In the Season 7 finale of “Game of Thrones,” Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen hooked up, Viserion demolished the Wall, Arya killed Littlefinger and Jaime finally left Cersei. By the end the show had boiled the roughly 9,000 subplots it introduced over seven seasons down to two: Jon and Dany’s coalition of the willing vs. Cersei and Euron the mad pirate. And the White Walkers vs. everyone.
But things are far from settled. When “Game of Thrones” returns for its eighth and final season on April 15 in South Africa, here are a few of the questions it will need to answer:
Will Jon and Dany have their happily ever after?
Don’t count on it. In the Season 8 premiere the new couple, last seen entwined in their love boat, arrives at Winterfell (as seen in the trailer). And who else is at Winterfell? Bran, who knows Jon is Dany’s nephew, and Samwell Tarly, who knows that this gives Jon a better claim on the Iron Throne than Dany. It’s enough to complicate any new romance.
Another thing about Sam: His best friend Jon is now dating the same woman who torched his father and brother last season. So that should be fun.
Who’s actually pregnant?
Cersei spent so much time talking about her pregnancy, it started to seem unlikely. Dany spent so much time saying she couldn’t get pregnant, she started to seem pretty destined to get pregnant. Both would presumably be incest babies, because somehow we’ve all been tricked into obsessing over a big ol’ incest story.
What’s Tyrion’s deal?
Long one of the sharpest operators in this story, Tyrion has made one bad decision after another since joining Team Targaryen. Is he just not cut out for revolutionary leadership? Or is his apparent love for Dany clouding his judgment? We saw him creeping outside Jon and Dany’s door as they consummated their affection. What problems could that lead to this season?
Whose side is Jaime on?
He finally left Cersei as the snow fell on King’s Landing, and the trailer showed him in Northern garb and promising to “fight for the living.” But he will almost certainly have another date with his sister before this thing is over. Will she sway him to return? Or die by his (golden) hand?
Who will live? Who will die?
Few people of note died last season, presumably to leave room for plenty of slaughter this time around. Everyone’s fate is up for grabs.
“Game of Thrones” is broadly about the evolution from a dynastic, tribal world defined by cycles of violence and revenge toward a more humanistic, cooperative one equipped to confront big existential challenges. So characters who have themselves become more enlightened over the course of the story (Jon, Sansa, maybe even Jaime) seem safer than those still nursing old grudges (Cersei, Arya, Dany).
Will Dany break mad?
Dany tells everyone that she is not like her father, the Mad King. But she’s largely defined by her messianic streak, a quality that in its most extreme form can — much like Targaryens, we’re repeatedly reminded — go either way. And while she has shown plenty of compassion (freeing slaves, forgiving Jorah), she responds to slights with often shocking cruelty (crucifying masters in Meereen, locking her handmaiden Doreah in the vault, torching the Tarlys).
So considering the revelations awaiting her in Winterfell, this thing could be a powder keg.
Which big battle will happen first? The one for the Iron Throne or the one for the fate of humanity?
Now that the Night King and friends have breached the Wall, they would seem to be the more pressing concern. Jon, at least, is focused on the White Walkers and seems to have convinced Dany’s camp and Sansa to go along with this plan. Jaime seems to be on board, too.
Also, all we’ve heard in the run-up to the final season is about the 55 nights of shooting and the unprecedented scale of the White Walker clash, and according to HBO, the longest episode of the season is actually the third one. (One hour, 22 minutes!)
So maybe Night King first, then Cersei. Of course, a persistent theory has the Night King being the one to win the whole thing, which is technically possible but seems too cynical for a story that, while dark and full of terrors, seems to be generally about moving into the light.
If a living fire dragon and a zombie ice dragon blast each other, who wins?
I believe it was maester Cleatus the Melancholy who first postulated in “Ice Magick and Dragon Fyre” that the heat generated by an adult dragon is honestly who in the seven hells could possibly know? The clash should be fun to watch, at any rate, until dragons start dying (or re-dying, in Viserion’s case). And then it will be sad, because the beasts didn’t ask to be born into this cruel and stupid world.
Will anyone actually win the Game of Thrones?
It’s right there in the title: This show is about a pan-global contest to win ultimate power.
But is it really though? Hasn’t everything we’ve learned over the past seven seasons — as this fevered pursuit has inspired all manner of butchery and abuse, and destroyed families and relationships, and empowered sadists, and turned the most magnificent creatures in the land into nuclear weapons and led at least one formerly decent man to literally burn his daughter alive (I’ll never forgive you HBO) — suggested that this contest is, in fact, irredeemably toxic? Vegas will give you odds on the various contenders (we had our own fun with this). But are we really supposed to root for one of this story’s heroes to eventually sit upon the symbol of all that is terrible?
Given this show’s defining knack for upending expectations, the long-promised battle for control of the kingdom seems sure to veer from the usual “good guys meet bad guys, blow stuff up, suffer losses but prevail in the end” script. Wouldn’t the ultimate swerve for “Game of Thrones” be to blow up the throne itself?
Maybe. Or maybe Jon and Dany will be the beloved king and queen, and Tyrion, Jaime and Arya will all get flowers and medals as in the ends of “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings” or any number of more conventional fantasy tales. Either way, game on.
New York Times
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