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Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire news, theories, and other nerdy goodness

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Will We Ever Know the Truth about Rhaegar and Lyanna?

Rhaegar Targaryen – the man, the myth, the legend. He is one of the most mysterious characters we never get to meet in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, but one who has a huge impact on the story before it even starts. Per the official history, Rhaegar abducted and raped Lyanna Stark, holding her captive at the Tower of Joy and igniting Robert’s Rebellion, which put an end to the Targaryen dynasty. However, a careful reading of the books paints another picture of Rhaegar – one at odds with this version of the story.

It all began at the Tourney of Harrenhal, when Rhaegar jousted his way to victory and proceeded to crown Lyanna Stark the Queen of Love and Beauty. Later, it is said he fell upon her in the Riverlands and carried her off, but why? Did he see her at the tourney and fall hopelessly in love? Did she return his affection and run off with him willingly? She seemed less than enthusiastic about her betrothal to Robert Baratheon, but would she be so rash?

After reading several theories and piecing together information from the books (the main series as well as The World of Ice and Fire) – along with what we know of Rhaegar’s and Lyanna’s personalities – I have created my Grand Unified Theory about what really happened at Harrenhal, why Rhaegar took Lyanna, and what happened in the aftermath. There is still much we don’t know, but I have attempted to cover the bases as completely as possible. The following contains facts as well as speculation; if you want more in-depth analysis with references from the written material, please check out the four-part series The Harrenhal Conspiracy as well as Rescue at the Crossroads. I drew heavily from both theories and added my own thoughts and conclusions, and they are well worth your time.

The Tourney at Harrenhal

“Rhaegar had put his hand on Jaime’s shoulder. “When this battle’s done I mean to call a council. Changes will be made. I meant to do it long ago, but . . . well, it does no good to speak of roads not taken. We shall talk when I return.” – A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8 (Jaime)

By the time of the tourney (in the Year of the False Spring), opposition was growing against King Aerys due to his increasing paranoia and cruelty. Rhaegar – growing concerned about his father’s ability to rule – planned to call a Great Council to possibly force Aerys’ abdication. Meanwhile, the lords of the great houses (notably Stark, Tully, Arryn, and Baratheon) were attempting to strengthen their power and influence by forming alliances through marriages and fostering each other’s children. The Harrenhal Tourney appears to have been arranged to gather together as many of the lords as possible – promising a lavish spectacle and generous prizes that Lord Whent (the host) could not afford. Likely the secret benefactor was Rhaegar, possibly with help from Tywin Lannister. Tywin had already resigned as Hand of the King due to his anger at Aerys marrying Rhaegar to Elia Martell instead of Cersei, and naming Tywin’s heir Jaime to the Kingsguard.

Unfortunately for Rhaegar, Aerys decided to attend the tourney despite not having left the Red Keep in four years (ever since he had been held captive during the Defiance of Duskendale). Aerys was becoming suspicious of Rhaegar’s intentions, believing (correctly) that Rhaegar was plotting to take the throne. This threw a wrench in Rhaegar’s plan, but he may have gone ahead with a council anyway if he thought he had enough support.

The Three Factions

“Prince Rhaegar’s support came from the younger men at court, including Lord Jon Connington, Ser Myles Mooton of Maidenpool, and Ser Richard Lonmouth. The Dornishmen who had come to court with the Princess Elia were in the prince’s confidence as well, particularly Prince Lewyn Martell, Elia’s uncle and a Sworn Brother of the Kingsguard. But the most formidable of all Rhaegar’s friends and allies in King’s Landing was surely Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning”. – The World of Ice and Fire, The Year of the False Spring

Rhaegar knew he had the backing of Dorne (House Martell), some of the Crownland and Stormland houses, a few men of the court, at least three of the Kingsguard (Dayne, Whent, and Martell), and the love of the smallfolk. He presumably counted on House Lannister as well, given the bad blood between Aerys and Tywin. Support for Aerys came chiefly from his small council, who had great influence and the ability to use the king’s madness to their benefit. What Rhaegar needed to know was where the other great houses stood (Stark, Tully, Arryn, and Baratheon). If he could count on them to support his ascension, he would have the leverage he needed to oust his father from the throne.

It’s possible Rhaegar and Arthur Dayne enlisted the help of Arthur’s sister Ashara to gather the intel they needed. At the opening feast, she was noted to have danced with a “white sword” (probably Arthur giving her information and instructions), a “red snake” (Oberyn Martell, with assurances of Dorne’s support), the “lord of griffins” (Jon Connington, telling her which court members Rhaegar could count on), and lastly the “quiet wolf” (Ned Stark). The “wild wolf” (Brandon Stark) had spoken with Ashara, asking her to dance with Ned, who was too shy to approach her himself – but could he have told her something more?

