game of thrones

Our 18 Biggest Questions About This Week’s Game of Thrones

Photo: HBO

The Battle of Winterfell is upon us, so it’s no surprise the eighth season of Game of Thrones spent the majority of its second episode with everyone coming to terms with their imminent deaths. The biggest battle in television history is coming for us next week and is sure to bring a lot of devastation to Westeros, and probably kill more than a few of our faves in the process. (Sorry, Pod, you’re probably not long for this Realm.)

But our biggest question out of this episode absolutely has to be: Why couldn’t this have been episode one? Two set-up episodes in a row — when we only have six total — feels incredibly frustrating when there’s still so much more to do and see! But while “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” gave us more resolutions than questions, we’ve still got plenty to talk about, so let’s just get right into it.

Why didn’t Jaime tell Dany the truth about her father?
Or Brienne, for that matter. They all know the truth about how messed up the Mad King was, how he wanted to burn the city to the ground, how he didn’t care if he ruled over ash and bone. Why the constant withholding of information that could make these two get along better? Why do these people just love to be at odds with one another?

Hold on, Ghost is back? And that’s how they show us?
How is this show just going to casually throw him in the corner of a scene and never even talk about it? How in the Seven Hells are you going to give every other character on this show a sweet, sweet reunion and not give us a moment between Ghost and Jon Snow? Give the people what they want, Game of Thrones! Which brings us to our next question …

Are we rooting for Theon and Sansa now?
It sure seems like it, doesn’t it? The look Sansa gave Theon when he arrived at Winterfell — and the one that he gave her over his queen, Daenerys — and their subsequent hang times after definitely makes it feel like this duo is being set up for romance. Sorry, Tyrion-Sansa shippers, looks like the series wants Theon and Sansa to be endgame. Which gives me a lot of feelings, none of them really all that positive.

Are all those dead Starks going to come back to life next week?
We’ve spent a bit of time in the crypts underneath Winterfell, where all the dead Kings of Winter and every body of every Stark is buried, but this week was the first time we were asked to worry about what they might bring — namely, the heartbreaking addition of more members to the army of the dead. After forcing all the women and children into the crypts for safety — and given how much of next week’s preview was set down there — there’s no way everyone underground is going to survive while the battle rages above, is there? Besides: This show LOVES to break our hearts, and watching the Stark children have to kill their undead father, Ned Stark, would certainly do that on several messed-up, deeply Thronesian levels.

Can you believe Arya and Gendry did that?
Before we get into it, let it be known: On the show, the Stark children are aged up from the books, which helps this go down a little smoother. But at the same time … oh my Old Gods, little Arya Stark just boned Gendry Would-Be-Baratheon on television. And like, good for her, get yours before everybody dies, but also: Oh my Old Gods, little Arya Stark just boned. Which leads us to …

How old is Arya?
As mentioned, the show aged up the Stark kids several years — she’s about 12 in the books — so Arya is likely 18 to 20 at this point of the story, but I’m still really glad they didn’t show us full frontal nudity. That would have been too much.

Do those scars hint that Arya is actually the Waif?
It’s a very popular theory, but I sincerely hope not.

Why isn’t Bran telling us everything?
Bran dropped a lot of casual knowledge in this one: namely, that the Night King has been after him (that is, the Three-Eyed Raven) for generations and he needs to play bait if the Winterfell army wants to take out the Night King and all his followers. Why won’t he tell everyone what they need to know to win? Or does he actually want the Night King to bring about a night that never ends? Bran saying “How do you know there IS an afterwards?” to Jaime certainly feels ominous.

What did happen to the other dragons that came North?
During the episode, Tyrion makes an offhand comment about people remembering the last time the Targaryens brought dragons North. It felt odd, mostly because of its lack of clarity: Who are the people that would remember this foreboding-sounding event? He could be talking about the events of the season seven episode “Beyond the Wall” (which saw poor Viserion turned into an Ice Dragon), but saying “Targaryens,” plural, seems to imply some other time in Westerosi history.

