Game of Thrones is back in the news cycle again (come to think of it, has it actually ever left?) thanks to taking home the Emmy Award for Best Drama on Monday night, as well as a Best Actor prize for star Peter Dinklage. The hit HBO series earned the award on the back of its seventh season, which aired all the way back in summer 2017.
The wait for the final season of Game of Thrones has been the longest for the series yet, to the point where it’s hard not to wonder why it’s taking a nearly two years to get just six new episodes of television. According to co-showrunner David Benioff, the long wait can be attributed to those six episodes being the biggest in the show’s history.
“The final season’s taking a long time because it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” Benioff told EW. “It was nearly a full year in Belfast either prepping it or actually shooting it. I think when people see it they’re going to understand why it took so long. The last season is far beyond what we’ve ever attempted before.”
Filming on that final season only just recently wrapped, with extra time needing to be devoted to a gigantic battle sequence that is said to be the biggest the series has ever done.
In other Thrones news, author George R.R. Martin was also in attendance at the Emmys and told Variety that Game of Thrones easily could have continued for over a decade, but showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss ultimately wanted to trim the season count down. “We could’ve gone 11, 12, 13 seasons,” he said. “David and Dan have been saying for like five seasons that seven seasons is all they would go. We got them to go to eight but not any more than that. There was a period like five years ago when they were saying seven seasons and I was saying 10 seasons and they won, they’re the ones actually working on it.”
Hey, maybe if Game of Thrones had gone on for 13 seasons, Martin might have had a shot of actually releasing his final books in time! Just a thought …
Game of Thrones Season 8 will premiere on HBO sometime in the first half of 2019. While we wait, here are some predictions for what may be in store for the final season:
Game Of Thrones: 12 Predictions For The Final Season
How does one even begin to predict what will happen in the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones? Hell, even George R.R. Martin can’t seem to figure out how to end this colossal fantasy epic. Anything I or any one of the HBO show’s millions of fans write about Season 8 is just guesswork at this point, but that’s part of the fun of an exercise like this, isn’t it? We all want to be able to say that we correctly predicted the conclusion of one of the most talked about series in television history when all is said and done, and according to Martin, some of us have already figured it out. All that is a roundabout way of admitting that I don’t have the answers, but hey, maybe I’ll hit the mark on at least one of the following predictions for Game of Thrones Season 8!
12. One Of The Three Remaining Stark Siblings Will Die
The Stark family has suffered tremendous losses ever since Ned Stark rode south with King Robert Baratheon, but when you look at the fact that most of the other major houses have been either decimated or wiped out entirely in recent seasons, things aren’t actually looking as bad as they used to for the northern house. However, with the series drawing to a close and George R.R. Martin’s promise that the ending will be bittersweet, we’re sure to lose quite a few beloved characters before things are through and I have a bad feeling that at least one of them will be a Stark.
Yes, one of Bran, Sansa, or Arya will not make it to the end of Season 8 (I’m not counting Jon Snow because he isn’t technically a Stark sibling, but he very well could die as well). If I had to put money on which Stark will die, I’d choose Sansa because her death would arguably be the most tragic, but really any of them could be in the cross-hairs. It’s certainly possible that all three will survive (and I hope they do) but I think it’s more likely that more misfortune for the Starks is still to come.
11. Tormund And Beric Are So Dead
The Season 7 finale of Game of Thrones ended on a literal cliffhanger, with the fates of Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarion left hanging following the Night King’s destructive attack on the Wall. Now, we can be reasonably sure that one, if not both of them survived, as Game of Thrones isn’t in the habit of killing characters off-screen unless their name is Stannis Baratheon (he’s still out there, I just know it!).
But really, even if Tormund and Beric somehow survived that attack, they now have an entire army of the dead to contend with. That’s why I think Game of Thrones will give us some hope in letting us see Tormund and Beric alive and (reasonably) no worse for wear … only to then be killed and turned into wights by the White Walkers or even the Night King himself. It would be a great way to illustrate even further how serious of a threat the White Walkers pose and also prove that Game of Thrones is still willing to kill fan favorite characters after Season 7 resisted pulling the trigger on multiple occasions.
10. Tyrion Will Choose Jon Over Daenerys
Although they don’t realize it now, Jon and Daenerys are about to become rivals vying for the Iron Throne and only time will tell whether or not this rivalry turns into open conflict. There are simply too many unknowns at this point to make an educated guess as to what will happen between the two Targaryens (will Jon even want to compete with Daenerys for the throne?) but if the truth about Jon’s identity becomes common knowledge, I could very well see Tyrion deciding to prop up Jon over Daenerys.
Throughout this most recent season, we saw Tyrion become increasingly disillusioned with Daenerys, whose penchant for rash decisions and seeming lust for power didn’t coalesce with Tyrion’s view of her as a champion of the people who would, in her own words, “break the wheel.” On the other hand, Jon may well be the ideal ruler because leadership has always weighed heavily on him and he doesn’t crave power because of selfish reasons but rather for the greater good. Whatever happens though, I have a hard time believing Tyrion will remain steadfastly loyal to Daenerys until the end, especially after that look (you know the one) from the season finale.
9. Jon Will Ride Rhaegal
I mean, this one has to happen right? Rhaegal is the only one of Dany’s dragons that does not yet have a rider and given the fact that Jon is a Targaryen himself — not to mention that Rhaegal is literally named after Jon’s father — it’s inevitable that Rhaegal will effectively become Jon’s dragon. The only real question is the circumstances of how that will happen. Will it happen before or after he learns that Rheagar was his father? Will this make Daenerys more or less likely to allow Jon to ride her dragon? Will Jon demand that Rhaegal become his on principle? It’s difficult to say at this juncture, but one thing is for certain: Jon is riding that dragon.
8. The Pacing Issues Will Be Even Worse
Season 7 was a great viewing experience, in the sense that it moved storylines along and tied up other ones at a ridiculously rapid pace. Unfortunately, this came all came at a cost, with certain characters being shuffled to the side and a timeline that could best be described as “nonsensical” taking the place of the more measured, deliberate timelines of earlier seasons. These issues reached their breaking point in the season’s penultimate episode, “Beyond the Wall,” in which we saw characters defy the very laws of nature and time in order to pull off showstopping displays of deus ex machina. Basically, it was all a ton of fun, but pretty stupid for significant stretches.
The main culprit seemed to be the season’s abbreviated length and lack of new books from author George R.R. Martin to build off of, which meant that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff had to work their butts off just to get seven semi-coherent episodes produced in just over a year’s time. The problem is, it’s hard to see these issues going away in the final season unless Martin miraculously puts out two new books in less than a year, as Weiss and Benioff have given themselves only six episodes to work with. Perhaps things won’t be so bad now that Season 7 got a lot of the setup work out of the way, but there’s still a ton of story left to tell and not a lot of time in which to do it, which means that all our favorite characters will probably prove themselves masters of teleportation yet again.
7. Ghost Will Return (But Probably Die)
One of the minor plot holes in Season 7 is that Jon Snow’s loyal direwolf Ghost seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. Game of Thrones has never shown much of the direwolves due to budget constraints, but it was admittedly a bit odd to not see him at all. Even a passing line about what Ghost is doing (“Oh, he’s in the Winterfell kennel”) would have gone a long way, but the writers seemed to just forget that he exists altogether. With Jon returning north in Season 8, I have a feeling Ghost will make a much-needed comeback but I’m worried that he’s not going to survive.
The show has not been shy about killing off the direwolves in the past and with the endpoint looming, no person or animal is safe. Plus, Jon’s (probably) going to have his own dragon now, so how is he possibly going to have time for two badass pets? That being said, how cool would it be to see Jon in battle with a dragon AND direwolf at his side? Great, now that I’ve said it, I’m going to be extremely disappointed if this doesn’t happen …
6. CleganeBowl Is On (Finally)
Game of Thrones has been teasing us with CleganeBowl — an affectionate name for theorized showdown between bitter brothers Sandor and Gregor Clegane — for a while now and we came ever so close to seeing it come to fruition in the Season 7 finale, as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane promises his brother that he’ll be the one who finally kills him. While it was disappointing to not see the finale follow through with this promise, it seems inevitable that these two will clash before all is said and done.
Although the Mountain is on Arya’s kill list, it just wouldn’t feel right if anyone other than the Hound were the one to cut his brother down to size, especially after the childhood trauma the Mountain inflicted on his younger brother than gave him a lifelong fear of fire. I don’t know when this will happen (probably earlier on in the season) but I’m sure it will involve fire in some way; karmic justice and all that.
