On Game of Thrones, since the death of the Night King, humankind’s most existential threat/maybe allegory for climate change, eyes on both sides of the Narrow Sea have turned to King’s Landing, where a succession drama has been unspooling in dragon fire and military maneuvers. It was there that, last week, we saw the deaths of both Cleganes, in the much-anticipated Cleganebowl (during which the zombie Mountain pulled out his old favorite move, sticking his thumbs into his enemy’s eye sockets); both incestuous Lannisters; the creepster sorcerer Qyburn; and Euron Greyjoy—a big week for felling the more villainous among the Westerosi, even if a whole lot of random civilians were also killed in the process.
Indeed, this season the game has been heavily weighted toward death, but an obvious winner has yet to emerge. The showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been charging ahead, wrapping up loose plot threads—primarily via large-scale carnage—but with just 80 minutes left of the show, there remains an Iron Throne to fill and yet another mad queen to vanquish. We’ve got lingering questions about the three surviving Stark siblings and their non-Stark non-sibling Jon Snow; about Tyrion Lannister, Ser Bronn, and a certain promised castle; and, of course, about who’s going to step into the power vacuum left by a crumbling Red Keep and take over the Seven Kingdoms. Will any of them actually have a political platform? Probably not!
The show’s most ardent fans may not have been satisfied with Daenerys’s sudden transformation from rational tyrant—the closest the show had to someone with an actual political position, the “breaker of chains” styling herself as a sort of abolitionist autocrat—to irrational tyrant, but there are other abrupt developments they’ve already got an eye out for in the show’s last hour and a half. Here are some of the silliest, most outrageous, and, yes, most rational theories ahead of the Game of Thrones series finale on Sunday.
Jon Snow: The artist soon to be known as Aegon Targaryen does not want the Iron Throne. That didn’t stop Lord Varys from not-very-subtly trying to scheme him into power, but it will likely prove a hindrance to the early theories (supported by Melisandre herself) that Jon Snow was the “prince that was promised.” Still, the prevailing Reddit theories right now predict that Jon is going to kill, or have a hand in killing, his aunt, given last episode’s genocidal developments. War crimes have no place in Westeros for someone as idealistic as the Targaryen heir.
From there, given that not-so-subtle allusions have been passing for character development in Westeros lately, there’s a chance Jon Snow will head north to reunite with the Wildlings; before his departure, Tormund Giantsbane told the junior Targaryen that he, like his direwolf Ghost, would be “happier up there,” to which Jon replies, “I wish I was going with you.” As Tormund tells him, “You never know.”
Daenerys Targaryen: Breaker of chains, incinerator of entire civilian populations, actual tyrant. It’s looking like Daenerys’s premonition in season two, in which she stepped across a throne room covered in snow, was actually of a throne room covered in ash. What if the real winter that was coming was the fallout-like ash snowing down from the sky all along? And it was Daenerys, not the Night King, who was the real menace?
There are a couple of possible routes to a Daenerys assassination: the aforementioned Jon Snow; Arya Stark trading faces with Grey Worm; Martha. ICYMI: At the beginning of last week’s episode, Varys has a brief exchange with a young commoner girl named Martha who works in the kitchens at Dragonstone, seemingly alluding to an attempt to poison Daenerys. Varys might have ended up burnt toast, but the young girl is still very much alive, presenting yet another avenue to Dany’s eventual death.
Regardless of the avenue, people seem to think Daenerys Targaryen is going to die. Maybe there’s some redemption for her; maybe not. But before then, we have a proposal: Now that Daenerys isn’t so shy about her tyrannical side, she can reunite with her hot enabler boyfriend Daario Naharis (remember him?).
Ser Bronn (of the Blackwater): The future lord of Highgarden, now that Tyrion’s wager has paid off, is exempt from his promise to Cersei to kill her younger siblings via crossbow. (If only Jaime Lannister knew how eagerly his sister ordered his assassination.) Now all that’s left is for him to reclaim Highgarden.
Sansa Stark: A personal favorite theory posits that Sansa will take out the last remaining dragon by baiting it with “infected sheep,” thereby enabling the destruction of the rest of the Targaryen lineage. Another favorite theory holds that Sansa will sit on the Iron Throne. She’s such a good gossip, she wouldn’t even need a master of whispers—which is good, since the last one is currently a lump of coal on the outskirts of Dragonstone.
Arya Stark: When Arya last saw Melisandre, the red priestess foretold that the youngest Stark daughter would “close…forever” eyes of brown, blue, and green. She emphasized “blue eyes,” right before Arya set off to kill the Night King, but that still leaves a score to settle with some green eyes. Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister both have, or had, green eyes. (Still, per Vanity Fair, that prophecy, which the show’s writers made up and was not plucked from the books, might not be meant as literally as it’s been interpreted.) Whatever the case, there’s little chance of Arya staying out of the action the way she did this time—and having witnessed the destruction of King’s Landing on the ground, she’s all the more likely to side with her sister against Daenerys.
Bran Stark: A cottage industry has sprung up theorizing which Game of Thrones characters (or animals or inanimate objects or whatever, really) are actually Bran Stark. The Night King theory proved especially tenacious, plaguing the actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright from the moment his character became the Three-Eyed Raven; another popular one is that, just as Bran Stark accidentally caused Hodor to go mad, he was the cause of the Mad King’s madness when he tried to warn him of his daughter Daenerys’s future madness. “Burn them all,” as the Mad King repeated, an abbreviated version of “She’ll burn them all.”
This, like the Night King theory, is probably not true; Game of Thrones is unlikely to repeat the same narrative arc it already used to explain how Hodor became Hodor. One especially silly theory circulating on the Internet posits that Bran warged into that white horse (possibly the horse of Ser Harry Strickland, the captain of the Golden Company, adding to its symbolic weight) and delivered it to Arya to shepherd her out of King’s Landing. This literally means nothing. There are no stakes; it’s just fun. We’d love to know what Bran thought he’d get up to when he flew a raven around during the climactic Winterfell battle, though.
Tyrion Lannister: Last season, Daenerys told Lord Varys she’d kill him if he betrayed her, and she did. Last week, she told Tyrion the same thing: cross her a third time, and it’s dracarys for him. One Reddit user, whose posts from 10 months ago have turned out to be surprisingly accurate (the Mountain killing Missandei, Cersei and Jaime’s deaths together, and “Arya is useless”), posited that Dany is going to send Tyrion to prison for his insurrection.
The Iron Throne: Melts?
White Walkers: A handful of hypotheses have proposed that the White Walkers will return at the end of the show. How and why isn’t clear—but since the showrunners Benioff and Weiss have said they’re fans of The Sopranos’ deeply polarizing finale, and that they plan to be far away from the Internet when it all goes down, we can be certain the Game of Thrones ending is going to make at least some people mad.