This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
Warning: contains major spoilers for Game Of Thrones.
After standing for centuries as Westeros’ barrier between civilization and the wild unknown, the Wall has been breached. In the last moments of Game Of Thrones season seven, the Night King’s new fire-breathing pet melted through centuries of magic and let the army of the dead pass south. Winter is here. War is here. So what are the living going to do about it?
Nothing, is Cersei’s answer. Her tunnel vision sees only the Iron Throne. While everyone else is distracted by the threat from the north, she plans to wipe them out, cement her rule and ensure the inheritance of her unborn child. Brother Jaime has turned his back on her and is heading north to join Daenerys, Jon Snow and the rest of them fighting the good fight.
Will the Seven Kingdoms be able to push back its undead attackers a second time? What will defeat the Night King? Who will be left standing? Here are those questions and more yet to be resolved by the soon-to-arrive season eight.
Who will sit on the Iron Throne?
You’ve heard the one about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? With the Seven Kingdoms’ very own iceberg currently making its way south, squabbling over who gets to sit in the pointy chair seems trivial at best. That said, once the Night King has been defeated, life will go on. So who has the best claim to the title?
Before Robert’s Rebellion, the Targaryens were the royal family. Daenerys believes herself to be the family’s last surviving heir, but her nephew Aegon (aka Jon Snow) technically trumps her claim because the Targaryen line of succession passes down the male line. Dany though, is unlikely to meekly hand over rule, so expect trouble on that front.
In the Baratheon line, King Robert only had bastards like Gendry, whose illegitimacy rules them out. Squatters’ rights aside, Cersei and any heir she may produce, of course, have about as much a claim to the seat as Hot Pie.
Our bet? Dany and Jon will rule together, and as an unwanted symbol of tyrannical oppression, they’ll have the Iron Throne melted down and replaced with something better cushioned.
Can Daenerys have children?
When Maegi Mirri Maz Duur took the blood price of Dany’s unborn son as revenge for Khal Drogo’s attack on her village, the mother of dragons was cursed. Daenerys was told she would only bear a living child “when the seas go dry and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves”. Translation: don’t hold your breath, blondie.
Ever the practical Northerner, in season seven Jon Snow suggested that a grief-stricken, vengeance-driven witch may not be the most reliable source of information. Dany didn’t get pregnant by Daario Naharis, but now that she and nephew Aegon are knocking boots, could some family magic kick in to produce an incestuous heir? The Targaryens were fans of keeping it in the family.
Is that it for Jaime and Cersei?
Speaking of incest, the season seven finale appeared to snuff out the long-running romance between Cersei and Jaime Lannister.
Cersei’s always been cruel and merciless. Her sole redeeming feature was her love for her children and now they’re dead, she’s lost even that. Her brother on the other hand (pardon the pun), has grown steadily in both morals and conscience, after, you know, he pushed that ten-year-old out of a high window.
When Cersei told Jaime she had no intention of fighting the Night King and planned instead to double-cross their new allies, he snapped. Like the sword he gave to Brienne of Tarth, Jaime declared himself an oath-keeper and headed north without his sister-lover. How far will this new enmity go? Could Jaime be, as many fans have predicted, the one to finally rid the Seven Kingdoms of his monstrous sister?
Will ‘Cleganebowl’ happen?
Fans have long predicted a mighty clash between brothers Sandor and Gregor Clegane, the Hound and the Mountain. The prospect looked to have been dashed when the Oberyn Martell fatally poisoned the Mountain, but when Cersei’s creepy toady Qyburn resurrected the brute, the possibility returned.
The season seven finale saw Sandor face to face with his hated undead brother for the first time, but alas, no fight was forthcoming. “It’s not how it ends for you, brother,” the Hound told the Franken-Mountain, “You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.”
Of whom does Sandor speak? The sensible money says he’s talking about himself. Ever since the age of six, when his sadistic older brother pushed his face into hot coals for playing with one of his toys, those two have been due a reckoning. “Bring it on!” Rory McCann told Den of Geek UK. “It’d be interesting if it happened. It’s what drives the Hound still, he’s still got a lot of anger, he’s reminded everyday with his burned face of why he’s like that and it’s shaped his character so it’ll be amazing if we met and that happens, but we’ll see.”
Will Theon rescue Yara?
The redemption of Theon Greyjoy took a decisive turn in the season seven finale. After failing to fight for his sister Yara when Euron took her captive, Theon eventually mustered the courage to do what she did for him in season four and mount a rescue mission. He took a beating, learned that a weakness can also be a strength, and declared himself “for Yara!”
