Game of Thrones Season Eight Q & A

I decided that in the wake of the Game of Thrones Season 7 finale I would do two posts- one being a review of the episode and the other a continuation of my Q & A format to cover the wider talking points. You can click here for the former and get my breakdown of the episode itself. In this post we will be discussing theories and predictions. Excited? Let’s get on with it then.

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  1. Will we have to wait until 2019 to see season eight?

The answer to this one is most likely. HBO hasn’t confirmed a delay, so nothing is official yet. What we do know is that they will start shooting season eight in October, about a month from now. Normally this would indicate that it is on schedule to be aired in the early summer. The problem, however, is that the final season will feature its most ambitious and complicated set pieces yet. Expect the scale to be massive in the way of special effects, extras, set design and the overall spectacle. We saw all the trouble they went through to create the Frozen Lake Battle in episode 6 this year. We know for certain that there will be two large battles that will surely dwarf anything the show has attempted before. With a long shooting schedule more than likely, the chances are that HBO will push back the show until Spring 2019 (probably around May). I don’t see them airing in the Fall where they will compete for viewership with The Walking Dead and football season. A lot is going into this final season to make it great, so they absolutely will want to get the maximum viewing figures possible.

  1. Why only 6 episodes?

The reason for season eight’s being 6 episodes long is simple. The story they have left is small but the scenes are much larger. Although only 6 episodes in length, it has been reported that the final season might have the longest run time of any season yet. In July, Paula Fairfield- who works as a sound designer for the show- confirmed that each episode will be “feature-length”. To my mind, this means that each episode will be at least 65-70 minutes long as opposed to the usual 50-55. And the final episode will more than likely be at least an hour and a half.

  1. What is Cersei’s plan?

We knew that Cersei would serve as the main antagonist until the end of the series and attempt to undercut Dany and Jon. Her plan now is to let the Dragonstone-Winterfell alliance weaken themselves against the White Walkers before facing off against the remaining forces with the Golden Company- an army of mercenaries from Essos.

  1. How is it likely to go down?

At the moment Cersei is weak and vastly outmatched. She knows this, which is why she is pretending to support Dany & Jon against the Night King. All she has at this point are the remnants of a battered Lannister army and the Iron Fleet. The Vale has already declared for the King in the North. What remains of the decimated Riverlands would be of no help to her, as they- like the Vale- have familial ties to the Starks. The Dornish hate the Lannisters and the Tyrells and the Baratheons have been destroyed. Therefore, the show will look to even the odds in the bloodiest way possible. We know from the Battle of the Blackwater, the Battle of Castle Black, and the Battle of the Bastards that they like to see an inferior army find a way to defeat a superior force. After all, if the odds are stacked so heavily in your favor then there is little tension to be had. And given that it is accepted now that Jon and Dany are the heroes of the show and Cersei the villain, I expect things to get shaken up early on in the season. Even with the Golden Company, Cersei is still outnumbered. So I think that either Team Dany will beat the Night King but suffer heavy losses, or they will in fact lose and escape with a skeleton force back south, bringing the war to Cersei’s doorstep. What remains to be seen is how aggressive Cersei will be in her strategy. She might want to fortify the south and wait, or she might strike at the Targaryens in the north whilst they are weak. Perhaps Team Dany will lose and we will see the Army of the Dead face off against the Golden Company in King’s Landing, only for Dany and a handful of main characters and soldiers to swoop in at the last minute?

  1. Who are the Golden Company?

The Golden Company are a private army of mercenaries who operate in Essos. They are the remnants of an offshoot from the Targaryens called House Blackfyre, founded by the bastard son of Aegon the Unworthy. The majority of the outfit is made up of Westerosi loyalists to House Blackfyre who fled with them to Essos with the intention of reconquering the Seven Kingdoms and ousting the Targaryens. In order to survive, they reinvented themselves as mercenaries for hire, often fighting the wars of the Free Cities. This allowed them to become wealthy and retain a fighting army, hoping to one day sail back to Westeros and claim the Iron Throne. The Golden Company participated in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Blackfyre Rebellions, being defeated in the last by a young Ser Barristan Selmy (below, left) and Brynden “Blackfish” Tully (below, right). Although the core of the Golden Company is composed of Westerosi Blackfyre exiles and their descendants, they have over the years incorporated other units into their ranks- such as Summer Islander archers and a number of war elephants. Their motto is “Our word is as good as gold” which I think is a nice touch by the Blackfyre marketing department, because it reinforces their reputation for having never broken a contract.

  1. What wildcard characters can we expect to pop up again?

We will definitely see Melisandre again and it will be interesting to see how her fate plays out. All we know is that she has traveled to Volantis (for reasons unknown) and that she intends to return to Westeros where she says she will meet her end. I definitely think she will meet up with Jon Snow and Dany somehow, as Melisandre’s interests are focused on the Prophecy of the Prince Who Was Promised. We could yet see some more Blood Magic before the show’s end.

