Some Seem More Plausible Than Others
No show in television history has generated more fan theories than Game of Thrones, but the first installment of the six-episode final season barely touched on a few of the big, possible reveals to keep us guessing for a few more weeks. Jon Snow rode a dragon and discovered his true parentage. That was about it. A rather slow start considering the hundreds of theories circulating around dozens of storylines. The biggest death of the week was Mac from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, for cryin’ out loud!
Let’s start with some of the crazier theories and work our way to the winners.
Bran is the Night King/Bran is Bran the Builder/Bran made Aerys Targaryen go mad/Bran is every Bran ever (not kidding)
Bran’s one foray into changing the past surely showed him that was a bad idea despite the best of intentions (RIP Hodor). Moreover, there’s zero chance George R.R. Martin painstakingly created this intricate universe only to reveal a single time traveler scripted the entire history of Westeros. And if Bran somehow thought going back in time to stop the Children of the Forest from creating the first White Walker was a good idea, choosing to warg into the first poor sap they killed would be about the worst choice possible.
The Targaryen theory lies mainly with the resemblance between their dragon sigil and the seven-arm pinwheel design the undead leave in their wake (RIP Lil’ Umber). Also, The Night King rode a dragon. However, in Bran’s vision, we see the Children of the Forest have erected the same pinwheel design in stone around the heart tree where they created first White Walker about 10,000 years before the Targaryens arrived in Westeros. And while everyone seems to believe only Targaryens can ride dragons, it’s more legend than fact. A dragon rider in a prequel novella had no known Targaryen ancestry. A few others are known to have tried.
Davos/Sam/Stannis/Gendry/Arya/Tyrion/Beric Dondarrion is Azor Ahai
The last time the dead marched south, 6,000-8,000 years ago, the legendary hero Azor Ahai helped drive them back wielding his flaming sword, Lightbringer. An ancient prophecy from Asshai portends his return to stop the next invasion. With enough poetic flair, it’s possible to stick the “born again amidst smoke and salt” on just about any character, but there are far better and more obvious possibilities. Beric is the best bet from this lot, having cheated death while wielding his flaming sword.
A Faceless Man did not take Ned’s place. This one was fun to ponder six seasons ago, but its time has passed. All theories, like all men, must die.
In both the books and show, Cersei’s first pregnancy was actually with King Robert, but accounts of how it ended differ. On the show, Cersei, as she weasels around to check on Bran’s status after his fall, recounts to Catelyn Stark how she gave birth to a sickly, black-haired boy who died shortly after. Cersei later briefly mentions it to King Robert. In the books, Cersei straight up tells Ned that Jaime found someone to help her abort the baby before Robert knew about the pregnancy. For show purposes, why would Cersei swap her baby with another to be killed when she would presumably want her baby dead? A fourth child also puts a damper on the prophecy of Maggy the Frog, the wood’s witch, which holds Cersei would have three children and outlive them all.
The Night King will raise the dead Starks from the crypt
Surely there has to be some cap on the Night King’s power, right? If he can raise any bag of human bones regardless of how long they’ve been deceased, his army would number in the millions by the time he reached Winterfell. Do you really think Ned will turn into Evil Ash from Army of Darkness and be re-capitated? Nah.
The books feature no Night King (or even a clear leader of the undead), but there is a character known as the Night’s King. The Night’s King was the 13th Commander of the Night’s Watch, who somehow ended up falling for a White Walker and marrying her. While the books never confirm his heritage, Old Nan, during one of her spooky bedtime stories, tells Bran she thinks he was a Stark. The Night’s King ruled the Wall for 13 years before the Starks and Free Folk combined forces to defeat him. Martin has all but debunked the connection, but it still seems odd for the show to borrow the name if there’s nothing to it. If the show reveals the Night King’s heritage, my money is on the Starks.
Jon’s story syncs up with some of the prophecy, but in the end, there’s only one person who woke the dragons.
His great-grandfather hailed from Braavos, or so he tells Ser Royce. Arya sees a maiden hand him what looks to be a coin while whispering, “Your time’s up,” when she tails him at Winterfell in Season 7. When Brienne, while they’re sparring, asks Arya who taught her how to fight, Littlefinger seems to give a knowing smirk as he watches from the battlements when Arya answers, “no one”. Finally, in Littlefinger’s last bit of long-winded life coaching with Sansa, the woman he married off to an abusive psychopath, he recommends analyzing people’s motivations and always working to counter their worst possible intentions.
Sansa hasn’t hidden her disdain for Littlefinger since their reunion. He has limited options at this point, virtually no information, influence or other alliances to aid him. Is it feasible that Littlefinger saw the writing on the wall? Did he ship all of the gold he surely skimmed as Master of Coin to the Faceless Men to have a walking life-insurance policy follow him around? That would be some peak Littlefinger plotting right there. Just think of the end-credit sequence with a forlorn Daario Naharis moping into a Meereenese brothel and asking the back-turned proprietor if he has any women who can soothe his dragon-queen woes and Littlefinger slowly turning to say, “I think we can come to some sort of arrangement.”
