It’s spring again and you know what that means…Winter Is Coming. That’s right, the newest season of HBO’s smash fantasy hit Game of Thrones will premiere on Sunday April 24th. That means more dragons, more political intrigue, and even more gratuitous HBO nudity! In case you’ve forgotten everything about the lands of Essos and Westeros over the last 365 days, here’s a quick guide to get you caught up.
(SPOILERS FOR A SHOW YOU’VE HAD A FULL YEAR TO CATCH UP ON)

Season 6: First To Deviate From the Books

Game of Thrones first premiered in 2011. Even way back then people were worried about what would happen once the show caught up to the unfinished book series. Plus, some even worse people were wondering what would happen if George R. R. Martin died before he finished the books.

Even after six years of bullying their favorite author, there are still at least two books left to go and HBO isn’t waiting for Georgy to get through his writer’s block.

“Will the show ‘spoil’ the novels? Maybe. Yes and no. Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has. The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly. There were other factors too, but that was the main one. Given where we are, inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of Game of Thrones that have not yet happened in the books,” Martin wrote in a blog post.

While the show has always taken liberties from the source material, Season 6 will be a whole new frontier. While Martin told creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss the big notes for the end of the series, how they get there might be quite different.

“We know what the end is, and we’re barreling toward it,” Benioff told Variety. “[we have] a very definitive idea of how much longer it is, and we’re getting there…I think we’re heading into the home stretch.”

Jon Snow: Dead or Alive?

Unless you’re the President, the biggest thing you’re wondering about ahead of the premiere is whether or not everybody’s favorite pouty bastard, Jon Snow, is still kicking after getting Julius Caesar’d by his buddies in the Night’s Watch. There are about a hundred and one theories and evidence floating around the web to explain how a guy who got filled up with more holes than 50 Cent could get back up.

Within the context of the lore, there was that dude in season 3 with the flaming sword or died a bunch of times and was brought back to life. Though, ole’ Beric Dondarrion had Thoros of Myr on his side, a Red Priest of the Lord of Light. Too bad there’s no one like that in the North right? Oh wait, wouldn’t Melisandre, a Red Priestess, be hanging around out there after Stannis got GOT by Brienne of Tarth? A+B=C (or R+L=J) right?

In terms of more concrete evidence, Jon Snow actor Kit Harrington was seen on Game of Thrones’ Belfast set last year sporting Snow’s trademark long locks of luscious hippie hair.

However, if you ask Harrington’s (former?) co-stars…well, they’re less than coy.

“He’s dead. We know. I know. You’ll have to wait and see. He’s dead,” Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen Baratheon) said at a London press junket.

“What other show can you look at where the last scene of a season is a man getting 150 knives in his chest, and you’re asking, ‘Is he dead?’ He’s fucking dead,” continued Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) at the same junket.

However, actors are by definition excellent liars, and it’d hardly be the first time the cast and crew of a popular franchise lied to protect a twist. Especially after seeing this trailer.

Season 6: Hodor’s Return, Among Others

In a show filled with cruel fates for the audience’s favorite characters, possibly the worst was how everyone’s beloved gentle giant (slash DJ) sat out Season 5 because his wheelchair-bound bestie had to hang out in a tree for a year or something. Now they’re back, and Bran may have made a new friend.

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As for the rest of the gang, in short order: Arya is now blind in addition to being an orphan. Daenerys is in Dothraki land along with one of her dragons. Daario and Jorah are out looking for her while Tyrion and Varys chills in Meereen. Sansa and Theon are on the run from the Boltons after escaping Winterfell during the battle with Stannis. King’s Landing is now under the control of the religious faction known as the Sparrows who have it in for the Lannisters, but luckily Jaime is on his way back and he has some stress he needs to relieve after the Sand Snakes poisoned his daughter. Everyone else is dead. I think. It’s so hard to keep track.

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