Perhaps Brandon told her that the Stark/Tully/Arryn/Baratheon alliance would throw their support to Rhaegar; maybe even sealing the deal with a promise of marriage – Ned (who was not yet betrothed and needed a suitable match) to Ashara. This would give Rhaegar enough confidence in his victory to call a council. I believe he arranged for himself to win the tourney and crown his wife Elia as the Queen of Love and Beauty as a signal that the council would convene as planned. After all, two of Rhaegar’s opponents (Brandon and Arthur) were involved in the conspiracy, and the others (Yohn Royce and Barristan Selmy) could have been given orders to take the fall.

The Knight of the Laughing Tree

“The mystery knight was short of stature, and clad in ill-fitting armor made up of bits and pieces. The device upon his shield was a heart tree of the old gods, a white weirwood with a laughing red face.” – A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24 (Bran)

So why didn’t the council happen? One of the key pieces of information about the tourney comes from A Storm of Swords, when Meera Reed recounts a tale she heard from her father Howland, about the Knight of the Laughing Tree. This mystery knight defeated three squires who had been bullying a crannogman (presumably Howland) before Lyanna put a stop to it and befriended him. While we don’t know for certain, the most widely accepted theory is that the knight was Lyanna in disguise. If so, this is a vital part of the Rhaegar and Lyanna relationship.

King Aerys, in his paranoia, believed the mystery knight was an enemy and a traitor – he thought the tree was laughing at him. He ordered Rhaegar to discover the knight’s identity, which almost certainly led him to Lyanna. She already seemed infatuated with him (like every other woman in Westeros); “the dragon prince sang a song so sad it made the wolf maid sniffle” at the opening feast. I think Rhaegar found Lyanna intriguing and admired her spirit, bravery, and selflessness in defending Howland. They probably developed a mutual attraction and respect, and Rhaegar promised to keep her secret.

How did this impact Rhaegar’s plan? It’s very possible that Lyanna had discovered the true motive behind the Stark/Tully/Arryn/Baratheon alliance – to force a council to be called and to switch their allegiance from Rhaegar to Robert Baratheon. After all, Robert was in the line of succession via his Targaryen grandmother, and his ascension would be a boon to those houses – they stood to wield much more power and influence that they would under Rhaegar. If she told this to Rhaegar, he would have had no choice but to postpone the council to avoid defeat.

Why would Lyanna betray her family? Maybe she didn’t want to be queen (she certainly wasn’t overjoyed about marrying Robert anyway). Maybe she just felt it was the right thing to do. Maybe she cared enough for Rhaegar that she didn’t want to see his family overthrown. We already know of her resemblance to Arya, but maybe she had a bit of Sansa’s romantic and naïve tendencies as well. Whatever the reason, it gives another layer to Rhaegar crowning Lyanna – acknowledging her bravery as the mystery knight, thanking her for divulging the truth, and signaling that there would be no council after all. No wonder “all the smiles died” – their scheming had been stopped in its tracks.

An Abduction, or a Rescue? 

“Someone told. Someone always tells.” – A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21 (The Queenmaker)

After the tourney, Rhaegar returned to Dragonstone with the pregnant Elia to prepare for their son’s impending arrival, and King Aerys returned to King’s Landing. Aerys had initially thought Jaime Lannister was the mystery knight at Harrenhal; that he had defied Aerys who had ordered him back to King’s Landing after taking his Kingsguard vows. Upon his return to the Red Keep, doubtless Aerys was informed that Jaime had been there for the duration of the tourney. It’s not likely Aerys would have forgotten his anger over the mystery knight, so either someone eventually found out the truth or he deduced it on his own. Either way, it’s very possible Aerys ordered Lyanna’s arrest as a traitor to the crown.

Around the time of her “abduction” Lyanna was in the Riverlands for Brandon and Catelyn Tully’s wedding. Her father Rickard was on his way from Winterfell, and Brandon was on his way from Riverrun to meet up with his party. Rhaegar had left Dragonstone and was journeying to the Riverlands with six companions – did he find out that Aerys sent men to arrest Lyanna? If so, he would have felt obligated to help her, knowing the fate that would have been in store for her. He would have also rightly assumed the arrest and execution of Lord Stark’s daughter would start a war, and would have wanted to avoid that at all costs.

