Monday, May 30, 2016

Some theories about the rest of "Game of Thrones" Season Six

Now that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have publicly announced a general timeline for the end of Game of Thrones - two shortened seasons after the current sixth season, totaling about 13 episodes - it's time to get speculating. Over halfway through season six, the pieces of the endgame are starting to move into place, and as a result I'm feeling pretty confident about the following prediction for the final four episodes of this season, and the series overall. (SPOILER WARNING, obviously.)

(Note: my confidence in this endeavor almost certainly means that I am totally off base, but I'm going with it anyway. Wildly inaccurate speculation about television is what the internet is for, after all.)

There are a couple events that are pretty much inevitable this season. On the smaller scale, Cleganebowl - Cersei's trial by combat, in which the re-animated Gregor Clegane will face off against his younger brother Sandor, who was brought back to life to fight for the Faith - is essentially confirmed at this point. And while nothing on Game of Thrones ever really goes the way you want it to, I do feel like going to the effort of bringing back fan-favorite Sandor only to kill him off again would be pretty pointless. Plus, it would be a nice bookend to Tyrion's trial by combat, which ended in the Mountain's triumph via incredibly graphic head-squishing. So Cersei loses, and is either stripped of power, imprisoned, or executed, and Margaery and Tommen (hopefully) begin a reign of peace and prosperity.

(The reign of peace and prosperity thing is relevant for the rest of the theory, so I'm going to discount the idea that they are both just being played by the High Sparrow, although that is also a definite possibility.)

The second inevitable showdown we'll get this season (almost certainly in the ninth episode, because come on) is the battle for the North, called Bastardbowl by many. I personally prefer not to call it that, as it ignores the role of One True Queen Sansa Stark, but whatever floats your boat. Jon and Sansa, probably at that point accompanied by Bran (and, hoping against hope, Arya, if she gets out of Braavos fast enough), will manage to take back Winterfell, and hopefully somewhere along the way Ramsay will die a horribly painful death. The last episode of the season will show the Starks once again ruling in Winterfell; Jon and Sansa will broker some sort of peace with King Tommen, and everything will appear to finally be going our heroes' way.

The final scene of the tenth episode, however, will show an existential threat to Westeros's newfound peace. And this time it won't be the Night's King and his army of wights. No, the final scene of the season will be Daenerys Targaryen, Stormborn, the Unburnt, sailing at the head of Euron Greyjoy's fleet, getting reading to burn the Seven Kingdoms to the ground.

Yes, Daenerys is the true villain of Game of Thrones.

If you have HBOGO or HBONOW, you can check out the most recent episode of Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald's post-Thrones discussion show, After the Thrones, for their (rather convincing) thoughts on why Dany might actually be the villain of our story. For those who don't subscribe to an HBO streaming service, I will summarize.

Every major player who has made it this far has, at some point or another, pivoted away from their original goal after seeing the bigger picture. Sansa went from wanting to be Joffrey's queen to fighting for her home and family; Jon went from fighting the wildlings to allying with them to joining up with his sister; Arya went from wanting vengeance to wanting to be a faceless man to, in last night's episode, finding common ground with a woman she wants dead. Tyrion found his niche, not as a ruler but as an advisor and power broker. Even Cersei swallowed her pride and teamed up with the Tyrells. The only person who has never wavered from her original goal is Daenerys. The question to ask is, in the world of Game of Thrones, is this really a good thing?

Second, take a look at what happened to everyone who wanted the Iron Throne, or any sort of throne, in the second season. Renly, Robb, Joffrey, Stannis, and Balon are all dead, as are many of their supporters. Margaery and Tommen were forced to make peace with the High Sparrow to save their own grip on power. Even in Dany's own story, Tyrion has had to make compromises with the Masters to prevent a revolt. Dany's determination may not be the strength it often appears.

Finally, "Blood of My Blood" is bookended with an indication that Daenerys may not be the righteous liberator she thinks she is. Bran's episode-opening vision contains a number of different fragments from the history of Westeros, but the one that sticks out is Mad King Aerys Targaryen sitting on the Iron Throne, ordering his men to "burn them all!" until Jaime Lannister kills him. The end of the episode features Daenerys Targaryen astride a fire-breathing dragon, exhorting her Khalasar to sail with her to the Seven Kingdoms, to tear down the castles of the Westerosi lords and kill the Westerosi knights (which, as a reminder, surely includes Winterfell and the Starks). What if Daenerys isn't a wise and just Targaryen, like her brother Rhaegar; what if she is the Mad Queen, willing to burn everything to the ground so she can rule the ashes?

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