16 Burning Questions We Need Answered in 'Game of Thrones' Season 8
The Wall is broken. The White Walkers advance in the North. Sansa, Arya, and Bran Stark lord over Winterfell. Cersei Lannister schemes from the Iron Throne. Jaime rides to the battle ahead. And Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow are tethered together (in more ways than one) to combat the greatest threat man has ever seen. Game of Thrones Season 7 is over. Time for a breather.
Just kidding. Game of Thrones Season 8 speculation is coming.
It's unclear exactly when D.B. Weiss and David Benioff's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's fantasy series will return to television -- rumor has it HBO may hold the final season until 2019 -- but when it does, years of plotting and planning and puncture-wounding will pay off in a grand spectacle. Or maybe a subdued, dialogue-driven negotiation? With the Night King riding an undead Viserion and Dany and Jon's future as a queen and king riding on the truth about the ex-bastard's true lineage, it could be a little of both. Time will tell, but the Season 7 finale, "The Dragon and the Wolf," left us plenty of possibilities.
What can we expect from the final seven episodes? Here are the questions we still need answered from this epic series, plus a few long-time theories we're still waiting to see pay off, all bundled in a flame of excitement that only Lord of Light devotees can truly understand. We looked into the fire and saw the future.
Will The Hound finally face off against his brother?"The Dragon and the Wolf" opens with Daenerys and Cersei's factions congregating at the Dragonpit in King's Landing. Between side-eye glares and wight demonstrations, Sandor Clegane finds a moment to break the line and get up in the face of his brother, Gregor, aka The Mountain, now an undead slab of muscle working for the queen. "It's not how it ends for you, brother," The Hound says to his sibling, who he hasn't seen since Season 1. "You know who's coming for you. You've always known." Are the two set for a face-off in Season 8? "Cleganebowl" would check a box on fans' collective wish list, and as our recapper notes, could be easy to set up: Picture Sandor returning to King's Landing after a brawl up North, picking a fight with his brother, and providing enough distraction that Arya can infiltrate the queen's chambers and cross a name off her kill list. Two birds, one satisfying stone.
What happened after Tyrion confronted Cersei?There's an obvious answer: the brother and sister pair returned from their parley to announce that Lannister army would join Daenerys and Jon in the Northern battle for civilization. As we learn later, this turns out to be a lie -- Euron Greyjoy didn't turn back to the Iron Islands, but instead went to fetch the Gold Cloak mercenaries in Essos, with the intent of rallying troops to kill off any of Dany's survivors after the inevitable clash with the White Walkers. It's a devious plan from Cersei, which could very well bite her in the ass, as Jaime mentions, but for now, that's the plan. Is Tyrion in on it? After a long conversation about family and duty, the revelation of Cersei's newborn appeared to knock the savvy Hand of the Queen back a step. Whatever the case, Tyrion knows more than we do -- which is usually good for a Thrones surprise or two.
How will Theon win a fight against Euron?Jaime and Bronn open the episode with an inspiring conversation on the importance of cocks to one's purpose in life. This is not a concern for Theon, whose eunuch status comes in handy in the finale during a fight with a burly ball-kicker. A PTSD-stricken Theon bests the chump in hopes of leading Dragonstone's remaining Iron Islanders on a rescue mission to save Yara. But here's the thing: Theon is going to head home only to discover Euron pulled a fast one. Will Theon have to work for his redemption or will the Lord of Light's all-knowing Waze app guide him towards a tidier solution? And how does he even combat Euron when he gets there? The guy's scum, but he doesn't seem like the type to boop a guy in the crotch.
Will Cersei have her child?"Our child will never be born if they come south," Jaime tells his sister, who says she's dedicated to protecting her family while completely disavowing the idea of aiding Daenerys and Jon in an effort to stop the White Walkers. While I don't see The Night King storming through the castle to slice a pregnant queen's neck and make good on Jaime's ominous line, there's reason to suspect that his words could be prophetic. The Army of the Dead has come South, technically, and by George R.R. Martin's connect-the-dots logic, Cersei's unborn baby is in jeopardy. The twist would be if Cersei somehow managed to end her own baby's life -- her power plays have resulted in the demises of the rest of her children so why not now? Bleak, but true.
