Game of Thrones season 8's Battle of Winterfell has ended but here are the questions that emerged from the feature-length episode. In "The Long Night", the Night King and the Army of the Dead invaded Winterfell with Bran Stark as the ice zombie leader's target. However, it was Arya Stark who miraculously killed the Night King and put an end to The Long Night.
The Battle of Winterfell featured the longest battle sequence ever filmed and it was the focal point of the White Walker story that began in the very first Game of Thrones episode. In fact, midway in Game of Thrones season 7, the series' main narrative shifted from the war for the Iron Throne to be about the army of the living joining forces to defeat the Night King and his endless winter. The episode itself was a dark (literally too dark for many viewers to see) and incredibly violent, sustained battle that saw thousands die, including several major characters.
Now that "The Long Night" is over, fans can process the carnage they witnessed and look ahead to what it all means for the final three Game of Thrones episodes ever, which now looks to refocus on the war to take the Iron Throne from Cersei Lannister. In the meantime, here are the biggest questions resulting from the Battle of Winterfell:
14. Is Game of Thrones Going Back To Political Intrigue?
The Great War is now over and this could signal that Game of Thrones' final three episodes will return to the cunning political intrigue that is one of the series' hallmarks. Since Daenerys Targaryen arrived in Westeros at the start of Game of Thrones season 7, war has been the driving force of the series. And even though the Night King has been defeated, there's still going to be military action needed to take the Iron Throne from Queen Cersei Lannister. However, with their armies depleted, it opens the door for Daenerys and Jon Snow to utilize more political strategy from here on in.
One of the reasons Tyrion begrudgingly obliged not to fight in the Battle of Winterfell like he wanted is that Daenerys wanted him alive because she needs his brainpower to outwit his evil sister. In addition, Sansa Stark survived and she has grown into one of the savviest political minds in Westeros as well. When the devious Littlefinger was killed last season, it seemed Game of Thrones had transitioned into an action show but there may now be more political wheeling-dealing in the back end of season 8.
13. Will Jon And Daenerys Tell Everyone About His True Heritage?
Daenerys had just found out (and didn't automatically believe) that Jon Snow is really Aegon Targaryen, son of her older brother Rhaegar, her nephew, and the trueborn heir to the Iron Throne. However, the call to action against the White Walkers tabled any action about Jon's true heritage, but now that the dead are truly dead, what happens next?
It would be to Daenerys' great disadvantage that Jon's real identity becomes public knowledge. The Dragon Queen knows the North is loyal to Jon and Sansa and without the North, she loses crucial political allies, which weakens her already questionable claim to the Iron Throne. Jon also doesn't show signs of wanting to be king but others, like Samwell Tarly, would prefer him over Daenerys. But now that Daenerys knows, how long until Sansa and the rest of the North find out who the true heir is?
12. Were All Of The Dothraki Wiped Out In The Battle of Winterfell?
Most fans never expected the Dothraki to survive the war against the Wights, but still, the bloodriders hardly distinguished themselves in the Battle of Winterfell. After Melisandre magically gifted them all with flaming swords, the Dothraki charged into the darkness and were promptly wiped out. Even the few that retreated fell to the Wights and Qhono was among the dead the Night King brought back to life.
The Dothraki were always feared in Westeros and they were incredibly effective in Game of Thrones season 7's Loot Train Battle, but their performance in the Battle of Winterfell raises the question of whether this was all the Dothraki were meant to do in the series, which seems like a waste. And now that one of the cornerstones of Daenerys' army looks like it has been completely decimated, it further weakens the Dragon Queen.
11. What Happened To Ghost And Jon's Dragon?
Both of the huge, fearsome beasts loyal to Jon Snow disappeared from the Battle of Winterfell at various points. Ghost was part of the initial Dothraki charge and the direwolf was seen running alongside Jorah Mormont, but Jorah was able to retreat back to the castle while Ghost totally vanished from the rest of the episode. Similarly, Jon rode Rhaegal and joined Daenerys, who was riding Drogon, in aerial dragon combat against the Night King and his ice dragon Viserion. After the Targaryens knocked the Night King off of Viserion, Rhaegal and Jon crashed to the ground and Rhaegal vanished for the rest of the episode like Ghost did. Fans speculated both fell victim to the hordes of Wights, but the trailer for next week's Game of Thrones shows both animals made it through "The Long Night" after all.
10. Where Did Arya Come From When She Killed The Night King?
At the pivotal moment to save Bran, Arya seemed to appear out of nowhere and leaped at the Night King from behind - but where did she come from? The last time fans saw Arya in the episode, Melisandre had reminded her of the prophecy of the eyes Arya will shut forever: "brown eyes, green eyes... blue eyes". Arya confidently responded "Not today" when the Red Woman asked what to say to the God of Death, but fans were still shocked when the young assassin suddenly leaped into action in the godswood. This means Arya escaped the castle and crept into the forest, past Wights and the assembled White Walkers, without anyone detecting her until the Night King caught her at the last second. Nonetheless, it's not only fitting that the Night King was killed by "no one" and that she seemingly came out of nowhere.
9. Is Arya Stark The Prince(ss) That Was Promised?
Melisandre has never been certain who the Prince That Was Promised was - but could Arya be the Princess That Was Promised (the actual translation of the High Valyrian words) and the reincarnation of Azor Ahai after all? The Red Woman originally believed Stannis Baratheon was the Prince That Was Promised, but in Game of Thrones season 7, Melisandre told Daenerys on Dragonstone that she believed Dany and Jon had a role to play. Melisandre later told Arya that Beric Dondarrion's many resurrections by the Lord of Light were so he could fulfill his role to keep Arya alive so she could kill the Night King.
