This article contains massive spoilers up through "The Winds of Winter," the final episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones. You can read our full recap of the episode, or see our ranking of its most shocking moments, and you might want to peruse the rest of our Game of Thrones coverage.
Like the High Sparrow, we were completely blown away by the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones. The shocking deaths and reveals, the confirmation of a long-held fan theory, and the adept rearranging of major chess pieces to set the series up nicely for next year -- great stuff. But the finale still left more than a few of its many threads dangling. And it's going to drive us nuts for the next 10 months if we don't talk it out!
While it would take a fire full of leeches to divine precisely where George R.R. Martin and showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff are driving this story, we can't help but speculate on the questions raised, the clues left unconfirmed, and our own hypothetical answers. So let's dive in -- here are some mysteries we'll be puzzling over while we wait in agony for Season 7.
Why did Lancel follow that kid down into the catacombs?
Lancel has never been the smartest man in King's Landing, but his decision to trail a mischievous tyke with a torch deep beneath the Sept of Baelor when he was supposed to be searching for Cersei and Tommen was not his finest moment. Has he never seen a cop show or did he miss the old chestnut that you should always wait for backup? His determination to follow the kid blindly into the darkness might well have been a metaphor for his religious conversion, but whatever the reason, his choice led to him getting the Wile E. Coyote treatment from barrels of bright-green dynamite, in that insane explosion that wouldn't have looked out of place in Independence Day. Bye, Lancel!
What's Olenna Tyrell up to?
From the moment we saw Olenna on the "previously on Game of Thrones" package, it was clear one of our favorite characters would be doing some scheming in the final episode. But what exactly are her plans? I mean, besides dropping a few sick burns on the Sand Snakes, and seemingly entering into the pact offered up by Ellaria and Varys: vengeance against the Lannisters. Yes, revenge does seem to be genuinely on the Queen of Thorns' mind, and rightly so, given that Cersei just killed off her family line, and no doubt she'd prefer to side with Daenerys in the coming war of the queens. But Olenna is every bit as crafty and double-dealing as Varys and Littlefinger -- she's going to play all the cards available to her to get her best deal. You can almost count on a scene between her and Littlefinger next season. Dany's arrival in Westeros can't go that smoothly, can it?
How did Varys get back to Meereen so fast?
The time-machine effect of how certain characters travel has vexed many viewers. Usually the gripes center on Littlefinger's seeming ability to appear anytime, anywhere, but Varys got into the act in the finale. First, the eunuch pops up in Dorne, and we know that his meeting there with Ellaria Sand and Olenna Tyrell happens not long after Cersei destroyed the sept because the Queen of Thorns references losing Mace, Loras, and Margaery. But in the episode's final shot, Varys appears again, standing behind Daenerys and Tyrion as they sail for Westeros. Superfan screen-grabbers have isolated two ships -- one bearing the sigil of House Tyrell and one flying the Martell banners, and both likely bringing envoys from Highgarden and Dorne to meet Dany in person -- that suggests the Spider hauled ass all the way back to Meereen (a long way!) just so he could immediately head back (presumably) to Dorne. We hope he gets frequent boater miles.
What will Sam find at the Citadel?
Well, books, for one thing. Lots of books. And more anti-Gilly discrimination by fussy Citadel desk clerks. (And a sidebar burning question: where will Gilly go while Sam is studying to be a maester -- a process that takes, oh, years? Will she, too, get in a rowboat and join Gendry in that eddy somewhere off the coast of Westeros, where underwritten TV show characters go to paddle until they're needed for plot purposes again?) But he notably comes bearing his family's Valyrian sword, so most likely his story arc at the Citadel will be learning the likely magical process of forging the ancient swords that kill White Walkers.
What happened to Brienne?
The last time we saw the mighty Brienne of Tarth, she was being rowed away from Riverrun by Podrick and sharing a meaningful gaze with Jaime Lannister. During last night's finale, Jaime arrived back at King's Landing in time to see his sister take the Iron Throne, but Brienne hasn't made it back to Sansa's side (or Tormund's!). What her storyline will be next year is up in the air, but she's had notable interactions with Arya Stark and the Hound -- both of whom were last seen in the Riverlands -- as well as Melisandre, who has been banished by Jon Snow and is heading south. Could the Brotherhood Without Banners -- which could attract the likes of Melisandre and Arya, like it has Sandor Clegane -- be an obstacle in her path to Winterfell?
Where will Melisandre go now?
Jon banished her in the very unspecific direction of south, but we haven't seen the last of the Red Woman. As she suggested to Jon before he sent her packing, she likely has some insight into the White Walkers, as she's very, very old and possesses magical powers. It's also unlikely that she has any allies in the South, given that she hails from Asshai overseas and Stannis is dead. Plus, she truly seems to believe that Jon Snow is the Prince That Was Promised -- she won't stray too far. Our best guess: she'll join up with the Brotherhood Without Banners, who she met way back in Season 3 when Arya was with them. They serve the Lord of Light, after all, and are heading north. But she also told Arya that they'd meet again, and that she saw "a darkness" in Arya with "eyes staring back" at her -- "Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes," said Melisandre, "eyes you'll shut forever." It would be weird if that prophesy didn't come true. And so it will. But Arya hates Melisandre for carting off her pal Gendry. And now Arya is a skilled assassin.
