Game of Thrones season 8: Tyrion's death to Sansa being queen, did episode 1 have all the answers?
As we hurtle ever-closer to the end of Game of Thrones, there are questions aplenty in the minds of its many fans.
Who will sit on the Iron Throne?
Who will live?
Who will die?
Is Hot Pie the real villain of this story?
(Okay, maybe that last question is only being posed by one stray Redditor.)
From scanning the corners of the Web to scouring endless Reddit threads, from poring over every episode and chapter of the story so far to clicking (despite all one’s wisdom to the contrary) on dubious news headlines that contain the words “Game of Thrones season 8” and “spoilers” — the hunt for fresh clues, any clues, has been as desperate as it has been fruitless.
But what if we’ve been looking for answers in the wrong places? What if, instead of attempting to predict the future, we should have been going over the past? What if the fates of all your favourite characters — and of the war for the Iron Throne — had been explicitly stated in the very first season, if not the very first episode of Game of Thrones?
Now obviously, since the story does progress in a linear fashion, the events depicted in the earliest episodes would unravel over later ones. But Game of Thrones’ season 1, episode 1 — ‘Winter Is Coming’ — doesn’t just lay out the beginnings of the various characters’ arcs through the series, it hints at many of the developments to come.
Farfetched? May be, but let’s examine some of the evidence:
The death of the direwolf
The men of the Stark household are on their way back to Winterfell (after executing a deserter from the Night’s Watch), when they come across a dead direwolf, with a stag’s antler buried in its throat. By the direwolf is a litter of six cubs — one for each of the Stark children and the “bastard-born” Jon.
The symbolism is obvious and we see its implications very quickly: Ned Stark is beheaded at Joffrey’s behest. Joffrey is then thought to be a Baratheon, and the stag is their house’s sigil. Other heads of the Stark family are also killed — Robb, then Catelyn.
The Starks’ fates do to some degree reflect those of their direwolves: Grey Wind is killed and decapitated, like Robb; Shaggydog is murdered, like Rickon; Nymeria is lost in the wild and untamable, like Arya; Summer dies outside the cave where Bran turns into the Three-Eyed Raven; Ghost, for now, is alive, like Jon; and Lady — the gentlest and most well-behaved of the direwolves — is killed by Ned himself on Cersei’s orders. How that will express in Sansa’s fate remains to be seen, but the Sansa who leaves King’s Landing is very different from the dreamy young girl who comes there.
Quite apart from their individual fates, did the death of the direwolf also foretell the end — in name at least — of the entire Stark line?
The sole surviving male Stark, Bran will never have children, so there’s a possibility we will see the family name die out with this generation. Sansa and Arya's children, should they ever come into being, will likely bear the names of their respective spouses — unless those spouses are from a lesser house, in which case they may take the Stark name. Jon's children (again, if he lives to have any) will bear the Targaryen name.
But the Starks aren’t the only great house in peril of dying out. The Lannisters face the same fate.
Sansa marrying a Baratheon and becoming a Queen
In ‘Winter Is Coming’, as the Starks prepare for a night of feasting with the visiting royals, Catelyn braids Sansa's hair into a pretty, formal style. Sansa thinks aloud of how wonderful it would be if Ned took up King Robert's offer of being the Hand. Catelyn reminds her that if Ned became the Hand, he would have to move far from Winterfell, in King's Landing. Sansa feels this is a small price to pay for being the second most important personage in the realm. She also pleads with Catelyn to convince Ned to give his permission to her betrothal to Joffrey (as proposed by King Robert). “Please, it's all I've ever wanted: to be Queen,” Sansa tells Catelyn.
Betrothed to a Baratheon and Queen of Westeros — that could very well be Sansa's destiny in season 8.
A bastard can be legitimised by a King or Queen (or by their Hands). If Jon (as King in the North) or Daenerys (as Queen of Westeros/Dragonstone) were to grant Gendry legitimacy, he would become Robert Baratheon's (and the Iron Throne’s) rightful heir. (There’s also the matter of the Baratheons’ close family ties to the Targaryens, which raises all kinds of possibilities.)
Sansa, unattached at present, could very well make a match with the last surviving Baratheon and become Queen of Westeros, if Gendry were to ascend the Iron Throne. (This is of course assuming that the finale is unkind to Daenerys, Cersei and Jon, and that Westeros is in dire need of a ruler. This also excludes a Sansa-Tyrion reunion.)
There is much to be said for Sansa as Queen: she learnt a lot from her proximity to Cersei and Littlefinger, but she's also avoided their faults. Her Stark upbringing has ensured that she has strong ideas of honour and loyalty. She's shown herself to be something of a tactician during the Battle of the Bastards. And as Lady of Winterfell, she has demonstrated that command comes naturally to her.
She might actually be a better Queen during peacetime than Daenerys, who's made a bit of a mess of the cities she captured in Essos (Astapor, Yunkai, Meereen).
Sansa may also be Queen if the Long Night and the war with Cersei leaves Westeros splintered into the several smaller kingdoms of yore. If the North were to be a separate dominion, Sansa at Winterfell would be its Queen.
An untimely death for Tyrion
Before the royal party sets off for Winterfell, Jaime and Cersei Lannister are in the throne room of the Red Keep at King's Landing. Cersei is observing Jon Arryn's last rites being performed and mentions to Jaime when he saunters up: “You should be the Hand of the King”.