The Night King is really after Bran (the Three-Eyed Raven)
Vladmir Furdik, who’s played the Night King since Season 6, said during an interview that his character has a specific target. Let’s face it. If the Night King can throw a 30-pound ice spear 200 yards to impale a flying dragon, he could have picked up a snowball and knocked off Jon’s head as his boat drifted away from Hardhomme. He wants the Three-Eyed Raven dead. There is some conjecture the Children of the Forest created the first Three-Eyed Raven (Three-Eyed Crow in the books) as a foil for the White Walkers after they lost control of them. Maybe. It stands to reason we will see Bran finally use his powers for something other than confirming Jon’s parentage, and that is what the Night King fears.
Bran is going to fly… because he is now part Targaryen
“You will never walk again, Bran, but you will fly.” There’s just no way in hell this means he’ll flit around as a raven for a bit. The books are vague on the history of the past Three-Eyed Ravens (Crows), but Bran’s direct mentor was Brynden Rivers, the bastard son of a Targaryen king, and the most bad-ass dude to ever set foot in Westeros. Take a look at this guy’s resume. Dragonrider. Renowned swordsman. Expert archer. Feared spymaster. Hand to two future kings. Instrumental in putting down three rebellions. And, finally, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Essentially, he did the job of every main character on the show, only better.
It makes no sense Bran would need to warg into Rhaegal or Drogon, but what if Bran could warg into Viserion? Could Bran wrest control of Viserion long enough to dismount the Night King, setting up a duel with Jon? Would this break the Night King’s hold on the dragon for good? What if Bran has to permanently merge with Viserion to keep control?
I had my doubts a few seasons ago, but after the Hound called out his brother in the Dragon Pit this is one hundred percent on. Even if Sandor Clegane falls to the army of the dead, I’ll still expect a brother-on-brother zombie fight.
“You’re no son of mine,” Tywin Lannister spits before he meets his Water-loo at the hands of Tyrion. Did Tywin want to get in one last nasty jab before dying, or was he actually speaking the truth? Do you remember Tyrion’s dye job from the first season? Upon seeing Tyrion for the first time in the books, Jon Snow muses to himself, “One green eye and one black eye peered out from under a lank of hair so blonde it seemed white.”
White or platinum hair is a signature trait of the Targaryens. The books also make mention of the Mad King’s obsession with Tywin’s wife, Joanna. If Tywin knew, or even suspected, Tyrion was not from his seed, the disdain and resentment he feels toward him take on a whole new meaning. Lastly, non-Targaryens don’t seem to fair too well when birthing Targaryen babies (RIP Lyanna Stark). This a slam dunk in the books. Bran, or possibly Varys, are the only two people who could realistically reveal this info on the show. Do we have time for this twist if it isn’t consequential to main plot? We shall see.
Arya will kill Cersei wearing Jaime’s face
One of the stranger book omissions from the show is the final prophecy the wood’s witch gives to Cersei. In both the books and the show, the witch foretells Cersei will marry a king and not a prince, she will be a queen supplanted by someone younger and more beautiful, she will have three children while the king will have many more, and her children will all precede her in death. Talk about hitting a parlay!
The wood’s witch’s final words in the books are, “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Cersei later learns valonqar is a High Valyrian word meaning “little brother”. Cersei always assumes this refers to Tyrion. However, Jaime is a few minutes younger than Cersei, as she was the first twin out of the womb. It should be noted the witch says “the valonqar” and not “your valonqar”. Technically, this opens up the possibilities to half of the characters on the show, but someone other than Tyrion or Jaime fulfilling the prophecy seems ridiculous. Unless, of course, that someone is the Faceless (wo)Man Arya Stark.
Throw out her kill list. Throw out the prophecy. Why would the showrunners’ insist that a right-handed 12-year-old girl learn to swordfight with her off hand? Sure, Arya is left-handed in the books, but considering all of the other details they’ve changed or omitted, they must have a significant reason for making her training that much more difficult. Impersonating a famous swordsman with no right hand is about the only reason that makes sense.
The Night King is just a random, unlucky dude
Bran has already seen the presumptive birth of the Night King. If we were going to learn of his ancestry, the showrunners could have slapped a wolf or another sigil on his clothing. The Night King is coming for everyone. Tying his motives to an ancient house feud or something similar would diminish everything he has stood for in the show. Fans hoping for a big payoff here will be disappointed.
If you substitute dragonfire for a flaming sword, Daenerys has hit all of the main prophecy points already. Daenerys woke “dragons out of stone” on the pyre of her dead lover to create her fire weapon. The books and the show have made too much of this prophecy to not have it pay off. In some fashion, she is going to save the day.
The fate of Daenerys
We learned dragons aren’t very fond of the cold in this season’s first episode. If the long winter persists even with the defeat of the Night King, I don’t see Daenerys sticking around if any of her children make it through the war to come. My bet is she flies east to a more hospitable climate for her dragon(s) where she can keep the peace if needed in the freed cities and maybe even take up as the leader of the Dothraki. Something just feels right about Daenerys giving up her ambition and returning to the place of her greatest love.
And the Iron Throne goes to…
No one. And, no, I don’t mean Arya. The entire show has illustrated how entitled, power-hungry wannabe rulers have decimated Westeros and left it on the verge of complete annihilation. Either the Night King prevails or the living squeak out a victory and band together as a true alliance to be governed jointly by the leaders of the Seven Kingdoms. My vote is the latter with Yara, Tyrion and Sansa being part of the new leadership alliance. It will be bittersweet, and maybe a little boring. But prequels are coming.