A Few Thoughts Ahead of Game of Thrones’ Final Season

Speculation, wishes, and wagers on Games of Thrones' remaining episodes.

Apr 12, 2019 By Austin Trunick Bookmark and Share


With Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season premiering this Sunday on HBO, fans of the series have a nice range of licensed treats to comfort themselves with as their favorite characters are inevitably killed off one by one. Nabisco and HBO have teamed up to release special Game of Thrones-branded Oreos bearing the sigils of the show’s surviving houses, while if you’re lucky you can also snag a limited run, color-changing can of Mountain Dew which reveals Arya’s hit list when it’s chilled. Meanwhile, New Yorkers can order from a secret, GoT-themed menu at Shake Shack so long as they’re willing to place the order in Valyrian. As you’d expect, too, there’s a variety of choices for those who prefer to imbibe in Westerosi-themed beverages.

Brewery Ommegang have just issued the latest of their Game of Thrones-themed beers, a partnership that for years now has found inspiration in the TV show’s storyline. Named For the Throne, it’s an uncommon brew known as an “oenobeer.” This strong golden ale is made with pilsner and carapils malts and mixed with pinot grigio and grape juices, then eventually bottle-conditioned with champagne yeasts. It’s an incredibly aromatic beer, with subtle notes of fruit. Though it may (finally) be full-blown winter on the show, this is a great springtime beer, well-suited for the series’ April 14 premiere date. (Find a local retailer.)

Those who prefer to tip back the vino and unleash their inner Tyrion Lannister can partake in a selection of Game of Thrones-inspired wines. Produced in Oregon, the Game of Thrones pinot noir is a bold, tannin-rich red varietal with notes of toasted oak and vanilla; the Game of Thrones chardonnay is a smoother, slightly tart and fruity choice of white wine made on the Central Coast. You can enjoy the best of both worlds with discounted, mixed bundles of three or six bottles from WineOnSale.com.

I wanted to make a wittier reference here to “drinking and knowing things,” but I’ll leave that to the Etsy vendors and their questionable approach to copyrighted materials.  When it comes to Game of Thrones, it turns out I don’t really know much at all, anyhow – and so I mostly do the drinking while turning to a couple reliable experts in their field for all of my serious GoT questions.

It’s impossible even for book readers to accurately predict what will happen in this final season of El Juego de Tronos, since the show’s storyline has blown way past that of the (published) books’, and the showrunners have long since been given permission to go their own way. So, the only natural mode of speculation I could come up with is to ask perhaps the most open question of all: what would I like to see happen in the final season of Game of Thrones? It seems like it should be an easy question, but it wasn’t necessarily.

Personally, however this story ends, I would really like to see some sort of "reset" button hit when it comes to the amount of magic in Westeros. When the series started, magic existed but was always something on the fringes of the world. The white walkers were just rumors, and dragons were only legends. Sure, there'd be a smoke monster here or a shapeshifter there, but magic – when it did appear – felt magical. At this point in the series I feel like they've gone full Final Fantasy sequel: dragons rule the skies, zombies run amok, little girls transform into withered old men and back, little boys mind-control animals and Hodors, and pretty much anyone could come back from the dead at any moment.

Perhaps this is what happens every so often when the environment around Westeros gets too toxic? Wasn't the last time they saw dragons during their last huge time of war? Has there been a White Walker problem since they were last driven away by the children of the forest? Perhaps by the time the dust settles on this particular game of thrones both the White Walkers and Dany's dragons will be dead, Bran and the children of the forest will go back to living under far-off trees, and the red priests will wander off to do whatever it is they do when they're not meddling in the business of kings. Can magic's return to Westeros be something of a "flood" event? I'd feel pretty vindicated if life went back to normal once everyone was done fighting. But, failing a total return to normalcy in Westeros, I'd probably be pretty happy if Tyrion gets to ride a dragon at some point.

