Welcome to Series Regular, The Hollywood Reporter‘s new podcast dedicated to diving deep into hit TV shows — starting with Game of Thrones, the HBO fantasy series set to begin the end of its run with a final season premiere April 14.
Every episode of Series Regular comes courtesy of Josh Wigler (that’s me!), taking a closer look at a new corner of Westeros. What are the circumstances that brought Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and the Seven Kingdoms’ other various heroes and villains into their current conflicts? Look no further than Series Regular for the answers to those questions and more, as the final season unfolds.
In the inaugural episode of the podcast, Series Regular takes a quick-and-clean look at the big bullet points viewers need to remember heading into Game of Thrones. It’s easy enough to theorize about the final season, assuming one remembers all the granular details of the highly complicated fantasy world — but what if someone doesn’t even remember who’s on whose side, and which character came from which hardship? With that said, here are some of the most important stakes in play:
1. The White Walkers. From the very beginning of the series, these frozen enemies lurking north of the Wall were at the hub of Game of Thrones — quite literally, as their presence fueled the first-ever episode’s opening sequence. Right from the gate, creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss were alerting their audience to the true danger at the heart of Thrones. The White Walker discussion begins at the 2:13 mark.
2. The God of Death. Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) had the opportunity to do something about the White Walker threat before anyone else. Instead, he chose to ignore a fantastical story and embarked on a political quest that ended with his own beheading. He was the first major character to die on Game of Thrones, but he was far from the last. Go for a grim walk down memory lane at the 3:45 mark.
3. The King in the North. One of the show’s most prominent fallen characters eventually rose from the dead, and remains the most recognizable hero on the battlefield: Jon Snow. Beginning the series as nothing more than the maligned bastard son of Ned Stark, Jon has gone to become the world’s loudest cheerleader when it comes to fighting back against the White Walker threat. We summarize Jon’s story at the 5:17 mark.
4. The Mother of Dragons. In the battle against the Night King, Jon Snow eventually recruited a key ally: Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, first of her name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. Hear more about Daenerys beyond her impressive titles at the 6:30 mark.
5. The Lion’s Den. Beyond Jon and Daenerys, the next three key characters all hail from the same family: House Lannister. There’s Cersei, the mad queen on the Iron Throne, willing to kill anyone and everyone who gets in her way. There’s Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Cersei’s brother and lover (it’s a little weird) who has recently decided to throw in his lot against the Night King. Then there’s Tyrion, played to award-winning heights by Peter Dinklage, on the side of the Targaryen regime for several seasons now. Catch up on Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion’s stories at the 8:07, 9:17 and 10:03 marks.
6. The Great Game. The war between lions and dragons is as important as the war against the dead, thanks in no small part to Cersei’s refusal to back down. Indeed, all the way back in season one, Cersei gave voice to the series’ ethos: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die — there is no middle ground.” It’s not just a strong catchphrase; it’s emblematic of the greater theme at play in the series. More on why at the 10:55 mark.
7. The Final Fall. Throughout the series, there’s another frequently repeated refrain, this one courtesy of House Stark: “Winter is coming.” It’s no longer an omen; heading into the final season, it’s a reality. In the season seven finale, the vicious Night King and his White Walker army burst through the great Wall and into the realm of Westeros proper, signaling the start of the final war. If all the aforementioned power players can’t unite in the face of the Army of the Dead, it will be game over for everyone. Relive the traumatic fall of the Wall at the 12:00 mark.
Hear it all now on Series Regular. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an episode. Follow Wigler on Twitter @roundhoward and send suggestions for future topics and questions to SeriesRegular@THR.com.
Series Regular is part of THR‘s roster of podcasts, including TV’s Top 5, the weekly TV news analysis podcast hosted by West Coast TV editor Lesley Goldberg and chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg; Awards Chatter, Scott Feinberg’s weekly in-depth (and award-winning) interview show focusing on the most interesting talents of the Oscar and Emmy seasons; crafts expert Carolyn Giardina’s weekly series, Behind the Screen, which explores the top artists and technologies creating film and TV magic; and Seth Abramovitch’s monthly series, It Happened in Hollywood, which revisits indelible moments from 90 years of THR‘s entertainment history. Other podcasts are in the works.