Game of Thrones Season 8 is almost here.
Say what you want about HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation--at least it's going to have an ending. Author George R.R. Martin's books remain in limbo, with two final novels still in progress as the TV show's last season approaches. With a premiere date on April 14, Game of Thrones Season 8 is almost here.
The show was never going to be perfect, and we've had our fair share of gripes. Martin famously has said that he once considered the series unfilmable. The source material is complex, multi-layered, and often ambiguous, and the show has gradually trimmed the series' fat until only what matters remains. Season 8 is going to be a lean, mean series of six final episodes that will finally bring the story to a close.
But it will also leave some loose ends, we have no doubt. In the beginning the show was an essentially direct adaptation of the books, and there are details in early seasons that seemingly never amounted to anything. Other threads were simply dropped, and we're hoping they'll get picked up again.
There's no way Game of Thrones Season 8 will answer all these. In a saga this massive, there are bound to be lingering questions and doubts. But as Game of Thrones' final season approaches, we can't help but wonder about these anyway.
1. What will Gendry's ultimate importance be?
Gendry Baratheon--technically Gendry Waters, the surname given to bastards of the Crownlands--has played a bigger role in the show than in the books so far. He may be a bastard, but he's also the last living Baratheon heir and a skilled fighter and blacksmith, and he may know how to work with Valyrian steel, if his master passed on the knowledge. Hopefully Gendry has a role in Season 8 beyond crafting dragonglass weapons in Winterfell's forge (as we saw in the Season 8 trailer).
2. Is Cersei really pregnant?
Cersei communicated to multiple characters in Season 7, including Jamie and Tyrion, that she's once again with child. As far as we're shown on the screen, this pregnancy appears genuine. Then again, those are the two characters who Cersei most needed to manipulate last season, and an unborn child is the perfect way to tug at their heartstrings. This question will definitely be answered in Season 8.
3. How will Jon and Daenerys react to the truth about his parentage?
Jon and Dany coming together--in more than one way--was nothing more than a book reader's fantasy until it actually happened in Season 7. But now that they're entwined, how will they react to the knowledge that they're also related? Will they compete for the Iron Throne? Will they rule together like Targaryen brothers and sisters of old? No doubt Season 8 will answer this question one way or another.
4. What was up with Tyrion’s reaction?
Speaking of Jon and Dany: What was up with Tyrion's reaction to seeing Jon enter Dany's room while on their way to Winterfell at the end of Season 7? Is Tyrion falling in love with Dany as well? Does he anticipate a negative political impact to Jon and Dany's tryst? Or does he know something about Jon's true parentage?
5. Who is Azor Ahai/The Prince That Was Promised?
The legend and prophecy of Azor Ahai, also referred to as The Prince that was Promised, could ultimately refer to any number of characters. Given how this series likes to subvert fantasy tropes, it's unlikely any one character will ultimately rise up as a legendary hero reborn. Instead, the show's final episodes will likely spark an eternal debate about who ultimately fulfilled the prophecy best--that is, if the conclusion is anything like what George likely has planned in the books. On the other hand, who knows? Maybe they'll simplify it for TV.
6. Is there a real Lightbringer out there somewhere?
Lightbringer was the legendary sword of the hero Azor Ahai. It supposedly exuded heat and light, according to the stories. Stannis's burning sword was an illusion crafted by Melisandre, and Beric's and Thoros's swords don't seem to quite fit the bill. Is there a legendary sword out there waiting for The Prince that was Promised to take it up again in the fight against the darkness? Will Gendry forge a new version at Winterfell? Or is Lightbringer just another tall tale? There's a chance Season 8 will address this legend, since it's been brought up in the show before.
7. What is the White Walkers' ultimate goal?
Few things in Game of Thrones are ever as black and white as a simple battle between "good" and "evil." So far, everything we've seen of the White Walkers and their undead army suggests they're nothing more than frosty boogeymen. But if that's the case--if wanton destruction is their only goal--it will be a massive disappointment. Hopefully Season 8 reveals exactly why the White Walkers are marching south, and the conclusion turns out more nuanced than "bad guys bad, good guys good."
