With the final season of Game of Thrones fast approaching, here is a quick-ish summary of all 7 seasons and 67 hours of the greatest ever spectacle on TV. This is a recap of Season 2.

In the wake of Robert Baratheon’s death and Joffrey’s ascension to the throne, several contenders lay claim to the Iron Throne. As the “War of the Five Kings” heats up, let’s do a rundown of how the contenders and pretenders fare in the bloody power struggle.

Joffrey Baratheon/Lannister

Thanks to the crown on his head, Joffrey becomes even more insufferable this season. He has a whale of a time throwing grotesque birthday parties, killing Robert’s bastard sons, and tormenting Sansa, his favorite pastime. If it’s any consolation, he gets slapped this season as well, both by Tyrion and Cersei.

While Joffrey is prancing around King’s Landing, the actual ruling is done by Tyrion, who is declared acting Hand of the King. Unlike a certain previous Hand, he loses no time in finding the people disloyal to him, and has them carted off to the Wall (Janos Slynt) or thrown into the dungeons (Grand Maester Pycelle). He hatches an elaborate scheme to find the snitch amongst Varys, Littlefinger, and Pycelle, in one of the best moments of the season. With the small council growing smaller and smaller, he sends Littlefinger to negotiate with Catelyn for Jaime, who if you remember is Robb’s prisoner.

Robb Stark

Robb Stark, the inform king at the start of the season, continues to win battle after battle over the Lannisters. He seeks to forge new alliances by sending Theon to parley with the Ironborns, and his mother to the Stormlands to ask for Renly’s support. He also falls for JeyneTalisa, a hot medic and marries her by the end of the season.

Despite the many victories, tensions run high in the camp. When Jaime kills the son of Robb’s bannerman, the situation escalates with many of Robb’s bannermen calling for Jaime’s head. In the ensuing confusion, Cat lets Jaime escape and asks for her daughters in return.

Stannis and Renly Baratheon

Stannis is the older and grumpier of Robert’s siblings and the rightful heir to the throne. His small council includes Davos, a former pirate, and Melisandre, a religious zealot. His younger brother, Renly has the larger army thanks to the Tyrells’ support. Renly has a complicated relationship with the Tyrells. He’s engaged to one (Margaery) while he’s in love with another (Loras).

Balon Greyjoy

Balon Greyjoy, the final king to enter the fray, rebuffs Robb’s terms and decides that the North is ripe for the taking. In a bid to impress his father, Theon captures Winterfell, which is pretty much defenseless, but finds that the Stark children, Bran and Rickon have escaped with Hodor and Osha.

The War of the Five Kings

The first major king’s summit pits together Renly and Stannis. Despite Cat threatening to bang their heads together if they behaved like children, the brothers do not come to an agreement. That very night, Renly is assassinated by an evil baby conceived by Melisandre. Cat and Brienne flee as Littlefinger takes advantage of Renly’s murder to lure the Tyrells into the Lannister fold, promising Loras revenge over Stannis.

After claiming the remainder of Renly’s army, Stannis attacks King’s Landing in the Battle of Blackwater Bay for one of the greatest ever battle sequences assembled on TV. With the mighty Baratheon fleet fast approaching, a single Lannister ship sets forth to meet the invading ships. At a signal from Tyrion, Bronn launches a flaming arrow towards the lone ship, thereby igniting the wildfire and causing a HUGE GREEN EXPLOSION. Despite this early setback, Stannis’ superior numbers turn the battle in his favor. After a stirring speech, Tyrion leads a desperate late charge but is attacked by a member of the Kingsguard. With victory so close at hand for Stannis, the Lannister and Tyrell armies arrive to outflank and defeat Stannis’s forces.

Others

Arya serves as cupbearer for Tywin at Harrenhal, which results in some of the best scenes of the season. She helps free Jaqen H’ghar (remember the name, or don’t, since a man will insist on being “no one”) who grants her three wishes deaths. At the end of their pact, he gives her a Bravosi coin. Valar Morghulis!

Daenerys spends a lot of time wandering across the desert before arriving at Qarth. After a strong first season, it’s a largely forgettable sophomore year for Dany. Her dragons are stolen before she has her “Dracarys” moment (no, not that one!), but a much lowkey affair that helps her escape from Qarth.

Elsewhere, the Nights Watch goes on an expedition beyond the Wall. Jon infiltrates the willing army and starts falling in love with Ygritte. Sam discovers a cache of dragonglass beyond the wall, which turns out to be pretty useful in later seasons. The season ends on a chilling note as Sam glimpses a bunch of White Walkers and wights making their way towards the Wall.

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