Will the White Walkers return? Can anyone kill Drogon-riding Daenerys after the genocide she inflicted upon King’s Landing? And how does this epic story end for Arya Stark? The sixth-and-final episode of Season 8 of Game of Thrones airs on Sunday, and below are five big questions that should be addressed before the series concludes.
The writing on Game of Thrones has felt “off” in this final season, to put it charitably, and there’s even a petition for HBO to redo the whole thing. Meanwhile, the fan backlash has made many appreciate the talents George R.R. Martin even more. As for the cast, this video on on Youtube, titled “3 Minutes of the Game of Thrones Cast Being Disappointed by Season 8,” has nearly 11 million views on this Friday before the final episode airs.
Putting the critical reactions to the side, GOT fans should at least have five questions answered in the final Game of Thrones episode, which has a run time of 79 minutes.
5. Will Jon Snow Still Support Daenerys in Episode 6?
Jon Snow has been unwavering in his support of Daenerys Targaryen, ever since he bent the knee back in Season 7. However, Season 8, Episode 5 made it clear that he wasn’t too happy with her decision to destroy King’s Landing and burn countless civilians after the city had already surrendered. He likely blames Dany for inciting the massacre that happened on the ground, too.
As one of the only other people in Westeros with a claim to the Iron Throne, Jon could challenge his aunt/former lover for the right to rule the Seven Kingdoms — but will he? Jon is also a man of his word, and he won’t go back on his promise of loyalty to Daenerys unless he’s absolutely positive that she’s the wrong person to lead. After last week, it seems pretty clear to us that she’s unfit to take the Iron Throne, but does Jon Snow agree? (Jacob Kleinman)
4. Are the White Walkers Really Gone?
Game of Thrones surprised everyone by killing off the Night King and his undead army halfway through the show’s final season. Weren’t they supposed to be the ultimate big bad? The thing everyone should actually be worried about instead of squabbling over who gets to sit on that pointy metal chair? George R.R. Martin’s not-so-subtle metaphor for climate change?
Apparently not. Except, there’s a vocal contingent of fans who think the White Walkers could come back. One theory involves Bran using his Three-Eyed Raven powers to create a new Night King since he knows how the original one was created. But a much better theory, which was actually deleted from Reddit on suspicion of being a leak, takes a much more subtle route.
What if the show’s final shot simply teases the return of the White Walkers? This “leak” claimed Game of Thrones would end with Jon Snow back in the north and beyond the Wall, where he comes across a fresh spiral pattern like the ones the Night King used to make out of human body parts. This would provide the show with an eerie final moment, echoing the opening scene back in Season 1 and leaving the possibility that the White Walkers could return. (Jacob Kleinman)
3. What’s Next For Arya?
Imagine becoming Daredevil, Lara Croft, and Zorro, and having nothing to do. When you’re a highly trained killer with a specific set of skills, what does a happy ending look like? That’s my question regarding one Arya Stark, somebody with — as Kanye once put it, “all that power,” and nothing to use it for.
Yes, of course there’s the possibility Arya will kill Daenerys in the series finale. But after that? I’m struggling to imagine what purpose Arya will have in Westeros when all is said and done (and that’s assuming she makes it out alive, which, come on, she’ll be fine).
Just try to imagine the end of Arya Stark. What does that look like? Does she stay behind in Winterfell? Does she F off to Essos and become a hired sword for coin? Does she open a Faceless Men temple and train a new generation? Almost none of those scenarios actually feel right or make logical sense for the Girl With No Name. Arya seems above coin and legacy. Homegirl is operating on a completely different plane of enlightenment than everyone else.
The monkey’s paw tragedy of Arya Stark is that she was a noble girl who thirsted for adventure, got exactly what she wished for — adventure and thrills! — and it cost her her humanity. Sleeping with Gendry wasn’t just a moment of growth, it was a reclamation of youth that Arya lost when she became a killer whose actions were beyond her years.
At the same time Game of Thrones is reaching its finale, John Wick: Chapter 3 is hitting theaters. I’m reminded of what director Chad Stahelski recently told IndieWire: There is no end for John Wick. “John may survive all this shit, but at the end of it, there’s no happy ending,” he says. “He’s got nowhere to go … He’s killed 300 fucking people. He’s fucked for the rest of his life. It’s just a matter of time.”
Besides the fact they’re competent killers, there’s a lot of Arya Stark in John Wick. These were happy people who, not by choice, were forced to become something dangerous and do dangerous things. If John Wick can’t find happiness, or simply an end, does that mean Arya Stark can’t either? (Eric Francisco)
2. Will the End of Dragons Begin Technological Progress?
In 2017, YouTube essayist Nerdwriter1 made the sound argument that dragons in Game of Thrones were the end of technological and cultural progress for Westeros. With dragons, Nerdwriter1 argued, the people of Westeros were unable to make innovations like gunpowder, because dragons “roasted the logic” of warfare and the need to advance.
Whereas gunpowder and cannons “not only ushered in a new era of warfare but a new era of government and society” — which played a key role in the dismantling feudal society in favor of centralized governance — dragons did bupkis for innovation.
“Invading armies couldn’t defeat the dragon,” Nerdwriter1 argued, “and it was basically impossible to obtain or purchase one. So the only option was to pledge fealty to those who owned the dragons.”
Sure, Game of Thrones begins its story at a time when dragons were extinct. Surely someone would have messed around to create controlled explosives. But no one did. And in Season 8, because Dany’s dragons were a problem that required solution, the Greyjoy scorpion arrows became functional replacements for cannons; scorpion arrows do the work of cannonballs at a far faster rate and half the technology.
Said Nerdwriter1, “In Game of Thrones, the economics just never pushes the society to its next phase. What’s interesting about that is that it shows the evolution of civilization isn’t always inevitable. It’s contingent on human action and the incentives that follow from it.”
The irony is that scorpion arrows may actually lead to its more clumsy, IRL counterpart, the cannonball. Because the scorpion arrows are capable of killing Dany’s last dragon — and truly, there are no more dragons left — the absence of dragons could last long enough that some enterprising smarties in Westeros could actually start moving their society forward.
Imagine, for a second, what Westeros could look like with five thousand years of actual technological evolution. (Eric Francisco)
1. Will Sansa Ask Jon to Betray Daenerys?
It’s been clear from day one that Sansa is not here for Daenerys. She’s distrustful of the Mother of Dragons, and rightly so. Sansa has proven that Winterfell and its people come first for her, so it’s not hard to imagine her reaction after finding out Daenerys burned King’s Landing to the ground. She’ll be furious and might call for Daenerys’ removal as queen and for Jon to renege on his commitment. This whole time she’s been trying to convince Jon that Daenerys is only interested in ruling and she was right. Now that Jon’s seen the destruction firsthand, Sansa could use that as leverage and ask him to betray Daenerys and Jon might do it for the greater good.
Considering what Sansa’s been through, she might pressure Jon to take extreme action against Daenerys. After all, she’s a legitimate threat to Westeros now and I wouldn’t put it past Sansa to suggest killing the Dragon Queen. At the very least, the Lady of Winterfell will ask for a trial and a sentence befitting the crime. There’s potential for this decision to further drive a wedge between Jon and Sansa, especially since they haven’t seen eye-to-eye on supporting Daenerys. However, given the events of Season 8, Episode 5, Jon might not need much convincing. Ultimately, Jon betraying Daenerys in exchange for the safety of Westeros will also give Sansa exactly what she wants: For Jon to rule. (Mae Abdulbaki)