Will Jaime make good on the Valonqar prophecyCould the Kingslayer become the Queenslayer? It's a long-discussed theory that Season 8, one way or another, will confront. The intricacies of the possibility run deep, but just Jaime striding off in defiance of his warmongering sister lends credence to the fan buzz. If the war returns from the North to the South, Jaime might be racing Arya to deliver the deathblow.
When and how will Varys and Melisandre die?Every night after Game of Thrones, I tuck myself into bed, shut off my reading light, and sit awake for an hour thinking of that time Melisandre predicted that she and Varys would meet their ends in Westeros. But seriously, ever since awakening the dead-as-a-doornail Jon Snow on a table at Castle Black, Melisandre's been fielding the Lord of Light's decrees like she's Amazon Prime, and her prediction in the second episode struck a nerve. Why would we doubt her now?
The question is when and how: Varys and Melisandre aren't the types to ride into battle. Unless the red priestess has a few firebolts up her sleeve and shows up to fight the White Walkers, they'll likely be attacked by surprise in some gruesome way. Maybe someone bumps into her, shatters her necklace, and she dies of old age? On the other side of the prophecy is Varys, who unlike Littlefinger has all but redeemed himself as a professional Little Bird whisperer -- he'll go down like a civilian in Deep Impact. Either the White Walkers make it to King's Landing or he's caught in the crossfire of post-cataclysm civil war. Poor guy. I'm already sad.
Will Missandei and Grey Worm have a happy ending?The opening of "The Dragon and the Wolf" was rather curious. We left Grey Worm at Casterly Rock looking like he was about to fall victim to a fleet of Greyjoy ships. In the final episode, we see him leading the Unsullied army against Highgarden. I guess the original battle didn't go so poorly? That the Loot Train battle cleared the path? The real concern here is that he'll never make it to his beloved, who has been totally pushed out by Jon Snow. Don't forget your girls, Dany. Missandei deserves her screen time in Season 8 as one of the few characters who could make a beautiful life after this godforsaken war.
How will Jon find out about his true father?In the finale, a combination of Bran's visions and Sam Tarly's book smarts revealed that Jon Snow was in fact Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar Targaryen, and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Great -- we've been wanting to know if that was 100% true for about five years. But now there's a bigger question: How will the facts reveal themselves? Bran has the knowledge but he lacks the people skills, you know? And when Dany finds out... it won't go well. While a major battle looms, the thrust of Season 8 may boil Game of Thrones back down to political drama, where lineage and ownership are sharper than any sword. This may not end well for the Jonearys shippers.
Could we see additional flashbacks?Speaking of our first look at Rhaegar and his kidnapped/eloped bride Lyanna Stark: Is this the last of our look at the origins of Robert's Rebellion? Yes, after Game of Thrones ends with Season 8 HBO will deliver us a spinoff (which will spawn another spinoff and another spinoff and another... ) that could delve back through time to these early years of Westerosi history. But there's still mystery tucked inside Jon's family tree -- was Rhaegar and Lyanna's relationship really love or something more insidious? Bran seems to think the former, declaring Robert's Rebellion to be built on a lie. I just want to know more. I want the Battles at Summerhall. I want the Battle of the Bells. I want the Battle of Trident. I want closure to this obscured corner of Thrones lore. And I want it through a trippin' Three-Eyed Raven vision that spirals completely out of control before ruining Jon Snow's day.
When will Jon and Daenerys have a baby?As we observed in our full recap, Season 7 bluntly concerned itself with Daenerys' fertility. In the finale, we're reminded that a witch once told her she couldn't give birth. Jon doesn't buy it, and this leads to one of the stranger sex scenes in all of Thrones history. Does it end with a baby? There'd be interesting parallels with Cersei's current situation, not to mention fodder for 8,000 prophecy theories, but this seems like a matter of "when," not "if," and the aftermath sounds even more interesting than Jon's mission to slice the Night King in half. (Although that should be fun, too.)
