FOR THE THRONE!
- By Alex Brown
- Photos By Helen Sloan/HBO
As spring begins to take hold across the northern hemisphere, quite the opposite is happening elsewhere, in Westeros. Winter is no longer coming, it has arrived. And the question on everyone’s lips? Who will sit on the Iron Throne when all is said and done? Will it be a Lannister? A Targaryen? The Night King? One thing is for certain—we are all about to find out when the final season of Game of Thrones returns on April 14th!
With no shortage of fan theories floating around every corner of the internet, it is important to review the highlights of last season. Perhaps the biggest reveal—and the source of so many ideas on how the chips may ultimately fall—is that Jon Snow is IN FACT a Targaryen. We got a hint of this in season seven’s “East Watch” episode, when Jon Snow was able to actually pet Drogon—the dragon named after Khal Drogo—on the nose. But the real confirmation of his storied lineage came as viewers were treated to a Bran Stark vision that revealed a secret marriage between Lyanna Stark, sister of Ned Stark of Winterfell fame, and Rhaegar Targaryen. If you dive into the details of Westeros history you’ll understand why this was such a betrayal for so many in the Seven Kingdoms, and why it sparked a war that saw the Mad King toppled from the throne.
As exciting as this might be, let’s remember that viewers already have a beloved Targaryen they have been cheering along for seven seasons—Daenerys! Storm-Born of House Targaryen, Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, and about 18 other honorifics were surely not collected in vain. We have watched a young girl blossom into a powerful conqueress and a Queen in her own right. She has freed slaves, assumed the head of the Dothraki Horde, sailed with her army across the narrow sea to her ancestral home of Dragonstone, and positioned herself to take back what is rightfully hers. Right? Not so fast.
The entire series opens in its first episode, in Winterfell, as the Lannisters arrive to retrieve Ned Stark as Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon. In that same episode we see Jaime and Cersei Lannister engaged in incestuous…embrace…which leads Jaime to throw Bran Stark from the window of the tower after he unintentionally catches glimpse of this forbidden love. In “Dragon and the Wolf,” the final episode of season seven, the climax of a romantic plot that had been bubbling for quite some time finally happens—Daenerys and Jon Snow become lovers. Sure, they don’t know they are Aunt and Nephew, but does that matter? Is incest, in fact, Westeros’s original sin, and did Dany and Jon just unwittingly commit the seemingly only unforgiveable act in the series? If so, what implications does this have for their rise to power? A complicated twist indeed.
Looking elsewhere across the Kingdom, we finally saw Lord “Little Finger” Baelish get what he deserved as the sisters of Winterfell—Sansa and Arya—teamed up to deliver final justice. And in perhaps one of the most emotionally satisfying moments of the entire series, they did so in spectacular fashion!
We also finally got to see Cersei—the Queen everyone loves to hate (SHAME!)—meet face-to-face, mono-e-mono, with the Mother of Dragons. In a nod to women’s empowerment, all anyone else could do was watch it unfold. But in true Cersei fashion, she ultimately betrays her promise, instead opting to stay put in the Red Keep and watch the rest die as they try to battle back the forces of the White Walkers.
All of this is intriguing, but all is for naught if the Night King and his limitless army of zombies (it is what they are!) cannot be stopped. With Viserion the Dragon transformed into his undead mount by his own spear, there may be no stopping him. With only six episodes left of the entire series, as they say in Westeros, buckle up—it’s gonna be a bumpy conquest!
The final season of “Game of Thrones” premieres April 14th on HBO.