Just six weeks in, and the season finale of Game of Thrones is already upon us. The seventh and final episode of Season 7, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” is more a short feature film than a television episode, reportedly clocking in at 79 minutes. The title is a clear allusion to the houses Targaryen and Stark, represented by a dragon and a wolf, respectively—and given the less-than-subtle sexual tension between Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, it could be a hint at a whole new incestuous coupling to contend with. (Incest runs in the Targaryen family like dragons.)
Season 7 has worked at a breakneck pace to set up the blockbuster finale, as well as the eighth and final season of the series—but it’s not yet entirely clear what they’re setting up for. As the main characters all head toward a summit—and face-off—at King’s Landing, we examine a few of the prevailing theories swirling around each Westerosi’s fate. One thing is clear: Gilly is the MVP.
Jon Snow: A passing remark by Gilly at the Citadel—indicating that Jon Snow is actually a totally legitimate child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and thus has the strongest claim to the throne—hasn’t yet been borne out, but it’s certainly supported by Jon’s affinity for Daenerys’s dragons. Watch for more on this theory—and more incestuous tension—on Sunday.
Sansa Stark: For a minute, a Reddit user proposed Sansa would forge a new house alliance by marrying Dickon Tarly. Oops. But actress Carice Van Houten, who plays Melisandre, posted an Instagram Sunday, just as episode six aired, depicting cast members Kit Harington, Kristofer Hivju, Sophie Turner, Gwendoline Christie and others gathered on set—perhaps a throwback, or a hint of a reunion to come. We also predict more luxe furs and mall-goth chains in her future.
Bran Stark: One of the most contorted—and yet most compelling—theories ahead of the Season 7 finale positions Bran Stark as both the Three-Eyed Raven and the Night King. According to this hypothesis, Bran, still new to this whole bodysnatching thing, traveled back in time (he can do that now) to prevent the Children of the Forest from ever creating the White Walkers. But he got trapped inside the body of the man who would eventually become the Night King (that happens, apparently, when you spend too long inside someone else’s head—a peril of being the Three-Eyed Raven) and spent the next millennia gathering an Army of the Dead north of the wall. This explains why the Night King has gone so easy on Jon Snow—in an odd twist, they’re adoptive brothers. (Does this mean Jon Snow can share the zombie dragon?)
Arya Stark: Arya is way too smart for this. Though it appears Littlefinger has successfully begun to turn the sisters Stark against each other, some have theorized Arya is actually the one directing the show—and that she’s going to kill Littlefinger before the dust has cleared. After all, it’s a bit odd that Sansa, who previously said “only a fool would trust Littlefinger,” would, you know, trust Littlefinger—and it’s also a bit odd that Arya has a selective memory when it comes to the circumstances of their father’s death. So rather than pitting the two sisters against each other—once more: Westeros, not a feminist utopia—perhaps the show is preparing for a surprise alliance. That’s the generous interpretation, at least.
Daenerys Targaryen: With one dragon down, Daenerys is now contending with one evenly matched enemy: The Night King (AKA Bran Stark? This is all getting to be a bit much). She’s clearly got a Mad King streak to her—the girl loves to incinerate an enemy or two—and mostly, we’re hoping she avoids getting it on with her nephew, because there are some family traditions that she could stand to lose.
The Most Pompous Entrances and Rudest Exits on Game of Thrones Season 7 So Far
Olenna Tyrell may have been served poison after her army had been defeated and her grain stores raided, but she didn’t go out without making a gut-punch of a reveal: It was she who poisoned Joffrey Baratheon, not his uncle Tyrion Lannister, three ago. Good thing Cersei is again pregnant by her brother, because their incestuous brood has dwindled considerably since Joffrey’s death.
Melisandre might have made her graceful exit when she incited Stannis Baratheon to roast his own daughter Shireen on a burning pyre, but no—it’s taken her two more seasons to take her leave. She left Dragonstone bound for Volantis, but never fear. She’ll be back, because, as she promised, she has to die in Westeros. As does Varys, apparently.
Not Bran Stark precisely, but at least, his social skills—since he became the Three-Eyed Raven, these have quietly bid him adieu (as Meera Reed says dramatically, “You died in that cave”). Even his sister Arya, who has undergone her own transformation into a girl with no name (it’s Arya. her name is Arya.), has taken note. The Three-Eyed Raven might be the biggest drama queen in Westeros, and it’s a land filled with high drama. “I remember what it felt like to be Brandon Stark,” he tells Meera. “But I remember so much else now.” Including, apparently, “everything that’s ever happened to anyone.”
Speaking of Meera Reed, Bran Stark’s faithful companion north of the wall takes her leave once Bran (sorry, the Three-Eyed Raven) is securely installed back at Winterfell.
Nymeria (Stark?), Arya Stark’s direwolf, had been AWOL since the first season, but she returned earlier this year for a brief mystical encounter with her former mistress in the forest. Just as quickly as she appears, Nymeria vanishes again into the woods, because a wolf has no master.
The latest victim of Cersei Lannister’s revenge tour—an odyssey that gives Arya Stark’s murder list some real competition—Ellaria Sand and her daughter were chained in the basement of the Red Keep, where Ellaria was forced to watch her daughter die of the same poison with which she poisoned Myrcella Lannister.
Euron Greyjoy didn’t make a literal return this season, because after he dropped in on the Iron Islands last season, he never really left. But when he arrived at King’s Landing earlier this season, intent on seducing Cersei Lannister—or at least securing the power and authority that comes with marrying her—he did so with a new look. Meera’s departure from Winterfell may have been meme-able, but it couldn’t compare to the stir Euron’s Rick Owens makeover caused on Twitter.