Could this be a clue? Looking into the lore, the last time we know that dragons came North was during the reign of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen, who took six dragons with him to visit the Warden of the North. He brought his own dragon Vermithor while his queen, Alysanne, rode Silverwing. Four other unknown dragons also took the trip, but there’s no word about anything bad happening to Jaehaerys’s dragons; in fact, he was a long-ruling king people loved and thought was very wise. So what, exactly, is Tyrion getting at? And why does he make it sound so scary?

Who is Jenny in the song Podrick sings?
Settle in, folks, because this one is foreshadow-y as all get-out. Pod is singing “Jenny’s Song,” an old song about Jenny of Oldstones. But who is Jenny of Oldstones? Well, she was the wife of Duncan Targaryen, first child to Prince Aegon “Egg” Targaryen and his wife Betha Blackwood. He was named after dad’s good friend Ser Duncan the Tall — the two of whom are featured in George R.R. Martin’s The Tales of Dunk and Egg series of novellas — but would-be king Duncan “the Small” Targaryen fell in love with a common lass (sound familiar?) named Jenny of Oldstones, mucking up his betrothal to a female Baratheon child, and resulting in his abdicating the throne because his father could not allow such a marriage. Though some of the lyrics in the song are in the books, David Benioff stated in the post-episode clip that they made up everything beyond the first verse. There’s also a lyric video of the Florence Welch version of the tune that played over the episode’s credits:

The lyrics, in full, are rife for speculation. (If you’re a fan of the “Dany becomes the Night Queen” theory, this one may have excited you greatly.)

How has no one ever tried to kill the Night King with dragonfire before?
Should we be worried about this? This clearly needs more investigation, and feels like an ominous mention — could it backfire?

Is Brienne really the first female knight in Westeros?
Yes, she is! Though there are many legendary warrior women in Westerosi history, women like Nymeria and Visenya Targaryen have been few and far between, and far from officially sanctioned heroes — until Brienne of Tarth, that is.

What is Heartsbane, the sword Sam gave Ser Jorah, and why would he give it to him?
Heartsbane is a greatsword (a.k.a. one that needs two hands to hold) of Valyrian steel that’s long been in the family of House Tarly. Valyrian steel, as we know, kills White Walkers in a deeply permanent fashion. For Ser Jorah to have it over Sam makes very little sense, so … he must have it for story-based reasons we’re going to see next week.

Dany’s going to be totally chill about this Jon/Aegon reveal, right?
Oh, you sweet, summer children.

No, but seriously, how bad is this going to get?
Very bad. Because Jon would likely happily relinquish his claim on the Iron Throne for the woman who really wants it — but it increasingly feels like Dany ending up on the throne wouldn’t be good for anyone.

Where’s Howland Reed?
Remember Meera and Jojen Reed, who helped bring Bran North of the Wall? Well, Howland Reed is their father and was actually there the day Ned Stark saved Jon Snow in the Tower of Joy. We know he and Meera, his daughter, are still alive, so why aren’t they here yet?!

Why hasn’t the Night King just come through and ice dragon’d the shit out of everything?
Sure, it would defeat the purpose of this episode-long build-up to an epic battle, but also: Wouldn’t it just be easier?

What does that icefire do to people?
We all have to be wondering this heading into the great battle, right? It melted the Wall, but is it cold fire or magic? It’s truly hard to know. According to A World of Ice and Fire, one of GRRM’s companion books, ice dragons are “many times larger than the dragons of Valyria, are said to be made of living ice, with eyes of pale blue crystal and vast translucent wings through which the moon and stars can be glimpsed as they wheel across the sky.” More to the point, they “supposedly breathe cold, a chill so terrible that it can freeze a man solid in half a heartbeat.”

But so far, it’s all hearsay. According to that same text, “Archmaester Margate has suggested that many legends of the north — freezing mists, ice ships, Cannibal Bay, and the like — can be explained as distorted reports of ice-dragon activity. Though an amusing notion, and not without a certain elegance, this remains the purest conjecture.”

Our 18 Biggest Questions About This Week’s Game of Thrones