Our 10 Biggest Questions About Game of Thrones’ Final Season

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The old gods and the new have cursed us. The seventh season of Game of Thrones is finished, but the HBO fantasy epic’s eighth and final season doesn’t have an airdate yet. Will it be 2019 before we see Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen rock the boat again? Nobody knows. Luckily, “The Dragon and the Wolf” left us with a ton of questions, so at least we’ve got plenty to think about while we wait. Here are some of the biggest mysteries to ponder until Game of Thrones returns.

How will Jon and Daenerys react to the truth about his parents?
When we last saw Jon and Daenerys, they were engaging in some very artfully lit incest. They didn’t realize as much, of course, but it’s only a matter of time. Now that Bran and Sam have finally pieced together the final bits of the R+L=J mystery, they’re determined to tell Jon that he is, in fact, a trueborn Targaryen and Dany’s nephew.

Can Jon and Dany’s relationship survive such a wild revelation? Although incest is taboo in Westeros, it’s important to remember that it was historically encouraged among Targaryens. Daenerys was originally meant to marry her brother Viserys; he only sold her to Khal Drogo as a means to fund the army he needed to defeat Robert Baratheon. If she’s fallen hard for Jon, maybe she’ll just chalk up their nautical romp to familial fate. Even if Dany doesn’t flinch too hard about the incest bit, though, you can bet that discovering that she just bedded the only person in Westeros with a better claim to the throne will send her into a tailspin.

Jon, on the other hand, is not only about to discover he committed incest, but that his beloved father is actually his uncle and that he is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. It’s hard to see a character with Jon’s sense of honor going back on his word to bend the knee to Daenerys, so expect a lot of brooding while sullen Jon Snow Aegon Targaryen sulks in the corner, bemoaning his fate. Nevertheless, the truth might ultimately send him running even further into Dany’s arms. Is it possible they’ll will see their shared DNA as the perfect reason to turn their alliance into a marriage? Yes. But remember the kind of show we’re watching here: Jon and Daenerys sitting blissfully on matching thrones doesn’t seem like it’ll be the end of this story. They’re facing rocky times ahead.

Who will take down Cersei Lannister?
Cersei has to die. Not just because girlfriend won’t evacuate the Red Keep and Westeros really needs a ruler with a little bit of sanity, but also because of that witch’s prophecy from way back when. Here’s a refresher in case you’ve forgotten:

1.  “Queen you shall be,” the witch promised a young Cersei, “until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.”

2. “Will the king and I have children?” Cersei asked. “Oh, aye. Six-and-ten for him, and three for you.”

3. “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds … And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”

It’s safe to assume that Daenerys is the “younger and more beautiful” queen who wants to take away her kingdom. Meanwhile, Cersei has already faced the reality of King Robert’s 16 bastards and her own trio of golden children wrapped in death shrouds. But who is this valonqar, which translates roughly to “little brother” in High Valyrian? For years, fans assumed it would be Tyrion, who has survived two near-executions from Cersei and has good reason to want her dead. But in the season-seven finale, the slow-burning tension between Jaime and Cersei finally came to a head. After she revealed her secret plot to ignore the pact she’d made with Daenerys and Jon — instead, she’s planning to take back the lands in the south while they’re busy fighting off the White Walkers — Jaime was horrified not only by her craven disregard for keeping her word, but her desire to put herself and their unborn baby ahead of the kingdom. (Oh, and also the subtle hint that she just might marry Euron Greyjoy.) Though Jaime rode off to who knows where at the season’s end, he’ll surely confront Cersei again before this is all over. Might he be the one who wraps his golden hand around her pretty neck?

If you’re not convinced by that theory, here’s one more to consider. Taking “valonqar” less literally, it’s possible that the “little brother” who chokes the life out of Cersei will be her child — a child who, like Tyrion himself, will be born a dwarf. Tyrion’s birth was the defining moment of Cersei’s childhood. She’s blamed him for their mother’s postpartum death every day since, and that blame has fueled her anger and hatred. In Cersei’s eyes, Tyrion represents everything ugly and nasty that hides behind her beauty, every fear about her own inadequacies. Wouldn’t it be fitting for her to depart this world in the same way as their mother?

Where will Jaime go?
When Jaime rode out of King’s Landing, he didn’t even have proper fur attire to face the winter cold. Nonetheless, if anyone can take care of himself, it’s Jaime: He’s survived losing a hand, a year of brutal captivity, and listening to Cersei rage in his ear for the past 40 years. There are several possibilities for where he’ll go now that he’s on his own. The first is that he’ll find Tyrion. As much as he’s disgusted by Cersei’s behavior, it’s hard to believe he’d give away her plan to his younger brother and risk the safety of his unborn child. Nevertheless, Jaime felt genuinely moved to battle the White Walkers, and although he doesn’t wield a sword as well as he once did, honor may compel him to fight.

Of course, he could also head toward Winterfell to reunite with Brienne of Tarth. To most of the lords of Westeros, he’s a kingslayer and a Lannister and a deadly threat, but Brienne knows that Jaime can be redeemed. He’d be safe with her, even if the Starks didn’t see it that way. There’s also the possibility that he’s out to kill Euron Greyjoy, the man who is trying to claim his (formerly) beloved sister for his own. Given how the season ended, though, that seems like a mission better suited for Theon.

