(This post originally appeared in Areo Magazine. To view the original version, click here.)
— I’ll be discussing the Season 7 Finale of Game of Thrones, if you’re not all caught up yet, consider this your spoiler warning —
The months in between two seasons of Game of Thrones begins to feel like years and years. Fan theories and predictions are the most common ways of trying to fill the void. The past off-season was teeming with bold projections: people said that Jaime would kill Cersei, people said that the Hound would fight the Mountain, people said that the Wall would come down.
There’s a certain art to making predictions about Game of Thrones — theories can be so intricately put together and seem almost certain, but once the show actually airs and the dust settles, it often seems like it couldn’t have happened in any other way. In this way, I think trying to predict anything about Game of Thrones is difficult to do correctly. However, there are some things that I have difficulty imagining any other way.
Last year, while trying to make predictions about what would happen in Season 7, I only had one notable thing to say: Jaime must kill Cersei. The evidence was overwhelming. I joked with my friends that I loved that theory so much I could give an entire Ted-Talk about it. (This theory is pretty well-documented, you can read about it here or here.)
To summarize it briefly, Cersei’s decision to blow up the Sept of Baelor with wildfire solidified her as a tyrant reminiscent of the Mad King. Her story has culminated in her quest to have true power, power she demonstrated by burning her enemies alive. On the other hand, Jaime has spent the entire series trying to become a more honorable man after slaying the Mad King. He constantly has to try and justify his king-slaying as something he had to do for the greater good. So then, a logical end for his story would be for him to realize that his decision was the right one, and to do it again, killing the Mad Queen Cersei.
I was almost certain that this would happen in Season 7. But it didn’t. Jaime left King’s Landing at the end of Season 7, so I really don’t know where exactly that plotline is going to end up. I think that their stories seem to be going in such a direction that would indicate that Jaime will go north to fight the Army of the Dead and Cersei will use her usual trickery to strike her enemies while they’re otherwise occupied. This will give Jaime a chance to continue on his quest to repair his broken honor, whereas Cersei will continue to become a formidable tyrant.
But if Jaime does not leave the capital permanently, I think there’s plenty of room for conflict between the two. Many people (myself included) seem to think that Cersei is lying about her pregnancy, simply as a way of keeping Jaime loyal and motivated. If that is the case, it could be the last thing to turn Jaime against Cersei. And this all raises the question: who is the Lannister Army loyal to: Jaime, their commander, or Cersei, their queen?
Going North, it’s necessary to mention the Daenerys and Jon Snow pairing. The truth of Jon’s parentage has been an important plot point since the end of Season 6, and it would seem that Sam and Bran will finally be able to tell him about his parentage. And given Jon’s budding romance with Daenerys, I think that him being the heir to the Iron Throne works a little too well. They could easily marry and rule together after the threat of White Walkers are eliminated. But I think that type of ending would be too perfect, too happy. What we’re more likely to see — after the two have grown so attached to each other — is one rule at the end of the series without the other. It would be perfectly in line to see either one go through everything needed to save the realm and then be entirely disinterested in ruling it. That would encompass what Game of Thrones is trying to say about the pursuit of power — simply put, it isn’t really worth it.
That being said, I think that the final season of Thrones will bring us to the tipping point we’ve been heading towards this whole time. In this coming season, the Iron Throne will become less and less important as the Army of the Dead inches southward. Many of the show’s most powerful characters seem to be heading towards Winterfell, just as the Dead are coming south to meet them. Nothing would be more fitting than to have seven seasons of political conflict amount to nothing in comparison to a greater threat. The Great War is here, and it’s going to make the War of the Five Kings look like child’s play.