The Game of Thrones pre-finale breakdown: Who’s getting the Throne?
[It goes without saying, but…]
* SPOILER ALERT! *
Game of Thrones pulled off one of its biggest episodes yet on Monday (May 13), bringing the series one step closer to its final, almost-certainly bitter end. To recap, this episode saw Daenerys Targaryen completely lose it and roast King’s Landing as if it were a turkey at Thanksgiving.
The Mad Queen has finally awoken, pushing aside her allies and pursuing the throne in the most selfish, reckless way possible. The way the episode unfolded is, well, questionable at best, which makes the grand finale extremely unpredictable. Who will survive? Who will get the Iron Throne? How will it all end?
These are difficult questions to answer, but we do have the ingredients for some wild guesses. I’m going character-by-character, dissecting their arcs thus far and how things might end for them next week. Let’s call it group therapy.
Daenerys ‘Is it hot in here or is it just me?’ Targaryen
Daenerys has been on quite a journey. She never came from a place of power, instead starting out in the series being used by her brother Viserys. She was to be married off, so he could get an army of Dothraki, sail to Westeros and claim the Iron Throne for himself. Let’s just say things didn’t end so well for that hot-headed Targaryen. The Daenerys of today is a changed woman, one who will never find herself under the boot of another again.
This season’s writing hasn’t lived up to the standards the books have set, but I personally love the idea of Daenerys being the ‘final boss’ of Game of Thrones anyway. Objectively, it makes sense. As Varys used to say, “Every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin.” All this time, we thought Daenerys was a force for good; she’d break the wheel and bring real change to Westeros, fighting for peace and justice for all the lands.
That might have been true up till a few episodes ago. Unfortunately, the Mother of Dragons has lost far too much recently. She lost one dragon last season, and then another in this one. Considering how they were the only family she’s ever really had, it’s like losing two of her own children.
Soon after, she not only watched her best friend Missandei be decapitated before her very eyes, but also found out she was not the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms after all. That title belongs to her former lover, Jon Snow, who turned out to be a Targaryen. He is the rightful king whom the entire nation favours over her, and she knows it.
Aerys Targaryen himself, the Mad King and her father, started out as a generous and wise leader but grew paranoid and hateful during his reign. Wisdom turned into spite, and a benevolent reign turned bloody and murderous. We might be seeing a similar turn with Daenerys, only she is using bloody murder to take the Iron Throne, not keep it. A little more character development would have been warranted, but one can easily see why she snapped so violently last episode.
I predict Daenerys and her remaining dragon will not make it. After what she did… perhaps she doesn’t even deserve to. She will certainly come to a head with Jon over what she’s done, and it won’t end peacefully.
Maester Aemon Targaryen once said, “A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing,” and he wasn’t wrong. I predict we’ll see his statement come to life in a sad way next episode, only I don’t think it’ll be Daenerys left alive. That unfortunate title goes to…
Jon ‘I’ve made a huge mistake’ Snow
Jon is, quite possibly, the most kind-hearted and stupidly naive character in all of Westeros. He’s kind of like a puppy. He’s loyal to his Queen, and would follow her to the end, until he realises the end might be the literal end of everything.
At this point, I think Jon’s snapped out of it. He bent the knee a long time ago out of love and admiration for Daenerys, but at this point she’s too far gone. She’s not the person he thought he knew and in fact, he’s not the person he thought he knew either. He is rightfully Aegon Targaryen, after all.
The Throne belongs to him, but he doesn’t want it. He was the King in the North, but he didn’t want that either. He constantly has responsibility handed to him, and constantly tries to push it away. Despite this, he’s always the right man for the job. If there was ever a ruler to bring peace and order to Westeros, it would be Jon Snow.
He’s been through the worst the world has to offer, and even managed to rally an unlikely bunch of characters to fight the apocalypse the Night King was so close to bringing about. He has leadership skills, he’s kind, he has a strong following in the North, but this is Game of Thrones so he’s definitely going to die. I want to be optimistic, though. I strongly believe the Throne belongs to Jon, and I hope he gets it.
Sansa ‘Dark Phoenix’ Stark
I think out of every character that currently exists in the show, Sansa has the most even odds of both living and dying at the end of everything. Her character arc largely came to a close by the time she saw Littlefinger dead, and at this point she exists only to advise Jon and protect the Northerners.
Needless to say, she’s on the side of her people, not on the side of Westeros. She might care a lot less about the death and destruction Daenerys has left in her wake at King’s Landing, than the death and destruction she might bring to the North. Sansa and the Mad Queen have always been at odds from even before they met, but at this point she might have to take action.
