So you didn’t follow my extremely manageable guides for watching Game of Thrones in time for the Season 8 premiere. That’s okay. Watching nearly 70 hours of television is a tall task no matter how you space it out. And at this point, maybe you’re better off not watching anyway. But this is Game of Thrones. You can’t ignore or escape it. It’s all your friends will be talking and tweeting about for the next month.
If we’re being realistic, you have one of two options for GoT Season 8. You can continue living your life as you have for the past nine years, blissfully unaware of one of the biggest shows in television history. Or you can dive into the final season and watch along with your friends with no knowledge or context of the show’s vast (and sometimes unfollowable) universe. And if you’re bold enough to select option two, you’re going to have a lot of questions.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know going into Season 8. Many, many spoilers ahead.
A lot of people are gonna die, and everyone’s kinda ready for it. You’re probably aware that Thrones characters die all the time, even if you’ve never watched. It’s the joke at the center of every GoT meme. There were a surprisingly low number of major character deaths last season, which means either a) the showrunners got soft or b) Season 8 will be a bloodbath. Expect the latter. Seasoned fans fully expect character deaths at this point. Act like you expect them too and you’ll fit right in.
Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow are aunt and nephew. Also, they’re fucking. The biggest reveal of the last two season was Jon’s parentage—long thought to be Ned Stark’s bastard, he’s actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Dany’s older brother Rhaegar. He’s also got a better claim to the Iron Throne than his new lover. Dany and Jon don’t know any of this yet, of course, but they’re gonna find out soon and it’s worth tuning in for those facial reactions alone. Odds are they keep boning.
Everyone hates Cersei. Don’t be surprised if you hear weird hissing or outright boos from people watching when the Mad Queen appears. Cersei has completed her descent into madness over the last few seasons, killing thousands of people in her own city and betraying both her brothers. It’s possible to view Cersei’s actions as those of a severely traumatized parent desperately clinging to and defending her family’s dwindling power. But that’s not mutually exclusive to being crazy and evil.
There are only two dragons left. Well, technically. Surely even you, a layman GoT knower, remember that Daenerys aka the Mother of Dragons hatched three little dragon babies that all grew into fire breathing behemoths. But toward the end of last season, the Night King killed one of them (Viserion) with the greatest javelin toss of all-time and made him his own personal zombie steed. So we’ve got two alive dragons who breathe fire and one undead dragon who breathes…ice? Blue fire? Not really sure, but it’s great for melting thick ice walls. Speaking of which…
The Night King is a total badass and might be unstoppable. Seriously, this dude’s on a tear. He’s risen all the dead north of The Wall into his army, killed and resurrected a dragon and is marching his monstrous army down to kill everyone in Westeros. Oh, and every single person they kill is also a new soldier. If we weren’t secretly expecting a happy ending—and given the show’s history, we shouldn’t be—the Night King would be an overwhelming favorite.
These are the must-know factoids for Season 8. But there are roughly a million other plotlines and major characters to account for in Season 8. You will have questions. Just remember not to ask them too loudly.