Warning: Spoilers for "Game of Thrones" ahead.
Oh, "Game of Thrones," how we've missed you. What other show wraps its vast universe in such a crazy, bloody quilt of families and loyalties, betrayals and power grabs? What other show beheads its hero in the first season and doesn't turn it into a Bobby-Ewing-in-the-shower dream sequence? What other show features dragons and giants, undead armies and incestuous twins? Welcome back, you magnificent bastard.
If there's one thing fans know about "Game of Thrones," it's that the show can never please everyone, especially since there are only two short seasons left. Here are eight questions we'd like to have answered before Cersei blows the rest of us up.
1. How will Daenerys and the dragons try to claim the Iron Throne?
Let's not rush to answer this one, and instead savor it for two more seasons. Still, with Dany, Tyrion, the dragons, the Unsullied and even the sea-travel-hating Dothraki allied, they're a formidable force that'll likely make a move soon. Will they meet up with the surviving Starks? Is Dany heading straight for Queen Cersei, with said queen's own little brother in tow? Raise your arakh if you'd like to see a White Walker-Dothraki battle play out -- two forces that don't know the meaning of surrender.
2. Will Jon learn who his true parents were?
Bran knows through his visions that Ned Stark lied and claimed Jon as his own to protect his dead sister Lyanna, who conceived Jon with Daenerys' elder brother, Rhaegar Targaryen. But can he transmit that information to Jon, and be believed? Is there anyone around who can confirm this (Howland Reed, a midwife from Jon's birth, a surviving guard from the Tower of Joy), and will we ever learn if Lyanna was in love with Rhaegar, or if she was his victim? And does it all matter if Jon can't protect the Wall from the White Walkers?
3. Will the four surviving Starks reunite?
It was hard not to get a little sniffly at the reunion of Sansa and Jon, two members of a once solid family that's been flung to the four corners of Westeros, each to be tortured in unique ways. Bran and Arya are still out there. If seeing two Starks together was heartwarming, seeing four of them back together again could be magical. (We don't think we'll ever see mom Catelyn again though. Lady Stoneheart is likely to stay in the books.)
4. Will Jon figure out how to defeat the White Walkers?
Someone page Rick Grimes of "The Walking Dead," because Jon needs some strategies that work against zombified hordes, and fast. We know that Valyrian steel and dragonglass can kill the White Walkers, but to quote Jaime Lannister, "No one's made a new Valyrian steel sword since the Doom of Valyria." So dragonglass, then -- called obsidian by the maesters -- which not only kills White Walkers, but turns men into the creepy icy creatures. Supposedly there's a stash at Dragonstone, where we know Daenerys is heading from the previews. Maybe her dragons can breathe on something and create more. Jon's going to need it.
5. Will Cleganebowl ever come to pass?
Oh, it's a minor plotline in the grand scheme of things, but ever since meeting The Hound and The Mountain, we've wanted to see their ultimate battle, where the Hound finally gets revenge on his (now zombified) gigantic brother for holding his face in a fire when they were but children. Give us this one, HBO. Let the dog out.
6. Will Cersei get revenge for Myrcella?
The Sand Snakes sometimes feel like they've been jammed into a show that doesn't really have room for them, but once Ellaria Sand delivers the kiss of death to Cersei and Jaime's only daughter, things got real. Myrcella's death hasn't had the impact of Joffrey's or the likely impact of Tommen's (middle children always get ignored, sneers Jan Brady from somewhere), but surely it's only a matter of time.
7. Is Euron Greyjoy really going to be worse than Ramsay Bolton?
By the Seven, we hope not, but it seems possible. Ramsay Bolton castrated and flayed Theon, hunted Tansy with dogs, constantly assaulted Sansa, killed Rickon in a sadistic bow-and-arrow chase and fed his own stepmother and baby half-brother to his dogs. Yet Pilou Asbæk, the actor who plays Euron (Theon's uncle), told Empire magazine that "after this season, Ramsay's gonna look like a little kid."
8. Will we ever see [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE MISSING CHARACTER HERE] again?
Everyone has a pet "Thrones" character who's been MIA forever, and might be dead, or might be just hanging out eating lemon cakes at Sunspear or something. Did Syrio Forel somehow survive his sword battle with Ser Meryn Trant? (The showrunners don't give us much hope.) Is Gendry still rowing? Hot Pie still baking? Did Jorah find a cure for greyscale? Has it been ruff out there for surviving direwolves Ghost and Nymeria? It's unlikely they'll all find their way back into the show, but we can dream.
"Game of Thrones" returns Sunday, July 16.
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