Game of Thrones featured one of the most intricately woven plots in television history, which means it was easy to get lost amidst the expansive narrative and its far-flung cast of characters. There's only so many Stark siblings one can reasonably keep track of at a given time.
That breadth never dampened fans' collective enthusiasm - not even during the lengthy intermission between the final two seasons as the series entered its endgame. But for late arrivers and repeat viewers, this should serve as a handy guide for where everyone left off after Game of Thrones' penultimate season, leading directly into its six-episode capstone.
By the end of Season 7, Jon Snow has become arguably the most important individual in all of Westeros. The former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch is now the resurrected King in the North, and he’s earned a reputation as one of the continent’s finest warriors. Those accolades may sound impressive, but they’re nowhere near as significant as what Bran Stark and Samwell Tarly discover about him: he’s the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and possibly possesses the strongest claim to the Iron Throne.
While Jon began Season 8 ignorant of his parentage, it seemed all but inevitable that this knowledge would caused complication thanks to the intimate alliance he started with his aunt, Daenerys Targaryen. The two were last seen sharing a cabin - and a bed - on their journey to White Harbor.
Daenerys Targaryen ends Season 7 of Game of Thrones as the head of the most impressive coalition in Westeros, but she also ends it minus one of her dragons. Perhaps more than any other character, Daenerys is on the cusp of several shocking revelations, including that her new paramour and ally, Jon Snow, is her nephew - and by some accounts, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne - and that her fallen dragon, Viserion, was resurrected as an ice dragon by the Night King.
Along with Snow, Daenerys is on a boat to White Harbor, where she plans to meet with her Dothraki and Unsullied forces and defend the North from the White Walkers - a task that, unbeknownst to her, just got a lot more difficult.
Few characters cover more ground over the course of Game of Thrones than Tyrion Lannister, who returns to Westeros in Season 7 as Hand of the Queen and an important part of Daenerys's coalition. In the Season 7 finale, Tyrion appears to negotiate a truce of sorts with his sister, Cersei, but later scenes reveal she plans to betray that agreement immediately.
As the final season begins, Tyrion is on a ship traveling to the North with Daenerys and Jon Snow, intent on facing off against the White Walkers, and it remains unclear whether he’s aware of his sister’s deception. His final scene of the season depicts him mournfully staring at the room in which Daenerys and Jon are canoodling, and the look on his face seems to suggest he’s carrying at least one dark secret with him to White Harbor.
By the end of Season 7, Cersei Lannister firmly installs herself as the disputed Queen of Westeros and establishes a tentative truce with Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, which seems to hint at some remarkable character growth. But the final scenes of the season prove Cersei is still the selfish, scheming monster she’s always been, as she reveals to her twin brother, Jaime, that she plans to break the truce after Daenerys deals with the undead army in the North.
In fact, Cersei's already dispatched Euron Greyjoy to hire a renowned mercenary company in Essos, and she doesn’t care if her duplicity costs her the love of Jaime, the alleged father of her possible unborn child. In other words, Cersei begins the final season as perhaps the biggest villain of the story.