8. Is Dany really barren?
Daenerys has been assumed barren since her miscarriage in Season 1/the original book. In Season 7, though, multiple characters raised the question of succession, and Jon even suggested to Dany that the witch Mirri Maz Duur may have been lying when she declared Dany infertile. And with the release of book 5, A Dance with Dragons, back in 2011, readers developed multiple theories about hints that the Dragon Queen might eventually be healed. Given how Season 7 ended, Jon and Dany are certainly putting that to the test.
9. Who else will ride a dragon?
In the books, there's an important prophecy that "the dragon has three heads." Fans have speculated for decades about who will ride a dragon besides Dany. The obvious second rider is Jon, considering he's actually Aegon Targaryen, a legitimate Targaryen heir. The third could be anyone--Arya likely has the courage, Bran could warg and take one over, and it would be a beautiful character arc for Tyrion to eventually command that power. Granted, one of the three dragons is now fighting for the dead in the show's version of events, so this book question may never be answered.
10. Did Tormund and Beric survive the Wall's destruction?
Evidence points to "yes," but the question still technically remains: Did Tormund and Beric survive the Wall coming down at the end of Season 7? The two seemed to run away before their section of the Wall toppled, and since we didn't see them die, they likely have some tatters of plot armor remaining. Then again, that didn't help Stannis one bit.
11. Will Tormund and Brienne ever hook up?
The show has crafted quite a will they/won't they between Brienne and Tormund Giantsbane. On one hand, Tormund seems dead set on making giant babies with Brienne. On the other, she has expressed pretty much zero interest. In the books (and the show, to a lesser degree), fans mainly ship Brienne and Jamie getting together. With Jamie heading north, that too could finally happen. But for the show, it seems more likely that Brienne and Tormund will eventually hook up.
12. Will we see Ellaria Sand again?
Last we saw, Ellaria Sand--the Red Viper's lover and surrogate mother to the Sand Snakes--was trapped in Cersei's dungeon watching her actual daughter slowly die by poison. Given how cruel this show can sometimes be, it wouldn't be surprising if that was the last we ever saw of her. But we're hoping that's not the end of Ellaria's story.
13. Will Arya ever finish her murder list?
Arya has been keeping a list of every douchebag she wants to kill since the early days, and even now, with her considerable skills as an assassin, she isn't done. She brought up the list more than once in Season 7, which suggests it's one plot point that will eventually be resolved. The most prominent name remaining is Cersei's, though after the Lannister queen's betrayal of Dany and Jon in Season 7's finale, Arya will have some competition for that honor.
14. Will the "Valonqar" prophecy come true?
Speaking of killing Cersei, here's another books theory: Jamie will ultimately murder his sister/lover. This relates back to Cersei's flashback during Season 5, in which a woods witch told her she'd marry the king and her children would wear golden crowns but ultimately die. In the same scene in the books, the witch also told Cersei she'd be killed by the Valonqar, which is High Valyrian for "little brother." This fear contributed to her lifelong hatred of her little brother Tyrion, but more importantly, her twin Jamie was technically born after her, meaning Jamie is also Cersei's "little brother"--and leading many fans to believe Jamie will be the one who ends Cersei's reign of terror. Will this matter at all in the show? Hopefully we'll find out.
15. Will Bronn follow Jamie north?
Jamie still owes Bronn a castle, or something. We're honestly not sure why Bronn is still a character, besides that he's likable and provides comic relief next to the dour Lannisters. But with Jamie heading north, Bronn is out of allies in King's Landing, so chances are he'll follow.
16. What role do Melisandre and Varys still have to play?
When Melisandre left Westeros in Season 7, she told Varys they still have a role to play. She was leaving for Volantis, but she promised she'd be back, as they both have to die in Westeros. How are Melisandre's and Varys's fates intertwined, and what role do they still have left to play? These characters remain mysterious in the books, but the show will have to provide some answers this season.
