On Monday night's
, Benjen seemingly returned from the dead, and it's understandable if viewers' reactions were less "whoa!" than "who?"
After all it's been many plot twists since we last saw him on screen. Loads of characters have come and gone in that time.
The same goes for Blackfish, a character everyone seems to be preoccupied with. Why do these guys matter? Here's a refresher.
Who is Benjen Stark?
Benjen is Ned Stark's less serious brother. We first met him during the first episode of season one, when he proved to be one of the show's few good guys by treating Jon Snow with immense affection despite the young man's outcast status.
No wonder Jon followed him to Castle Black. Benjen was a member of the Night's Watch, and recruited his nephew. But almost as soon as they made it to the Wall, Benjen disappeared. He went ranging North of the Wall and was never heard from again - until now.
His timing couldn't have been more ideal, the way he saved his nephew Bran and Meera Reed from certain death. But his presence also prompts more questions than answers. Questions like: Is this guy alive or dead?
Apparently, during that mission, he was attacked by Wights and was left to die, but the Children of the Forest saved him by stabbing him with dragon glass. Seems like a strange method of first aid, but hey, whatever works.
His half-death has clearly given him some kind of clairvoyance, which is how he found Bran.
Even in his absence, Benjen has continued to drive the plot. For one thing, the mission that took Jon North of the Wall was, in part, a search and rescue mission for Benjen. And the way Alliser Thorne lured Jon to his murder was by promising details about Benjen's disappearance.
And what exactly has Benjen been doing all this time? Possibly plotting a way to take down the White Walker army. That could come in handy . . .
Who is the Blackfish?
Likewise, it's been ages since the Blackfish showed his face. Otherwise known as Brynden Tully, Catelyn Stark's uncle was last spotted just before the Red Wedding bloodbath. Sometimes taking a trip to the bathroom can be a matter of life and death.
He somehow managed to escape that night and he's been keeping busy ever since. We found out from Littlefinger last episode that he's been reassembling a powerful army, and he's even driven out Walder Frey's forces from Tully central, Riverrun.
The renowned fighter is clearly going to be key to the plot this season since various plot threads involve him: Sansa sent Brienne to ask him for his help in retaking Winterfell and Jaime Lannister also has been tasked with heading to Riverrun to try to reclaim it. (How will Tormund react to a Brienne-Jaime reunion?)
Meanwhile, Walder Frey is going to use another long lost character - Edmure Tully, imprisoned since the Red Wedding - as a bargaining chip to try to retake Riverrun. But if we know anything about the Blackfish, it's that he probably won't walk away from a major stronghold to get his nephew back.