Will the direwolves come back and kick ass?We have two possibilities in Season 8 and, dammit, they both better happen. Somewhere -- probably Castle Black? -- Jon's pup Ghost is waiting for his master to return so they can rip White Walker necks together. Considering the map-jumping this season, I won't be surprised when the direwolf jumps from out of nowhere to save the day. As long as he's not offended that Jon Snow is actually Aegon, I fully expect him back by his side in one climactic battle.
Same goes for Nymeria, Arya's independent direwolf, who didn't recognize the young murder when they met again earlier this season. But in a few short episodes, Arya's warmed up to Sansa, reclaimed her position in the Stark clan, and readied herself for the return of an old friend. As Sansa says, "When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives." Nymeria is too cool to be a lone wolf in Season 8. Right... ?
Why was Tyrion so sad during Dany and Jon's hook-up?Of all the plot quakes in the finale, a pensive shot of Tyrion standing in a hallway has viewers in a tizzy. Can he hear Dany and Jon making passionate love in the nearby cabin? Is he worried that a queen can't "break the wheel" if she's busy breaking the object of her affection? Or does he secretly long for Dany, who kind of fits Tyrion's type: "a foreign whore who doesn't know her place" as Cersei RUDELY describes her. This layered few seconds of character work could even go back to the previous question on his meeting with Cersei. Does Tyrion know he's leading Jon and Dany to potential doom? After a few seasons of hushed observation, Tyrion feels front and center for Season 8.
Are Tormund and Beric still alive?The episode's grand finale finds The Night King unleashing the blue firepower of undead Viserion and busting through The Wall. Other than a sly plotting trick that seems to be toying with fandom's brain -- we see Bran warg into an unkindness of spy ravens who catch the first glimpse of the undead army by Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, making many a theorist wonder whether the scene was the present or future, despite zero precedence of Bran looking into the future -- the sequence is straightforward. The questions arise from the destruction. Tormund and Beric are atop the Wall when the dragon starts his take down. Did they make it?
For the sake of my heart, I have to believe they did. Though seeking the sweet refuge of death, Beric plays a key role in the spirituality of Thrones. Could R'hllor, the Lord of Light himself, reveal his presence to our heroes in the throes of apocalyptic battle? Or will Jon need to get in touch with his faithful side to vanquish The Night King? Seems like he needs Beric for guidance. And Tormund... c'mon, he needs to make babies with Brienne!
Can Dany save Viserion?Dany's "son" has seen better days; when the Night King's White Walker version of Viserion swoops into the Wall, his wings are decayed and his skin sucked dry of life. Will death be the only answer for stopping the transformed creature? The resurrected Jon Snow gives me hope that, with a little will, and a mama's touch, that maybe the right soul can reverse The Night King's magic and return Viserion to his rightful form.
How long will "the Long Night" last?Season 8 will only offer a few more episodes to the Game of Thrones saga. Pacing will be everything, and it's easy to imagine the conflict between man and White Walker taking up most of the runtime. Then again, what do Jon and Dany really have to accomplish? Kill The Night King, kill the horde. I wonder if Season 8 might go a little more like Season 7: Like the massive "Spoils of War," the Long Night conflict could end by the fourth episode, leaving room for the North-vs-South conflict Cersei's dreaming of. And after the bodies fall, the fire smolders, and Dany inevitably claims Westeros for herself, there'll be questions about the continuation of her regime. Years ago, in a critique of The Lord of the Rings during a Rolling Stone interview, Martin addressed concerns about a fantasy story simply ending with a bunch of winners:
"Ruling is hard. This was maybe my answer to Tolkien, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it’s not that simple. Tolkien can say that Aragorn became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Tolkien doesn’t ask the question: What was Aragorn’s tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone -- they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles?"
The burning question: Just how far into the future will Game of Thrones go in the end?