Spoilers Ahead. This is your first, last, and only warning.
So, Game of Thrones ended its season about a month ago, and we are still absorbing the impact. In light of many of the stunning and explosive events, as well as the news that seasons seven and eight will be shortened, and seven won’t premiere until next summer, this is as good a time as any to analyze and look at what we have thus far. Now, I’m rifting from both the books and the series, as the first four seasons were pretty faithful to the first three books, and a lot of my theories are derived from book events, as they pertain to series-only events, i.e. unless the series contradicts the books, the books are valid.
So, I’m going to break down everything in bullet points, because it is easier for me write that way, and probably for you to digest it.
1. The women are taking charge
Game of Thrones is established as early as the pilot as a man’s world. Yes, Cersei has her machinations, but she is dependent on men to execute them for her. Her great contrast was Catelyn Stark, who acknowledged her limitations but worked from within them, and was ultimately granted more and more power as she proved herself useful to Robb.
However, starting with season two, we see more women assuming command; Daenerys begins building a kingdom for herself, culminating in her seizure of power in Meereen, and as we saw in “The Winds of Winter”, sailing for Westeros with a massive fleet. Margery Tyrell proves capable at influencing events, setting the stage in motion with her conversation with Littlefinger in season two when she states that she wants to be the Queen, which also favors her house greatly. In the big picture, the only truly dominant man in any major position right now is Jon, recently named King in the North. Most other plotlines are dominated by women, and in most cases they either made their positions or forced their way into them.
It is a nice change from the constant subjection of women on the show, and whilst I make no illusions about the plight of the common woman, the highborn ladies are finally seizing power for themselves. (Of note, I’ve thought for years that with common women, at least they have more free will and ability to survive on their own without being dependent on their families.) Having strong, powerful women in actual positions of power is not reflective of the medieval England that George R.R. Martin had in mind, but when you consider all the historical women who wielded power, usually as Regents for their young sons, it is not completely inaccurate either, and for the show, it demonstrates a wonderful change.
2. We are nearing the end
This season established, about halfway through, that the series was closer to its end than its beginning, and after the events of “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter” we know the end is truly near. For us fans of the books, the sight of the white ravens leaving the Citadel left us was a jaw-dropping realization, something Sansa confirmed later in the episode, “winter is here.” Jon’s response referencing the Stark words is both warm and sad, forcing us to reflect not only on Ned Stark, but the others who have fallen along the way.
Considering that winter has been the great fear, it’s what the books and series have been building to since season two announced that autumn had finally come, it makes sense that the show would take a moment to discuss it. Missing, of course, is the snow in King’s Landing, which in the books at least is closer to New York City in terms of latitude and consequently snow fall; the realization in the books is shown when snow has begun falling on the capital.
However, winter is only one element. The plotlines with the Faith were intriguing, but I could see the writers being bored of it; rather than let Margery win out, they have Cersei blow it all up, which seems representative of their desire to move on from that plot, but also removes nearly a dozen key characters from the story at once. The idea of “building a new world” for Cersei is one she can control; but she can’t. Cersei’s greatest fault is short-sightedness, as evidenced by most of her decisions as Regent. (Again, the books elaborate a lot more on this.) More significantly, by removing characters from the story all-together, i.e. the destruction of the Sept, or by shifting focus away from them, i.e. the story leaving the Wall and Night’s Watch behind, it allows us to simplify the story, to get on with the plots that we all want to come to fruition, which primarily are the war against the White Walkers and Daenery’s assault on Westeros.
The show needs to give us reunions next season, and especially familial ones. The Starks need to have a collective moment together at some point; they were originally the drivers of the story, and to have the surviving Starks together would be a touching moment, although the moment when they all realize how dramatically they’ve changed could be equally as chilling. Jaime and Tyrion need to have one, and I love the idea of them taking down Cersei together; it’s been speculated Jaime may marry Dany and that would be lovely way of fulfilling the prophecy Cersei has always feared. I think the show has earned the right to do that after six seasons.
