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.
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: