Game of Thrones has set up what promises to be a penultimate episode for the ages, but before we let ourselves get too excited about Jon Snow and the Snow Patrol's battle with the undead up north, we have to address the fifth episode of the season, "Eastwatch." Sure, it was mostly filler — and a ton of plot — but at least Gendry is back!!! That's one question that has finally been answered by the gods. Now let's take a look at the rest of them.
Is Jon Snow the son of Rhaegar Targaryen?
While it's not 100 percent confirmed (yet), from what we’ve been able to piece together with the information available, all signs point to yes. Last season, we learned that Jon was the son of Lyanna Stark, who died shortly after giving birth to baby Jon in the Tower of Joy, located near the Red Mountains of Dorne. Ned promised his dying sister that he would raise the baby as his own. But who is Jon’s father? There’s really only two possibilities: Robert Baratheon or Rhaegar Targaryen, the former Crown Prince of Westeros.
Lyanna was supposedly kidnapped by Rhaegar (a.k.a. Daenerys's older brother). The abduction triggered Robert's Rebellion, a yearlong war led by her betrothed Robert Baratheon to get her back. But thanks to a few thinly veiled clues revealed in "Eastwatch," it's extremely likely that the dragon prince didn't forcefully kidnap Lyanna after all. In one of his old journals, High Septon Maynard wrote that Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia Martell privately annulled in Dorne before marrying another woman in a secret ceremony. It’s pretty evident that the bride in question was none other than Lyanna Stark, the winter rose. These two crazy kids fell in love and ran away together, and from their forbidden union, Jon was born — a legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. Drogon's approach on Jon all but confirmed this.
Wait, but didn't Rhaegar already have two children?
He sure did! Rhaegar and Elia had two children; a daughter named Rhaenys, and a son, Aegon. Both pregnancies nearly killed Princess Elia, so the odds of having a third child were unlikely. In George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings, Daenerys has a vision of her late brother in the House of the Undying. In it, she sees Rhaegar and a woman who is supposedly Elia with baby Aegon. "He is the Prince that was Promised, and his is the song of ice and fire," Rhaegar says. Then, looking directly to Daenerys, he adds, "There must be one more ... the dragon has three heads."
It's clear that Rhaegar believed that newborn Aegon was the Prince Who Was Promised, the messianic figure ( male or female) destined to "bring the dawn." So it's possible that Rhaegar, wishing to fulfill the prophecy, married Lyanna out of necessity. If the dragon has three heads, then Rhaegar needed to sire another legitimate child. Sadly, Rhaenys and Aegon were brutally murdered by Gregor Clegane, along with their mother Elia, towards the end of Robert's Rebellion.
Does Jon Stark actually think Tyrion's plan is going to work?
So he wants to kidnap a wight and bring it south of the wall to King’s Landing to essentially throw on Cersei’s doorstep and say, “TOLDJA!” But even if the Snow Patrol is able to capture one of the undead, how would they keep it, uh, animated long enough to make it to King’s Landing? Unless Daenerys wants to take it for a ride on the Drogon express, that thing isn’t going to make it. Also, who says Cersei is even going to care? Cersei wants nothing more than to kill her enemies — including both Jon and Daenerys — and an army of undead sure seems like the perfect opportunity to wipe them off the chess board, permanently. Cersei is unreasonable. There’s no way she's going to willingly go along with this, and I’m not even sure Jaime could convince her to play nice at this point.
Which members of the Snow Patrol will be killed?
Despite the odds, Jon is going to survive this suicide mission. I'd wager that The Hound will also make it out unscathed, since we're way overdue for some Cleganebowl action. Davos is fine, since he's smart enough to stay behind at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. We just got Gendry back, so I'm pretty sure fans would be rioting in the streets if he goes down north of the Wall. Let's not forget he's also the only highly skilled blacksmith Team Jon has at this point, and he could come in mighty handy when it comes to forging weapons out of dragonglass and Valyrian steel. That leaves Tormund, Jorah, Thoros of Myr, and Beric Dondarrion.
Thoros and Beric are arguably the most expendable in terms of storytelling, but I don't suspect this is going to be the bloodbath the internet is expecting it to be. Long gone are the days when Game of Thrones truly shocked us with a major death. My guess is someone from the Brotherhood is going down. After all, this was their one true purpose, according to the Lord of Light. They're the pawns in the Great War.