Jaime's reply is a laughing refusal: “That’s an honour I can do without. Their days are too long and their lives are too short.”
Indeed, none of the Hands after Jon Arryn last very long. Ned Stark is beheaded; Tywin Lannister is killed on the privy by a vengeful Tyrion; and Kevan Lannister is blown up in the Sept of Baelor by his own niece, Cersei.
Mace Tyrell — briefly Hand of the King to Renly Baratheon — dies in the same explosion as Kevan.
As we go into season 8, there are three 'Hands’ to rulers within Westeros: Tyrion Lannister, to Daenerys Targaryen; Maester Qyburn to Cersei; Ser Davos Seaworth (formerly Hand to Stannis Baratheon), for Jon Snow. Since Jon has bent the knee to Daenerys, his “King in the North” status is in some doubt and therefore, Davos’ position as Hand as well.
No doubt Qyburn will cause some death and destruction before he meets his ultimate fate, but it is one Hand among these two surviving ones who actually interests us — Tyrion.
Tyrion has already been up to some inexplicable behaviour such as skulking in the shadows and spying on Jon and Daenerys, as well as brokering some sort of deal with Cersei after the parley in the Dragonpit. Add to that his constant avowals over season 1 (and indeed even later), of just how much he loves his family, and we have the ingredients for a Grade A plot twist (cough *betrayal* cough) that might lead to Tyrion’s untimely demise.
Arya as Commander of the Kingsguard/Queensguard?
In 'Winter Is Coming’, we see Arya abandoning her sewing lessons to show off her skills at archery. In the very next episode, she is gifted her sword — “Needle” — by Jon. She's been sticking ‘em with the pointy end ever since. Arya's role as assassin/fighter was ordained when Jon gave her the sword, and as she tells her father, marrying some lord and having children — that's not (for) her.
If Arya survives the battles against the Night King and Cersei (and that’s a big ‘if’, because let’s not forget — those who live by the sword usually die by the sword), it's likely that we'll see her serving as a member of the Kingsguard/Queensguard, especially if Jon or Sansa were to come into power.
However, there must also always be a Stark at Winterfell and she and Sansa are the only two who remain to fulfill that role (with Jon being half-Targaryen, and Bran metamorphosing into the Three-Eyed Raven).
Daenerys being mother to more dragons
The Daenerys we saw in 'Winter Is Coming’ was a frightened young thing, obeying her brother's dictums in all matters. Yet, a glimpse of her destiny was already depicted in that same episode. The Magister Illyrio says to Viserys (soon after Dany is presented to, and approved of by, Khal Drogo as his bride): “It won't be long now. Soon you will cross the Narrow Sea and take back your father's throne”. Viserys — as we well know — doesn't, but Daenerys, who is standing right next to him when those words are spoken, will.
Illyrio also presents three dragon eggs to Daenerys as a wedding present (which, we know, hatch into Drogon, Rhaegon and Viseryon). However, these may not be the only dragon eggs (or dragons) that Daenerys will take guardianship of. There is reason to believe that dragons will thrive once more — even if they never reach the numbers that existed during the golden age of Valyria or the zenith of the Targaryens’ rule.
Jon sacrificing himself at the Wall/serving as a shield to the realm
Jon, when we initially see him, is petitioning his uncle Benjen to take him to the Wall and let him serve in the Night's Watch. The Wall has now been destroyed in parts, and unless the battle with the Night King routs his forces entirely, what's left of the realm will need protection from whatever exists in the furthest reaches of the North (the Lands of Always Winter).
Will it be Jon's task, like Brandon the Builder's many centuries before him, to raise the Wall once more? Will Jon be dealt a fatal blow even as he dispatches the Night King to his end? While the specifics of Jon's fate may be unclear, it could be that the words of the vow he took as a sworn brother of the Night's Watch may well spell out his fate:
I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory.
I shall live and die at my post.
Sure, Jon may have felt his vows were at end once he had been killed and then resurrected by Melisandre. But will that oath be that easy to shrug off?
Jaime will do the unthinkable, for love
Jaime Lannister's introduction to us in Game of Thrones was as a laughing, flamboyant rogue, who thought nothing of pushing a little boy to his (presumable) death if it meant keeping his incestuous relationship with Cersei a secret.
“The things I do for love” could very well be the words Jaime utters as he performs his last painful act — and fulfills the Valonqar prophecy (so long thought to be about Tyrion). Elsewhere in season 1, his father exhorts Jaime to be the man he's meant to be. Not quite a trajectory Tywin Lannister would have approved of, but Jaime does become the man he's meant to be — among the ones we love best in Game of Thrones.
Bran will be harmed by what he sees
Seeing what he should not have seen was Bran's undoing (or his making, depending on how you choose to — well — look at it). When he climbs the walls of an abandoned tower and stumbles upon Jaime and Cersei in flagrante, Bran is just a curious boy, like others his age. After his fall, he begins to dream of a raven with three eyes, gains the ability to warg into his direwolf. As the Three-Eyed Raven, what will Bran see that will impact the battle against the Night King? And will there be an injury to Bran at the end of this sight as well?
Updated Date: Mar 29, 2019 16:36:28 IST
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