game of thrones

Our 15 Biggest Questions About This Week’s Game of Thrones

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Do you hear the bells, and do they even matter? True to Game of Thrones form, penultimate episode “The Bells” gave us what’s been missing from this final season: quite a few major deaths. At last! The series that made its name killing off its biggest characters with gleeful abandon has shed its plot armor and given us the glorious, terrible death scenes we mostly expected would play throughout the final season. The Clegane brothers: dead! Jaime Lannister: dead! Cersei and her probably-not-baby: dead! So what, dare we ask, is left to make sense of as we head into the final 80-some-odd minutes of this story? Gather ’round, ye little doves, as we slide into the end of Game of flippin’ Thrones.

Do we feel any sympathy for Dany?
Our Mother of Dragons wasn’t feeling particularly maternal this Mother’s Day, preferring to rain down ash and fire on the people she was allegedly showing up to save. But it’s hard not to see the tragedy of her rise as Mad Queen Dany, regardless of the arguably hackneyed and rushed writing that got her there. Remember: This is the woman who was sold off like cattle and raped after losing everything. Dany, for a long, long time wanted to break the wheel, and all the chains, in order to give freedom to the people. Plus she just lost all her closest confidants, another dragon child, and feels betrayed by the man she loved and Varys. Wouldn’t you call that a particularly bad couple of days?

How did we get here?
From a book reader’s perspective, Dany going mad feels completely in line with the story George R.R. Martin has been telling all along. I, for one, always assumed Dany would go mad, driven by some quick succession of tragedy and an inability to be seen as anything other than an outsider to the people. (Plus the whole “Jon is Aegy Targs” thing.) It just kinda stinks that everything about this progression in the last three seasons has felt more plot-driven than fueled by character development, which is how Martin has always written his meandering version of the story. Those things are also what made certain choices that lead to tragedy and heartbreak (Ned Stark) all the more real and affecting on-screen, even when they’re shocking. This is what made Game of Thrones the phenomenon it has become.

Dany’s totally gonna die next week, right?
It sure feels that way, but more on that later.

Why did Varys take off his rings before he died?
Good question! I hope they’ve been left there for someone else to find, maybe in some epilogue where a new ruler, determined, hopes to rise in the name of justice. Or maybe he just knows it would be a pity to let his jewelry go to waste in the flames. Think about the economy!

Where in the seven hells did all those Dothraki come from?
Didn’t nearly all the Dothraki die up at Winterfell? Sure, we got an offhand remark last episode about “the remaining Dothraki” but did anyone imagine that large of a horde was still going strong? How convenient!

Some of those little kids in King’s Landing are going to be part of the next revolution, right?
There were a LOT of shots of children in this episode, and I couldn’t help but wonder—given how many of our stars were literal kids when they started on the series—if that’s setting up whatever bittersweet ending we’re going to get. Maybe in some epilogue we’ll see some of these King’s Landing children suiting up, heading off on their own journeys, ready to take back the rule of the Seven Kingdoms for a cause that’s far more just?

How was Jaime that strong when he was basically dying?
The things we do for love??

But seriously, because Arya surviving that fiery-death moment puts literally everything in doubt: Are Cersei and Jaime definitely dead? Just because we definitely are going to need some confirmation.
It felt like they were dead, given how much of the castle was above them (all of it). And what better way for these two to go out than together, am I right?

What was with all the wildfire?
No, all that green fire wasn’t some sea-witch-ified undead Rhaegal giving Drogon an assist from below — it was wildfire exploding. You may have at first assumed, as I did, this was the outcome of some sort of “burn it all down” mutually-assured-destruction plot of Cersei’s. But then I realized it probably wasn’t that at all, but rather a callback to a rumor in the novels that was alluded to on the series — later confirmed by Tyrion when he was temporarily hand to Joffrey — that there was stockpiles of wildfire stowed underneath much of King’s Landing, put there by Dany’s mad father. His last words were “burn them all.” Like father like daughter, I guess!

Where is Arya going?
If you didn’t watch the trailer for next week, let me spoiler it for you: not very far! No, she hasn’t gotten on a ship to see what’s West of Westeros (yet), she’s still in King’s Landing as we head into the final minutes of the series. Something tells us she’s not going to be too pleased with how Jon’s auntie-girlfriend handled the war, and the show previously featured a prophecy from the Red Woman (Melisandre) telling Arya she closes a pair of eyes that are green (like Dany’s) forever, after closing eyes of brown (Frey), and blue (the Night King). So that feels like a good guess to venture: She’s here to kill the queen! But she may have to fight someone else for that crown…

Who’s going to kill Dany?
Ahh yes, the biggest question of all. For this one, it seems fairly obvious: It’s got to be Arya or Jon Snow. Given the prophecy and how well those things have turned out (not great), I actually do not think Arya will be the one to kill her. That honor will go to Jon Snow, noble bastard that he is, and he will wear the decision as a necklace around his soul, fulfilling his purpose in the song of ice and fire, and ensuring this miserable know-nothinger is truly miserable and sad forever.

But could Dany also just win and either turn over a new leaf or start some evil empire?
Sure, absolutely she could. LOL on that first suggestion, especially. But anything is possible, and the hero turning into the villain and starting some Westerosi Villain Takeover would be a pretty messed-up way for the series to end, and therefore very Game of Thrones. But something tells me this show—which George R.R. Martin has said is still following his outline—would do us as dirty as all that.

Okay, so who do we think is going to end up on the throne?
The obvious answer here is Jon Snow, which means it absolutely will not be Jon Snow. This then means that the smartest leaders who maybe most deserve it—like Tyrion Lannister or Sansa Stark—also will not. So who’s left: Gendry Baratheon? Three-Eyed Brandon? Bronn or Podrick or Ser Brienne? I don’t want to ruin it by venturing to guess, but if I were a betting woman… at this point? I’d honestly put money on Bran Stark.

Wait, are you serious right now?
I know. I know. It’s crazy, but hear me out: the novels started out with a first-person chapter from the one, the only Baby Bran Stark. Sure he’s some all-knowing, all-seeing, not-really-anything memory entity now, but this show is insane. This story has always been insane. And if you’ll recall, Tyrion had that conversation with Bran in the Winterfell library where he asked to be told “all.” What did they talk about then? Perhaps everything Bran knew and saw? Tyrion might go for a leader who has intel like that. Bran is like a one-man Westerosi CIA!

So… how’s it going to end?
Oh gosh, if we knew we probably wouldn’t be legally allowed to write these! But if one thing is certain—and Ramsay Bolton’s iconic line makes us certain—it probably won’t be all that happy an ending.

Our 15 Biggest Questions About This Week’s Game of Thrones