Now just comes the small job of sneaking into King’s Landing and extracting his sister from her prison. Tyrion and Varys may be just the people to advise on that front, having orchestrated just such an escape from the Red Keep not two seasons ago.
Will Arya finally complete her kill-list?
Between them, Arya Stark and fate are doing a pretty good job of ticking names off her death-list. She personally did away with Walder Frey and his entire bloodline along with Meryn Trant, Polliver and Rorge; while Joffrey, Tywin, and Thoros of Myr were all offed by other means (poison, patricide and a fiery polar bear, to be precise). Beric Dondarrion was at Eastwatch when zombie-Viserion breached the wall, so his chances of survival don’t look too healthy.
That just leaves Queen Cersei, the Franken-Mountain, Ilyn Payne, and Melisandre. It’s already not a bad completion rate, but Arya’s not the kind of serial killer to quit halfway through a job. She’s certainly not alone in wanting Cersei dead, nor the resurrected Mountain, so chances are those two will fall by other means. The real-life illness of Wilko Johnson, too, the actor behind executioner Ilyn Payne may have phased out his character from the show before Arya could get her revenge on him for Ned Stark’s death.
Which brings us to Melisandre. In season three, the Red Priestess described a darkness in Arya and told her, “we will meet again”. Many interpreted that line to mean that Arya would be the means of Melisandre’s death, which has been a long time coming.
What is Melisandre doing in Volantis?
Like Varys and Littlefinger, the Red Woman is one of the Seven Kingdom’s behind-the-scenes string-pullers. Unlike those two though, she’s been doing it not just for decades but for centuries. Melisandre’s magic killed Renly Baratheon and restored Jon Snow to life, killing many innocents along the way. After Stannis proved not to be the prophesied ‘prince who was promised’, the Red Priestess backed a different horse. She thinks Jon Snow is the one who will bring the dawn and that Daenerys also has a role to play.
We last saw Melisandre leaving Dragonstone for Volantis, after urging Dany to summon Jon Snow. Before she went, she told fellow Essosi Varys that she was destined to come back to Westeros. “I will return, dear Spider, one last time,” she said. “I have to die in this strange country, just like you.”
What is Melisandre cooking up back east? Her prophecies might not always be bang on the money, but she does have power. Could it be used to defeat the Night King?
How will the Night King be defeated?
Assuming that Game Of Thrones isn’t planning on pulling a Dinosaurs and ending the show on a bleak, ice age-related mass extinction, the Night King is going down. But how?
Valyrian Steel and Dragonglass are the two known ways of killing White Walkers. Jon Snow took one out with the first method at Hardhome, while Sam the Slayer killed another with the second back in season three. But does the Night King share the same vulnerabilities as his icy brethren? The spiky-headed one was created when the Children of the Forest magically inserted a dragonglass blade into a man’s heart centuries hence. Can dragonglass kill him? Could removing said blade return him to his human state?
Perhaps Dany’s remaining dragons have a role to play. Ordinary fire kills Wights. Might dragon fire also destroy White Walkers?
What role will the Three-Eyed Raven play?
Not that he’s taken on the mystical role of the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran Stark has access to the entire history of the Seven Kingdoms. If there’s a clue from the past as to how to defeat the Night King, he’ll be able to see it.
It’s worth remembering that Bran alerted the Night King to his whereabouts by allowing him to make physical contact in a vision. He may or may not be capable of changing the past, or seeing into the future.
It’s also worth remembering that Bran’s warging powers don’t only give him a literal bird’s-eye view of events far and wide, but they also allow him to control other creatures. In the past, Bran’s protected his group by warging into his direwolf Summer (RIP) and his servant Hodor (also RIP). Could he manage it with something larger? A dragon say, alive or… undead?
Who will get a happy ending?
Will Ser Bronn finally get his castle? Will Samwell become the archmaester? Will Tyrion retire to his peaceful vineyard? Will Grey Worm and Missandei move into their very own pyramid and raise a bunch of adopted former slave-children? Will Tormund survive Eastwatch to woo Brienne of Tarth another day? Or will Jaime and Brienne live out their days together, their former enmity happily behind them? At the very least, we need to see Hot Pie make his fortune by opening a franchise of well-attended pasty shops around the Seven Kingdoms.
Happy endings are likely to be few and far between in season eight. In this morally disinterested universe, there’s certainly no guarantee that the good will be rewarded while the baddies will be punished. Amid all these questions, one thing’s for certain: people will die. Tears will be shed. Winter is here.
Game Of Thrones season 8 premieres on HBO on April 14.