Tony Black looks forward to Game of Thrones season 7…
“The Great War is here.”
So announces Jon Snow, King of the North, in the first trailer for the Season 7 of Game of Thrones, and he’s probably not over-exaggerating. To suggest Game of Thrones has reached a narrative fever pitch is to massively understate the scope and grandeur of HBO’s TV show phenomenon, a series which has over the last seven years steadily adapted George R.R. Martin’s doorstop sized novels with sublime skill and jaw dropping relish. This isn’t the end, with the final thirteen episodes being split naughtily between this seven episode Season 7 and a six episode climactic Season 8 in 2018, but in many respects this is the beginning of the conclusion. The trailer promises armies, confrontations and chickens coming home to roost in a typically enormous way.
So, in the wake of this first look at the new season, let’s theorise where the adventures in Westeros may take us this year, before the end of the, well, end. Cersei Lannister sums the situation up well – her realm surrounded by enemies on all sides. So how, exactly, does this play out?
By the end of Season 6, Jon Snow still knew nothing but found himself christened King of the North after freeing Winterfell and his father’s ancestral land from the vicious thrall of House Bolton and psychotic bastard Ramsay. Having united the Northmen, and with strong alliances now with the Wildlings beyond the Wall, Jon will be looking to the bigger war beyond the Seven Kingdoms, knowing the White Walkers are preparing to invade. This isn’t likely to be easy, what with his sister Sansa under the increasing spell of a power-hungry Petyr Baelish, who presumably sees Sansa as not just his key to controlling the North but perhaps all of Westeros when the dust settles. Jon, by the aggression he displays in the trailer, clearly sees through Littlefinger, but will he have the cunning to outwit his machinations and convince Sansa her possible path into darkness is part of his play for power? Then there is keeping all the noble houses on his side, which may be doable with the help of Davos Seaworth – surely no man is better placed to be Hand of the King?
None of this even touches on presumably the secret King Jon is set to discover from lost brother Bran Stark, if he gets over the Wall in time – that he is half-Targaryen and rightful lord of the Seven Kingdoms. Will R+L=J be fully exposed to Jon as well as the audience? Will he encounter Daenerys as she leads her armies to Westeros? Will Jon realise he has wars to fight in the south before he can defeat the evil in the north?
The trailer heavily suggests Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, will be landing at much the same spot her ancestor, the conqueror King Aegon, did – the Fingers maybe, leading to the Vale of Arryn. She also apparently seems to be in situ at least for a while on Dragonstone, the former keep of Stannis Baratheon but where Dany was born before being scurried away during Robert’s Rebellion. Planting her flag there symbolically and tactically makes a world of sense, given her arrival over the Narrow Sea and it’s position giving her achievable access to the North, the Fingers and potentially King’s Landing. What Daenerys needs, even with her Dothraki army, are allies to shore up her claim to the Seven Kingdoms should she defeat the Lannister’s and take the Iron Throne. With presumably Varys palling up with a vengeful Olenna Tyrell and the Sand Snakes in Dorne, Dany will be looking north.
Perhaps this accounts for the trailer suggesting Daenerys and Tyrion Lannister paying a visit to the Vale. Remember who the Lord of Arryn now is, of course – Littlefinger. Will Dany be forced into a deal with the devil to shore up her claim? Could Littlefinger promise her, via Sansa’s influence, the armies of the North in exchange for her hand in marriage? Is he in a position to bargain for the position of King to Dany’s reigning Queen? Don’t put it past him.
Though the show doesn’t always make it easy, let’s not forget the powerful force now in the West, with Euron Greyjoy building his thousands of ships with every intent of becoming Daenerys’ King. He’s also gunning for the renegade Asha and Theon Greyjoy, last seen heading out of Westeros to hook up with Dany’s forces and seek her help against Euron. This may all sound straightforward but apart from the fact Euron is a wild-eyed lunatic, in the books he possesses the power to take command of dragons – will this form part of the show? Will Dany try and battle him only for Euron to rob her of her most treasured weapons? To consider Euron no threat at this stage would be foolish, and the trailer appears to suggest some intense, raging battles at sea which bear out the threat of this extremist.
Also, the trailer seems to suggest Asha will end up hooking up with Ellaria Sand (because Asha’s mission is basically to fuck the entire Seven Kingdoms as much as conquer it), so may she and Theon end up in Dorne aiding Varys’ Dany-loyal crew?
This is where it’s all building to. King’s Landing. Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms pretty much in name only by this point, is living presumably on borrowed time. Everyone wants a piece of her now but she remains stalwart & resolute in destroying everyone, following her psychological torment by the High Sparrow’s fanatics & the death in quick succession of all of her children. Only the presence of Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, is right now keeping her sane, but as Cersei presumably gets ready to unleash her zombie, undead Mountain & lots of wildfire on anyone who tries to stop her (if there’s any wildfire left), how long until Jaime’s loyalty to family breaks? He’s a good man, remember, he’s not a Lannister like his sister or father or psychotic son Joffrey. Jamie’s eventual betrayal of Cersei may be what fully descends her into complete madness, but how many might she kill along the way?
The trailer suggests a major component of the season, maybe even the final episode, will be the Battle of King’s Landing, one of the signature moments we have spent seven years waiting for; Dothraki horses & dragons storming the city & taking on the Lannister army. Might Dany’s vision of a dragon soaring over King’s Landing finally come true? Is this the end for Cersei’s rule or does she have a few tricks yet up her sleeve despite facing immense odds?
As usual with Game of Thrones, the trailer still leaves plenty of characters and situations up in the air.
What of Arya Stark, now effectively a full blown Faceless Woman, a deadly assassin on a mission of revenge and justice? Who remains on her list? Will she be Cersei’s final undoing this year?
How about the Hound? He was last seen joining forces with the Brotherhood Without Banners in their continuing quest to free the Riverlands from oppression, but surely his destiny lies in the much hyped ‘Cleganebowl’ against his brother, the Mountain. Will that titanic battle take place this season and who will survive?
Then there’s Melisandre, the red woman, who we briefly see in the trailer looking lost and bereft, after being banished by Jon Snow upon learning she burned Stannis’ daughter alive. Remember long ago she bumped into Arya and suggested they would meet again? They’re in the right geographical area now. Might they form a partnership against greater forces?
Let’s not forget Samwell Tarly, last seen with beloved Gilly arriving at Oldtown to begin his journey to becoming a Maester at the Citadel. This late in the game, Sam can only be heading this way to gain some critical, ancient wisdom in the battle against the White Walkers, so one wonders what secrets he may find in Westeros’ greatest archive. Not to mention defending against vicious father Randyll, who no doubt will be wanting back the sword his son knicked!
This doesn’t even mention Brienne of Tarth, or Jorah Mormont on a final mission with his grayscale disease, or even significantly the White Walkers themselves. What role will they play this year, as the rest of the Westeros engage in the ultimate smackdown? It looks like Jon and co will be facing danger beyond the Wall but will the Wall be enough? Might that great defence finally crumble this year, leading to a final Eighth Season where the dead invade the lands of living men?
Davos, typically, speaks the most sense in the trailer: “if we don’t give up our emnities, we will all die, and it doesn’t matter what skeleton sits on the Iron Throne”. In a season of war, might the Seven Kingdoms come to realise their only chance of survival is through peace?
One thing is for sure… Winter is almost Here.