If there was a confrontation, given everyone’s location at the time it would be reasonable to think it happened at the Inn at the Crossroads. The inn has served as the site of many momentous events throughout the course of the books, and this would certainly be one of them. A conflict between Targaryen soldiers and Lyanna’s and Rhaegar’s parties could have been misinterpreted (or deliberately reported) as an abduction. It’s also possible that Littlefinger was in the area, returning to the Vale from Riverrun after his duel with Brandon. Knowing Brandon’s rashness (and harboring resentment for the wounds he took from him), could Littlefinger have arranged for Brandon to be told about the “kidnapping” before he could hear the truth?

The Rebellion

“Brandon had been twenty when he died, strangled by order of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen only a few short days before he was to wed Catelyn Tully of Riverrun. His father had been forced to watch him die. He was the true heir, the eldest, born to rule.” – A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4 (Eddard)

Brandon rushed to King’s Landing with his men and demanded for Rhaegar to “come out and die.” Of course, Rhaegar wasn’t there, but Aerys imprisoned them all for plotting to murder the prince and summoned their fathers to the capital. Rickard Stark arrived with 200 men, all of whom were executed by the Mad King.

The lone survivor was Brandon Stark’s squire, Ethan Glover. Could he have been spared because he divulged the plot to put Robert on the throne? Aerys wrote to Jon Arryn demanding the heads of Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon. Ned makes sense given the “treason” of his brother and father, but why Robert, unless Aerys knew of their plan? Of course, Jon Arryn refused to give up his wards (and the potential claimant to the throne), which sparked the rebellion and led to the downfall of the dragon kings.

R+L=J

“Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna, and thousands died for it.” – A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67 (The Kingbreaker)

What of Rhaegar and Lyanna? After he rescued her from his father’s men, Rhaegar needed to get her someplace safe – eventually taking her to the Tower of Joy. If Rhaegar didn’t abduct her or run off with her out of love, how would Jon have been conceived? It’s possible that Rhaegar tried to get word to Lyanna’s family to keep war from breaking out, but it arrived too late, or not at all. Once Lyanna learned the news of her father’s and brother’s deaths, she would have been devastated. She may have turned to her rescuer for comfort, and perhaps it led to something more. Rhaegar must have named it the Tower of Joy for a reason.

Rhaegar would have found it difficult to reject a grieving girl, and perhaps the admiration he already felt for her grew into love. I don’t think he planned for it, or that he used her to fulfill a prophecy. I believe it was a similar situation to Robb Stark and Jeyne Westerling – she gave herself to Robb, and he married her so as not to dishonor her. Yes, Rhaegar was already married, but the Targaryens had practiced polygamy in the past. Perhaps he thought that once the rebellion was defeated and Aerys was deposed, he would have the power and ability to make the realm accept a second marriage. A union and a child with a Stark could also be used to ensure the loyalty of the North and the Riverlands.

Since King Aerys didn’t seem to have viewed Rhaegar absconding with Lyanna as an act of treason, Rhaegar must have sent word that he was holding her as a hostage in a secret location. Rhaegar believed he would be victorious and that he could take care of his father once the war was over. He may have still been communicating with Tywin Lannister to win his support, but Tywin stayed his hand to ensure he only backed the winning side. Unfortunately his decision likely led to Rhaegar’s death on the Trident, and the rest is history.

 

5 Game of Thrones Theories That Need to Die a Horrible Death in Season 7

Fan of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire certainly come up with some interesting theories – ranging from brilliant (R+L=J), to brilliantly tinfoil (D+D=T), to brilliantly idiotic (N+L=J). Sometimes they get a little too carried away and either create theories without much to back them up, or they hold onto theories despite all evidence to the contrary. Here are 5 theories I hope are put to rest after Season 7 airs next summer.

5 – Sansa is pregnant with Ramsay’s child

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Take some unflattering promotional photos, add some VERY circumstantial evidence, and you get this theory. Speculation began when the first Season 6 photos were released, and fans remarked on the possible baby bump Sansa appeared to be sporting. Once the season aired, people noticed Sansa didn’t appear to eat much (morning sickness?). Later she made a comment to Littlefinger about being able to physically feel inside what Ramsay did to her, and in episode 9 Ramsay told Sansa he would always be a part of her – fans took these remarks literally, assuming it meant a baby.

Setting aside the fact that physical and psychological torture, leaping from a castle wall, and being chased through snow and freezing water would likely lead to a miscarriage, enough time had passed that surely Sansa would be showing by season’s end. Even if she were pregnant, how would Ramsay know? I find it hard to believe she would have sent him a raven with the unhappy news. A Sansa pregnancy wouldn’t serve the plot in any meaningful way; given the limited time the show has left and the much more important storylines coming to a head, this theory doesn’t make much sense.

4 – Jon will marry Sansa

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Jon and Sansa’s reunion was one of the most touching moments of Season 6, evoking smiles, tears, and apparently, Jonsa shippers. There isn’t much to substantiate this theory aside from “chemistry” and “vibes” (I call it wishful thinking). Guys, I know incest is a thing on Game of Thrones, but this is just too much. To be fair, this particular pairing was circulated as a possibility among readers of A Song of Ice and Fire before their onscreen reunion, but I don’t want to see it happen in either medium. Now that Jon has been confirmed as Lyanna’s son we know he is Sansa’s cousin and not her half-brother (which is still a little icky though accepted in-universe), but they don’t know that. Besides, they grew up as siblings and didn’t even particularly like each other.

Jon is now King in the North in his own right, and marrying Sansa isn’t necessary to solidify his claim. She is ostensibly already his ally, so how would a union with her help him politically? It would benefit Sansa of course, as she would become Queen in the North, but that would likely cause Littlefinger to withdraw the Vale’s support (slimy little weasel that he is). Besides, Jon being available for a marriage alliance could help him bring other regions of Westeros to his side; he will need much more than the North to stop the White Walkers in  their tracks.

3 – Arya is actually the Waif

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Arya’s Season 6 storyline in Braavos wasn’t one of the highlights for me. It was a bit confusing, and – at times – boring (how many times can you watch someone get beaten with a stick anyway?). So I was glad to see Arya decide to head back home in episode 7…until she got shanked. That began one of the most unbelievable parts of her storyline – not only did she survive the initial stab wounds, she avoided infection despite not receiving adequate medical care, and then she was able to outrun the Waif through the streets of Braavos.

Even more incredibly, Arya was able to kill the Waif and remove her face, which she displayed in the Hall of Faces before having her mic drop moment with Jaqen. Some fans believe that Arya beating the Waif wasn’t actually unrealistic writing – they think the Waif killed Arya instead. They theorize that Arya would have been too tired and weak to defeat her, so the person we think is Arya is really the Waif wearing Arya’s face. There really isn’t any other evidence to support it, and I don’t think it would serve the plot for the Waif to act as Arya for the rest of the series. Plus, could the Waif really remove her own face? Somehow I doubt it.

2 – Bran was all the Brandon Starks

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Everyone was excited to see Bran back in Season 6, and we were anxious to see what impact he would have in the story. The answer to that question was, quite a lot (and most of it negative). Not only did he discover Jon isn’t Ned’s bastard and witness the origin of the White Walkers, he singlehandedly led to the deaths of the Three Eyed Raven, Summer, several Children of the Forest, and Hodor. If that weren’t bad enough, we also discovered that Bran was responsible for “Wyllis” becoming Hodor in the first place.

Now we know that not only can Bran see the past, he can interact with and influence it. That has led to speculation about other events he may have affected (such as driving King Aerys mad). Some fans believe Bran has skinchanged into all of the past Brandon Starks (Brandon the Builder, Brandon the Shipwright, Brandon the Breaker) and is responsible for their legendary deeds.

The support for this idea seems to be that they all have the same name, and that Old Nan confuses Bran with all the other Brandons she has known. Seriously, that’s it. There are several problems with this: one, skinchanging into humans with normal brain function is pretty much impossible (see what happened to Hodor as an example); two, why would Bran only do this with Brandons and not other important Starks of the past?; three, with all of the threats facing Westeros in the present, why would he spend time influencing past characters who don’t necessarily impact the current situation? We may well see Bran affecting other events, but for him to have been every Brandon Stark seems pointless and silly.

1 – Anything other than R+L=J

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Ever since the release of the first book, A Game of Thrones, fans have been theorizing about Jon’s Snow’s mother: was it Ashara Dayne, Wylla the wet nurse, or the fisherman’s daughter? It wasn’t long before people questioned whether Ned was even the father, leading to the theory that Jon was the son of Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark and her “abductor” Rhaegar Targaryen (R+L=J).

The evidence in the text is overwhelming once you know to look for it (there have even been hints on the show), and fans have had 20 years to put it all together. Of course 20 years of wondering has also allowed alternate theories to crop up like annoying little weeds – that Jon is the son of Ned’s brother Brandon and Ashara, or that Lyanna was his mother and someone other than Rhaegar was the father. Even confirming Jon’s parentage in the Season 6 finale (and via an HBO infographic) wasn’t enough to quiet the dissent; there are still people who wonder if Robert, Aerys, or (for the incest obsessed) Ned is Jon’s father.

