And that's a wrap on Season 6. What did we get right and wrong? What theories are still in play? Read on, then follow up with our full recap of "Winds of Winter." Warning: those post contains spoilers for the last 10 episodes.
The end is nigh. At least for Game of Thrones Season 6.
With a foreboding trailer and a handful of vague teaser images shepherding us into this year's season finale, we're bracing for best- and worst-case scenarios (and only on Thrones can major twists fit both bills). Showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have redeemed characters, debunked theories, and killed off both villains and heroes, yet "The Winds of Winter," the longest episode in the series' history, remains tantalizingly shrouded in mystery.
Which fan theories and hinted-at plot payoffs will solidify into fact? Who will keep on living and who will join the Lord of Light in the big Keep upstairs? How exactly will "The Winds of Winter" take a 90-degree turn into Crazytown, Westeros? Let's brace for impact with a few predictions for how it's all going to go down on Sunday.
Prediction: Cersei sets King's Landing on (wild)fire
This season will end with a bang, and we saw this one coming from a mile away. We think? First, Bran flashed back to the origins of the Mad King's weapon of mass destruction in "Blood of My Blood." Then Qyburn teased it in a conversation with Cersei in "No One." And then Tyrion reminded us last week about King Aerys' plan to destroy King's Landing by deploying the wildfire stashed under the city streets.
Wildfire or not, if you think Cersei will play nice and leave her fate to a tribunal of religious zealots, you have never watched an episode of Game of Thrones. She's up to something. This is her last chance not only to escape a likely death sentence but to regain control of everything that Cersei believes is rightfully hers. But will her own son be collateral damage?
Prediction: The High Sparrow says goodbye
If Cersei's wildfire plot comes to pass, the explosion -- as well as some gruesome headlocks from the Zombie Mountain -- should take out a few notable characters. Everyone left in King's Landing is on the chopping block, from fan favorites (they wouldn't kill Margaery now, would they??) to the "that guy" lesser characters (Mace Tyrell, we hardly knew you!). But the High Sparrow is obviously the highest-value target.
It's a selfish play, given that the lone remaining fruit of her incestuous loins, Tommen, has "red shirt" written all over him. But Cersei really, really, really, really hates the High Sparrow and is probably going to make her move, no matter the fallout. And from a plot perspective, it's hard to see how the High Sparrow and the Faith of the Seven factor into the future of Westeros, what with enemies descending from every conceivable direction. The real question is whether Cersei will make it out alive.
Prediction: Melisandre, in full old-face, meets the Lord of Light
Based on the season-finale preview, we know Davos will confront Melisandre over the Season 5 death of his adolescent English teacher, Shireen. How the accusation pans out -- Davos implores Jon Snow to hold the Red Woman accountable in the teaser -- is a fallout that could shake up the North. Jon is caught between Davos, a rare ally with military know-how, and Melisandre, who channeled godly forces to pluck him from the darkness of death and gave him existential whiplash that he'll carry forever.
Can all three possibly walk away from this turn of events? If only because we've seen Melisandre in her true, elderly form, we suspect it's time for the magic-wielding woman to transcend to a higher plane, possibly by way of a decree by Jon Snow. But will she take Davos down with her?
Prediction: Sansa teams up with Littlefinger and pays for it
Both the death of Ramsay Bolton and the reclaiming of Winterfell were huge wins for Sansa Stark, an MVP of the season. In "The Winds of Winter," the cost of kicking ass catches up with Sansa. Jon, slighted by Sansa's back-alley deal with Littlefinger, reminds the new queen of the North that "we need to trust each other." Then comes an interaction with Mr. Baelish, outside and away from any onlookers. "I thought you knew what I wanted," he asks her. She does, because she asked Littlefinger at the Vale. His answer at that time? "Everything."
Is Baelish's quest for power compensating for his unrequited love for Catelyn? Does he project his feelings on Sansa? Is she his everything now? Here's hoping Littlefinger's aspirations come into light. If Sansa, high on her own victory, sticks with the diabolical brothel owner, the two could leverage the Starks' reclaiming of Winterfell into a full-blown campaign towards the Freys and the Lannisters, fueled by their need for revenge.
More shocking, albeit still plausible, would be an end to Sansa's run entirely. If Sansa crosses Littlefinger, or doesn't play nice with his romantic and/or warring intentions, she could end up on the wrong side of a dagger. We'll cross our fingers for more war -- we really like Sansa.
Prediction: Welcome to Red Wedding 2: Electric Boogaloo
Preview photos tease Jaime's next move: a visit to House Frey, site of the notorious Red Wedding. Remember, Jaime and the Lannister army stepped in at Riverrun to ensure that Walder Frey's dimwitted crew didn't muck things up with the Blackfish. Now he rides to the Freys' home base for... what reason? A nice meal? A covert operation to take down the aggressive Riverrunners from the inside?
Whatever the circumstances, heads should roll before the episode is done, specifically Walder's. Love him or hate him (we kinda missed the old goat!), Jaime wants to keep the peace in Westeros -- his way. If you exhibit "mad" plans, or make fun of the Lannisters, he will murder you. Walder isn't one to keep his mouth shut.
Prediction: The White Walkers bear down on the Wall
We last saw the Night's King and his frozen ghouls trashing the weirwood tree, slaying their creators, the Children of the Forest, ending the Three-Eyed Raven's physical tenure, and ripping Hodor to bits as the strongman held the door. Bran and Meera escaped, aided by the long-forgotten Benjen "Coldhands" Stark. We assume they continued journeying back towards the Wall -- but what about the White Walkers?
With only a few episodes left (Season 7 and 8 are expected to be truncated), one imagines the Night's King's army pushing their way toward the world of men. There would be no more terrifying close to the season than seeing a lone Night's Watch guard standing atop a Castle Black watchtower, catching hordes of wights swarming toward the Wall for the first time. Chills.
Prediction: Bran finally sees what's what at the Tower of Joy
Speaking of Bran, it's finally time for Thrones to make good on his inherited greensight. Two episodes teased us with a revelation locked away in the Tower of Joy. Let's see what's behind door number one, please. Enough R + L = J speculation has us all convinced that Jon Snow's fate, and the arrangement of Game of Thrones' inevitable Great War, will come to light when we know what really happened to Lyanna Stark. There's no way we won't know something by the end of "The Winds of the Winter." RIGHT??
But will Jon himself find out? Will Bran accidentally screw with the space-time continuum and undo every event in the Game of Thrones universe -- it's not impossible! And will Meera and Benjen finally get him to the right side of the Wall again before the White Walkers take them?
Prediction: Daenerys sets sail to Westeros
The question isn't if, but when. Daenerys' eyes have been set on the Iron Throne from the very first episode, and now that she has several armies at her disposal, a fleet of ships, and a squad of trusty advisors, plus Varys already doing prep work for her back in Westeros (maybe in Dorne? That subplot has to lead to something, doesn't it?), she finally has what's needed to invade Westeros.
With the way Season 6 has played loose with time, I don't see why Dany won't be setting sail at the beginning of "The Winds of the Winter" and catching her first glimpse of Westeros by the end. Yes, a few issues make this proposal less than a certainty. Euron could show up last minute looking to pick a fight, for one. And the show's pacing may not allow for it -- after that display of dragon fireworks in "Battle of the Bastards" and a lot of other stuff to unpack, this episode could be light on Daenerys. But, c'mon, the Queen of Dragons has to get to Westeros eventually. Let's kick it into gear before Game of Thrones sets sail for Season 7, OK?
Prediction: Gendry appears
Just kidding. Don't get your hopes up. Robert Baratheon's bastard is doomed to row that boat off-screen forever.
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