After a spectacular seventh season, fans and critics alike are excitedly contemplating what mysteries lie ahead in Season 8 of GAME OF THRONES. As there is no book to turn to since the next installment from the George R.R. Martin saga has yet to be released, there is a plethora of possibilities and while many guesses have been offered, no one knows for certain. So with filming for the eighth and final season scheduled to begin next month, and Season 8 may not even be released until 2019, fans are eagerly embracing even the most wild of speculations, such as: Bran is the Night King, Jon Snow and Dany’s child is destined to sit on the Iron Throne, Sansa and Arya will come to death blows, or even more incredibly, Varys will betray them all to Cersei.
None of these things are confirmed and each could or could not come to pass. I do not believe any of these will happen. So I analyze and dispute these theories and posit a few of my own.
Bran and The Night King
Bran and the Night King actually have nothing in common other than their ability to warg. Each can enter the minds of animals and beings who have relinquished their conscious control. The Night King has the ability to control the armies of the dead, and as we just learned at the end of Season 7, those magic protection spells only stopped the dead from breaching the Wall. The magic spells did not stop Viserion from flying above it or from Viserion breathing blue flame to destroy the Wall. So it is entirely likely that the Night King has been sending his zombie-ravens over the Wall and keeping tabs on the principal players throughout Westeros and beyond the sea.
“Winter is coming” has been prophesied for over a millennium. So what took it so long? What was the Night King waiting for? He was waiting for Dany’s children: Drogon, Rhaegal, Viserion. He needed a dragon to destroy the Wall. So, for centuries, the Night King waited — patiently recruiting and building his Army of the Dead, using ravens to scout for the sign he needed: the birth of the dragons. But how to get his hands on one? That required a great deal of strategic manipulation. He could not merely just watch and wait and pray a dragon would fall in his lap. So the Night King watched to see how to slowly create a trap that would lure the right people into his reach. His fate and the Starks were indeed intertwined. After all, how did Uncle Benjen continue to survive and thrive all those years beyond the Wall? After years of watching and waiting, the Night King’s patience was rewarded: Dany’s dragons were born amidst the fire and the Starks sent Jon Snow to the Wall. As fate or luck would have it, Jon and Bran ventured beyond the Wall. The Night King only had to scare them into the right direction. Terrified by the growing Army of the Dead, Jon scrambled to sway anyone and everyone about the impending doom about to befall them as the Night King’s Army of the Dead approached. Bran was also perhaps pushed out of his hole with the Three-Eyed Raven by the Night King to further solidify the proof of the Army of the Dead threat. The Night King could perhaps use Bran to see into the places a raven may not be able to go — to sit amongst those who would be planning to repel the Night King and his forces. Then there was Dany driven by her steadfast belief that the Iron Throne belonged to her alone. So the Night King waited and watched and as fate aligned or as fate foretold, Jon returned beyond the Wall in search of one of the dead to prove their existence to Dany and Cersei, so no one would doubt his veracity.
What was the difference between the four times Jon went beyond the Wall? Dany and her dragons. Jon had not yet met Daenerys by the time of his first venture beyond the Wall, nor by his second and third trips to recruit and save the Wildlings. No, the Night King let Jon come and go with minimal interference. He just scared Jon enough to fuel his fear and create the illusion of urgency that the Night King was about to breach the Wall — which would have never been possible at all because of the magic spells inside the Wall — until Jon delivered the one thing the Night King needed: a dragon.
It was not until that fateful fourth trip beyond the Wall, that things truly aligned for the Night King. Jon and his entourage were lured into the trap. A handful of the dead were used as the bait, in close proximity to a lake that could be used as temporary refuge. It was a unique lake with a tiny island that could be used to surround and hold Jon and his team at until a dragon could be summoned to their rescue. It was entirely foreseeable that once Dany and Jon had met that they would align and team up. The Night King had watched both for years and knew they would inspire the best in each other as they held similar views and were intelligent enough to value each other against a common threat. He just needed the right bait and Jon delivered the best kind: himself and Jorah Mormont. The Night King only needed one of them, but two meant that Dany was certain to send at least one dragon to their rescue. After all, while Gendry ran fast, it was unbelievable that he did not encounter even one of the dead to obstruct or delay his return to the Wall. The Night King wanted Gendry to get that message to Daenerys. He wanted a dragon. Better yet, Daenerys brought all three dragons. That is why the Night King had three ice spears. He was hoping to score three dragons. But one was enough. Only one dragon was needed to bring the Wall down.
Curious thing about that Wall, it was not fully destroyed. That bodes well for the miraculous survival of Tormund, as he only had to make it to the portion of the Wall that did not come tumbling down.
The other point of interest is where the Night King chose to breach the Wall. It was by the ocean. For those who have studied the GAME OF THRONES geography, the Wall and the sea intersect on the eastside. The Night King has no intention of facing Jon and Dany’s joint armies without his own reinforcements. The Night King intends to head directly down the coast towards Cersei and her soon to be delivered mercenary army of the Golden Company — 20,000 trained men with elephants — and the one million men and women within the walls of King’s Landing, all courtesy of the dragon he now commands to swiftly take him there. That should give the Night King the edge when he does finally face off against the King of the North, the Dragon Queen, and all the aligned house that stand with them in the impending Great War.
