The White Walkers: Whys, Whats, and Other Thoughts on the Endgame

Wall - Eastwatch Breach 7x07 (30)

Where once stood the Night’s Watch fortification of Eastwatch-By-The-Sea, there now remains a huge, gaping hole in the ancient Wall that separates the North (the kingdom) from the North (the direction.) The closing moments of the seventh season of Game of Thrones featured an army of the dead pouring through that gap, a vast undead horde of wights led by the supernatural White Walkers and their dragon-mounted commander, the Night King.

The White Walkers had existed as an existential threat to the Seven Kingdoms throughout the series, ever since a Night’s Watch ranging party were ambushed in the first fifteen minutes of the premiere episode. Although the television show appeared to be a grounded nearly-historical medieval political drama, the occasional reminders of a growing threat north of the Wall served to remind viewers that, although the show was called Game of Thrones, the book series is more properly A Song of Ice and Fire. The White Walkers, like that one party guest with no imagination, would be bringing the ice.

Daenerys Targaryen, of course, brought along fire in the form of her dragons, and we understood her motivations from the gaming and throning context as well. She wanted the Iron Throne because it once belonged to her family. Her father had been deposed, her family had been killed during the usurpation, and she and her brother Viserys had lived for years in desperate exile as a result. Daenerys intended to put House Targaryen back on top, and maybe enact some social change, since she’d have the power and security to do so.

Some of Dany’s motivations seem a bit contradictory: she wants to break “the wheel” but she’s also trying to be the one on top of it. Maybe? It makes for good drama though, to have protagonists with complicated drives.

White Walkers the Wall Season Finale

We have something a bit different with the White Walkers. We can only guess at their motivations, and I feel people are always trying to add some kind of complexity to them. The surface impressions seem rather straightforward.

Night King: Yeah, we mostly don’t like living people.
Me: Really?
Night King: Yup. We like to kill people, then either one of my lieutenants or I will raise the dead up into being a wight, and they work for us.
Me: Any exceptions?
Night King: Well, we had an arrangement with the wildling Craster. He donated his sons to the cause. He was a godly man.
Me: This brings up so many questions. Was Craster the only one doing this? Why only sons? Has this been going on for thousands of years?
Night King: Hmmm. That would be telling.
Me: So, no comment?
Night King: No comment. You’ve seen the show, I’m a monster of few (like, zero) words.

Through the course of the series, we’ve seen this hatred of living, breathing humanity playing out. Wildlings ambushed, butchered, and raised. Black Brothers a-ranging north ambushed, butchered, and raised. The threat was so bad, the entire wildling population of beyond-the-Wall set aside their differences to band together for protection. Mance Rayder turned a loose collection of warring, feuding families (with cannibals and moon worshippers, etc.) and turned them into one focused refugee army heading south.

Hardhomecinematography

This group of wildlings was apparently too large to effectively be confronted in force. The White Walkers were seemingly comfortable dealing with small groups, or even the hundreds of Night’s Watchmen at the Fist of the First Men, but it wasn’t until Mance’s forces were scattered by Stannis Baratheon’s troops did the White Walkers make their move against the Free Folk in earnest, attacking what remained of Mance’s refugee forces at Hardhome.

After Hardhome, it seemed like a reasonable assumption that any wildling north of the Wall was either a wight or soon-to-be one. And now that the White Walkers are no longer trapped north of the Wall, they can continue their activities in the southern lands.

Jon Snow: Technically, my kingdom isn’t “southern lands” – we do have “the North” in the official kingdom name.
Me: Don’t get too comfortable with names, Aegon.
Jon Snow: What?
Me: I said, “don’t get too comfortable with names, eh Jon?”
Jon Snow: I don’t get it.
Daenerys: Oh, he can get it.

To get back on track… now the White Walkers are free to continue their ruthless policies against the living in the lands that they were previously locked out of. But just why are they doing this? Is the Night King interested in the Iron Throne? Or do they just not like living people?

Night King: What part of “we don’t like living people” needs further explanation?

There probably isn’t some deeper purpose than that.

Leaf-Creates-Night-King-700

According to our interpretation from Bran’s visions in Season Six, and his discussion with child-of-the-forest Leaf, the Night King was created as a weapon to be used against humanity. We don’t know if the Children made the Night King’s first lieutenants similarly, or if he figured out that trick himself, but we can gather that this weapon became a threat not only to the First Men in Westeros, but also to the Children of the Forest, who later made a mutual-defense pact with humanity and helped build the Wall.

If the Night King and his kind were created to be weapons against humanity, then the motivation of fulfilling their purpose seems sufficient to explain their behavior. They couldn’t kill the people of the Seven Kingdoms before, but now they can.

But is this satisfactory, from a story perspective? Over the years (because we’ve had years and years thanks to the extended times between book releases) much has been made of the author George R.R. Martin subverting the tropes of conventional fantasy. That the big damn hero might die unexpectedly. That a rescue might not be forthcoming. That we’d be rooting for villains we started off hating.

The idea that the final phase of Game of Thrones will boil down to good guys versus bad guys, with the bad guys being the White Walkers since they’re simply evil – or at least inherently inimical – it just seems not really a subverting of any trope. Couldn’t there be more complexity to the White Walkers? Wouldn’t it be a twist if the White Walkers were the good guys?

Actually, that seems rather dumb.

Regardless the hypothetical justifications that the White Walkers might possibly suggest at some point, murdering people and desecrating their corpses by raising them up as killing machines is probably never going to be considered a positive factor if we’re labeling one side of a conflict as the “good guys.”

707 - King's Landing Dragonpit - Cersei, Jaime 1

And I’m not so sure that it’s narratively a problem either if the White Walkers are exactly as advertised: a dangerous force that is almost entirely motivated by an urge to wipe out the living. It’s a situation that I have enjoyed reading about before.

Back in 1963, Fred Saberhagen published his first short stories featuring the Berserkers, a robotic race built as a doomsday weapon. The berserkers eliminated the race that their creators were warring with, and along the lines of inevitable dramatic irony, eliminated their creators as well. We don’t necessarily know exactly why they treated their creators in this fashion, but that is why berserkers are called doomsday weapons.

These self-replicating somewhat-sentient murderous automatons had very simply directives.

