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 7 theories, unanswered questions, predictions, unresolved plots, and forgotten details you need to remember before winter comes for the endgame in Season 8.
Will Sam survive to write the Song of Ice and Fire history book?
Nothing is certain on Game of Thrones, apart from death. But actually, we’re willing to bet money on our boy Samwell Tarly having a 90 percent chance of survival, and a low 10 perfect chance of winter.
The Last Man Standing theory proposes that, in a Tolkein-esque fashion (George R. R. Martin’s major influence), the final shot of the series will be of older Sam as a maester, finishing his history book on the events of the show. And his book will be titled A Song of Ice and Fire.
The theory has been around for a while, but first gained traction for viewers in the Season 6 finale. After Sam arrives at the Citadel, his eyes and the camera linger on a giant astrolabe spinning above — the same one above the map in the show’s iconic opening credits.
The opening credits tell the story of what’s happening, not only through changes to the map (like Winterfell engulfed in black smoke after the Red Wedding), but also engraved symbols on the rotating axes orbiting the astroglobe, with House sigils warring against each other.
Season 7 fueled the flames of this theory when, in Episode 2, Archmaester Marwyn tells Sam he’s working on a book recording the recent events of Westeros.
“If you’re going to write histories, Tarly, you have to do your research. If you want people to read your histories, you need a bit of style,” he advises. “I’m not writing A Chronicle of the Wars Following the Death of King Robert I so it can sit on a shelf unread.”
Sam winces at the awful title. When Marwyn asks what’d he’d call it, Sam suggests something “a bit more poetic.” Like, I dunno, A Song of Ice and Fire.
What we learned from the books at the Citadel
The few glimpses we got of the books Sam and Gilly read at the Citadel contained some super important hints. And don’t forget, before leaving, Sam stole all those books (turns out Tarly’s a huge klepto) — suggesting they have info pertinent to Season 8.
One book, Legends of the Long Night, is a direct passage from A World of Ice and Fire, which is a real-life companion book written and published by George R. R. Martin. The passage describes two strikingly similar legends to the Long Night from ancient cities in Essos named Asshai and Yi Ti:
It is also written that there are annals in Asshai of such a darkness, and of a hero who fought against it with a red sword. His deeds are said to have been performed before the rise of Valyria, in the earliest age when Old Ghis was first forming its empire. This legend has spread west from Asshai, and the followers of R’hllor claim that this hero was named Azor Ahai, and prophesy his return. In the Jade Compendium, Colloquo Votar recounts a curious legend from Yi Ti, which states that the sun hid its face from the earth for a lifetime, ashamed at something none could discover, and that disaster was averted only by the deeds of a woman with a monkey’s tail.
As viewers, we can assume this means the darkness that engulfed Westeros when the White Walkers first came also affected places across the world. This raises the stakes even more, knowing that the White Walkers (or at least the winter they bring) spread across continents into a global-scale threat.
White Walkers are not mentioned by name in any other legends. But Melisandre (who’s from Asshai) has proven people use different words to describe the same phenomenon.
In Yi Ti, it’s said a great darkness destroyed their first Great Empire of the Dawn. They even erected a massive structure called the Five Forts around the same time as the Wall was built in Westeros. Their purpose? “To keep the Lion of the Night and his demons from the realms of men,” and to protect the city from “raiders out of the Grey Waste.” The Five Forts are even made out of a type of dragonglass. What would massive forts of dragonglass be built to keep out? You know the answer.
So does that mean the White Walkers made it all the way over to Yi Ti?
Well the location of Yi Ti, the Five Forts, and Asshai on the eastern-most part of the map suggests that Essos might wrap around to connect to the northern-most part of Westeros. None have made it beyond the “edge of the world” to prove it’s not. Or maybe winter made all the rivers and oceans freeze, so the White Walkers could destroy all of mankind regardless of land borders.
Either way, there’s lots to learn from Yi Ti and Asshai’s legends. Perhaps that’s what Melisandre has been doing since leaving Westeros in Season 7 (as speculated in our Season 2 roundup).
Then there’s the book Sam reads about dragonglass, which includes a picture of a Valyrian dagger identical to the one Bran gives Arya later in the season (which we talked about more here).