I fielded the same question to a friendly Game of Thrones advisor, Stephen Danay. (You may recognize him as our film staffer who specializes in reviewing revenge movies and old-timey Westerns.) For some time he ran a regular trivia night in Brooklyn that was focused entirely on Game of Thrones. Steve had this to say:

“The one thing I'd like to see (and I'm fairly confident will happen) is to see the Iron Throne get destroyed by the end of the series and have Westeros fracture into separate kingdoms again. The series has always framed the fight for the throne as a massive shell game distracting humanity from the true threat of the White Walkers. Many of our heroes have no desire to rule (Jon) or have realized that the pursuit of absolute power is a hollow endeavor (Dany), so the return of the dragons that forged the Iron Throne in the first place would make for a fitting end to it and fulfill Dany's vision of an Iron Throne covered in snow and ash. You've also got a younger generation of leaders ready to step up as the kings and queens of the separate kingdoms (Sansa in the North, Yara in the Iron Islands, Gendry in the Stormlands), which makes for a nice sense of continuation while still giving the main story a clear conclusion.

Austin, to answer some of your questions: Magic waxing and waning throughout history is a popular theory both among fans and people in the universe of Game of Thrones. Most of the Targaryen dragons were killed in a civil war called (go figure) the Dance of the Dragons, which happened about 170 years before the series starts. The few dragons that survived it died within another 20 years or so and the eggs they left behind would just hatch deformed stillbirths until they stopped hatching entirely. No-one has seen the White Walkers since the Long Night, when the Children, the giants and the First Men drove them into the far north and built the Wall. That might have been almost 8,000 years ago, which is why at the beginning of the series, almost everyone assumes that the White Walkers never even existed in the first place. So yeah, magic returning in full force to Westeros after this war is definitely a possibility. And I think Tyrion will definitely ride a dragon.”

Steve’s theory instantly makes a lot of sense. Personally I’m not sure I’ll be satisfied if no one sits on the Iron Throne after eight years of guessing who might, but I’d be much happier with that ending than, say, that goofy theory going around where Littlefinger is still alive and pulling all the strings.

***

One way to predict what might happen on the show’s final season is to take a larger look at the general consensus is for what most people assume will happen on the show. There’s no better measure of widely-held, perhaps-unfounded assumptions than browsing a Vegas sports book. Yes, it’s possible to bet on who will live or die in Game of Thrones, because of course it is. While none of us would actually bet our own money on a television series’ possible outcomes, we have stacks of crusty Post-It Notes with dollar signs written on them that we’ll happily toss over a make-believe bookies’ counter.

I’ve taken real odds from the site Betvictor, broken them up into categories, and asked another GoT expert to make some pretend wagers of his own within each grouping. “Rob” is Robert Guzman, a publishing industry professional who’s always answered the many desperate Thrones questions I’ve texted him on Sunday nights at 10:20pm. I’ve also weighed in on these odds myself because I can’t help but play foolishly with my money, especially when it’s not real.

The most popular Game of Thrones-centric betting is, of course, on a character’s likelihood of dying before the season is through. I’ll note that no betting site allows you to place a wager along the lines of “Every Character On The Show,” because I definitely would have put money on that. You know, valar morghulis and all.

The "Frontrunners" Bracket - Characters Generally Assumed Will Die, It's Just a Matter of When

Euron Greyjoy (1/50)
Cersei Lannister (1/25)
Jaime Lannister (1/12)

Rob: Cersei is a great bet here, but it’s a little bit safe, isn’t it? We all know that the Iron Throne is precarious, and after alienating her brother at the end of last season, she has precious few allies left. I’m putting a whopping $200 on Euron Greyjoy. In my mind, he’s filled the “Big Bad” vacuum left by Ramsay Bolton after his defeat at The Battle of the Bastards. The Big Bads in the series have always gotten their comeuppance in the end. I think Theon Greyjoy’s rescue mission provides his final redemption at the expense of his Uncle Euron’s life.

Austin: Euron has to die, because he's terrible. The show has zero reason to keep him around anymore, other than to captain Cersei’s Deus Ex Flotilla. He sounds like a more interesting character in the books, but as far as the show is concerned I think he's run his course. To me, it's not a question of if he'll die, but how soon. $150

I think Cersei is doomed, too. She's burned every bridge in the Seven Kingdoms, and I wouldn't be surprised if she's sitting in the Iron Throne as the Red Keep burns down around her. She'll get a good death, at least -- if anyone's final scene can top Olenna's, it will be Cersei's. $150.

