The "Game of Thrones" Season 4 finale is coming and the fight for The Wall is already here!
Last week's episode focused solely on Castle Black's fight to protect the Wall from Mance Rayder's invading army and, man, did it deliver. After the pyrrhic victory, that storyline will thankfully continue into the season finale, an epic 66-minute episode that promises to bounce all over Westeros.
To get everyone primed for the dramatic episode, below are recaps of the main characters of Season 4, including: where they are now, how they got there, and where they're going.
(Full disclosure: This does not reference the books, nor have I read them.)
The Lannisters & King's Landing
Where They Are Now: Prince Oberyn's skull lay in a thousand pieces, and Tyrion has just been sentenced to death by his father.
How They Got There: Where to begin...
In the second episode of the season, Joffrey is poisoned at his own wedding (a.k.a. the Purple Wedding) and Cersei immediately points to Tyrion as the culprit. Moments prior to his murder, Joffrey humiliated his uncle in front of the entire crowd, however, it seems quite clear Tyrion was not responsible for the King's death. Nonetheless, Tyrion is put on trial for the regicide and, to add insult to injury, his father and sister are two of the judges. It's no secret Tywin has never particularly liked Tyrion, and Cersei has always wanted Tyrion dead because his birth resulted in their mother's death. This last bit of information is revealed to Tyrion by the newcomer of Season 4, Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne, another of the judges.
It's soon revealed that Lady Olenna Tyrell and Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish are responsible for Joffrey's death, but Lady Tyrell has played her hand to perfection and is never suspected, while Littlefinger has already been away from King's Landing for some time. Meanwhile, Tyrion stands trial for what he didn't do, knowing full well he'll never receive justice. It's after Shea's false testimony against Tyrion, however, that he loses it and dramatically goes off on pretty much every person in the room. He demands a trial by combat, taking matters into his own hands (or the gods) and, effectively, leaving Tywin with either a defeat in trial or a dead son.
But the night before the fight, Tyrion still has no champion and faces the realization he must fight for himself -- and against the Mountain, no less. Then, in epic "Game of Thrones" fashion, Prince Oberyn volunteers to be his champion, and also tells Tyrion that his sister has always hated him... Why does Oberyn volunteer? In short, Oberyn, known as the Red Viper, arrived in King's Landing to avenge his sister's rape and murder and the death of her children, as he suspects was ordered by Tywin and carried out by Ser Gregor "the Mountain" Clegane. Oberyn's sister, Elia Martell was married to the crown prince, Rhaegar Targaryen, and gave him two children, but they were all killed during the sack of King's Landing by Robert Baratheon and the Lannisters. Sometimes, the only way to get justice, is to take matters into your own hands.
Now it gets painful. Oberyn uses his speed and agility to wound the Mountain and has the chance to put him away forever, but Oberyn demands to hear Clegane's confession first. Lying on his back, wounded, the Mountain grabs hold of Oberyn and mercilessly squeezes his head into a pulp with his bare hands.
Where They're Going: Well, after Tyrion picks up his jaw from the floor, he'll presumably be put to death.
Arya Stark & Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane
Where They Are Now: Currently outside the gates of the Vale of Arryn after learning that Lysa Arryn, Arya's aunt, died only three days prior to their arrival. The Hound had brought Arya to the Vale in exchange for a monetary reward, but Lysa's death likely denies the Hound his gold yet again.
How They Gott There: After crossing paths with Beric Dondarrion and his brotherhood without banners, the Hound snatches a fleeing Arya in the wake of his victorious trial by combat against Dondarrion, who is subsequently resurrected by the red priest Thoros. The Hound plans to bring Arya to her brother Robb for a reward, only to arrive at the doorsteps of Lord Walder Frey's The Twins in the midst of the Red Wedding.
Where They're Going: If the Hound doesn't get the ransom money from the Vale, your guess is as good as mine. I have a feeling that the Hound -- having embraced his role as protector -- will sense something astray and head out of town with Arya. Unfortunately, he's already announced her true identity, so it's going to be mighty interesting to see what happens.
It's a tough break for these two, who have grown closer throughout their travels, though having the Hound around just a little longer isn't the worst thing for the young Stark. Not only does he protect her, but Arya would be hard pressed to find a companion more skilled in the art of killing than the Hound. Between reciting the names of her intended victims every night before she sleeps (which includes the Hound, by the way) and slowly racking up her kills, Arya is on the road to revenge.
Daenerys Targaryen & Co.
Where They Are Now: Daenerys is currently holding it down in Meereen, a former slave city she newly conquered/liberated. Rather than head for Westeros, Daenerys has decided to learn how to rule and see through her anti-slavery vision. Meanwhile, she has just banished Jorah for previously spying on her with the intention of receiving a pardon under Robert Baratheon.
How They Got There: Daenerys conquered Astapor after brokering a deal for the Unsullied and then using them and one of her dragons -- her side of the deal -- to take the city. Meanwhile, Daenerys moves on to easily conquer Yunkai, with the help of Daario Naharis, and then sacks another slave-city Meereen by successfully rallying the slaves of the city to turn on their masters. Only after learning that Astapor and Yunkai cannot maintain peace, does Daenerys decide to stay in Slaver's Bay and bring order before leaving.
Where They're Going: For now, she'll be staying in Slaver's Bay, but eventually (maybe?) she'll at long last set sail for Westeros and King's Landing.
Sansa Stark & Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish
Where They Are Now: Sansa and Littlefinger are living it up in the Vale and have formed a partnership of sorts. Sansa seemed incredibly naive just a couple episodes ago, but she's suddenly matured -- even changing her appearance -- and now understands the game. Why team up with a man she knows is manipulative? As Lord Baelish says, "Better to gamble on the man you know, then the strangers you don't."