But the most interesting part of this book (transcribed by a fan) is the partially obscured mentions of dragonglass having medicinal properties:
…dragonglass as a cure for … his great work on illnesses and diseases … whatever little harm incurs from the ingestion … little known harm to the gullible (people who try to cure themselves) … better spent on practical treatments…
After reading this book, Sam somehow learns how to cure Jorah of his greyscale — perhaps with dragonglass. But other evidence suggests an even greater disease that dragonglass might cure.
Why dragonglass’ ability to heal is potentially huge
In Season 5, Stannis mentions to Sam that there’s not only black dragonglass everywhere on Dragonstone, but all different colors of it: green, red, purple. Presumably these all have different purposes and effects.
One theorizer proposes that this knowledge could lead Sam to suggest a radical solution in Season 8: They don’t need to kill the Night King. They just need to heal him of the White Walker curse placed on him by the Children of the Forest so long ago.
This kind of pacifist endgame would align perfectly with the themes of Game of Thrones. Otherwise, it’d be pretty weird for “more murder” to be the conclusion to this sprawling story all about the horrors of war, revenge, cyclical violence and need for togetherness for survival.
Remember, the last enemy is death. We assume this refers to the White Walkers. But as revealed by their origin scene in Season 6, the Night King is actually a living man who was unwillingly forced to have monstrous powers and immortality. The White Walkers are not death, they suffer death.
So if the last enemy is death, then wouldn’t the only ally be life? Perhaps the enemy is defeated by restoring life to a man who was cursed to an existence forever bound to death and darkness.
Melisandre predicted she and Varys would die
As mentioned earlier, Melisandre tells Varys in Episode 2 that she’s leaving Westeros to do some business in Volantis.
That’s where the Red Temple of R’hllor is (and near other key places in Essos, as discussed in the Season 2 roundup). Presumably, she’ll come back with some sort of knowledge, magic, or person relevant to the Azor Ahai prophecy and Battle for the Dawn.
But then, Melisandre also ominously informs her fellow foreigner Varys that, “I will return [to Westeros], dear Spider, one last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you.”
This must have something to do with the voice Varys heard in the flames as a child, when his parts were cut and used in a ritual by a red sorcerer (which we went over in the Season 3 roundup). In Season 6, the Red Priestess Kinvara terrified Varys by just vaguely referencing what he heard.
What do the cave paintings mean?
We can probably trust Jon when he tells Daenerys that the cave paintings inside the mines of Dragonstone were made a very long time ago by the Children of the Forest. They depict the First Men, and an event with the White Walkers.
But Jon’s analysis gets suspect when he declares it shows how the Children and First Men “fought together, against their common enemy.” Because from what we can see, the paintings don’t show either the First Men nor the White Walkers fighting or being at all combative.
Jon might be making some presumptions based on what he’s seen of the Night King, and what he knows from legends of the Long Night. But as we’ve speculated many times before in Rewatching for the Throne, Season 8’s endgame will likely reveal that these legends misconstrued how the White Walkers were “defeated” the first time. (Hint: It probably wasn’t through fighting.)
Also, there’s debate over whether the White Walker in the painting with a beard wearing a crown is even the Night King we see leading the White Walkers now. They sure don’t look like the same person. Which could mean something happened to their original leader, or we haven’t met him yet.
Why Bran’s reaction to Sansa might be bad news
We know Three-Eyed Bran’s a weirdo to everyone, but his particularly icy reunion with Sansa struck fans as especially concerning.
After years apart and the near total annihilation of their family, the first thing Bran tells Sansa is how beautiful she looked on the night she was wed to and brutally raped by Ramsey Bolton. Eek!!! In contrast, his reunion with Arya, while also strange, ended with him giving her a rad Valyrian dagger.
Both these reactions indicate that the all-knowing Bran saw what the future held for Arya and Sansa. And looks like thumbs up for Arya, thumbs down for Sansa. His reaction added evidence to the ongoing theory that Sansa will eventually betray the Starks in Season 8.
For one, Bran specifically mentions an event to remind Sansa (very shitily) that she’s technically not a Stark anymore, but a Bolton. And we know tensions were high between her, Arya, and Jon. Sansa’s secretive nature toward Jon in Season 6 came from that residual admiration she had for players like Cersei and Littlefinger.
