Harrenhal. Upon arrival, Jaime finds that Brienne has been forced to fight a bear with a wooden sword. Jaime, being awesome at this point, jumps into the bear pit and helps his new bestie defeat the bear, surprisingly not by just trying to make himself bigger. The two then yell “tally ho!” on their way to King’s Landing.
Jaime is then reunited with his sister, who is not super happy about her lover no longer having a right hand.
Royal Folk (Poppa Lannister, Cersei, Joffrey, Tyrion, Sansa et al.)
Going for the shitting on Tyrion gold medal was Poppa Lannister, who not only tries to take all the credit for winning the Battle of Blackwater, but also denies his son a nice piece of real estate (Casterly Rock) all because he’s a little guy with a scar. He also tells Cersei she’s not as smart as she thinks she is. Whaaaaat a crusty bag of dicks.
As self-appointed Hand of the King, Poppa Lannister sends Littlefinger to marry Catelyn’s crazy sister (and twelve-year old breastfeeding advocate) we saw in season one. Game of Thrones Mayim Bialik rules over the Vale, meaning that the marriage would rob (get it) the Knob of the North of allies.
Sansa, as one of the last remaining heirs of the Starks’ Kingdom of the North, becomes an attractive pawn for many of the King’s Landing players. Littlefinger (ugh, you just know he wiggles his eyebrows in a way that says “you know which fingers and you know where they’ve been”) tries to court the young maiden by offering to smuggle her to the Vale all out of the goodness of his heart! Concerned for Sansa, Littlefinger’s sex worker friend Ros tells Bald Monk (Varys) about the plan. Things do not end well for Ros.
During the season, Sansa and Margaery Tyrell (Joffrey’s new fiancée) become besties and bond over how much of a piece of shit Joffrey is. Margaery then suggests that when she is queen, she would allow Sansa to marry her brother, Gay Knight (Loras). This is primarily a move orchestrated by the Tyrells, Varys, and Tyrion to get Sansa away from Littlefinger.
In order to keep Sansa in check, Poppa Lannister forces her to marry Tyrion. Shae, Tyrion’s sex worker turned maid girlfriend is not cool with this arrangement. Cersei acts smug until she finds out that she has to marry Gay Knight.
When Lady Olenna, Margaery and Loras’ grandma, is all “hey hey asshole, I’m not so cool with my gay grandson marrying your old as fuck incest-loving daughter,” Poppa Lannister retorts with “I can make Loras a knight of the Kingsguard where there’s a 6000% chance of him dying.” “Touché,” responds Lady Olenna.
Since Littlefinger is off to the Vale, Tyrion takes over as royal treasurer. Tyrion discovers that Littlefinger has borrowed tons of cash from the Lannisters and from other sources, and blah blah blah the Crown might be broke.
Tyrion’s job is not made any easier by the fact that at some point he has to endure listening to Varys describe in detail how he got his dangly bits cut off. Varys then mistakes Tyrion’s “oh Jesus, I just came in here to shoot the shit about who tried to murder me in the Battle of Blackwater” face for an expression of “please, show me the filthy magician that you have living in a crate!” So Varys DOES and it’s super gross.
Joffrey, meanwhile, becomes box-atized (like dick-matized, but by lady parts) by Margaery, who all kinds of devious-hot. Cersei is not cool with this.
Joffrey is also revealed to be the person who tried to kill Tyrion in season two. He then kills Ros for shits and giggles and is a prat to everyone, including Cersei. Joffrey is the worst and we all want him to die a really painful death.
Later in the season, Tyrion and Sansa marry reluctantly. At their wedding feast, Tyrion shuts down Joffrey’s increasingly disgusting comments towards the bride by threatening to literally cut his balls off. It is AWESOME. Though Poppa Lannister wants Tyrion to put a baby in his wife’s underage oven, Tyrion reassures Sansa that he won’t share her bed until she wants him to.
Reluctant Besties (Arya, The Hound, et al.)
After escaping Harrenhal in season two, Arya, Gendry, and the chubby kid (government name: Hot Pie) are captured by the formally named Brotherhood without Banners, a group that is unaware of what irony is. Unfortunately, someone recognizes Arya as being Sean Bean’s daughter. Hot Pie decides he isn’t cut out for murdering, and stays behind at a bakery.
Inside the Brotherhood’s cave hideout, the gang meets the leader, Eyepatch Guy (Beric Dondarrion).
Eyepatch Guy sentences The Hound (hey, he’s there too!) to trial by combat for child murder. Eyepatch Guy loses the battle and dies despite having a fucking sword made of FIRE. It’s totally cool though, because Eyepatch Guy is part cat and has nine lives. Or god powers? Magic? It’s pretty unclear at this point.
The Hound is rewarded for the win with his freedom. Arya is not okay with this and wants to leave the Brotherhood with Gendry, aka her Jordan Catalano. Sadly, Gendry is not on board with fighting off Arya’s teenage hormones and wants to stay. Gendry immediately regrets his decision, however, when his bros give him up to Scarlett Witch Crazy Bitch for some sweet cash.
