Massive spoilers for all previous seasons of GOT follow.
There are really only two questions that interest me, and the possible answers are related:
- What happens when Jaime reaches the Starks?
- Who is Sam going to give the Tarly sword to?
Rather than answer these directly, I’d like to make death predictions instead and work my way back to them. Most of the chess pieces are in place at this point to be captured, so it’s mostly, at least in my mind, making the exchange, as they say.
Cersei and the Mountain
These two die in all possible scenarios. The only question is by who. Ayra, Tyrion, and Jaime are the top contenders. I think it will take all three.
I expect Jaime to reach Winterfell and offer his son’s sword, Widow’s Wail, as a peace offering so he is not killed immediately by Ayra, as well as his service. Sansa and Jon will back Ayra, but Brienne will defend him, citing her mission to find the Stark sisters on his behalf, his gift of Oathkeeper to her (and with Widow’s Wail, Ice can now be reforged), but she saves the best for last: the true story of how the Mad King died. Bran will confirm Brienne’s story. Minds are blown.
Then they will throw him in a dungeon just to be safe. Cue Tyrion at the cell door. “Why, hello there, brother. What do you say to killing our sister?”
Likely assassination squad: Jaime, Ayra, and the Hound, not long after, or perhaps while, Cersei backstabs the Starks and Daerenys. The most obvious course is to take Dragonstone with Euron Grayjoy’s fleet while the Starks are trying to fight the Night’s King, cutting off the Jon-Daenerys alliance off from their supply of dragonglass and setting themselves up to mop up whoever survives.
Naturally, the Hound distracts and fights his brother – regardless of outcome, their story ends. Jaime then confronts Cersei, but it’s a ruse to allow Ayra close to do the actual deed. After Jaime watches Cersei die, Ayra will probably kill him too, then wear his face or Cersei’s to command the Lannister army for the duration on the conflict (or, even better, kill Jaime first, wear his face to get close, and tada). Afterward, she will return to Sansa, leaving Casterly Rock to none other than Tyrion. If Ayra spares Jaime, he will wield Widow’s Wail in the final battle against the Night King and die fighting. Either way, Tyrion and Ayra “win,” as much as anyone in GOT “wins” anything.
Euron is No. 3 for zero chance of survival. Theon may fail to rescue his sister, but either he or she will kill their crazy uncle. My money is on her, as then the House can live on, potentially.
No. 4 of the certain dead, Jorah has two tasks remaining in his very long arc. One is to have Sam Tarly offer him Heartsbane, the Tarly ancestral sword, which he gladly accepts.
Why Jorah? Well, there literally isn’t anyone else to give it to. Jon already has Longclaw, and Jorah is fine with that. Brienne has Oathkeeper. Ayra has that pesky dagger originating from Littlefinger that Bran gave her. Jaime, now on Team Stark, has Widow’s Wail. Sam ain’t going to give it to the Hound, so who’s left that favors a sword? Not Grey Worm. The guy that Sam knows well because he saved him from certain death from greyscale is the only logical pick. In fact, Sam’ll offer it to Jon first… who will suggest Jorah. This completes a five-person Murderer’s Row to fight the Night’s King on foot. Of though, Jorah is the most likely to perish in battle by saving Daenerys fresh from losing her dragon; he literally has nothing else to do in the story at this point.
But how are they going to get the Night’s King off Viserion, the undead ice dragon, to fight him at all?
The Viserion Problem
Sam has another obvious task besides getting Heartsbane to Jorah. He is going to tell Jon who his real parents are, at which point Jon will realize he has just had sex with his aunt, and Daenerys, given her knowledge, with her nephew. Ick. This may lead to a marriage, but more practically, they will realize Jon can ride the second dragon. That’s all a pretty straightforward reading of a series called, tada, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. I think they will both survive, oddly enough. But they may wish they did not.
The Night’s King isn’t going to be killed while an undead Viserion is still flying around. They really only have three things to fight Viserion with, alas. The remaining two dragons are one and two, and assuming Arya or Jaime control the Lannisters, the scorpion-like contraption that Cersei had built is three. A dragonclass bolt might do the trick. But I doubt the good guys are smart enough to use the remaining dragons to lure Viserion into such an ambush, as that would allow the other dragons to survive. More likely, though, for increased drama, both dragons will perish to take down Viserion in the final battle, leaving the Night’s King on foot and vulnerable, facing a Murderer’s Row of Brienne, Jorah, Jaime (if he lives that long), Arya, and Jon.
Let’s back up a bit. At the end of Season 7, everyone is heading to Winterfell. The Night’s King is headed there as that is where his real nemesis, Bran Stark, hangs out. I suggest two battles for pacing purposes. One to slow the walkers down before they get to Winterfell, which fails miserably and is made worse with whatever Cersei decides to backstab with (see Dragonstone musing earlier). Then, a last stand at Winterfell where all dragons are wiped out and any remaining forces try to give any Murderer’s Row survivors a chance to kill the Night’s King.
The Night’s King and the Murderer’s Row
Even GRRM isn’t going to let this guy win in the end, so who offs him? This assumes of course that he is truly a load-bearing baddie, where all the walkers he has created and any wights he has raised will crumble when he is defeated.
Of the remaining Valryian steel wielders, Arya has already had her moment by killing Cersei. So she’ll die. Ditto Jaime, if not offed by Arya. That leaves Brienne, Jorah, and Jon.
Brienne has two possible fates. Either she will die in battle, or live to hook up with Tormund. This is GOT, unfortunately, and if you think this will end well, you haven’t been paying attention. So no giant babies. And Jorah’s logical endpoint for his arc is to die saving Daenerys.
Jon, then, by process of elimination, is the only one left to do the deed. He has already died, so he has some serious plot armor. He has an appropriate weapon. Melissandre may even appear to resurrect him again if he missteps (and given his promise, his first act on waking up would be to kill her).
The Remaining Starks
The attack on Winterfell will be devastating, and dramatically speaking, at its most potent if the Starks are wiped out. Sansa dies defending Bran, and Bran is killed by the Night’s King, perhaps distracting or delaying him enough for Jon to kill him. With Arya already dead, Jon and Daenerys are left alone, the last Stark and Targaryen, destined to rule over a kingdom where almost everyone they know and love is dead. Tyrion, too, rules Casterly Rock alone, having killed (in some fashion or another) his entire nuclear family – mother, father, sister, and brother.