“Are you afraid? Good. You’re in the great game now.” Tyrion Lannister told Daenerys that she was in the great game now when she named him the Hand of the Queen. Two seasons later Game of Thrones is now in its final season, and the game is coming to a close. Following the first episode, the stage is set for the war that we have all been waiting for. The living against the dead, and whoever is left (if anyone survives) will win the game and claim the Iron Throne. In anticipation of the remaining episodes we are going to run through our theory for how the game will end.[Spoilers for all episodes, including S8.E1 “Winterfell”]
Setting the Board
The first episode of the final season did not include any action, especially the much anticipated battle of Winterfell, where the “greatest army the world has ever known”, two full-grown dragons, and the armies of the North will band together to stand against the Night King and his White Walker horde. However, absent the action we have all been craving since Season 7, there were plenty of pay-offs. To understand our theory, these pay-offs are important, as many of them set-up how the rest of the season will go. While there were several reunions and first time interactions between the characters, there are three that are most important to our theory.
The first interaction of the episode, and arguably one with the most weight for the season, was that between Daenerys and Sansa Stark. Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons, arrives in Winterfel in grand fashion. The Unsullied legions marching forward, as impressive as always, followed by Daenerys and Jon Snow, with the Dothraki pulling up the rear. The procession of power was impressive, but the Northerners were not impressed, not until the last two dragons flew overhead. Much in the same fashion as the first season where the Starks welcomed King Robert Baratheon, the Northerners welcomed Daenerys. Jon hops off his horse to embrace Bran, whom he is seeing for the first time since he left to join the Night’s Watch. Then he hugs Sansa, who does not take her eyes off of Daenerys. Daenerys then greets Sansa, telling her that the North is as beautiful as Jon had told her, and so was Sansa. The typical noble greeting that we have seen through the series. Sansa is cold in her response, and immediately lets Daenerys know that she will not be welcomed with open arms as the great Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
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This interaction is pivotal for the rest of the episode. From the Northerners voicing their displeasure with Jon Snow abandoning his crown and pledging his fealty to the Mother of Dragons. Sansa later asks Jon whether he bent the knee for the sake of protecting the North, or because he loves Daenerys. The Northerners had named Jon Snow the King in the North, and rallied their flags behind him. Now they feel betrayed as he gave up the crown and brought them a new queen. They had not chosen her, as Tyrion is told, the Northerners will not just willingly follow Daenerys, their loyalty must be earned.
The next important interaction was the reunion between Arya Stark and Jon Snow. While it was heartwarming, as Jon recognized Needle, the sword that he had given Arya back in Season 1, which has been pivotal during her character development, the end of their interaction is what is important for our sake. Arya takes Sansa’s side, reminding Jon that family comes first, and Jon is family. This is important because of the next important interaction.
The final interaction that we will talk about is the reunion between Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly. Sam had just met Daenerys, and found out that she had killed his father and brother because they would not bend the knee. This prompts Sam to ask Jon what he would do in the same position, leading to Sam telling Jon his true name and lineage. Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, his name is Aegon Targaryen, and the rightful King of the Seven Kingdoms.
The War to Come
These three interactions lead to our theory of what will happen over the final five episodes. Lord Varys, following the discussion between Tyrion and Davos that Jon and Daenerys should be joined in marriage, makes an off-hand remark that the young people need to old people’s wisdom to remind them that nothing lasts. There was the incredible scene where Jon and Daenerys rode the dragons and had their romantic moment. Yes, it makes sense that Daenerys and Jon should be joined, even if they are related, that is how Targaryens roll. Jon has proven he is a good leader. He reunited the North, retook Winterfell, earned the allegiance of the Wildlings, and has battled the Night King’s army twice. Now, he knows that he is the rightful king.
Daenerys, with her many titles, has established her prowess as well. She gained the Unsullied, she broke the chains of the slaves, as an outsider she became the Khaleesi of the Dothraki, she is the Mother of Dragons. And she did all of this to gain the Iron Throne. She and Jon Snow would be a powerhouse couple. They need to be if they have a hope of surviving the Night King. And that is where our theory takes form.
The whole first episode was meant to drive a wedge between Jon and Daenerys. Jon is reminded by his sisters that he is family and that the Northerners want him as king. Now he not only has the vote of the Northerners, he has the legitimate claim of the Iron Throne. The Northerners don’t trust Daenerys, they don’t want her, even if she may offer salvation from the coming Winter. Jon, even with knowing his true lineage, can decide to choose his family, the Starks, the North. Even though he and Daenerys are sweet on each other, Daenerys is ruthless, and does not tolerate those who oppose her position. If Sansa is successful is swaying Jon just a little bit, and she further pushes Daenerys away from him, then there will be a tension between the last two Targaryens. Jon is going to have to choose which family he will stand with. As a bit of foreshadowing, Theon Greyjoy, after freeing his sister, chooses to go to Winterfell to stand beside Jon when they face the Night King. Theon was a ward of Ned Stark, much the same way that Jon, Ned’s sister’s child, was, and Theon chose the Starks, so perhaps Jon will too.
Chances are, Winterfell will not survive the Night King. HBO released a promo showing Winterfell buried in snow, with Jon Snow’s Valyrian Steel sword buried in the snow, signifying their defeat there. Because the White Walkers have been the main threat from the very first episode, this makes sense. If the White Walkers are stopped at Winterfell, then their whole story arc is pointless. This is what we predict will happen
The Iron Throne
The alliance in the North is going to lose Winterfell. The tension that is growing between the North and Daenerys is going to reach a head, and Jon Snow is going to have to choose what side to take. Likely Sansa will want to retreat South to her mother’s lands, to the Vale. Daenerys will know that the Greyjoy’s have retaken the Iron Islands for her and her remaining armies to retreat to. This will be an immediate choice for Jon to make, with the foreshadowing mentioned before, he will choose to finally listen to Sansa and take the remaining North to the Vale.
With the White Walkers making their way to the South, Cersei will have to decide whether to deploy her armies. Spoiler, she won’t, she feels secure in King’s Landing with the Iron Fleet, the Lannister Army, and the Golden Company. Tyrion and Varys will be able to convince Daenerys to take her forces to King’s Landing when the Night King gets there, as the North will be pushed farther and farther back. Cersei won’t allow them into King’s Landing. This is where we predict Cersei to fall. Being pushed to King’s Landing, Arya will have the chance to kill Cersei, and she will be aided by the Hound who will have one more shot against Sir Gregor.
Bran knows that Jon is the key, and that is why he made sure Jon knew his true lineage. It is not to take the Throne however, it is to kill the Night King. Jon is born of the North, he died in the North, and was brought back by the Red Woman. By being brought back by the power of R’hllor, the God of Flame and Shadow, Jon is the champion of Flame. He is part Targaryen, and due to his ride on the back of the dragon, he clearly carries their traits and powers, including resistance to flame. Jon will sacrifice himself to kill the Night King, leaving Daenarys as the last surviving Targaryen to sit upon the Iron Throne.
What did you think of the episode this week? What are your predictions for the end of the series? Who will gain the Iron Throne? Tell us below in the comments and visit our Facebook page!
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