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First up: let’s discuss the Mother of Dragons. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) finds herself in quite a pickle when she lands in a Dothraki camp. They imprison her and pressure her to join a group of Khal widows. Her response to them? “LOL, no.” Instead, she burns down a tent full of Khals and emerges from the ashes naked and unscathed. With the entire leadership of Vaes Dothrak now dead, the Dothraki bow to their new leader, the OG Khaleesi. With 100,000 new followers, she orders Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) to lead them back to Meereen. Drogon offers his mom a first class ticket back home, which she gladly accepts.
Meanwhile, in Meereen, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Lord Varys attempt to hold down the fort. Tyrion brokers a deal with the Slaver’s Bay masters to impress his new Queen, but it ultimately backfires when they attack their old city. Daenerys arrives just as the masters launch fire bombs off their ships, but she shuts down the whole production thanks to a few fiery breaths of her dragons.
At Castle Black, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) wakes up from the dead thanks to a little magic from the Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten). His first order of business? Execute all the men who mutinied against him. He then promptly quits the Night’s Watch, but just as he declares he’s headed south for some R&R and a margarita (we wish), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) shows up. Raise your hand if you shed a tear when they reunited! She convinces him to take back Winterfell and fight her evil hubby Ramsay Bolton. He agrees.
Over in Braavos, a blind Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is on a quest to be No One. After a few beatings from the Waif and some unpleasant assignments from Jaqen H'ghar, she realizes that she quite liked being a Stark all along: “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home.” Get it, girl! She escapes but is quickly tailed by the Waif, who tries to murder her for desertion. Arya, using her new combat skills that the Waif ironically taught her, turns the tables and kills her former trainer. She finally leaves for Westeros and makes a stop in the Riverlands, where she dives back into her kill list. First up? Walder Frey, Lord of Riverrun and host of the Red Wedding, where her mother and brother were murdered. Using her Braavosi skills, she cooks Frey’s sons into a pie (where did you learn to cook, Arya?). After the lord takes a few bites of pie, she reveals herself and then promptly slits his throat. Another name checked!
Her brother, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), on the other hand, has a tougher time in Season 6. He’s still beyond the Wall and training with the Three-Eyed Raven, who shows him how White Walkers were first created (the Children of the Forest inserted dragonglass into men's hearts). Later, Bran, who’s always antsy for more info, wargs back into the Weirwood tree to see what else he can find and comes face to face with the Night King, who grabs him and brands his arm with an icy mark. When he awakes screaming, the Three-Eyed Raven does a hypothetical #facepalm. He explains that this icy branding that Bran stupidly acquired now allows the Night King to track him and bypass the magical charm that prevents White Walkers from entering their cave. In short, they’re screwed.
While the undead army attacks, Bran wargs and time travels to control Hodor, which ultimately fries the brain of Hodor's younger self, Wylis. Attempting to outrun the wights, Meera yells for Hodor to “Hold the door!” and in Bran’s vision of the past, Wylis starts seizing and crying out, “Hold the door,” until it eventually slurs into “Hodor.” Present-day Hodor really does hold the door, sacrificing himself for Bran and Meera, who barely escape.
During the tussle, the Three-Eyed Raven dies and Bran takes his place. Once he's the raven, Bran time travels back to the Tower of Joy where his young father is lingering about. He sees Ned Stark’s sister, Lyanna, give birth to a baby boy (Jon Snow) and then, before dying, she asks her brother to protect her child and raise him as his own. OMG, we now know Jon Snow’s true parentage! It's been hinted that Lyanna was secretly shacking up with Dany's older brother Rhaegar Targaryen and this scene all but proves it. Can TMZ confirm or deny this, please? If Jon Snow is truly a Targaryen, then he could potentially drop a fire remix on the Iron Throne.
Back in King’s Landing, power struggles plague the Lannisters thanks to that pesky High Sparrow and his Faith Militant. Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is still imprisoned and King Tommen holds little clout. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), on the other hand, is totally unhinged. After Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) sails back from Dorne with the body of their daughter, Myrcella, Cersei is about to burn the whole city to the ground (literally).