Upset by Gendry’s departure, Arya runs away from the bros and is shortly captured by The Hound. Though Arya tries to kill The Hound, she just can’t will herself to do so. The Hound tells Arya that he doesn’t intend to hurt her—what he actually wants to do is ransom her to her brother, Robb.
Once at Edmure’s wedding, Arya manages to escape The Hound’s clutches. Sadly, Arya arrives at the castle in time see the Stark men and Robb’s direwolf get killed. The Hound knocks her out and carries her away from danger.
The next day, Arya and The Hound come across Frey men bragging about killing the Starks. In a state of shock, Arya murders one of men, with The Hound killing the rest.
Lame Starks (Bran, Jojen, Osha, et al.)
Yeah, okay, so these guys still exist. Bran uses his seer powers to see through the eyes of a crow. Wait, Bran is the crow? Bran is secret dream friends with the kid from Love, Actually? This is all very confusing, particularly the part where hormonal teenager Bran doesn’t use his powers to get access to dream boobs.
Apparently the kid from Love, Actually is a very real person named Jojen Reed, who is a seer like Bran. Jojen has a badass sister named Meera. Unlike other brother-sister pairings in the show, these two have decided to keep things strictly platonic. Jojen says that the crew must go north of the Wall to follow Bran’s three-eyed crow (raven?) vision. Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter (Osha) is not cool with this plan, as she’s familiar with how people get turned into zombies up there.
Bran and the gang eventually take shelter at an old mill, which ends up being the place where Jon and the Wildlings have a large fight. Bran uses his powers to enter Hodor’s frightened mind and calm him down. Realizing the extent of his powers, Bran enters the mind of his direwolf and helps Jon escape.
At some point, Sam runs into the baby Starks and tells them about a way to get north of the ice wall easily. He also gives them some dragonglass. Later that night, Bran asks Tonks to take Who the Fuck is That Little Stark (Rickon) to a safer place. Good riddance.
The Eighth Saw Movie (Theon)
Well, this was all just super fucked up, wasn’t it? For a few episodes, Theon is tortured for no reason at all. The poor guy gives his captors all the answers they want, but they just keep torturing him. Then he thinks he’s escaped, only to be led back to the prison. He’s then tortured more, given a different name (Reek), and Male Lorena Bobbitt (Roose Bolton’s bastard son Ramsay Snow) eventually cuts off his peen and sends it off to Theon’s pops and sister Yara. Yara, being awesome, begins a military campaign to save Theon.
Ugh. I don’t even want to talk about it.
DRAGONS, BITCH! (Daenerys, Dracarys, Ser Jorah, et al.)
Dany’s dragons (no, not her boobs, you perv) grew this season (stop saying that something else grew as well, you perv!), but not fast enough to satisfy anyone. Seriously, what are the rules regarding dragon steroids? Can we all pitch in to HBO’s FX budget so that they become mega dragons quicker?
Anywhoo, Dany first landed in the city of Astapoor in Slaver’s Bay (literal names are all the rage in Westeros). There she is saved from a creepy child with a lizard tongue by Ser Barristan Selmy, a former commander of the Kingsguard (literally the King’s guards). His name is much too difficult to remember so I will just refer to this man as “Lizard Grampa.” Apparently Lizard Grampa had been around since season one and had been played by the same actor, but we couldn’t tell him apart from all the other old white dudes. Somewhere in the depths of Reddit someone is using this as evidence that reverse racism is a thing that exists.
Against Friendzone Knight (Ser Jorah) and Lizard Grampa’s advice, Dany buys all of the “Unsullied,” an army of eunuch slave soldiers—because testicles are so bulky in battle! Since buying 8000 ball-less men (and a cool translator) is pricey, Dany offers one of her dragons as currency. The next day, the slaver takes Dany’s dragon for a hot second before Dany’s all “nawww son” and orders her new army and dragons to murder all of the assholes who treated them poorly. IT IS FUCKING INCREDIBLE.
With her new army of free and devoted men, Dany travels to the city of Yunkai, which also has a billion slaves. Yunkai’s leaders are informed that if the slaves are not freed and paid for their service, the Unsullied will sack the city. Dany is unswayed by dolla dolla bills and stands firm in her demands, summing her position up with “bitch, do you not see I have three motherfucking dragons?”
After the altercation, Friendzone Knight tells Dany that Yunkai employs a group of mercenaries called the Second Sons. Dany then tries to convince the group to fight with her rather than against her. Later that night, the three leaders of the Second Sons plot to kill the Mother of Dragons. By random draw, Bargain Bin Fabio (Daario Naharis), is chosen to carry out the plan. In a surprising move, Bargain Bin Fabio kills his douchey friends and swears the Second Sons’ allegiance to Dany.
Together with Friendzone Knight, Bargain Bin Fabio brings the Unsullied into Yunkai using a back door. Dany is then all “four for you Bargain Bin Fabio! You go Bargain Bin Fabio! And none for Friendzone Knight. Bye.”
Thankfully, Bargain Bin Fabio has been recast, and Daario Naharis will be much more of a bearded babe this season.
Be sure to check back every Sunday night for the next ten weeks for our Game of Thrones episode recaps.