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Welcome to Final Path, a regular feature leading up to the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. In every Final Path, The Hollywood Reporter‘s resident Westeros expert Josh Wigler will offer a character-by-character deep dive of their journey through seven seasons, as well as what can be expected in the upcoming eighth and final season. Up next: Theon Greyjoy.
“You’re a Greyjoy… and you’re a Stark.”
With seven simple words, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) completely revolutionized Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) of the Iron Islands, who spent so much of his life under the shadow of abuse. At times, Theon himself was the abuser, taking advantage of loyalties and murdering innocents in the name of his misguided quest for glory and respect. For most of Thrones, however, Theon has been under the thumb of oppressors, most notably during his stint with Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon).
With Ramsay gone and the final season almost at hand, Theon faces a new deadly enemy: Euron (Pilou Asbaek), the wicked King of the Iron Islands, currently in possession of Yara (Gemma Whelan) and her Greyjoy fleet. Will Theon’s renewed confidence as a son of both Houses Greyjoy and Stark finally propel him into triumph over the demons of his past — or is redemption too much to ask for given Theon’s past sins? Those questions and more are addressed ahead in our Final Path reflections and predictions for Theon.
Names and Titles: Theon of House Greyjoy, last surviving son of Balon Greyjoy, former ward of Ned Stark, briefly the prince of Winterfell, and once known as Reek, which rhymes with weak.
First Appearance: “Winter is Coming,” the series premiere. Theon accompanies the Stark men when Ned (Sean Bean) executes a deserter from the Night’s Watch. Moments later, Theon is present when the Starks discover direwolves in the woods. It’s not the first time Theon witnesses an execution in the North (indeed, he’ll participate in one or two), nor is it the first time he’ll walk away empty-handed from a Stark family outing.
Last Appearance: “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the season seven finale. After an encouraging pep talk from Jon Snow, Theon finds his inner resolve and vows to rescue his sister from his wicked uncle. He makes a public display of his intentions by beating up an alpha Iron Islander, and winning over the respect of his countrymen in the rescue effort.
Best Friends: It’s a frequent refrain around these Final Path parts, but in Theon’s case, it’s really true: he has no friends. It wasn’t always this way. Theon and Robb Stark (Richard Madden) were as tight as it gets way back when, but that was before Theon returned to the Iron Islands and decided to defect back to House Greyjoy. Since then, virtually everyone he’s encountered has walked away with a reason to knock his face in — though in some cases, he’s earned a measure of forgiveness, such as with Sansa (Sophie Turner).
Worst Enemies: The worst of Theon’s enemies: Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). Thankfully, he is now extraordinarily dead; dog meat, even. With Ramsay deceased, the deadliest foe in Theon’s universe is yet another psychopath: Euron, King of the Iron Islands. Their paths are inextricably linked together as the final season looms.
Best Kill: It depends on your definition of “best,” really. Theon’s first kill in the series is probably his cleanest, both morally and literally: a well aimed arrow through the heart of a wildling. (It may also prove to be his most instructive kill; see our final predictions for more.) Not so clean: Rodrick Cassel (Ron Donachie), Winterfell’s master-at-arms and owner of the best beard in the North. Theon hacked his head off in a messy botched execution, which he followed a short time later by murdering two boys, passing them off as Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Rickon (Art Parkinson). From there, Theon spent years as Reek, breaking free from enslavement with a truly great fatal act: pushing Ramsay’s girlfriend Myranda (Charlotte Hope) to her death, a move straight out of Darth Vader’s playbook.
Worst Wound: Theon spent an ungodly amount of time at Ramsay Bolton’s mercy, losing blood, skin and even his mind. David Benioff and Dan Weiss’ television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s books confirmed what readers long suspected: the removal of Theon’s “favorite toy,” as Ramsay puts it.
Critical Moments: The time Theon spent under Ramsay’s cruel influence remains a defining trait through this day. For his entire life, Theon puffed his chest out and tried to show the world why he was a boss. It resulted in the catastrophic Winterfell takeover, and the vicious comeuppance in his new life under Ramsay as Reek. Even free from Ramsay, Theon hasn’t fully freed himself from the trauma of those years.
