5:00am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones': Who Will Cersei Burn Next?
The first act of the riveting episode centered on Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and her scorched-earth approach to destroying her enemies. After spending most of the season at the mercy of her opponents, Cersei unleashed a plot to destroy everyone standing in her path — a plot that involved an unholy amount of wildfire, the highly flammable fluorescent green fluid that was previously used to thwart Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) during the Battle of the Blackwater, and was almost used to level King's Landing once upon a time at the Mad King Aerys' request.
Cersei's brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) was able to stop Aerys' fiery scheme before it went into action, but he was too late to stop his beloved sister from using the substance to incinerate the Great Sept of Baelor. Thousands of innocent lives were lost in the attack, all in the name of targeting a precious few: Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer), the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and their respective allies. The destructive act was so devastating that it caused King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) to take his own life, leaving his mother childless, with nothing left to comfort her other than the Iron Throne.
As we head into season seven, Cersei serves as the Queen of Westeros, a haunting prospect to be sure. On one hand, it would seem she is outgunned in terms of allies, at least as compared to the armies amassed by Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington), respectively. On the other hand, what Cersei lacks in human numbers, she likely boasts in stores of wildfire; before his death, the Mad King had several caches of the explosive substance littered throughout King's Landing, not just beneath the Sept of Baelor. And if she runs out? Her minion Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser) is resourceful enough. If he can bring a man back to life, how hard can it be to cook up a new batch of the mean green stuff?
While so much attention is rightfully focused on the dragon fire heading Westeros' way, attention must also be paid to Cersei's own firepower. With that said, here are a few of the entities who could meet the business end of the Mad Queen's wildfire wrath as Game of Thrones moves into its end game.
1. The Targaryens
When he planned to level King's Landing with wildfire, the Mad King Aerys didn't boast much concern for his own safety. That's because he believed he would be immune from the impact of the wildfire blast, thanks to protection from his Targaryen bloodline. He probably would have been wrong, as proved by one of his descendants, Prince Aerion, who died drinking wildfire, thinking it would turn him into a dragon. All of which is to say that both Daenerys and Jon Snow have fire in their veins, but can they withstand wildfire? History says no, but Dany's fireproof powers seen in seasons one and six might suggest otherwise. In any case, as the Mother of Dragons and the Mother of Lions prepare for battle, we're likely in for a clash of fire, wild or otherwise.
2. Tyrion Lannister
"Everyone who isn't us is an enemy," Cersei once told her eldest son, and that mantra even extends toward members of her own family — one imp in particular. With Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) returning to Westeros this season, it's only a matter of time before he reunites with his "sweet sister," and one expects the reunion won't be so sweet. Could wildfire be the thing that ties these two characters back together? After all, Tyrion is the one who hijacked Cersei's wildfire wrath against the Baratheons back during the Battle of the Blackwater. It would be an all-too-cruel twist if Cersei, now in possession of the veritable napalm, turns it against her younger brother and gains the vengeance she's sought ever since she accused him of murdering King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson).
3. King's Landing
It's tempting to think Cersei would want to use wildfire against her enemies, given that she planned to use it against Stannis back in season two, and given that she did use it against Margaery and the High Sparrow in season six. But an even more chilling prospect is that Cersei could light up her own city, using the secret stashes of wildfire hidden in Flea Bottom, the Red Keep and elsewhere around King's Landing to incinerate thousands and thousands of innocent lives in an instant. Frankly, it would be a positively Tywinian tactic to threaten Daenerys with such a destructive act: "Move against me, and I will destroy the Iron Throne. I have nothing left to live for anyway. Test me." It would turn King's Landing into something of a hostage crisis, one of a few developments that could actually prevent Dany from unleashing a full-scale assault against her No. 1 enemy.
4. Cersei Lannister
Really, it's entirely likely that Cersei's decision to destroy the Sept of Baelor is going to lead to her own destruction. Consider the look she exchanges with her brother and lover Jaime in their final scene together in season six. Jaime does not seem pleased, and understandably so; he killed a king once before for threatening the use of wildfire on his own people. Now, the person he loves most in the world has gone through with the act. If he suspects that Cersei will resort to such recklessly ruthless means again, will Jaime repeat history and become the Queenslayer? It would certainly fulfill Maggy the Frog's prophecy about the "valonqar," the younger sibling destined to one day choke the life out of Cersei's throat.
5. The White Walkers
In a perfect world, Cersei and Daenerys become fast friends as soon as they meet. The Mad Queen becomes the Happy Queen and chooses to join forces with the Targaryens, Starks and other assorted houses to use all of their combined firepower, wildfire included, against the undead army lurking in the frozen North. Cersei resigns as queen, kicks back and relaxes at Casterly Rock, and lives happily ever after. The end!
Oh, right. This is Game of Thrones, where the phrase "happily ever after" doesn't exist. Yeah, Cersei's going to torch some good people with wildfire, or at least she'll die trying.
Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for more news, interviews and analysis. Season seven premieres Sunday, July 16, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.