Beware, for this post is dark and full of spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 1-7
Valar morghulis, friends. You’ve just entered Mashable’s Citadel, where we are Rewatching for the Throne, dissecting Game of Thrones season by season to prepare for the final six episodes beginning on April 14.
Here are all the best Season 5 theories, unanswered questions, unresolved plots, and forgotten tidbits you need to remember before winter comes for the endgame in Season 8.
1. What does Cersei’s prophecy mean?
Lots of ink has been spilled on deciphering the prophecy that Maggy the Frog delivered to Cersei as a child. And one Season 7 development brings the validity of the whole thing into question.
First, here’s what the witch predicted in the Season 5 opening scene:
“You’ll never wed the prince, you’ll wed the king… You’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear… The king will have twenty children and you will have three… Gold will be their crowns, gold their shrouds.”
One huge, oft-debated book difference is that the show did not include the final and most vital prediction: “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
Valonqar means “the little brother” in Valyrian, which most likely refers to Tyrion or Jaime (born right after his twin/lover). Another possible twist is that its referring to her unborn child, a “little brother” who will choke the life out of her during child birth. Fans speculate the exclusion of the valonqar on the show either proves it was too big a hint, or that Cersei’s destiny will differ from the books.
For a while it seemed like all of Maggy’s prediction came true, but as with all prophecies in Game of Thrones, you can rationalize that Cersei’s belief and attempt to avoid them iconically caused her to fulfill them all herself.
The tighter she held onto her children, the more danger she put them in (especially Tommen and Joffrey). The more suspicious she became of Robert, the more she pushed him into the arms of other women. The more viciously she clung to her crown, the more opportunity she gave for a newer and more beloved queen (either Daenerys or Margaery) to rise and take her place.
But the biggest red flag about this prophecy is Cersei’s claim that she is now pregnant. She was only supposed to have three kids so either she’s lying, is going to have a miscarriage in Season 8, or will prove that all prophecies are bullshit.
Another theory is that perhaps all prophecies that require blood magic (Maggy tastes her blood before) — including the one to Dany from the witch in Season 1 — are not predictions, but curses.
2. Will we go back to Valyria?
Tyrion and Jorah’s joy ride through Valyria remains an odd dangling plot point.
For one, no one could ever sail this casually through it in the book and live to tell the tale. So showing us Valyria in the series could have a larger purpose. Perhaps it was as simple as Jorah’s greyscale subplot — which went absolutely nowhere. Or maybe the showrunners wanted to give a visual to go along with an explanation of Valyria’s important history.
Along those lines, maybe they bothered going through Valyria to set up a return to in in Season 8.
There’s plenty to be gained from a successful excavation of Valyria, particularly magic and dragon secrets but also lots of Valyrian weapons and armor. In the books, Euron claims to have adventured through the radioactively dangerous ruins.
The mysteries of Valyria and the civilization’s Doom remains one of the most tantalizing mysteries of the entire Game of Thrones universe. There are too many theories to count on what caused it, but some of the most relevant and popular include: 1) Valyrian dragon blood magic gone wrong, 2) a conspiracy by the maesters to end magic, 3) the Faceless Men in a slave uprising, 4) something due to the irregular seasons.
We may never get a real answer to that question.
But Valyria will likely still be a point of importance because (like Dragonstone and Winterfell) it’s one of the locations tied to the fourteen flames, which is a volcanic chain spanning across all of Westeros. They’re all believed to be tied to the strange seasons and magical potency, since it’s speculated that dragons grow bigger and stronger near them.
3. White Walkers are impervious to fire
No theories here, just noting this for sheer fucking terror.
Daenerys dragons will obviously be an advantage when dealing with wights — who burn immediately. But Season 5 proved that the actual White Walkers can only be killed with Valyrian steel.
Another relevant note is that, in the books, the White Walkers and wights also don’t come out during sunlight. That might sound comforting, until you consider that they also bring the winter storm with them. They get cloud cover wherever they go, so don’t expect the sun to help win the war at all.
4. Who is the Night King? Probably a Stark.
Season 5 offered our first glimpse at the White Walker threat in its full capacity. And we learned a lot of hints about who the Night King might possibly be. And almost all fans agree that he’s an ancient Stark (and no, not because he’s a time-traveling Bran).
Before we go down that path though, note that George R. R. Martin has explicitly stated the legend of the Night‘s King from the books is different than the main White Walker they call the Night King on the show. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t gleam some relevant information from the mythological figure.
In the northern legend of the Night’s King, centuries ago the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was said to have fallen in love with what sounds like a female White Walker, described as having “skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars.”
This Lord Commander then declared himself king, her his Night Queen, and reigned over the darkest period of the Night’s Watch when they even sacrificed humans to the White Walkers.
After several years, the Night King was defeated by the Starks at Winterfell and a King-Beyond-the-Wall. Then his name was scrubbed from all records. The twist here is that it’s believed his name was erased from history by the Starks because they were embarrassed that the Night King was one of their own.