Also Sansa never wanted Jon to go south to meet Daernerys. And she doesn’t look too pleased to be conceding Winterfell to Dany in a Season 8 clip. To be fair, wouldn’t you be pissed if you won back the north, only for your idiot half-brother to fork it over to a new queen he’s banging?
Even if Sansa does go rogue, we honestly wouldn’t blame her.
Yara still needs saving
As of the Season 7 finale, Yara is still a prisoner of Eruon and Cersei. She was last seen paraded through the streets of King’s Landing in chains by her uncle. Theon had his bizarre redemption moment, when he somehow convinced the other Iron Islanders to join his rescue mission because he … is immune to nutsack punches?
I dunno it was weird.
Why Gendry’s return matters
After four seasons of rowing, everyone’s favorite Baratheon bastard sailed right back into the show and our hearts in Season 7. And bringing back a character this late in the game is a guarantee that Gendry will matter to the endgame.
Actor Joe Dempsie let slip that he will be at the final battle of Season 8. And throughout Season 7, the show made a point to emphasize Gendry’s sickass hammer — which was his father Robert’s preferred weapon of choice, too.
We speculated here on three potential ways Gendry could play a role in the war:
He turns out not to be a bastard, but actually Robert and Cersei’s true-born son and heir to the Baratheon throne
He marries Arya
He forges new Valyrian weapons and armor (further explored in our Season 4 roundup).
There’s another, even more tin foil hat theory, though.
A new prophecy from George R. R. Martin’s recently published Fire and Blood companion book hinted at the potential of a King Gendry. It states that: “When the hammer shall fall upon the dragon, a new king shall arise, and none shall stand before him.”
You could read this as Gendry’s iconic hammer killing Viserion, leading him to become king after everyone else dies. The “none shall stand before him” part could mean either he rules over an apocalyptic wasteland, or that he’d be the one to abolish the monarchy (check this out for more).
Is the Night King a greenseer, who planned the dragon take down?
We mentioned before that the Night King grabbing Bran during a vision in Season 6 hinted at his greensight. Which means, like Bran and Bloodraven, the Night King sees visions of the past, present, and future.
Season 7 added fodder to this theory. At one point, the Night King senses Bran spying on him through a murder of crows, and kicks him out. Then there’s Viserion’s death, which in retrospect comes across like a trap the White Walkers laid out as the plan all along.
Because if the Night King knew Jon and company were coming Beyond the Wall, then the sequence reads like a set up, using them as bait to coax Dany and her dragons. Isn’t it odd that the White Walkers let a threat like Jon (who already killed two of them before) hang out unharmed on an island for days, despite clearly having weapons to kill him?
Then, when Dany does show up with her reptile babies, the White Walkers act unnaturally fast, their focus squarely on getting Viserion — who they knock out in a single shot. Quite the coordination! Especially in light of the final Season 7 scene, we should consider whether the Night King knew he’d need a dragon to destroy the Wall.
All of that could be chalked up to just shoddy writing on one of the dumbest plots ever on Game of Thrones. But we’re gonna remain hopeful that there’s logic behind it. Our theory that the Night King is a Stark (detailed in the Season 5 roundup) would fit with him also being a greenseer too.
Apparently the White Walkers work under vampire rules
In the same episode, “Beyond the Wall,” we learned that White Walkers and wights seem to operate under a classic rule from vampire lore: If you kill a White Walker, you also kill all the undead wights he resurrected.
As Beric later asks: Does this mean that if you kill the Night King, then you eliminate all the other White Walkers and wights? Or maybe, as we suggested earlier, that will only reveal that there’s another, older OG White Walker who is not the leader we know as the Night King.
One other thing of note is that this White Walker hive mind is similar to how the weirwood trees work. Like the interconnected trees, the White Walkers are part of a network of linked consciousnesses that can see multiple events happening at the same time through many different eyes.
Is Benjen gone for good?
In Season 7 undead Uncle Benjen (a.k.a. Coldhands) miraculously strode in to save yet another Stark. But after telling Jon there wasn’t enough time to explain (regardless, there’s plenty of room on that horse for two people!), it’s implied that he dies but like for real this time.
But repeat after me: Never. Trust. An. Off. Screen. Death. Especially on Game of Thrones.
