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The late red priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten) used to warn about the night being dark and full of terrors, but she failed to mention the dark terrors found in the cold light of day. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) had no such failure in “The Bells,” the penultimate episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which featured the Dragon Queen all but completely torching King’s Landing to the ground.
Thousands of people are dead. Confidence in Daenerys is equally destroyed. David Benioff and Dan Weiss‘ adaptation of George R.R. Martin now stands with only 80 minutes left to wrap it all up. Not a lot of time to untangle the Westerosi knot left in the wake of the Targaryen conquest, but untangle it must, or at least end trying.
Speaking of ends, we now stand at the edge of one final opportunity to lose some Game of Thrones heroes and villains forever. As the prediction game prepares to screech to a halt, let’s do our best to call some final shots. Who will live and who will die in the series finale? Ahead, my predictions for the still standing main characters — most of whom are going to be just fine, according to my gut, which means we’re probably in for another bloodbath. Fun! Without further ado…
Dead: Jon Snow (Kit Harington). It was the preseason prediction before. Why shift it now? Well, uh, how about because it looks like he might actually win the Iron Throne? The former King in the North is the favorite of many in Westeros to become the King of It All, and even though he wants nothing to do with the crown, honor and duty may compel him to take it — especially after Daenerys’ rampage. But if he tries to stop Dany, Jon could easily die in the process. She does still have a dragon, after all.
Dead: Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). The Mother of One Living Dragon scorched the earth in “The Bells,” a shocking act of destruction that completely changes the way in which Thrones viewers will remember the Khaleesi. Heading into the season, I believed Dany would win the throne. I suppose technically, she did! But after “The Bells,” there’s no way for her to keep it, unless Game of Thrones aims for a truly brutal ending. Not impossible, but not likely.
Alive: Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). He’s the last man standing in his house. While he still has to find a way to evade death by dragon-fire a la his old friend Varys, Tyrion’s status as the sole survivor of House Lannister should buy him enough plot armor to make it through to the end of the series.
Alive: Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). Queen in the North, it is known, all that. Also putting it out there: Sansa becomes the person to rule Westeros, perhaps alongside Tyrion, if only as an advisor.
Alive: Arya Stark (Maisie Williams). Officially reversing course on my fatalistic prediction for the Night King-slayer. Arya will live, as made very clear in her final scenes in “The Bells,” to the point that I don’t think we ever even need to see her again. That said, I’m sure we will get more clarity on where Arya’s heading next when the series finale rolls around: west of Westeros, to see the edge of the world for herself.
Both: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright). If Jon Snow can’t stop Daenerys, perhaps the youngest son of House Stark can do it — thanks to his ability to warg into Drogon and save the day. Yes, I am almost certainly wrong about this one, and no, I will not let go of “Bran wargs into a dragon” until he wargs into a dragon or the show ends, one of which will happen in the series finale, so just let me have this please and thanks. If Bran pulls this off, I expect him to fly off in dragon mode, leaving his original body behind, so, kind of counts as a death?
Alive: Samwell Tarly (John Bradley). The kind-hearted hopeful librarian will get a chance to reshape the Citadel. He’ll also get to welcome a new child into the world; yes, that means survival for Gilly (Hannah Murray) as well.
Alive: Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). There were two huge battle scenes in the final season, and while it’s not impossible there will be more, it doesn’t look likely; Benioff and Weiss are directing the finale, and I can’t imagine them wanting to take on too many technical set pieces as they tried to bring their story in for a landing. Short of a Six Feet Under modeled flash-forward into the future, this knight of the Seven Kingdoms should survive, as will her squire, Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman).
Alive: Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham). The Onion Knight has survived this much. If he’s cut off in the final act, I will riot. This is my hill and I will die on it.
Alive: Bronn (Jerome Flynn). Once upon a time, I couldn’t imagine Tyrion turning on his favorite sellsword. Then again, I couldn’t imagine Tyrion turning against Varys, either. All bets are off now. Time to pay for that nose-punch, Ser You Wouldn’t Know Him — but I don’t think the price will be a fatal one. Just means he’s going to have to work a little harder for Highgarden.
Alive: Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju). Similar to Brienne, short of an epilogue, I don’t think we will ever see the Free Folk figurehead ever again. Thankfully, that means Ghost almost certainly survived as well.
Alive: Gendry (Joe Dempsie). Lord of Storm’s End, last of House Baratheon. No reason for the poor blacksmith to suffer any further abuse.
Dead: Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson). Who am I to bet against a man who had multiple opportunities to die already, but I’m looking at my list and I’m not seeing much death, so, bad news for Grey Worm? Either that, or this will be a fairly bloodless finale. After “The Bells,” a bloodless finale sounds like a true delight.
Dead: The Dragons. Drogon’s the last one left. Odds are not in his favor. If Bran doesn’t hijack him, he will be dealt with in some other capacity; how else to defeat Daenerys?
Dead: Game of Thrones. The only guaranteed casualty of the May 19 series finale is the series itself. Enjoy it or don’t; the Seven Kingdoms are going away either way, at least for now.
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier