Here’s a ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 1 Recap to Refresh Your Memory Before Season 8 Drops
Unfortunately, we don’t all have time to rewatch the past seven seasons of Game of Thrones before it returns on April 14. So whether you’re a fan who just wants to refresh your memory, or someone who’s never seen the show before (gasp), we’ll be recapping each season of the hit HBO series using broad strokes to arm you with all the information you need before heading into the eighth and final season.
Without further ado, let’s get started with season one.
We’re first introduced to the White Walkers before anyone else. We see them picking off villages of wildlings and rangers of the Night’s Watch. But one ranger survives the ambush and is so shaken up by the encounter, he abandons his vows and ditches the wall. He’s discovered by Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and executed for his desertion, but not before telling Ned that the White Walkers are back.
Ned Stark is the Lord of Winterfell and one of the King of Westeros, Robert Baratheon’s (Mark Addy), best friends. Ned and his sons discover a pack of direwolves on their way back to Winterfell, one for each Stark child. Then, Ned learns that the Hand of the King, Jon Arryn (John Standing), who was basically a surrogate father to Ned, has been poisoned and died.
King Robert and his wife, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), travel up North to Winterfell with their entire family to ask Ned to replace Jon Arryn as Hand of the King (which is basically like being vice president). The two of them also agree to join their houses together by marrying Ned’s oldest daughter, Sansa (Sophie Turner), to Robert’s oldest son, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). We also learn the story of how Robert became king. He was originally supposed to marry Ned’s sister Lyanna (Aisling Franciosi), but then Lyanna was kidnapped, raped and murdered by the former king’s son, Rhaegar Targaryen (Wilf Scolding). This led Robert to wage war against the entire Targaryen family, with Ned by his side; a war that they won.
Ned plans to head south to the capital of Westeros, King’s Landing, with his two daughters, Sansa and Arya (Maisie Williams), who is a total tomboy and wants to learn how to fight like the boys. As Arya is preparing to leave, her half brother Jon Snow (Kit Harington), who is Ned Stark’s bastard son born while he was off at war, comes and gives Arya a little sword that she names Needle. He tells her to practice with it.
Being a bastard, Jon has no rightful claim to anything at Winterfell. So he decides to leave and join the Night’s Watch, which is essentially like joining the army except it’s a commitment you make for life. Ned’s younger brother Benjen (Joseph Mawle) is a member of the Night’s Watch, so Jon will be protected and able to live a life without the shadow of his bastard origin hanging over him. Jon leaves his father and goes to the Wall with his Uncle Benjen and the queen’s younger brother, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who is a dwarf and has always wanted to see the Wall. Once they arrive, however, Uncle Benjen decides he is going to go North of the Wall on an expedition to see if the reports of the White Walkers returning are true.
Before Ned leaves to go to King’s Landing, his son Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) decides to climb up one of the towers at Winterfell, as kids do, where he sees Queen Cersei Lannister having sex with her twin brother, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster Waldau). They catch Bran spying on them and Jaime pushes Bran out the window, paralyzing the boy and leaving him in a coma, clinging for his life.
Despite the circumstances, Ned and his daughters leave for King’s Landing. Once they get there, Ned starts investigating the death of the previous Hand of the King to try to determine why the queen and her brother would have wanted him dead. Arya starts taking sword fighting lessons with a Braavosi swordsman named Syrio Fore (Miltos Yerolemou) to help her train with Needle. Meanwhile, Sansa starts forging a relationship with Queen Cersei, as she prepares to one day be queen herself.
Back at Winterfell, a hired assassin shows up to try and kill Bran in the middle of the night, but Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) catches him in the act and wrestles him to the ground. Then Bran’s direwolf comes and kills the would-be assassin. Catelyn takes the assassin’s Valyrian steel knife and travels down to King’s Landing to try and figure out who gave this expensive blade to an assassin to kill her son.
In King’s Landing, Catelyn shows the blade to Ned and her childhood friend Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) who runs a brothel in town and is also the Treasurer (Master of Coin) for the entire Kingdom. Petyr tells her the blade used to belong to him, but he lost it in a bet to the queen’s brother Tyrion.
Catelyn leaves King’s Landing to travel back to Winterfell, but along the way runs into Tyrion at an inn. Catelyn arrests Tyrion and takes him to the Eyrie, a castle in the region of Westeros known as the Vale where Catelyn’s sister Lysa lives. Lysa is the widow of Jon Arryn and she firmly believes the Lannisters were the ones who poisoned her husband. Tyrion has a trial by combat and has a sellsword named Bronn fight for him against one of the Knights of the Vale. Bronn wins and Tyrion is set free.