Some believe that Benjen is even part of a larger collective of former Night’s Watch brothers, dubbed the Secret Night’s Watch, who protect the realms of men from Beyond the Wall. Plenty of other former Night’s Watchmen have been assisting in similar ways, like Bloodraven (a.k.a. the Three-Eyed Raven), who was a Lord Commander before he screwed off to become a tree.
Thoros is dead, which is bad for Beric
It’s a miracle no one else notable died on their suicide mission Beyond the Wall. But the death of Thoros of Myr, the drunkest priest who ever resurrected, also affects Beric’s survival shot. Now that his Red Priest is gone, the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners will need to be more careful about dying all the time.
Where the hell is Ghost?
We haven’t seen Ghost (Jon’s direworlf) since the beginning of Season 6. This is a crime.
He was briefly mentioned by Sansa in Episode 5 of Season 7, and his physical appearance was cut from another scene. The showrunners have explained many times that the direwolves are just too expensive. But you know what would be hugely helpful in the battle of Winterfell? A goddamn direworlf!
Also, Ghost might have a role to play in Jon becoming the Last Hero from legend.
Northern myths claim the Last Hero (probably the same person as Azor Ahai) defeated the White Walkers during the Long Night. Old Nan said, “he set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions” in search of help from the Children of the Forest.
But one by one, each died around him. The last to die was his dog. So someone bubblewrap Ghost stat!
How the Golden Company could bring a major plot twist
It’s hard to believe, but Season 8 will introduce a whole new character: Harry Strickland, captain of the famous sellsword army the Golden Company, a.k.a. the blonde guy on a Greyjoy ship in the trailer.
And he could be there to set up a plot twist from the books that hasn’t happened on the show yet.
To jog your memory, in the Season 7 finale Cersei says she sent Euron to hire this mercenary army to help defeat Jon and Dany. It also just so happens that this group was born out of a long held grudge against the Targaryens.
That’s because the Golden Company is led by Blackfyres — an exiled faction of the Targaryen family. A House of legitimized Targaryen bastards, the Blackfyres rebelled against the crown three times in hopes of usurping true-born Targaryens. Their last attempt was on the Mad King Aerys.
Strickland’s family history isn’t his only threat to Daenerys and Jon, though. Because in the books, the Golden Company is fighting for the alleged true-born son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell.
According to the Golden Company, this Aegon (a.k.a. Young Griff) was saved from being murdered by the Mountain during Robert’s Rebellion. Varys swapped out the real prince before the siege, and because the Mountain left his victims “unrecognizable,” no one knew the dead boy wasn’t actually Aegon.
And since then, the true heir to Rhaegar Targaryen’s throne has been kept hidden and safe in Essos by Varys, Illyrio, and the Golden Company. Allegedly.
Most fans agree all evidence points to Young Griff being a fraud. He has Targaryen features, but so do Targaryen bastards. The show also repurposed most of the Young Griff plotline into parts of Daenerys’ story in Season 5 and 6.
But the arrival of the Golden Company could throw this whole new wrench into Jon and Daenerys’ claim to the Iron Throne. It could also mean bad news for Cersei, who just invited mercenaries to King’s Landing who have every reason to dethrone her and crown their own king.
Is Cersei really pregnant?
There’s plenty of reason to be suspect of Cersei’s pregnancy claim. But actually, the evidence — including an interview with the episode’s director and a leaked copy of the script — indicate it’s real. Her pregnancy was also somewhat foreshadowed in the books, when at one point Cersei cracks open an egg to find a stillborn baby chick inside.
But don’t go thinking she’ll have a happy ending, or that Maggy the Frog’s prediction wasn’t true. Because our favorite theory for how her pregnancy will shake out is that Cersei will give birth, but to a stillborn, potentially dying in child birth to a valonqar — a little brother to her older children.
Tormund and Beric apparently survived the Wall’s collapse
We’re not sure physically how, but Tormund and Beric are confirmed to have survived the White Walker attack on the Wall from the final scene in Season 7.
Their fates were left uncertain, but a single shot from the Season 8 trailer find them walking side by side down a corridor. I guess someone has to let the rest of the world know that the White Walkers are finally marching south?
But other questions remain: Did the rest of the Night’s Watch survive? Did the Night King bring down the whole Wall with Viserion, or just the part at Eastwatch that we saw?