Berserker: We hate life. Life is the enemy.
Me: Any exceptions?
Berseker: Well, to be fair, we sometimes allow a living being to become “goodlife” – we can make an expection for goodlife.
Me: Oh, this is interesting! And what constitutes being goodlife?
Berserker: Being willing to help the berserkers kill off all the other “badlife” – those living creatures that don’t agree with our anti-life agenda.
Craster: Sign me up! I be a goodlifey man!

Although the berserkers did not possess complicated or mysterious motivations, that’s not to say that Saberhagen’s stories were simple and unengaging. One might say that the two sides in a conflict described short stories, novellas, and full novels were merely good guys versus bad guys – Humanity versus Berserkers, but that wasn’t the case. Humanity was a mess. There were factions, people with contradictory ideas on how to proceed in the war against the berserkers, people trying to gain some advantage over others thanks to the chaos and confusion of interstellar war with relentless robots. It wasn’t a simple situation.

The berserkers themselves, although a monolitic race of impersonal machines, developed their own odd quirks in reaction to losses when facing determined humans. They’d make mistakes, underestimating human behavior. They began to fear certain individuals, which led to interesting consequences. These touches turned the berserker stories from being good science fiction to great science fiction.

That situation seems entirely analogous to the White Walkers now coming south into the Seven Kingdoms. They are a unified force, with a clear agenda. Their opposition, everyone living south of the Wall, can hardly make that claim.

The people in power in the south have all kinds of issues, politically and personally. There are at least three factions, the Stark-held North, the Targaryens, and the Lannisters. We’re seeing a nascent Stark-Targaryen alliance in play, but anti-Targaryen sentiment in the Starks’s coalitions are bound to flare up when Jon Snow’s true parentage becomes known. Cersei Lannister is planning her double cross on, well, the rest of humanity, but she’s just lost her right hand man (with no right hand) and her reliance on Euron Greyjoy might be short sighted.

(Did Cersei actually give Euron a ton of gold and sent him off to buy an army? Had she considered that the army he buys might not consider her the employer in this contractual arrangement?)

So there’s plenty of dramatic tension to explore among the living. It’s kind of unfair to insist on the dead to be having issues as well.

Season Eight will definitely not be everyone suddenly setting aside their differences and teaming up against a common enemy in a battle of the unified living versus the unified dead. For one, that would be kind of too simple for Game of Thrones.

And secondly, it would break the rule of people refusing to follow Ned Stark’s sage advice, when going against it leads to eventual disaster.

  • Cersei probably should have taken the opportunity Ned offered her, to take the kids and some bags of gold and get out of King’s Landing when the getting was good. Maybe her kids wouldn’t be dead.

Cersei: Please. I can make more kids. Jaime and I are the most fertile couple in Westeros.
Dany: There’s no need to go bragging about it.

  • Renly probably should have followed Ned’s lead and supported his brother Stannis (and Ned as well.) Being Prince Renly Baratheon is better than being a corpse.

Renly: But Loras really wanted me to be king!
Loras: Just call me the Kinglayer.
Margaery: Groan.

Wait. Was I implying Ned was running around warning people to unite against the White Walkers?

will-the-deserter

Will the Deserter: If so, he needs to give me credit and apologize for beheading me!
Gilly: That’s almost as bad as Sam stealing my thunder for discovering Prince Ragger’s annulment – whatever that was.

I’m just saying that Ned had a very appropriate saying that can apply to the current situation.

When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. Summer is the time for squabbles. In winter, we must protect one another, keep each other warm, share our strengths.

Winter has come, and the measure of the men and women still alive will be taken by how quickly they can set aside their need for squabbling, and to share their strengths.

I’ve heard it theorized that the White Walker threat might be dealt with very early in Season Eight, as another subversion of the trope. “Oh, you thought the White Walkers were a big deal? Surprise” – and then we’d have episodes and episodes of people trying to decide who gets the uncomfortable chair.

I really don’t think so. Even with people putting aside their differences and squabbles to unite by choice or by necessity against Winter itself, there’s room for drama, jockeying for position, and being readying to rule the living once the dead are truly dead.

After all, the White Walkers have been waiting a long time to get in on this Game of Thrones action. It would be a shame just to hand wave them away too quickly. The people down south deserve some time to react to them, to see who is in it for everyone, and who is only in it for themselves.

Night King: Hey man, we’re just trying to get away from the snarks and grumkins. We’re bad guys, we hate life, man – hate it, but these guys are the worst.
Snark: CAN I INTEREST YOU IN MY ‘BRAN STARK IS THE NIGHT KING’ THEORY?
Night King: NO!
Grumkin: I CAN’T ACCEPT THAT THE WALL WAS BROUGHT DOWN WITHOUT USING THE HORN OF JORAMUN! SHAME! SHAME!
Night King: Look I can’t take much more of that. The sooner Arya Stark cuts my head off with that Valyrian steel dagger, the better.
Me: Fine. But not until Episode Six, the finale.
Night King: Fine. It’s a deal.

82 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. Well, if the White Walkers’ actual motivations is not one of the remaining big “twists,” then this whole series will pretty much amount to nothing!

      Seriously, we really should learn why they are back and what their agenda now is. J. M. Straczynski promised us a twist on the true natures of the Shadows and Vorlons, and he almost pulled it off; let’s hope that M,B&W succeed where JMS did not quite.

      (Of course, the #1 fan objection to what JMS did was “but why wasn’t it about ‘good’ and ‘evil’?”, so perhaps my hope is not everyone else’s!)

        Quote  Reply

    2. Bran has warged the Nights King in the past and told it to kill Cersei, in the same way he effected Hodor. The Army of the Dead isn’t coming for humanity, it’s coming for one person, everyone else is collateral in the final battle of the War of the Five Kings.

        Quote  Reply

    3. Osentalka: The Army of the Dead isn’t coming for humanity, it’s coming for one person

      For a group that is only after one person, the WW sure seem to go out of their way to kill a lot of people they dont need to kill

        Quote  Reply

    4. Why didn’t the White Walkers kill Sam at the end of season 2? He’s the only person I can think of that the WW spared.

      Perhaps to have a witness to tell others, but they already had a witness in the pilot episode, so I know nothing.

        Quote  Reply

    5. mau:
      I really don’t expect that we will learn anything major about the WW next season.