Another character I expect to come back is Daario Naharis, who we last saw in season 6 after Dany left him behind. Even though he worked for the Second Sons, I have a sneaky feeling that he will return alongside the Golden Company. I definitely see him as a wildcard, either fighting against Dany for being left behind, or coming to her aid to help tip the balance.

  1. Is Bran the Night King?

This is an interesting theory that’s been gaining some traction on Reddit. We know that Bran’s powers as the Three-Eyed Raven are considerable and mysterious, and that to some extent he can affect the past. In season 6 we see him whisper to a young Hodor and thereby traumatize him with a vision of his own death. In the Tower of Joy scene we see Bran call out to his father, and the former Three-Eyed Raven’s worried expression. He warns Bran that if he spends too much time in the past, he will “drown” in it. There are a number of theories about Bran, and although they might seem ludicrous, they make for a fascinating discussion. It’s been suggested that Bran tries to alter history despite the Three-Eyed Raven telling him that the “ink is dry”, and that whatever action Bran takes will inadvertently lead to the same outcome. In short, the crux of the theory is that Bran tries to stop the creation of the White Walkers by warging into the body of the man who becomes the Night King (pictured below). It’s also been suggested in the show that the Night King was once a Stark of Winterfell, and so Bran could be inhabiting the body of his ancestor. However, the theory posits that Bran gets trapped inside the body of the Night King and that perhaps Jon will have to kill Bran to save Westeros. I’m not sure how much of this theory I believe, but it would fit George R. R. Martin’s statement that the end of the series will be “bittersweet”.

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One theory I do actually believe about Bran is that he tries to warn Aerys II about the White Walker threat, but the visions drive him mad, much as they did Hodor. He then misinterprets the words “burn them all” to mean that he should murder his own people, prompting Jaime to kill him. I don’t necessarily expect this to be revealed in the show but it’s a neat little idea.

  1. What is Jon Snow’s real name?

It was revealed in the last episode that Jon was born Aegon Targaryen and is therefore the legitimate son of Prince Rhaegar (Dany’s older brother). If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the name has been used frequently in the Targaryen dynasty. Aegon the Conqueror was the Targaryen that united six of the Seven Kingdoms way back when. Knowing that if anyone knew of his existence, he would be murdered, Ned promised his sister he would protect her son and sacrificed his reputation in doing so, claiming that the boy was his bastard son. I expect this to be revealed to Jon very early in season eight by Bran and Samwell, and that we will indeed see Jon ride the dragon that was named for his father.

  1. Can Dany have kids? Will she?

The fact that the show is bringing it up so much tells me that we will for sure see Dany enthusiastically seeded by her nephew. Perhaps we have already seen the babe’s conception with Dany and Jon’s vigorous sex scene at the end of the last episode. The issue is that Dany believes herself to be left barren by the witch’s curse in season one. However the same witch also said “only death can pay for life”. I think it’s entirely possible that the death of her dragon may allow her to become fertile again. I don’t necessarily think we will see the birth of this child on the show, but I want to go on record right now and say that I think she will become preggers by the end.

  1. Who will end up on the Iron Throne?

As I mentioned earlier, George R. R. Martin has said that the ending of the show will be bittersweet. This tells me that we can expect a satisfying ending mitigated by some heavy losses. I don’t think Cersei or the Night King will win, because a “satisfying” ending and a “surprising” ending are not the same thing. A plot twist that’s only shocking for the sake of shock is not good writing, and not what we mean by subverting the established workings of fiction. However I’d be surprised if Jon and Dany live happily ever after with a bunch of silver-haired rugrats playing tag in the courtyards of the Red Keep. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Iron Throne itself is destroyed, either in a battle that crumbles the Red Keep or by Dany’s commitment to “breaking the wheel”. I can’t help but feel that Dany won’t necessarily rule. Daario once told her that she was meant to be a conqueror and not a ruler. You might say, “Well who gives a shit what that knobhead Daario says?” and I would be inclined to agree with you. And yet, it seems apparent at this point that Dany’s purpose (and Jon’s) is to defeat the Night King and that is what the “Song of Ice and Fire” means. Perhaps she will abandon her quest for power for a chance at living quietly in peace with Jon? Perhaps they will both die and their son will be raised by Sansa, who will serve as Queen Regent? Perhaps each of the Seven Kingdoms will return to independence? Perhaps Bran will venture south to the Godswood, and call upon the ancient power of the Children of the Forest to sever the continent of Westeros in half at the Neck? How do you think it will end? Let me know in the comments!

 

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