In Game of Thrones season 8, Bran Stark is planning to lure the Night King using himself as bait - but what if the Night King really wants Little Sam instead? The third episode of Game of Thrones' final season is almost here - and with it comes the Battle of Winterfell, the final showdown (presumably) between the armies of the living and the dead. Last week's episode 'A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms' was all about setting up this massive battle, laying out Team Winterfell's plan against the White Walkers, as well as showing all the major players bracing themselves for the moment that the fight begins.
It was a beautiful episode, and while there were a whole lot of scenes that fans loved (Gendry and Arya get together! Brienne is finally made a Knight! Jon reveals his true name to Daenerys!), one of the most important was when Jon and his allies gathered around a map table to plan their strategy. Team Winterfell's plan is based on the hope that if the Night King is killed, the entire wight army would collapse - so they are going to attempt to draw him out and attack him with dragonfire. It's a risky plan, but it might just work!
One reason the plan may not work, however, is if the Night King isn't after Bran at all, but actually wants to get back someone who was "stolen" from him.
Bran Believes The Night King Is After Him
The assumption is that the Night King can be drawn out using Bran as bait - so he'll be waiting in the godswood to try and lure the Night King to him. Bran himself says that he is what the Night King wants, and that the Night King knows where he is because he has been marked by him.
It's not difficult to see why everyone takes Bran at his word, and creates a plan to use him as bait. For one thing, as the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran knows pretty much everything. Figuring out the Night King's goal may well be something else that he has seen. It is also backed up by the Night King's actions so far. When Bran was North of the Wall, the Night King seemed to hunt him in his visions, and was able to attack them in the Cave of the Three-Eyed Raven after marking Bran. He's seemed very focused on getting to Bran in the past, and as the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran is a natural enemy for the Night King. However, there is another possibility that no one on Team Winterfell has thought about: Little Sam.
Could The Night King Be After Sam Instead?
Bran isn't the only person at Winterfell who has a history with the White Walkerst. Little Sam is also a solid contender to be the person that the Night King wants. When fans initially met Gilly, she was one of Craster's daughter-wives, living North of the Wall. At the time, she was pregnant with Sam and terrified, as it was revealed that while Craster kept baby girls alive (to eventually marry), baby boys were left out in the woods to be taken by the White Walkers. This was part of a pact that Craster made with them - to spare his life if he regarded them as 'gods' and left him all his male children.
After Gilly gave birth, Sam was able to spirit her away - also running from mutineers of the Night's Watch. The pair and the newborn made it back to Castle Black, but along the way, they ran into a White Walker... which Sam was able to kill using Dragonglass. Since then, Sam and Gilly have been essentially inseparable, and Sam introduced Little Sam as his own son when he went home to his family on the way to the Citadel. The three are now back in Winterfell, assuming that they are safe - or at least, as safe as anyone at Winterfell is right now. But some fans have theorized that Little Sam is actually the Night King's target, as the one who got away.
Why This Would Make Sense
The central precept of this theory is that the Night King is coming to get what was promised to him: the last surviving son of Craster. For years, Craster has been giving up his sons, and the Night King has been making them into White Walkers. This means that the White Walker line is "pure," and Little Sam is the only one of them to ever get away. It's understandable that the Night King wouldn't be too happy about losing a lieutenant in his White Walker team.
This wouldn't be the first time that the Night King has attempted to come for Little Sam, either. When Sam and Gilly first fled Craster's Keep, they presumably didn't just happen to stumble on a White Walker along the way. It would make far more sense that the White Walker Sam killed was actually sent by the Night King to get Little Sam back - and that the Night King underestimated Sam, which allowed them to get away. Now, the Night King isn't going to make that mistake again, and has brought an entire army with him to take back the child he was promised.
Not only does this fit from a storytelling perspective, but it suits the show, too. Game of Thrones is all about the twists and turns, and Bran and the Night King are extremely obvious enemies. From the first moment that Bran saw the Night King in his visions, the series has seemed to be pairing the two off (with some even wondering if they could be the same person). Having the Night King ignore Bran to go after Little Sam would be a phenomenal twist - and would be a great way to throw the battle plans of Team Winterfell into chaos.
Why This Might Not Be The Case
While there are some compelling reasons to think that the Night King is actually after Little Sam, there are also a lot of reasons that this wouldn't make sense. For one thing, the Night King didn't reanimate a dragon and break down the Wall for the sake of a single child, surely? Even if he underestimated Sam the Slayer at first, bringing a whole army for round two seems like overkill. He's also clearly got bigger plans than either Bran or Little Sam: he's going to try and destroy the living and rule Westeros in another Long Night, and killing Bran would seem to fit better with that larger plan. Taking back a baby to make another White Walker simply doesn't seem as important as taking out the Three-Eyed Raven, when it comes to the Night King's master plan.
It's also important to remember that with only three episodes left after this Sunday, so this is a time for the series to start bringing the big narrative arcs to a close, not to start launching more. Little Sam as just a child that Sam loves, and a part of his own character development, is a neat ending that doesn't need anything more. Little Sam as Westeros' own Boy Who Lived may be a neat twist, but it then leaves Bran's story to be concluded (and he is unlikely to return to King's Landing, where the next big battle will be). It may be interesting to consider that the Night King is after Little Sam, but Game of Thrones may take the obvious route (for once) and make Bran the target after all.