Let me just say it – anything other than R+L=J MAKES NO SENSE. It doesn’t make sense with the timeline, it doesn’t make sense with the secrecy, and it doesn’t make sense in the story. I just pray Bran has a vision next season that includes Rhaegar with Lyanna and leaves no room for doubt. My peace of mind depends on it.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Meera is Jon’s twin

This. Just, why? There is NO evidence. None. Having similar hair doesn’t make you related, I promise. And there was no second baby at the Tower of Joy, unless she was hidden away somewhere. Please people, let it go.

Surviving the Long Night

So here we are – no book, no show… Nothing but our imaginations to fill the void while we wait for word that The Winds of Winter is finished, or for the start date of Game of Thrones Season 7. It’s a dangerous time, when tinfoil (or just plain dumb) theories abound (Tyrion the time-traveling fetus and R+L=J+M come to mind) and fans become desperate for any tidbit of news. Unfortunately for us, those tidbits have been few and far between.

Last week, my guest poster Caroline had some good suggestions for filler shows, and doubtless there are many more that could provide a distraction. I took a bit of a summer hiatus from this blog, but I plan to continue my prediction posts and theory discussions in the coming months to provide some outlet for impatient fans. Hopefully we will get some casting and filming news as production for Game of Thrones Season 7 kicks into gear, and I keep holding out hope that a certain book will make an appearance before the premiere (a girl can dream, right?).

I have personally been coping in a variety of ways – rewatching all six seasons of Game of Thrones, starting an in-depth reread of A Song of Ice and Fire, and working on a series of portraits based on the novels (this latest obsession of mine is responsible for my lack of blogging; I’ll do better, I promise!). Considering my slow pace and the vast number of characters, that alone should keep me occupied until A Dream of Spring is released. Below are the ones I’ve completed so far – please feel free to suggest future characters for me to work on.

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Not knowing how long we must wait makes it all the more frustrating. We can only make guesses as to when the next season of Game of Thrones will start (May? June? Gods forbid, July?), or when GRRM will release The Winds of Winter (some friends and I have a pool going; sadly my hopes for 2016 or early 2017 are quickly fading). Thankfully though, we know the wait will end…eventually.

How do you entertain yourself during the off season and the wait between books? Do you immerse yourself in anything Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones related, or do you avoid thinking about it completely?

 

Five Cool Shows to Fill the Current “Game of Thrones” Void

This is a guest post by Caroline from Culture Coverage (www.culturecoverage.com). 

It will be at least a year until season seven of “Game of Thrones” airs, so fans will be waiting quite some time to find out how Cersei will reign over Westeros on the Iron Throne. It seems like a grueling wait, but there are plenty of great series to satisfy viewers’ hunger for violent battles, political intrigue and spicy sex scenes.

Vikings

“Vikings” is an Irish-Canadian drama that is inspired by the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok, who terrorized France and England during the ninth century. While the historical plot and epic battles will satisfy “Game of Thrones” fans, “Vikings” is much tamer with less sex and violence. In fact, plenty of viewers think “Vikings” is superior to Game of Thrones for this reason.

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After three seasons, “Vikings” continues to be critically acclaimed. During the latest season, the show was the highest-rated scripted cable series, averaging 4.3 million viewers per episode. The first two seasons are available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

The Tudors

“The Tudors” is based on Henry VIII’s reign over England. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill, the show features an impressive cast. If you’re missing your favorites from “Game of Thrones,” Natalie Dormer, who plays Magaery Tyrell, stars as Anne Boleyn. Political power is the main theme of “The Tudors,” and there are plenty of steamy scenes depicting Henry VIII’s seductive powers.

The debut of “The Tudors” was one of the highest-rated premieres in Showtime’s history, and period drama fans fawn over the series. All four seasons are available to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Last Kingdom

After the first episode of “The Last Kingdom” aired in October 2015, it was instantly dubbed the new “Game of Thrones.” With a superstar cast featuring Britain’s best and bloody battles, it is no wonder so many viewers are turning to “The Last Kingdom” while they wait for GoT to return. On the surface, there are some very obvious similarities, including a brooding male lead, strong women warriors and a huge cast of characters with unpronounceable names.

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“The Last Kingdom” is based on The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell. It is set in the ninth century, when England consisted of seven separate kingdoms, and the plot revolves around the Viking invasion of England. The series hero, Uhtred, is the son of a Saxon nobleman but was raised by the Danes, and his loyalty is tested as he plays both sides in the quest to reclaim his ancestral land.  You can find out where to watch “The Last Kingdom” from BBC America.

