July 16. The tiny bubble in the corner of my laptop screen tells me that it’s nearly 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) outside. My Aussie guys and gals may be bundled up in double-decker jumpers and two (OK, three) pairs of socks, my American blood is about to boil over in this midsummer nightmare heat.
Thankfully, winter is here.
The off-season I spent traversing through lands far removed from the Seven Kingdoms (alright, so I went to Sydney and binge-watched Rick & Morty; that still counts!) is finally coming to a close.
The newest season of HBO’s city-and-sept-and-children-burning series Game of Thrones promises to sequester my summer sweat to a place outside of my body, and replace it with chills that ripple my skin with bumps not unlike the way the long-awaited Winter freckles the grounds of Winterfell with fresh snow.
Refreshment is a guarantee, but is satisfaction? Ask any Game of Thrones enthusiast, and they’ll assure you that nothing is safe or sacred in the Seven Kingdoms, and the course of action can take a hairpin turn at any moment. That’s a fact more threatening than ever before.
As I (and you at home) gear up to dive head-first into the burgeoning war in Westeros, I’m simultaneously preparing myself for a few different outcomes this season.
Warning: Massive spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned, little ones.
Before we begin our official discussion of season 7 of Game of Thrones, let’s take a moment to recall the ones who got trapped in death’s clutches last season:
Hodor, the High Sparrow, Margaery Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, Tommen Baratheon, Ramsay Bolton (thank the seven gods), Roose Bolton, Walder Frey, Grand Maester Pycelle, Lancel Lannister, Rickon Stark, Alliser Thorne, Olly (deserved it), Osha, Doran Martell, Mace Tyrell, Wun Wun, the Three-Eyed Raven, and Balon Greyjoy.
Right, then. Let’s begin.
Dany and the unreachable Throne
Dany, sometimes self-referred to as Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons (say that 10 times fast), has all the trappings of a royal. And as the season of Game of Thrones have rolled on, she’s only grown in emotional strength and regality. Though some of her decisions may have been hasty in early episodes, the icy-haired Dany has dragged, climbed, and ultimately soared her way toward Westeros—her amethyst eyes dead set on the Iron seat in a now-broken King’s Landing. Couple her six-season saga of power-hungriness with the highly plausible fan theory that the King in the North, Jon Snow, is her darling nephew, and, well, a Targaryen on top again seems likely. And almost too perfect to come to fruition.
If you recall, season 2 saw Dany experiencing a vision in the House of the Undying—and the events that take place within the waking dream are markedly similar to what’s happened in the last season of the series. A burnt Throne room in the Red Keep parallels the exploded Sept of Baelor (thanks for that, Cersei). The wintry setting is an undeniable nod to the fact that the Ned Stark-promised Winter is finally here. And Daenerys reaching her hand out to touch the Throne, but doesn’t make contact, as the sound of her baby dragons averts her focus. There’s a good chance this moment is a deep-cut foreshadow of Dany’s fate: she’ll find herself so close to the Throne, but never assume the role of ruler (or get another few titles tacked onto her already incredibly long name).
Dany + Yara forever?
Or at least for now?
Historically, queer relationships on Game of Thrones haven’t exactly ended well, and that’s putting it extremely lightly. Episodes past have seen the gruesome, untimely, and most of all ignoble deaths of three major LGBTQ characters: 1) Renly Baratheon, a gay man who had a trusting relationship with Loras Tyrell, who was murdered by a shadow baby; 2) Oberyn Martell, a bisexual (though he never calls himself that outright) prince and expert swordsman whose eyes were squeezed like grapes to make wine, whose head was smashed against the pavement for an entire King’s Landing audience to see; and 3) Loras Tyrell, the heir to Highgarden stripped of his dignity, his title, and his future after confessing to loving another man, who was blown to bits in the season 6 finale.
Forgive me for being hopeful that the flirtation between Yara Greyjoy and Daenerys could blossom into something more. This speculation isn’t fetishizing female-female relationships, nor is it sexualizing what could be nothing else but verbal foreplay that gets the two royals in the mood for Seven Kingdoms domination. It’s about being optimistic that Game of Thrones will make a step in righting previous wrongs by showing that a pair of badass, confident, sex-positive women can enjoy one another’s company without the audience fearing their death as some sort of narrative consequence.
Dany and Yara teaming up, in any capacity, is definitely something to hold out hope for, and to expect once the season’s tensions begin to rise. They’ll need each other’s support.