      I think it needs to be explained why the WW came back after all this time. WHy not earlier? Why not later? Why now?

        Quote  Reply

    6. Mr Derp: I think it needs to be explained why the WW came back after all this time. WHy not earlier? Why not later? Why now?

      Yeah, that really has to be explained. Without it, then what might cause Jon & Daenerys to have any second thoughts about destroying the White Walkers? I suppose that something else could come up: but the only interesting thing we’ve learned about the Walkers on this score concerns their origins. The key really should be linked to that somehow & someway.

        Quote  Reply

    7. ellchicago: The White Walkers will be dealt with before Cersei.

      Yes, I’ve resigned myself to this. Although it will be a huge let-down for me, I’ve known for a while that this is where the show is heading. The temporary damage that one crazy queen can do will take precedence in the show over the permanent damage that the white walkers can do in bringing winter over all the lands. And the show will end on a relatively “normal” plot point (a human ruler deposed). I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

        Quote  Reply

    8. Isnt the whole point of the series that ruling is difficult. That even in the face of clear danger (the WW), man is still selfish and will squabble about their differences, rather than come together? You dont need to make the WW complex. What is complex is the reaction to them by the entire realm. The reason why they are back, i would wager, has to do w. the overall return of magic (dragons). A bit of backstory would be interesting, but its not needed at this point. (At least not for me).

        Quote  Reply

    9. “Wouldn’t it be a twist if the White Walkers were the good guys?

      Actually, that seems rather dumb.”

      I don’t think the white walkers are the good guys. However, I would like the show to address how so many people in that world believe in some type of religion, and yet it’s the white walkers that are shown to deliver what most people want from a deity: life after death. I don’t think the show would ever address that (not enough episodes left), but I would have liked to have seen it.

        Quote  Reply

    10. MoaKaka: it’s the white walkers that are shown to deliver what most people want from a deity: life after death.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the Lord of Light brings life after death as well. At least, for some.

        Quote  Reply

    11. mau,

      I’ve convinced myself that the two plots would converge at Winterfell — the white walkers targeting Bran, and Cersie’s army targeting the Starks (the show mentioned so many times how the south has never attacked as far north as Winterfell, so of course that’s what the show is leading up to?). If the humans win, then the show would shift to deposing Cersei in King’s Landing. If the humans lose or have to fall back to King’s Landing, I still think they will address the white walkers first. Realistically, they should never have trusted Cersie and should have assassinated her already, but since the show didn’t want John and Dany (or Jaime) to do that, I doubt the show would have them kill Cersei before the Knight’s King is dealt with (otherwise, why didn’t they kill her already)?

      I hope I’m wrong, though.

        Quote  Reply

    12. Mr Derp,

      Yes, that’s true about the Lord of Light (at least for certain individuals). So maybe that’s a war in itself, between the two forces that can provide life after death?. But again, I think the show dropped the ball somewhat in addressing the religious implications.

        Quote  Reply

    13. I think it’s quite obvious that the WW are the Sauron of the story and Cersei is basically Saruman. The good guys will deal with her in GRRM’s version of the scouring of the Shire. Cersei is the best and most complex villain the show has left, and it would be a great loss to get rid of her and only have the NK left as a villain. The NK is basically the tv equivalent of a Marvel movie villain.

        Quote  Reply

    14. Flayed Potatoes:
      I think it’s quite obvious that the WW are the Sauron of the story and Cersei is basically Saruman. The good guys will deal with her in GRRM’s version of the scouring of the Shire.

      Qyburn = Grima Wormtongue?

        Quote  Reply

    15. mau:
      Flayed Potatoes,

      Bran is Frodo. Jon is Aragorn.

      Basically, yes. Jon pretty much has Aragorn’s background too.

      The only main difference is that Jon has the Sam of the story by his side. But Bran’s Sam could easily be Hodor and Jojen and Meera could be his Pippin and Merry.

        Quote  Reply

    16. mau:
      MoaKaka,

      I think you are wrong. I think both plots will culminate in KL at the end of S8. Cersei will die before the NK.

      How do you see that playing out? I was on White Walker plot resolved by E4 then dealing with Cersei as the equivalent of the scouring of the Shire but curious to hear your thoughts.

        Quote  Reply

    17. I want answers regarding the WWs.

      Also, I want to see Daeny just chill, you know? Just sit down to a nice meal with the Starks at Winterfell and have a lovely evening.

      BBQ and chill.

        Quote  Reply

    18. Mr Derp:
      But who’s the GoT equivalent of Arwen?Is it Dany or Sansa?

      Im going with:
      Arwen = Dany
      Eowyn = Sansa?

      Sansa and Dany would likely have their own ending not alike in any way to those characters.

      I’ll like to see Sansa and Dany be like Ned and Robert. Though not with the same ending 20 years down the line lol. :p

        Quote  Reply

    19. Bearded Onion: Sansa and Dany would likely have their own ending not alike in any way to those characters.

      It was just a joke regarding the LOTR and GoT characters….I’m sure they will have diferent endings too…

      Bearded Onion: I’ll like to see Sansa and Dany be like Ned and Robert. Though not with the same ending 20 years down the line lol. :p

      Or secret bastard children 🙂

        Quote  Reply

    20. Mr Derp:
      Why didn’t the White Walkers kill Sam at the end of season 2?He’s the only person I can think of that the WW spared.

      Perhaps to have a witness to tell others, but they already had a witness in the pilot episode, so I know nothing.

      The same reason they didn’t kill that nights watch man in the very first scene of season one is my guess, what that reason is though, is anyone’s guess at this point

      EDIT sorry my bad I just realised you already stated this lol

        Quote  Reply

    21. If the White Walkers aren’t going to be defeated before Cersei then what are they going to do with the dragons, Valyrian steel, Three-Eyed Raven, Dothraki, Unsullied and so on in The North?

      Once upon a time I could’ve pictured a war of attrition on the show. But then the producers decided that they only had 13 hours of story left that they wanted to tell, the Night King got his hands on a dragon, the wights became vulnerable to dragonglass and they inserted a shortcut via which the wights will disintegrate once the White Walkers and/or Night King are killed.

      So I can’t envisage the great war lasting long at all.

      I can’t imagine how the Night King’s army could get south without having wiped out everybody in their path along the way.

      And since all our heroes are now directly in their path I think they’re going to cut to the chase relatively sharpish.

