The winds of winter are coming.
Game of Thrones is closing out its sixth, most off-book season on Sunday with its longest episode ever—a whopping 69 minutes!—and a Dothraki horde’s worth of loose ends left to tie up in its supersized finale. It doesn’t help that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have kept details of their most mysterious season yet close to the chest, even going so far as to withhold plot summaries for the final two episodes. But while we don’t have a typically vague episode description to guide us through 2016’s last GOT installment, we have enough unanswered questions to guess where finale "The Winds of Winter" will take us (spoilers ahead, obviously). For example …
Sansa is coming into her own as a major player in the game of thrones, and half-brother Jon Snow narrowly avoided his second death in the battle for Winterfell thanks to her secret petition to Littlefinger to send in the Knights of the Vale. But still: that last-minute win isn’t enough to justify Sansa’s inexplicable decision to withhold an important bit of strategy from Jon—a strategy that would have saved many lives. If she intentionally arranged for Littlefinger’s delayed arrival, then she’s responsible for both their victory and the death of her men. If not, then she just got lucky. A scene in the promo for the finale shows Jon telling Sansa: "We have to trust each other. We have so many enemies now." The outcome of that scene will determine how cunning a player she really is.
In that same promo, Sansa asks Littlefinger this question, and he responds with a cryptic, "I thought you knew what I wanted." Littlefinger’s semi-creepy affinity for the red-haired women of House Stark is no secret, and with Catelyn Stark (more on her later) out of the picture, her eldest daughter seems a reasonable consolation prize. But if not Sansa’s hand in marriage, then what exactly does the duplicitous Lord Protector of the Vale want in exchange for helping secure Winterfell?
A girl is finally Arya Stark, and last we saw of the other Stark daughter, she was heading "home." One assumes she means Westeros, specifically Winterfell, but she might have other plans first. Now that she’s left behind The House of Black and White, Arya may resume crossing names off her revenge list. Perhaps her first steps back on Westerosi soil will find her in King’s Landing, where a trial for a pretty big name on her kill list will be taking place.
Cersei has few allies left in King’s Landing, and now that Tommen has ended the practice of trial by combat, things look more dire than ever for the Dowager Queen on the eve of her trial. But never one to back down from defeat without getting in the last word (don’t forget, this is the woman who almost killed her own son to protect him from capture), Cersei is bound to have something crafty up her sleeve, especially if she’s found guilty. Keep a careful eye on Qyburn, whose "old rumor" in episode 8 no doubt plays a pivotal role in Cersei’s newest scheme. If the Internet is right, Cersei’s favorite threat—in addition to Bran’s vision from episode 6—points to a possible fiery end to Westeros’s capital, courtesy of that cache of wildfire hidden under the city. It's likely several key players (here's looking at you, Tommen) won't make it out alive.
For a while there, it looked like our queen had been successfully brainwashed by the High Sparrow. But thanks to that sketch of a rose she handed Olenna, Margaery simultaneously proved her continued allegiance to House Tyrell and convinced her grandmother to finally leave King’s Landing. But what is she planning? Photos from the finale show her brother Loras stripped of all finery and kneeling before the High Sparrow during his trial. We know from their conversation in episode 4 that Margaery is plotting to help Loras to freedom by any means necessary, and we wouldn’t be surprised if that meant orchestrating the High Sparrow’s death (which has already been foreshadowed, argues one Reddit user). All that remains to be seen is how she pulls it off.
If, like many Game of Thrones fans, you basically accept the R+L=J theory as canon, then the abrupt end to Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven’s vision of the Tower of Joy left you demanding closure and validation. The theory, which posits that Jon Snow is actually the offspring of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, was nearly confirmed in episode 3, only for the rest of the vision to be shelved for revisitation at a later date. In what we saw, a young Ned Stark defeated Rhaegar’s guards and heard a woman’s scream—undoubtedly his sister’s—from the tower, prompting him to run up the stairs to ... what, exactly? We’re betting on a newborn that the honorable Lord Stark promises to his dying sister to raise as his bastard.
Six season later and Daenarys is still puttering around Slaver’s Bay. Her dragons are almost full-grown, she has Theon and Yara’s fleet at her disposal, and she’s backed by an army of Unsullied and Dothraki willing to cross the Narrow Sea for her—the time is now. After last episode’s pyrotechnic display in Meereen, the Mother of Dragons has left her definitive mark on Essos, meaning it’s time to take charge of her manifest destiny and sail west. But her inevitable voyage home raises another question: does she truly deserve to rule the Seven Kingdoms? As Tyrion has pointed out, Dany’s new, more ruthless approach to ruling echoes that of her father’s, Mad King Aerys. It’s possible that her homecoming may do more harm than good.
Midway through the last episode, Ser Davos seemed to have finally learned what we have known all season: little Shireen was not a casualty of Stannis’ attempt to take Winterfell. Instead, she was burned alive by Melisandre. The trailer for the finale hints at an explosive confrontation between the Onion Knight and the Red Woman, one that Jon may be forced to take a part in. And while Jon’s loyalty may keep him from killing Melisandre (she did bring him back to life, after all), there’s no saying he won’t punish her by other means.
You know what? Nevermind. We still don’t care.
This is one of the biggest questions looming over not just season six, but the series as a whole. In the books, Lady Stoneheart is who Catelyn Stark becomes after getting resurrected days after her murder—much like Jon Snow, but with decidedly less pretty results. She reemerges with her throat still slit and her humanity replaced with maniacal vengeance upon anyone who wronged her family. By now, asking for Lady Stoneheart’s appearance borders on wishful thinking, especially considering that the man who sacrifices his life for hers, Beric Dondarrion, is still alive on the show, which would mean that Catelyn’s body has been rotting for years, not just days. Then again, Catelyn’s name has been popping up all season more so than ever before, and the reintroduction of Walder Frey as well as the Brotherhood Without Banners (the outlaw group Lady Stoneheart takes over once Beric brings her back) leaves a situation ripe for her grand reveal. The showrunners have said that she’s never showing up but hey, they said Jon Snow was dead, too.
King Robert’s bastard is probably still rowing, three seasons later.
Have your own thoughts? Theories? Debunkings? Join us today (6/24) at 4:00 PM ET for a Facebook Live Game of Thrones finale discussion