Winter is here and with it is the much-hyped “wars to come” on Game of Thrones. And, just like Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, us viewers are left wondering who is the most important enemy: the magical Night King north of the Wall or the nefarious Queen Cersei Lannister? Game of Thrones is heading towards confrontations with each villain, but it’s hard to predict which conflict the show will resolve first.
Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7 and the potential fate of Westeros are below.
Reason says that the final enemy in Game of Thrones will be the ice necromancer that can bring even dragons back to life to fight for him. The Night King and his army of the dead want to wipe out all human life, and they’ve also got magical ice spears that can one-shot dragons. What could be more threatening than that? A spiteful queen, probably.
As Beric Dondarrion pointed out in “Beyond the Wall,” the good guys only need to kill the Night King for the entire army of the dead, White Walkers included, to fall. A well-aimed Dragonglass arrow, or maybe even one really aggressive fire dragon, could do that in an open field. Heck, a handful of Westeros’ best warriors leaping off the back of a dragon to ambush the Night King and his entourage could end things pretty quickly.
It’s just too bad that the Night King has impossible accuracy with those ice spears, which makes using the dragons against him a risky choice.
There’s something about the raw power of the Night King that can almost certainly outdo any army Cersei might be able to muster or buy. But to Jon and Dany, Cersei is arguably an even greater threat, because even though Dany’s the one with dragons, Cersei actually holds all the power right now. Will she help them in the war against the Night King? Or will she opt out and screw over every living being in Westeros? Probably the latter.
Should Cersei decide not to take part in the northern war, it would force Jon and Daenerys to deplete forces in open war against the Night King, leaving them vulnerable to attack from Cersei. Whether or not the Night King wins, the victor in that war would head south to King’s Landing. Even one dragon could defeat Cersei and her armies, but so could the Night King, with an even larger army of the dead at his back.
In Season 7’s “Eastwatch,” Cersei’s attitude regarding the proposed armistice implies that she’s still scheming to defeat her enemies. She scoffs when Jaime tells her that there will be proof that the army of the dead exists; she still thinks it’s all nonsense and would rather use the situation to her advantage.
When she meets with Jaime, Cersei says, “I’ve come to believe that an accommodation with the Dragon Queen could be in our immediate interest. … If we want to beat her, we have to be clever. We have to fight her like father would have.” What might their father Tywin Lannister do?Well, the man once played a role in orchestrating the infamous Red Wedding, which betrayed sacred Westerosi custom for the sake of murdering defenseless political enemies in cold blood. So that gives us an idea of what Cersei might be thinking right now.
“Dead men, dragons, and dragon queens,” she says to Jaime. “Whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it, for ourselves, for our house, for this.” That’s how Cersei announced her pregnancy to her brother-lover, making it clear that she cares more about eliminating her enemies than preserving a future for her baby. Jon and Daenerys will have no option other than to target the Night King first, assuming Cersei turns down their request for peace.
In “Beyond the Wall,” Jon came so close to attacking the Night King directly — closer than he’s ever come to facing Cersei — and that was with a small squad of around 10 men, not counting the reinforcements from three dragons and one queen.
At this point, assassinating the Night King seems like a more achievable goal and an easier war to win than trying to make peace with Cersei, in any capacity. Chances are, the cold war against Cersei might just outlast the war against the Night King, which would force Game of Thrones to resume its former status quo about political machinations and wars over power than the current one about ice magic and zombies.
Between Cersei and the Night King, who will die first? It’s probably going to be the Night King, unless Jon and Dany can fight a war on two fronts and the two villains are defeated simultaneously. It’s tough to say.
One thing is perhaps a little closer to certainty: Going into the Season 7 finale, as 17 characters meet up in the Dragonpit of King’s Landing, Cersei’s definitely scheming for ways to trick or kill her enemies. And she’ll keep doing so until somebody kills her, which might just happen after the Night King is already dead.
The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale airs this Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern.