(Note: This post contains spoilers through the July 30 episode of “Game of Thrones.”)
In “Game of Thrones,” the southern land of Dorne a place that gets shown too often, but its people are already playing a big role in Season 7
That’s because in Season 6, the country underwent a coup. The people who seized power, collectively known as the Sand Snakes, ravaged the Great House that rules Dorne and plan to wage war on the Lannisters in King’s Landing.
Here’s a quick rundown of the state of House Martell, the Great House in charge of Dorne.
The most famous member of House Martell was Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal), otherwise known as the Red Viper of Dorne. He was a formidable warrior who also got around quite a bit. He traveled to King’s Landing in Season 3 with his paramour, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), and got himself killed fighting in a trial by combat against the Mountain.
In response, Ellaria and Oberyn’s bastard daughters, who are known as a group as the Sand Snakes because their bastard last name is “Sand” (like how in the North, the bastard name is “Snow”) and because they’re deady, decided to get their revenge on the Lannisters. Oberyn has eight bastard daughters, but only the eldest three appear in the show: Obara Sand (Keisha Castle-Hughes), Nymeria Sand (Jessica Henwick), and Tyene Sand (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers). Tyene is Ellaria’s daughter, but the other two have another mother.
Dorne was ruled by Prince Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig), Oberyn’s older brother, who was afflicted with gout and unable to do much. He favored peace with the Lannisters, and betrothed his son, Prince Trystane Martell (Toby Sebastian), to Myrcella Lannister (Nell Tiger Free), the daughter of Cersei (Lena Heady).
But when Prince Doran refused to commit Dorne to war against King’s Landing, Ellaria poisoned Myrcella as part of her revenge on the Lannisters. Ellaria then assassinated Prince Doran, and Obara killed Trystane. With Doran, Trystane, and Oberyn all dead, there are no male to legally continue the Martell family line. Even though the Sand Snakes all technically have Martell blood, they’re not legally recognized as members of the familiy.
With Doran and Trystane dead, Ellaria now runs Dorne, and at the end of Season 6, she joined in an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) against the Lannisters. In the early episodes of Season 7, Daenerys laid out her plan for war against the Lannisters, and sent Ellaria, Obara, Nymeria and Tyene to sail back to Dorne and get the Dornish army. The plan was for Dorne and House Tyrell to besiege King’s Landing.
But Ellaria and the Sand Snakes were intercepted on their way back to Dorne by Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) and his massive Iron Fleet. Ellaria and Tyene were captured, but Euron killed both Obara and Nymeria, hanging the Sand Snakes from his ship as trophies.
Euron brought Ellaria, Tyene and Yara Greyjoy to Cersei as a gift, and she got her revenge on Ellaria for killing her daughter in a bit of poetic justice. Cersei kissed Tyene with the same poison on her lips, the Long Farewell, that Ellaria used to kill Myrcella. The whole idea was for Ellaria to watch her daughter die and decay as the two are held in a dungeon cell in the Red Keep.
Tyene is the last living Sand Snake, so when she’s gone, it’ll just be Ellaria. And it doesn’t seem like she has long left while she’s in Cersei’s clutches.