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25 Questions That Game of Thrones Needs to Answer in Its Final Season

Photo: HBO

Is Tyrion a secret Targaryen dragon-rider? Who will land the Iron Throne? What eyeliner brand does Euron Greyjoy use? All vitally important questions any Game of Thrones fan might be asking before the final season premieres this weekend. There is a lot left to figure out, after all. All the living Starks will finally be reunited under one snow-covered roof, but Daenerys is about to show up and potentially upend their bonds of loyalty. Cersei is outnumbered, but certainly not entirely counted out yet. And the Night King is slowly — like, Michael Myers–pace slowly — marching toward Winterfell where he wants to destroy all of humanity. Don’t expect a tidy ending or resolution to every problem in Westeros, but here are the 25 biggest questions we’re hoping Game of Thrones will answer before our favorite Sunday watch has ended.

How will Jon and Dany react to their surprise incest?

There are several theories about who will have the terribly awkward duty of informing these new paramours that they’re really aunt and nephew, and that despite his recently bent knee (not a euphemism), Jon is the real heir to the Iron Throne.

As the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran can see any part of human history at will, and aside from Howland Reed (we’ll get to him later) and Samwell Tarly, he’s the only living being who knows that Lyanna Stark gave birth to Jon. Bran and Jon, if you recall, had a tremendous relationship as half-brothers, but Jon also hasn’t seen Bran in years, and Bran is now a wee bit of a stone-cold jerk. Sam, who happens to be Jon’s dearest friend, has another piece of the puzzle: Thanks to Gilly’s perusal of an old Archmaester’s records, he learned that Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia was annulled and the Targaryen prince wed “someone else” in “a secret ceremony in Dorne.” This means that Jon is Rhaegar’s true-born son and legitimate heir.

Daenerys may not mind so much that she’s related to Jon — after all, Targaryens are famous for marrying each other — but she’ll certainly take notice that she is not the direct heir to the Iron Throne. Jon will already need to deal with the small matter of his entire life being a lie, so there are no guarantees that he’ll take this news well either. One guess is that Jon, ever duty-bound, will remain loyal to Dany since he already bent the knee. Or they may agree to rule together as co-regents.

But there has been a lot of GOT buzz about Daenerys’s increasingly erratic and occasionally cruel behavior. Her father, the Mad King Aerys II, was known for burning alive those who displeased him, a tendency that Dany has inched (and then galloped) toward over the past several seasons. First, she set the Dothraki meeting yurt afire and murdered the entire ruling class. Then, even though her Dothraki army could have easily handled the unsuspecting Lannisters on the King’s Road, the Mother of Dragons soared in on Drogon and barbecued entire platoons just to make a point. And although it wasn’t necessarily the most strategic (or humane) decision, she roasted Randyll and Dickon Tarly in front of their men, a tactic that may have inspired fear in the remaining Lannister army, but certainly not the love she claims she’s after. (Notably, it’s also an echo of the way her father killed Ned Stark’s father and brother.) Will Dany turn into the Mad Queen? Will Jon have to destroy her before she destroys Westeros? All of the clues are lined up, but on Game of Thrones, nothing is more uncertain than something that seems certain.

(Which reminds us — with no Wall to guard anymore, the Night’s Watch may no longer exist, which could potentially make Sam the new head of the Tarly family and Lord of Horn Hill. Lady Gilly has a nice ring to it, yes?)

When will the Army of the Dead reach Winterfell?

Ohhhhhhh ho ho ho ho. You’re asking about time? On Game of Thrones? The show that took six years slowly building up a story based on long-haul journeys and companionship on the road and then, in its seventh season, sent Euron and his Iron Fleet up and down the Westerosi coastline on trips faster than a lunch-break visit to CVS? There are all sorts of complex calculations we could do about the speed of the various armies and the terrain they needed to cover, but all I remember from physics is that F=M*A. If the showrunners don’t seem to care much about time anymore, let’s not waste ours. The Night King will reach Winterfell when it serves Benioff and Weiss’s purpose, and not a moment sooner. (But for real, I’d guess the penultimate episode because that’s how these dudes roll.)

What about Gendry?