When the High Sparrow sets her trial date, everyone shows up in the Great Sept of Baelor to witness the ruling, except for Cersei and Tommen (although his absence is not by choice). Only Queen Margaery notices something is off, but not before the entire Sept blows up in green flames, thanks to Cersei's back stock of wildfire. She watches it burn with an evil smile, having killed off most of her enemies: the High Sparrow, his minions, and almost all of the Tyrells. Unfortunately for her, Tommen doesn’t take the explosion quite as well, jumping out of a window to his death as the Sept engulfs in flames. With no one to oppose her, Cersei becomes Queen of Westeros.
Over in Dorne, Ellaria and her Sand Snakes have had enough of the Martells’ passive behavior, so they kill them all and take over. The Sands broker a deal with Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) after both agree that the Lannisters are a bunch of trash bags. Varys, on a mission from Meereen, meets up with the two ladies in Dorne to see if they’d like to join forces with the Mother of Dragons, who plans to sail for Westeros asap. Are they about to form the fiercest female alliance ever?
But back to Dany sailing for Westeros: she's desperate for a few thousand ships. Luckily, Theon and Yara Greyjoy offer up theirs at the perfect time. Rewind back to the beginning when Theon escapes Ramsay Bolton with Sansa Stark. Sansa heads for Castle Black and Theon goes home to the Iron Islands, where, after his father's death, he endorses his sister Yara to succeed as leader of their house. Their evil uncle Euron Greyjoy (he’s no Ramsay or Joffrey but he has potential) wins the title instead. The brother and sister duo, in an effort to escape, steal their uncle’s fleet of ships and sail for Meereen. When they arrive, the two Greyjoys present their fleet to Daenerys, who eventually accepts and does a mental fist pump.
Dany now has her Unsullied and Dothraki armies, her dragons, her fleet of ships, her small council (which includes a newly appointed Hand of the Queen, Tyrion Lannister), and her new allies in Dorne thanks to Varys. She’s coming for you, Cersei, so you better watch out. At the end of the sixth season, she sets sail for Westeros with her crew.
Back in the North, Jon Snow prepares for war against Ramsay Bolton. Even though Bolton’s army is much larger, Snow has the Wildlings and his old Night’s Watch buddies by his side, so he’s willing to fight anyway. Sansa warns him that they don't have the manpower to outwit her husband’s psychotic ways, but he moves forward regardless. The Battle of the Bastards kicks off with the death of the youngest Stark, Rickon (but why did he run in a straight line?). The Bolton army nearly crushes Snow’s—literally, it’s like a human trash compactor—until Sansa saves the day. She secretly asks Littlefinger for help and his knights of the Vale swoop in to save Snow’s army.
Sensing defeat, Ramsay quickly heads back to Winterfell, only to be body-slammed by Jon Snow upon arrival. After he’s badly beaten, Snow lets his half-sister and Ramsay’s underfed dogs do the rest of the work. They’ve successfully taken back Winterfell and Jon Snow is declared King of the North, but not before Littlefinger plants a seed in Sansa’s head that she should rightfully be the leader.
While we’re on the topic of the North, we can’t forget to mention Lyanna Mormont, the 10-year-old ruler of Bear Island, who convinces her northern peers to stand behind Jon Snow. Is she secretly the best character on the show? We’re obsessed with her. Another character we love: Samwell Tarly, who spent most of the season traveling to the Citadel, where he hopes to become a maester for the Night’s Watch and learn how to kill the White Walkers. Wait a second, is Tarly our only chance in defeating the White Walkers? Thanks to Bran Stark’s new branding from the Night King, we bet all hell’s about to break loose when he crosses over the Wall.
For now, white ravens have been released, signaling the true arrival of winter. Grab your coats, everyone: Season 7 is about to start!
This article previously appeared on InStyle US.