10 New Game Of Thrones Season 8 Theories After Episode 3, "The Long Night"
Game of Thrones Season 8 spoilers ahead!
With only a handful of episodes of Game of Thrones left, Season 8 Episode 3, "The Long Night," left us cold--but Game of Thrones is far from over. There's a lot to unpack from the episode, including what happened to Jon's dragon, what happened to Ghost, and all the Easter eggs you might have missed during "The Long Night." And the show's final season is only half over, raising the question: What comes next in Episode 4 and beyond? We've got some theories (some more convincing than others) regarding what's still to come in the show's final three episodes.
Well, that was quick. That is not being facetious; the 82 minutes that it took for the living to defeat the Night King--and, with him, the White Walkers and entire army of the dead--in "The Long Night" flew by. And although quick pacing is sometimes a good thing, perhaps this was too rushed; after seven-and-a-half seasons of buildup and plotting, one might have expected humanity's last stand to last slightly longer than a single night. In the end, it was all very neat and self-contained. And for all the important deaths that did occur, it was somewhat surprising that more main characters didn't die.
But eyes forward: Now that the Night King is dead and the Wights have all evaporated into dust, the final obstacles--Cersei Lannister and the battle for the Iron Throne--take center stage. The teaser trailer (and accompanying photos) released by HBO for Episode 4 suggest we'll get something of a breather to set the stage for this one last fight. But there are many pieces still moving around the board.
Does the worst person in the world have any trump cards left to play? Here are our latest theories, including those around Cleganebowl and the two (possibly injured) dragons left at Dany's disposal. We also look at possibilities involving a number of characters who have been in the background as of late but could play a major role in how things play out in the final three episodes. You can also read our full review of Season 8, Episode 3, "The Long Night," for more of our thoughts about the latest episode.
1. Cersei's Gamble Paid Off
Contrary to what many were theorizing, Cersei's selfish gamble paid off beautifully. The Night King did not sack King's Landing. She has not suffered, thus far, for betraying her promise to Tyrion, and now, she will reap the rewards. She has a massive army, plus reinforcements from the Golden Company, to hold her position in King's Landing.
Ellaria Sand pointed out in Season 7 that Daenerys had enough forces to sack King's Landing and take the Iron Throne outright; she didn't, out of concern for the innocent people who would die. Now, with all the Dothraki dead and the Unsullied severely diminished, she may not even have the firepower for a worst case scenario. Two dragons may not be enough; King's Landing will probably have one of those giant crossbows set up on every tower.
And therein may be the ultimate subverted expectation: There will be no final, epic battle for the Iron Throne. Instead, it will be a more subtle, intellectual game of chess, filled with conversations and maneuvering. Political prowess, rather than brute force, may determine the winner at the end of the day.
Think infiltration and strategy, rather than a big dumb attack to the front. These last three episodes will be more up Tyrion and Varys's alley than Euron Greyjoy's. Tyrion, in particular, has been taking a back seat recently and has been wrong more than right. Don't expect that to last for much longer.
2. No World For Dragons
In keeping with this theory, the dragons have served their narrative purpose. They were necessary weapons of mass destruction in the kill-or-be-killed battle against the Night King.
But in this more diplomatic, civilized new world that Dany and Jon may create, dragons have no purpose. They are too destructive and too indiscriminate--there cannot be any type of permanent, lasting peace so long as dragons exist as an obliterative force. Everyone seems to be aware of this, even Dany. Again, there's a reason she's never sacked King's Landing even though she's had multiple opportunities to do so.
Thus, it makes narrative sense for both dragons to die. Dany won't have to make the decision to send them off or kill them herself; the plot will spare her from that. Drogon and Rhaegal will likely protect Dany and Jon as a final act of sacrifice.
3. Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes…
Melisandre arrived at Winterfell in Episode 3, just in time to meet Arya and echo the words she said in Season 3, the last time she saw her:
"I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes sealed shut forever. We will meet again."
This inspired Arya to run off and deliver the killing blow to the Night King.
Assuming this is prophecy, it provides some foreshadowing for what comes next. "Brown eyes" could be Walder Frey, who Arya already killed. "Blue eyes" is the Night King. And "green eyes" could be Cersei Lannister. It seems to fit perfectly, and she's the only major character left on the show for whom "green eyes" would make sense.
The one snag in this theory is with conflicting prophecies. It was also foretold that Cersei would be killed by a younger brother, which could mean Tyrion or Jaime. (Although granted, this prophecy was only uttered in the books, not in the show.)
We've previously theorized that Arya will kill Jaime, and wear his face while killing Cersei, thus fulfilling both prophecies. But would she really do that now, after Jaime just risked his life to protect Winterfell? How can both prophecies come true, in a way that doesn't feel forced or cheap?