The "Loyal Advisors" Bracket - Characters We Assume Most Fans Will Be Sad to See Go

Jorah Mormont (1/7)
Lord Varys (1/6)
Grey Worm (2/5)

Austin: Awww, these all make me a little sad. Jorah's evaded death once already recently, and I can't see them keeping him alive just to kill him again a few episodes later. I think Varys will call on some little birdies to help him hit the eject button out of Westeros if things get too hairy. Grey Worm, however, would die to protect his queen and given how many people will try to kill her this season, his chances of survival are probably the lowest. $75

Rob: While I think Varys is definitely not making it through the series, I’m going with Jorah - $100 bet. I think he’s going to make a grand sacrifice for his beloved Khaleesi, which would conveniently remove him from the love triangle with Jon Snow. Grey Worm is certainly going to be in a lot of danger this season facing the Army of the Dead, but I think the producers might pull a switcheroo on us and have him make it through. 

The "Oh No They Didn't" Bracket - Characters Who Could Totally Survive, But May Also Be Killed Off Because Everyone Involved in Writing Games of Thrones Can Be Real Jerks

The Hound (2/5)
Sansa Stark (8/11) 
Brienne of Tarth (11/10)

Rob: $50 on Sansa Stark. Hasn’t she been through enough, show producers?

Austin: Ohhhhhh, shoot. What if The Hound loses the Clegane Bowl? I think that might be the least satisfying thing beyond there never being an actual Clegane Bowl. Think of all that squandered fan service. Hmm. He'll probably die, but it won't be until after he's heroically dismantled The Zombie Mountain. $50

I think the show will feel compelled to kill off at least one more Stark Kid, and Sansa seems like a better candidate than any other. $25

After Gilly and Sam, I don't want any couple to live happily ever after more than Brienne and Tormund. So, no death there for me.

The "Big Shock" Bracket - Characters Who Probably Won't Die (Or Die Again), But Their Deaths Would Be as Stunning as Ned's/Robb's/Hodor's:

Tyrion Lannister (7/4)
Arya Stark (3/1)
Jon Snow (3/1)
Samwell Tarly (5/1)

Rob: I’m going with Tyrion here because you wouldn’t necessarily expect him to be in the line of fire this season. He’s Hand of the Queen, and should be well away from any fighting. Meanwhile, Jon Snow always leads battles from the front, and Arya still has a few kills to make this season. I could see either of them getting killed at some point this season. Samwell Tarly is another good option here, but I think the showrunners would save the big, shocking deaths for major characters. The odds aren’t great, and I’m not very confident. So I’m going with $25 on Tyrion.

Austin: All of these choices stink. Tyrion could die purely because the showrunners want to write an amazing death monologue for Peter Dinklage, and I wouldn't necessarily blame them. $25

***

While expert Steve declined our betting game, he was still willing to share his Westerosi wisdom with us, and provide his own concise take on who will live and die as this Game of Thrones reaches its end:

“DEFINITELY DEAD: Cersei, Jaime, Euron, Melisandre, Varys, Jorah, Beric Dondarrion, Qyburn, Robin Arryn, The Mountain (again)

DEFINITELY SURVIVING: Sansa, Sam, Bran, Davos, Yara

COULD GO EITHER WAY: Literally everyone else.”

***

There you have it – a few of our rambling thoughts leading into GoT’s final episodes, for whatever they’re worth. Who do you think will survive on the show? Who won’t be so fortunate? Who will be the last monarch sitting on the Iron Throne? Will there even be an Iron Throne left to sit on? Will they finally reveal that Varys has actually been a mermaid all along? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

(And a special thanks to Steve and Rob for contributing their opinions. Let this stand as public record that the first round is on me when I see them next.)



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invisali
April 16th 2019
2:26am

the first episode just does not satisfy the hunger, as nobody is dying(sic). cant wait to watch all the next in series…