Spartacus

This series is about the infamous gladiator Spartacus who led the slave uprising in Rome. What “Game of Thrones” fans will enjoy most about this series is the abundance of violence and sex. While it doesn’t feature the kind of fantasy creatures that populate Westeros, you’ll experience the same thrill from betrayals, affairs and brutal battles. You can watch the entire series of “Spartacus” on Netflix.

While it aired on Starz, “Spartacus” won two Saturn Awards and Screen Actors Guilds Awards and was nominated for many more. The show averaged 1.285 million viewers during its run and continues to be a favorite among viewers on Netflix. Currently, it is only available on Netflix in select countries, but outside viewers can watch it using a reliable proxy like ExpressVPN.

Rome

This series is about the transition of ancient Rome from a republic to an empire, chronicling the rise and fall of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. In just 22 episodes, “Rome” covers all of the crucial historical points. Viewers will be intrigued by the assassinations, dalliances and power struggles—everything you’re sure to miss during the “Game of Thrones” yearlong break.

“Rome” has been nominated for dozens of awards from the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes and Emmys while maintaining an impressive score of 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch “Rome” on HBO Go and Amazon Prime.

So don’t fret; there’s only about 12 more months until “Game of Thrones” is back! In the meantime, be sure to give these shows a watch for some exciting thrills.

What are you watching while you await the return of GoT? Leave us a comment and recommend some shows to fill the void.

Author Bio: Caroline is a huge “Game of Thrones” fan and an avid TV blogger. She’s a fantasy and historical drama television buff and is happy to share some of the series she watches during the long, lonely breaks between GoT seasons. Follow her on Twitter: @CultureCovC.

Game of Thrones Season 6 Predictions – The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Wrong

Game of Thrones season 6 has come to an end, and what an end it was. I thought I would look back over my predictions to see where I was right, and where I missed the mark. Most of my predictions here came from my season finale post, but some are from before the premiere or early on in the season. I’ve assigned a completely subjective percentage based on how close I think I was for each storyline. Let’s take a look at my powers of deduction, shall we?

Meereen – 80%

Before the season started, I predicted Daenerys would be taken to the Dosh Khaleen at Vaes Dothrak, and that a show of her strength would unite the khalasars under her leadership. I had thought it would be Drogon appearing, but it was all Daenerys instead. I had also assumed Tyrion would keep the peace for a time, but eventually conflict would arise; the dragons and the united Dothraki would be instrumental in defeating Dany’s enemies. This all played out a bit differently than I thought, but the end result was as I expected – Daenerys leaving Daario to keep the peace in Meereen and finally sailing for Westeros.

The Riverlands – 50%

I had thought there would be a Red Wedding type incident at the Twins, but it didn’t quite play out that way. I did guess that Arya might kill Walder Frey, so I’ll count myself half right.

Dorne – 100%

Varys did indeed meet with Ellaria and Olenna, and the Dornish and Tyrell ships in Dany’s fleet mean they are backing her to overthrow Cersei.

King’s Landing – 90%

Cersei destroyed the Sept with wildfire, as expected. I thought it might spread out of control, but luckily for the people of King’s Landing, that hasn’t happened…yet. Unluckily, I was correct in thinking many prominent players (Margaery, Loras, Mace, Kevan, Pycelle, Tommen, Lancel, and the High Sparrow) would perish.

The North – 90%

Jon Snow came back from the dead, as I (and most of the fandom) predicted, and Melisandre did the deed. He left the Night’s Watch, defeated Ramsay, and took back Winterfell (but sadly not able to save Rickon). Sansa escaped and reunited with Jon, but she didn’t just order Ramsay’s execution – she carried it out (in spectacularly gruesome fashion).

Davos has become a key advisor for Jon and was instrumental in helping garner support for the Starks. He did confront Melisandre about Shireen, and Jon elected to send her away rather than execute her. Sansa apologizes to Jon for the deceit regarding Littlefinger and the Vale army, and Littlefinger admits he wants to marry Sansa (although I definitely did not foresee him admitting he wants the Iron Throne, and Sansa didn’t have him killed – yet). She is the Lady of Winterfell and Jon is King in the North, as expected.

