You guys. It's here. It's time. It's on Sunday. It's season 4 of Game of Thrones! A whole lot happened last season, and it's been a loooooooong time since those episodes aired. So if you're a little bit muddy on where we left all of our one trillion favorite characters, you're not alone. I dug back into my memory banks and my HBO On Demand banks and my Wikipedia banks and compiled some Cliff's Notes to catch you up.
So, HERE'S WHERE WE'RE AT. (And if you're further behind than this, here's where we were at a season earlier.)
Tyrion Lannister - Tyrion becomes Master of Coin after Tywin sends Littlefinger off to woo Lysa Arryn. Then Littlefinger tells Tywin that the Tyrells plan to marry Sansa to Loras, so he forces Tyrion to marry Sansa instead, which everyone hates, especially Shae because for some reason she can't have one fucking pragmatic thought about the best way to not die. But when Tyrion doesn't de-virginize Sansa on their wedding night—because that's just not what moral compasses DO—she's like, "Oh, this guy's kinda cool!" and they develop a cute little (short-lived) friend-rapport and brush each other's hair and play M.A.S.H. probably. Until she finds out that her whole family got murdered at the Red Wedding. Then Tyrion's all homer-backing-into-the-bushes-dot-gif.
Cersei Lannister - Tywin forces Cersei to get engaged to Loras Tyrell, which she is NOT INTO because she already did that powerless-forced-marriage-and-traumatic-marital-rape thing and now she's the queen, god-fucking-damnit! You can't not feel a little bit of sympathy for Cersei here. (Loras is also not into it.)
Tywin Lannister - WHY WON'T YOU JUST LOVE YOUR BABY!?!?!? HE'S JUST YOUR LITTLE BABY WANTING TO BE LOVED.
Littlefinger - Tywin tells Littlefinger to marry Lysa Arryn so that the Lannisters/Baratheons can control the Vale. But Littlefinger has secret plans. AS USUAL. (His secret plans involve Sansa and his boner.)
Margaery Tyrell - Just schemin' and orchestratin' until it's time to marry Joffrey.
Sansa Stark - After a super cruel bait-and-switch where she thinks she's going to get to marry the hottest and nicest knight evar and go live in a magic rose garden for all eternity, but then gets married off to a middle-aged sarcastic dwarf with a cloven face, Sansa finds out that her whole family got decapitated. So. Not great times for Sansa.
Shae - Seriously, COULD YOU CHILL. Tyrion doesn't want to marry that small child who thinks he's gross. He's really, really into you. Really. Varys offers Shae a big bag of diamonds to make like a ship and sail away, on a ship, but she refuses because she hates diamonds and loves mortal peril and bitching at Tyrion (who is already pretty stressed out, lady!). Hhhhhhhhhhh.
Joffrey Baratheon - Still the worst.
Olenna Tyrell - Still the best.
Daenerys Targaryen - Back when I was reading the books, I mentioned to a friend of mine how tedious this whole Daenerys storyline gets—where she just walks and walks and frees more and more slaves and then sits around mired in bureaucracy and moping about how all of her "children" are dying of the bloody flux because you can't just have a MILLION-PERSON TRAVELING TENT CITY WITH NO INFRASTRUCTURE, DAENERYS. And my friend was like, "Yeah, I think GRRM wrote himself into a little narrative pickle, where Daenerys just has to kill time while the dragons grow up and Westeros sorts out its shit so that those storylines can finally converge." Seems reasonable. Anyhoo, Yunkai is Ambien: The City. But Daenerys is still obviously a boss.
Jorah Mormont - I wish Ser Jorah and Ser Barriston would get over their weird Ser Beef.
Barristan Selmy - Ditto.
Daario Naharis - BRING BACK THE BLUE PRONGED BEARD OR YOU'RE DEAD TO ME. Also where the fuck is Strong Belwas. Do I have to do everything myself.
Robb Stark - Dead.
Catelyn Stark - Dead.
Robb's Wife - Dead.
All the Stark Bannermen and Stuff - Either all, "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!?!?!??!?!!!??!" or dead.
Bran Stark - Bran and Meera and Jojen and Osha and Rickon and Hodor are still wandering around the North (south of the Wall) trying to find that three-eyed crow so they can...talk to it? Snoogle with it? Feed it a worm? Whatever? They almost get caught by some wildlings while hiding in an old mill, so Bran wargs into Hodor's brainz to get him to stop yelling. Then Bran realizes that one of the wildlings is Jon! Oh, man! And the other wildlings are about to kill him! So Bran sends Summer to help Jon out and Jon escapes and rides away like, "Yo, was that Summer?" Then Bran sends Rickon off with Osha and heads for the Wall.