17. Where has Ghost been?
Jon's direwolf Ghost is one of the final two who remain alive, the other being Arya's wolf Nymeria, who she encountered in Season 7 (a direct nod to a books subplot that fans were happy to see). But Ghost has been totally absent from recent episodes. We're anticipating his reappearance for the final season, but there's another factor--will Ghost and Jon's relationship change once he embraces his identity as a Targaryen?
18. Are there more dragons?
Dragons were thought extinct until Daenerys hatched her three children. But there may be more allegedly "dead" dragon eggs floating around. In the books, it's been strongly hinted. It would be a shame if Dany's remaining two dragons are really the last in the world, but we're not sure if this is a question the show will ever address.
19. Where is Edmure Tully?
Edmure Tully, Catelyn's brother, was last seen in the Freys' custody as they overtook Riverrun in Season 6. As far as we know, he was returned to the Frey dungeon. But when Arya showed up and murdered all the Freys, his thread was left hanging. Is Edmure still out there somewhere, and will he have a role to play in the final season? Hopefully we find out.
20. What was the point of Quaithe?
It's understandable if you don't remember this, but Quaithe was a mysterious woman Dany encountered back in Season 2. The masked figure gave her cryptic warnings and appeared only a few times in the season, and hasn't been mentioned since. In the books, though, she's had a much bigger role, re-appearing multiple times throughout Dany's journey to offer cryptic prophecies and warnings. She seems important, but the show may have forgotten about her.
21. Will the warlocks of Qarth ever resurface?
Dany roasted these fools pretty hard in Season 2, but at the beginning of Season 3 the warlocks revealed themselves to be still active when they sent an assassin her way. Since then, they've never played a role, while their presence is still felt in the books. Odds are this is a subplot the show has simply abandoned, but who knows? Maybe they'll appear once more in Season 8 to get their revenge.
22. What about Kinvara?
A red priestess named Kinvara briefly appeared in Meereen during Season 6 to inform Tyrion that Daenerys fulfills the prophecy of The Prince that was Promised. That remains to be seen--as does Kinvara, who hasn't appeared again since that single scene. Will she resurface in Season 8, or was she pretty much pointless?
23. Is Yara alive?
At the end of Season 7, Theon convinced his fellow Ironborn to mount a rescue attempt for Yara. But it's possible Euron already killed her, or that he brought her with him as his captive as he sails to Essos to ferry Cersei's Golden Company back to King's Landing. Either way, Yara's fate will certainly be addressed in Season 8.
24. Will we finally get Cleganebowl?
The battle between the Hound and his brother the Mountain has been a long time coming. In the books, theories about "Cleganebowl" run wild, even as the Hound seems to have retired to a quiet life at a religious retreat in the Riverlands. In the show, that conversion didn't last long, and Sandor hinted heavily last season that he's still planning to kill the crap out of his brother Gregor. Here's hoping.
25. What is the link between Bran and the Night King?
When Bran and the Night King made contact in Season 6, all hell broke loose. There seems to be some link between the two now. Fans have speculated that Bran somehow becomes the Night King, while others think the Night King may have more specific goals than simply "kill everything everywhere." Whatever their relationship is, this question will have to be answered in Season 8.
26. Are there any more Targaryens?
Of all the book stories the HBO show has skipped, one seems to loom largest: There's actually one more Targaryen out there in the world. In A Dance with Dragons, readers met Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar's son with Elia Martell, who was switched at birth and has been raised in the Golden Company to one day return to Westeros and reclaim the throne. He may be an impostor, part of a larger scheme involving a Targaryen splinter faction known as the Blackfyres, or he may be the real deal. Either way, in the books, he makes it to Westeros before Dany, which seems like it should be important. With the Golden Company entering the fray in Season 8, it's still possible for the show to do this storyline, or a version of it at least.
27. Who will sit on the Iron Throne at the end?
Given that this is the ultimate question of the entire series, we have no doubt Season 8 will provide an answer--even if that answer is unsatisfactory, or "nobody." We'll just have to wait and see.