Like Dany, Sansa Stark has proven she can navigate the intricacies of warfare, most evident in her orchestration of the Knights of the Vale rescue in “Battle of the Bastards” last season. Her half-brother, flowy-haired Jon Snow, hardened his soft heart and come back from the dead in the years he spent at the Wall. So when the grown-up, war-attuned Stark kids reunited in season 6, tension was inevitable. Both Sansa, the rightful heir to Winterfell, and Jon, the King in the North, are working themselves up to a stab at a throne—either to their homeland or to the whole of Westeros. The pair have already bickered over war strategies, with Sansa seeming to imply that she’s more experienced in politics than he is, given that she spent most of her adolescence in King’s Landing and under the care (if you can call it that) of Littlefinger. Pair that with fact that Sansa carries the Stark name and Jon will forever be remembered as Ned Stark’s bastard, no matter how many years have passed since his death, and additional spats could be lingering on the horizon.
Jon Snow actor Kit Harington has even indicated that his character and Sansa will struggle for power in season 7. “There is definite tension between them right from the first scene,” Harington said (via Looper). “There are the same problems—she questions his decisions and command; he doesn’t listen to her. But as far as where that goes or takes them or how dark it can get, we’ll see. It gets past sibling squabbling, it gets into two people power struggling.”
It doesn’t sound good for two of the three remaining Starks, but here’s to hoping that they both survive this season.
An heir to Winterfell
What would further complicate a Stark family feud? What has complicated the entire story of Game of Thrones since the beginning? Children. Or in this point of caution, one child, born to Sansa Stark and one-time husband Ramsay Bolton.
Sansa carrying Ramsay’s child would render her the mother of another heir to Winterfell. And if that hypothetical baby ends up being a boy, Sansa would be bumped out of her position of power and the tiny tot would take over as the rightful ruler.
Season 6 gave a sprinkling of hints that makes this scenario plausible. Sansa stated, while she recollected the pain and trauma Ramsay inflicted upon her during their marriage, “I can still feel what he did to my body standing here right now.” This could very well be an allusion to a child inside her. Additionally, Sansa’s last moment with Ramsay, the human embodiment of evil, provides another clue at pregnancy. After Jon wins the Battle of the Bastards, with the help of Sansa and the Knights of the Vale, Sansa goes face-to-face with Ramsay. However, the confrontation takes a turn when he tells her, “You can’t kill me. I am part of you now.”
While these lines may truly just be signs of Sansa coming to grips with the horrors she’s endured, we know that nothing is for certain in Game of Thrones. Expecting a pregnant-by-Ramsay Sansa wouldn’t be the wildest thing in the world, especially considering the twists and turns that took place in the season 6 finale alone.
Consequences in King’s Landing
In the words of Seth Meyers, “YA BURNT.” King’s Landing is burnt, that is. More specifically, the Sept of Baelor and the innocent people in the surrounding area. All crispy-fried by some good ol’ Wildfire. And while the green-lit explosion that took place in the series’ season finale last year was epic, tragic, and wild all in one fell swoop, it may not be an isolated incident. Season 7 could hold even more consequences—fire-related and otherwise—for those in the capital, and not just the ones with whom Cersei Lannister has a bone to pick.
Dany’s aforementioned vision of a burnt Red Keep and Bran’s foresight into a dragon flying the skies over the capital hint that more heat destruction is to come. Additionally, it’s been confirmed that King’s Landing is littered with Wildfire pockets. One wrong fire-spray by one of Dany’s dragons could burn the entire capital to ashes, which could stamp the Targaryen woman aiming for the Throne as a dangerous invader or worse: an untrustworthy traitor or a power-crazy copy of her father, the Mad King.
Whether the sky will rain fire or the earth will burst into green flames from below remains to be seen, but it’s best to prepare for the worst possible outcome, which will include King’s Landing’s residents answering for their crimes as well. The prime target of interrogation, either by others or by the gods above, is Cersei Lannister. Her thirst for revenge and power has left her without her long golden locks, without her dear brother Jaime by her side, and without her last remaining child, Tommen, alive. Expect Cersei to face the consequences of her actions, particularly her involvement in Tommen’s suicide, whether it’s in a sit-down conversation with Jaime once he finally returns home, or if it’s simply agonizing guilt that keeps her awake at night.
Like a spoilt young queen, not too different from what a Joffrey Baratheon’s female equivalent would be, I request it all: Bring me the fall of the House Lannister. Show me a stark-raving mad House Stark. Let me witness Lord Baelish scheme and snicker behind the backs of those who wronged him—and even those who’ve done right, shown him mercy, kissed his feet, just for fun. Display for me a war to end all wars, a seizing of the Iron Throne so powerful and unexpected, my head dizzies. Give me bold and brash Lyanna Mormont, battle-ready Jon Snow, star-crossed partners in Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, a no-holds-barred Tyrion Lannister bent on vengeance and the taste for power, and queerly pale hordes of White Walkers and the army of the dead. I want Dany and her dragons, spider sessions with Varys, a high seas-sailing Greyjoy clan that restores Theon to his former glory, safety for little Sam and a moment in the son for Samwell Tarly to come spilling out on the screen.
It’s high time for a bigger, badder, ballsier Thrones. I’m ready. I want it.
And you do, too.