Saturday 3 December 2016

Game of Thrones: What 'Winds of Winter' will bring to King's Landing, Winterfell and the Riverlands

Sasha Brady

Published 26/06/2016 | 11:26

Walder Frey and Jamie Lannister dine together in season six, episode ten. Photo: HBO / Game of Thrones
Walder Frey and Jamie Lannister dine together in season six, episode ten. Photo: HBO / Game of Thrones
Lena Heady as Cersei Lanniser / Game of Thrones
Sophie Turner as Sansa in Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones: The show Irish money can't buy.

*WARNING* Spoliers for Game of Thrones, season six.

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This has been an eventful series, packed with plenty of plot developments as writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss deviate from the books and move forward without published source material.

As we approach the final episode of the season, there are several simmering stories with the potential to boil over as showrunners tie up loose ends and set the table for the next season.

For once, veteran readers of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire are in the exact same boat as the HBO-only crowd. Nobody knows what will happen but it hasn’t stopped speculation as fans pour over fan theories and examine previous episodes for clues about the show’s destiny.

So what can we expect from the season six finale, an episode titled Winds of Winter?

Let’s look at three of the main settings.

King’s Landing

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It’s likely that there will be some form of resolution in the capital. Cersei is awaiting trial and is desperate to break her son, Tommen, free from the clutches of the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant, the region’s brutal religious order.

Remember when Tyrion spoke about the stores of wildfire buried underneath King’s Landing in the previous episode when he reminded Daenerys of her father’s plan?

That was an important warning for Daenerys to not turn into a mad tyrant like her Aerys but it’s also another hint that the wildfire beneath King’s Landing is still down there, just waiting for someone to set it off and “burn the city to the ground”... just like Cersei has threatened to do on numerous occasions.

In George R.R. Martin's novels, when Cersei thinks Tyrion is guilty of murdering her son, King Joffrey, she uses some wildfire to blow up the Tower of the Hand when she thinks her brother is hiding there.

She hasn’t used fire in the show but it looks like Game of Thrones might be saving that plot for an explosive season six finale, a fiery battle between Cersei and the Faith Militant for King Tommen.

Thanks to her childhood prophecy, the Queen Mother has been paranoid throughout that she’d lose her children to death or someone else’s influence. It’s likely that if she thinks Tommen’s life is being threatened, she won’t hesitate to use anything in her power to secure his life, or, failing that, burn everything to the ground.

Winterfell

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Last week, we all rejoiced when the Stark banner was once again unfurled over Winterfell but Game of Thrones isn't renowned for delivering satisfactory moments so we're not expecting Jon and Sansa to just cruise happily from here.

And a clever redditor, Nockside, reminded us of a forgotten scene from season five, which hints their victory in the North could be short-lived.

Here’s the scene in question, from episode six of season nine. Petyr Baelish, Littlefinger, is meeting with Cersei to discuss what to do about Winterfell.

Fast-forward to 2:34.

Here’s the relevant piece of the exchange, after Littlefinger offers to attack Winterfell with the Knights of the Vale:

“And if you succeed?” Cersei says.

“Name me Warden of the North,” Littlefinger says.

“I’ll speak to the king this evening, have him issue a royal decree.”

“I will not rest until the Lion flies over Winterfell,” Littlefinger says, in reference to the Lannisters’ house sigil.

“I’ll know you’re a man of your word when I see Sansa Stark’s head on a spike.”

That’s not a good sign for Sansa. Littlefinger won’t even need to attack Winterfell, since his knights are already occupying the castle.

We can't imagine that Littlefinger would kill Sansa, he was in love with her mother and seems to have creepy designs on Sansa's heart (or her body at least). There’s no way he offered his army out of the kindness of his own heart. There’s always an ulterior motive with Littlefinger and it will be interesting (or gross and heartbreaking) to see what his plan is.

Riverlands

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Now that the Bolton family has been dealt with, only the Freys need to pay for the events that happened at The Red Wedding, and no one should forget the bloody massacre was carried out in the Lannisters' name.

The trailer for episode 10, reveals the Freys dining with Jamie Lannister and we see Walder Frey announce that "the Lannisters send their regards".

In Season three, Roose Bolton hissed, "the Lannisters send their regards" before murdering Robb, so this throwback in season ten suggests that something big is about to go down.

Having the Lannister and Fey armies in one location makes them an easy target for anyone looking for vengeance.

Fans have speculated that Arya will crash the party as a faceless man and enact her revenge on the Freys and the Lannisters.

Walder Frey was on Arya’s list so she could kill him, take his face and then carry out her retribution without any warning.

The actress who plays her, Maisie Williams, even said that Arya appears more times in the trailers than anyone else. Is that because she’s wearing a different face?

Elsewhere...

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Daenerys is seemingly ready to return to Westeros, a development that can’t come soon enough. With the help of some Iron Born, the Dothraki, foreign sellswords and, of course, her three dragons it’s likely that she’ll head to King’s Landing first, to meet with the usurper on the Iron Throne.

However, she might find ash falling on the throne room if the speculation on wildfire turns out to be true.

Or, the may arrive just in time to help… giving Tyrion ample opportunity to kill her before she destroys the capital, fulfilling another childhood prophecy that she would die at the hands of her younger brother.

And perhaps the return of the visionary Bran Stark, as foretold by publicity photos HBO released last, will finally give fans the answer as to who Jon Snow’s parents are, a mystery solution that was hinted at as the season began but then set aside.

Speaking of Bran, we know that the Night King and the White Walkers are on his trail.

In episode five, when Bran broke the rules of his weirwood training and interacted with the White Walkers in his vision, the Night King marked him, thus breaking the protection spell on the Three-Eyed Raven's cave.

That means Bran's mark could also break the Wall's protection if he passes through it... leaving the Night King and his army free to enter.

That’s a lot of action to pack into one episode.

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