Known to be the Ice Queen long before anyone had heard of the Night King, Cersei is a terrifying force in her own right. After stealing the House of Tyrell gold, then using that gold to repay the Lannister’s outstanding debts and leveraging that to secure the aid of the Golden Company to fight for her and her throne, Cersei has proven to be a brilliant strategist. She could be more than the Night King could handle once his forces are depleted from a battle against Dany and her dragons and all the armies rising to support Jon Snow. So the Night King will come for Cersei first and make her an offer she cannot refuse, to be his Queen or die an ignoble death ensuring no future for her and her unborn child and the Lannister name, if she does not accept. It will be Cersei’s downfall that she chose to withhold her armies from joining Jon and Dany’s armies after promising to do so. It guarantees that Jon and Dany, and the houses aligned with them, will not come to her aid — and certainly not in time as they have already began the march for Winterfell. Thus, leaving King’s Landing exposed and ripe for the picking by the Night King — and Cersei, being a survivor and a fighter, will take his offer. She will do whatever it takes.
As Tyrion jested to Jaime, they are both Kingslayers. Alas, Tyrion was never one. Tyrion had not killed Joffrey, that was Olenna Tyrell and Littlefinger. Unfortunately, that just leaves Jaime with that ignoble distinction. It is his cross to bear that he killed a king to save millions of lives. Jaime struck down the Mad King after being told to “burn them all.” Jaime could not do it and he killed the Mad King instead. Jaime’s best efforts to embrace his reputation after being dubbed The Kingslayer and wearing a facade of villainy has been slipping in recent years, such as when he saved Brienne twice and let her slip away during the battle to retake Riverrun. He showed it again when he walked away from Cersei at the end of Season 7 when she revealed that she never intended to provide her armies to aid Dany and Jon against the Night King. With that final goodbye, Jaime is still not sure that Cersei will not kill him the next chance she gets. But given that it is likely that the Night King will recruit Cersei to his side, as a queen aligned with him or as his Ice Queen, the next time Jaime and Cersei meet, he will be forced to kill her. It is Jaime’s destiny to be both Kingslayer and Queen Slayer.
With that final foreshadowing at the end of Season 7, as Tyrion worriedly saw that Jon and Dany has consummated their burning attraction, one of the best interpretations of that scene was offered by Twitter user @JonNegroni who said that Tyrion, upon noting Cersei’s pregnancy, made Cersei a deal she could not refuse: the Iron Throne for her unborn child since Daenerys would not be able to bear her own children. All Cersei has to do was stand with Jon and Dany and lend her armies in the fight against the Night King and Tyrion would ensure that her child — a Lannister — would one day claim the Iron Throne again. However, Tyrion should have surely foreseen that Cersei had no intention of standing alongside Dany against any enemy. Cersei would rather take her chances betting on Dany and Jon being wiped out completely by the Night King or having their armies seriously depleted by the Great War. In the end, it was not Varys that was going to betray Dany and Jon, but Tyrion — all to preserve the Lannister bloodline and satisfy the need for an heir upon Dany’s death. (Hopefully, Tyrion seeks a more redemptive path in Season 8 after that foolhardy deal with the devil.)
Jon Snow and Daenerys
While the true lineage of Jon Snow was finally revealed in the closing minutes of the Season 7 finale, leaving fans to react to the thought of Dany and Jon being aunt and nephew — albeit unknowing of this fact at the time they chose to consummate their relationship — what has never been fully investigated is the true linage of Daenerys. It has been long presumed that due to the fact that Daenerys and her brother had the trademark golden hair of the Targaryens and that fact that she can walk through fire untouched and commands the dragons that Daenerys must be the long-lost daughter of the Mad King. But what if she wasn’t? What if her mother had not bore children from the Mad King out of fear of his illness being passed to her children and chose another male Targaryen instead? Or what if Daenerys’ mother had one perfect moment with Jaime Lannister, during that time he served as her husband/brother’s guard and that consummation yielded fruit? Surely Daenerys and her brother’s golden hair could be from the Lannister linage as well. Either theory would remove some of the aunt-nephew stigma from the Jon and Daenerys relationship. Maybe Samwell Taryly should have done a bit more research into the secrets of the Maesters before stealing away in the dead of night with Gilly and little Sam from the Citadel.
This might also be the last and greatest secret of Varys. Varys watched over Daenerys for years after she was rescued from certain death when Robert Baratheon assumed the Iron Throne. Perhaps Varys never intended for the girl child to grow up falsely believing she was the daughter of the Mad King. But as Daenerys grew up and was sold/married to Khal Drogo and was given three dragon eggs, the sands of fate began to shift and Varys began to watch more closely. Varys took deeper interest once Daenerys strode out of that funeral pyre untouched accompanied by three baby dragons. As if that miraculous event was not enough to convince Varys that something bigger was going on, the fact that Daenerys quickly ascended to Queen as she conquered city after city and amassed a loyal army in the process, made a believer out of Varys. Daenerys was destined to conquer Westeros and her destiny just might put her on the Iron Throne and unite the world for the first time in a millennia.
