Through seven seasons, Game of Thrones has boasted a huge ensemble cast of memorable characters, and though many of them are fan favorites or integral to the plot, the most important of them all (the ones the “Song of Ice and Fire” surely alludes to) are Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen.
Both of them had humble beginnings (Dany even more so) and faced many dangers to reach the positions of power they hold now. Jon was even killed once, but he got better.
Dany was born in exile and was a refugee during most of her early years, and didn’t have many friends. She has been sold off, enslaved and betrayed, and many people have attempted to kill her. But instead of breaking, she has not only survived, but thrived in the face of adversity, gaining new and true allies and also the power to fight for her birthright, in the shape of a vast army and real, fire-breathing dragons.
Jon Snow lived comfortably in Winterfell, but resented his status as a bastard and knew that in normal circumstances it wouldn’t take him too far, so he joined the Night’s Watch, unaware that it was a dumping ground for killers and criminals of all kinds. He started as a simple steward, and was prisoner of the wildlings for a time, and though he has never asked for power, he’s a natural leader and soon became Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and King in the North afterwards, once his watch was ended.
It’s been very exciting to watch these characters grow and bringe change with them, not without sacrifice and difficulties, but always aiming for the best. And now their biggest test is looming and the stakes couldn’t be any higher –it’s not just a matter of who’ll sit in the Iron Throne, or even the fate of Westeros alone. If the Night King wins, the whole world could be doomed.
So, based solely on what’s on the pages of the currently released five tomes of A Song of Ice and Fire, and the seven seasons of Game of Thrones (no season 8 spoilers!), I’ll make an educated guess of what’s coming up next for Dany and Jon in the final six episodes of our favorite fantasy saga.
Daenerys Targaryen finally reached Westeros, but despite having the upper hand against Cersei in a beginning, she could not just lay waste to King’s Landing and burn the Red Keep with her dragons to cook her enemies. As her Hand said, that would only make her the queen of the ashes.
Since then, her advantage against Cersei has diminished somewhat: both Olenna Tyrell and the Sand Snakes are gone, Yara’s fleet was defeated and the Army of the Dead has claimed the life of Viserion. Meanwhile, Cersei still has Euron’s Iron Fleet, the support of the Iron Bank and soon the Golden Company will arrive to fight for her. And of course, the Night King obtained a brand new (and quite dangerous) mount.
I imagine that upon Dany’s arrival to Winterfell, the northern lords won’t be too happy to realize that their king has already given up his “crown” and declared for her. But as it happened with Torrhen Stark, known as “the King Who Knelt”, one look at the dragons should suffice to make them understand there wasn’t really a choice (or as Dany said about the choice the great masters of Meereen had: Live in her new world, or die with their old one). And most importantly, as Jon hopes, they’ll see her for who she is: not a foreign invader who’s coming to raze their lands, nor a “Mad Queen”, but someone who wants to build a better world and bring peace to a kingdom that has suffered and bled quite enough.
In the Season 7 finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf”, Bran seemed decided to tell Jon the truth about his parents. However, Jon being romantically involved with Daenerys changes everything: would it be a good idea to tell them right away? When so many things are on the line and tensions are so high? The new Three-Eyed Raven may have the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but Samwell is at Winterfell too, and he could restrain him until there’s a good moment to drop the bombshell news, provided both of them (and Gilly) make it to the end.
Should Bran opt not to wait, and reveal that Jon isn’t really a bastard, but the heir to the Iron Throne, and with a stronger claim than Daenerys at that, it could be a recipe for disaster. Or not. Unlike Daenerys and the many other claimants to the Throne who are already dead, he never had the ambition to rule over the Seven Kingdoms, and discovering that he’s really Aegon Targaryen won’t change that.
If anything, the truth will come as a relief: that he’s not a bastard, that his honorable adoptive father wasn’t unfaithful to his wife and that the mystery that haunted him for most of his life has been finally solved.
I think the incestuous aspect of the relationship is the largest cat that could come out of Bran’s bag of truth. Maybe that particular bit of information could be kept secret among a few people, but if it goes public, what to do then? Jaime and Cersei have gotten a lot of flak because of their no-so-secret relationship, with the former usually being the butt of jokes (one wonders how Robert Baratheon could be so blind to such an open secret). But it’s also true that not many people have reasons to love them, as opposed to Jon and Dany, who are surrounded by friends and people who respect them and are willing to fight for them.
