There have been so many talking points to take from the last two Game of Thrones episodes that I couldn’t possibly cover everything in my reviews. So today I’d like to focus on some of the finer details, theories, and questions that I have so far left unexamined.
- How big is Dany’s army?
If this season has taught us anything, it’s that the showrunners play fast and loose with the logic of the narrative. Cinematic moments are prioritized over in-world consistency. It’s been especially prevalent this season, but it’s not the first time this sorta thing has happened. The size of Stannis’ army changed several times in service of what kind of cinematic shot they wanted. An enormous force of mounted knights when they want him to win against Mance Rayder’s wildlings, and a small band of raggedy infantrymen when they want him to lose against Ramsey Bolton’s horsemen. When Dany purchased the Unsullied, there were a few thousand- but this also seems to change scene to scene. We’re not really meant to think about it, the same way we’re not meant to question Jack Bauer’s speed and stamina in 24. How forgivable these things are ultimately rests with the individual viewer. But one thing is for certain- they have become more frequent and prominent of late. During the Battle of Winterfell we see the entire Dothraki horde massacred and what appears to be the majority of the Unsullied sacrificed to facilitate the retreat of the Northmen. But during the next episode, Grey Worm declares at the war council that they only lost half their forces. The information doesn’t really stack up with the visuals, but like I said, I think the key takeaway from all of this is that we’re not meant to dwell on it. The Battle of Winterfell was deliberately confusing I think, with the showrunners opting to use low lighting and close-ups to make us focus on certain characters and the dread they felt, rather than giving a clear view of the events at large. They wanted our heroes to be overwhelmed and overrun. Now they want Dany’s forces to be “even” in number with Cersei’s. We know that Cersei’s army is a good 25,000 strong, so where this approximate number of Northern soldiers were hiding when the Winterfell courtyard was getting torched by Viserion, I have no idea. But this is the latest information we have, so when in doubt it’s best to go with that and try not to think about whether it conflicts with previous events.
- Something seems different about King’s Landing, but I can’t quite put my finger on it…
You’d be right. What used to be a slim peninsula jutting out into the sea, bordered by forested hills and mountains, is now a landlocked city surrounded by a flat desert. Obviously, the reason for this is so we can have a land battle, but I don’t expect that to sit well with more pedantic viewers. As with the last point on this list, how much of a problem this is depends on how much you dwell on it. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the episode as I was watching it, but when I thought about it afterwards I did sigh a little. It should also be noted that King’s Landing has been shot in Spain this season instead of Croatia, which also accounts for its drier climate.
- Why has Sansa’s scene with the Hound caused controversy?
During the banquet scene in “The Last of the Starks” we see Sansa share a few words with the Hound. The Hound mentions that if she had stuck with him, she never would have suffered at the hands of Littlefinger and Ramsey. Sansa replies that if it weren’t for her tormentors, she would have stayed the vulnerable little girl he remembered, and never would have acquired the strength of character she now has. These remarks caused something of a stir online, as it seemed to imply that she needed to get raped and degraded in order to attain her agency. I can understand the outrage, but I don’t think this was the intended message. At least I surely hope not. I think they were trying to have Sansa say that she was able to use these traumatic experiences in a positive way, that she had the inner resources required to take strength from something awful, but it was written in a clumsy way that appeared to credit those that abused her for her success.
- Why has Jaime set off for King’s Landing? Does he want to kill Cersei?
The showrunners described Jaime’s attachment to Cersei as being akin to an addiction. He knows exactly how terrible she is, but he is unable to let her go. I liked Jaime’s heartbreaking farewell with Brienne, because it illustrates the complexity of his character. He’s not simply a bad guy that’s now good. And that’s why I don’t think he’s going down there to kill her. At this point I don’t think he knows exactly what he’s going to do; he just wants to reach her as soon as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up killing her though. But if he does, I think it will either be a mercy killing or a desperate attempt to stop her doing something horrendously evil. Whether he kills her or not, I predict that the first thing he’ll do upon reaching her is plead with her to run away with him.
- What factions could potentially show up during the battle?
Even though they mentioned that the new Prince of Dorne has pledged his allegiance to Dany, and that the armies of Dorne are presumably quite intact, I don’t expect them to show up in the next episode. If Dany wins the battle, I can see the new Dornish Prince showing up for a very brief scene in the throne room just to further pledge his loyalty. He’ll probably be about 8 years old or something.
The Riverlands, Reach, and Stormlands are in disarray so we won’t see them. With the show quickly coming to an end, I don’t see the arrival of any new characters and factions. The audience will probably feel alienated if someone they’ve never met before comes out of left field with an army.
