With the close of Season 6, our annual "Game of Thrones" watch has ended. Houses have toppled. Fan-favorites have died. Wild fire has been unleashed, and another king has fallen in King's Landing. This time, literally. And, of course, all of this puts the future of Westeros in flux. And so we examine Season 6's lingering questions, and look ahead to Season 7 of HBO's hit series based on George R.R. Martin's novels.
Beware: The text that follows is dark, and full of spoilers.
10 Where's Arya headed?Â
Arya flew from Bravos to The Twins, where she paid Walder Frey back for the Red Wedding by feeding him his favorite sons (in a nod to Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus") and slitting his throat (a nod to how her own mother was killed). From here, will she go South to cross off more names from her list, like Cersei and Ilyn Payne? Or will she head North to Winterfell, to seek out what's left of her family? There's no reason she should know Jon Snow has left the Wall and Sansa has returned to Winterfell, so, our bet is on the former.
9 Does Cersei have a valid claim to the throne?
It kind of seems like a last man standing situation. All of Robert Baratheon's known heirs are dead, and she was the queen, so that's something. Also, she just murdered a sept-full of people who challenged her, so I suspect there was a certain, "Don't mess with her" vibe to the whole rushed coronation.
If Robert's surviving bastard son Gendry ever finds his way back to King's Landing, that could be a thing! Unfortunately, it's not likely to happen, though. The question is, who's left to support the claim of Robert's bastard son?
8 What allies do the Lannisters have left?
Well, the Boltons are dead. The Freys have lost their pedophilic patriarch and his two eldest sons. With so many Frey heirs, in-fighting is likely to swallow the Twins whole. Buying new allies is out of the question. While the Lannisters may be known for paying their debts, their coffers are tapped, not to be replenished by Tyrell wealth ever again.Â Which means their army -- the largest in the seven kingdoms -- is doomed to disband when the money dries up.
United against the Lannisters of King's Landing are the Tyrells, the power of Dorne, the whole of the North, plus Littlefinger's Vale warriors, Daenerys Targaryen and her Unsullied, the Dothraki hoards and 100 Iron Island ships. The tide has turned irrevocably against Cersei. She better enjoy the ride of the throne will she can.
7 Will Jaime turn on Cersei?
A few seasons back, this seemed impossible. This Lannister lion has always been motivated by his love of her and their children above all else. But that relationship has been become increasingly strained.
Cersei blames Jaime for the deaths of their father, their daughter, and possibly even for his failure to protect Joffrey at the Purple Wedding, and her from the High Sparrow. She's kicked him out of her bed, out of her guard, and out of King's Landing. Then he comes home to find his last child dead and his sister taking the throne, thanks to her employment of wild fire. Which is the same merciless tactic that the King Slayer murdered the mad king for demanding.
We all know Cersei's days are numbered -- it's a question of who will kill her that remains a matter of debate. Personally, we have our money on Jaime. Considering the dramatic irony of Ramsey's gruesome comeuppance, we wouldn't be surprised if Cersei's last breath is stolen from her by her broken-hearted brother.
6 Will Sansa join with Littlefinger against Jon?
In private, Jon supported Sansa's claim to Winterfell and the title of Warden of the North. However, despite his Leeroy Jenkins-style antics at the Battle of the Bastards, Jon has won the hearts of the people of the North as Robb did before him. That's bad news for Littlefinger and his Rube Goldberg-like path to The Iron Throne, and Sansa knows it, with one quick glance as the Northern Houses cheered. If Sansa is not Warden of the North, Littlefinger can't claim that tricky territory through marriage.
But does Sansa even desire the power to rule? She turned down Littlefinger's earlier pitch to be his queen, and it seems she's happy to stay in the North. But I'm unsure on whether she'd want to be its warden. Regardless, she knows Littlefinger is a threat to Jon. And thanks to the brutish behavior of the brutal Boltons, she knows even she -- Littlefinger's latest Tully crush -- is not safe from his scheming.
