Season 8 of Game of Thrones is nearly upon us. To celebrate the show’s run and get ready for its last outing, Def Pen is looking back at previous seasons. Every week leading up to season 8’s April 14th premiere we will be recapping a season of the show and highlighting the best episode from that season. First up this week we go back to where it all began, season 1.
There has been peace in Westeros for over 15 years. Since Robert Baratheon took the Iron Throne during the events of Robert’s Revolution, the Seven Kingdoms have lived in harmony. However, Robert’s hand and trusted counsel, Jon Arryn turns up dead under suspicious circumstances and vultures begin to circle Robert. He turns to he friend and fellow former revolutionary, Warden of the North Lord Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark to help him. Ned reluctantly agrees when Robert rides hundreds of miles to ask him in his home, Winterfell. Arryn’s widow sends her sister, Ned’s wife, a letter detailing a conspiracy to kill her husband by the Lannisters, the richest family in Westeros. Meanwhile across the Narrow Sea in Essos, Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen live in exile as the last two living members of the once great Targaryen dynasty. Viserys yearns to retake the throne from Robert and marries Daenerys off to Khal Drogo, a bloodthirsty warlord, in exchange for the military might of his army. Back in Winterfell, one of Ned’s sons, Bran, is climbing one of the older towers when he stumbles on something he shouldn’t see: a member of Robert’s King’s guard, Jaime Lannister, having sex with his twin sister and Robert’s wife, Cersei. Jaime reassures Bran before shoving him from the tower for what he’d seen.
Somehow Bran survives barely, he won’t walk again and lays unresponsive in a coma. Ned must fulfill his duty as Robert’s hand though and leaves before Bran wakes up. Ned brings his two daughters Sansa and Arya with him, Sansa is betrothed to marry Robert’s son Joffrey. Jon Snow, Ned’s bastard son from the war also decides to leave Winterfell but doesn’t go with his father. Instead, Jon goes with his uncle Bejen to join the Night’s Watch. The Night’s Watch is an ancient warrior group that defends the Wall, a monolithic wall that protects Westeros from the horrors of the hellish North. Tyrion Lannister, the younger deformed brother of Cersei and Jaime, accompanies Jon and Benjen as they journey north. Meanwhile, On the road south to the capital, Ned’s daughters get into trouble with Prince Joffrey and he is forced to put down Sansa’s direwolf as retribution. As he does, Bran wakes up from his coma back in Winterfell.
Back in Essos, Dany struggles to become acclimated to her new role as Viserys grows impatient with Drogo’s reluctance to cross the sea. He tries to continue his abusive ways towards Dany but she begins to feel empowered as Drogo’s wife and stands up to him. She also learns she is pregnant. On the other side of the world, Ned arrives in King’s Landing to find the government in a state of disarray. Robert drinks, whores, and spends frivolously leaving Ned to scrape together loans and taxes to pay for the King’s shenanigans. Ned’s wife Catelyn begins to come around on her sister’s theory and tries to warn her husband but is intercepted by an old friend and fellow King’s Council member, Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish. At the wall, Tyrion agrees to ask the king for more men at the Wall as Jon struggles to find common ground with his new brothers.
That becomes even harder after he stands up for Samwell Tarly, another outcast who is mocked by the rest of the men. While trying to fund another tournament for Robert, Ned begins investigating Jon Arryn’s death. As he does, Ned finds a dangerous conspiracy and a young blacksmith Arryn was protecting who seems to be Robert’s bastard. On his way back through Winterfell, Tyrion draws up plans for a new saddle that will allow Bran to ride without the use of his legs. As he continues south, he runs into Catelyn Stark in a small tavern in the lands ruled by her family. She rallies her father’s banners and mistakenly arrests Tyrion for the attempted murder of her son Bran.
Catelyn takes Tyrion north to the Vale, where her sister rules as Jon Arryn’s widow. In King’s Landing, Ned and Robert butt heads over the new of Dany’s pregnancy. Robert wants the girl killed as part of his quest to eradicate the Targaryen line but Ned refuses to be part of such an attack on a pregnant teenage girl on the other side of the world. He resigns in a fury and storms out of the council meeting. In the streets, he finds Jaime Lannister who is furious over the arrest of his brother. He orders his forces to kill the Stark forces as he and Ned square off in the street. The battle is cut short when ned is stabbed in the leg by one of the Lannister men, much to Jaime’s disappointment as he kills the man responsible.
