With only three episodes left to go, Game of Thrones looks as though it once again has a lot of ground to cover before wrapping up a season. And so, for the curious and impatient among you, I’ll do my best to offer some quasi-informed speculation about what we might reasonably expect in these final weeks.
Note: I haven’t seen any of the remaining episodes, but I have read the books. The first five items below are spoiler-y, but the predictions in them do not derive from the George R. R. Martin novels. Rather, they’re guesswork based on what’s already happened on the show and on tidbits scattered across the web: a behind-the-scenes photo here, a close-read of a trailer there. (They could all, of course, turn out to be completely wrong.) The last four items, however, are based at least in part on events that take place in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, so non-book-readers may want to skip them. And obviously anyone, book-reader or not, who’d prefer to go into these final episodes without preconceptions—who doesn’t want to know at least some of what will (probably) happen—should stop reading now.
Finally, I don’t pretend to have kept up with every rumor or scrap of evidence in the ocean of Thronesiana currently sloshing around the web, and there are doubtless many clues I’ve missed in the show itself. So readers should feel free to offer their own predictions in the comments section.
1. Ramsay will get his (hopefully lethal) comeuppance. Of all the mistakes I feel showrunners Benioff and Weiss have made over the course of the show, half or more have involved Ramsay. They cut out the introduction accorded to him in the books, with the result that his relationship with Theon is less complex and diabolical and vastly more redundant and tedious. (I explained the alteration here.) And from the middle of season three, they’ve seemed incapable of resisting the urge to show us—again and again and again—what a depraved sadist he is. We get it! Ramsay is like a drug Benioff and Weiss just can’t quit. The obvious solution, heavily hinted at throughout this season (careful with that corkscrew, Sansa!), is for him to meet with some unfortunate fate.
That said, there’s been so much foreshadowing at this point that we’re in a bit of a lose-lose situation. If Ramsay is killed—whether with a knife or bottle-opener in the back or through some more complicated scheme (e.g., Sansa egging him into killing stepmom Walda)—it will hardly come as a shock. (Unlike, say, the demise suffered by the similarly insufferable Joffrey last season.) The real surprise will be if he lives to flay on into season six. And that is a possibility—a very live possibility—I find too depressing to contemplate.
2. Things will get hard in Hardhome. When the producers first revealed that this season would have a battle sequence more ambitious than those on the Blackwater in season two or at the Wall last year, I was hoping for Stannis versus the Boltons in the Battle of Winterfell. But it seems pretty clear now that the big fight will be at Hardhome, the Wildling fishing village toward which Jon Snow embarked last week. It also seems clear that the clash will be with White Walkers and their wights, possibly led by the “Night’s King” (or as my roundtable colleague Spencer Kornhaber memorably dubbed him, “Snow Willie Nelson”), whom we met last season. The best evidence I’ve seen for all this is here.
So the downside is probably no Battle of Winterfell, at least not this year. (More on this below.) The upside is that it’s useful to remind everyone at least once a season that Westeros faces a more pressing crisis—i.e., relentless, cerulean zombies—than those caused by any of the machinations of its noble houses. A lot will come down to execution here. The Walkers haven’t really been all that creepy since the very first scene of episode one. Here’s hoping that changes.
One element that seems almost certain to change is the timing of the battle. The fight for Hardhome seems set up to take place largely, if not entirely, in episode eight (hence the title: “Hardhome”) rather than episode nine, as in seasons two and four. So get ready for Sunday night.
3. This will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Tyrion and Daenerys. Will it really be? Who knows? But I think there’s every reason for optimism. The Imp provides exactly the kind of thread-the-needle guile Dany has been sorely missing, and hopefully he can begin to expedite her eventual return to Westeros and the story proper. As I noted last week, book readers have been waiting a long time for this rendezvous.
As for Ser Jorah, it looks as though Dany may sentence him to fight in the Great Pit of Draznak—basically the Rose Bowl of Meereen—in order to make amends for his past betrayal. (Yes, it’s ironic, given her whole position that only free men should be allowed to choose to fight, but they already pretty much dropped the ball on that idea last episode.) The best evidence I’ve seen for this theory—caution, there are some potential book-spoilers—is here.
4. Arya will get a chance to cross one more name off her list. As I noted early in the season, she’s down to just four now—“Cersei, Walder Frey, the Mountain, Meryn Trant”—and it just so happens that the last one on the list was conveniently dispatched to Braavos to accompany Mace Tyrell a while back. Also, the notes for episode nine include this: “Arya runs into someone from her past.” Will our teenage assassin get a bit of payback for Ser Meryn’s murder of Syrio Forel (and abuse of Sansa) way back when? Let’s just say that it couldn’t happen to a nicer Kingsguard.
5. Something will happen in Dorne. Honestly, I have no idea what it will be, and given how lame the entire Dorne subplot has been so far, I’m hard pressed to care. For my money, they should just cut to the Dornish cells once per episode for 30 seconds of Bronn singing. (Seriously, you need to hear his rendition of the Drifters’ “Up on the Roof,” which works even better as a lighthearted jailbreak anthem.) Maybe this storyline will eventually go somewhere interesting, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
And now for the book-based spoilers… Those who wish to preserve their remaining innocence should immediately find somewhere else to be.
6. Cersei will take a walk. Yes, that walk. There were initially difficulties getting permission to film the scene in Dubrovnik, Croatia, due to a ban on public nudity and the logistical challenges of bringing in 500 extras to heckle. But the issues were eventually ironed out. (There are more details on the shoot here.) It seems likely this scene will take place in the final episode of the season.
7. Jon Snow will have a bad day. Will Jon receive the same mistreatment at the hands of his fellow Crows that he did at the end of A Dance with Dragons? The show certainly seems to be suggesting as much with the way it keeps underlining the growing discontent with his leadership of the Night’s Watch. (The trailer for Sunday’s episode shows Sam once again trying to explain to Olly why they should make common cause with the folks who ate the boy’s ma and pa.) Moreover, the notes for episode nine say that Jon will return to the Wall from Hardhome, so there should be plenty of time for a little Ides of March action. Alternatively, it’s possible they’ll hold this twist for next season.
A related question is whether Jon will get the same letter from Ramsay (purportedly) that he received in the books, which wound up being the proximate cause for the Watch’s mutiny. (If so, it suggests the Battle of Winterfell may again take place “offscreen,” if it happens at all.) Finally, there’s the question of whether the show will reveal Jon Snow’s long-presumed true parentage, which it’s hinted at pretty strongly this season.
8. Dragons! Wedding bells will presumably be ringing for Daenerys and Hizdahr zo Loraq. And what better way to show that Essos can one-up Westerosi nuptials that featured a mass-stabbing, a poisoning, and a marital rape than by raining down fire from the sky? I see no reason to doubt that the show will follow the books in this respect. (Here, again, the link regarding Ser Jorah’s fate is suggestive.) And did I mention that the rumored title of episode nine is “The Dance of Dragons”?
Now I know the conventional explanation for Drogon’s ongoing misbehavior is that he’s the simply the largest of Dany’s kids. But seriously: “Drogon the Dragon”? Imagine the ribbing he must take from Viserion and Rhaeghal. Who could blame him for wanting to act out and screw up Mom’s perfect wedding?
9. Lady Stoneheart? There have been so many denials regarding a reappearance of undead Catelyn Stark that one has to assume this isn’t happening. But Vanity Fair sums up the latest reasons to dream/imagine/hope against hope that it still might.
That’s all I’ve got for now, though I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve overlooked. Again, readers should share additional and alternative theories in the comments section. (Book readers, please be careful to clearly mark any book-related spoilers.) Our GoT roundtable will return on Monday morning. Until then, valar morghulis...