        Quote  Reply

    22. “Did Cersei actually give Euron a ton of gold and sent him off to buy an army? Had she considered that the army he buys might not consider her the employer in this contractual arrangement?”

      I thought she came to a deal with the Iron Bank to bankroll her ventures, which would only require Euron to be carrying a royal letter or such?

      Abandoning humanity to its fate proves Cersi is as ruthless as her psychopath father (i.e. he turned the Mountain and co. loose on the ‘smallfolk’). And having a psychopath as a monarch may be a deliberate choice as she will sacrifice anything to destroy her enemies, things Dany and Jon may hesitate to do… like blow up KL to destroy the WW….just my tin foil theory.

        Quote  Reply

    23. I think Cercei will die at the end of episode 5. Once she’s dead, her army will become Jaime’s army who will fight for Jon in the big battle. They need to win somehow.

      Or maybe it will happen simultaneously.

      The only reason cercei would die last if her army already left her before, and once the night king is defeated. She sits alone on the iron throne and she won’t leave. But my prediction is that the finale will be 2+hours and the night king will be defeated around 50/80 minutes in. The rest will be about the aftermath, the life after the war. At least I hope they give it the lotr treatment and really give it a full closure on every character. And not a Harry Potter kinda ending where the enemy is defeated and 5 minutes later the story ends.

        Quote  Reply

    24. Violator:
      Cersei needs to see her plans backfire on her – she needs to be her own undoing.

      I think this will happen. We’ve already seen this partially come to fruition when her attempt to subvert prophecy led directly to the death of her last child. Ironically, these actions also lead to her peak accumulation of power!
      Now, the younger more beautiful Queen needs to cast her down. Which may have already happened? Leaving the valonquar prophecy yet to occur.

        Quote  Reply

    25. GRRM has too much respect for Tolkien to just completely bite his plot with the “scouring”.

      NK will be defeated at Winterfell, thus giving “Winterfell” it’s name – which Bran names in one of his time travels.

      Jon is obviously going to die- either saving everyone, or BECOMING the Night King to lead the dead away.

      Dany will rule as Queen – they’ve had too many “good guys” advise her and come to her side for her to die or turn evil.

      Sansa will rule the North.

      Arya will probably kill Cersei, and then disappear into obscurity.

        Quote  Reply

    26. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man:
      If the White Walkers aren’t going to be defeated before Cersei then what are they going to do with the dragons, Valyrian steel, Three-Eyed Raven, Dothraki, Unsullied and so on in The North?

      Once upon a time I could’ve pictured a war of attrition on the show. But then the producers decided that they only had 13 hours of story left that they wanted to tell, the Night King got his hands on a dragon, the wights became vulnerable to dragonglass and they inserted a shortcut via which the wights will disintegrate once the White Walkers and/or Night King are killed.

      So I can’t envisage the great war lasting long at all.

      I can’t imagine how the Night King’s army could get south without having wiped out everybody in their path along the way.

      And since all our heroes are now directly in their path I think they’re going to cut to the chase relatively sharpish.

      The Night King could split up his army i suppose and send one unit south.

      Hell, he could send a team of two white walkers South and they could start raising up all the dead down down south.

      Could be a way to expand the war and bring the threat to the South at the same time its in the North and force Cersei into the conflict.

      If the Night King is smart he would want to increase his army as quickly as possible and minimize single points of failure by getting each white walker its own army of 100k that they raise.

        Quote  Reply

    27. Who are the north God’s, the last weirwood tree, and the significance of the crypts of winterfell. Everyone else knows to burn the dead from dothraki to the Tully’s but not the Stark’s why so?

        Quote  Reply

    28. I often wonder if GRRM has actually decided how the story will end? I’ve heard him say he would like a ‘bittersweet’ ending, I presume getting that idea from LOTR (which I’ve never read), but has he since said it WILL have a bittersweet ending?

      What ever happens, the ASOIAF novels and GoT I would think need to arrive to the same conclusion… That is of course if he ever manages to write ADoS! Seems like he still bogged down in the mire finishing off the WoW!

        Quote  Reply

    29. I recently watched a video that presents an absurdly obvious, super-sensible and perfectly brilliant answer to the burning question:

      “Why are the WWs returning now after thousands of years?”

      Because of Craster. Until his steady supply of boy babies, they had no way to reproduce. Now the NK has lots of generals.

      The theory assumes that they have Stark blood. Craster’s father was a NW ranger who rejected his wilding mother, so this part may be true too.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dfb9CedeYUc
      ____

      Craster claimed that he had given 99 sons to “the gods.” In case the number 100 is special to them, they may want Gilly’s baby even though four of them have been killed so far. ‘Lil Sam may turn out to be a very important kid.

        Quote  Reply

    30. Thanks for this piece Patrick! 🙂

      I believe that the last and most important battle should be against the NK and his army. It’s been the only real universal threat that was introduced to us from the 1st episode; it has been slowly escalating until 7 season and I’d hate to see that arc over before Cercei and the like human arcs are over. It would be very dissapointing to see NK’s arc diminished when it should be the peak of the show!
      The Battle for the Dawn should be the peak of everything, the moment where all other arcs meet and find their purpose. I’ve been hyping for that moment from the start of the show!
      So, my timeline: I would like to see some more gaming for the Throne and preparations for the Battle for Dawn until ep 4;
      then to see this big epic battle for the Dawn against the NK on the 5th episode; and on the last episode the aftermath of everything.

      That said, the writers may choose to emphasize the human factor and use a battle for the IT as a peak. I wouldn’t like that, I would find it extremely dissapointing for the entire story, but it still is a plausible option for them.

      As to the NK and his motives well, he doesn’t really have to have a motive: forces of nature don’t have a motive, and its not personal when they appear.
      Nonetheless, the WW and NK had appeared in the past (Long Night), and I feel that D&D must explore what had happened back then, and how the humans with the aid of the Children managed to win that war. I think that all the info we need to know to ‘understand’ the NK lies within the way he was defeited (?)in the past.
      The very fact that they build the Wall and started the Night’s Watch after the Battle for the Dawn, while they supposedly had defeited NK’s army back then, shows that they knew they weren’t done with the WW and that they would return someday. So the players back then knew something about the nature of NK that we ignore.
      To me it is this part that needs to be answered in the show. I wish they take the time to explore that, it would really be a sight to see and all the more so essential – at least to my view – to the story itself.

