HBO’s Game of Thrones is a dense series with a huge weight of history behind its story. So in practically every episode, something happens that could use a little explanation. Every week, The Verge will dive into a scene or event from the latest episode of the series and explain how we got here. Whether you’re basically a Game of Thrones maester or you need a little reminder about previous events, we’ll try to help you keep your history straight.
The final episode of Game of Thrones saw a return to the Dragonpit, which was last visited back in season 7 for the pivotal scene where Jon and Daenerys tried and failed to get Cersei Lannister to join them in the battle against the White Walkers. The finale, “The Iron Throne,” saw a return to that location for arguably an even more important scene, attended by a who’s who of Westeros’ most important remaining names.
Warning: spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones’ finale, “The Iron Throne.”
Taking place sometime after Jon murders Daenerys, the Dragonpit meeting brings together what Tyrion describes as “the most powerful people in Westeros,” for several reasons: to decide the fate of Jon Snow and Tyrion, and determine what will happen to the realm at large.
As Sam points out, those present at the meeting “represent all the Great Houses” — which, at this point in the series, is largely House Stark, House Arryn, House Baratheon, House Lannister, House Greyjoy, and House Tully. (Other Great Houses that we’ve seen on the show include House Martell, House Tyrell, and House Targaryen, as well as House Bolton and House Frey, which temporarily usurped the Starks and Tullys, respectively.)
But there are also several newcomers here — some of them entirely new characters to the show, including a new Dornish prince, who’s presiding over Dorne following the death of the rest of House Martell.
Given the importance of the meeting — picking the next ruler of Westeros — this seems like an apt time to break down who all these characters are, and why they’re important enough to get to make this sort of decision.
From left to right: Samwell Tarly, representing either House Tarly (which is in the Reach and was sworn to House Tyrell, at least for now), or the Citadel as a representative of the Maesters. Given that the Tyrells are extinct and that the Maesters are an important force in Westeros, either option or both could be possible.
An unknown new character. Based on the vaguely floral mantle he’s wearing, it’s possible this is whoever is running the Reach in the absence of House Tyrell. Ser Bronn is soon to be given command of Highgarden and made Lord of the Reach, but not until sometime after this meeting, which explains his absence.
Edmure Tully, married into the Frey family at the Red Wedding and then taken prisoner, he’s now the Lord of Riverrun and Lord Paramount of the Trident. (Also, he’s still alive!) Uncle to the remaining Stark children, he nominates himself for king, but Sansa quickly shoots him down.
Arya Stark, presumably there because the Starks stick together? Or as the slayer of the Night King? Or a bodyguard to her less murderous siblings? She technically doesn’t hold any political titles, but she’s fairly important to the realm, I guess.
Bran Stark, soon to be named King Bran the Broken, first of his name, ruler of the Six Kingdoms. Also the Three-Eyed Raven, and technical heir to Winterfell as the last legitimate male heir of Eddard Stark, although he abdicates that position to Sansa.
Sansa Stark, soon to be Queen in the North and ruler of Winterfell, who refuses to accept Bran as king and insists on the North’s independence in the aftermath of the many wars over the course of the series.
Ser Brienne of Tarth, now a knight sworn to Storm’s End and House Baratheon. As Brienne has pointed out earlier in the series, it’s not a particularly important House anymore, so it’s not entirely clear why she’s here or why she gets a vote for who should be king, except that she’s a surviving main character.
Ser Davos Seaworth, largely here as another survivor and ally, is not sure he gets a vote. Neither am I, to be honest. But he argues well against more violence, which is good.
Gendry Baratheon, Lord of Storm’s End and Lord Paramount of the Stormlands. Daenerys legitimized Gendry as Robert Baratheon’s heir before she was killed, and granted him Storm’s End.
Another newcomer. Like the others, he’s presumably important given his presence, but it’s unclear who he’s representing here.
Yet another newcomer. Given his armor style and furs, he’s likely from the north — perhaps the new lord of the Dreadfort, following the death of the entirety of House Bolton?
Yara Greyjoy, Lord Reaper of Pyke, i.e., the ruler of the Iron Islands, which she took back from Euron Greyjoy earlier this season in an offhand, offscreen reveal.
The fresh Prince of Dorne. He’s Dornish, and he replaced Ellaria Sand, who killed the former Prince of Dorne, Doran Martell… and that’s all we know.
Robin Arryn, Lord of the Vale and Warden of the East. Technically the longest-ruling lord of a Great House in all of Westeros. He inherited the seat as a child after his father, Jon Arryn, was murdered prior to Game of Thrones even beginning, causing Robert Baratheon to have Ned replace Jon as his Hand, setting the entire series of events in motion. He’s grown up a lot since the start of the show, when he looked more like this.
Yohn Royce, bannerman and advisor of Robert Arynn, and head of House Royce. Given that Robin was a child for most of the show (and a spoiled, not a very bright one at that), Royce holds considerable sway in the Vale, and thus in Westeros.
The final newcomer. Based on his outfit, he’s likely also either from the North or the Vale. Based on his laughter, he also hates the idea of democracy.
Grey Worm, commander of the Unsullied, who is very upset at Tyrion and also de facto running King’s Landing at this point, but apparently has somehow avoided executing either Tyrion or Jon yet.
Tyrion Lannister, technically the Lord of Casterly Rock, and the head of House Lannister, although given that he is at this point a prisoner accused of treason, it’s not clear that he’s here in an official voting capacity. But as usual for Tyrion, he puts his words to good use, and turns this meeting from what was apparently meant to be a trial into a coronation.