It’s all led to this. Sunday night’s Game of Thrones finale will bring a who’s-who of Westeros royalty together for the first time: Daenerys Targaryen, joined by Jon Snow, Tyrion, Davos, and The Hound, will converge in the Dragonpit for her first-ever meeting with Team Cersei. There are a hundred dangling questions this episode might answer: Is Cersei really pregnant? Will The Hound and The Mountain finally duel to the death? Where are Sam and Gilly headed? What the hell is up with Arya? And, hey, remember the Greyjoys? They were important once, right?
We might not know what Cersei is plotting under the official guise of inviting everyone over for a friendly show-and-tell about winter and wights. But we do have a few solid predictions about what else to expect in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the epic 79-minute finale. Prepare yourself for more sex, murder, and intrigue, and the beginning of the end of Game of Thrones.
That Wall’s Gonna Fall
Long ago, before Bran sat his all-knowing Three-Eyed butt down for a season of confounding silence, he touched a tree. At the time, he was hiding out at the old Three-Eyed Raven’s cave, where a weirwood tree allowed him to experience visions that took him north above the Wall. During one of these visions, the Night King—in a bizarre, still-unexplained twist—sensed Bran’s presence, reached out, and grabbed him, leaving behind an icy mark on his arm. That mark, as the Three-Eyed Raven explained, is what allowed the Night King to break the cave’s protective spells and find Bran in a heartbeat. Theorists have posited that the mark’s spell-crushing abilities may extend to the Wall’s protective magic, too. And we already saw Bran cruise on past the Wall in this season’s first episode.
You’d think the Night King would have zoomed straight down south after that, if Bran’s passage did indeed grant him the ability to breach the Wall’s magic. But he didn’t. Instead, he lingered in the Lands of Always Winter long enough for Jon, Daenerys, and her dragons to find him. With one deliberate, well-aimed (hmm, we might even say practiced) toss, he snagged himself his very own blue-eyed wight dragon—one he’ll now surely use to hitch a ride south. We figured in last week’s recap that undead-Viserion will likely still breathe fire, not ice. And if there’s one destructive entity powerful enough to bring down the Wall and unleash icy hell on Westeros, it’s a dragon.
Like we said before, the Wall crumbling down would make one hell of a jaw-dropping final shot of the season. We’re still betting on that—and on some horrifically unsettling reveal in Season 8 about how the Night King knew a dragon was coming his way.
It seemed far-fetched just six episodes ago, but the throwdown of Game of Thrones fans’ wildest dreams might actually become reality in this Sunday’s finale. Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and his lifelong tormentor, the (now undead) Mountain aka Gregor Clegane, will finally converge in the same place for the first time since Season 2. Both brothers have been resurrected, so to speak, in the past two seasons, and “Beyond the Wall” took care to remind us of the Gregor-inflicted trauma The Hound still grapples with. What could be a more satisfying end to The Hound’s redemption arc than crushing the sociopath who scarred his face? We have no idea how, exactly, these two would get a chance to duke it out in the Dragonpit, in the middle of all that Targaryen-Lannister drama. But it would be one hell of a spectacle. It’s bound to happen, and we absolutely can’t wait.
The Dragon and the Wolf, a Wedding, a Pregnancy
The title of Sunday’s finale seems to spotlight Daenerys and Jon Snow, the series’ central dragon and (half) wolf. As we outlined in last week’s recap, “Beyond the Wall” foreshadowed not only an impending incestuous romance (anyone with eyes has seen that coming)—but also a pregnancy. Tyrion, Jorah, and Daenerys herself each pointedly mention children and heirs in the scenes leading up to Jon’s momentous pledge of allegiance to his “Dany.” Daenerys thinks she’s infertile due to a curse cast on her in Season 1, but foreshadowing seems to hint the witch who cursed her may have been bluffing. At the very least, after a season of smoldering buildup, we can expect to see these two finally fall into each other’s arms. Fair warning: they’re blindingly radiant together.
But “The Dragon and the Wolf,” as fans excitedly pointed out when the title dropped, might also refer to another fateful pairing: Jon’s parents, Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. A quick refresher: Ned’s younger sister Lyanna was confirmed as Jon’s real mother in Bran’s flashback to the Tower of Joy last season. And the show has all but confirmed that Rhaegar is his father. (The actors themselves and an HBO infographic refer to Rhaegar as Jon’s dad, though technically no character on the show has just yet.) Gilly’s bombshell discovery in Oldtown also revealed that Rhaegar and his first wife, Elia Martell, had their marriage annulled before he married Lyanna, making Jon Snow no bastard after all.
We’ve seen Lyanna on horseback and on her deathbed in flashbacks. But we may finally get our first glimpse of Rhaegar himself on Sunday—or so the social media sleuthing of some intrepid fans indicates. Fans noticed that Aisling Franciosi, the actress who plays Lyanna, followed another actor on Twitter back in September when the show was still in production. That actor, Wilf Scolding, has been cast in an unspecified role for the finale. Look at him. Blond hair, pretty face—dude’s definitely a Targaryen, right? If those two actors do share a flashback scene in the finale, it has to be Rhaegar and Lyanna’s secret wedding.
Bran has been our window to the past in almost every flashback. Perhaps he’ll finally pipe up with some useful information for the first time all season. But to whom? Arya? Sansa? Someone else? Either way, the time for Jon Snow to finally know a thing or two is at hand. Look forward to him discovering his parentage—and his birthright as the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne—early in Season 8.
The Worst Plot Since Dorne Must Die
Arya’s vendetta against Sansa over the past two episodes has made infuriatingly little sense. Yes, the sisters were never close and have a history of resentment—but vaulting from suspicion straight to psychopathic murder threats (over a six year-old note that even its intended recipient took one look at and went, “nah”) has felt painfully, artificially forced. In part because of this, one popular question on fans’ minds (apart from “WTF”) has been: is Arya playing us?
Through his Three-Eyed omniscience, Bran let on earlier this season that he knows Littlefinger is responsible for the fall of House Stark. “Chaos is a ladder,” he told Lord Baelish, echoing what Littlefinger told Varys after he betrayed Ned and instigated the War of the Five Kings. You’d think Bran would have said something by now to either Arya or Sansa—just like you’d think both sisters would mistrust Baelish more than they do each other.
Maybe they do. The glass half full take: Arya’s claims against Sansa are willfully exaggerated. (Glass half empty: Girl is actually a sociopath, and a badly-written one at that.) Her professed memories of Sansa on Ned’s execution stage seem purposely selective; she mentions Sansa’s “pretty” dress and Lannister-style hair, but not the way she screamed and cried when Joffrey changed his mind about sparing Ned’s life. She also rails at Sansa for being forced to serve the Lannisters while in captivity—a ridiculous line of attack for Tywin’s former cup-bearer at Harrenhal.
In an interview with Mashable, “Beyond the Wall” director Alan Taylor said his aim in filming Arya’s threatening scenes was “to build up the expectation as much as possible that one of them [Arya or Sansa] is going to die, and hopefully surprise people by what happens.” That, uh, suggests one of them does not die in Sunday’s finale. Surprise? Still, we doubt Littlefinger, Arya, and Sansa are going to just hug this out—not with Chekhov’s Valyrian dagger still changing hands every episode. So who, if anyone, will shed blood?
We’re hoping one or both of the sisters is playing into Littlefinger’s hands deliberately. Each is certainly capable of playing that game: Sansa spent years learning first-hand about the cruelty of ambitious men, and Arya is a trained assassin who should be sensing his lurky mustachioed presence a mile away. If some twist in the finale explains away these inconsistencies, it would hardly justify this illogical, overextended plot. But man, wouldn’t it be sweet to watch Littlefinger get his comeuppance? And even sweeter to see this storyline put out of its misery? Consider us hyped.