      To the matter if Mr Martin knows the end and has told D&D I guess that would be the first thing they’d need to know when they had that talk to start the show. D&D have mentioned that they knew where they were going from the very start, so I believe they knew the ending, as Mr Martin gave it to them.

        Quote  Reply

    31. King Hotpie:
      Who are the north God’s, the last weirwood tree, and the significance of the crypts of winterfell.Everyone else knows to burn the dead from dothraki to the Tully’s but not the Stark’s why so?

      Not everyone burns their dead, not even in the North. Barrowton is so named because of the ancient burial mounds. Catelyn Stark wanted to bury the men who died on the way to the Eyrie, so they wouldn’t be preyed upon by animals. There’s a gravedigger on the quiet isle.

      The Dothraki don’t like breaking up the earth, that’s the reason given for them not developing agriculture. So the crypts at Winterfell probably have no more significance than crypts anywhere else.

        Quote  Reply

    32. SiriuslyStark:
      Thanks for this piece Patrick! 🙂

      Thank you very much! I agree with what you’re saying, I’m interested also in what happened at the conclusion of the Long Night that predated the Wall, and if there’s any likelihood of the White Walkers returning in another 8000 years, and how the people of Westeros will commit to defending against that, the way the ancient peoples did.

        Quote  Reply

    33. Northstar:
      “Did Cersei actually give Euron a ton of gold and sent him off to buy an army? Had she considered that the army he buys might not consider her the employer in this contractual arrangement?”

      I thought she came to a deal with the Iron Bank to bankroll her ventures, which would only require Euron to be carrying a royal letter or such?

      Abandoning humanity to its fate proves Cersi is as ruthless as her psychopath father (i.e. he turned the Mountain and co. loose on the ‘smallfolk’).And having a psychopath as a monarch may be a deliberate choice as she will sacrifice anything to destroy her enemies, things Dany and Jon may hesitate to do… like blow up KL to destroy the WW….just my tin foil theory.

      I appreciate what you’re saying about the royal letter, but we’ve yet to see anything like that on the show. Davos flashed solid coin when hiring Saladhor Saan with Iron Bank finances, and it’s the Golden Company, not the Financial Instrument Company.

      But you could be right, and I don’t mean to joke. It just seems like Euron is no one’s patsy, and this would be his best opportunity to seize power for himself.

        Quote  Reply

    34. Mr Derp: For a group that is only after one person, the WW sure seem to go out of their way to kill a lot of people they dont need to kill

      Completely agree.

        Quote  Reply

    35. Flayed Potatoes:
      I think it’s quite obvious that the WW are the Sauron of the story and Cersei is basically Saruman. The good guys will deal with her in GRRM’s version of the scouring of the Shire. Cersei is the best and most complex villain the show has left, and it would be a great loss to get rid of her and only have the NK left as a villain. The NK is basically the tv equivalent of a Marvel movie villain.

      Yeah, I’m surprised by the people who keep wanting Cersei to be bumped off early.

        Quote  Reply

    36. Mr Derp: I think it needs to be explained why the WW came back after all this time.WHy not earlier?Why not later?Why now?

      I don’t think that will be explicitly answered. Maybe they were waiting for the Comet, or Craster’s 100th son, or the approach of a very long winter, after the very long summer thawed them from their sleep.

        Quote  Reply

    37. Firstly, The end game is not the NK its Cirsei!

      I am still backing the theory that all the NK wants is his ‘little Sam” back. Samwell basically kidnapped him to stop him joining his fellow WW brothers. Those guys are Crasters sons…

      Dany is also theoretically Sansa, Arya & Bran’s aunt…

      Talk about screwed up family ties.

        Quote  Reply

    38. Patrick Sponaugle:
      It just seems like Euron is no one’s patsy, and this would be his best opportunity to seize power for himself.

      I wouldn’t trust Euron as far as I could throw him. He has seen the threat that the Army of the Dead represents. And Cersei just handed him an army of sellswords. I don’t expect that Euron will return to fight for her. (Perhaps he shows up in the North with the Golden Company declaring allegiance to Dany.)

      Regardless, Cersei will find herself without allies once the NK is defeated and all eyes – and armies – are focused on the Iron Throne.

        Quote  Reply

    39. House Monty,

      There are various ways in which I guess the Night King could expand the war south. But one of the main reasons I don’t think we’ll see an expansive, continent-wide war is because of the budget and filming restraints.

      I don’t think they’d want to traipse all over Europe filming various engagements with the Army of the Dead at different locations and spreading their CGI budget thinner.

      One climactic battle sequence in The North is probably a much more practical way of concluding the White Walker plot.

      Perhaps they could show us some wights attacking familiar locations, like Riverrun or the Bloody Gate, in order to show how the war has expanded beyond The North. Or they could leave the rest of the battles off-screen entirely, like the Men of Dale and the dwarves in Lord of The Rings, and just mention it in passing once the war is won.

      Unless they pull a massive switcheroo and the Night King somehow manages to bypass the major gathering of heroes and armies in The North entirely and take out King’s Landing first, then I think we can expect the White Walker plot to be concluded first and then Cersei’s Mad Queen moment when she’s holed up in King’s Landing, facing losing everything once and for all.

        Quote  Reply

    40. Patrick Sponaugle: I don’t think that will be explicitly answered. Maybe they were waiting for the Comet, or Craster’s 100th son, or the approach of a very long winter, after the very long summer thawed them from their sleep.

      I don’t think it’s any of these options, mainly because unless I am mistaken, the white walkers have been around at least 20 years prior to the start of the events in AGOT. This is based on the fact that Mance had spent 20 years uniting all the different tribes of Wildlings, the fear of the coming white walker threat being the uniting factor.

        Quote  Reply

    41. Patrick Sponaugle:
      It just seems like Euron is no one’s patsy, and this would be his best opportunity to seize power for himself.

      I wouldn’t trust Euron as far as I could throw him. He has seen the threat that the Army of the Dead represents. And Cersei just handed him an army of sellswords. I don’t expect that Euron will return to fight for her.

      Regardless, Cersei will find herself without allies once the NK is defeated and all eyes – and armies – are focused on the Iron Throne.

        Quote  Reply

    42. Here’s my “Season 8 in Six Acts”:
      E1:
      We start from a scene of Dany and Jon riding dragons (the implication here being that she taught him how to ride Rhaegal off-screen). Next scene, Tormund and Beric get out of the rubble of the Wall. Beric dies, Tormund takes off running to Winterfell.
      Dany and Jon arrive at Winterfell. Now, everyone there is pretty sour on Dany, and Jon thinks this is because of the Tarly burning (in the case of Sam)/the bending of the knee (in the case of everyone else)… until Sansa takes him to the side, and she and Bran and everyone explains that they are totes OK with Dany as a ruler, much less with her being Jon’s girlfriend, given that she’s his aunt.
      That revelation is interrupted by the arrival of Tormund and Edd and the news about undead Viserion and the breaching of the Wall. End of episode.

      E2:
      People gather at Winterfell to defend it. Jaime arrives there as well. The first half of the episode is talky, with Dany and Jon discussing the incest and inheritance thingies. (My guess is, they decide to postpone at least the discussion of the inheritance until after the war.) Tyrion reconnects with Sansa, Arya with Gendry, the Hound with both of the Stark girls. Jaime with Brienne and Bran.
      The second part of the episode is the defence of Winterfell. In the end, it falls.

      E3:
      Refugees from the North stream down the Neck. This affords the opportunity to introduce Howland Reed and reintroduce Meera, if need be. However, the main point of the episode is that Cersei uses the ancient North-South antagonisms to stoke up the winds of xenophobia. And she also holds Moat Cailin, which means that the Northern refugees can’t cross the Neck in large numbers. The episode ends when Dany, desperate for relief for the refugees, orders her armies to attack Cersei’s and melts down Moat Cailin with dragonfire.
      In Winterfell, the Night King has made it his new capital and command point. Somewhere along the way, Bran reveals that the NK used to be a Stark. (It’s irony, see? ‘There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.’)

      E4:
      The retreating Northerners have made their new command centre somewhere in the Riverlands. Maybe in Harrenhall? Either way, they are pressed from the South by Cersei’s Golden Company and aware that at some point, the (slow-marching, but still) army of the dead WILL reach them from the North.
      But at this point, things are standing still. This means that Bran sends Jon and Dany on a trip to the Furthest North, to the Lands of Always Winter. To search for some magical thingamaguffin. On their way there and back, they admire the new Seat of the True King of Winter and the new desolation of the North.

      E5:
      Melisandre brings the Red Priests from Essos. She meets Arya.
      Things happen, until the Last Battle happens. Relatedly, Jaime takes the Hound and steals away at night to return to King’s Landing. A lot of people think he’s a coward, but in reality, he goes there in an attempt to relieve the pressure on Dany’s armies.

      E6:
      Jaime kills Cersei. The Hound and the Mountain do the Bowl. Jon and Dany do their heroic thing. The majority of the episode is devoted to setting up the post-war political system of Westeros. *This* is the Westeros equivalent of the Scouring of the Shire.

      I still haven’t placed Theon’s subquest within the framework, but he probably reconnects with everyone else in the Riverlands, just like Mel.

      So, how do you guys like it?

        Quote  Reply

    43. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      Interesting. Could very well be budget concerns.

      One of the reasons i have been thinking the battle would be in the north is that for the living to win they have to win relatively quickly.

      Right now the Night King has 100k soldiers. There is some size that his army coupd get to where it just becomes impossible. Maybe 1M. Maybe 2 M but at a certain point the numbers become too overwhelming to defeat even if you just have to take out the NK since how do you even get to him if his personal body guards are 100k dead men.

      If he gets south his army should easily grow to be unmanageable which is why for the living to win they have to take out the dragon and the NK as quick as they can.

        Quote  Reply

    44. Maybe the White Walkers are the Westerosi equivalent of a group of white nationalists preparing to march on the capital to protest?

      Yea, I know. Not my best work, but it’s all I got right now.

      Derp!

        Quote  Reply

    45. Mr Derp: I think it needs to be explained why the WW came back after all this time.WHy not earlier?Why not later?Why now?

      And how do they multiply? They don’t seem to be a lot of them, still Jon (and Sam) kills a few but yet their numbers seem unchanged.
      And if they are Craster’s sons, are there WW babies? And kids? Where are they now? How long does it take them to grow up? Who changes their nappies? Is there a WhiteWalker Town?

      So many questions and I am afraid that it will turn out that the WW were a shitty plot to begin with. I can live with that, the WW are not my primary reason for watching the show, but still.

        Quote  Reply

    46. Flayed Potatoes:
      I think it’s quite obvious that the WW are the Sauron of the story and Cersei is basically Saruman. The good guys will deal with her in GRRM’s version of the scouring of the Shire. Cersei is the best and most complex villain the show has left, and it would be a great loss to get rid of her and only have the NK left as a villain. The NK is basically the tv equivalent of a Marvel movie villain.

      Loki excepted.

        Quote  Reply

    47. Sou: And how do they multiply? They don’t seem to be a lot of them, still Jon (and Sam) kills a few but yet their numbers seem unchanged.
      And if they are Craster’s sons, are there WW babies? And kids? Where are they now? How long does it take them to grow up? Who changes their nappies? Is there a WhiteWalker Town?

      So many questions and I am afraid that it will turn out that the WW were a shitty plot to begin with. I can live with that, the WW are not my primary reason for watching the show, but still.

      We’ve seen up to 13 legit White Walkers, when the Night King converted Craster’s 99th son (approximately) into their number. Since then, the most we’ve seen are four or five, and three have been killed.

        Quote  Reply

    48. House Monty,

      Interesting.

      Taking out KL would take out the million new recruits. The show has repeatedly told us about the wildfire under KL, and Cersi thinks she is basically the only person in the world who counts. Maybe she will blow up KL to stop the NK threatening her life.

        Quote  Reply

    49. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Fair enough! You make a good case.

      So either Euron is going to be a player with the Golden company by himself, or Cersi read his motive right and he will come back to wed the queen …and then who knows what he will do? One of the things could be if she doesn’t miscarry he could slip her Moontea….

      Hmm, will Yara end up in KL dungeons ?