There’s loooots of evidence to support that (they don’t call ’em the Kings of Winter for nothing), and that their house words — “Winter is Coming” — began at first as a boast of their powerful magic rather than a dreary climate warning.
The reason why some fans read a lot into the twelve White Walkers in the background of the Season 4 baby transformation scene (read more on that here) is because it could be a nod to the Night King being the thirteenth Lord Commander.
Some even speculate that the Night’s King legend is covering up the real origins of the Night’s Watch — not as a brotherhood to protect the realm from the White Walkers, but as protectors of the peace pact struck with the White Walkers during the first Long Night (again check out our Season 4 theory round up for more).
If that’s all true, then the Night’s King story would be a parallel to Jon Snow’s. Jon was also a Stark and Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who is hated, betrayed, and portrayed as evil by his brothers for brokering peace with mortal enemies (the Wildlings). It might even foreshadow Jon as the one who will make peace with the White Walkers to end the war. Not to mention some think the Night King’s name was a Stark bastard named Jon Snow.
Jon’s connection to the White Walkers would also explain why, in the Inside the Episode for Hardhome, showrunner David Benioff note that the Night King became intrigued by Jon after seeing him kill off one of his lieutenants. “He’s kind of thinking, ‘Huh, this kid is interesting. This kid is actually possibly a threat to me.”
Maybe the Night King even sensed Jon Snow’s secret Targaryen dragon blood.
This would also make sense with a recent EW interview from Vladimir Furdik, the Night King actor, who said, “People will see he has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is. There’s also that moment [in “Hardhome”] when Jon Snow was on the boat and the Night King looked at him and raised his arms — there’s a similar and even stronger moment between Jon and the Night King this time.”
5. They’ve been hyping up undead pale spiders
The Hardome episode marks the third time the show mentions legends claiming that White Walkers ride pale white spiders as big as hounds. Old Nan said it first, and we all know everything Old Nan says eventually proves to be 100% real.
For this and other reasons, we’re banking on giant undead spiders making an appearance in the big White Walker battle in Season 8.
6. Daenerys shares a telepathic connection with her dragons
In the fighting pit scene where Daenerys flies Drogon for the first time, there’s a moment where it looks like the end for our khaleesi. Then she closes her eyes and suddenly Drogon appears. And in the Inside the Episode, the showrunners confirm this is because Drogon sensed his mother was in great danger.
This deep connection was reinforced in the season finale, too, when Daenerys destroys the Masters attacking Meereen. As if answering her call, Rhaegal and Viserion break out of imprisonment to join her and big bro Drogon in the sky.
This telepathic connection is a huge deal. It’s basically confirming Dany has, in essence, a warging connection with her reptile babies. Like Bran entering Summer’s mind, they share a consciousness. And perhaps like the Starks and their direwolves, only a Targaryen with dragon’s blood can share this relationship. If so, Jon will need to learn this skill before riding Rhaegal in Season 8.
But what does that mean for Viserion, though, now that he is undead? Has his telepathic connection been transferred over to the Night King, even though he presumably has no Targaryen “dragon’s blood.” Will Dany be able to fight to bring back their connection when she battles the Night King on Viserion?
7. How did Qyburn resurrect the Mountain, and how will it matter?
So we all know Qyburn got kicked out of Maester school for doing “unnatural” experiments. But how the hell did he raise the dead by resurrecting the Mountain? I mean, that’s usually a power reserved for magical beings like the White Walkers or gods like the Lord of Light (allegedly).
Well we don’t have any good answer for Qyburn’s “scientific” approach to resurrection. There are hints that he knows some blood magic, and other evidence that he basically reverse-engineered the poison (clever guy).
The more interesting question is what are the consequences of the Mountain being undead?
Some believe his zombie nature might make him able to be controlled by the Night King, which won’t be great for Cersei in Season 8. But we’re not so sure about that because Qyburn confirmed that the Mountain’s undead-ness doesn’t mean he’s mindless, like the wights are.
A more optimistic theory is that he’d be susceptible to Bran’s mind control, like when he warged into Hodor (RIP). Also bad news for Cersei, though!
8. How big is the White Walker army?
The Battle at Hardhome showed us exactly how dangerous the White Walker army is, with its nearly endless possibility for growth. But exactly what kind of number are we dealing with here?
Well according to What Culture, which reportedly got access to a leaked copy of the Season 7 finale script, the stage direction from the last scene during the Wall’s destruction read:
“Emerging from the frozen coastal forest, the ARMY OF THE DEAD comes in force. All of them, 100,000 strong, with hundreds of WHITE WALKER officer corps on their dead horses.”
How does the living army stack up? Here’s a very rough estimate of the armies left standing by the end of Season 7. The most promising number is Daenerys’ nearly 100,000 Dothraki riders. But don’t forget that the White Walkers are marching south now, and will have a lot more access to more dead people and animals as they go further down.