The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is still a year away at least, but in the meantime we have plenty of material to theorize about the endgame for the surviving characters of the series.
Heroes, villains and innocent people have died in a plethora of different ways: poisoned, cut down, burned, stabbed, beheaded and even eaten by dogs, and that’s just off the top of my head! But the Lannister siblings are still around, ever since the very beginning of the series, and they have changed quite a lot since then.
Cersei finally holds the Iron Throne, but the cost has been high: all her children are dead and her father is gone as well. Tyrion stopped being an alcoholic hedonist and acquired a new of sense of purpose as the Hand of Daenerys Targaryen, but his journey has been long and painful, narrowly escaping death dozens of times and also turned into a slave for a time. And Jaime went from cocksure arrogance and a fearsome reputation as the Kingslayer, to a cripple who wallowed in self pity for a while, but is now trying to regain his sense of honor and truly earn his place in the White Book of the Kingsguard.
Despite being a book reader, I find myself in uncharted territory, because the show’s characters and their stories have effectively divorced the source material. George R.R. Martin has given David Benioff and Dan Weiss all the details and the roadmap, but the show, more than a simple adaptation, is its own thing now. In my opinion, that’s good, since instead of having a carbon copy of the novels, we have two similar stories that are unique and surprising in their own ways. When The Winds of Winter (and eventually, A Dream of Spring) sees release, there’s no doubt parts of it will make us remember the TV adaptation, but it won’t be entirely the same.
Based on knowledge from the books, and what we’ve seen in 67 episodes of the show, I’ll make an educated guess of what’s ahead for the last of the Lannisters in the remaining six episodes of Game of Thrones.
Last time we saw the Kingslayer he was riding to Winterfell in order to honor his pledge and aid the North in the looming Great War. Long behind are the days in which he could have been considered an “oathbreaker” (which was always unfair in a way, since the alternative was to let King’s Landing burn).
His evolution has been really fascinating. He started out as an antagonist of sorts, with an arrogant and hateful attitude, but losing his right hand and (most importantly) spending time with Brienne of Tarth made him reevaluate his life and change his character. His word may be still considered worthless by most people, but actions such as him sparing Olenna Tyrell from a painful and humiliating death and later abandoning his beloved Cersei after realizing she had no intentions whatsoever of helping Daenerys and Jon, show a real and palpable transformation.
So, what lies ahead for Jaime? We can assume he’ll reach Winterfell during the first episode or the second at the latest. The journey from King’s Landing is supposed to take months, but traveling distances and logistics have never been a main concern of the show (I’m not even talking about the dragons- remember Littlefinger?).
Once in there, I think he’s going to spill the beans regarding Cersei’s betrayal (it’s not like he has a lot of options to explain why he went on his own to Winterfell) and be straightforward about how he’s the only help they’ll get from the south. I can’t imagine many people will be too thrilled about such news, and maybe one or two northern lords will suggest holding him captive or executing him in order to get back at Cersei, but those options obviously won’t fly. The Cersei matter will have to be dealt with later, but at least she won’t take the Dany/Jon crew by surprise.
At some point, Jaime is going to have to meet with Bran. It seems like an obvious prediction to make, but how that conversation will go is anyone’s guess. Given the way he coldly dismissed Meera, I don’t expect the Three-Eyed Raven to care much about the reveal that Jaime is the one who pushed him out the window (if he doesn’t already know, that is), since he’s not just Bran anymore. And ironically enough, if it wasn’t for Jaime’s attempt to murder him, he probably wouldn’t have traveled beyond the Wall to become what he is now. So perhaps there won’t be forgiveness, but I don’t see a desire to take revenge either. No doubt Bran will keep the information to himself, since telling his siblings would cause unnecessary drama in the worst possible moment (but will he tell Jon about his true parentage?).
Jaime may lack his right hand, but he’s got battle experience and a Valyrian steel sword, and no doubt Widow’s Wail will be put to good use when the time to fight the White Walkers comes. And as a curious observation, considering Brienne is going to be at Winterfell as well, in a way Ice would be back home.
And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.
A Feast for Crows, Cersei VIII
One of the most popular ASOIAF theories is that Jaime is going to be the one who kills Cersei, since he’s likely the “Valonqar” (little brother) from Maggy the Frog’s prophecy. While that would be a way to allow Jaime’s story to go full circle (saving King’s Landing from a mad ruler once again), I don’t think that’s going to be the case here. He’s disappointed enough to leave her and go fight alongside her enemies, but surely he still loves her and is doing it out of a desire to protect Cersei and the baby. He knows there’s no future if the White Walkers win the war, and if Dany’s forces can’t stop them, there’s no way Cersei’s hired swords will be able to do it, even if they have elephants.
If he doesn’t die in the North (either fighting alongside Brienne or taking one for the team and sacrificing himself to save Bran or somebody else), then it should be interesting to see if he’s going to stick around with Dany et al., or if he’ll return to Cersei’s side (though I can’t imagine she’d be too happy after he rode north against her will).
If Cersei won’t have him back (or if he decides to stick with Jon and Dany), then that opens up a perfect opportunity to get back at Euron Greyjoy for all the taunting he subjected Jaime to. The past season pitted them as rivals for Cersei’s affections and trust, so the day of reckoning could come soon for the Greyjoy king.
Assuming that hypothetical fight doesn’t kill Jaime, and he makes it to the end of the war, would he be able to settle down? Fans who ship Tormund and Brienne may not agree, but after everything is said and done, I’d like to see him enjoying of a small measure of peace alongside the Maid of Tarth.
Whereas her book counterpart is steadily descending into madness and paranoia, the show’s version of Cersei is very much in control of her own fate –and that of King’s Landing.
Cersei’s on her own, but not alone. Her hand Qyburn and her protector Gregor remain loyal, and so does Euron Greyjoy. While her political enemies are busy fighting the Night King, she’ll be amassing her forces and preparing for an inevitable siege. Sooner or later the living or the dead will march on King’s Landing and she’ll be ready to receive them.
There are, of course, many variables. Should the living prevail, then Cersei will turn into a “final boss” of sorts, the last obstacle between Daenerys and the Iron Throne. On the other hand, if the Night King is the one who wins, then Dany and Jon may be forced to consider (once again) an uneasy alliance with Cersei in order to pull a last-ditch effort for everyone’s survival. Standing aside and allowing the undead to massacre and turn Cersei’s forces will only help the Night King.
This time, Cersei could be inclined to actually honor the pact. Her own survival (and that of her kingdom) is at stake, and the combined forces of Dany and Jon will be weakened enough (perhaps considerably) to be a major threat against her anymore. Besides, they both could still die during the battle, which is a plus.
The final battle won’t be won by the Night King, however. Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler, but an assumption. I don’t see this story taking the nihilistic path of having the undead winning the Great War. And even though Cersei keeping the throne afterwards and thwarting Dany’s efforts could be considered a bittersweet ending, I don’t think it’ll go down that way:
My prediction is that when the undead are defeated, Cersei will want to get rid of Daenerys, Jon and the rest. Because while they certainly won’t be as powerful a force as before, they’ll always represent a threat – they can recover and regroup one day to come back and lay siege to King’s Landing. Cersei is pragmatic and she’ll want to rip them all out, root and stem. Even more so if Maggy turns out to be wrong and she gives birth to a new heir.
The pregnancy aspect will be an interesting plot point to solve, because I don’t think the screenwriters will have a pregnant woman getting killed a second time, no matter if she’s effectively a villain. So Cersei will either suffer a miscarriage early in the final season (and so Maggy’s prophecy will remain true) or she’ll have the baby.
In any case, if she ends up cornered by her enemies, she won’t allow herself to be captured or killed. I think Cersei would consider suicide a better way out: using poison (like when she thought Stannis would win the Blackwater battle) or going out in a wildfire explosion (which could explain the ruined Red Keep that Dany saw in the House of the Undying, if it wasn’t the doing of the undead Viserion or one of Dany’s dragons). Jumping through a window, like her son Tommen did, is also a possibility.