Beyond the Wall – 75%

Bran did find out the true nature of the Others, and he was forced to escape the cave. I didn’t predict all of the deaths at the cave, or that Bran and Meera would encounter Benjen, but once they did I correctly guessed Benjen would lead Bran and Meera back toward Castle Black (the weirwood where Bran has his last vision seems to be the same one where Jon took his Night’s Watch vow). Bran finally saw the entire sequence at the Tower of Joy, and discovered the truth of Jon’s birth (Jon remains in the dark for now). The Wall is still standing, unlike my prediction that it might fall. I did think it was probably a bit too early – count on it for season 7 though.

Average – 80%

Apparently all of my reading and researching paid off; 80% isn’t too shabby. Let’s see if I can get that close (or better) next season!

 

Game of Thrones Episode 10 Play by Play (Spoilers of Epic Proportions)

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Cersei is staring out across King’s Landing toward the sept, as everyone gets ready for the trial. The High Sparrow even dons his formal potato sack for the event (still no shoes though). The Sept opens and people stream in to watch the spectacle. The Faith Militant retrieve Loras; looks like he’ll be getting a haircut and a shave (long overdue). The septons come in and take their seats.

Tommen looks unhappy as he is informed the trial will be starting soon. Cersei looks determined as she puts on all her bling. Grand Maester Pycelle gets dressed after spending time with a whore, and as he leaves the room he is stopped by a “little bird” who whispers something in his ear. Meanwhile, the music for this opening sequence is absolutely stunning.

Back in the Sept, Loras is brought before the septons. Loras confesses his sins and states he wants to devote his life to the Seven. He renounces his name and titles, and the Faith Militant carve the star in his forehead (which looks extremely painful, yikes).

Tommen gets up to go the trial, but Zombie Mountain stops him. Cersei is still in her room, so something is about to go down. Margaery is upset about the mutilation of Loras, but the High Sparrow tells her he will be free to go once Cersei’s trial is concluded. Lancel tells the High Sparrow she hasn’t left the Red Keep, so he is ordered to go get her.

Lancel sees a “little bird” running and decides to follow. Grand Maester Pycelle is led to Qyburn, and is promptly stabbed to death by more little birds. Lancel continues following the little bird down some dark tunnels and is stabbed in the side (those little birds are a stabby bunch). Lancel looks around and sees a room full of wildfire.

Margaery is anxious and tells the High Sparrow something is wrong (no kidding). She says that there is a reason Cersei and Tommen are absent, and that they all need to leave. Meanwhile, Lancel pulls himself toward the puddles of wildfire, where candles are burning down to ignite it. I don’t like Lancel but you have to give him credit for trying to stop the impending disaster. As Margaery desperately tries to get out of the Sept – and is stopped by the Faith Militant – Lancel tries to blow out the candle, to no avail. The Sept explodes into a green inferno, while Cersei looks on, smiling and drinking her wine.

Cersei pays a visit to Septa Unella, who is strapped to a table. Cersei pours wine on her face, telling her to confess. But it is Cersei who does the confessing, telling Unella all of her crimes including the recent sparrow barbecue. Cersei reminds Unella that her face would be the last thing she saw before she died. Unella says she is ready to meet the gods. Cersei tells her too bad, she gets to be tortured by Zombie Mountain for a nice long while first. Unella screams as Cersei walks out, chanting “shame.”

Tommen stares down at the destruction, looking devastated. He removes his crown and leaps from the window to his death. Cersei is now responsible for the death of her last child. Please let Jaime take her out for this. She killed a ton of innocent people, didn’t protect her son, and is damn lucky she didn’t destroy the entire city with her stunt. Jaime is going to be pissed.

Over at the Twins, Walder Frey is toasting their success in taking back Riverrun (thanks to Jaime – the Freys were pretty much useless). Jaime and Bronn don’t look too thrilled to be there. Bronn points out the girls eyeing Jaime, and he says they aren’t his type. “Not blond enough?” asks Bronn, and I wonder if he means Cersei or Brienne. Probably both.

Walder comes over and brags about Edmure being back in a cell, the Blackfish being dead, and Riverrun belonging to him. Jaime sarcastically calls him a great conqueror. Walder brushes off the insult and says they are both kingslayers and that people fear them. Jaime retorts that people don’t fear the Freys, they fear the Lannisters, and if the Lannisters have to bail out the Freys every time they lose control over the Riverlands, why do they need them?

Back in King’s Landing, Cersei looks at her dead son – she doesn’t look the least bit sad, surprised, or sorry (oh how I hate her). Qyburn asks about a funeral, and she tells her to burn him. She wants his ashes buried where the Sept used to be, so he can be with his siblings and grandfather (how sweet).

