Amid the excitement and elaborately crafted storylines within Game of Thrones lurk the potential for the kind of heartbreak that shakes your soul to its core. George R. R. Martin's wizardry at delivering the most shocking plot turns, coupled with HBO show runners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss' ability to translate it to good TV will either leave you protesting loudly or open-mouthed and paralyzed on a couch, but rest assured each episode will build enough tension to have anyone eagerly awaiting the next. Sunday's Game of Thrones episode, "Hardhome," signaled the arrival of a new group of villains that have been hanging over the entire show.
Here's what happened:
The White Walkers are here (finally)
After seasons of alluding to their threat, the terrifying White Walkers made a visually impressive debut. Jon Snow's uneasy alliance with the Wildlings turned quickly into a full-on battle against the White Walkers, who arrived soon after the pact. At least the evil undead zombie clan has impeccable timing.
The metal band Mastodon also made a surprise guest appearance in this scene.
Tyrion Lannister becomes advisor to Daenerys Targaryen
Tyrion and Daenerys are the show's newest partners in crime. Brought to the Mother of Dragons by Jorah, Tyrion will now perhaps become the queen's most useful advisor to date.
Her first declaration to Tyrion, of course, is that she wants not only to stop the cycle of struggle between houses Tyrell, Stark, Lannister and Baratheon, she wants to break it.
Cersei Lannister created a monster.
After orchestrating the imprisonment of her daughter-in-law Margaery, Cersei herself was subsequently thrown in the same squalid conditions as she awaits trial for charges including fornication, treason and the murder of King Robert.
Cersei, whose deviousness knows no bounds, seems to have finally received her comeuppance. Then again, the show's unpredictability would make anyone think twice about betting on that.
Arya Stark continues training
The youngest female Stark creates an entirely new persona — Lana, an oyster and clam seller — in an effort to further her highly mysterious training at the House of Black and White. She may not appear ready to the young blond girl at the House of Black and White, but Jaqen dismisses her reservations, because, well, it is all the same to the Many-Faced God.
Sansa learns that her brothers are alive
Following a long, dreadful period of trying to survive after the death of her entire family, Sansa now finds herself stuck in Winterfell, married to the sociopath Ramsay and waited on by the broken Theon Greyjoy, or Reek, who burned her brothers alive. But Reek tells Sansa that her brothers Bran and Rickon are actually still alive, delivering her the best news she's probably ever gotten in all the seasons of the show.