His new buzz cut is honestly very sexy, and he also has the internal compass of an Eagle Scout. How else can we explain that he knew the route back to the Wall so well in season seven? If he could do that, he’ll surely make it to Winterfell.

How do you kill an ice dragon?

Qyburn, the Dr. Frankenstein extraordinaire that he is, seemingly has a gadget for everything. But his very, very huge crossbow was a dud on the King’s Road last season. The Night King had better luck hurling his spear at Viserion, and then heaving him out of the frozen deep and resurrecting him as an ice dragon. So, how can the Army of the Living bring Viserion down? Following wight logic, fire, drowning, Valyrian steel, and/or dragonglass could slay the undead beast. But the most scintillating prospect is that another one of Dany’s dragons will lay waste to his brother, perhaps even with Daenerys riding on his back.

Is this whole thing Bran’s fault?

I know we’re supposed to care about robotic, mystical Bran and his glorious role as the wise all-seeing master of time, but after the show entirely left him out of season five, my interest waned. There’s also something particularly problematic about total omniscience like his: If Bran knows everything, then does anything really matter? Is anything impossible? But there is zero chance that Bran will be unimportant in this final season, which is why I subscribe to the “let’s blame Bran for the current war” theory.

We already know Bran’s presence can change past events. When he “visits” his father at the Tower of Joy, he calls out to Young Ned, and Ned looks around as if he hears the voice. When he warged into Hodor’s body while also greenseeing, he created a psychic connection between the past and present, between Meera shouting “hold the door” and poor young Hodor’s mind. If Bran ventured back to other moments in history and made himself heard, could he have influenced events by, say, leading Aerys into madness, thus setting off the current chain of chaos? Don’t forget: Aerys claimed that he heard voices telling him to burn things.

Who is the Azor Ahai, the Prince Who Was Promised?

Lordy, Lordy, this is the mother of all (dragon) questions. For a full rundown on all the contenders, don’t miss Nate Jones’s epic investigation of this topic. But my money is on Tyrion, who is consistently underestimated, and maybe (just maybe!) a Targaryen himself. After all, the description we hear about baby Tyrion is of a leathery, “scaly” monster. He had “dragon dreams” as a kid, and he is the only person besides Daenerys and Jon who has been able to touch a dragon. Joanna Lannister, Tyrion’s mother, died on her deathbed, but multiple theories allege that the real reason Tywin hates Tyrion so much is that he’s the product of rape — at the hands of the Mad King. In the very first episode of season one, Tyrion very pointedly discussed Jon Snow’s life as a bastard in the Stark family and related to him by pointing out, “In their fathers’ eyes, all dwarves are bastards.” And recall Tywin’s last words: “You’re no son of mine.” Will the show suddenly reveal ANOTHER secret Targaryen? That’s a bit much, perhaps. But if the world were just, Tyrion would be the savior of Westeros.

Will the rest of Cersei’s prophecy come true?

All the way back in season five, GOT offered us a rare flashback: A young, already haughty and beautiful Cersei trotted out to the sorceress/soothsayer Maggy’s hovel to hear her future foretold. “You will never wed the prince; you will wed the king,” Maggy tells her. “You will be queen for a time. Then comes another — younger, more beautiful — to cast you down and take all you hold dear. The king will have 20 children and you will have three. Gold will be their crowns, gold their shrouds.” Nearly all of that prophecy has come true: Cersei married Robert, not Prince Rhaegar Targaryen; Robert had 20 bastards; and Cersei gave birth to Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen, all of whom lay under their golden Lannister death shrouds. But who exactly is the younger, more beautiful queen come to cast her down?

Cersei worried it was Sansa, then Margery, and now, it seems to her that the queen is Daenerys. But in George R.R. Martin’s novel, the prophecy has another line: “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Valonqar roughly translates as “little brother,” and speculators have pointed out that this could mean Jaime and his golden hand, unless it means that Tyrion might choke the life out of her. But it’s also possible that the “little brother” of the prophecy isn’t one of her siblings, and instead it’s a little brother of another kind — the child growing in her womb. Game of Thrones has shown the (most likely) abysmal maternal mortality rate in Westeros via multiple deaths in childbirth (Cersei’s mother, Joanna; Daenerys’s mother, Rhaella; Jon Snow’s mother, Lyanna; Catelyn’s mother, Minisa Tully). My personal theory is that the baby will be a dwarf like Tyrion, and therefore, to Cersei’s warped mind, an abomination. How fitting then that the thing she fears most will be what finally chokes the life out of her?