Most Targaryen rulers were married to their relatives: brothers, sisters and such. Aegon the Conqueror himself was married to his two sisters, Rhaenys and Visenya. So, Daenerys being with Jon, or even marrying him eventually, wouldn’t be something unheard of when it comes to House Targaryen. If they prove to be good rulers, the common folk most certainly won’t mind who they choose to share their bed with.
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Evidently, they can’t be rulers without getting to sit the Iron Throne first.
But how to beat the Army of the Dead? The Night King in particular seems rather overpowered, after the show of force he demonstrated in the sixth episode of Season 7, “Beyond the Wall”. You’d think that from that moment onwards he’ll be carrying a big supply of ice spears, to take care of the other two dragons – but I have a feeling that either he won’t because of over-confidence (he has a dragon now, after all) or his aim won’t be as good as before, because the alternative is a fight that’ll be over very quickly (but to be fair, he did miss when trying to hit the fleeing Drogon. By very little, but that’s proof enough of him not being a flawless spear-thrower).
We don’t know much about the undead Viserion. Does he have the same weaknesses as the other wights, or will it take more work to bring him down? Unless our heroes have some scorpions ready with dragonglass bolts to shoot at the Night King, they’ll have to face him in the air. And that’s where things may get interesting:
I can already see comments about the predictability of Jon becoming a dragon rider, especially after the “Aegon” reveal hardly came as a surprise to most fans who have been discussing “R+L = J” for years, but I don’t think it should be a shock to anyone. It’d be a natural story beat –only that this time the Conqueror’s namesake won’t be riding the black dragon.
As discussed in my previous article, the fall of Winterfell is a very real possibility, if only because there’s no way the invasion of the undead is stopped just as it was getting started, after seven seasons of build-up.
But apart from secondary characters (and maybe one or two main ones), I don’t see the dragons dying at Winterfell. Purely from a story perspective, it’d be lame to dismount Jon that soon, and taking Drogon away from Daenerys before the final battle doesn’t feel right. If the dragons are destined to croak (and I sadly feel that’s indeed the case), it’ll have to be in the biggest battle, no doubt.
The one creature that has a bigger risk of dying early in the season is none other than Ghost. Our favorite albino pupper, as it was the case with the other direwolves, has been largely absent, to the point he was nowhere to be seen during Season 7 (according to Bryan Cogman, a Jon/Ghost goodbye scene was filmed for “Stormborn” but didn’t make it in).
Considering the budget for Season 8 will be largely devoted to the dragons and the big-scale battles, and how difficult and costly it is to bring a digital furry creature to life (one of the reasons they had to choose between Wun Wun and Ghost in “The Battle of the Bastards”), I don’t think the direwolf’s luck will be any different in the final season. I see a couple of scenarios: Ghost going out with a bang, Summer-style, to defend Jon (or his friends) or him remaining off-screen during most of the season (but making it alive to the end). I would admittedly go with the second option, which may be the boring one, but Ghost lives to tell (bark?) the tale.
Once the undead Viserion is dealt with, Daenerys probably being the one who kills him for a second time (it’s only tragically fitting that the Mother of Dragons is the one who puts her rogue “son” to sleep, this time for good) with the help of Drogon, the Night King will face off against Jon.
That one-on-one fight has been teased since Season 5, and Jon has already killed two White Walkers with Longclaw. There’s a good chance that at least one more Walker will be added to that count before the big fish himself.
Game of Thrones has a number of memorable fight scenes: Ned Stark vs. Jaime Lannister, Bronn vs. Ser Vardis Egan, Sandor Clegane vs. Beric Dondarrion, Brienne vs. Sandor Clegane, and of course, the Mountain vs. the Viper. And there’s a lot more! Each one has something unique about it: the scenario, the characters involved, the weapons they use, and what’s at stake.