Our prediction: the writers will roll hard into the anti-Sansa sentiment fans have mustered. Sansa will pledge herself to Littlefinger, and plot a coup against Jon. But she'll be working as a double agent, using Littlefinger's lessons and lust against him to aid her house. She won't tell Jon her plans, because he pays little attention to her advice. But she won't let a man as sinister as Littlefinger rise to the Iron Throne.
She's seen enough of the abuses of wicked men obsessed with power. Plus, it'd be poetic justice to see Sansa -- who the Black Fish notes is so like her mother -- take down the man whose machinations ripped the Starks to ribbons.
5 Will we ever see Lady Stoneheart?
No. In the books, her body was recovered shortly after the Red Wedding. Too much time has passed on the show. There's no reason to hope this book character will make an appearance. No matter how much Lena Headey trolls us.
4 What's to come for Brienne and Tormund?
Theirs might have been a subplot that lasted mere moments. But the budding romance between the wildling leader and the mythic warrior of Tarth has sparked an intense response, complete with fan art and shipping stories. So where will Season 7 take these two unlikely lovers? One promising fan theory suggests the altar.
In the book "Dance With Dragons," Jon Snow oversees the marriage between a Wildling and a noblewoman of the North as a means to help merge the two communities. With tensions high as they gear up for winter and the Great War to Come, some community building is very much needed between the feuding factions. And who better to create a powerful public union than the right-hand man of Jon Snow and the right-hand woman of Sansa Stark?
Prepare yourselves, fans. We suspect in Season 7, our ship will come in. And for what it's worth, Tormund is already on board.
3 Where will Melisandre go now?
Booted out of the North, Melisandre will have to wonder South. Perhaps she'll run into the Brotherhood Without Banners. Or she might head to Meereen, where her fellow priestesses are singing the praises of their latest savior, The Mother of Dragons. Wherever she goes, Melisandre better hope she doesn't come across Arya. A girl is in earnest to clear her to-kill list.
2 How will the Night King get past the wall?
Resurrected Benjen Stark tells Bran, "The Wall is not just ice and stone. Ancient spells were carved into its foundation. Strong magic to protect men from what lies beyond. And while it stands, the dead cannot pass. And I cannot pass."
How will the Night King overcome this magical barrier? Well, a burgeoning fan theory suggests that Bran's crossing could be all the White Walkers need. The caves of the Children were once protected by spells, until Bran's brush with the Night King in a vision marked him and broke the barrier. Or perhaps the show will go for something a bit more dynamic, with Benjen's "while it stands" as juicy forewarning.
Look out, "Thrones" fans. Our guess is The Wall will come tumbling down.
1 Who is Jon Snow's father?
After years of speculation, we finally know the poor bastard's mom is Ned's sister Lyanna Stark. But this is no Lannister-like siring situation. Jon Snow is not Ned's son; he's his nephew. So who is Jon's dad? Well, if you looked at Twitter after the finale aired, there was a lot of speculation that Robert Baratheon, slain king and Lyanna's long-ago fiance, was her baby's daddy. But if that were the case, why would she be afraid "Robert would kill him?" Nope.
The Tower of Joy sequences proves right the popular book-reader fan theory known as "R+L=J," as in Rhaegar Targaryen + Lyanna Stark = Jon Snow.
That's right. Last ep all but confirmed Jon's blood is both Stark and Targaryen. That means he's not only the King of the North, but also nephew to Daenerys Targaryen.Â And remember, the "Game of Thrones" books are known as "A Song of Ice and Fire." Jon's parentage makes him a bit of both.Â So, perhapsÂ looooooooongÂ down the line, we'll see him unite his families to take on the Night King. Between his first-hand knowledge of the White Walkers, and Dany's fire-breathing dragons, mankind might actually have a fighting chance!
What did you think of the finale? What do you think will happen next season?