What did Tyrion say to convince Cersei to declare a truce with Daenerys?

After Cersei stalks away from the summit at the Dragonpit, Tyrion knows that only he — the brother she despises to the core of her being — can change her mind. Which is weird, right? But it somehow works. Tyrion leaves the meeting with Cersei, and she agrees to a cease-fire with Daenerys and the Northern armies. (Of course, we then find out she’s actually scheming with Euron to hire the Golden Company while this alleged truce goes on, but no matter!) So what exactly did Tyrion tell her? Some theories, based on Daenerys’s alleged infertility, claim that Tyrion promised Cersei that her unborn child will sit on the Iron Throne after Dany dies. Hence his recognition of Cersei’s pregnancy in the moment, and his face when he hears Jon and Daenerys literally rocking the boat later that episode. But this is one of those cases where we have so little to go on that it’s possible several other things happened: Maybe Tyrion fully betrayed Daenerys because he’s worried she’s gone mad, or maybe he thought he was outmaneuvering Cersei when in fact she had the upper hand. We just don’t know yet.

But for me, Tyrion is the hero of Game of Thrones. He, more than anyone, deserves the Iron Throne, even if he doesn’t have a claim to it. He has more complexity than Jon, better instincts than Dany, and some shred of human decency, unlike Cersei. whatever he did in there, I suspect it will reveal the heart of this entire show

Will Euron honor his promise to Cersei and return with the Golden Company?

As Cersei explained to Jaime while they stood on that very poorly planned map of Westeros (who would paint their giant strategic platform outdoors, just before winter sets in?), Euron didn’t really march out of the Dragonpit negotiations in fear of the undead wight brought back from beyond the Wall. He’s actually sailed his fleet to Essos to hire an army of sellswords known as the Golden Company, as part of a scheme to help the Lannisters win the war for Westeros while Dany and Jon are busy in the North. It seems all but certain that Euron still wants to marry Cersei, potential twincest baby notwithstanding: Though her power is diminishing by the second, Euron has a lot to gain by reviving the ailing Lannister legacy, wedding and bedding Cersei, and then — let’s be honest — killing her and seizing the Iron Throne. The problem is that Euron is the lamest faux–Jack Sparrow swashbuckler imaginable and nobody really gives a raven crap if he makes it out of this alive.

Where has Melisandre gone?

Last we saw Melisandre, R’hllor’s chosen priestess and bearer of a magical breast-lifting amulet, she was standing on a windswept cliff with Varys chatting about destiny, as one does. “I’ve done my part. I’ve brought ice and fire together,” she tells him. And then, “Oh, I will return, dear Spider. One last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you.” Now, let’s be clear that Melisandre’s glimpses into the fire don’t have a 100 percent success rate at predicting the future (see: dead Stannis, needlessly sacrificed Shireen, five years of warfare all for naught). But in this case, we have reason to put our faith in her mystical soothsaying. Like Varys, Melisandre was born a slave in Essos, and she explains to him that she’s heading to Volantis, a city specifically known for its adherence to the Lord of Light. But why make such a long trek just to come back to Westeros to die? It seems this most proud of characters has finally been chastened after Jon exiled her for sacrificing the blameless Shireen Baratheon in a horrific fiery death. One compelling theory is that she’s gone to Essos to rally fellow followers of her Lord to join or boost Daenerys’s cause — or that she, like Euron, will recruit a sellsword army and lead it to Westeros. Either way, expect more of the Red Woman’s dark magic. Perhaps she’ll be eaten up by her own flames.

Is Ned Stark actually still alive?

When one character returns from the dead, it’s a glitch. When two do it, well, the rules of your fictional universe start to feel a little flexible. Beric Dondarrion felt like a quirky anomaly, but Jon Snow’s reincarnation was a thing. (Not to mention the Hound and the Mountain.) Now, you can’t scroll through r/gameofthrones without stumbling over 17 theories about all the supposedly dead characters who will come back to life in season eight. Our favorite kooky theory? That Ned Stark is alive, well, hiding out, and about to stroll back onto the scene.

