Why the Night King Needs to Die in 'Game of Thrones' Season 8, Episode 3

Everyone on the internet is so eager to outsmart Game of Thrones by arguing the Night King won’t be at the Great Battle of Winterfell in Season 8, Episode 3. There’s a very valid theory that says the Night King is using the battle as a distraction in order to fly to King’s Landing undisturbed and take the throne from Cersei Lannister, who seems to be happy just drinking wine and twiddling her thumbs while the North (and her brother/lover) confronts total annihilation.

Update, 4/28/19: See who lived and who died during the Battle of Winterfell

It’s a very valid theory. But what if, and hear me out on this one, the Night King is actually at the Great Battle of Winterfell. And not only that: He’s going to die.

Why the Night King Is Gonna Die in the Great Battle of Winterfell

Let’s just say first and foremost that it would be one of the greatest twists in TV history. Killing the Night King in the very battle that all eight seasons/six books have been building towards would be one hell of a way to upend expectations and keep the story going into interesting places before the finish line. There are just six episodes this entire season, and we’re already at the halfway mark.

“But what about real reasons?” you ask. Sure. Consider for a moment that there is one glaring piece of unfinished business that Game of Thrones still has to contend with, and her name is Cersei Lannister. The Lannister armies are noticeably absent from the North because Cersei refuses to hold hands with the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.

Map: Here’s where all your favorite characters will be during the Great Battle of Winterfell.

The way Game of Thrones seems plotted this season, with the Battle of Winterfell kicking off now instead of later, is a glaring sign that the Night King and the White Walkers aren’t the endgame. Rather, the final battle will be a civil war against Cersei.

So where is the Night King? If the theories are in fact false, and he’s not flying over to King’s Landing during the battle, it’s likely he’s already underground to carry out the other fan theory: The one involving raising the dead inside the Winterfell crypts where all the most vulnerable characters are hiding.

Allowing the Night King to sneak into Winterfell opens up a dozen amazing possibilities: direct confrontation with Bran, direct combat with some of our greatest heavy hitters (picture Tormund, the Hound, Brienne, and even Podrick fighting the Night King like a bunch of Power Rangers), and my favorite, direct contact with Daenerys Targaryen. As we’ve seen from the Night King before, that cold bastard has the power to transform anyone into a White Walker by touch.

There is healthy speculation that Dany will turn on Jon Snow, or that Dany will turn evil and go all Mad King like her father. Actress Emilia Clarke herself has said that Daenerys will do something so horrible in the season that fans will hate her. What if Clarke is alluding to Dany’s inhuman transformation, which means Dany might be the one to kill off even more of our faves?

Where All This Tinfoil Hat Talk Is Coming From

All this “What if? What if? What if?” is coming from is all because I can’t stop thinking about another epic show that plotted itself like Game of Thrones. It is a completely different show in a completely different universe with completely different creators, but where Thrones is at, I can’t shake off J. Michael Straczynski’s sci-fi drama Babylon 5, a groundbreaking ‘90s show that proved how serial storytelling could work on TV.

Without recapping too much that you’ll have to memorize a whole host of new names, just know that Stracyzynski’s show also staged an epic war against an ancient enemy, with armies assembled on both sides after hard-fought political turmoil. But in a way that might seem surprising, Babylon 5 didn’t end its epic fourth season (the show ran for five seasons total) with that ancient war. That was the midpoint. Instead, the climax dealt with civil war against tyrannical human President Clark of Earth, who imposed fascistic policies and martial law.

Sound familiar? In Game of Thrones, it’s the Night King, the White Walkers, and Cersei Lannister. Babylon 5 fans know them as the Shadows, the Vorlons, and President Clark.

These are completely different shows, yes. But Babylon 5 remains the blueprints for how to tell epic, warfare-based stories in a larger narrative.

So right now, if he’s not flying to King’s Landing, then I just can’t imagine the Night King being anywhere else or surviving the Great Battle of Winterfell.

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3 airs Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

Media via HBO