This post is the fourth of seven posts covering the latest season (season 7) of Game of Thrones. The previous posts can be found here, here and here. If spoilers, including material from the books and fan theories aren’t your thing, you might not want to scroll down too far down
So far in this series of speculative posts, I’ve talked about the Lannisters and the Starks, the two Great Houses that began this conflict way back at the start of the series. The other big House (in terms of narrative screen), on the verge of extinction throughout the series, was House Targaryen. House Targaryen is pretty much the poster child of the phrase ‘down but not out’. For the most of Game of Thrones it has been Dany singlehandedly carrying the House on her shoulders; but recent revelations have revealed that she is not quite alone as she and the audience were once led to believe. In this post, I talk about awkward family conversations, Dany’s future, and the fate of House Targaryen in the future after Season 8.
The Last of Us
Before we talk about incestuous love affairs, I want to talk about is the missing Aegon Targaryen. Prior to the last couple of seasons, there was a great deal of speculation about whether the boy presented as Aegon VI Targaryen in A Dance with Dragons is in fact, the real deal. His absence from the television series can lead us to one of two conclusions. One is that he was never meant to the be the real deal and in fact, his existence was an extremely long con orchestrated by Varys and Illyrio to become puppet-masters of the Seven Kingdoms. The other is that he is in fact the real deal but dies before he becomes a sufficiently major player in the grander scheme of things. Of the two options, I prefer the former – from the way the books have been going, it seemed clear to me that the Pisswater Prince, as fans like to call him, was gaining some serious momentum on the Westerosi mainland while Dany had yet to even land. I don’t know if the threat he poses can be so easily dealt with. Similarly, I also think that this would be exactly the kind of con that Varys and Illyrio would pull. It fits their modus operandi perfectly, as well as their ambitions. For that reason alone, I’m tempted to want them to succeed but there is just no way for the plot to allow it.
Le Cousins Dangereux
Will we have an extremely awkward conversation at the front end of Season 8? Currently, the audience is aware that Jon is Dany’s niece – but only a small number of characters are. It is not clear whether or not Tyrion knows; I will assume that he does. Bran and Sam are the only others and both can be trusted to keep the secret. If Jon and Dany learn of Jon’s heritage, how does that conversation go down?
Does Dany flip out and think Jon played her? She has a great deal more to lose in that situation than he does; her entire claim is based on the fact that she and she alone bears the Targaryen legacy. If Jon is the true heir – and as Rhaegar’s trueborn son, he is – then she does not have a claim to the throne at all. I hope we don’t get a fake-out fight between Dany and Jon like we had with Sansa and Arya this season. Dany should know by now that Jon is simply too honourable to pull a stunt like that. In addition, given that Targaryens have the cultural green light to engage in incest, this situation could be a great way for her to consolidate the realms. It’s likely that the North will be the hardest hit among the Seven Kingdoms in Season 8 and having a Northern husband, a former King in the North, could show her Northern subjects that she is not forgetting them.
Does Jon even accept his Targaryen heritage? He has been a Stark bastard his whole life; is it a credible turn for his character, to accept that he has been a Targaryen the whole while? There was that speech he gave Theon in the last episode of the season about how although neither of them are Starks, Eddard Stark was a father to both of them. I can see holding on that line of thought regardless of what he is told. Of course, this is all assuming that Sam and Bran tell him this – while it could be a fairly comical scene or dramatic scene depending on how it’s played off, I do want him to know. I think the decision of actively choosing one identity over another is an interesting one for any character, but even more so for someone like Jon. He turned down the Stark name once because he felt he didn’t deserve it; will he do the same to the Targaryen name that was always his? Of course, if he accepts it internally is a different question from whether he acknowledges it openly – I can see both a situation in which he accepts being a Targaryen but for political reasons continues to style himself Stark or even Snow, and I can also see a situation in which he rejects his Targaryen name internally but accepts it in order to share power with Dany.
Then there is the question of how the rest of the cast of characters responds to this. Jon is a pretty famous bastard; not just because of his own achievements but because of how famously honourable Ned was known to be. Jon was the exception that made Ned more human, a mortal rather than some other-worldly manifestation of honour. I’m curious about how Tyrion responds but obviously more interested in how the Starks respond. How does Sansa respond to learning that she is now the Lady of Winterfell in title and name? How does Arya respond to losing a half-brother? I can’t decide if I want the moment of revelation to be done light-heartedly or fully dramatically.
The Mother of Dragons
Aside from her reaction to the news of her long-lost nephew being right next to her, I think Dany will have one of the most interesting arcs in this final season. The first question is how she will deal with Cersei and her betrayal. I’ve touched on this in the first post but the crux of the question comes down to whether Cersei’s threat will be addressed by Dany directly or by one of her proxies. I think a good solution would be having the Dothraki fight Cersei in the South since they would largely be useless in the snows of the North. The Dothraki might also have some experience fighting the Golden Company and their elephants. I simply can’t see Dany letting Cersei live after all this, especially given the example she made of the Tarlys.