If Sansa dies in the finale, she will die for her people. Like Varys, I see no other way she could possibly go out.
Bran ‘Buried under a mountain of snow at this point’ Stark
Let’s face it, the Three-Eyed Raven never had any consequence to the story of Game of Thrones besides being a device to reveal Jon Snow’s Targaryen heritage. Now that the necessity of protecting him from the Night King is over, and Jon Snow’s identity has been revealed, the show has almost gleefully dumped the Three-Eyed Raven storyline to the wayside.
Bran doesn’t have any meaningful place in this story anymore. The entire reason behind the Night King stalking him so dramatically – that he represented the history of all of Westeros –was always such a weak motivation to have. It certainly wouldn’t stop anyone else from killing him, nor make anyone go out of their way to do so.
In summary, he’s going to die. Next.
Arya ‘Punished Venom’ Stark
Arya is on the opposite end of Bran at this point. She single-handedly destroyed the Night King (and consequently, his army) and survived the apocalyptic wasteland that is now King’s Landing, which is a miracle on its own.
The Book of Revelation has a pretty interesting verse that goes: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” The burning of King’s Landing clearly alludes to this, with Arya coming out of the destruction and rubble to find a pale white horse, unharmed and untouched by everything around it.
So, we have the pale horse but what about the rest of that verse? If the finale follows through, I believe that Arya will ride directly into the eye of the storm with burning vengeance in her heart. Cersei has been struck from her infamous kill list, but Daenerys has been added in her stead.
Arya has the training. She has killed before and will gladly kill again, for the right cause. She has seen people die, even children savagely burned alive by the Mad Queen. She has the motivation and the tools. If Daenerys dies in the finale, it will likely be by her hands. However, Arya surely can’t go two for two by ending another of Game of Thrones‘ greatest villains.
I think the writers are setting her up for failure and she will die trying. Arya has done so much at this point and still has so much potential, but the show has recently been all about subverting expectations. That means Arya has to go.
Tyrion ‘When you try your best but you don’t succeed’ Lannister
You have to feel some sympathy for the guy. He’s been thrown back and forth across Westeros, first with the Lannisters, then ousted and forced to travel to Daenerys. He then became her hand and promptly watched her disregard his advice and murder hundreds of innocents in his old home.
He really, really thought he was on the good side this time. Unfortunately, the gods flipped a coin and his queen turned out to be just as murderous as her father. He can’t do much. He has no fighting ability, no power, no more powerful friends. All he has is his magnificent brain, and recently that hasn’t been doing well for him either.
I’m frankly shocked that Tyrion has made it this far in Game of Thrones, but I doubt he will come out of the finale unharmed. Daenerys herself told him just last episode: if he fails her again, he’s dead. I think Tyrion and Jon are on the same side of the fence, realising that their queen has become a mad tyrant and that they need to do something about it. And Daenerys won’t be happy about any of it, repaying their treacherous efforts in blood.
Tyrion’s my favourite character in the series. He’s the last of the Lannisters, the scheming, occasionally evil family that has been the backbone of Westeros’ royalty in one capacity or another. All signs point to his death in the next episode, but I suspect he will die only after driving the final nail in the coffin of Daenerys’ short-lived reign. An emotional death is what Tyrion has coming to him, but a worthy one is what he deserves.
It all ends here
Next week is the end of an era. The biggest, most spectacular TV show in history is about to come to an end, and we’re going to be talking about Game of Thrones for years to come.
If there’s one thing I can be sure of, it’s that more than half of the main characters will meet their ends in the finale. It’s a supreme battle of ethics for the Throne. Daenerys claimed she would break the wheel, but she is bringing the same bloody dictatorship over Westeros that she had been fighting to change.
The only way Game of Thrones ends is with change. Change must come to Westeros, and Daenerys doesn’t represent change. She represents more of the same. She has to go, but the question is do the Starks have what it takes? Maybe, maybe not. If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.
In memoriam: ‘Has all the little birds but the one that counts’ Varys
Varys, you went out like a champ. Westeros thanks you for your service.
In memoriam: Cersei and Jaime “Kissing on a tree’ Lannister
We all knew Cersei and Jaime wouldn’t make it to the end. They certainly deserve to die after the countless atrocities they’ve committed. It’s just too bad Jaime never got out from under Cersei’s thumb. He died as he lived, a slave to love.