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Thursday 23 May 2019

The 10 questions we want answered in the final series of Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones stars Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington
Game of Thrones stars Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington

Meadhbh McGrath

Top up your chalices and settle in for the Long Night: Game of Thrones is almost back. It’s been more than 18 months since our last visit to Westeros, but next week sees the return of George RR Martin’s fantasy epic for its eighth and final season. Starting April 15 on Sky Atlantic, the hit series has a lot of ground to cover and many loose ends to tie up. We’re counting down the questions we want answered in the remaining six episodes...

1 How will Jon Snow and Daenerys react to the truth about his parentage?

Fans have been rooting for these two to get together for years, and in the last moments of season seven, they finally did. The only problem? Daenerys is Jon Snow’s aunt. In a flashback, we learned that his mother Lyanna Stark became pregnant after being abducted by Daenerys’ late older brother, Rhaegar, and now, it’s only a matter of time before his true parentage is revealed. Incest is part of the show’s DNA at this point (Cersei and Jaime Lannister have been on and off since the very first episode), but will Jon and Dany establish themselves as Westeros’ hottest power couple, or will the relationship suffer once Jon discovers it is he, not Daenerys, who is rightful heir to the Iron Throne?

2 Has Jaime really abandoned Cersei?

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Bad Blood: The incestuous plot line involving Jamie and Cersei Lannister in 'Game of Thrones' has caused new controversy.
 

Over the course of the show, Jaime has changed dramatically from the villain who pushed young Bran Stark out the window. Now, he’s one of the good guys, having walked away from Cersei after a lifetime of devotion, disgusted by her plans to betray her new allies. Jaime is making his way to Winterfell, where he’ll have to reckon with his attempt to kill Bran, but does he have a real shot at redemption? Even if he does earn Jon and Dany’s trust, things don’t look promising for Jaime. Could he end up being killed by Cersei? Or will he be the one to eliminate her? Which leads us to…

3 Who will take down Cersei?

As a child, Cersei heard the prophecy of Maggy the Frog: she would grow up to be queen, have three children and each would die before her. In George RR Martin’s books, there’s an additional prediction: that Cersei will be killed by the “valonqar”, Valyrian for ‘little brother’ or ‘younger sibling’. Facing into the final season, there are no shortage of suspects inside and outside of Cersei’s family. Jaime and Tyrion are the most obvious, but beyond the Lannister family, there are viable options in House Stark: Sansa is technically a “younger sibling”, as is Arya, who has Cersei at the top of her notorious kill list. There’s also the theory that, if Cersei is really pregnant — as she told Jaime in the season seven finale — she could die during childbirth, just like her mother, giving birth to a dwarf, like her own brother. Cersei has long blamed Tyrion for their mother’s death, so it could be a fitting end to her reign.

4 Will Arya check every name off her kill list?

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Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in the first images released of Game Of Thrones season eight (Helen Sloan/HBO/PA)
 

Since season two, the youngest Stark daughter has sought vengeance on a list of people who have wronged her. So far, she’s made decent headway, brutally executing Littlefinger and Walder Frey among others. This season, she’s got some work to do before she can complete the list: as well as Cersei, Arya has her sights on Melisandre (the Red Woman) and the Mountain. But there could be another name added to the list…

Read more: Final fantasy: everything you need to know ahead of Game of Thrones season 8

5 Will Sansa and Arya accept Daenerys as queen?

The first clips from the new season show Sansa and Dany meeting for the first time, but will the Stark sisters be happy with the news that the King in the North has bent the knee to the Dragon Queen? They could welcome her with open arms, like their brother, or we may be looking at another rivalry, with Daenerys forced to prove herself worthy of their allegiance. If Sansa and Arya agree to work with Daenerys, she may grant them independence, possibly setting up Sansa to land the position of Queen in the North.

6 Will we see a CleganeBowl?

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Rory McCann as the Hound in GoT series seven (Helen Sloan/HBO)

It’s been teased since the first season, and in the final episodes, we may get to see the much-hyped showdown between the Clegane brothers, aka the Hound and the Mountain, now essentially a zombie. Fans have long been waiting for this battle to the death — the ultimate in sibling rivalry — and the growing feud between Westeros’ biggest, toughest fighters could deliver one of the most epic battle scenes in the show’s history.

7 Where are the direwolves?

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Odin (left) and Thor, two Northern Inuit dogs owned by William Mulhall of Direwolf Tours which played 'direwolves' in the hit HBO fantasy drama, Game Of Thrones. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
 

Viewers fell in love with the Stark family’s fluffy killer puppies in the series premiere, but they have been largely absent from recent episodes, mostly due to a tight CGI budget. The two remaining wolves, Arya’s Nymeria and Jon Snow’s Ghost, are still alive, although the former is now wild. The Stark kids have a strong emotional connection with their pets — could Nymeria and Ghost come back to save their respective owners? George RR Martin has teased they have an “important” role to play, and with a reported budget of $15m per episode in season eight, it looks as if they could make a heroic on-screen return, too.

8 Is there any hope for Jaime and Brienne of Tarth?

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Jaime and Brienne in a scene from Game of Thrones
 

They’re the Ross and Rachel of Westeros, but with the Army of the Dead on the horizon, the show is unlikely to spend much time exploring the romantic possibilities for fan favourite Brienne of Tarth. With some tension brewing between Jaime and Tormund, there is potential for a love triangle — if the beloved redhead survives the fall of the Wall from last season. Actress Gwendoline Christie has hinted that we’ll see “more of Brienne of Tarth, the woman, explored this season”, so we could be treated to a heartfelt moment acknowledging years of chemistry between the two. Whether they’ll be able to enjoy it for long, however, is another matter…

9 Who is the Night King and what does he want?

The Night King and his army are headed to Winterfell, but we still don’t know much about him. He was human once, before the Children of the Forest plunged dragonglass into his heart. Now, he’s set on destroying the Seven Kingdoms, with a newly undead dragon in tow. The climactic ‘Game of Thrones’ — a battle which took 55 days to shoot — is sure to be jaw-dropping, but will we learn any more about who the Night King was, or what’s driving him? One wild theory suggests Bran Stark is the Night King, and that his storyline, so far, has seen him travelling through time, desperately trying to stop the White Walkers.

10 Who will claim the Iron Throne?

Eight years on, we’ll settle this question for good, and finally find out who ends up on the Iron Throne. We wouldn’t put it past the showrunners to kill everyone off in a spectacular bloodbath, but if anyone does get to sit on the throne, the most reasonable candidates are Jon Snow and/or Daenerys. We can’t quite see a ‘happily ever after’ with his-and-hers thrones, so one of them is likely to die. However, it’s also worth keeping an eye on dark horse Sansa Stark. Members of the cast have described the last episode as bittersweet, so expect to see a lot of deaths and hopefully, an ending we’ll never forget.

Read more: Game of Thrones: who are the top five contenders to claim the Iron Throne?

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