The wait is almost over for the final series of Game of Thrones. Colette Keane recaps on what you’ll need to know, and predicts some of the twists, turns and grisly deaths along the way.
“If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
IN THE words of the late Ramsey Bolton, if you think the final series of Game of Thrones will see one of the good guys ruling from the Iron Throne you have been watching the wrong show.
The final eighth series of GoT kicks off on Monday after a mere 541-day hiatus - but whose been counting? There are only six episodes this time around but they promise the longest, consecutive battle scene ever shown on television. Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) has said it makes ‘The Battle of the Bastards’ look like a theme-park as it is so brutal.
We have reanimated giants, fire-breathing dragons, an ice-dragon that can melt an 8,000 year old magical ice wall with fire blue flames and armies of the living and the dead all heading for Winterfell for the battle to end all battles. And that’s before we even mention the plotting and scheming of the remaining characters determined to win the Iron Throne for themselves.
Cersei has reneged on her promise given at the Wight Summit in the Dragonpits where she pledged to put the War of the Seven Kingdoms on ice until the “only war that matters” against the Army of the Dead is won. Jaimie is so disgusted he leaves his sister/lover for Winterfell. She is so enraged she almost sets the The (zombie) Mountain on him.
Jon and Daenarys have forged an alliance - ahem - and will lead the armies of the living against the night of the living dead, surely as reptilian riders.
All roads lead to Winterfell
Sansa, Arya and Bran are the only true Starks left living. George RR Martin’s wife has warned him that divorce is on the cards if he kills either Sansa or Arya - but just how likely is it that both of these women, forged into killers by loss, fear, rape and revenge will make it to the end?
Bran is now the Google of Westeros and can plug in to a tree to find answers from the past making him perhaps the scariest Stark of them all. He knows that Jon Snow is no bastard and is in fact the true heir to the Throne as the legitimate son of Rhaeger Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and his real name is Aegon Targaryen.
This makes things a little difficult for our brooding hero who has been made King of the North on the basis that is is Ned Stark’s son. He has bent the knee to the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, believing she is the best person to rule them all. Well he has met Cersei. We found out the news of his true parentage just has he was getting under the sheets with Dany - who, a little awkwardly, it turns out, is actually his aunt.
Bran Vs the Night King
Bran has become the Three Eyed Raven, a being that has battled the Night King since he was created thousands of years ago by the Children of the Forest to kill the men who were invading their lands. But now the creepy green Children are all but gone and can no longer control their creation who has spawned an army of the dead that threatens to overrun the entire country.
Bran has a key role to play to end the war. Too many people have died to save him to make him anything but a key player in this final series.
Can he warg into the Night King’s greatest creation, Viserion the Ice Dragon, and use it against the Night King himself? Or will he go back in time and try and kill him either as he is created or stop his creation altogether?
We know he can go back and alter the future as he destroyed young Willis’s mind with a vision of things to come and turned him into Hodor - who yet may turn up in the Army of the Dead. I think anyone putting their money on Bran to rule from the Iron Throne are barking up the wrong tree - so to speak.
Having worked together to execute Littlefinger, an entente far-from-cordial has broken out between the two sisters. Sansa, once a weak, wide-eyed girl, is now a proven strategist, ruler and executioner. She must be in the running to rule them all.
However, the trailer showed us three statues in the crypt - Arya and Sansa are both young, but Jon’s one is of an old man. Would the show’s creators be that blatant?
Bran is certainly giving Arya every chance of survival by ensuring she has a Valyrian steel blade for the final showdown - one of two items known to kill White Walkers. The assassin baby of Brienne and The Hound is now all grown up. Will she steal Jaimie’s face and use it to kill Cersei? Now that’s something we all would want to see.
Cersei is now more mad than the Mad King Aerys himself, who Jaimie killed as he was about to burn everyone in Kings Landing to death with wildfire and in doing so, earned himself the nickname, Kingslayer.
Cersei has already used wildfire to burn down the Sept of Balor with most of her enemies inside and has turned her back on her promise to fight against the Army of the Dead. She instead has bought the services of the Golden Company and has Euron Greyjoy’s fleet of ships to ferry them to her side to ensure it is she who will sit on the Iron Throne.
However, years ago Maggy the Frog predicted that Cersei would have three children who would all die and “her valonqar (little brother) shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you”. People have presumed this meant Tyrion. But could it be Jaimie that finally ends her life? Of all the Lannisters left, I think Tyrion is the most likely to survive.
Jon and Daenarys
The book is not called ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ for nothing. Can both of these characters make it to the end? Jon is such an honorable character, a true son of his surrogate father Ned, and we all know what happened to him. Knowing that he slept with his aunt will tear him apart.
Daenary’s will also have some job winning over her new sisters-in-law after her father set their uncle on fire. The North never forgets. Best case scenario is that the child of Jon and Daenary’s will rule the Seven Kingdoms.
Jon’s bestie Sam is also likely to make it to the end - and the story could in fact be taken from his history of the tale - we get a hint of this when he is in the Citadel saving Jorah from Greyscale - just in time for him to face the undead in Winterfell.
George RR Martin would certainly see him survive.
Unlikely the show’s writers would kill off the author’s favourite character.
Giant Babies: We all want to see Tormand win the hand of the Brienne of Tarth. What a match that would be.
Clegane Bowl: The Mountain Vs The Hound has got to happen. Last season they met up at the Dragonpit and it’s the first time The Hound has seen his brother since he became a blue-faced zombie. “Remember me? Yeah you do,” he told Gregor. “You’re even uglier than I am now. You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.”
Gendry and Arya: Will they get together? A hammer-wielding blacksmith with King Robert for a father is surely the only one who could win Arya’s heart - if she has any left.
Melisandre: She will surely meet a sticky end at the hand of the Onion Knight. And it turns out her prophecy of “The prince who is promised” is a mistranslation and the noun is actually gender neutral meaning it could be a woman who takes the throne. Jon has never sought power, but it certainly leaves the door open for Dany.
Whatever happens, we know a dead dragon is going to fight a living dragon in a hail of red and blue flames, many are going to die painful, gruesome deaths and no one is going to be happy with the outcome. Millions around the world will be hanging off the edge of their couches glued to every heart-racing second.
In the words of Cersei, “When you play the game of thrones you win or you die.”
- GoT Series 8 on Sky Atlantic April 15 at 2am and repeated at 9pm.