If there’s anyone who could get close enough so as to murder her, that’d be either Jaime or Arya Stark. The “valonqar” part of the prophecy was left out of the show, probably to avoid spelling out the way Cersei will die. Since I don’t think Jaime will do it (he’s too obvious a candidate and therefore probably a red herring), Arya could be the one who takes the big fish to fry, using the face of Littlefinger (or Qyburn, if he falls to Arya’s hands in a moment Cersei’s not looking). Sandor would take care of Gregor, and therefore making the much-hyped Cleganebowl a reality.
For Arya, it’d be satisfactory to finally have revenge on one of the people responsible for many of the woes she and her family have suffered.
Tyrion’s currently between a rock and a hard place. He doesn’t want to fight his family, but Dany is fed up with his “clever plans”.
Jaime joining his cause (if only to fight against the Night King and his army) should make things a bit easier for him, but clearly hurting his pregnant sister isn’t among his main goals – so, not out of the woods just yet.
Tyrion has never been a warrior, and therefore has only fought with weapons when forced by the circumstances. His true weapon is his sharp mind and knack for strategy: he prevented Stannis from taking over King’s Landing and kept the peace in Meereen until Dany returned. He also cleared the path for the dragon queen to legally slay her enemies and take their ships after they violated the pact. Not too shabby indeed.
Despite being outmaneuvered by his siblings during the events of Season 7, in part due to his efforts to avoid a direct confrontation, he should prove an invaluable ally when planning the defense of Winterfell against the invading Army of the Dead.
It may be obvious, but Winterfell will either be saved or destroyed. I’m leaning towards the latter, because having the undead stopped in their tracks just as they start their invasion of Westeros would be rather anticlimactic. So the living will try to stand their ground, but the castle will ultimately fall – and the living will be forced to retreat to the south. I can see some of the Unsullied (and perhaps Grey Worm?) and northern soldiers staying behind to buy some time for their king and queen.
Depending in whether there’ll be an alliance with Cersei or not (if the undead make it past Winterfell), Tyrion’s knowledge of the capital and its weak spots will come in handy to plan either a defense or an attack. If Dany’s remaining two dragons are still alive by then, breaching the walls won’t be much of a problem – though I expect them to take a back seat. Tyrion doesn’t want to use their power against the city, and doing so would put them in danger of getting hit by scorpion bolts (unless they get some light armor for the dragons. It should be Smaug 101: make sure to cover the unprotected spots).
Speaking of dragons: the Night King destroyed the theory of Tyrion becoming a rider. The dragon has three heads alright, but one of them is undead now. While it’s kind of a shame our favorite Imp most likely won’t get to look down over the world, seated on a dragon’s back, maybe he’ll be able to catch a ride the same way the wight-hunting party did in the sixth episode of Season 7 (“Beyond the Wall”).
Call it plot armor if you will, but Tyrion may be one of the few characters who will survive the Great War. He won’t sit the Iron Throne, but I’m certain he’ll become the lord of Casterly Rock. Even if Jaime survives as well, he already forfeited his right to it, and the castle would be a fine reward for Tyrion’s loyalty and service as Hand of the Queen.
If Cersei gives birth to a child, and they become an orphan, probably Tyrion will be the one who adopts them. He was always fond of Tommen and Myrcella, and his days of whoring and drinking are far behind in the past. Besides, this way the survival of House Lannister is guaranteed, though Tyrion could eventually have children of his own.
It’s going to be a while before we can see how right or far off my predictions are, but for now it’s been a fun exercise. The sixth book is still in the oven, but meanwhile the show is providing us an exciting opportunity to come up with fresh theories and questions about the future of all the characters we love (or love to hate).
Before the arrival of Game of Thrones, we only had the books to discuss, and it was just a matter of time before the well of theories and predictions dried up (which is why some of the reveals like Jon’s resurrection or the return of the Hound didn’t surprise book readers all that much), but as we get closer to the series finale, all bets are off now.
With only six episodes left, the canvas isn’t too big, but there’s enough room for dozens of possibilities, particularly when it comes to the major players. I’m hoping for some curveballs from the secondary characters, and most of all, a memorable sendoff to Westeros and one of the most impressive television series ever made.