Unresolved Mystery: Honestly, there isn’t much mystery when it comes to Theon. He’s a damaged individual, but a rather straightforward one. After spending years as a warmly welcomed prisoner at House Stark, Theon was broken enough to take a wild and misguided swing in support of his original family. It backfired, badly. A terrible decision led to more terrible decisions, which led to years of terrible abuse at the hands of House Bolton. Even escaping out into the world, with Ramsay now long dead, Theon has been unable to shake the trauma of his past. As season eight looms, the only real unresolved Theon Greyjoy mystery is this: will he be able to escape that trauma, or will it consume him once and for all?
Final Predictions: By now, even the most casual Game of Thrones fans have likely heard the term “Cleganebowl.” If not, you will hear more about it very soon. (Spoiler alert: The Hound is coming next in Final Path.) But there’s a term for another big season eight grudge match that I had never heard until a recent stroll through some online Game of Thrones neighborhoods: the Krakenbowl, referring to Theon finally throwing down against his awful uncle Euron.
The Krakenbowl may not be quite as hyped as the clash of the Clegane brothers, but it’s nevertheless an inevitability. In his final onscreen moment before season eight, Theon finally embraced his heritage as a Greyjoy by nature and Stark by nurture, giving him the strength he needs to confront his very evil uncle — which means the Krakens of the Iron Islands are about to collide.
In a head-to-head battle against Euron, few folks would reasonably expect a Theon Greyjoy victory. We have seen both men in fights, after all, and the results speak for themselves. But there’s reason to hope for Theon’s success, thanks to a detail from George R.R. Martin’s books that hasn’t made it onto the show just yet: Euron’s black eye, which he hides under an eyepatch. The series’ version of the character hasn’t done anything especially unusual with Euron’s eyes, but it’s a memorable note from the books. Could it lead to a memorable note in the series?
Something about Theon we haven’t seen in a long time: his abilities as an archer. He was a very proud and competent warrior with a bow and arrow back in the day, as seen when he saved Bran Stark from a pack of wildlings. Now that Theon is tapping back into his inner Stark, will the bow skills he honed as a youth come back to haunt Euron? In a close quarters battle, Theon stands little chance against Euron. From a distance, however? Different story. So, calling it now: Theon Greyjoy will defeat Euron with an arrow to the eye, rescuing his imprisoned sister Yara in the process. It’s a good bet Yara will get some damage in as well, perhaps even delivering the killing blow, but not without the clutch assist from Theon’s bow.
It’s worth noting that Theon has been largely absent from promotional material for the final season, at least as far as footage goes. Will he arrive in Winterfell in time to battle the White Walkers? We have no evidence supporting his presence, which makes one wonder: does Theon survive the Krakenbowl? It’s easy to see the scenario in which his act against Euron not only saves Yara and therefore the soul of the Iron Islands, but also contributes to a massive blow against the Golden Company, the sellsword group Euron is currently ferrying in order to support Cersei — but all at the expense of Theon’s own life.
To make it official, we’re adding Theon to the list of expected final season fatalities. If Theon saves his sister as well as the North yet dies in the process, it will be a heroic end for a man who always wanted to be a hero, but lacked the courage due to a lifetime of cognitive dissonance. Even if he meets his end in season eight, Theon’s final legacy as a hero will embody the spirit of the Drowned God: “What is dead may never die.”
Last Hope: For Theon to survive and wind up serving the Night’s Watch. It would honor his status as a Stark, remaining in the North and protecting the world against the greatest possible threat, while his sister ushers in a new age of glory for the Iron Islands. Theon on the Night’s Watch would jive nicely if the prediction about his battle against Euron pans out, too. In the books, Euron sports the nickname “Crow’s Eye.” As a brother serving on the Wall, Theon himself would become a crow — and he would certainly have an eye as a trophy to his name.
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