        Quote  Reply

    50. Ryan:
      GRRM has too much respect for Tolkien to just completely bite his plot with the “scouring”.

      NK will be defeated at Winterfell, thus giving “Winterfell” it’s name – which Bran names in one of his time travels.

      Jon is obviously going to die- either saving everyone, or BECOMING the Night King to lead the dead away.

      Dany will rule as Queen – they’ve had too many “good guys” advise her and come to her side for her to die or turn evil.

      Sansa will rule the North.

      Arya will probably kill Cersei, and then disappear into obscurity.

      This is pretty much how I line up my predictions as well. Jon is going to die/sacrifice himself for sure. I also think that Dany is also sacrificed OR she decides to leave the ruling for others. Tyrion brought up the succession which foreshadows that he is going to form the next governmental structure.

        Quote  Reply

    51. Northstar:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Fair enough! You make a good case.

      So either Euron is going to be a player with the Golden company by himself, or Cersi read his motive right and he will come back to wed the queen …and then who knows what he will do? One of the things could be if she doesn’t miscarry he could slip her Moontea….

      Hmm, will Yara end up in KL dungeons ?

      That’s a good question. In my heart, I want Theon to rescue Yara from the Silence (or Iron Victory, or whatever ship Euron has Yara imprisoned on) because my boy Theon needs a win.

      I also want Yara to have heard Euron’s schemes (you know, him bragging to her) – ideally we’ll have heard these schemes too…

      This will set up some decision points for Theon. Does he let his hated uncle succeed in a coup against Cersei, or does he risk warning Cersei?

      (Assuming, of course, Euron is pulling a double cross. He could just as easily ferry the Golden Company to Westeros obligingly on behalf of his ally, the queen.)

        Quote  Reply

    52. gerdhansel:
      They were waiting for dragons of course. They needed an ice dragon to bring down the Wall.

      Agreed. Like I wrote here:
      http://watchersonthewall.com/game-thrones-season-7-episode-7-dragon-wolf-recap/

      Quite many things that happens here in the Beyond the Wall episode are… convenient.

      Let me try to elaborate… all full of spoilers, so….
      WARNING: SPOILERS PLEASE NOTE… SPOILERS! Lots and lots and lots of ’em…. proceed at your own peril

      Event 1: The heroes in Dragonstone agree to go north of The Wall to capture one wight – the party is lead by Jon Snow

      Event 2: On the way they enter Eastwatch and join forces with The Hound and the Bannerless Bros (BB’s) The BB’s are going north in accordance with their Lord of the Light – very convenient The Hound can also conveniently pinpoint a location – the arrow shaped mountain

      Event 3: Conveniently they discover a patrol with one White Walker and a small squad of wights Luckily – and conveniently, they manage to kill all the wights when they kill the White Walker – all except one, that is. Quite convenient.
      Very quite convenient, really.

      Event 4: Then a horde of a gazillion wights threaten to swarm the party of Jon Snow’s However, conveniently, they manage survive and seek refuge on a small rocky popping out of a lake that is not quite frozen, keeping the wights back for a time (look up on/Google people having calculated the time it takes to bring a message south and back again plus calculations about the time it takes to freeze the lake again… it
      holds water, actually!)

      Event 5: And again conveniently, they are rescued by Dany and her three dragons just when the ice is strong enough to carry the weight of the wights Event 6: Then disaster! By some unhappy stroke of bad luck, the Night King, who coincidentally is by the lake, has a few ice spears. The first of which downs and kills Viseryon, one of the dragons.
      The Night King has further spears so the surviving heroes are lucky to escape with the two remaining dragons.

      Unfortunate considering how convenient everything else went… or was it? Consider the fact that Game of Thrones has a tendency of springing surprises on its viewers – even though this element has been slightly reduced after D&D has taken over writing the story instead of GRRM and we are in the closing stages of the story.

      What if we here actually catch a glimpse of the plan that the Night King has? And some of the capabilities he may possess? Some have speculated that he may be able to do the same greensight thing as Bran, and thus be able to see the past, present and possibly a little into the future? What if he saw the party of Jon Snow’s aim and was able to plan accordingly.

      This, perhaps, includes either sending the vision of the arrow shaped mountain to The Hound or reading it because the Night King can greensight scan the goal of the BB’s This would explain how the party could stumble upon the perfect target at the perfect spot for both ambushing the target group and for the group to defend themselves We obviously know that the Night King is magic – like the dragons
      The biggest threat against the Night King comes from the dragons. Besides being able to remove them or some of them if they were to fall into the Night King’s trap, he knew he would be able to wight-fy one of them, thus making it possible for him to cross The Wall (a dragon is fire – a wight dragon raised by the icy Night King is both fire and ice…!)

      Thus, by knowing where the party of heroes were aiming for and knowing that the dragons would come to their rescue (this is why Gendry was allowed to escape) the Night King could spring his trap with a carefully prepared group of a White Walker and a few wights, one of which would survive the destruction of a white walker, in order to kill a dragon or two.

      Thus: The Trap of the Night King was aimed at the dragons. The rest were just stooges of little real importance.

      Makes sense, right? What’s more, it would make this episode be solid storytelling in line with the remaining GoT saga instead of simple high fantasy that, while highly enjoyable, is NOT what GoT is about. Not even here in the end of the saga.

      Please note: FIrst of all, I did warn about the spoilers here. Secondly, I am in NO WAY affiliated with anybody in or connected to HBO or the show staff or actors or anybody. The above theory is my own. It makes sense for me. And it makes this episode make sense to me. I have no idea if this is indeed the actual storytelling as told by D&D. If it is, then good for me. If not, then too bad and my apologies!

      Someone was kind enough to agree and to point out that there were no Giants in the ambushing horde. Besides being harder to hide than normal wights they are too valuable to lose against killer dragons!

      An added theory, which I have thought of since the above point, is as follows:

      Someone asked, why the spear did not hit Drogon. Well, a thought about that.
      In Hardhome, the NK looked at Jon Snow. The simplest reason could be that it was because JS had defeated one WW and thus proven himself to be a threat.

      Other explanations are much more advanced and indicates that the NK recognizes JS as something more than just someone good at fighting with a Valyrian blade.

      Either way, when Drogon is on the ground, I see two reasons why the NK doesn’t kill him first. The first explanation has to do with JS. The other with simple tactics.

