5:00am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones': Seven Stark Surprises for Season 7
The King in the North is dead. Long live the King in the North!
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has had a hard time over the course of Game of Thrones, and things are only going to get worse as the show enters its endgame. With that said, the Charlie Brown of Westeros finally kicked the football at the end of season six, defeating Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), winning back Winterfell, and even becoming the proud new owner of his late half-brother Robb Stark's (Richard Madden) crown and title.
But how long will he hold that crown and title? A possible insurgency notwithstanding, there's the question of Jon's other family obligations. As Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) learned through a trip back to the past, Jon is secretly the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, not Eddard Stark's bastard son as he's always believed. If and when Jon learns this news, how will that impact his desire to rule over the North? Will he have aspirations for sitting upon another throne — an Iron one, perhaps?
Then again, maybe Jon won't find out that he's a Targaryen at all. Wouldn't that be a twist?
Readers of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series have waited more than a decade to learn the truth about Jon's parentage. Game of Thrones viewers have been speculating about it for years as well. It would be all too cruel to finally drop that information on the show, only for it to take another season before the news reaches Jon's ears, if it ever reaches him at all. Of course, the Starks are no strangers to cruelty, nor are they strangers to surprises — but we're betting this is one surprise that will hit Jon's world sooner than later.
With that in mind, here are a few other Stark surprises that would genuinely blow our minds in season seven — some of them likelier than others.
1. Cancel The Reunion
Is there any chance that the surviving Stark siblings aren't getting the band back together in season seven? Sure, there's always a chance, but it would be a genuinely stunning development, given all of the pieces on the board. Jon and Sansa (Sophie Turner) are already back in each other's lives. Bran is currently heading toward the Wall, and trailers for season seven suggest he's going to make it through to Winterfell. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) was last seen butchering Freys at the Twins, and one imagines word of Jon's victory against House Bolton will reach her before long. Bad things happen to the Starks all of the time, and there's no reason to assume bad things won't continue in the episodes ahead — but if a full-scale Stark reunion is taken off the table after being so blatantly teased, that would be a sucker punch for the ages.
2. A Time for Wolves
One of the only groups that's had it worse than the Starks is the cluster of direwolf pups the Starks adopted back in the series premiere. Only two of those wolves remain: Ghost, who keeps a low profile on Thrones these days (after what happened to his siblings, can you blame him?); and Nymeria, Arya's pup who was last seen in the second episode of the series. If the Starks are about to have a family reunion, it only makes sense for the full clan to get back together — and that includes Arya's long-lost friend. Nymeria's return has been rumored and speculated for years now, with much of that speculation rooted in activity from the books. Fingers crossed that season seven turns those rumors into reality.
3. The Dark Phoenix
Sophie Turner is already preparing for a villainous transformation for her next X-Men performance as Jean Grey. Is she eyeing a similar about face on Game of Thrones as Sansa? When Jon was anointed the new King in the North, Sansa and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) exchanged a tense stare. For seasons now, Petyr Baelish has been grooming Sansa as his ride-or-die on his chaotic climb toward power. Where do her loyalties and ambitions truly lie? It's difficult to imagine Sansa turning against her own family, Littlefinger's persuasive suggestions be damned ... difficult, but not impossible.
4. Brandon the Builder
Season six featured one of the show's biggest twists to date, when it was revealed that Bran has the ability to not just visit the past, but interact with it as well. If you need to rehash how all of that works, look no further. In short, Game of Thrones seems to be using the same "whatever happened, happened" time travel rules from Lost, in that Bran's trips through time always happened, meaning he can't change the past; he can only participate in inevitability. With that said, one of the popular theories is that Bran will somehow transfer his consciousness thousands of years ago to Westeros' earliest days, and become the legendary Bran the Builder, the mythical hero who built the Wall. Talk about a dream come true for a boy who used to love nothing more than the climb.
5. Enter the Dragon
There's another possible use of Bran's powers on the table: the fulfillment of the Three-Eyed Raven's (Max von Sydow) promise that while Bran will never walk again, he will one day fly. We know Bran can warg into animals as well as people. We know he will warg into a flock of ravens this season, if the trailer is any indication. But how about a dragon? After all, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her fire-breathing children are on their way to Westeros this year. Maybe it's season seven material, but if the whole show ends without Bran warging into one of the dragons, I'll eat my Valyrian foil hat.
6. Snowfall: Reloaded
Game of Thrones loves few things more than killing off the Starks, even when those deaths aren't exactly permanent. Look no further than Jon Snow as an example. In fact, is it out of the realm of possibility that Jon will die again? Planting the flag and calling the shot now: Jon will once again meet his maker, and will once again rise from the ashes. We already know Jon and several other soldiers will be engaged in a big battle in the thick of winter, based on the newest season seven trailer. One of those fellow warriors is Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), a man who has come back from death multiple times himself. In the books, Beric sacrifices his final life so another person can live. (More on that in a moment.) So, picture this: Jon dies on the battlefield, only to return moments (or an episode) later thanks to Beric's sacrifice. It's said that Beric lost pieces of his soul the more and more he returned from the dead. What would two deaths do to Jon's psyche? Who knows ... but we'll find out this season, if this admittedly out there prediction pans out.
7. Lady Stoneheart
It's never going to happen. Let's get that squared away right off the bat. Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) is dead and gone, at least as far as the show's concerned. Of course, it's another story in the books, where she's only dead-ish, and decidedly not gone, as the zombified Lady Stoneheart — a vengeful creature brought to existence thanks to Beric's last act. Fans have waited for Stoneheart's arrival on Thrones for years and years now, and it's never happened. The story was likely abandoned so that Jon's resurrection would have more impact, with Stoneheart's future involvement in the books relegated to other characters on the show. At this point, most folks have sworn off the Catelyn comeback ... which is why it would be among the show's single biggest surprises if she suddenly returned from the cold.
Keep it locked into THR.com/GameOfThrones for more predictions, news, interviews and analysis in the weeks ahead. Season seven premieres on July 16.