Thanks to Samwell Tarley, Jorah “no one glowers like you” Mormont has been reintegrated into society, free of greyscale at last. It remains to be seen if that’s a good thing.
Dickon Tarly, gone too soon. While he made a prominent entrance at the beginning of the season and spent the first four episodes currying favor with Jaime Lannister—seeming to secure his future on the series in the process—it turns out, he allied himself with the wrong team; this week, he was promptly incinerated alongside his father.
The Night King, still freezing hearts and taking names, is back, and Jon Snow and co. are running straight for him.
Certainly our favorite blacksmith-hammer-wielding bastard, if not our favorite bastard, Gendry Baratheon, the illegitimate son of King Robert Baratheon, made a grand re-entrance, joining the cause of the King in the North.
First Ranger of the Night’s Watch Benjen Stark makes a grand entrance swinging a ball and chain wreathed in fire. He sends Jon Snow on his way, and we last see him falling beneath a dog pile of wights. (Zombies. They’re zombies.) Local hero Benjen Stark seems to always show up at the right place at the right time.
Don’t call her Dany. That’s all.
The Brotherhood Without Banners is dwindling; Thoros of Myr has been eviscerated by a zombie bear. (Zombies, everywhere.) For the uninitiated, Thoros is the one without the eyepatch. The other one is Beric.
To anyone who isn’t Daenerys, her three dragons—her “children,” as she tells us again and again—might appear interchangeable. But with the death of Viserion by the Night King’s ice javelin, we lose the dragon named for her psychopathic late brother Viserys Targaryen. But where we lose a dragon, we gain a zombie dragon, which definitely seems like an upgrade as far as fantasy scenarios go.
Honestly, it’s impressive Littlefinger survived this long. Nobody wanted him around, least of all the sisters Stark, who wrought his demise. But as they say, one man’s death is another woman’s death mask. Arya, here’s a face for your morbid collection of tokens.
Gendry Baratheon: While Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow are off vying for the crown, Gendry Baratheon is here being the actual Prince Who Was Promised. And the young blacksmith is also here for all your Valryian steel (and probably dragonglass) needs.
Greyworm: As they say in Westeros, “You win or you die.” Greyworm, the Unsullied commander who recently consummated a slow-burning romance with Daenerys’s right-hand woman Missandei, has had a lot of wins lately—so many, both personal and professional, that fans posit he’s going to be the next to go. After all, if Game of Thrones has proved one thing in the past seven years, it’s that the show is not afraid to kill off its stars, no matter how beloved. Unless they’re Jon Snow, in which case, the Lord of Light has probably seen to it that you’re safe.
Theon Greyjoy: After abandoning his sister to their violent usurper uncle Euron Greyjoy, Westeros’s foremost fuccboi, Theon washed up on the shores of King’s Landing, crossing paths with Tyrion Lannister, Gendry Baratheon, and Ser Davos Seaworth. Some have proposed that Theon, who has sunk to his lowest of lows, is going to emerge fortified by the Drowned God—making the game of thrones into a proxy war for a bunch of deities. We’re ready for a spinoff about the Old Gods and the New. (Or, wait, Bryan Fuller already made that show, didn’t he?)
Tyrion Lannister: Now that we know for sure Jon Snow is actually a Targaryen—his mother, Lyanna Stark, secretly wed Daenerys Targaryen’s brother Rhaegar, making Jon her cousin and everything else really, really creepy—it’s time to start outing all the other Targaryens on the show. So the theory goes, Tyrion, the youngest of the three Lannisters (and the only one who isn’t golden-haired and blue-eyed) is the son of Joanna Lannister and the then-Mad King Aerys Targaryen. It’s not the worst theory, given Tyrion, like Jon Snow, has proved a striking ability to get close to Daenerys’s dragons. But isn’t one secret Targaryen enough?
Jaime Lannister: Game of Thrones has now outpaced George R.R. Martin’s books, but that hasn’t stopped Reddit’s investigators from delving into the texts for clues about how the series might end. In the first moments of season five, Cersei has a flashback to a prophecy delivered by a witch at Casterly Rock, who foresees her three children dying. So far, so accurate. And in the books, a part of the prophecy was excised from the series: That Cersei will die at the hands of “valonqar”—which, apparently, translates to “little brother” in the language of High Valyrian. Enter Jaime Lannister; something’s brewing at King’s Landing.
Cersei Lannister: Cersei, reveling in being queen of the Seven Kingdoms, has invited Daenerys, Jon Snow, and Sansa Stark (to be represented by Brienne of Tarth) to King’s Landing for what’s shaping up to be a fitting fantasyland parallel to the recent G-20 summit (right down to the talk of climate change: winter, after all, is here). But there’s little doubt she’s scheming something—and after she took out Margaery Tyrell and her brother, Ser Loras, as well as the entire Great Sept of Baelor in a wildfire explosion at the end of season six, there’s also little doubt it could get ugly.
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane: Compared to his Westerosi peers, the Hound’s main prediction is relatively tame. But given that early images of the season finale depict the elder, zombie Clegane looming behind Cersei Lannister, and given that the Hound is probably en route to King’s Landing with Jon Snow et al., their death match—Cleganebowl, as the sporting event of the season has become known—may finally be upon us. Some observers have noted a scene in one of the season teasers depicting the Hound pulling his sword out of its sheath has not yet appeared in the season—so it stands to reason it will be a scene from the finale. Whether it’s brother Gregor on the other end of that sword remains to be seen.
Littlefinger: Honestly, who knows what he wants. (Sansa. Sansa is what he wants. Creepy.)
Kit Harington auditioned for Game of Thrones with a black eye: