16 Lingering ‘Game of Thrones’ Questions That Need to Be Addressed in Season 8
Game of Thrones Season 7 came and went in a flash, and now we’re stuck waiting a year or two (who knows really?) until the final six episodes. But that also gives us some time to unpack everything revealed in the explosive Season 7 finale. After “The Dragon and the Wolf,” we have a lot of questions.
The Season 7 finale – SPOILER alert – left us with a handful of urgent inquiries about the future of Jon and Daenerys’ relationship once they learn about their matching DNA, what awaits Jaime, why Tyrion was looking so pissed off during the boat sex, and most importantly, what the hell happened to Tormund and Beric? If the red-headed Wildling is dead HBO best prepare for a full-on riot. ScreenCrush editors and GoT experts (seriously, we’re so good almost all of our finale predictions came true) E. Oliver Whitney and Kevin Fitzpatrick break down the biggest lingering questions that need to be addressed in Season 8, along with some theories for what’s next.
1. Did Tormund and Beric Die?
You know the rule – if we don’t see dead bodies onscreen, they ain’t dead. That’s at least what I’ve been telling myself since Sunday night’s finale in hopes that Tormund and Beric aren’t gone for good. We saw them evacuating Eastwatch as blue-eyed Viserion and the Night King toppled part of the Wall and the wight army stormed through. While logistically it would make sense that the Wildling and resurrected man died there – did they actually have enough time to escape the highest point of the Wall and dodge the ensuing ice avalanche? – I strongly doubt the showrunners would kill off a character as beloved as Tormund off-screen. The show even gave Thoros, a relatively minor character, an onscreen death and touching funeral ceremony, so Tormund and Beric surely deserve just as much if not better treatment. You don’t give a man like Tormund an episode full of hilarious asides then just kill him off without consideration.
2. Is Yara Alive?
As Season 7 itself proved, Game of Thrones is not one to let character fates linger, least of all when they’re fan-favorites. The relatively short season likely also contributed to Gemma Whelan’s Yara disappearing after Euron’s captive procession through King’s Landing, though her ultimate fate formed the crux of Theon’s struggle in the finale. The Ironborn probably weren’t wrong telling Theon that Yara’s a likely goner, but Yara’s too beloved a character for an offscreen demise, and Euron’s too sadistic to give up one of his toys. We’d place odds on Theon and co. interrupting his uncle as he secures the “Golden Company” for Cersei, perhaps running a similar stealth operation to the one that almost liberated Theon from Ramsay. Will it succeed? Well, what is dead may never die, but seeing how little time Season 8 has for a happy Greyjoy reunion, perhaps it’s best the whole family go out in a blaze of glory.
3. Why Was Viserion’s Fire Blue and How Did It Destroy The Wall?
The showrunners have handled Viserion’s Night King resurrection with such ambiguity that we’ll be left debating the dragon’s proper name – Is he an ice dragon? A wight dragon? A White
Walker Flyer? – and abilities until Season 8 arrives with answers (hopefully). The biggest question remains why exactly Viserion breathed blue flames, and what about those flames made the magically-enchanted 8,000 year old wall of ice crumble.
A careful look at the scene reveals that as the blue flames hit the Wall, the ice notably didn’t melt. A sea of water cascading down would’ve been a big problem for the wights, whom we know can’t swim or cross icy waters. VICE’s Motherboard has one scientific explanation that Viserion’s fire could contain highly oxygenated dicyanoacetylene, which is a fancy way of saying his blue-tinted flames burn exceptionally hotter than the typical yellow flames he shot pre-resurrection. But science matters little in the world of Game of Thrones, so it could simply boil down to the Night King’s magic. The mark he left on Bran’s arm allowed him to enter the former Three-Eyed Raven’s cave, so we could assume his contact with the dragon transferred some of that magic to Viserion, thus enabling the blue dragonfire the power to break through the Wall’s magical enchantments. In all honesty, I think Dan Weiss and David Benioff just dug the idea of showing a dragon with blue fire. Whether it means anything significant or not, it did look pretty incredible.
4. Where Will Jaime Go Next, and Is Bronn Safe Without Him?
After the seventh, eighth, or perhaps 12th strike, Jaime Lannister finally walked off the field and away from his murderous Queen sister. Perhaps it was Brienne’s willingness to speak truth that opened his eyes to Cersei’s nihilistic self-preservation, or merely a sense of honor, but Tywin’s middle-child is nonetheless bound for whiter pastures. The question is: Where will he go?
All roads inevitably lead to Winterfell, as we saw Jon and Dany casually planning their seaside coupling with a first stop at White Harbor. It’s possible Jaime could rush to head them off, and join the effort with news of Cersei’s betrayal, but we’d have to imagine the undercover Kingslayer will seek out Brienne first. We didn’t see Brienne after the Dragonpit, but she’ll presumably return to Sansa’s side at Winterfell, complete with awkward “You did WHAT to Littlefinger?!” upon her return. Oh, and super-bonus if Tormund survived to return to Winterfell as well, only to find the two towhead warriors sharing another bath.
Now, the real question: What the heck happened to Bronn? The Lannister brothers’ best bud allegedly left the arena over Jerome Flynn and Lena Headey’s reported refusal to work together, but the character was dangerously unaddressed by finale’s end. Did Jaime even tell Bronn he was leaving forever? Is our favorite Blackwater badass safe from Cersei, if the two can’t even share a scene? Somehow, we don’t imagine him staying in King’s Landing without a steady paycheck.
5. What’s the Deal With Tyrion’s Boat Sex Reaction?
This one had a great deal of Game of Thrones fans going, so director Jeremy Podeswa helpfully stepped in to answer. Tyrion was neither getting his perv on nor listening to Jon and Daenerys with lovelorn grief, but rather concerned how the coupling of Queen Daenerys with a (to his knowledge) bastard King in the North might complicate their campaign for Westeros, let alone war against the Night King (via The Daily Beast):
The consequences of Dany and Jon getting together are completely unknown. Is she gonna make decisions now based on this new relationship? Is she gonna be able to separate her personal [interests] from the interests of the greater group? What is this going to foretell for the alliance and what they’re all meant to do as a united front? So I think the worry for [Tyrion] is that now, everything is up for grabs. We don’t really know who’s going to side with who, what’s gonna happen at the end of the day, and which alliances are going to be the strongest.
That said, there’s still the healthy question of how Tyrion ultimately won Cersei over to their side (on the surface, anyway), which brings us to…
6. What Was Discussed Between Tyrion and Cersei?
One of the most surprising moments of “The Dragon and the Wolf” was the tense encounter between Cersei and Tyrion that somehow ended in zero Lannister deaths. It’s especially peculiar that Cersei would waste her time feigning alliance with Daenerys and Jon after initially refusing an agreement, and do so per the request of the one person she hates most in the world. Something was negotiated off-screen between Cersei and Tyrion in that room, but what?
It’s pretty implausible that Tyrion would switch allegiances or betray Daenerys, but there could have been a negotiation regarding a marriage or perhaps a line of succession that regarding Cersei’s baby. There’s one theory floating around (via Nerdist) that Tyrion, knowing Dany (supposedly) can’t have kids, promised Cersei her child will be the next to sit on the Iron Throne after Daenerys. And going back to the Tyrion boat sex reaction above, such an agreement would explain his worried look.
But there is another simpler possibility. Perhaps Tyrion was the one who told Cersei to lie and fake an alliance. He knew he couldn’t convince his sister to assist Daenerys, so at the very least her lie would (temporarily) alleviate tension between the parties, avoid potential bloodshed, and boost morale for Daenerys. Whatever was said in that room, Season 8 will need to explain it to some degree.
7. What Happened To Gendry?
As we saw (or didn’t) with Yara, “The Dragon and the Wolf” had only so much of its 79-minute runtime to check in with various players on the fringe. Joe Dempsie’s Gendry seemed like a notable omission, given how much attention his return got, only to send the character racing back to the Wall for that miracle raven that brought Daenerys and her three dragons to the fight. Was that really the only purpose Robert Baratheon’s bastard could serve? We’ll presume that Gendry recovered from exhaustion quick enough, as Jon was certainly up and about after wounds sustained in the actual battle (and the frigid plunge thereafter). It wouldn’t make sense of the character to remain at Eastwatch with Tormund and Beric, but there’s probably good reason he wasn’t present with father figure Davos at the Dragonpit.
After all, Gendry may have gotten by for years under his enemies’ noses as a blacksmith, but if there were even the slightest chance of Cersei recognizing Robert Baratheon’s features in the boy’s face, the whole meeting might have derailed. Considering the rapport and symmetry of Ned Stark’s (figurative) son fighting alongside Robert Baratheon’s, we’ll likely see Gendry again in Season 8. We’ve still got the inevitable Arya reunion to look forward to as well. Swoon!
8. When Did Arya and Sansa Start Collaborating, and How Much was Bran Involved?
Once again, it’s Jeremy Podeswa to the rescue. Arya and Sansa’s awkward sibling rivalry was revealed as a ploy to trap Littlefinger in his own trial, but “The Dragon and the Wolf” never made clear exactly how much collaboration took place between the sisters, or if Bran actually aided in the plot. I certainly read that Arya and Sansa were staging their feuds publicly to lull listeners into a false sense of security, but as Podeswa put it to The Daily Beast, it was only after Bran’s offscreen intervention that Sansa and Arya put aside their differences:
I really believe that some of Littlefinger’s manipulations of Sansa were working on her, and that there was a question in her mind at some point of what Arya’s motives really were and whether she could trust her … Personally, I don’t think that they were putting on this ruse for the entire season. I feel like what probably happened is that Bran got involved and he was able to answer a lot of questions and fill in a lot of gaps the both of them had, and later when we see him in the scene with Littlefinger, all the stuff that Bran is saying in that scene is not news to Sansa and Arya. So clearly they’ve been apprised of all this stuff before. But exactly when that happened is the question. Like how early did they know all this and how early did they decide to turn the tables on Littlefinger? That’s a bit of a question.
Either way, the pair’s final appearance made clear that Arya and Sansa went back to besties as well they could, while Bran returned to gazing at his tree-wife.
9. With Littlefinger Gone, What’s Arya’s Next Move?
Arya’s endgame has been a bit muddled since she skipped King’s Landing to return to Winterfell. The season finale made clear that Arya is indeed still devoted to her assassins mission, but now that justice has been served to Littlefinger, what will she do next? The young Stark probably won’t kill time hanging with her sister – they may have schemed together, but they still have their differences – and if killing traitors really is her primary aim at this point, there are still unchecked names on her list: Cersei and the Mountain (and Ilyn Payne, technically, who oddly disappeared from her list after a few seasons).
My best guess is Arya will head to King’s Landing next to start taking names, and this time she has the perfect disguise: Littlefinger’s face. The showrunners need to be careful how often they use the whole face-swapping trick, or else it’ll get real old, real fast. But using Littlefinger’s face would be a perfect way for Arya to creep into King’s Landing, get close to Cersei, spot the Queen’s vulnerabilities, and strike her when she least expects it. The only issue is whether word will travel about Littlefinger’s death, and Arya would need the Northern houses to keep the news quiet. Asking the Northern Lords to keep mum for mysterious reasons is a bit of a stretch, and perhaps too fan servicey, but it would be a delicious surprise to see Aidan Gillen return.
10. How Will News of Jon’s Parentage Affect Jon and Daenerys?
The fun part’s over for Jon and Daenerys, and doubly so for the audience, whoever got to enjoy the fruits of their shipping without knowledge of Jon and Daenerys as nephew and aunt. Either way, this union was complicated enough before learning of their shared DNA, and the bomb-drop will presumably wait until the two stride arm-in-arm into Winterfell.
Obviously, incest isn’t quite so squick in the world of Westeros, and least of all for Targaryens, who likely would have wed Daenerys to Rhaegar’s other son Aegon (the dead one) by her own admission. All the same, Daenerys would bristle at the thought of continuing her family’s tradition, to say nothing of Jon technically holding better claim to the Iron Throne.
The two didn’t grow up together or share any family resemblance, so it’s possible they decide to overlook any common chromosomes in favor of Jon’s Stark ancestry. The bigger question is whether Jon’s increasingly independent kingdom will accept his marriage or submission to a foreign conqueror, let alone one he’s related to. We’re tempted to say Season 8 hasn’t time for further Northern unrest, but somehow we doubt this ends with Ice and Fire hand-in-hand on the Iron Throne.
11. What’s the Deal With Jon’s Name(s)?
There are a couple of questions on the table regarding Jon’s names. First off, why did Ned name his secret nephew baby Jon? That could have been a little tribute to Jon Arryn, who was a mentor to Ned and fostered him as a boy along with Robert Baratheon. But the more important question is Jon’s birth name, Aegon Targaryen. Out of all names for Weiss and Benioff to choose from, that’s a real curious choice.
First, some history: The original Aegon was the first Targaryen king who conquered Westeros back in the day. But there’s another noteworthy Targ with that name. Rhaegar had two children with Elia Martell, his previous wife, named Rhaenys and Aegon. In the books, Rhaegar was a man obsessed with prophecies and believed Aegon was the “prince that was promised.” He also subscribed to the prophecy that the dragon has three heads (ya know, one rider per dragon), which explains his desire to have a third child. And thus, the baby known as Jon Snow was born.
The peculiar thing is why Rhaegar would reuse the name Aegon for his third son. In the show we know Rhaegar’s kids with Elia were murdered by the Mountain (there’s speculation in the books that Aegon was swapped out with another baby and survived, but let’s not get into that). Lyanna could have named her baby in honor of the dead Aegon. Or if Rhaegar knew his first Aegon was already dead and thus couldn’t fulfill the prophecy, maybe he told Lyanna to use that name for their kid, hoping he could one day be the the so-called prophesied prince.
The timeline of this history is murky in the books, so it’s tough to know. And it’s also possible that Jon has another birth name in the books. But all of this brings up another essential question: How much does the series care about the prophecies of George R.R. Martin’s world? Is there still faith in the three heads of the dragon prophecy or Azor Ahai, or even the valonqar for that matter? Does Jon’s birth name really add any weight to the Azor Ahai theories, or was it just another name chosen by the showrunners knowing it wouldn’t confuse non-book readers? It’s easy to feel like the show is devaluing the rich history and belief systems of Martin’s books as it heads into its own territory without the books guiding it. Hopefully the show will unveil some symbolism behind Jon’s name as we get into Season 8.
12. Will Cleganebowl Actually Happen?
Yes, duh. Get the skeptics out of here; if anything is destined to happen in Season 8, it will be an epic brawl between the Clegane brothers. Most of us expected the long-awaited fight between the Hound and the Mountain to go down this year, especially with that awfully misleading shot of Sandor drawing his sword in the Dragonpit. But the finale’s mini reunion between the brothers didn’t leave the fires of Cleganebowl hype totally unstimulated.”This isn’t how it ends for you brother,” Sandor threateningly told the zombified Gregor. It was an awkward moment between the brothers, but sure seemed like the showrunners’ way of telling fans to hold out just a little bit longer for the inevitable throwdown.
13. What’s Next for Melisandre?
Added to the 999 peripheral characters absent from Sunday’s finale was Melisandre, whose brief contribution to Season 7 involved introducing herself to Daenerys, babbling on about the Lord of Light prophecies, and disappearing to Volantis with a cryptic hint about both Varys and her own demises. Granted, Carice Van Houten made clear early on that she wouldn’t return to Season 7, and had trouble keeping away from her newborn baby regardless.
All the same, Melisandre did make note that she’d return to Westeros “one last time” and face her imminent death.
Volantis hasn’t garnered too much mention in the show, but what exactly might the character do there? Well, the books note Volantis as the most populated of Essos’ cities, and temple home to the Lord of Light religion. We’ve seen several other red priests spreading the good word of Daenerys Targaryen, but seeing as the “prince that was promised” prophecy could just as easily refer to Jon, Daenerys or a hundred others, it stands to reason Melisandre needed to sort things out at home base.
Another possibility is that Melisandre intends to gather all the red priests and warriors trained under R’hllor (a fighting force called the “Fiery Hand” sounds right up Game of Thrones’ alley) in order to aid the battle against the Night King. Either way, we’d bank on ol’ Mellie showing up in the nick of time rather than visit her in Essos, and wouldn’t rule out a final confrontation with Davos, either.
14. Will We See Ellaria Sand Again?
One of the more gutting moments of Season 7 was Cersei’s twisted mama revenge against fellow mother Ellaria Sand, leaving the woman chained up and forced to watch her daughter die before her eyes. Cersei made it clear that she wasn’t killing Ellaria, which leaves the potential to see her again. But considering the way the series has handled the Dorne plot and swiftly executed the Sand Snakes this year in some exceptionally gratuitous violence, I can’t imagine Ellaria Sand returning again. With only six episodes left, there’s far too much to wrap up to return to Ellaria. Actress Indira Varma has already said she won’t be returning to the show (which could be a lie). But if King’s Landing does ever get sacked by Daenerys, it would be a touching note to show Ellaria being rescued from the dungeons.
15. Where Will the Wight Army Invade First?
With the army of the dead marching through the Wall, the question remains how long until they start attacking and where will they hit first? Coming from Eastwatch, the army will likely make their way through the Gift and start squashing smaller villages first (think Olly’s village that was raided by the Wildlings back in Season 4). Then it’s only a matter of time until they hit Winterfell. Since the army is marching, and seemingly as slow as a blind snail, that buys the Starks some time before the ice zombies arrive. But it’s also worth considering the travel advantage the Night King now has with a dragon.
Daenerys traveled from Dragonstone to save Jon & co. in “Beyond the Wall” in what appeared to be a matter of hours. The director admitted to the fudged timeline of the episode, but let’s get nerdy for a second and figure out the logistics. As mathematically astute Redditors surmised, Dany traveled roughly 2000 miles and it would’ve likely taken her about two days atop a dragon to get to Jon north of the Wall. Fans have previously deduced that the distance between Winterfell and the Wall (Castle Black, specifically) is roughly a third of the distance Dany went in the penultimate episode. Based on the calculated flight time of ravens, that means theoretically the Night King could ditch his slowpoke army and fly ahead to blow Winterfell to smithereens in less than a day. While GoT will probably continue to fudge timelines in Season 8, there’s no denying that the White Walkers are close.
16. How Will the Golden Company Factor In?
Lannisters sure do love their gold, but perhaps no tease in Season 7 landed with such repetition as the fabled “Golden Company” mercenaries of Essos. Game of Thrones has mentioned the group before as notoriously committed sellswords, but we’ve never seen someone actively engage their services until Cersei claimed to have done so with the Iron Bank’s backing. Soldiers, ships and yes, even elephants are reportedly now at the Queen’s disposal, along with Euron Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet.
Again – it’s perhaps odd that the final six Game of Thrones episodes will continue Cersei’s political and military maneuvering while the Night King threat grows more urgent, but it’s entirely possible her play immediately backfires into zombie elephants tearing down King’s Landing. The books also place mysterious emphasis on the Golden Company’s presence in Volantis, which could see Melisandre, Euron, Yara, and Theon all converging on this story as well.