Daario and the Second Sons are a possibility. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised either way. On the one hand it would be a neat way to tip the balance in Dany’s favor at the last minute, and it wouldn’t be too unbelievable to think that Daario would disobey Dany’s wishes to stay behind if he hears about how things are going in Westeros. On the other, Daario might be considered too minor a character to be the one saving the day. If he does show up, I hope he dies, because I never really cared for him.
The most likely person to show up is Yara Greyjoy in my opinion. At the moment Euron’s naval prowess has been a real problem for Dany, to a somewhat ridiculous degree. So far he’s come out of nowhere and destroyed her ships three times in the past two seasons. I get that he’s meant to be the Yi Sun-Shin of Westeros, but he seems to manage everything a little too easy for my liking. But that’s not the point here. The point is, if anyone’s going to beat Euron at his own game, it’s going to be Yara. I can envisage her ambushing him with a small flotilla of ships, allowing Dany free access to the Red Keep.
- Why didn’t Euron react to Tyrion’s knowledge of Cersei’s pregnancy?
Assuming he was paying attention, I think there’s every chance he will query Cersei about this at the beginning of the next episode. Just because he didn’t react in the moment, that doesn’t mean he won’t react at all.
If he doesn’t react to it, I can only assume that he figured Qyburn informed Tyrion of the pregnancy during their talk just a few moments before. Of course, it’s possible that the writers just didn’t think this through…
- Why is Cersei so much smarter than everyone else darnit?
It’s true that Cersei is one of the most cunning characters in the series. She’s up there with Tywin, Olenna, Littlefinger, Varys, and Tyrion. The reason she seems especially smart at the moment is simply because she’s acting in a way that’s consistent with her character, whereas the likes of Dany and Tyrion have been making strange decisions this past season or two. I’ve observed a lot of people saying that Cersei is playing the game of thrones with the most skill. This is true, but I think this is because she’s now firmly in the villain role, and the writers want their villain to appear as dangerous and capable as possible. Dany is meant to be a smart character, and fans have been left scratching their heads when the writers say that she simply “forgot” about Euron’s fleet in the last episode, despite specifically mentioning the threat his navy poses moments earlier in the war council scene.
- Will the Golden Company betray Cersei?
Personally I don’t think so, because we have had so few scenes getting to know their leader. It would be a little too easy if Cersei’s army just turns on her. Any kind of betrayal needs some kind of groundwork in place to be effective. We have to know the characters involved. The only way I really see this theory working is if the Golden Company has a prior contract to the one they have with Cersei, possibly with the Iron Bank.
- Why didn’t Dany rest her troops?
Because there’s two episodes left. This is what I mean by characters making strange decisions. Dany is smart enough to see the wisdom in consolidating her forces and waiting for the people of King’s Landing to abandon Cersei over time.
- Will we see more than one dragon in the next episode?
I have to admit, the idea of them suddenly introducing a dozen baby dragons out of nowhere does seem a little far-fetched to me. I can’t see the average viewer accepting that as a plot twist. This theory comes from the fact that the actor who plays Euron posted a cryptic message on his Instagram that alluded to there being more than one dragon featured in the battle. That’s the only reason I’m even entertaining this possibility. Some have speculated that Drogon could have laid some eggs in Valyria when he buggered off for several episodes in season five. It should also be noted that dragons are gender-fluid, kinda like clownfish, so Drogon could have mated with either of his siblings at some point. I don’t really mind what happens, I only care about how it happens. If they go down this route, I really hope they execute it the right way.
- Have we seen the last of the White Walkers?
I think so. Some have wondered whether they might come back, since the showrunners refused to rule it out during one of those late night talk shows. Personally I think they were just trying to keep people on edge. I don’t think there is enough time to see them resurface, and I don’t know what purpose it would serve. A lot of people kept banging on about Bran being the Night King at the start of the season, despite no suggestion on the show that was ever a possibility. It’s important to remember that a lot of the theories surrounding the show have their origins on places like Reddit. Some of them get so popular that people just assume they’re bound to happen.
- Who will kill Cersei?
I think the main candidates are Jaime, Tyrion, and Arya. I would find it immensely satisfying if Arya took her out, but given that she already killed the Night King, I can’t see it happening now. I think Arya’s role in the episode will mostly be helping the Hound take down the Mountain. I don’t think Jon or Drogon will do it, because I think it has to be personal.
What are your predictions for episode five? Let me know in the comments!