The bells rang out over King’s Landing Sunday night as Game of Thrones finally served up the showdown between the two queens of Westeros. We were expecting violence and carnage and fire and got plenty. We were also hoping for thoughtful, detailed character development as our favorite show draws to a close. After 7 seasons of tagging along in Westeros, watching characters go through amazing metamorphoses and hatching intricate plots to save the Seven Kingdoms, fans expected, well, a little more than what we got in that department.
Now that most of our favorite characters’ stories have been neatly tied up with a bow, all that’s left is to find out what happens to Daenerys and Jon Snow. Fans are divided over whether Dany (Emilia Clarke) going full-on mad tyrant was a convenient but uncharacteristic plot device or whether it was the intention of showrunners the whole time. It seems like the groundwork was laid for her to succumb to the Targaryen madness since the show began, as we’ve seen hints of her cruelty and lack of mercy (RIP Dickon Tarly), but without a glimpse into her thought process in season 8 episode 5, it feels abrupt, despite the Easter eggs and foreshadowing that delivered us to this point.
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But, however she got there, she lost it. Undeniably, Dany went off, lost every bit of her chill and murdered thousands of innocent people instead of just flying right up to the open window Cersei (Lena Headey) had been standing at for five weeks and taking her out.
Instead, Cersei wandered around sad-looking, and then was crumpled under a pile of rocks with her equally aimless — and shockingly plan-less — sibling and lover, Jaime. She died because of poor infrastructure and even worse decision-making (Qyburn asked her to leave twice before she finally got out of dodge). Maggy the Frog’s prophecy that Cersei would be killed by a valonqar, which means brother in High Valyrian, was seemingly forgotten in favor of a return to Jaime’s arms and a botched escape.
To borrow Kit Harrington’s description of his own final scene (which we've yet to see), this “couldn't have been more of a wet fart of a scene." That’s it. And now, Dany is poised to step right into the recently empty role of Worst Queen Ever.
But will she? It seems unlikely that Daenerys will actually achieve her goal of reclaiming the Iron Throne for House Targaryen, partly because the throne is most likely a puddle of molten steel now (thanks to her own aggressive application of dragon fire), and partly because she pretty much marked herself for death by turning King’s Landing into a flaming pit of destruction and pissing off all her living allies in the process. The only thing left to decide in the finale is who does the deed.
The frontrunners in the Kill Dany pool are Jon Snow, Arya Stark, and Tyrion Lannister — her boyfriend/nephew, niece-in-law once removed (or something?), and blind-to-her-faults advisor, respectively. At this point, both Jon and Tyrion surely realize just how badly they effed up in supporting her, both are good men with their hearts in the right place, and both were loyal to her up until she started with the mass immolation of common folk. Arya has made no bones about disliking the Targaryen queen, and there’s still Melisandre’s pesky prophecy about Arya closing brown eyes, blue eyes, and green eyes in her time as a badass assassin. So who gets the prize?
THEORY: Jon Snow Will Be the One to Kill Dany
If sweet, dumb, noble, labrador-ish Jon Snow is destined to become a Queenslayer in the finale, it might prove that he’s Azor Ahai, the Prince Who Was Promised, a legendary warrior, reborn to save the Seven Kingdoms. The prophecy played a pretty big role in earlier seasons but hasn’t been mentioned in a while. Azor Ahai is destined to kill the one he loves, and despite his friend-zoning Dany when he found out she was his aunt, Jon definitely loves her.
He already betrayed Dany once, by telling Sansa and Arya about his real identity, and in episode 5, Jon stands motionless and shocked as the Unsullied attack the surrendering Lannister troops. There was no question that he regretted supporting Dany, his disbelief and horror as plain as his season 7 man bun. Next week, he’ll be reunited with Daenerys as they try to decide how to move forward after the conflagration. After losing his first love to violence (Yigritte, played by his now real-life wife Rose Leslie) it’s difficult to imagine Jon taking up arms against Dany, but he is a Stark, and we know they appreciate a good show of justice. Let's call this a lukewarm maybe.
THEORY: Tyrion Lannister Will Be the One to Kill Dany
Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), the self-proclaimed “not particularly innocent dwarf,” has defended Daenerys to anyone who would listen for the last three seasons. Throughout the story, Tyrion and his brother Jaime have shared an unbreakable bond and their characters have mirrored one another, in a funhouse sort of way — for most of their lives, they were each the only ones who saw the good in the other. Both have evolved out of their own brand of miscreance, both have been injured in a way that alters them physically and emotionally — Jaime’s hand and Tyrion’s face — and both have killed someone they were sworn to never harm: Tyrion, their father; Jaime, his king.
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But where Jaime failed to complete his bad-boy-turned-good metamorphose, dying in Cersei’s arms instead of killing her and saving all of King’s Landing, Tyrion stands to succeed.
Tyrion obviously missed the opportunity to save King’s Landing from utter destruction, but if he is driven to seek justice for the commoners and protect the rest of Westeros from a Really Bad Queen, he may shoot his shot and try to take Dany out in the finale just as Jaime took out her dad in his secret act of heroism. He has had something of an impulsive streak, often popping out of nowhere with a plan that (should) save the day. Let's see if he pulls one out this time.
THEORY: Arya Stark Will Be the One to Kill Daenerys
Arya (Maisie Williams), as we know, has never hesitated to use violence as a problem-solving mechanism, and has pretty much scratched every name off of her list (or crumbling castles and sibling rivalries did for her). In the Red Keep, she seemingly gives up her quest for vengeance, however, convinced by Sandor that a life based on revenge isn't a great way to live, and she books it out of the castle just in time to see Dany unleash Hell on Earth. After several narrow escapes from fire and debris, Arya finds a white horse, in the middle of a city that was just obliterated. And as heroes do, she rides off into the metaphorical sunset.
The internet is awash in speculation over this horse. Is it the horse from the Book of Revelation in the Bible: “I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death”? Is it the symbolic white horse of chivalrous and true knights and warriors depicted in the mythologies of like a zillion different cultures? Is it just a horse who got lucky, showing Arya to be just another rich girl with a thing for equestrian hobbies? Whatever the meaning actually is, it definitely means something. It could symbolize Arya’s transformation from revenge-seeker to justice-giver and be her ride to the Queenslayer side.
There is also still Melisandre’s brown-, blue-, green-eyes prophecy to consider. During the Battle of Winterfell in episode 3, The Red Woman reminds Arya of a prophecy she’d made years before, that Arya would close many eyes, specifically brown (Walder Frey), blue (The Night King), and green. It’s been a toss-up if the green eyes belonged to Cersei or Daenerys, but after the Red Keep fell on her, Cersei is definitely out of the running. Are there any other green eyes left?
Either way, it seems clear that Dany's day will come on Sunday. Someone on this list will take her out to save all of Westeros. In a few days, it’ll all be over, our questions will be answered, our theories proven or not, and we’ll gather together on Twitter, mourning the end of the best show ever.
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