After his battle in the streets, Ned reconciles with Robert, who reinstates him as Hand of the King. He then goes off on a hunting trip, leaving a hobbled Ned to run the country in his stead. This proves to be difficult for Ned as he demands Tywin Lannister, father of the three ‘golden children’ answers for the crimes of his bannermen. He also finds out Jon Arryn’s obsession with Robert’s bastard is because his children with Cersei are actually Jaime’s children. In the Vale, Tyrion has had enough and demands a trial by combat, which he wins with the help of a cutthroat sellsword, Bronn. Meanwhile, Viserys thinks its time Drogo make good on his offer and confronts the warlord and threaten Dany’s unborn son. This doesn’t go well as Drogo gives Viserys a “crown for a king” by pouring melted gold on his head. Dany looks on with apathy.
Ned confronts Cersei, telling her what he knows about her children but she isn’t scared off by him. Soon, Robert returns from his hunting trip barely holding it together after being gored by a boar. On his deathbed, Robert makes Ned protector of the realm until his son comes of age but Ned alters his statement. He sends word to Robert’s brother Stannis that he is next in line by right and intends to crown him soon. Ned goes to Littlefinger for help and after Robert passes he and Littlerfinger confront Cersei in the throne room. Ned is betrayed and arrested for treason, however. Up north, Benjen goes missing after a trip north of the Wall while Jon, Sam, and their brothers take their vows to become full members of the Night’s Watch. Across the sea, Robert’s assassination of Dany is foiled, it only infuriates Drogo. He makes an impassioned speech for his wife and unborn son, vowing to cross the seas and conquer Westeros.
After Ned’s betrayal, most of the Stark forces in King’s Landing are killed or captured. Arya manages to escape into the bowels of the Red Keep but Sansa isn’t as lucky as Cersei and Joffrey take her into custody. Ned’s oldest son Robb is furious and rallies his father’s men to prepare for war. Catelyn tries to rally her sister as well but her pleas fall on deaf ears and she returns to Winterfell alone. Even further north, Jon and the Night’s Watch discover the White Walkers are coming back when they are attacked by a few reanimated corpses. Meanwhile, Tyrion and Bronn find their way to Tywin’s camp, with a little help from some mountain tribesmen. Tywin, disappointed, recruits the men into his army and makes Tyrion their commander out of spite. In Essos, Drogo’s men begin pillaging the countryside for supplies to cross the sea.
Robb makes a deal with Walter Frey, Lord of the Twins, to cross the river and begins his campaign against the Lannisters. In the first battle, Robb sacrifices 2,000 men to and tricks Tywin into engaging on the wrong front. Robb used the confusion to his advantage and captured Jaime as his prisoner of war. Word of the battle reaches the Wall and Jon struggles with his with his wants vs his duties. Ultimately his new friends and brothers convince him to stay and honor his duty and a member of the Night’s Watch. While raiding the countryside, Drogo suffers a minor injury that becomes infected and he falls ill. Dany desperately seeks the help of a village witch. In King’s Landing, Joffrey lets Ned live but he must publically confess to his crimes and recognize Joffrey’s place on the throne. However, even after meeting those demands, Joffrey cruelly has him beheaded in front of Sansa. Arya is in the crowd but a soldier loyal to Ned shields her eyes before smuggling her out of the city.
The North is enraged by Ned’s death and secedes from the Seven Kingdoms. No one is more furious than Robb, who is named King in the North by his father’s bannermen. Tywin names Tyrion Hand of the King in his place as he must continue his war against Robb Stark. Jon hears of his father’s murder and tries to ride south and fight alongside Robb. However, his new brothers stop him and remind him of the oath he took to the Night’s Watch. He and the other men of the Night’s Watch then lead an expedition North of the Wall to find Bejen and face the White Walkers on their own terms. In Essos, the witch’s magic has left Drogo unresponsive, in a catatonic state, and Dany tearfully decides to put him out of his misery. She burns the witch alive on Drogo’s funeral pyre and walks into the flames with her fossilized dragon eggs. The next morning, as the smoke clears she emerges from the ashes unburnt, with three baby dragons.
Game of Thrones season 8 premieres Sunday, April 14th on HBO.