Varys was smart to watch and wait. He like the Night King were savvy enough to know that kingdoms may rise and fall, but eventually things would align and change would come. Varys just foresaw the rise and rule of Daenerys. He did not anticipate the rise of Jon Snow and the return of the Night King. But he was happy to see how those things coincided to still bring about his goal of worldwide peace and freedom from oppression.
Unlike others speculating, I do not see Varys choosing to betray Dany and Jon to Cersei. It does not fit who he has proven to be: a man who seeks to better the lives of those less fortunate. He is destined to aid Jon and Daenerys in saving lives, not destroy lives. (That path was Littlefinger’s path of greed and manipulation solely in his own interest. With Littlefinger’s death, that path has been swept away in the sands of time.)
Sansa and Arya
Just like Littlefinger’s foolish belief he could turn Stark against Stark, sister against sister, like he had done before, the illusion will disintegrate that Arya and Sansa will ever betray one another. There is simply nothing to be gained by either by doing so. In fact, as shown, their father raised them to firmly believe they were stronger together — and they are. The Stark siblings are practically invincible together. Their individual strengths make them a ferocious family when aligned and in close proximity. Yet even apart, they commanded great power through their perseverance, intelligence and good hearts. So Season 8 only holds power-moves ahead for both Sansa and Arya as they stand by Jon and face the Ice King, and likely Cersei, together. For if Jaime is not given the honor of striking down Cersei, it will be Arya with the certain aid of Sansa. If there is one person they hate more than Littlefinger, it is Cersei. Arya and Sansa were forced to watch their father beheaded by Cersei’s untrue condemnation of him. When they have a chance to wield a death blow on Cersei, they will not hesitate. Season 8 will be the rise of the Starks. There is no way they are not facing and striking down their enemies together.
As Season 7 hinted at on more than one occasion, Sansa did not escape Ramsay Bolton completely. She got away and had the satisfaction of watching him eaten alive by his own vicious pack of dogs, but she carries emotional scars that may never heal and is clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress. In spite of that, Sansa is doing an admirable job holding herself together and forging a path forward that is of her choosing after being used as a pawn first by Cersei, then Joffrey, then Tywin, then Littlefinger and then Ramsay. But Sansa is done with men determining her fate. She stands by her brother Jon by choice and she is determined to take care of the people that look to her as a leader at Winterfell — and she dresses the part superbly.
As beautifully described in Tom & Lorenzo’s article: “Queens Seizing Power: The Meanings Behind The Season 7 Costumes of GAME OF THRONES” (Link: http://tomandlorenzo.com/2017/08/game-of-thrones-season-7-style-costume-analysis/ ), Sansa dresses not only to show her position of power, she is visibly protecting herself with clothing made up with chains and locks. It may feel safer dressing this way, but the message is also clear: no one is ever touching her again — unless she lets them. But it also makes one wonder what she might be hiding. My guess is that she was very accurate when she described Ramsay’s abuse, he tortured her in every manner except damaging her reproductive capability. Having seen Ramsay’s proclivities and the physical torture inflicted on Theon, Sansa surely did not escape similar abuse. So Sansa could be hiding the physical scars her body bears in all the areas that cannot be seen. It remains to be seen if the show will use her scars as a way of empowering her further in Season 8.
Legacy and The Next Generation
As Tyrion carefully spelled out to Daenerys, the line of succession is of vital importance. Who will inherit the world that they are all fighting for if Daenerys has no children? Of course, it is likely now that Jon and Dany have consummated their relationship that Daenerys and Jon will conceive a child. But for Jon’s sake, we hope not until Jon and Dany can be properly married. The stigma of being a bastard his whole life weighs heavy on Jon and he would not wish that on any child. Or worse yet, Dany could truly be unable to bear children. Having been saved from death by fire at least twice and Jon having been resurrected by magic, their fates may truly be to usher in the next generation through those that live beyond them: Sansa, Arya, Gendry, Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, Tormund, the Hound — it may be upon them to be the ones to usher in the next generation. Unlike those who believe the show will kill off the majority of its core characters in Season 8, it makes more sense to save as many as possible to create the next generation — Arya and Gendry, Sansa and Tyrion, Brienne and Jaime or Brienne and Tormund, and whoever can ever convince the Hound that family life just might be for him after all. The survival of the Seven Kingdoms may depend upon it. Plus, someone needs to go back across the sea to ensure that the world in Meereen is safe from slavers and other simmering evil — and Daario could have a part to play yet if HBO green light’s one of the four contemplate spinoffs.
Season 8 is guaranteed to be one thing: magnificent. All the speculations could be for naught, but ’til then, we savor the endless possibilities.
One last puzzling mystery to ponder: do White Walkers age? If not, then what has the Night King been doing with all of Craster’s daughters’ boy babies all these years?
Other articles worthy of reading in anticipation of Season 8 of GAME OF THRONES:
“How GAME OF THRONES’ Dick Jokes Reveal the Characters’ Deepest Fears About the Future”
“What’s Next for Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow in GAME OF THRONES”
“GAME OF THRONES Season 8 Theories”