Since around the middle of season seven, I have been digging in DEEP to the Game of Thrones lore. I’m now about halfway through a rewatch of the entire series. As we look ahead to the final season of the show, there are a few predictions I’d like to make.
WARNING: The following is based on a thorough knowledge of the TV series built through several repeat viewings and consuming related media (mainly Bald Move’s excellent Game of Thrones podcast). I have read the book series once, but not nearly as closely as some people. I am aware of some of G.R.R.M.’s statements outside of the text; I’m also slightly informed by interviews that the actors and producers have made over the years, all of which are really too vague to consider as serious revelations. I have no actual season 8 spoilers of any kind, but nevertheless, someone might consider the following spoilery if they haven’t kept up with outside interviews, or read the books (which, if you didn’t know, are still unfinished and are actually behind the TV series in terms of storyline). So, consider yourself warned.
The following are plot points I think are near certainties. In order of likelihood:
The Night King is defeated. The word I’ve seen G.R.R.M. use to refer to his ending is “bittersweet.” This could mean a variety of things, but I’m pretty sure that the Night King defeating the living and bringing the entire continent into an eternal winter is only “bitter.” I’m not ruling out some kind of middle ground, in which the living of Westeros work out a new understanding of the White Walkers and drive the Night King back north, but at any rate, he will certainly be defeated in one manner or another.
Dany and Jon DON’T get married, or if they do, they don’t have a “happily ever after.” Again, touching on G.R.R.M.’s “bittersweet,” I think a traditional romantic conclusion is out of the question. Furthermore, although Game of Thrones has done a lot to stretch the public’s willingness to accept a passionate love between a nephew and his aunt, I find it categorically impossible that a major U.S. network would actually conclude its flagship series with an incest happy ending.
Arya and Melisandre will reunite in Westeros; Melisandre dies. I almost wrote “Arya kills Melisandre,” but I’m hesitant to put that particular detail into the “near certainties” category. Both of these Melisandre-related points stem from statements that Mel herself has made. Although she often misinterprets her visions, there isn’t a whole lot of ambiguity in “I need to return to this continent to die.” The Red Woman is one of the last surviving members of Arya’s list, so it makes a lot of sense that she would be the one to do her in, but I wouldn’t place Gendry or Davos out of the question for that honor, either.
The Hound and the Mountain will face off, and the Mountain will be defeated. In the past, I would have categorized this as something I’d like to see, but couldn’t necessarily expect. But after the season seven finale, which winked so hard at the fans of Cleganebowl it practically was blowing air horns, I’ve upgraded this particular plot point. I can’t say I will guarantee it in the books, but it’s clear that this is fanservice that the showrunners are more than happy to give us. (Note for the uninitiated: “Cleganebowl” is the long-anticipated battle between the two Clegane brothers, that stemmed from a creative fan reading of the books even before it was confirmed that Sandor “The Hound” is still alive. Although the original circumstances suggesting Cleganebowl have been passed by the TV series, there are still a number of scenarios that could bring the two brothers together one last time. If you aren’t HYPE about it yet, I feel bad for you, son!) The only part about this that I’m not 100% sure of is the winner of the fight. But the Mountain has already been part of one of GoT’s worst gut punches of a character death of all time, when he crunched Oberyn’s head, so I feel like it would just be retreading old ground to have him do the same to Sandor. Who knows, I could be wrong.
Cersei dies. Narratively, I feel this is almost as much of a certainty as the defeat of the white walkers. There’s an argument to be made that even more than the Night King, Cersei is the ultimate villain of the series, and there’s a much longer post that could be coming on this topic. Suffice it to say that somebody needs to get Cersei. My main reasoning for why this is a near certainty is sort of convoluted and relies on book knowledge. Readers are well versed in a variety of theories about the valonqar prophecy, which was told to Cersei as a child, and suggested that “the little brother” would be the one to kill her. Ever since then, she has hated and feared Tyrion. For some reason, however, the showrunners left the valonqar out of the script, even though they presented the first half of that prophecy at the start of season 5 (the part about her three children dying, which we know now to be an accurate prediction).
Why would such a critical prophecy be left out? Presumably, such a major character as Cersei can’t have her ultimate fate be so different from the books, especially if she is murdered by another main character. It’s technically possible, but seems about as likely as the books leaving Jon Snow really dead.
My opinion is that the valonqar prophecy actually makes her ultimate fate too obvious. Cersei thinks the prophecy is about Tyrion. It certainly could be, but a far more compelling and satisfying explanation is that JAIME is “the little brother” of the prophecy. It is so satisfying, in fact, that if the show even hinted at it a little bit, it would make Cersei look like an idiot for thinking it could only be Tyrion. The show has done a lot to deepen Cersei and give her a certain kind of vicious intelligence she lacks in the books; it makes sense for stupid book Cersei to be so wrong, but show Cersei has a lot more going on.
That said, I could be reading a little too much into this decision. Maybe someone else kills Cersei. She’s another notable name on Arya’s list who’s still alive, so there’s at least one other option (although I personally don’t find any of the explanations of Arya being the valonqar compelling at all). What isn’t up for discussion is whether Cersei gets killed. She gets choked to death, and it’s going to be horrible and great.
What do you think? Do you agree that the above plot points are almost certainly guaranteed to show up in season 8, or am I deeply misguided? What else are you expecting to see?