Will Daenerys come to the rescue?
The most satisfying end to the Snow Patrol’s excursion up north would be for a woman to show up with her dragons and save the day. Given the uncertain look Daenerys gave Jon as he and his men left for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, she’s probably going to do it. This, of course, would probably mean that not all of Dany’s dragons will be making it home to Dragonstone. It has long been theorized that one of the her dragons — most likely Viserion or Rhaegal — would be turned into a dragon wight by the Night King. It seems like the most obvious way to even the playing field in the Great War to come.
Is there any chance Cersei will become the Night's Queen?
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. It may sound crazy, but this is exactly the kind of tactical move Cersei would pull. There's no way Cersei is going to make it to the end of Game of Thrones alive, and that's OK when there's an army of undead en route to King's Landing. Remember Maggy the Frog's prophecy that said Cersei would die at the hand of the valongar (High Valyrian for "little brother")? She could very well die. But the Night King could always revive her.
In the books, the Night's Queen is a female White Walker who reigned some 8,000 years ago alongside the Night's King, a former Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. According to legend, he fell in love with her when she appeared atop the Wall. He gave her his seed (gross) and then his soul. The show, however, has twisted the mythology. The Night King we meet was created by the Children of the Forest during the war with the First Men. Magic + a shard of dragonglass to the chest = a White Walker. So the Night King could turn Cersei into his queen, or Qyburn, with all of his wildly unethical schemes, could be the one to do the honors. Either way, it's certainly possible!
Is Arya really that stupid?
She has to know she’s getting played by Littlefinger. If two years in Braavos taught he anything, it’s not to trust slimy white men. Littlefinger clearly wants to break the sisters apart, and knowing that Arya has a bit of a temper, something Sansa is already weary of, this is the perfect opportunity for him to create chaos in Winterfell. Arya found the raven scroll that Sansa wrote to Robb under duress in Season 1, and she's understandably upset. But she also doesn't know the full story, something that could be entirely avoided if Sansa and Arya actually talked to each other. If all this drama leads to an actual tender moment between the Stark sisters, then I could live with Littlefinger’s machinations. His days are numbered anyway.
Is Cersei really pregnant?
Sure, Cersei could be manipulating Jaime with a faux pregnancy, but I don't think that's it. She's been having hushed conversations with Qyburn, and Jaime did overhear her tell the former maester that whatever he had concocted for her wouldn't be needed anymore. Of course if she actually is pregnant then her unborn child probably won't survive to full term. The prophecy stated that Cersei would bear only three children.
Is fermented crab really the answer to impotence?
According to Davos, fermented crab is the go-to solution for impotence across the Seven Kingdoms, but is there any actual science behind that claim? I couldn't get in touch with any maesters by press time, and nothing on the internet suggests that fermented crab meat is a natural aphrodisiac.
Why is time moving so fast?
When Benioff and Weiss first revealed that the final two seasons of Game of Thrones would be shorter than their predecessors, I was optimistic. Here are two guys that have a plan! They know exactly how they want to end things, and they don't want to waste any time on filler! But watching this penultimate season, I'm struck by how quickly things are moving. Too quickly. Maybe Benioff and Weiss didn't have a concrete plan so much as they just really want to be done with Game of Thrones.
Now that so many major story lines have started to converge, there's barely any time to give them the gravitas they all deserve. Jorah and Daenerys's reunion should have been more than a heartfelt hug. Same goes for Tyrion and Jaime's emotional reunion, which felt lost in the middle of such an insanely plot-driven hour. Sansa and Arya should have had at least one scene together where they actually talk about their shared grief. Bronn shouldn't have been able to magically save Jaime, an adult male in very heavy armor, and escape from Daenerys and Drogon's wrath so easily. Jon shouldn't just hop on a ship headed north with Jorah and not have a conversation about Jorah's dad Jeor Mormont and the Valyrian steel sword (Longclaw) that should rightfully belong to him.
There's so much lost in the journey and in Thrones' smaller, more human moments, and it's all a little disappointing for a show that kept Daenerys exiled in Meereen for three seasons. It also just doesn't gel with the pace of the show overall. This season feels frantic and discombobulated. But bring on the White Walkers and dragons, I guess.