4. Don't Sleep On Daario
Thanks to the Night King, Daenerys's forces are severely depleted. At the end of the Winterfell battle, we saw lone men and women standing on piles of bodies, cutting wights down from all directions. And we see Jon and Dany burning massive piles of corpses in the teaser trailer for Episode 4.
Dany does have reinforcements, should she decide to call them in. Daario Naharis and a sizable chunk of her army are still in Mereen, there to oversee the rebuilding of government. Perhaps if that effort is going well, Grey Worm, Missandei, and the surviving Unsullied can make a switch, and send Daario, along with a strong, fresh army of Second Sons, to help finish the job ahead.
5. Tyrion and Sansa's Marital Status
The way the plot is shaping up, it doesn't appear there will be many Lannisters left, once all is said and done. Cersei is almost certainly a dead woman. Jaime, who is most likely to kill Cersei, may not survive the attempt.
Tyrion has the best chance of surviving and carrying on his House's name, which raises an interesting point: Are Tyrion and Sansa still married? Could this be the unlikely union that unites the North and the South, just as Tywin had originally desired?
Huffington Post did an exhaustive piece where they consulted medieval culture experts about the intricacies of marriage. Would the marriage need to be consummated? What are the grounds for annulment? Does getting married two separate times under two different religions make one or both marriages invalid? The conclusion seems to be that it's vague, and certainly vague enough that the show can do whatever it wants to rationalize it, either way. That makes last night's scenes between Tyrion and Sansa even more intriguing.
6. A Fiery Cleganebowl?
"Cleganebowl" is the name that fans are giving to the inevitable, much-anticipated clash between Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane. The two men have hated each other since childhood, and as late as Season 7, Sandor expressed his unquenched desire to kill his zombified brother.
Fire plays largely into their feud; when they were children, Gregor burned the Sandor's face on burning coals for playing with one of his toys. Fire was what sparked their feud; could fire also be the key to how it ends? What if Sandor got a flaming sword?
With Beric, Thoros, and Melisandre all dead, could Sandor be the newest soldier to fight for the Lord of Light? Having a flaming sword would also bring Sandor's arc to a close. Having feared and hated fire all his life, he would own and wield it against the man who caused him to hate it in the first place.
7. Cersei Is Not The Big Bad
One aspect of Episode 3 that fans (especially book fans) took issue with is that up until now, the White Walkers were always represented as the ultimate villain of the series. For them to die the way they did, and leave Cersei standing as the final obstacle, apparently betrayed the overarching theme of the series--that humans have to put aside their petty squabbles to tackle something greater than themselves.
But perhaps the show hasn't forgotten this overarching concern. Cersei may not be the final boss, as the remaining episodes may still leave room for some bigger, darker villain to take shape behind the scenes.
8. Arya Is A White Walker?
Arya killing the Night King will go down in the show's history as one of the greatest moments. But it may have come at a cost. One of the more pessimistic theories is that Arya has now been corrupted by the Night King, because he grabbed her, with his bare hand, by her throat. In the past, the Night King has changed people into White Walkers by touching them. Could Arya suffer the same fate?
Probably not. The Night King's magic likely dies, along with him, and if she was going to turn, we would have seen some evidence of it before Episode 3's credits rolled. But this might be the right train of thought, when theorizing about the remaining three episodes.
9. Qyburn's Dark Magic
Perhaps the larger threat will be Cersei herself, but this version of the theory would actually require her to die first.
We know that Qyburn has devised a crude method of bringing people back from the dead. He experimented with The Mountain, and resurrected a pale, monstrous version of the original man. What if he were to work his dark magic on a dead Cersei? And what sorts of experiments has he been doing for the past several months, post-Mountain resurrection?
This would make Cersei a zombie "Night Queen" of sorts, and provide the show with a supernatural, deathly horror to close things out.
10. Could Daenerys Be The Night Queen?
This is phrased more as a question than as a statement. Until fairly recently, fans theorized that Dany would join the Night King, willingly, and become the Night Queen. But Episode 3 appears to blow that theory out of the water. The Night King is dead. Two dragons have survived, which means that Dany has no impetus to join her "children" on the other side.
Some fans are pointing to the original Azor Ahai theory: that somehow, by Jon stabbing Dany through the chest with Lightbringer, Dany will become the Night Queen. And although this would parallel the Night King's creation, which resulted from being stabbed with dragonglass, it's difficult to imagine that anyone in King's Landing could recreate the specific magical ritual used thousands of years ago.
Unless some crucial evidence emerges in Episode 5, we can classify any future Night Queen discussions as wishful thinking.