Does Cersei have any allies left?
It's lonely at the top. And in Cersei's case, it's very lonely, as everyone in the Seven Kingdoms hates her with a passion other than the disgraced maester she's made her Hand of the Queen and the hulking zombie goon who doesn't talk. The Tyrells are gone or conspiring against her. The Freys are dead and/or in disarray, so no allies in the Riverlands. The typically neutral Vale has declared for the North. Dorne wants her dead. Now it would seem that not even Jaime, who commands the Lannister armies, will be on her side in Season 7; the last time a ruler threatened to set the world alight with wildfire and "burn them all," the one-handed knight stabbed him in the back. And he was shooting daggers at Cersei after her coronation.
What's Sansa's next move?
When David Benioff tells you the relationship between Jon and Sansa will be "crucial to watch," you listen. In his after-episode commentary, Benioff reminds us that, despite the Stark siblings' reliance on and affection for one another, Sansa doesn't fully trust Jon -- if she did, she would have informed him of her decision to summon the Knights of the Vale and her prior meeting with Littlefinger. It seems unlikely that Sansa will be content to play second fiddle to Jon, now that he's been declared the King in the North; she is the rightful heir to Winterfell, after all, and Ramsay would still be in charge had she not saved the day. After she rebuffs Littlefinger's creepy suggestion that they ascend to the Iron Throne together, he plants doubt in her mind that plays out in their side-eyed look after the "motherless bastard born in the South" wins the support of the Northern houses. Will she take Littlefinger up on his offer, after all? Or is she merely trying to discern what scheme he's going to hatch next? Or both? Either way, she's way more complicated than Jon will ever be, and we're excited to see where her story is headed.
Where's Ghost? Seriously.
Now that Jon Snow is King in the North and the Stark banner with its direwolf sigil is unfurled at Winterfell, wouldn't having one of the lone surviving direwolves on hand make sense? Apparently not. Is Ghost still chilling back at Castle Black? Did Wun Wun sit on him? If Ghost doesn't turn up in the very first episode of Season 7, we'll sue. And while we're talking about MIA animals, what ever happened to Ser Pounce? And will Arya ever reunite with Nymeria? Come on!
What name did Lyanna whisper to Ned?
What is the point of warging back to significant past events if you're not going to stand close enough to make out the words people whisper, Bran? Even HBO's closed-captioning function declined to spell out the line that Lyanna infuriatingly whispers to her brother before she (more audibly) says, "If Robert finds out, he'll kill him -- you know he will." That line, plus the dissolve from her baby's face to present-day Jon's, all but confirms the theory that Lyanna is his mother. But did this Tower of Joy flashback truly provide enough evidence to support the Rhaegar paternity claim?
Where are the Night's King and the White Walkers?
Typically, the Night's King and the White Walkers make only one big appearance per season. And although this season saw many plot threads jump into hyper-drive (often to the growing frustration of the continuity-and-map-obsessed), our chaotic-evil pals beyond the Wall were once again infrequent guest stars this year. We haven't seen them since they confronted Bran, Hodor, and the Three-Eyed Raven back in Episode 5, which is weird, since they were in hot pursuit of Bran, who was being pulled slowly on a sled by Meera until Benjen turned up in the following episode. Let's assume the White Walkers are busy gathering their forces for a run at the Wall and Jon Snow's army soon. But will that showdown take place in Season 7? And do they know that Lyanna Mormont will be waiting for them? Be afraid, White Walkers. Be afraid.
How many days out is Daenerys and who will she marry?
Despite all the lingering questions Season 6 has answered, we're still in the dark about how long sailing across the world actually takes. (Hopefully, only the length of the GoT hiatus; after six straight seasons of following Dany on the road, we're tapped out on travel adventures. Just get there, thank you!) The finale saw the Queen of Dragons set sail for King's Landing with Tyrion, Varys, and Missandei on board -- but poor, sweet, beautiful Daario was left behind to take care of Meereen. Daenerys reminds him that the best way for her to forge alliances is through marriage, indicating that she needs to be unattached and undistracted when she lands in Westeros so that she'll be able to commit to shacking up with somebody new, if she needs to. But which eligible bachelors are even left in Westeros at this point? Let's see. There's Littlefinger, who commands the forces of the Vale. There's Euron, who is batshit crazy, yet has the maverick quality she dug in Daario. There's Jon Snow, who might well be her nephew but, come on, Daenerys would be bored silly by. And there's Jaime Lannister, who seems doomed to only have eyes for Cersei -- even though Bronn did pointedly reference Jaime's penchant for blondes in the finale. But whoa: what if Daenerys ultimately embraces her dark side and aligns with the Night's King? Did that just blow your mind?
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