What will Melisandre’s return look like?
When she fled Dragonstone earlier this season, Melisandre made a vow to Varys: “I will return, dear spider. One last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you.” Now, it’s worth noting that Melisandre is pretty bad at predictions. (Remember how Stannis was supposed to be the Prince That Was Promised? Or how about when she thought burning Princess Shireen alive would help the Baratheon forces defeat Ramsay Bolton?) In this case, however, we’re taking her word for it. Before the end of the series, Melisandre will be back — and she’ll die in Westeros.

Melisandre told Varys that she’s going to Volantis, the Essos headquarters for all followers of R’Hllor, the Lord of Light. Varys and Tyrion tasked another red priestess with spreading the word that Daenerys is the Prince That Was Promised, so perhaps Melisandre will add her voice to that chorus, bringing her fellow priestesses to Westeros to defeat the White Walkers. After all, the Lord of Light is a god of fire. What better way to defeat the ice?

Where is Ghost?
The showrunners have made it pretty clear that they’d love to include Ghost in more sequences, but their CGI budget is dedicated almost entirely to perfecting the beauty of those three big-ass dragons. Still, as one of only two remaining direwolves, it’d be shocking if Ghost doesn’t make a triumphant comeback in season eight. I’m predicting that he’ll die protecting Jon from a grave threat — but not before he meets up with Nymeria and her pack for some sort of direwolf rescue operation.

Who is Azor Ahai?
We’ve got an excellent breakdown of the front-runners, the contenders, and the long shot, but I’d like to propose another outcome: What if the Prince That Was Promised is never revealed at all? If we’re going by strict adherence to the prophecy, it’s hard to believe anyone except Daenerys could be Azor Ahai.

How will Jon and Dany defeat the White Walkers?
The Walkers are heading south verrrrrry slowly. (At the rate they’ve been moving, they’ll end up at Winterfell sometime around Arya’s 30th birthday.) Don’t be fooled by that lack of speed, though: They’re legion and mighty difficult to kill. Daenerys and Jon’s forces have dragonglass for hand-to-hand combat and dragons for air coverage, but short of someone inventing giant flamethrowers (ahem, paging Qyburn) defeating 100,000 of these guys won’t be easy.

Except there might be a loophole. Beric Dondarrion offered the best clue during this season’s penultimate episode. “Kill him,” he said, pointing to the Night King. “He turned them all.” Earlier, while the wight hunting crew stuffed their undead kidnapee in a linen bag, they’d noticed that the wights collapsed when Jon killed the Walker that led them. In other words, the wights are magically tied to the White Walkers and cannot live once the creator dies. But how do you kill a Night King? It’s unclear if he’s susceptible to fire and Valyrian steel, or if his magic inures him to both. Either way, it’s all but certain that Jon Snow — who, let’s be honest, has a bit of a savior complex — will want to be the one to take down the Night King.

Of course, he’ll first need to get through the army of wights, which leaves us a few other questions to consider. Valyrian steel, like Jon Snow’s sword Longclaw, is allegedly forged from the fire of dragons. Does that mean they’ll be able to make more of it? Or consider the opposite: Can Viserion’s blue fire melt Valyrian steel?

Who else will ride a dragon?
In the books, Dany’s prophecy in the House of the Undying is clear: “The dragon has three heads.” Of course, Daenerys herself is one of the dragon riders. With Viserion gone to the dark side, the Night King is number two. But Rhaegal still lacks a rider, which leaves a pair of contenders for the saddle. Jon Snow is the obvious favorite, not just because of his parentage and his relationship with Dany, but because he actually touched a dragon earlier in the season. That’s a sure sign that they trust him.

Not so fast, though. Early in season six, Tyrion freed Viserion and Rhaegal from their captivity under the pyramid in Meereen, proving that he too can interact with dragons without invoking their wrath. How would a Lannister get away with that? By not really being a Lannister. It’d be quite a tall order to reveal yet another secret Targaryen in the mix, but according to one popular fan theory, a small detail from George R.R. Martin’s books makes it possible: When Tywin Lannister served as the Hand of the King to Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King was infatuated with Tyrion’s mother, Joanna. (Aerys even went so far as to bemoan the fact that the order of primae noctis — a king’s right to sleep with a newly married woman — had been revoked.) What’s more, Tywin Lannister stated several times that Tyrion wasn’t his son, or that he couldn’t prove that Tyrion was truly his. It’s a bit of a stretch, but if Tyrion is in fact a Targaryen, he could be the fabled third dragon rider.

Will we finally get a Cleganebowl?
In the season-seven finale, Sandor “the Hound” Clegane essentially promised that he’d be back to fight his fleshpile of an older brother. “You know who’s coming for you,” he vowed, rather ominously, as Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane looked forward mutely. It’s the showdown that fans have wanted for years, with two of Westeros’s fiercest fighters finally coming to blows. The Hound isn’t one to make false promises, so this duel is as guaranteed as it gets. Here’s a better question: Will we get to see what the Mountain looks like under that visor?

Are there more dragons to come?
I know what you’re thinking: Dany’s dragons are all boys. They’re the only three on the planet. How the hell could they reproduce? But in A Feast for Crows, Maester Aemon let slip a biology lesson that we haven’t yet heard on the show. While explaining how the Prince That Was Promised prophecy came to be misunderstood, Aemon says, “Dragons are neither male nor female … but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame.” If the dragons can change sex at will, it’d certainly be a fitting twist for the show’s final season: Like far too many other Game of Thrones siblings, Rhaegal and Drogon might also wind up being parents together.

Our 10 Biggest Questions About Game of Thrones’ Final Season