Rickon - You know, you're a real aggro jerk for a 5 year old.
Hodor - Hodor (obligatory).
Jon Snow - After escaping from the wildlings, Jon Snow stops to hang out for a minute and immediately gets caught by Ygritte (because he knows nothing of not immediately getting caught by Ygritte). She's so mad about him being a secret Crow-mole that she shoots him THREE TIMES with big Ygritte arrows! He makes it back to the Wall and he doesn't die.
Ygritte - Ygritte is sad but also mad.
Samwell Tarly - After almost getting Othered to death one billion times (seriously, Sam not dying is the most implausible shit in this entire epic, and that includes dragons), Sam and Gilly and Gilly's baybay finally make it under the Wall and into the Nightfort where they run into Bran and company. Sam begrudingly takes them back through the tunnel so they can go chase that magic crow around the zombie-death-waste, but he gives them a bag of dragonglass and tells them it kills White Walkers. Then he takes Gilly and the baby back to Castle Black and has Maester Aemon send everybody in Westeros a message that's like "WHITE WALKERS, BRO."
Gilly - Kickin' it. Kinda whiny. Hanging out with that baby.
Stannis Baratheon - Stannis is still just striding around being all #GRUMPLIFE and doing whatever Melisandre says.
Davos Seaworth - Stannis had Davos imprisoned for most of this season because Davos kept giving him really good advice such as "OH MY GOD THAT LADY IS A CRAZY WITCH WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU," and Stannis was like, "Shut UP! You just don't understand her like I do!!!" But prison wasn't all bad, because at least Stannis's daughter with the dragon-face taught Davos to read (he also got his Associate's degree in technical drawing!). Eventually, Stannis sets Davos free, but only if he promises never to try and kill Stannis's witch girlfriend ever again. Then, with his newfound literacy, Davos reads the letter from the Wall and realizes that shit is going down. He convinces Stannis and Melisandre that he's kind of an important guy and they probably shouldn't execute him for releasing Gendry. So they don't. Yay, Davos!
Gendry - Melisandre buys Gendry from the Brotherhood without Banners and takes him back to Dragonstone so she can steal his magic king's penis-blood. And Gendry's like, "Whaaaaaat!" and Melisandre's like, "Sshhhhh." And then Davos is like, "Dude, GET OUT OF HERE" and lets Gendry run away. Stannis obviously gets sand in his dong-sack about that, but what does Stannis not have a sandy dong-sack about!? Gendry, presumably, is off tending his penis-wounds somewhere and waiting for an opportunity to jump out and be awesome.
Melisandre - After kidnapping and seducing and penis-leeching Gendry, Melisandre takes the penis-leeches and lets Stannis throw them into a fiery brazier to represent the destruction of his three "usurpers": Robb, Balon, and Joffrey. Later, when they find out that Robb died, they're like, "OOHHHHHH HOLY SHIT I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT LEECH THING WORKED." Then they all leave for the Wall.
Theon Greyjoy - No penis. :((((((((
Ramsay Snow - Took the penis. :(((((((((((((((
Arya Stark - After leaving the Brotherhood without Banners, because those guys are dickheads, Arya commences my #2 favorite Arya storyline after [SPOILER]—the Arya and the Hound Traveling Buddy Comedy Country-Time Jamboree. They head for the Twins so the Hound can ransom Arya to Robb, but get there just in time for the Frey bannermen to come marching out of the castle carrying Robb's decapitated corpse with his pet wolf's head stuck on it. So Arya stabs a guy in the neck and runs away.
Gendry - Oops. (See: Penis-leeches, above.)
The Hound - The Hound defeats Beric Dondarrion in trial-by-combat, so the BWBs are like, "Uhhh, I guess you can go then?" Then he just hangs out with Arya until it's time for her to go off and be awesome somewhere else. (See: Buddy comedy, above.)
Jaime Lannister - After having his hand chopped off while trying to save Brienne from a gang-rape, Jaime Lannister gets hella depressed and doesn't even care anymore, man. But when he finds out that Brienne is being executed via bear, he races to rescue her and they head for King's Landing. OH ALSO THEY TAKE A SEXY BATH TOGETHER. At the end, Jaime is reunited with Cersei but he's kind of "eh" about her at this point.
Brienne of Tarth - She's in King's Landing. It might not go well. Unclear. <3 u girl.