The first major character to die onscreen, Ned’s death set the template for how this show would kill just about anybody (except Jon Snow, the luckiest bastard alive). But some fans have pointed out that before he’s executed, Ned is in the Red Keep with none other than Jaqen H’ghar, a Faceless Man who surely could have evaded capture. So why was he there? The theory goes that it wasn’t Ned who was killed on that platform, but someone wearing his face — note that some Faceless Men, like Jaqen, can wear the faces of those who are still living — and that Varys paid to set this all up. There are even wilder riffs on this theory involving Syrio Forel, Arya’s sword-fighting instructor, but we’ll leave you to dive into that.

Is Arya really Arya, or did the Waif steal her face?

There have been quite a few instances of the GOT audience assuming someone is dead (cough, cough, the Hound) without actually witnessing his or her final breath. Which is what makes this theory seem plausible. Just before Arya and the Waif fought for the final time, Arya threw the room in pitch blackness. We’re meant to understand that all those weeks (months?) that the Waif spent beating a blind Arya senseless led her to this exact moment: She knows how to fight without sight, and the Waif doesn’t. But we don’t see the Waif die; we only see Arya come out. And the Waif, you may recall, also has the ability to don the faces of the dead. So who really left Braavos? Is it Arya or “Arya”? My money’s still on the former, but weirder things have happened.

Will Davos Seaworth, the only truly good man, ever see his wife again?

Davos, he’s seen the shit. As the moral compass for a crew of highly unstable narcissists, he’s spun in so many circles it’s surprising he still knows which way is north. Due east, however, is his wife, Marya, whom he never mentions but, I like to assume, adores with a devotion that would make Jon and Ygritte’s love affair look silly by comparison. Will he ever return to his home on Cape Wrath and hold his beloved again? I’m rooting for you, Onion Knight!

When will we hear from Meera?

Only once at the end of season seven did I shout at the screen, and it was when faithful, unselfish, tough-as-nails Meera bid her adieu to Bran the Three-Eyed Raven and he stared at her like a complete stranger. After all, Meera’s closest companion, her brother Jojen, died helping Bran fulfill his destiny, and Meera spent about four years dragging Bran’s phantasmagorical self through the snow. Is a hug too much to ask, Bran? A simple thank-you would suffice.

Under other circumstances, a departure by a minor character like Meera might not matter much. Except Meera happens to be the daughter of Howland Reed — a.k.a. the man who accompanied Ned to the Tower of Joy, which makes him the only living person besides Bran and Sam who knows Jon’s true parentage. And it’s possible he knows even more. George R.R. Martin has said that Reed knows “too much” to be front and center in the books or the show — he could easily have spilled the beans on Jon’s lineage years ago. And oddly, although he was one of Ned’s dearest friends and his bannerman, Reed didn’t send troops when Robb Stark raised up the Northern army. Instead, he sent Meera and Jojen North to escort Bran on his journey. The previous Three-Eyed Raven took great care to mention Howland’s name when he and Bran ventured back in time to watch the fight at the Tower of Joy. Now Meera is on her way back to her father to tell him about Jojen’s death, the rise of the Night King’s army, and Bran’s new role. I’d be shocked if he didn’t make a crucial, sudden appearance this season.

What is the point of Beric Dondarrion?

Thoros of Myr is dead, mauled by an ice bear on the Magnificent Seven’s journey beyond the Wall, and with him any chance that Beric can be reincarnated for a seventh time. (Unless, of course, Melisandre steps in again.) So, what was the point of all that, besides a chance to ogle the delightedly eye-patched rogue? The only theory that has any traction is based on the plot of A Feast for Crows, in which Beric dies for a seventh and final time, sacrificing his life so that Catelyn Stark can rise from the grave and become Lady Stoneheart. Catelyn is long dead on the show — the Red Wedding was at least four years ago in GOT time — but that doesn’t mean that Beric won’t “pass the flame of life” onto another dead character. Can he even do that without Thoros? We have no idea, but we’re eager to find out.

Will anyone remember to free Ellaria Sand from the cells under the Red Keep?