The second question is how she will deal with the Others. Now that she only has two dragons left, I think it would be reasonable for her to use her dragons more conservatively. Maybe she goes with Drogon to fight Cersei and her armies or maybe she sends Rhaegal and Jon to do so in her place, either way, I think the she will need at least one dragon in the fight against the Others. Perhaps one dragon is sent to take down Viserion, or perhaps one dragon is lost fighting Cersei (those scorpions have been given too much screen time to never take a dragon down). If we assume that Jon will be leading a specialist force into the middle of the Others’ territory to take down the Night King, then Dany’s role would be more defensive; she would try to hold the line the best she can to buy Jon time. I imagine that she would try different, more aggressive strategies at the beginning of the season but once they truly begin conceding large amounts of territory, she might need to make a stand at some place like the Neck and Moat Cailin.
The final question is what happens after everything is said and done. Does Dany live or die? I think she lives but I think all her dragons die. I see this part of the story being the last hurrah for dragons on Westeros. Without dragons, her alliance with Jon becomes all the more important; she needs a way to unite her kingdom and with buy-in from the North (Jon, Sansa (hopefully)), the West (Jaime, Tyrion), the East (Sansa again) and others (the Reach and Dorne are already hers technically) she can rule Westeros through a popular mandate. Whether there is still an Iron Throne at that point remains to be seen; the show seems to be moving in the direction of abolishing the monarchy and moving to a more egalitarian model of government but whether that will actually happen remains to be seen. Does Dany represent the end of the Targaryen line then? We all recall the prophecy that Mirri Maz Duur told Dany when she took her child:
“When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east,” said Mirri Maz Duur. “When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before.”
The simple reading of the above is that Dany will never have children again; essentially since Drogo will never return, none of the other things will happen. For what it’s worth that seems to be Dany’s interpretation of events too; Jon seems sceptical and perhaps rightfully so but let’s not forget that there is magic in this world and it did seem pretty clear that Mirri Maz Duur messed around with Dany’s reproductive system. So the question I would like to see answered is if there will be a new generation of Targaryen children; if not through Dany, then perhaps through Jon?
The White Wolf of Winterfell
We’ve already discussed Jon quite a bit earlier on in this post. One question I have not talked about though is what role he is going to play over the season. There are essentially three things that I am fairly sure will happen:
- Jon rides Rhaegal
- Something about Jon forging Lightbringer by dipping it in water, killing lions, then finally by tempering it in the heart of the woman he loves
- Jon makes a suicide mission into the Heart of Winter from which either he alone returns or does not return at all
I’d say that the second and third points are where the real big unknowns are. Jon riding Rhaegal is a bit of a freebie given his lineage. I wouldn’t like to see Jon literally kill Dany to forge Lightbringer, there is also that part about killing lions that makes me wonder about Tyrion and Jaime. I don’t think we will see an exact repeat of that piece of the lore, at least not that literally but we could very see Jon having to make some kind of major sacrifice in order to achieve his goals. It may not be Dany either, though that is the most obvious option – it could just as easily be a family member like Bran or Arya that Jon needs to sacrifice in order to get a sword that can kill the Night King. For all I know, maybe Longclaw has already met the necessary criteria when Jon killed Ygritte. In any case, all this makes me less than optimistic about Jon’s fate. Right now, I’d say it’s 50-50 on whether Jon lives or dies. He is definitely exactly the character to lead a daring mission into enemy lands himself and Game of Thrones is exactly the kind of show to not let that go unpunished. Martin has also long indicated that the show is to have a bittersweet ending and as such, the possibility of Jon dying during a heroic quest to save the world is very much a possibility. If he does die, he will die a hero and a legend to the people of Westeros; I’m sure Dany and Sansa and Tyrion will erect statues of this new last hero and the story of the rise of the bastard boy that was forced to sit at the back of the room will be complete.
What if he does come back however? He will return to a saved, but still very much broken world. There will be a lifetime of repairing and rebuilding to do, there will be new political lines drawn, new lines in the map for the people to fight over. There will also be implications for his relationship with Dany; as Tyrion so tactfully mentioned during this Season, a ruler needs an heir. If Dany cannot conceive, then will Jon be forced (knowing how honourable he is, he really will have to be forced) to look outside the family to extend the family? This is probably not something that we will get an answer to next season but I think it would be both sad and fitting if the names of the Starks, Lannisters, Targaryens and Baratheons all died as the result of the conflict that began so long ago because of a prophecy of a promised prince.
I’m trying to keep the pace on this as best I can. These shorter posts are just a lot easier for me to write and get out than the massive single topic ones. The end result is that I’m trying to form a steady, maintainable writing habit that I can sustain even as other things come up. I’m almost at the end of this stretch of posts – Wildcards 1 covering miscellaneous characters like the Ironborn, Davos, Brienne and Sam will be out Saturday morning and should be relatively short since I don’t foresee having a lot to say about them and then Wildcards 2 covering the Hound, the Mountain, Melisandre and the Wildlings will be out on Monday. The final post, pulling it all together, is going to out by Thursday 28th September. What comes next is yet to be determined, but I have some pretty good ideas.
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