On April 6, Wikipedia pages will be furiously searched and the question "who's that guy again?" will be asked in millions of households as Game of Thrones returns to our screens for a fourth season. Even America's landed gentry (i.e. those who have already read the George R. R. Martin books) might be a little at sea, because this year is adapted mostly from the latter half of book three, A Storm of Swords, so everything's a little more hodgepodge. Fear not, trembling masses. The Wire is here to remind you what's up with every one of the show's eight zillion characters (click for parts two, three, four and five).
We're breaking up our little catchup session into a few different parts. For today, let's concentrate on everyone who's in the capital of Westeros, King's Landing.
The Lannister honcho is finally sitting pretty after three seasons of scheming and warfare from behind magnificent desks. Two players in the War of Five Kings (Renly Baratheon and Robb Stark) are dead, two others (Balon Greyjoy and Stannis Baratheon) are difficult to see as real threats, and Tywin's grandson Joffrey sits on the throne, and ostensibly under his thumb. One problem: Joffrey is both an imbecile and a psychopath, and may prove more difficult to control than Tywin hopes.
That problem is compounded for Cersei, who is even closer to her mean nutball of a son but is thus even more dependent on him. No one—Tywin, Tyrion, Joffrey—seemed particularly impressed with Cersei, who's a minor-league schemer, last year. With a new Queen (Margery Tyrell) on the horizon, how can she remain relevant? And after three years apart, can she and Jaime keep the incest-fire hot now that he's back in the capital?
He was once the most renowned swordsman in the land and head of the Kingsguard, but since being captured by the Starks, he got put in the hands of Brienne of Tarth, captured by Roose Bolton's men, and lost his sword hand before finally making it back to King's Landing. The experience seems to have humbled him for the better — he was downright introspective in that hot tub scene with Brienne — but if he can't swing a sword, what use is Jaime? And how will he be helped by being around Cersei again?
Tyrion is newly wed to Sansa Stark, but if she didn't like him before, she's really not into him ever since her family got massacred in an event orchestrated by Tyrion's father. Although he sits on the Small Council as Master of Coin, he's pretty marginalized these days, and longtime secret companion Shae isn't too thrilled with him either, since he keeps telling her to get the hell out of King's Landing. Also the whole getting-married-to-Sansa thing. Plus, Joffrey, as always, particularly has it out for his uncle, who has long been one of the few people to openly defy him. Luckily, Bronn continues to climb the social ladder/hang out with Tyrion, and he's real useful in a fight.
King Joffrey Baratheon
This squealing blond turd is about to get married to Margaery Tyrell, cementing his hold on the Seven Kingdoms, even though there is literally no one on the planet who remotely tolerates him (even Cersei, who loves him despite herself, knows he's busted in the head). His main enemy is grampy Tywin, who actually pulls all the strings, but he really focuses his hate on Tyrion because that guy has slapped him in the face a bunch.
She and her grandmother Olenna schemed her to the top of the pile, but unfortunately, that involves her marrying (and presumably having sex) with Joffrey. In the third season, they asked Sansa about him and she confirmed all their worst fears. This season, Margaery's dad Mace will also be kicking around, but from everything we heard, the ladies are the real brains in the Tyrell household.
Sigh. Poor Sansa. She's still stuck in King's Landing, after being teased last season with the prospect of marrying Loras and moving to Highgarden. (Which would have brought with it a whole other set of dissatisfactions for Sansa, of course. Not that Sansa wasn't going to invariably end up with a gay husband at some point in her life. Girls like Sansa always do.) Instead, she's married to Tyrion, who is under a lot of pressure to put a baby in her but, understandably, is refusing to rape her. The worst part of all of this? It represents an improvement in Sansa's circumstances (she used to be engaged to Joffrey, remember).
Brienne of Tarth
Brienne is hanging out in King's Landing, having delivered Jaime there, ostensibly to trade for the Stark children. One (Arya) is missing, and the other (Sansa) is married, plus the woman who sent her on this mission (Catelyn) is dead, so Brienne might have to find new purpose. Worth noting that she has developed a huge crush on Jaime recently, so that might count as a purpose. Also worth noting that she's not really allied with anyone besides him: Catelyn and Renly Baratheon are both dead. But maybe Margery, who watched her fight in her first scene on the show, will remember her.
Shae is moping around being jealous of Tyrion and Sansa, which shows a lack of political understanding. She continues to refuse attractive offers to leave King's Landing forever and live in luxury in the east, I suppose for pride's sake. Shae is one of the most frustrating characters on Game of Thrones.
New characters alert! Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) and his paramour Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) are showing up to court this year to cause trouble. Important facts about Dorne: it's to the south of King's Landing, so it's desert-y and its people are a little swarthier. They were the only nation to resist the dragon conquering of the Targaryans hundreds of years ago, eventually joining the empire peacefully. And Oberyn's sister Elia was married to Rhaegar Targaryan, the magnificent heir of the Mad King who kidnapped Ned's sister and died at Robert Baratheon's hands in battle. Elia and her kids were horribly murdered by Tywin's terrifying acolyte, Gregor Clegane the Mountain, means there's a lot of bad blood still to be settled.
Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger
Still has a crush on Catelyn Stark, and thus, Sansa. Don't trust him, though, cause he's cold as ice! Also, now a super-lord who is nominally in control of Harrenhaal. He's also trying to get Catelyn's sister Lysa, lady of the Vale of Arryn up in the mountains, to marry him. Con: she's nuts. Pro: more money for Petyr!
Supposedly working for Tyrion right now. What's he up to really? WHO KNOWS! HE'S A TRICKY ONE.
Stay tuned for the rest of the week as we check in with everyone else in the world of Westeros and beyond. April 6 can't come soon enough.