Game of Thrones can be an overwhelming show to follow, with its disparate storylines, far-flung locations, and cast of approximately 100 bearded men, dirt artfully smeared on their faces. If you haven’t had time to give Season 5 a re-watch and are feeling rusty as Season 6 approaches — Jon Snow is fine, right? — the night doesn’t have to be dark and full of terrors. We’ve got you covered. Here’s a primer on all the pertinent events that went down in Season 5.
A Girl Went to Braavos
Arya’s Season 5 plotline went the Karate Kid route, as she attended a dimly-lit assassin school in Braavos, with Jaqen H’ghar as her Mr. Miyagi. Unfortunately, her adversary wasn’t a Hitler Youth-looking teenage bully but something far less tangible: her inability to relinquish her identity. To become a Faceless man, a girl had to become “no one.” Obviously, because Arya Stark is awesome and wants to continue being Arya Stark, she struggled with this concept. First, she buried her beloved sword, Needle — a gift from Jon — instead of discarding it forever. Then, when a member of her kill list — Meryn Trant — wound up in Braavos, she gave in to the temptation to carve him like a Thanksgiving turkey.
As punishment, Jaqen H’ghar briefly let her think he was dead, then made her (temporarily?) blind. Although a man is wicked cool, a man can be kind of a dick.
The North Remembered
Sansa had a bittersweet return to Winterfell, as Petyr Baelish persuaded her to marry Ramsay Bolton and Ramsay shockingly did not make a very good husband. Their wedding night consisted of him raping her in front of Theon. It was unsurprising and non-graphic, but the internet forgot what show this is and went nuts. Roose Bolton’s wife announced her pregnancy, a fact that Ramsay will surely handle with grace.
Meanwhile, in an effort to protect Sansa, Brienne did absolutely nothing except stare at a tower for several episodes, waiting for Sansa’s signal that she was ready for her white knight. But when Sansa finally gave it, Brienne was distracted, off killing Stannis instead. You had one job, Brienne. She did make a good buddy-cop team with Podrick, though.
Speaking of Stannis, he burnt his adorable daughter Shireen because Melisandre told him it was necessary for a victory over The North. The Lord of Light works in mysterious ways, but more on that later. Distraught, his wife killed herself, and shockingly, Shireen’s death did not help him win against Ramsay’s forces. He met his end a broken, defeated man.
Sansa and Theon’s plotline ended with them murdering Ramsay’s psychotic girlfriend and fleeing Winterfell, though their last scene halted in mid-air because Game of Thrones briefly forgot it’s not a CW show.
Kicking Back in King’s Landing
Margaery Tyrell finally got to be queen, though watching her seduce the tween Tommen was uncomfortable for all of us. And unfortunately, her reign was short-lived, as she overplayed her hand by trying to get Tommen to send Cersei away. In retaliation, Cersei gave the trendy new religion — a militant sect who draw circles on their foreheads, scorn sex, and follow a guy called The High Sparrow — carte blanche over King’s Landing. This ended as well as anyone might guess, as they jailed Loras for being gay and Margaery for being okay with his gayness.
Cersei overplayed her own hand too, though: failing to recognize that “sinners” don’t exclude twin-fuckers. Cersei was forced to do the Walk of Shame, parading around naked in front of the entire city. Her pain and humiliation was surprisingly hard to watch, and we all wanted to strangle the woman ringing the Shame bell. But just as we started feeling bad for her, her oily friend Qyburn presented her with a new pet: the reanimated Frankenstein corpse of The Mountain.
This will surely end well for all her enemies in Season 6.
Damn it, Dorne
Jamie and Bronn went on a road trip to Dorne to rescue Jamie and Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella, because Oberyn Martell’s death in Season 4 did not endear the Lannisters to his surviving kids and girlfriend.
On the road to Dorne, Jamie and Bronn made a delightful buddy cop team.
Unfortunately, the rest of this storyline was widely and rightfully criticized, because its fight scenes were poorly choreographed, the plot made little sense, and it included Emmy-winning writing like this line. Frequent readers of Inverse know what it is. As a whole, it felt more akin to a cheesy low-budget ‘80s sci-fi show instead of the normally excellent Game of Thrones.
The upshot of all cringeworthy Dorne developments? They were for naught, as Oberyn’s lover successfully poisoned Myrcella — and right after she had a bonding moment and acknowledged Jamie as her true father, too. Ouches all around.
Meanwhile, in Meereen
Tyrion and Varys presented the season’s second best buddy cop team. It was short-lived, as Tyrion quickly got kidnapped by Jorah, but they had some fun banter along the way. Tyrion also had a weird eye contact moment with a Red Priestess, which may or may not be relevant in the future.
Jorah also caught Greyscale along the way, which is why we predict he’ll land on Season 6’s death list.
Daenerys, meanwhile, proved to be a fairly incompetent ruler, and a group calling themselves “The Sons of the Harpy” revolted against her. When Jorah delivered Tyrion to her, she accepted him as an advisor.
Everything went to shit though, when the Sons of The Harpy attacked again. Daenerys fucked off on her dragon, leaving everyone else to deal with Meereen. Jorah and Daario set off on a road trip to find her, while Tyrion stayed behind to try to wrestle this society into some semblance of order. Luckily, Varys showed up to help him.
Also, Grey Worm and Missandei fell in love. Depending on what kind of Game of Thrones viewer you are, you either found it cute or gave zero fucks.
Chaos at Castle Black
At the Wall, Jon was elected Lord Commander. He and his hair were bashfully pleased. However, his sympathy towards The Wildings alienated The Night’s Watch. He also proved to be somewhat lacking at the “public speaking” part of leadership, because if he had just said, “Look guys, forget about The Wildings, there’s a fucking army of the dead!” none of the ensuing shenanigans would have happened.
Also, Stannis offered to legitimize him as a Stark, and Davos and Melisandre both took an interest, but he humbly shot everyone down. Maester Aemon also died, prompting Sam to depart for Maester-school, aka The Citadel, in Oldtown.
Before Aemon died, though, he took a moment to wax poetic about how a Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing. The camera subsequently cut to Jon. Hmm.
Later at Hardhome, Jon battled an army of White Walkers and encountered The Night’s King, their terrifying leader who seemed to have a man crush on Jon just like everyone else. Tormund also beat a guy to death for no reason, and it was pretty great.
The general consensus on Season 5 is lukewarm, but nobody can say “Hardhome” wasn’t one of the show’s most thrilling episodes to date.
When Jon returned to Castle Black after fighting the White Walkers, instead of saying, “Thank the Seven you’re okay, let’s develop a strategy to fight these ice zombies who want to kills us all,” the men of the Night’s Watch decided to give Jon the Julius Cesar treatment instead. Et tu, Olly. Because killing off the most experienced White Walker fighter is surely an excellent battle tactic.
The season ended with this image, and you presumably spent half your year frantically Googling Jon Snow conspiracy theories, tracking Kit Harington and his hair like he’s Carmen Sandiego, and feeling superior whenever you reason he must be lying.
Season 6 premieres Sunday on HBO.