4. White Walkers
We really don’t know that much about the white walkers, but I think it’s high time we learn. I do want to see more of them; they are actual people, not humans obviously, but a people with culture, language, and probably good motivations for wanting to invade the South, which I cannot believe are just conquest, or doing evil because they can. I also theorize that they are responsible for the magically inconsistent seasons; maybe the children of the forest once held that ability, but it was stolen from them when they created the White Walkers. The Night King probably knew that in order to cause a brutal winter he would need to provide a long summer, i.e. the cost of magic, which would likewise lull the lords and ladies into a false sense of security.
However, Sam comes into play here, since he may learn more about the Long Night than anyone has bothered to try in thousands of years. He may discover something that would be a huge shock, that would change the game, and potentially the series; I only hope that this twist would not inherently result in an anti-climactic ending for the series and story arc.
Wild speculation: fan theory time!
Before I continue, remember these are personal fan theories and yours may differ; please be respectful of that fact in the comments.
1. Littlefinger has a larger plan; a lot of people have interpreted the glances between Sansa and Littlefinger to be emblematic of tension between her and Jon when the other Northerners ignore her and proclaim him King in the North. I disagree: I think that was her plan all along, and she got Littlefinger on board with it. Littlefinger is largely unreliable, but the one believable characteristic is that he loved Catelyn and subsequently Sansa. Also, I feel that a large element of the books and series are all the conversations, or part of conversations, we do not see and hear, and when Littlefinger asks who the Northerners should rally behind, I can’t help but imagine Sansa asking “why not me?” to which Littlefinger would respond that they might not see her that way (after all, the North seems more conservative), and that he can ensure stability in the North through her. I have a feeling she may have taken him up on his marriage proposal to secure Jon’s place.
2. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that at least Littlefinger, Varys, and Howland Reed (if he’s still alive on the show), know or at least strongly suspect Jon’s parentage. This is based less on actual events as it is their interactions with Ned Stark, who was an extremely honorable man; Howland was at the Tower of Joy, whereas Littlefinger was fostered alongside Ned; both him and Varys got a really good look at him during his stint as the Hand of the King, and it does not take much to realize that a man like that would not be unfaithful to his wife. I have a feeling that Vary’s pro-Targaryen plotting actively involved sending Ned, once he was arrested, to the Wall to help facilitate Jon’s eventual rise. It is possible Littlefinger told Sansa of his suspicions, and that the moment when he and Sansa looked at the tomb of Lyanna Stark was a set up for that moment. In any event, it would also help them in eventually gaining traction on whatever plots they have moving, as Varys could use it to engineer an alliance between the King in the North and Mother of Dragons.
3. Although Dany’s alliance is formidable, she will need to control her forces. The Dothraki rampaging through King’s Landing is a scary image, and Dany is consistent, which is possible, than she will need to restrain them. She has shown distaste for raiding, reaving, and raping by the Ironborn, and it was her resistance to Dothraki slavery that indirectly led to the death of Khal Drogo. Although a little unwieldy, she will maintain control, but I have a feeling that she may unleash the Dothraki upon Casterly Rock, and eventually let Yara from that agreement in the name of friendship and cooperation, both of which would allow her people to keep fighting, and more importantly, fighting for her. Also, lots of Dragon carnage, because if they can toast a ship like that, the show runners are intent on roasting knights in armor too.
However, I do feel that we need to see more of Dany’s command. The one gripe with her over the course of the series is that she doesn’t always command all that well, and her rule in Meereen was not the smoothest of rides. We need to see her learn her lessons; she has done the fire and blood bit of her ancestry, now she needs to do the diplomatic bit.
4. Someone needs to die, and quickly. My money is on Cersei, who has lost her children, all hope, all humanity, and committed the worst mass murder in the history of Westeros, or at least King’s Landing. Since I’ve interpreted the two things that bound Jaime and Cersei together as being their children, and her humanity, I can easily see Jaime siding with Tyrion and somehow getting rid of her in a particularly ironic way. Of course, they could kill off Jaime, especially if he is trying to prevent her from killing more innocent people, which would bring his arc of finding his honor full circle. Maybe Littlefinger could eat it, with his influence on Sansa turning her into a villainous type figure on the show, as she assumes his mantle. The show has shown that characters who villainous acts are now vulnerable to pain and suffering, as seen with the deaths of Roose and Ramsey Bolton, and the painful existence Cersei has to endure now without her children.
So, everybody, thanks for reading. See you next time.