Game of Thrones season 8, episode 5 is the end for Lord Varys. The Spider and Master of Whispers is executed by Daenerys at the start of the episode, but before he dies, he's seen writing letters. What's in those letters? And to whom is he sending them?
As the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones' final season, "The Bells" does come with an appropriate amount of shock and spectacle. Major characters die and King's Landing is turned to rubble. The HBO series is in the endgame now, so to speak, and the show is heading towards what will certainly be a bittersweet finale. Before then, though, a few details still need sorting - the biggest being, who sits the Iron Throne? (Assuming, of course, the throne even still exists.) Daenerys has killed Cersei, but considering the carnage she caused along the way, there will be push back to her becoming queen. That leaves Jon as the most likely option for king, and even though he keeps saying he doesn't want to rule, Varys may have already made that decision for him.
Game of Thrones season 8, "The Bells" begins with Varys writing letters in which he explains the truth about Jon Snow. The only part of his message that can be seen, reads: "...not the only Targaryen left. Rhaegar and Lyanna... their son lives still, hidden by Eddard Stark... he is the true heir to the Iron Throne..." Clearly, Varys is telling others that Jon is the true heir and not Daenerys, and it is for sharing this secret that Varys is executed. However, it's entirely plausible that enough of Varys letters made it off Dragonstone before his treason was discovered, carried by ravens or even his little birds. So who did Varys tell about Jon being Aegon Targaryen and the true heir to the Iron Throne? And what will they do with this information?
The previous episode of Game of Thrones season 8, "The Last of the Starks" includes a line about there being a new Prince of Dorne. To many it was a throwaway line, a reminder that things are happening elsewhere in Westeros but not something really connected with the story at hand. Now, however, it appears that the new Prince of Dorne might be very important because Varys is most likely sending those letters to the remaining noble houses in Westeros - this includes Dorne. Currently, the identity of the Prince of Dorne is unknown (though a good guess is it's someone like Quentyn Martell, a character from the books who didn't appear in Game of Thrones), but it's clear from how Varys is phrasing his message - "not the only Targaryen" - that he's appealing to the Dornish, and particularly the Martells as traditional allies of House Targaryen. It's just that Varys has in mind a Targaryen with a stronger claim and less homicidal tendencies than Daenerys.
Along with reaching out to the new Prince of Dorne, Varys is sure to share the secret of Jon's claim to all he can - this includes the Vale and Riverrun, appealing to Robyn Arryn and Edmure Tully to support Jon's claim to the Iron Throne. Neither the Vale or Riverrun are particularly loyal to Daenerys, so both should easily come to the decision to back Jon. In fact, Sansa might already be instrumental in planting this idea among the Lords of the Vale seeing as she's often seen whispering with Lord Royce, the de facto Lord of the Vale until Robyn comes of age. That's four of the seven kingdoms in support of Jon over Daenerys, and once Gendry Baratheon, the new Lord of Storm's End hears what his queen did to King's Landing, he may switch sides, too.
Varys knew that sending these letters explaining that Jon is the true heir to the nobles of Westeros was treason, and he did it anyway, for the good of the realm. Much like Ned sending the letters explaining that Cersei's children were born of incest, Varys is gambling on the noblemen and women of Westeros doing what's right and crowning the true heir. In this case, however, Daenerys is only helping to strengthen the argument against her by destroying King's Landing, giving the lords of Westeros all the reason they need to seek an alternative to this mad queen.
Game of Thrones season 8 concludes Sunday, May 19 at 9:00pm on HBO.