5:00am PT by Josh Wigler
What 'Game of Thrones' Still Needs to Accomplish With 6 Episodes Left
Six episodes. That's all that stands between us and the final notes of Game of Thrones.
Of course, that's not all that stands in the way. There are months and months and months between now and those closing images of Westeros, potentially even years if we're unlucky enough. (Show-only crowd, now you know what it's like to be a book-first fan. Ser Petty was right; the waiting truly is the hardest part.) But if we Yara Yara past all of the sitting around and tapping our foot, and plant ourselves in the position of facing down the final six episodes of Thrones, we're left with very little time to resolve some very big narrative issues.
In that regard, we've compiled 10 of the most important questions Thrones must answer before the winds of winter cease to howl. Here's where we're at:
1. Who will end up on the Iron Throne?
It's the question, the one that's right there in the title. From the jump, Game of Thrones hooked viewers in with its wheeling-and-dealing political intrigue, with so many main characters more than happy to stab each other in the backs (or push children out of windows, as it were) if it meant preserving their power structures and ways of life. The matter of who will finally sit on the Iron Throne in a permanent capacity has always been a front-and-center issue, and season eight should resolve it one way or the other.
2. Will there even be an Iron Throne?
When we say "one way or the other," this is the other. It's entirely likely that the Iron Throne won't exist when all is said and done. White Walkers are currently rampaging through Westeros, after all, and if they march far enough, they could destroy King's Landing and melt down the seat of power everyone covets so badly. Yes, everyone wants to know if Jon Snow (Kit Harington) will inherit his birthright, or if Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) will win with fire and blood, or if the very unlikely possibility that Cersei (Lena Headey) manages to hold on to her power comes to pass. But before those questions can be answered, it's worth keeping in mind that there might not even be a throne to fight over at the end of the day — a likely possibility that the death of the great manipulator Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) with six episodes still to come may very well signify.
3. What's the impact of Jon's true lineage?
The King in the North likely lacks aspirations to become the King of Westeros, despite the fact that he is indeed the heir by birthright. What's more, who's going to believe Jon if he and his allies start running around claiming he's the rightful ruler of the realm? It's worth wondering, then, why it's so important for Jon to have Targaryen blood flowing through his veins in the first place. Is it because he really will lord over the land at the end of it all? Is it simply because it's going to further fuel the man's mythical qualities? Either way, the greater significance of Jon's family history is definitely something that needs to bear out in the final season of the series.
4. Who's going to get to fly a dragon?
Aside from Daenerys and the Night King, that is. (Wah-wah.) It feels like a given that Jon Snow will wind up riding Rhaegal, given that he's a Targaryen, and given that the dragon gets its name from Jon's dearly departed dad. But will someone else wind up on one of these winged beasts? Dragons in Thrones lore are known to host multiple riders in their lifetimes, so if someone gets killed — say, Jon or Daenerys — it's not impossible another main character could ride Rhaegal or Drogon in their place. What's more, we're still not giving out hope that someone else will end up taking control of Viserion again.
5. What is Bran's purpose?
Yes, he's the Three-Eyed Raven. But what does that mean, really? Bran's role in this story goes above and beyond his participation in unveiling Jon's true parentage, surely. At the very least, Isaac Hempstead Wright seems to think that's the case. What's his true destiny, then? I'll keep sounding this horn until the show gives me a reason to think otherwise: Bran will use his abilities as an all-powerful warg to inhabit the body of Viserion and wrest control over the zombified dragon away from the Night King. It is known.
6. How will the White Walkers fall?
Because their demise is an inevitability. It's certainly possible, probable even, that these cold creatures will cause significant amounts of destruction on Westeros and the people we love most before all is said and done, but it's equally assured that the Night King and his minions will lose the war in the long run. Despite the episode's flaws, "Beyond the Wall" gave us a likely answer: Killing White Walkers also means killing the wights under their direct influence, which means killing the Night King would very likely lead to the destruction of his entire army. Keep an eye out on season eight to deliver one final fatal match between the White Walker overlord and one of our Valyrian-wielding heroes — almost certainly Jon Snow.
7. Why are the White Walkers so mad?
It's not impossible that we'll escape Game of Thrones without any added nuance to the White Walkers and their motivation. But wouldn't that be a shame, if they were nothing more than cruel killers on the march for nothing more than the thrill of it? It's very likely that there's more than meets the eye to these enemies, at least in George R.R. Martin's text if not in David Benioff and Dan Weiss' sprawling adaptation. We've already floated out one theory about the Night King's true origins, which would help explain the extent of his grudge against humanity.
8. Just how hard will House Lannister fall?
Make no mistake: Even if she survives the series, Cersei won't survive with a crown still on her head. Yes, the Lannisters caused meaningful amounts of mayhem throughout the series, often getting away with it for long stretches of time. But they have suffered defeats on their side of the battlefield, and there's plenty more where that came from. As much as Game of Thrones masked itself in subversive shades of storytelling, there's a sense that this epic fantasy will end similarly to other epic fantasies: with the good guys winning out in the end — or at least not losing entirely, while the bad guys get to enjoy an unscathed victory. It's not a question of whether the Lannisters will lose out at the end of Game of Thrones, just a matter of how badly they will lose.
9. Just how hard will House Stark fall?
Sadly, it's possible that we haven't seen the last atrocity committed against House Stark. There are still four Stark siblings on the playing field (that's if you're including Jon, which you very much should; Ned raised him as his own, so it very much still counts), which means plenty of opportunity for heartbreak. "The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives," and all that, but the pack can still survive at the expense of losing a lone wolf. Who will that wolf be? Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is not a bad bet, though it could be anyone of them — or no one at all. Hate to say it, but my money is on No One.
10. When is the Cleganebowl?
First scene, first episode. Or maybe the final scene, final episode. Honestly, who knows? But it's happening: Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) will meet his undead brother on the battlefield at some point in season eight, and it's going to be gory and glorious. If it doesn't come to pass, I will eat every flipping chicken in this room.
Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones all offseason long for news, interviews, theories and more.