Another season of Game of Thrones has ended, and with the dust of the Sept settled, and the blood and muck drying on the fields of Winterfell, what can we expect from the next season of George RR Martin’s fantasy epic?
Season six gave us a lot of answers: Jon has been confirmed as Lyanna Stark’s son, Benjen Stark is still alive (so to speak), Cersei is the Mad Queen, Daenerys crosses the Narrow Sea, and winter is finally here. Thanks to the show’s stellar finale, The Winds of Winter, everyone is in their new positions for the shows final act; and with the confirmation that there is only 13 episodes left before the show comes to a close, no one should get too comfortable. Let’s get started.
Winter is Here
After six seasons, and so many Stark promises, winter has finally come. While this is good news for fans itching for “The Long Night” it means that the show’s production has been moved back. Instead of premiering in April like all the past seasons, Season 7 will land later in 2017 due to the effect winter has on the show’s sunnier locations. That’s the bad news. The good news is the wealth of storytelling opportunities winter brings. The show, and its fans, according to Old Nan, have been Summer children. We have no idea what a harsh winter would do to Westeros. What it does mean is that as winter comes, the White Walkers come with it.
Bran and the Night King
Bran, or Bran Exposition, as I like to call him is inexorably linked to the White Walkers. In season six highlight The Door, the Night King put his mark on Bran in order to breach the cave of the Three Eyed Raven. Bran’s mistake cost the lives of the Raven, the presumed last of the Children of the Forest, and our beloved Hodor. It makes sense that the Night King’s brand is still in effect, after all it took Benjen to save Bran and Meera from the wight’s who were still following. At the end of the season Benjen told Bran that ancient runes and spells, were carved into the wall, meaning the dead could not pass. The dead also couldn’t breach the Raven cave. Does the mark of the Night King mean the White Walkers can pass the wall? Could Bran be the one responsible for letting these creatures in?
The King in the North
If the White Walkers do get through, and Castle Black falls (which it will, lets hope Ed can get away), the North will be the first to invaded by the dead. Luckily we have a new King of the North in Jon Snow, let’s hope he does better than the last King. If Jon gets a wedding invite I hope he burns it. It’s not just White Walkers that Jon has to deal with. As he told Sansa, the Starks of Winterfell have a lot of enemies, even some they wouldn’t expect. After all Sansa was passed over to be ruler of Winterfell, a title that even Jon thought she deserved. As Jon is proclaimed king she shares a loaded look with Littlefinger. Could Sansa, hardened by the brutality she has suffered over the years try and usurp Jon’s position? Or will se take up Littlefingers offer and try and scheme their way to the Iron Throne? There’s also the matter of Littlefingers comeuppance. This man has sewed chaos through the Seven Kingdoms since the show began. His rival Vary’s put it perfectly: Littlefinger would burn everything down if he thought he could be king of the ashes. It was Littlefinger that betrayed Ned, something Jon and Sansa don’t seem to be aware of. He caused the event that started the whole mess in motion all the way back in season one. The death of Jon Arryn, the very thing that sent Ned to King’s Landing in the first place, was orchestrated by Littlefinger, as we found out in season four. He’s playing the longest of long games, but can he win?
The Winds of Winter saw the return of Arya to Westeros as she avenged her mother, and brother, by killing Walder Frey, after she fed him his two sons. Since escaping King’s Landing in season one Arya has been a wild card, going from captor, to captor, to faceless murder cult. Now that she’s back home will she continue to cross names off her list, a list that includes Cersei and the Mountain, or will she return to Winterfell? At the very least, it will be fun to try an guess who are is disguised as from scene to scene. Another appetizing possibility is her coming across the Brotherhood again and her old friend the Hound. Sandor Clegane is another wildcard within the Game of Thrones universe, and the Lord of Light seems to have plans for him, as he does Jon. Whatever happens, it would be a treat for fans to see Arya and the Hound together again, as Maisie Williams, and Rory McCann has great chemistry as both friends and enemies.
Dany’s finally sailing west to retake the Iron Throne, a throne occupied by someone a lot more dangerous than her, dragons included. Cersei is the queen of the Seven Kingdoms once again but this time there is no man beside her. Cersei’s arc has been electrifying to watch as her actions have robbed her of her children, her love for them as Tyrion pointed out was her only redeeming quality. Now she is queen of a populace who despise her, and she them. Add to that Jamie’s return to the women he loves, the women who caused the death of his children, and in blowing up the Sept (and everyone in and around it) recreated the action in which he killed the Mad King to prevent.
A reckoning is coming for Cersei, as the witch said: she will be overthrown by someone younger and more beautiful than herself. the odds seem to favour Dany, with three dragons, the unsullied, the Iron fleet, support from three great houses (Tyrell, Martell, and Greyjoy), and Tyrion at her side, Cersei might not be on the throne for long. There is a spanner in the works though: both Dany and Bran have had visions of a destroyed throne room and a layer of snow on the Iron Throne. What this could mean is that if the Starks (ice) and Dany (fire) fail, then the Iron throne could belong to the Night King.