      Explanation 1: The person JS is indeed of particular interest to the NK and if Drogon gets killed, then JS will be swamped and killed too. The NK, for whatever reasons, is not interested in that. First when JS orders Drogon away (the other spear could theoretically have been aimed for the last dragon instead of Drogon).

      Explanation 2: JS is irrelevant to the NK. But the flying dragons are a much bigger threat to the NK’s undead soldiers than a stationary Drogon. This Viserion became the first target for the spears.
      [/ spoiler]

      What do you think?

        Quote  Reply

    53. Northstar:
      House Monty,

      Interesting.

      Taking out KL would take out the million new recruits. The show has repeatedly told us about the wildfire under KL, and Cersi thinks she is basically the only person in the world who counts. Maybe she will blow up KL to stop the NK threatening her life.

      Hmm.. Maybe the vision Bran had where he sees the mad king will repeat itself with Jamie and Cersei instead of the mad king… except, Cersei is not really mad as such, at least yet. She is vindictive, ruthless, selfish, power hungry, merciless, cruel, to some degree strategically intelligent albeit without a longer view than her own power (which is obviously why she is not going to order her forces north) and increasingly paranoid and megalomaniac. She may well turn into being the Mad Queen yet, but she is not there yet. She has too much control still – otherwise she would have allowed her hatred towards Tyrion to have him killed immediately instead of allowing her strategic sense to decide what to do.

      The key here is that the vision may really be Cersei screaming “Burn them! Burn them all!” And Jamie slaying her in exactly the same way as he did when he killed the Mad King. The future repeats the past…

      And this would incidentally burn a million or so wights!

        Quote  Reply

    54. MikeDenmark,

      I like it! Except Jamie won’t get out of that alive. Oh, well, so long as he at least kissed Brienne first.

      Your NK theory makes for a much stronger story plot wise, IMHO.

        Quote  Reply

    55. Patrick Sponaugle,

      If Euron keeps Yara alive to brag to and torture, it would be nicely ironic if such brutal arrogance then spoiled his plans when Theon rescues her. As other posters noted, Yara didn’t speak as a captive and we know Euron has a habit of removing tongues… but she could still write…

        Quote  Reply

    56. Northstar:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      If Euron keeps Yara alive to brag to and torture, it would be nicely ironic if such brutal arrogance then spoiled his plans when Theon rescues her. As other posters noted, Yara didn’t speak as a captive and we know Euron has a habit of removing tongues… but she could still write…

      Whoa, I hope Euron doesn’t cut out Yara’s tongue! But you’ve given me something to think about.

        Quote  Reply

    57. Mr Derp:
      But who’s the GoT equivalent of Arwen?Is it Dany or Sansa?

      Im going with:
      Arwen = Dany
      Eowyn = Sansa?

      Eowyn is Arya of course. Like Eowyn, she’s a female royal relation who ” longs to win renown in battle” and will take down an important enemy. Sansa’s never even held a weapon. And if Arya is Eowyn, then Gendry is probably Faramir. Indeed, he’s the ruler’s son, but in this case a bastard.

      Endgame Speculation: The Night King will be defeated or at least induced to retreat to the Lands of Always Winter and leave Mankind alone. I used to think Dany would die, but now expect Jon to sacrifice himself (he’s only half=alive anyway) and leave Dany to raise the inevitable Baby. Jaime will be instrumental in defeating the NK and die in Brienne’s arms. So it’s up to Arya and Sandor to take out Cersei and Gregor. Arya will take Cersei’s face, send the Lannister army plus Golden Company to fight the Others, and then abdicate in favour of Dany and Jon. Sansa will either be Lady of Winterfell or marry Tyrion and go to KL where he’ll be Hand to Dany and a father figure to Baby Targ. Brienne or Sandor will lead her Kingsguard (Jorah will die). If Sansa marries and leaves, Arya will become Lady of Winterfell. If not, Arya will go west of Westeros, possibly emulating Queen Nymeria and leading a fleet commanded by Davos carrying the homeless people to a new land. Bran will retreat to a Godswood and monitor history rather than partake in it. Yara will rule the Iron Islands with Theon as her literal mouthpiece. Sam will become Lord Tarly and document it all in a book called The Song of Ice and Fire. May it be!!!

        Quote  Reply

    58. I mean…if the NK and Co. were to win the whole thing, how BORED would they be? Eternal shuffling around at a snail’s pace. They’d at least have to learn how to play board games.

        Quote  Reply

    59. Another very interesting read, I’m expecting the battle with the white Walkers to take up the majority of the final season probably coming to a conclusion in the penultimate episode with the finale centering around what happens next for the remaining characters. Will Jon take the Iron throne upon realising his heritage? Will Dany still want the throne? Who will take out Cersei etc.

      I’m also hoping but not expecting that via Bran we will find out more about the White Walker origins, we had his vision in S6 and I suspect we will have more in ultimately figuring out how to stop them even if we already seemingly know if the Nights King falls they all do. I’m guessing Jon will pull something out of his chest to finally end it.

        Quote  Reply

    60. I have some theories about the Lord of Light and the Great Other being deific elemental beings locked in an eternal struggle between fire and ice, life and death, and the magic powers of humans tapping into their power. Red priests, pyromancers, and Targaryens use fire powers; White Walkers, Starks, and the Faceless Men use ice and death magic. This great cosmic struggle is also responsible for the weird seasons. Either side winning will end the world as in Robert Frost’s poem; there has to be balance. Certain events like the birth of dragons, the Doom of Valyria, the Long Night, etc. are tipping points that threaten the balance, so lesser beings have to intervene.

      The White Walkers can’t talk, but it would seem that they did try to communicate at first, with all those symbols made of corpses. What if they’re actually open to negotiation? What if they think they’re saving people from the fiery end of the world by giving them eternal life as ice zombies?

      My ideal ending would be that the Iron Throne is destroyed (they realize the key ingredient in Valyrian Steel is iron that a dragon has breathed on, so they melt it down to make weapons), and the 7 kingdoms are split apart. Some of our heroes live and rebuild, most die dramatically. Jon, Dany, and Bran communicate with the two elemental gods through the Night King and the High Priest of R’hllor, with the help of Ghost and the dragons, and somehow resolve the fire and ice struggle. NK and HP die and the seasons become short and regular as in our world.

        Quote  Reply

    Jump to the Top

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *