The sprawling fantasy universe that is home to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones, spans multiple continents, dozens of key characters and hundreds of years of canonical history influencing motivations, all of which lead to outcomes that can be dizzying to follow. While the Season 6 finale certainly answered a lot of questions, it also left many unanswered, and surfaced a few more. Here’s where we stand, and where we think things might be headed:
The Last Direwolves One of the most tragic elements of Game of Thrones is the seemingly casual way it kills off the six direwolves (one for each Stark child, plus Jon Snow) that Ned Stark found in the first episode. Remember Lady (Sansa’s)? Mercy-killed by Ned in Season 1. Grey Wind (Robb’s)? Decapitated at the Red Wedding. Summer (Bran’s)? Last seen being torn apart in the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven by a pile of wights. Shaggydog (Rickon’s)? His head was last seen in the field outside Winterfell.
That leaves only two: Ghost (Jon Snow’s) and Nymeria (Arya’s). So where the hell are they? We haven’t seen Ghost since Jon was resurrected in the second episode of Season 6, and we haven’t seen Nymeria since she nipped Joffrey in Season 1. Arya ordered her to run away, knowing she would be killed — so Cersei demanded the life of Lady in her stead. Her storyline parallels Arya’s — exiled early in the story. As far as anyone in Westeros knows, she’s dead. No one has seen her. In the books, there are reports of a massive she-wolf raiding the countryside, leading a pack of wolves. Now that Arya has returned, is Nymeria’s return imminent?
Brienne the Beauty & Podrick the Penis After being saved by the Blackfish (and Jaime Lannister) at the siege of Riverrun, Brienne and her trusty squire/unexpected sex maestro Podrick Payne were last seen floating down the river in a rowboat. Ostensibly they’re headed towards Winterfell, but apparently not quickly enough for the second Battle of Winterfell. Their trip to Riverrun was entirely unfruitful, so if they just head back to Sansa, it would appear to be a completely pointless journey. What’s in store for them?
Randall Tarly & His Favorite Phallus, Heartsbane When Sam absconded from his ancestral home of Horn Hill after the worst dinner party this side of the Twins, he did so with Heartsbane, the Tarly family sword. It’s a two-handed Valyrian Steel greatsword — you know, those things that can kill White Walkers and stop their ice blades. The Tarlys don’t even believe White Walkers exist, so the sword is clearly in better hands with someone whose eyes look to the enemies north of The Wall. But Randall Tarly will surely deduce who stole the sword, and already knows where Sam is heading, so how can Sam possibly hope to avoid his father’s pursuit? Where did that nicely wrapped sword package even go by the time Sam, Gilly, and Crasterbaby showed up at The Citadel? The Tarlys are sworn lords of The Reach, loyal to House Highgarden, which has now allied with Dorne against the Iron Throne. Will Randall be too distracted to follow Sam? It seems unlikely, as does the chance of Heartsbane staying in Oldtown. That blade seems destined to head north, one of the last few weapons left with which to fight the White Walkers.
Howland Reed’s Moving Castle When Lyanna Stark died, she did so in the presence of Ned, her handmaidens, and Howland Reed, Meera and Jojen’s father. We don’t know what happened to the handmaidens, or how their silence was ensured, but we know that after saving Ned’s life, Reed was one of his most trusted Bannermen. What happened to the handmaidens may never be explained, but with Ned Stark gone, Howland is the only known living character who’s aware of Jon Snow’s true parentage. Now that Bran shares that knowledge, will he somehow connect with Meera’s dad? There are few places safer than her home, Greywater Watch, the floating castle that changes location and is impossible for enemies to find. They will probably stop off at Winterfell first, but a moving fortress is as good a place as any for a crippled greenseer to hole up.
White Walker Street Art The big reveal that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers in a dragonglass Weirwood ritual appears to have solved the mystery of the bizarre patterns in which the White Walkers would arrange body parts after a chill murder party. The Children, like the First Men, worship the old gods, and they use similar symbols. But the White Walkers also wear very distinctive armor, with very distinctive symbols on them. What is their significance?
Cold Feet for the Invasion of Westeros? The White Walkers have had their sizable army of wights for some time now, and we assume they’re planning an invasion of Westeros. But they seem to be spinning their wheels — rolling past the Fist of the First Men with ease, taking a detour to Hardhome for some last-minute recruitment for the wight army, scooping up the last Crasterbaby. So what’s taking them so long?
Well, for one, as Benjen hinted at towards the end of season, there’s more to The Wall than just 700 feet of ice. Old magic protects Westeros from the magic forces beyond The Wall, and since Benjen was saved with such magic, he’s unable to pass underneath it. So if the White Walkers want to invade Westeros, but magic is keeping them out, how do they get past The Wall? It’s simple, really. The Wall must come down.
GRRM doesn’t really get into it at all in the series, really, but there are two horns of great importance in A Song of Ice and Fire: Dragonbinder, a magical horn that is said to be able to control dragons (and is in the possession of Euron Greyjoy), and The Horn of Joramun, a horn that is said to be able to bring down The Wall. In GRRM’s story, Euron takes Dragonbinder, which roasts the lungs of whomever blows it with flame, with him as he heads to seek out Danaerys Targaryen across the Narrow Sea. And The Night’s Watch finds a broken horn in a stash of dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men, and Sam carries it with him the rest of the way — even as he sells all his possessions to get himself and Gilly around the continent to Oldtown, he keeps this horn.
There have been no horns thus far in Game of Thrones, but odds are at least one will make an appearance — otherwise they’ll have to come up with some other construct to bring down The Wall.
Braavos, Where The Faceless Men Have No Name At the end of Season 6, after two years of being indoctrinated into the murder church of “No One,” Arya marches up to her teacher, points her Needle at his chest, and declares that she is a Stark, and she is going home. Said teacher smiles, even though she’s defied all of his teachings thus far, and inexplicably lets her go. Why? Jaqen H’ghar’s smirk makes it clear that it was always his intention to train Arya and send her back to Westeros. So what could his motivations be?
One connection that seems logical but is completely unexplored is the one between the Iron Bank of Braavos and the Faceless Men of the House of Black and White. Both Braavos and the Faceless Men were founded by former slaves from Valyria. Hundreds of years later, both are feared throughout the known world. We get why a guild of assassins would be feared, but why the bank? Could it be the Faceless Men serve as the enforcement arm of the Iron Bank?
Consider that the Faceless Men are unconcerned with actual wealth and riches — their clothes and place of worship are distinctly ascetic, despite the great cost of their services. And “great cost” can mean different things to different people: Littlefinger remarks they could hire several armies for the cost of sending a single faceless man to murder Danaerys, yet a lowly actress could afford a contract on her colleague. And if the Faceless Men collect vast riches, where does it go? They’re not spending it on themselves. The Iron Bank is said to fund one’s enemies if you fail to pay them back; but that’s an inexact science. Could they also take further steps to ensure their debts are repaid?
Jaquen H’ghar knows about Arya’s list, and it’s likely not a coincidence that everyone on it is connected to the Baratheon-Lannisters, the house that owes millions to the bank. Cersei näively dismissed the representative from the bank when her debts were called, so they funded Stannis and stopped issuing loans in Westeros, crippling the market. But Stannis failed, and Cersei is still in power. If Arya were to be trained as a Faceless Man and set loose in Westeros to check names off her list, who would benefit more than the Iron Bank? That one Faceless Man could do more hiding in plain sight inside the gates of Kings Landing than any number of armies. And it would explain Jaqen’s contradictory actions.
Tyrion the Targaryen
This seemed like one of the more wild fan theories, but in the wake of R + L = J’s confirmation, we’re giving this one more thought. Here’s the evidence:
- Tyrion’s birth, like those of actual Targaryens Danaerys and Jon Snow, killed his mother.
- Tyrion was able to communicate with (or at least not get eaten by) Viserion and Rhaegal when he unchained the dragons in Meereen’s dungeon.
- In the books, the Mad King always had eyes for Joanna Lannister, and, after his wife’s eighth consecutive miscarriage, remarked that he may have married the wrong woman. Tywin Lannister, who was beefing with Aerys and absent from the famous Tourney at Harrenhal, always hated Tyrion. Could it be because he knew he wasn’t his son, but couldn’t admit it without bringing shame to his house?
BONUS: Which Way Did They Go?
There are still a few characters standing at a narrative crossroads at the end of Season 6. Which way will they go?
Jorah and his greyscale have been sent off in search of a cure by Queen Dany. Where will he look? Shireen was cured, but only after great effort and expense from her father Stannis. So a cure exists, but how (and where) will he find it?
Now that Arya is in Westeros at The Twins, fresh off torturing and murdering Scott Tenorman, where does she go next? Does she head north, to Jon Snow and her sister Sansa? Or does she head south, to Cersei and Jaime in King’s Landing? Does she read the news? How much does she know about what’s happened since she’s been gone? The theater is clearly not a reliable source.
And where the fuck did Gendry row off to?