Game of Thrones Season 7 was by far the biggest season of the show to date. Regardless of quality, the world was abuzz with talk, analysis and speculation of Thrones for seven weeks; there were deaths, revelations and pulsating scenes. The show may be a different beast to what it once was, but make no mistake about it, Game of Thrones is still TV’s undisputed king. With only one season left, the culmination of this epic journey is looming and the threads set in motion all those episodes ago with the death of Jon Arryn are to be tied up once and for all. Fan theories have been in place for a long time now, be they based on George RR Martin’s books or the small screen adaptation. Will it end predictably? Have we already theorised the entire final season? Do David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have some shocking twists up their sleeves? Who will live? Who will die? Who will sit on the Iron Throne? Will there even be an Iron Throne to sit upon? Here are 10 things that we need to see in the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones.
10. Euron Greyjoy: the most feared Pirate of the seas
Anticipation had been high for the television debut of Euron Greyjoy, the uncle of Theon and Yara and usurper of the Iron Islands. His first appearance and subsequent murder of his brother Balon was a chilling introduction for the formerly exiled pirate and he forcefully took swift control of the Iron Islanders. But the vicious and fierce Euron we’ve been promised by those behind the show has yet to come to fruition. Sure, he launched a semi-devastating attack on Daenerys’ fleet early on in Season 7, killing two of the Sandsnakes, imprisoning the third, along with Ellaria Sand and Yara. However he’s been little more than Cersei’s deputy-heavy ever since; we’ve seen his fleet, we’ve heard the stories, now lets see Euron Greyjoy live up to his reputation. As he sails to Braavos to ferry the Golden Company back to Westeros, Euron is likely to receive a favourable promotion within Cersei’s army after Jaime’s departure and should in theory become the general of the Lannister-Greyjoy military. Whilst Cersei fights the political battles, Euron needs to do her bidding in the field and send heads rolling; Euron needs to be feared and despised by the end of Season 8, we need to cheer for his death as we did for Joffrey’s.
9. The expendables expended
Despite the impending endgame, there still seem to be a number of expendable characters mooching around in Westeros. Their stories now feel subservient within the grander scheme of things and really can’t be seen as individuals who are going to play any part in the final battle. Thrones hasn’t relied on shocking deaths, betrayals and trigger happy killings in recent years as much as it used to, but Season 8 could do with turning back the clock a few times in the process of wrapping things up. So who are the expendables? Who shouldn’t really be needed in the end? The Greyjoy siblings spring to mind, as does Beric Dondarrion, the entirety of the Night’s Watch, and, unfortunately, Brienne of Tarth. Whilst this isn’t to say that these aren’t good or well-liked characters (we all love Brienne and the Greyjoys are, lets face it, no one’s favourites), but will they really be the ones to decide the fate of Westeros? What will their place be in the new world? How will they really make a difference in the end?
Cleganebowl, for those who don’t know, refers to the long theorised and pined for battle between Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Two of the most feared warriors in Westeros and the two most dysfunctional siblings, Sandor and Gregor have been on a collision course for a long time now, their brief skirmish in Season 1 whetted our appetites and their face to face in the Season 7 finale caused us to salivate all over again. Book readers have anticipated it as being the result of Cersei’s trial before the faith, which we’ve not yet reached in the books and which the show visualised as Cersei’s destruction of the Sept and her enemies at the end of Season 6. The theory is that Cersei will opt for a trial by combat, electing the resurrected and zombified Ser Gregor as her champion, whilst the faith will call upon a humble gravedigger who works for a healer in the Riverlands. The gravedigger? Sandor Clegane, wounded in the books and left by Arya (not beaten up by Brienne), now retiring his Hound moniker and serving the faith for the rest of his days. A little far-fetched in the books, but a stonewall reality for the show. With Cersei neglecting to ally with the Stark-Targaryen alliance, it’s easy to see the two forces meeting on the battlefield, and their most seasoned combatants coming to blows on opposite sides.
7. A fitting send off
As well the show’s expendables biting the bullet, there’s an overwhelming sense that several of our favourite characters are going to meet their maker en route to the endgame. The likes of Davos Seaworth, Jorah Mormont, Tormund Giantsbane and Jaime Lannister unfortunately do not feel long for this world, despite their strengths as characters and legions of fans, their days are surely numbered. But whilst these characters may not be surviving the whole season, they at least need a fitting send off once their time comes. One big gripe that a number of people had with the end of Season 7 was the nature of Littlefinger’s death and how many thought it undermined and diminished the stature of the character, this must be avoided with other such characters. Think the death of Olenna Tyrell, or The Hound’s fakeout from Season 4, this is how you should write out likeable, interesting and cool characters. A heroes end for some of the best TV characters of the modern era… lets just hope that Tormund did not meet his end with that attack on Eastwatch…
6. The North remembers
One of three constants throughout the course of the show (more on one of the others in a minute…), the Starks have had a tough time, to say the least. But the Starks are more than just a family, they are representative on a much wider scale of the North itself; divided, ravaged but resurgent. The Starks are back together and are regrouping significantly under the King in the North, Jon Snow, and the Lady of Winterfell, Sansa Stark, and what we need from Season 8 is some justice for House Stark. Game of Thrones has never been about heroes and villains or victories for the good guys but there have been moments of justice, when all seems right and finally the worst of the worst get their comeuppance. Tyrion killed his father, Sansa called Ramsay’s dogs on him, there are moments when those who we root for finally get some luck. House Stark needs it more than anyone else. The Boltons have betrayed them, the Lannisters have orchestrated their downfall, the houses of the North have abandoned them, in Season 8 House Stark needs its moment of victory, its glimmer of hope in the bleakness.