Daenerys, Jon Snow, and their entire crew journeyed all the way from the North to King’s Landing to meet Cersei in the Dragonpit, but not a single person thought to ask, “Hey, Euron, can we have our ally back?” The last we saw Ellaria, she was chained up in the Red Keep’s dungeons, forced to watch her daughter slowly succumb to the same poison she used to kill Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella. But at this point, I wouldn’t expect to see anymore of the only woman who used the term lover more annoyingly than Carrie Bradshaw.

On that note, is Septa Unella still dying her long Gregor-inflicted death?


Does Dorne matter anymore?

Did Dorne ever really matter? Only for the winos thirsting for some of Sunspear’s bloody finest. But we’re still wondering about a few things. Who is in charge now that Prince Doran was unceremoniously stabbed, Ellaria Sand was made into Cersei’s newest plaything, and Prince Trystane caught a knife to the back of the head? The Martell line, despite Oberyn’s, ahem, abundant appreciation for the act of love, is now kaput. The approximately 3 million Dornish have no leader. And most confusingly, a large part of the Dornish army seems to have been forgotten when the Greyjoy fleet was sunk. At least the Dornish still have warm weather.

Will Pod finally turn into a great fighter?

We’ve known Podrick Payne (a.k.a. Pod, a.k.a. Pod the Rod) since season two, back when he was sent by Tywin Lannister to squire for Tyrion. Since then, he’s squired for several notable fighters. Tyrion may not stand out as a man at arms, but he did survive the Battle of Blackwater and showcased formidable bravery in leading the Lannister charge. Brienne, of course, is easily one of the best fighters in the Seven Kingdoms, and she’s been assiduously training Pod since he finally learned how to properly mount a steed. But now, six years after we first met him, he’s still saddling up Brienne’s horse and getting his ass whooped with sparring swords in the Winterfell courtyard. Is his day finally about to come? In the official trailer for season eight, Pod is standing directly next to Brienne just before a battle begins, sword at the ready. I predict great things for him, along with a possibly tragic sacrificial death. A gentle, kind man with a magical penis? Nobody that wonderful can last for long in Westeros.

Will Tormund and Brienne couple up?

We all adore Tormund Giantsbane: that deep rasping growl of a voice, the fuzzy red beard, his zealous love for murder. And his immediate and fierce attraction to Brienne is adorable and makes some sense. But please, old gods and the new, don’t turn them into a couple. For starters, this attraction only goes one way! Brienne doesn’t need a man to be happy. What she needs, and deserves, is a knighthood for her devotion to the Stark family and her chivalry in times of strife. If Brienne wants a life partner then I hope she gets one. But it’d be a crime if Brienne — one of the best swords in the Seven Kingdoms and a bannerwoman for gender equality — ended up the victim of a marriage plot.

Is Dolorous Edd okay?

No, really, I’m wondering.

How many more braids can Daenerys’s head support?

The Dothraki have a tradition of growing their braids as long as they remain victorious in battle. Like any good Khaleesi, Dany has her own riff on this, and has slowly been adding more and more braids to her look — three of them are now winding their way around the back of her brilliant white hair. It’s gorgeous, but Emilia Clarke is only five-foot-two, and I don’t know how much more she can take.

Will Theon redeem himself?

Yes, 100 percent. Do not doubt me on this. Alfie Allen is a global treasure.

Will the finale end with a flash-forward?

Flashes into the future tend to drag. Remember at the end of The Return of the King how the screen kept fading to black but then, bam, another glimpse at Samwise’s lovely wife or Bilbo boarding a hobbit cruise ship to the afterlife? Or how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows closed with a treacly scene about Harry’s kids boarding the Hogwarts Express? Let’s not wish that on Game of Thrones. We know, per the showrunners, that the Winterfell battle between the living and the dead will take up an entire episode, but it’s hard to believe that battle would be the very last glimpse we see of this crew of meddling kids. The working title of Martin’s last book is A Dream of Spring, certainly a clue that we’ll see the snow melt and witness at least a tiny bit of the (potential? Inevitable? Impossible?) happy ending.

Is this entire story a Westerosi history written by Maester Samwell Tarly?

There and Back Again: A Maester’s Tale by Samwell Tarly? Nah.

25 Questions Game of Thrones Should Answer in Season 8