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If the Lannisters always pay their debts, then the richest family in Westeros is about to get hit with one hell of an invoice.
The third of the three human armies heading into Game of Thrones season seven is also the one that stands furthest out on a knife’s edge. After incinerating a large swath of her own people with wildfire at the end of season six, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) has made it clear that nothing and nobody are sacred in her world. There is no middle ground; in other words, if you’re standing between Cersei and freedom you better win, or you will most assuredly die.
But such violent actions do not come without violent cost. Heading into season seven, House Lannister appears to be the odds-on favorite to lose the war for the Iron Throne before anyone else — a strange prospect to consider, seeing as they’re currently in possession of the throne. But consider the forces of House Targaryen and the forces of House Stark, and then review what Cersei and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) have at their disposal:
7. Terrified Civilians
In decimating the Sept of Baelor, Cersei enacted the most catastrophic feat of terrorism in King’s Landing’s history. Thousands are dead, and the folks still alive are wise to worry about their lives. They are right to think their queen views them as expendable. Fear might keep them from full-on revolution, but if the people of King’s Landing find themselves with a better offer — as in, the arrival of a certain Khaleesi — they might be willing to storm the Red Keep.
6. An Unstable Army
Think about a sellsword like Bronn (Jerome Flynn). He’s the kind of a man who goes to work for the highest bidder, all things being equal. He’s a realist, too. If he sees an army that’s bigger than the Lannisters‘, one with more support on its side than the Lannisters‘, and one that’s advised by the closest thing he has in the world to a friend? He’s likely to jump ship, and it’s not unreasonable to expect the same from many of the other soldiers in his ranks.
5. Dwindling Wealth…
… and a looming invoice, in the form of the Iron Bank of Braavos. The Lannisters are still in deep with the Iron Bank from the Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) days of yore, so that’s a knot they’re going to have to untangle. For their entire lives, the Lannister siblings have leaned on wealth as a weapon — just about the only thing they have in common with Batman — and given what’s coming, their most reliable sword will only protect them for so long.
4. The Mountain
Admittedly, the zombified Gregor Clegane is the scariest monster on Game of Thrones, the Night King notwithstanding. He is firmly in Cersei’s corner. This creature was created specifically to protect and obey the queen, and anyone who offends her even in the slightest will feel his wrath. In single combat, the Mountain wins against virtually anyone. Heck, if it’s one on ten, the odds are still in his favor. But throw him against even one of the Targaryen dragons and watch how quickly a Mountain can crumble.
3. The Mountain’s Keeper
He’s Varys (Conleth Hill) meets Pycelle (Julian Glover), with a hint of Ramsay Bolton’s (Iwan Rheon) dark perversions for good measure: Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser), one of the creepiest characters still on the board. His arcane knowledge could prove instrumental in Cersei’s campaign, especially if he can use those necromancer skills to raise a few more monstrous gladiators from the dead. It also stands to reason that he’s someone who can properly wield…
It’s the Game of Thrones equivalent of a nuclear bomb, and Cersei’s the one with her finger on the trigger. We already saw what she was willing to do with the fluorescent green napalm back in season six. Either Qyburn can make more, or other stores already exist, based on the rumors that the Mad King laced landmark locations across King’s Landing with the stuff as a truly nuclear option. If the Lannisters can properly utilize the wildfire — either as a portable weapon in their future battles, or as a fear tactic within King’s Landing itself — they might be able to buy themselves some time.
1. Each Other
At the end of the day, Cersei and Jaime can count on nobody and nothing except each other. It’s a tall order, given that Jaime appears cautious of his sister at the moment, and downright repulsed by her actions at worst. For her part, who knows what is happening in Cersei’s mind at the present, given how dramatically her life has shifted over the course of a single episode. But since their birth, the Lannister twins have always drawn upon one another as their greatest sources of strength. If they can get on the same page in season seven, they have a chance at surviving — at least long enough to see the final season of the show, if not much further than that.
Get up to speed on the Lannisters in the video below.
Game of Thrones premieres July 16. Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for news, interviews, theories and more all season long.