Obviously I don’t know how the single combat between Jon and the Night King will play out (or if it will indeed happen, but that seems like a given), but I can imagine the pressure everyone involved with the show must be feeling to make it special. I’m assuming they’d fight on foot, but imagine if they fight atop a flying Viserion. It’s a very Hollywood-like thing, but one the show can afford to do now.
Will Jon survive the fight? Many things could happen. If he dies after defeating the Night King and therefore preventing the Long Night from happening, it could be interpreted that the reason the Lord of Light brought him back has been fulfilled. And this is where I think Beric Dondarrion will step in: In the books, he’s the one who brings Catelyn Stark back, by giving her the kiss of life. But since Lady Stoneheart was cut from the show, and Thoros died (with Sandor pointing out that Beric is now on his last life), the Lightning Lord’s purpose in the final season of the show seems clear to me.
Reviving Jon a second (and last) time could be considered by Beric as something just. Once the Army of the Dead has been defeated, he’ll be ready to rest, whereas Jon would still have most of his life ahead of him.
Only two things could prevent Jon’s second resurrection from happening, the way I see it. One is Jon’s own wishes, since he asked Melisandre to not bring him back again if he was killed during the Battle of the Bastards (though Melisandre did say she obeys her god, and not him). Beric is honorable enough to want to respect such a request, should Jon make it again, but same as with the Red Woman, I think he’d give preference to what his god wants.
The other is related to the dragons and magic. In the novels it is said that the birth of Dany’s dragons seems to have increased the magic/powers of the Red Priests, so their demise could weaken or make it disappear as a result. In a way, it would be similar to the end of The Lord of the Rings, with the start of the Fourth Age (the “Age of Men”) and the diminishing/disappearance of magic and mythical creatures (no more elves, the Ents awaiting their extinction, and no more istari/wizards like Gandalf, considering Radagast “lost the plot”. But as with many other things related with magic and religion, it’s all ambiguous at best and there are no clear rules set in stone.
If Jon does die, we can expect the Targaryen legacy to live on. This is an easy prediction to make, but the romantic moment they shared in the Season 7 finale will likely result in Daenerys getting pregnant. And, as the vengeful Mirri Maz Duur said, “Only death may pay for life”.
I don’t have a prediction regarding Cersei, because I think other characters will be involved in that part of the plot. She and Dany are only enemies because the former wants to keep the throne and the latter is coming for it, but aside from the consequences of war, there’s not a personal conflict between the two of them, as opposed to the case of the Night King, who slain and reanimated one of Dany’s children.
And after it all is said and done, what’ll happen to the whole “breaking the wheel” business? After the Army of the Dead and Cersei / The Golden Company are defeated, it’ll be the dawn of a new era. Most noble houses have been entirely wiped out, some others could disappear during the battles of Season 8 or shortly afterwards, depending on which characters survive and in what condition they’re in. Apart from House Targaryen and Stark (and possibly Tyrion as the sole representative of House Lannister, if Jaime doesn’t make it), it’s going to be a very different outlook from the one that existed during Robert’s reign, before everything started to go downhill.
The smallfolk would now really be “the many”, and the nobles “the few”.
I guess Dany could just reward her allies with lands, new noble houses could take the place of the extinct ones, and the status quo would remain intact. But even if she proves to be an amazing queen of the Seven Kingdoms, the system that has brought so much suffering and bloodshed to the inhabitants of Westeros (especially the common folk), would still be in place, and I doubt she’ll be content with leaving things the way they have always been.
Maybe the change won’t be sudden and immediate, but the seeds for democracy could be planted during Dany’s reign. Placing limits on the power of whoever sits the Iron Throne with the development of a parliament. After what happened with the Mad King, surely people will want to keep future descendants of House Targaryen in check.
Perhaps monarchy won’t go away entirely, unless eventually it happens by force: a king or queen is overthrown and a stable democracy is established instead. With time, there could be elections and soon the westerosi would be able to choose their own leaders. It’s not a perfect system, as our real life world can attest to, but it’s a better one than allowing a single person to hold absolute power.
Aegon the Conqueror changed the course of history when he landed on Westeros, and now Daenerys Stormborn and Aegon will do it once again. Fire cannot kill a dragon, and ice won’t be able to do it either.