5. Theon Dies While Rescuing Yara
The Greyjoy storyline is an odd beast because I really have no idea what direction it’s going to take or even what the writers are trying to do with Theon at this point. This is a character whose redemption arc really should have been settled a couple seasons ago, as the gap between his torture and mutilation at the hands of Ramsay Bolton is just too far in the past to be weighing on many viewers’ minds anymore. Still, this is more a product of Season 7’s smaller episode count resulting in less time for certain characters and storylines, as the Greyjoy family feud is still interesting independent of everything else that’s going on.
Yara, who hasn’t been seen since the third episode of Season 7, still needs to be rescued from her uncle Euron by Theon and his ragtag group, and while I think that he will be successful in this endeavor, I have a bad feeling it will end with Theon’s death. Granted, he will die a hero’s death so that his sister can live on, thus bringing things full circle for this man who started out a petulant, selfish jerk until castration and constant torture made him see the error of his ways. And really, that’s all anyone of us can hope for in life, right?
4. Bran Will Be Used More Effectively
With his godlike magical abilities allowing him to see into the past and present, Bran Stark is one of the most important (and most powerful) Game of Thrones characters around. Unfortunately, ever since he became the Three-Eyed Raven, the show has used him for massive info-dumps more than anything, which has proven to be invaluable in certain cases (R+L=J) but also has the effect of making Bran a very tedious character. Having Bran lose his former identity and become more of a detached, emotionless husk who weirds everyone out was an interesting development this past season, but I feel like it could have been explored even further.
Thankfully, Bran’s powers practically guarantee that he will play a significant role in the final season — there’s speculation that he will warg into Viserion to wrest control of the dragon from the Night King, but I don’t think this is how things will go down — but what that role will be remains to be seen. Regardless, Season 8 will be Bran’s chance to really shine after multiple seasons of playing more of a supporting role.
3. Arya Will Use Jaime’s Face To Kill Cersei
I realize that’s a horrifying statement to make but hear me out. We can be 99% sure that Jaime is heading north to help fight the White Walkers, which naturally will bring him into contact with the remaining Starks and anyone else who ends up at Winterfell. Now, I could see a scenario in which Arya kills Jaime after Bran reveals that it was he who pushed him out a window way back in the first season, but I don’t really see things going down like that. In fact, I don’t think Arya will kill Jaime at all, but I do think there’s a good chance he will die at some point, most likely in battle. It’s only then that Arya will take his face, knowing full well that Jaime is one of the few people who can still realistically get close to Cersei. This would effectively kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, as it’s been long been speculated that either Jaime or Arya will be the one to kill Cersei. What better way to do that than to have both characters do it at the same time?
2. Winterfell Will Fall To The White Walkers
Winterfell is being positioned as the foothold of the human alliance (I really have no better name for them at this point) and is the first major castle on the White Walkers’ march south. Yes, the Night King will likely take other strongholds such as the Dreadfort and Karhold along the way, but Winterfell is where his army will hit the hardest. Not knowing at which point in the season the White Walker threat will be stopped (assuming it even is), it’s difficult to say whether the White Walkers will even make it further south than Winterfell, as it’s possible that the outcome of the war will be decided there.
However, I think it makes more sense for the Night King to take his army much further south, possibly even to King’s Landing and if that happens, it means that Winterfell will fall. I will admit that this is the prediction I feel least confident in because there are some pretty compelling theories out there about how Winterfell is integral to defeating the White Walkers, but I just don’t see how there can be a proper war if the first major outpost held by the living (other than the Wall) doesn’t need to be evacuated in the face of an overwhelming threat.
1. Daenerys Will Sit On The Iron Throne, Not Jon
Assuming that there is even an Iron Throne to sit on after the war with the White Walkers comes to a close, it will be Daenerys Targaryen — not Cersei Lannister or Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen — who will rule what’s left of the Seven Kingdoms. Remember when I said earlier that Jon would arguably be a better ruler than Daenerys, at least in terms of being a “peaceful” one? It’s for that reason why I believe Daenerys will be queen; not only because it’s been her goal pretty much from day one but because this would fit in perfectly with Martin’s promise of a bittersweet ending.
Although Jon is the true heir to the throne, his best qualities (loyalty, honor, modesty, bravery etc.) may inspire those with like-minded morals, but they don’t necessarily make for an effective ruler. Daenerys has shown that she can both inspire her followers and strike fear in her enemies, and she’s just the person to make the hard choices necessary to return a war-torn Westeros to its former glory. Does this mean that Jon will die in the final season? Not necessarily, but I can’t think of any other character who would be more willing to make the sacrifice play and that point is surely coming in the war ahead.