Game of Thrones shifted into high gear this week ahead of the upcoming Battle of Winterfell. The Night King and his undead troops arrived as the “Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms” episode closed, and before that, we saw characters do what one does before certain death in Westeros. Some made googly eyes and got lucky while others made last minute revelations. Several of them hunkered down with wine, and all of this sparks more concern going into the next episode. Who will die, and will anyone live? We’ve all got our opinions, but are you ready to defend yours in a fiery trial by conversational combat? Uproxx’s Kimberly Ricci and Jason Tabrys are very ready to do exactly that, and this week, they’re going to discuss what’s next for your favorite characters and all of Winterfell before turning the discussion over to you in the comments section.
Jason: I almost feel like my prediction for next week can be summed up by the Mr. T GIF from Rocky II. Because my primary prediction, dear reader, is pain. Pain and more pain. But that wouldn’t make for much of a discussion, so I guess we can poke around the remains of last week’s lovefest while looking to the blood bath ahead of us. Kim, big question first: is Game Of Thrones ever going to make us smile again or did they get it all out of their system?
Kimberly: I fear that Brienne’s smile after being knighted might be the last one we’ve seen. Certainly, the past episode was a generous one by Thrones standards. Although everyone was well aware that they were staring down death, and many will die within the (reported) 82-minute battle to come, they truly made the best of what could be their last day. “Lovefest” is a great descriptor here. Although Brienne might never return Tormund’s giants-milk obsessed advances, there was plenty of comic relief there. Arya coupled up with Gendry, Sansa reunited with Theon, and … speaking of which, who do you think will die first next week? It seems like Jaime’s redemption has earned him some staying power, thanks to Bran’s attitude and Brienne vouching for him, but Theon’s days may be numbered, even with that Sansa embrace on his side.
Jason: Was it too much of a lovefest, though? Our colleague, Josh Kurp, made a good observation on Twitter about the difference between the setup to The Red Wedding and this.
[whispers] This episode tried a little too hard to please viewers before ripping them in half next episode. Part of what made the Red Wedding so stunning is how unexpected it was.
— Josh Kurp (@JoshKurp) April 22, 2019
This one does, in hindsight and with some distance from ALL my many feels, come off like a YouTube video where someone takes a cancer afflicted dog out for an ice cream party with its dog friends before one last visit to the vet. That’s what comes to mind when you say what you say in your saying way about Jaime and how he bought himself some time. Did he? Or did they give him a nice little moment in the sun before bang/splat/thud? It’s the Walking Dead method, of sorts. I don’t know if they do it anymore, but they used to give characters one big speech or heroic moment and then it was business lunch at the Sizzler, and zombies were eating good in the neighborhood. These are two different casual eatery references. But my point is, I can totally see Jaime going first because they wanted to lull you into a false sense of security with him. The bastards. But a Jaime death gives you everything you want in that he’s been a central character for the run of the show and it’ll impact Brienne, Tyrion, and Cersei (when she eventually finds out), spreading across the show. It’s a gasp-inducing death, and quite a way to set the table. Theon also had this redemptive moment, but does anyone really care about Reek? He’s going to fall way low on the Deaths We Give A Sh*t About Power Rankings next week.
Kimberly: I admit that your dog metaphor sounds plausible (and appropriately bleak!), and it’s an understatement to say that HBO has masterfully made us care about a character that pushed a child out of a tower. Yet here we are, all these seasons later, debating whether Jaime deserves to survive, and kind-of worrying whether Thrones has sets him (and us) up. If he goes first, several characters will feel that pain while at war. All glass-cliff discussions aside, Brienne might feel his loss the most, and if her abilities are compromised during battle, the results could be collateral damage that will resonate. Sure, Cersei still has her supporters within the fandom, but support for Brienne is nearly universal. The way she and Jaime glanced at each other (however you want to read it) throughout the episode probably didn’t receive enough analysis, due to the Tormund diversions, entertaining as they were (my god, that Giantsbane story). Look, Jaime understood Brienne well enough to know that she truly wished to be a knight, despite her protests, and he pushed past her (well-founded) stubborn pride with that ceremony. She’s nothing if not fiercely loyal to a fault, and I fear that she’ll lose it if he dies first. If she can’t keep her left flank together as a result, this could set up a too-easy advantage for the Night King.
Jason: He’s already got a lot of advantages. You know he’s flying into a battle on an ice dragon like he’s on the cover of an Axxis album. But that brings to mind another question: nevermind who dies first. Is the Night King going to turn anyone? It’d be poetic to see Tormund join the army of the dead. Even Brienne. Someone whose skill is punctuated by their size and power. Someone on the side of the dead who illustrates the stakes and brings a knife twist to the heart every time they show up in ice blue.
Kimberly: Honestly, I think size matters here (har har) when it comes to potential Night King recruits, but wouldn’t it also be fitting if size did not matter? Tyrion’s being relegated to the crypts, after all. He desperately wanted to be part of the battle, and Dany emphasized that he held more value to her for his mind. She needs him later, but there’s a dig there that he’s not enjoying. Everyone’s spidey senses are tingling about something bad happening in the crypts, and perhaps this is the hunch that will be correct. Nevermind that some Starks could be raised from the dead, but Tyrion could also be killed and turned. And if that happens, hoo boy. The Night King’s generals are already dead-on, strategy-wise — we have to consider whether they help him plan or not? That’s been left ambiguous, but I think they’re “generals” for a reason, dammit. And we’re talking about Tyrion, who is still brilliant (no matter what Sansa says) in his own right. He’s already familiar with being a Lannister black sheep, but with a chip on his shoulder against Dany and the Starks, he’d be an unparalleled asset for the undead. Watch out, Cersei, because Tyrion’s going to be gunning for you, too. And if they get Tormund, well, those blue eyes would be so ironic.
Jason: I guess I always assumed white walker recruits would be mindless in their loyalty to their king and not strategic. But I could be wrong. I can totally see a massacre occurring in the crypts in addition to some big losses on the battlefield, but while the battle has been teased as this epic thing, there’s still going to be three episodes remaining after this next one, so I do wonder how they move on from that. They can’t kill everyone unless the show is going to wrap up with one episode of zombies marching, one featuring the landscapes of Westeros (a tantalizing calendar), and one with Cersei sipping on wine while screams can be heard in the background. Looking past all the carnage to come, where do you see the show going in the second half of this season?
Kimberly: This might sound too simplistic, but I believe there’s a fair chance that this will circle back to a power struggle with Dany front and central. Jon doesn’t really want to be king, but she appears to view him as a threat now. It’s left ambiguous for us, I know, since their discussion was cut short by the Night King’s forces approaching Winterfell. Yet I feel like Dany and Jon will make it through the battle because the writers have invested so much energy into building up their budding conflict. Folks keep finding themselves drawn to her Season 2 vision scene from the House of the Undying. Whatever that was, fever dream or not, it showed snow all over the Iron Throne. Her dragons may have torched the roof also, it’s not clear, but she never actually sits on that throne. Maybe I’m reading too much into that. (Some people even use this same scene to argue that Dany will become the Night Queen, but I’m not going there yet.) Or perhaps that tells us that the quest for the Throne will come back to Dany and Jon (even if he steps aside). Of course, others will have to be cleared out of the way first, and as you say, other major characters should also be alive after that battle. Who do you think those folks shall be?
Jason: My judgment is clouded by my love for my Thrones buddies. Any answer is going to feature a loveable collection of warriors and quipsters. But I honestly don’t know who is going to live. I’ll ease on down the road with you on Dany and Jon having a squabble and the chance that it ties back to her vision while that principle question hangs over the remaining episodes. I am, however, not sure that I care who wins between the two of them. Dany strikes me as a villain more and more and Jon is… a not terribly interesting character who would be swooping in as a legacy hire. There are other candidates too, of course. Sansa certainly has the smarts and a strong wind at her back from the North. Also, does anyone deserve it more? Cersei also deserves it if we’re grading on ruthlessness and does anyone think she’s going to surrender the throne easily? The Mountain’s gonna eat! Plus, you know she’s got something up her sleeve (ELEPHANTS!?!?). Arya could be a fit if she literally and viciously kills everyone in her path. Which is not impossible and which is totally fine, JUST SO LONG AS SHE DOESN’T HAVE SEX AGAIN, right internet? (He says sarcastically.) Who knows. Besides, this is all worthless as the true answer is that Tormund is going to sit on that throne, gulp down some giant’s milk, and think about a big ice warrior that he once had a thing for.
Kimberly: Oh man, you reeled me in by reading my mind on Jon Snow. Honestly, I’d be terribly disappointed if this series took the easy way out (vision or not) and put his unenthused tush on the Iron Throne. You make solid points on Sansa and Cersei (even with those freaking elephants), but I’m going with Arya. She can fight her way through the Night King’s forces with Needle and some fresh Valyrian steel, and maybe Gendry can be her consort or whatever. That last part really doesn’t matter, but yes, let’s watch Arya check all those last names off her kill list and win this whole thing.
Jason: To the victor goes the elephants!