5. House Lannister – Hear me roar
Along with the aforementioned Starks and Daenerys Targaryen, House Lannister has stood tall throughout all seven seasons. Whilst children have been lost and patriarchs have been bolted to death on the toilet, some combination of Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion have remained in the throne room, a family refusing to let go of the Iron Throne. With Season 7 ending with the separation of Cersei and Jaime at long last, the golden-haired trio have finally been torn apart. Season 8needs to bring them back together for one final moment, however, for their story to culminate and for their disputes to be settled once and for all. Not all of them can make it out of this alive, that much is for sure, but we need to see how the three siblings will react to one another at their ends. Remove them from the greater war for a moment and just let the Lannisters face each other one final time, if Cersei and Tyrion’s encounter from the Season 7 finale is anything to go by then it’ll be more explosive than a sept full of wildfire.
4. The Prince that was promised
“There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”
The Azor Ahai prophecy is one that has begun to become much more urgent as the long night marches into Westeros. Melissandre believed the prince that was promised to be Stannis Baratheon before the Lord of light abandoned him and his army, now Azor Ahai is needed more than ever and their time must surely be upon us. With the Night King and his army crossing the once magical barrier of the Wall to finally enter the land of the living, winter is finally here and the time has come for the darkness to meet the light in what many theorise to be the titular song of ice and fire. As the show comes to its end, the final battle must be fought against the dead for the fate of the world. So who is Azor Ahai? There are two main candidates who many believe it to be between, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen.
3. The fulfilling of the prophecy
But the prophecy of Azor Ahai is not the only prophecy that must come to fruition in Season 8. If you cast your minds back to the beginning of Season 5, you’ll recall that Cersei Lannister has some less than pleasant words hanging over her. The prophecy that Cersei was given as a child decreed that she would marry the king, not the prince (Robert Baratheon instead of Rhaegar Targaryen), that she would have three children (who would also die) and her husband twenty (Cersei had Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen with Jaime, whereas Robert sired a number of illegitimate children), and that she would be queen for a time until one more beautiful came along to cast her down. Two thirds of this have already come true obviously, and Cersei thought that the prophesied queen would be Margaery Tyrell, however it would seem that Daenerys is the one to cast down Cersei as the rest of her prophecy has already rung true. The interesting thing about this is the notable absence of the prophecy’s other decree from the books, that Cersei would be strangled to death by the “Valonqar”, High Valerian for “younger brother”. Not only will this queen overthrow Cersei, but it would seem that one of Tyrion or Jaime will kill her. Cersei has taken every conceivable measure to break this prophecy but her fate has always been out of her hands; Margaery died but it meant she lost Tommen in the process, she put a price on Tyrion’s head but he escaped capture, Daenerys sailed to Westeros, and Jaime has finally left her side. With the news that the queen is pregnant, there could be one final sting in the tail for Cersei Lannister; if her child lives then she shall have her fourth and a new heir to break the prophecy, but many theorise that Cersei will miscarry which would only drive her to even darker depths. This prophecy has shaped and driven Cersei throughout her life, it is imperative that it is fulfilled in Season 8and that one of the game’s greatest players meets her poetic justice, in whatever way it may take shape.
2. The battle to end all battles
Game of Thrones began making its mark as a political thriller masquerading as a fantasy show, but the writers and directors have displayed an incredible talent at crafting some truly breathtaking battle sequences. The battles have become more frequent as the show has developed and one cannot escape the feeling that Season 8 will gift us to a battle we’ve all been waiting for; the battle for the seven kingdoms. There are two main battles yet to be fought, that of the living vs the dead and the Stark-Targaryen alliance vs Cersei, both should be truly epic and momentous events, regardless of whichever one we culminate with. Whichever battle seals the fate of the world needs to be built accordingly, it needs to be reached naturally, and it needs to feel huge. Season 8 needs to pull out all of the stops and deliver a battle unlike one we’ve ever seen before; the scale of the battle of the Blackwater, times the battle on the Wall, with the direction and resonance of the Battle of the Bastards. To bring this war to a close we need to have our minds blown, the anticipation will be high and it needs to live up to it.
1. The bittersweet ending
“I’m not going to tell you how I’m going to end my book, but I suspect the overall flavor is going to be as much bittersweet as it is happy.”
Whilst the last few seasons of Game of Thrones has seen the story begin to diverge from the path laid out by George RR Martin in his books, Benioff and Weiss have promised that both stories will reach the same conclusion, they’re just taking different routes to get there. If the above quote is anything to go by, then we should be preparing ourselves for both the best and the worst. For a long time now fans have theorised as to who they believe will sit on the Iron Throne once all is said and done, theories have ranged from the obvious choices of Daenerys and Jon, to the slightly more wildcard picks of Littlefinger and even the Night King. With Season 8, Benioff and Weiss will finally deliver their finish and they have a tonne of expectations to meet in doing so, by the sounds of it we’re going to lose those we love but also witness an ending spruced up with a bit of hope. The show will likely end with a final shot of our new ruler; it needs to be memorable, it needs to be conclusive, it needs to feel worthy of the legacy of Game of Thrones.