In King’s Landing, Ned starts to unravel the mystery of what Jon Arryn was doing in his final days before he was killed, and realizes that he had been investigating the true birth of the king’s children with Cersei Lannister. Ned quickly realizes that Joffrey, Tommen (Callum Wharry) and Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) are not actually the king’s children, and instead are the product of an incest.
The Lannisters attack the Starks once they find out Catelyn Stark has taken their younger brother Tyrion as her prisoner, killing many Stark men and injuring Ned.
The king decides to go on a hunt to clear his mind of this brewing chaos, and while on the hunt suffers a bad wound at the hand of a wild boar. On his deathbed, King Robert tells Ned that he wants him to rule Westeros until his son Joffrey is old enough to take over and signs a decree saying exactly that. Ned doesn’t have the heart to tell him the truth about his son Joffrey, but has slowly started to send letters to King Robert’s brothers to let them know that they are actually next in line for the throne.
At Winterfell, Bran finally wakes up from his coma with no memory of what happened to him. He doesn’t remember seeing Queen Cersei and Jaime Lannister having sex in the tower. Bran is now paralyzed from the waist down, and has started having some odd dreams that seem to foreshadow something bad happening.
In King’s Landing, once the king has died, Ned goes to the throne room to confront the queen and her son, who have already taken their place on the Iron Throne. He shows them the signed letter from King Robert requesting that Ned rule until Joffrey has come of age, but also says he knows the truth about Joffrey being an incest bastard. Cersei tears up the letter from Robert and throws Ned in prison for speaking such treason about her son Joffrey, who is the new King.
Sansa pleads with Joffrey for her father’s life, but Joffrey doesn’t listen and publicly executes Ned with Arya watching from the crowd. Arya is grabbed from the crowd by a man of the Night’s Watch who knows who she is. He cuts her hair to make her look like a boy to disguise her identity and smuggles her out of King’s Landing with his new recruits to bring her back North to her family.
Across the world, we learn there are only two Targaryens alive, Rhaegar’s younger brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) and his younger sister Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). The two of them were smuggled out of Westeros as babies during the war and are now living in Essos. Viserys is plotting and planning his return to Westeros to take back the Iron Throne and has decided to marry his younger sister to the King of the Dothraki, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), to gain allies for the war to come.
At the wedding, Daenerys is given a very valuable gift: three petrified dragon eggs, as an homage to her family’s long history of riding and taming dragons. Daenerys also meets Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) at her wedding. Jorah is an exiled knight of the Seven Kingdoms who was banished from Westeros by Ned Stark for selling people into slavery. He has decided to pledge his sword to the Targaryens in an attempt to go back home. (His father also happens to be the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who has taken Jon Snow on as a sort of surrogate son, even giving him his family’s ancestral sword since his son disgraced the family).
Daenerys is a young timid girl and is shocked by the fact that she has to marry a big savage like Khal Drogo. However, she falls in love with him over time and becomes pregnant with his son. As she becomes beloved by the Dothraki people, her brother Viserys grows jealous and demanding. He tries bossing around the Dothraki and Khal Drogo, which doesn’t end up well for him, especially given that Jorah has shifted his allegiances from Viserys to Daenerys and is clearly starting to fall in love with her.
Daenerys warns her brother that if he doesn’t settle down he’s going to be killed, and in the end that’s exactly what happens. Khal Drogo promised him a golden crown in exchange for his marriage to Daenerys, and Khal Drogo follows through on this promise by pouring a goblet of melted gold on Viserys’s head, killing him.
Daenerys is marching with Khal Drogo and his army, when Khal Drogo is injured in a fight. He has a bad cut on his chest and Daenerys commissions the help of a witch to heal her husband. But the witch poisons Khal Drogo instead, killing him and causing Daenerys to go into an early labor and give birth to a stillborn son.
Daenerys, with her beloved husband and son both dead, seeks vengeance by burning the witch at the stake. With nothing to lose, she marches into the flames herself with her three dragon eggs in hand, but she doesn’t die. Instead, when the fire dies and the smoke clears, we see that she’s alive and the three dragon eggs have hatched into three small dragons.
Time to find out how Dany becomes Mother of Dragons in season two. You know you want to.