Illustration by Jeff Versoi

EVEN IF YOU technically watched all three previous seasons of Game of Thrones, there's an entire quasi-academic subfield of information to keep straight, with about a million characters, places, religions, titles, histories, and so on. Keeping track of everything is even trickier if you haven't already reinforced your Game of Thrones knowledge by reading the books at least once. (I only got through about two-thirds of the first one during a long flight, at which point I put it down in favor of SkyMall, so no judgment.) It's one thing if you have time to marathon all the previous seasons and memorize detailed genealogy charts (actually, that would be equal parts magical and pathetic, which is pretty appropriate to the whole culture of GoT anyway), but for those of us who are too busy for that, let's review the most important plot points to look forward to in the upcoming fourth season.

King Joffrey: I predict this is going to be a big season for that inbred little prick! Hopefully it'll come out that he's the secret spawn of twin siblings Jaime and Cersei, and he'll get gleefully kicked off the throne. Clearly based on Caligula, Joffrey's cruel acts (so far) have included ordering the beheading of Ned Stark, crudely killing Westeros' most beloved prostitute with arrows, having some dude's tongue cut out in front of everyone, relentlessly fucking with his ex-fiancée's head (that'd be Sansa, the prissiest Stark), and stealing his dwarf uncle's step stool. This season, Joffrey needs to die and/or have vengeance rain down upon his fuck-faced ass.

The Starks: When we left them, the Starks were in dreadful shape. The mom is dead and... I'm pretty sure Rob bit it too, during the Red Wedding, but... jesus, you know what? I can't even remember if he died. I guess that's what you get when you're the most boring Stark! Seriously, I don't know how you nerds do this. But I bet you anything that it won't matter anyway. Moving on, how about that Arya, right? She is the Stark to watch! She's still a kid, but increasingly full of angry tomboy righteousness and plucky sword skills. Hopefully we'll get to see her slit Joffrey in half from the nuts up! I have no idea where the baby Stark went. (There is another baby on the show too, I think, which that fat guy takes care of? Pretty sure that's a different baby.)

Ice and Fire: Everyone in Game of Thrones is super worried about the Wildlings, the demonic ice soldiers coming from north of the Wall! Haha, just kidding, the Wildlings are just a pack of bums and sassy redheads. The White Walkers are the scary ones. We know that they eat human baby boys (or whatever they do with them) and that they can (only?) be killed with swords made from "dragonglass," which one can only assume are forged by dragons' fire-breath. Either way, Daenerys—AKA the HBIC of the Dragons—is literally blazing a trail from the other direction with her red-hot flying lizard posse, which, according to everyone, is pretty much a done deal as far as winning wars go, so frankly I think the overarching "tension" here is pretty overblown. It's like "duh." White Walkers what? Still, it's gonna be fun to watch.

The Rest: There's going to be a bunch of elaborate scheming and "Oh, I planned this all along!" smugness among the political characters, but if you haven't already noticed, all that intricate tricky shit tends not to matter. It's too much to keep track of, and it's all just a way of getting to all of Game of Thrones' ass kicking, magic, torture, and nudity—so long as you enjoy those parts, you won't miss a thing. I promise, it's not worth bothering to parse the marriage of someone's cousin to an uncle's gross daughter because they need to cross a bridge or whatever. That situation will yield a cool scene or two and then just... go away. So don't be afraid to disinvest a little! Crack a beer. Enjoy Tyrion's witticisms. Be worried and excited about how far they'll take the violence. Take a puff off that joint and sit back. Cuz it hella doesn't matter.