How They Got There: Under the guise of a rescue, Ser Dontos brings Sansa to Littlefinger and his waiting ship in the immediate aftermath of the Purple Wedding. Baelish admits he was a conspirator in Joffrey's death and reveals that the poison was the stones in Sansa's necklace, a gift from Dontos via Littlefinger.
After soon arriving in the Vale, Baelish marries Lysa, who he's manipulated to be madly in love with him for years, and soon throws her down the Moon Door. This is not before she reveals, however, that Littlefinger encouraged her to poison her late husband, Jon Arryn and Hand of the King. The poisoning is the event that immediately predates "Game of Thrones," leads Ned Stark to King's Landing, and effectively triggers the chaos of the past four seasons. Well played, Littlefinger. Meanwhile, Sansa comes to Littlefinger's defense when he is questioned about Lysa's death, proving that she has finally learned a thing or two since leaving Winterfell in Season 1, but not quite everything...
Where They're Going: Littlefinger will likely eventually make a play for Winterfell with Sansa by his side, just as predicted by Lord Varys in Season 3. At the moment, though, he'll probably hang in the practically impenetrable Vale until the chaos in the rest of Westeros subsides.
Jon Snow & The Night's Watch
Where They Are Now: Castle Black is victorious against the first wave of attacks from Mance Rayder's army, but Jon Snow knows its only a pyrrhic victory. Rayder has an army supposedly a thousand times larger than the Night's Watch and was merely testing the Castle's defenses in the epic ninth episode of the season.
How They Got There: Jon returned to Castle Black with arrows in his back after Ygritte (sort of) tries to kill him. After proving he's not a traitor, Jon is diminished back to his role as a steward, but respect among his peers has grown significantly. After fully recovering, Jon and a handful of volunteers return to Craster's Keep to kill all those who mutinied and made the place a backwoods bunny ranch, because Rayder's army would eventually get to them and learn of the Castle's comparatively weaker defenses. The mission is successful and they return to Castle Black for the impending attack.
Where They're Going: Knowing Mance Rayder's vast numbers will overtake the Wall, Jon goes to find and kill Rayder. The King-Beyond-the-Wall -- as Rayder is known -- united the tribes north of the Wall and Jon hopes his death will dissolve the tribal army.
Bran Stark & Co.
Where They Are Now: Bran, Meera and Jojen Reed, and Hodor are north of the Wall, searching for the three-eyed crow and Weirwood tree from Bran's visions.
How They Got There: North of the Wall, they're captured by those formerly of the Night's Watch at Craster's Keep, but the gang is able to escape during Jon Snow's attack. Bran sees his brother, even shouting out to him, but Jojen pushes Bran to instead continue their journey northward. Jojen also has seen the Weirwood tree in one of his prophetic dreams and knows the brothers' reunion would likely mean the end of their trek.
Where They're Going: Still headed for the tree with the hopes of fulfilling the prophecy.
Stannis Baratheon & Co.
Where They Are Now: Last seen pleading with the Iron Bank of Braavos for funding, which ultimately proved successful thanks to Davos Seaworth's dramatic speech -- and a hand full of half fingers.
How They Got There: Still suffering from his defeat at the Battle of Blackwater, Stannis and the rest of his men return to Dragonstone, but Stannis always has the throne on his mind. This season, they go to Braavos with the hopes of receiving gold from the bank and, therefore, securing an army. During his speech, Davos explains that Stannis is the rightful heir to the throne and that if the Lannisters were to fall, the Iron Bank would benefit from a partnership with Stannis.
Where They're Going: Following the exchange in Braavos, Davos throws heaps of gold towards Salladhor Saan, his pirate friend, and gets his fleet in return. The men were planning to set sail the following day, though, the destination is unknown. King's Landing? The Wall?
Brienne & Podrick
Where They Are Now: On the road, looking for Sansa Stark.
How They Got There: After arriving back in the capital with Jaime, Brienne quickly proves her innocence in Renly's regicide. (Remember that?) Jaime soon sends her on a mission to seek out Sansa Stark, wishing to fulfill his oath to Catelyn Stark in the wake of her murder at the Red Wedding.
Podrick is sent along with Brienne because he will likely be killed for not testifying in Tyrion's trial. Despite his shortcomings in the wilderness, he proves useful with knowledge of Westeros and the various Houses.
Where They're Going: After receiving a tip about Arya's whereabouts, the dynamic duo is headed to the Vale, believing Arya or Sansa may be there.
Theon & Ramsay
Where They Are Now: This storyline hasn't gotten any easier to watch. Theon (ahem, Reek) is officially Ramsay's lapdog and the bastard Ramsay Snow was officially named Ramsay Bolton and awarded land.
How They Got There: It comes down to Ramsay's sadistic toying with Theon and a failed rescue attempt by Yara Greyjoy, Theon's sister. During Yara's fight to rescue Theon, we really see how screwed up Theon is mentality. With a chance at freedom, Theon won't even go with his sister because he thinks it's a trick, just like all the ones Ramsay's has played, and sadly begs to be left alone in his cage. Why was Ramsay's last name changed? Snow is the last name given to Lords' bastards, and Lord Roose Bolton feels Ramsay has finally proven himself to be a rightful member of House Bolton. Great.
Where They're Going: At the moment, it doesn't seem like they're going anywhere.
The "Game of Thrones" Season 4 finale airs Sunday, June 15 on HBO and HBOGO.