HBO’s Game of Thrones is coming to an end, but even after penultimate episode "The Bells" resolved many long-standing subplots, the ultimate fate of many major characters remains uncertain. Still, the writing seems to be on the wall.
Cleganebowl has finally come and gone, with brothers Sandor Clegane and Gregor Clegane dying together (unless The Mountain rises from the ashes). Similarly, twins Cersei and Jaimie Lannister died together, albeit as lovers and not fighters. Meanwhile, treasonous Varys was executed via dragon fire by Daenerys, and Euron Greyjoy unsurprisingly faded to black with a giant smirk on his face. And poor Qyburn's services are no longer needed (and let’s not even discuss the mostly inconsequential Harry Strickland).
The defining moment of “The Bells” comes when Daenerys Targaryen ignored the surrender bells that everybody told her about, and wreaked havoc on King’s Landing with Drogon, killing thousands of innocent people and terrifying everybody Now that Daenerys has transformed into the Mad Queen (thus mirroring her father’s legacy as the Mad King), there's no way that Game of Thrones' series finale won't be full of blood and tragedy. Here's our prediction for how Game of Thrones will end.
Daenerys Is Betrayed By Tyrion
Game of Thrones season 8 has consistently teased that Tyrion will betray Daenerys, and at this point it feels inevitable. Even the Queen is aware, threatening him as recently as the latest episode. When discussing the leadership qualities of Jon and Daenerys with actual traitor Varys, his passive-aggressive demeanor reveals that he's not quite ready to fold and shift alliances.
Daenerys' King's Landing massacre changes everything. Tyrion had repeatedly counseled Daenerys against an attack that hurt the city and its population, yet she acted upon her anger over recent losses. At this point, it's clear she's not the Khaleesi he thought. It doesn't help that the ensuing attack killed Tyrion's brother Jaime and sister Cersei; something he'd anticipated but will still come as a shock.
Now that Daenerys has become the Mad Queen, Tyrion is sure to act, whether by backdoor dealings or something more elaborate. Games of Thrones season 8 has shown Tyrion failing time and time again, but it's also shown him re-building relationships. Now is the time to cash in on any outstanding IOUs.
Faceless Arya Kills Daenerys At King’s Landing
Game of Thrones season 8 has progressively emphasized Arya's humanity and maturity. She's managed to sustain relationships by staying true to her beliefs; she is genuine yet brutally honest. She had her night with Gendry, then she killed the Night King, and although she stopped short of killing Cersei, she's got another Queen to in her crosshairs.
Given Arya’s character persona (an assassin) and resume (Night King), she’s the ideal character to take down Daenerys. The white horse in "The Bells" further appears to symbolize Arya's intent, hearkening back to both the steed Drogo gave Dany on their wedding day and evoking strong Bible imagery (in the Book of Revelations, Death rides a pale horse).
The question of how is a bigger one, although the show may have already dropped clues. In Game of Thrones season 1, Arya watches from the shadows as her father Ned Stark is beheaded at King’s Landing. In the Game of Thrones season 8 series finale trailer, Arya similarly lurks while Daenerys looks over a crowd. A similar public execution or attack would loop back to Ned Stark's death and Arya's character transformation.
Jon Reveals Bloodline And Reluctantly Accepts The Iron Throne
Before his execution, Varys is seen writing letters that announce Jon as the true heir to the Iron Throne. It's not clear how many letters Varys wrote or to whom he sent them, but just a single well-placed whisper would spark a chain reaction that forces Jon to publicly reveal himself as a Targaryen in the Game of Thrones series finale. Claiming the Iron Throne brings his character arc full circle - a Stark bastard to a Targaryen King, albeit a reluctant one throughout.
Just as Daenerys' transformation into the Mad Queen and Tyrion's subsequent betrayal have been teased throughout Game of Thrones season 8, so too has Jon's lack of interest in the throne, with him consistently saying "I don't want it" whenever the topic is raised. But post-Dany, he's the last surviving member of the bloodline and will have no choice. As Jon reflects on his past death and resurrection, his ascent to the Iron Throne will provide closure for a series of life events that previously didn't make sense.
The Seven Kingdoms Break Up
Naturally, a Targaryen on the Iron Throne won't go over well with the entirety of Westeros. All of this discussion of ruling hasn't included any mention of the Seven Kingdoms, specifically the North. Sansa, in particular, hasn't been a major presence in the past couple of hours of the show, but that could change.
To become King, Jon would seemingly be choosing the Targaryens over his own people, and not for the first time. In Game of Thrones season 6, Jon was named "King in the North," but proceeded to give up his title in season 7 upon enlisting (and bowing down to) Daenerys for support in The Great War. The reaction from the Nothern Lords wasn't positive then, and would be even less so now. And Jon will be contentious in other ways: the Targaryens are correlated with madness and murder; and despite his strong leadership skills, Jon has a long history of forming questionable alliances.
As a result, a split in the Seven Kingdoms - an irreversible change in Westerosi politics - seems inevitable. Indeed, when Jaime and Cersei looked for an escape from the Red Keep, a visible crack in a floor map of Westeros foreshadowed an ideological split within the realm.
Through all this, Sansa will surely emerge as a candidate to be a true Queen in the North. Game of Thrones season 8 positions Sansa as a thoughtful leader who considers the smallest details, such as food rations during war. After The Battle of Winterfell, she asks Daenerys to give the soldiers a little rest before heading into another war. Sansa understands the larger picture, evidenced by her willingness to reveal Jon's true identity to Tyrion.
Tyrion And Bran Propose New Governing System
In Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2 ("A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"), Tyrion asks Bran to explain his journey. It's a passing moment, but one currently without payoff. Both characters are associated with knowledge: Tyrion values education and facts, and Bran can see everything as the Three-Eyed Raven. While Tyrion may not have learned if he'd survive The Great War - this moment is overshadowed by Death itself - he may now be in possession of valuable historical information.
With Jon's ascent to the Iron Throne and a subsequent split in Westeros likely, Tyrion could use his sociopolitical knowledge to propose a new governing system. As the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran has the ability to provide balance within the realm, while Tyrion understands how to please the masses through compromise and negotiation.
Samwell Tarly Writes A Song Of Ice And Fire
Finally, with a new governing system in place, someone must write an official historical account about the old Westeros. So there's no better way for Game of Thrones to end with Samwell Tarly writing "A Song of Ice and Fire." The notion of the story we're being told itself a story in the world is an idea rooted in The Lord of the Rings and teased during Sam's time at the Citadel. And it would be a neat way for Game of Thrones to wrap up its looser plot threads and draw a line under this entire period of (fictional) history.
Game of Thrones concludes this Sunday at 9pm on HBO.