While Arya doesn't quite fit the prophecy of the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, she may still be the closest this era of Westeros will have to the legendary warrior. But now that Arya has ended the Long Night and killed the Night King, what is next for her? Is Cersei Lannister Arya's final target?
8. Will There Still Be A Night's Watch?
Eddison Tollett, also known as Dolorous Edd, was the first name character to die in the Battle of Winterfell. Edd was stabbed in the head by a Wight after he saved Sam Tarly and later, he was among the dead reincarnated by the Night King. Edd was also the Lord of Commander of the Night's Watch, which begs the questions of what becomes of the Night's Watch now and whether the Crows are even needed anymore? The Eastern section of the Wall is gone, the Night King and the Army of the Dead are no more, and the Wildlings have become allies of the North. With all of these radical changes to Westeros' ancient status quo, has the Night's Watch's watch finally ended?
7. What Happens To House Mormont?
In last week's classic episode, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms", Jorah Mormont pleaded with his courageous little cousin Lyanna, the Lady of Bear Island, not to fight in the Battle of Winterfell. Regardless, both Mormonts fought and died heroically - but with their demise, what becomes of House Mormont and Bear Island? Jorah and Lyanna are the latest House to be wiped out, which includes the Tyrells, the Martells, the Baratheons (unless Gendry is raised up from his bastard status), and Northern Houses like the Boltons, the Umbers, and the Karstarks, the latter two fell to the White Walkers in Game of Thrones season 8. One would hope that considering how close the Starks were to Lyanna and Daenerys was to Jorah, the future of Bear Island will be taken care of somehow even though the Mormont line has been snuffed out.
6. Why Did Melisandre Die?
Melisandre's sudden appearance before the Battle of Winterfell began her last night in Westeros and, as she promised, she would be dead by dawn. In Game of Thrones season 7, Melisandre told Varys that they would both die "in this strange country", and sure, enough the Red Woman made good on her promise, through the Spider is still currently alive. But why did Melisandre have to die?
The Red Priestess' function was always to serve the Lord of Light and help usher in the Prince That Was Promised, but after being mistaken about Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre finally found the one truly destined to end The Long Night: Arya Stark. Once her final act was done, Melisandre was finally able to rest and she removed her magical collar, which was the source of her immortality and youthful appearance. Once she reverted back to the withered old woman she actually is, the Red Woman died at last, her mission accomplished.
5. Will Bronn Come To Winterfell To Kill Jaime And Tyrion?
Bronn is someone who is likely absolutely delighted to have missed the Battle of Winterfell, but he has reason to travel North regardless. When fans last saw Ser Bronn of the Blackwater in the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere, he had accepted a wagon full of gold and a crossbow from Qyburn, with orders to kill Cersei's two brothers Jaime and Tyrion. Since gold is the key to Bronn's heart, he took the job, but it's an open question whether the former sellsword will actually attempt to murder his two former employers, both of whom he might even admit to being his friends. But if someone could get close enough to Tyrion and Jaime to kill them, it would be Bronn, since the Lannister brothers wouldn't necessarily see this betrayal coming.
4. What Is Cersei Planning For Her Enemies?
Cersei is now poised to be the final villain of Game of Thrones. The Queen was safe in the Red Keep as the fate of the North was decided at Winterfell, but her plan was always to use the Lannister army and the Golden Company to take care of what was left of the Great War's winner. The reigning Queen of the Seven Kingdoms must feel confident of her chances considering the shambles Daenerys and Jon Snow's forces have been reduced to. When he hired Bronn, Qyburn also alluded to specific plans Cersei has for Daenerys. There's no indication of what those malicious plans might be, but considering the revenge she took on the Faith Militant, the Tyrells, and Ellaria Sand, Cersei probably has an equally terrible fate cooked up for the Dragon Queen coming for the Iron Throne.
3. Did Yara Take The Iron Islands Back - And Does Euron Care?
Theon Greyjoy died heroically defending Bran Stark from the dead in the Battle of Winterfell but his first noble act in Game of Thrones season 8 was to rescue his sister Yara from Euron Greyjoy's flagship, the Silence. Yara then sailed to take back the Iron Islands and fly the Targaryen flag over them, which Theon reported to Daenerys. Did Yara succeed in her mission? And if she did, will Euron care enough to take Pyke back, even though he's finally cozied up to Cersei's side and in her bed?
2. Does The Night King's Death Mean Winter Is Over?
The Night King and the White Walkers were the personification of winter in Westeros, but now that they're gone, is winter over? Westeros had just come out of a long summer but was this the shortest winter ever in the country? The Starks' family words, "Winter is Coming", referred to both the difficult season and the threat of The Long Night of legend returning to engulf the country and bring death, but now the latter has been wiped from existence. Most likely, the season of winter remains, but it's also possible with the Night King gone, spring will now come even faster to Westeros.
1. How Will The Battle of Winterfell Be Different In George R.R. Martin's Books?
Only George R.R. Martin knows for sure what his endgame for his A Song of Ice and Fire saga of novels is, but how different will the author's conclusion be to what the Game of Thrones television show is doing? The last time Martin published a mainline Game of Thrones novel was A Dance With Dragons in 2011 and he has failed to deliver the sixth book, The Winds of Winter, ever since. The series has blown past the events of Martin's fifth novel, but is the creator of Game of Thrones working towards a different ending than the show's writer/producers? Martin has admitted he doesn't know how the TV series ends and in the Game of Thrones: Game Revealed behind the scenes look at "The Long Night," showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss said they only decided on Arya Stark being the one who would kill the Night King 3 years ago. Does George R.R. Martin have an entirely different resolution in his novels? Fans will never know until the books actually come out.
Game of Thrones season 8 airs Sundays @ 9pm on HBO.