We’re inching closer to the final season of Game of Thrones on April 14. To get you ready for the final showdown for Westeros, we’re recapping all seven seasons of the hit HBO series. We’ve already done the first season, and now we’re bringing season two. Get ready, it’s the War of the Five Kings!
King Joffrey Baratheon sits on the throne, while Robb Stark has been named King in the North. Elsewhere, you’ve got Stannis Baratheon and his younger brother Renly Baratheon both laying claim to the Iron Throne. Then, there’s Balon Greyjoy, the so-called “King in the Iron Islands,” who decides it’s better to kill and pillage than join any kind of alliance.
If you’re in a hurry and want a quick refresher, the video above has your 90-second recap of the main things you need to remember from season two of Game of Thrones. If you’re looking for more of an in-depth breakdown, including details that may matter more in future seasons than they do for this one, we have all the highlights below. Obviously, spoilers for season two.
- Tyrion takes up his position as acting Hand of the King, and proceeds to try and “clean house” of Cersei’s influence by uncovering and stopping whoever was spying for her—first by entrapping Grand Maester Pycelle, then by blackmailing Cersei’s lover (and their cousin) Lancel Lannister.
- King Joffrey continues his reign as an irredeemable monster. He has all of Robert Baratheon’s bastards killed, so there would be no threat to his claim. He forces sex workers to torture each other for his amusement. He publicly humiliates and punishes Sansa after her brother, Robb Stark, has a series of military victories. And at one point, he incites a riot by ordering his guards to murder a bunch of angry, starving peasants.
- Shit is thrown in Joffrey’s face, that was pretty funny.
- Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella, is sent away to Dorne so that she may one day marry their prince, securing an alliance between the two families. Cersei is pissed at being separated from her daughter, and vows Tyrion will pay.
- The Battle of Blackwater Bay! An episode written by George RR Martin himself. Tyrion is able to help in the victory against Stannis by using a fiery substance called wildfire on his ships and forces, only to be nearly killed by an assassin, leading to his face being slashed. He wakes up to find that his father Tywin Lannister arrived at the last minute to secure the win, and has replaced Tyrion as Hand of the King.
- Joffrey also announces a marriage to Renly Baratheon’s widow Margaery Tyrell, arranged by Petyr Baelish—setting aside Sansa, who’s privately relieved she’ll no longer have to marry him.
- Stannis, having been informed by Ned Stark of Joffrey’s bastard status, publicly reveals that he is the rightful ruler of Westeros. He also declares allegiance to a new god in Westeros, the Lord of Light, largely thanks to priestess Melisandre’s influence.
- Stannis is not only trying to unseat King Joffrey, he’s also competing with his younger brother, Renly, who’s laid claim to the Iron Throne. To remove the threat, Stannis has sex with Melisandre, leading her to give birth to a mysterious smoke creature on the eve of their battle that assassinates Renly. His forces join Stannis’.
- Catelyn Stark, who was there to secure an alliance for Robb Stark, witnessed the murder of Renly—and his guardswoman, Brienne of Tarth, is blamed. The two of them are forced to flee, and Brienne swears allegiance to Catelyn. The two of them later work together to free Jaime Lannister, who’s been a prisoner of Robb, so that he can be traded for the safe return of Sansa and Arya.
- After the defeat at Blackwater, Stannis returns to Dragonstone, humiliated and frustrated. Melisandre promises future victories, thanks to her visions.
- Robb continues a string of strategic victories, positioning himself at an advantage in the War of the Five Kings. After one of the battles, he meets a healer from Volantis named Talisa, and they fall in love. Robb had promised to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters in exchange for his support, but he later breaks that vow by marrying Talisa.
- Meanwhile, Robb sends Theon Greyjoy back to his homeland of the Iron Islands to secure an alliance. Balon Greyjoy rejects this offer and chooses to instead pillage the Northern coasts, so long as Robb is busy fighting elsewhere. Theon breaks with Robb and swears allegiance to his father. And, in a desperate bid to prove himself, Theon invades and takes over Winterfell.
- Bran and Rickon Stark are captured during Theon’s invasion, but later manage to escape and proceed to the Wall. Robb agrees to send Ramsay Snow, his advisor Roose Bolton’s son, to Winterfell to take it back from Theon. Ramsay succeeds, partially because Theon’s own men had betrayed him first.
- Meanwhile, Arya is heading to the Wall with other Night’s Watch recruits, while disguised as a boy. She’s joined by Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s only known surviving bastard.
- The Night’s Watch recruits are all captured by Lannister forces and taken to Harrenhal—where Arya ends up serving as a cup bearer for Tywin Lannister, who immediately realizes she’s a girl in disguise, but does not reveal it to the others. Prisoners of war are being tortured and killed there, and are being asked to reveal information about “The Brotherhood.”
- Arya saves the life of a prisoner named Jaqen H’ghar, who promises to kill three people to repay the debt. She chooses “The Tickler,” a man who’s been torturing the prisoners. She also targets one of Tywin’s officers after he figures out her secret. Then, finally, she threatens to name Jaqen himself, so he’ll help her, Gendry, and their friend Hot Pie escape Harrenhal. He agrees, admires her cleverness, and offers her a single coin with the words “Valar Morghulis.” Then, he leaves, having changed his face to look like someone else.
- Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow, Samwell Tarly, and the Night’s Watch take refuge at the home of Craster, a wildling who’s offered aid to the Night’s Watch during their travels. Jon Snow discovers that Craster has been marrying all his daughters—and should any of them give birth to a son, the baby is left outside for the White Walkers to take. One of Craster’s wives, a woman named Gilly, pleads with Samwell to help her. She’s pregnant and fears for her unborn child. He promises to come back for her.
- The Night’s Watch heads to the Fist of the First Men. Jon captures a wildling named Ygritte, but she manages to escape and give chase just long enough for Jon to be captured himself. He ends up killing another brother of the Night’s Watch (at his insistence) as a way to “prove himself” a traitor so he can infiltrate the wildling army and figure out its plans.
- Samwell and the other brothers find a stash of dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men. They also come across an entire army of White Walkers, who are marching toward lands unknown.
- Daenerys’ people are dying in the Red Waste. They eventually arrive at the gates of Qarth, a prosperous city with mountains of wealth. Daxos, a member of Qarth’s ruling Council of Thirteen, vouches for her and they’re allowed inside.
- Daxos offers to marry Daenerys, which would give her all the wealth she would need to build an army and take Westeros by force. She eventually refuses and tries instead to barter for a ship—only to have her baby dragons stolen by the warlock Pree, who conspired with Daxos to kill the other council members and establish Daxos as king of Qarth.
- Daenerys is forced to go to the House of the Undying to retrieve her dragons, a ploy by Pree to gain control of her. While there, she is presented with visions. First, she sees the snow-covered and ruined Iron Throne room in King’s Landing. Then she comes across Khal Drogo’s tent, where he is waiting for her alongside their newborn son, Rhaego. She’s tempted by her visions, but ultimately refuses them.
- Daenerys commands her dragons to kill Pree, then seals Daxos into his own vault and takes his wealth for herself. She now has the funds she needs to secure a ship, and possibly an army, for her eventual return to Westeros.
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