It looks like Sam and Gilly finally made it to Oldtown, and it is gorgeous (took them long enough; they should have borrowed Littlefinger’s jetpack). Sam reports to the Citadel, and the maester at the front desk questions him about why he is there. Apparently news travels slowly, as he thinks Jeor Mormont is still Lord Commander and doesn’t know Maester Aemon is dead. He tells Sam he can wait in the library while he fetches the Archmaester to talk to him, but Gilly and her son aren’t permitted to go any further. Sam walks into the biggest, most beautiful library he’s ever seen, and he will probably never want to leave (I know I wouldn’t!).

A white raven flies toward Winterfell (winter is coming no longer – it’s finally here). Jon talks to Melisandre about growing up as a bastard, and she reminds him he still had it better than most people. Davos walks in and tosses her the burnt stag he carved for Shireen. He angrily demands that she tell Jon what she did, and she admits she burned Shireen because they were desperate – they needed the Lord’s help.

Davos gets emotional as he talks about his love for Shireen, and how her death accomplished nothing as Stannis failed; they all died anyway. Melisandre admits she was wrong, and Davos asks permission to execute her. Melisandre says she has been ready to die for many years (hundreds probably), but that the Lord isn’t done with her – they still have the great war to fight against the White Walkers. Jon decides to banish her to the south. Davos tells her if she ever returns, he will execute her himself.

Jon and Sansa discuss room assignments, and she tells him he should take their father’s old room. He replies he’s not a Stark, but Sansa says he is to her. Jon responds that she is the Lady of Winterfell, and she is the reason they won the battle. She apologizes for not telling him that she wrote to Littlefinger for help. Jon accepts her apology but says they need to trust each other. Sansa then states that a white raven arrived, announcing winter has come. Jon smiles, saying their father always promised it would.

Down in Dorne (unfortunately – I was hoping we wouldn’t come back here), Olenna is meeting with Ellaria and the Sand Snakes. At least Olenna makes the scene bearable by insulting the Sand Snakes and making them all shut up. Ellaria says the Lannisters have declared war on Dorne and the Tyrells, and they must become allies to survive. Olenna responds that her house is destroyed, so she isn’t after survival. Ellaria tells her she chose the wrong words – she is offering vengeance, justice…”fire and blood” finishes Varys as he steps out of the shadows (okay, so Dorne wasn’t quite as awful this time).

In Meereen, Daenerys meets with Daario to break things off. They are preparing to sail to Westeros, but Daario will stay behind to keep the peace. Daenerys tells him she must make alliances and possibly marry again. Daario says he doesn’t care – he loves her and just wants to be with her. She tells him she can’t bring him, and he resigns himself to his fate. Daario tells her he pities the lords of Westeros – they have no idea what’s coming.

Tyrion attempts to console Daenerys, but she doesn’t seem too brokenhearted. Tyrion tells her that self sacrifice makes for a good ruler. He says everything she’s ever wanted is hers for the taking and asks if she is afraid. He sees that she is, and says that’s good – the “great game is terrifying.” Daenerys admits what really scares her is letting go of someone she thought she loved, and feeling nothing. Tyrion confesses he has always been a cynic, but he finally believes in something – her. Daenerys replies she had something made for him, then names him Hand of the Queen as she pins on his new badge of office.

Back at the Twins, Walder is having dinner as a girl waits on him. He wonders where his “moron” sons are – they should have been back by now. The girl tells him they are here, and points to the pie in front of him. Walder lifts the crust to see the tip of a finger (Frey pie FTW!). He looks panicked as the girl removes her face and reveals herself as Arya Stark. Arya tells him the last thing he’ll see as he dies is a Stark smiling down at him, then slits his throat. Well, there’s another name crossed off the list.

In the Winterfell godswood, Littlefinger (looking so much like a creepy pedophile) walks up to Sansa and apologizes if he has interrupted her prayers. Sansa replies she is done with that, and all of her stupid girlish hopes. She asks what he wants, and he admits he wants the Iron Throne…with Sansa at his side. She replies it’s a pretty picture and walks away. Littlefinger stops her by saying he has declared for House Stark; Sansa replies he always serves himself. He responds that she is the future of House Stark, and that the North should rally behind the trueborn daughter, not the motherless bastard (quit trying to pit Jon and Sansa against each other! Sansa, please don’t fall for this manipulation).

Beyond the Wall, Benjen tells Meera and Bran that he must leave them. They are close to the Wall, and he can’t cross because the magic in the Wall keeps the dead from passing through. Benjen tells them he will fight for the living as long as he can (too bad he didn’t leave them the horse or any provisions – I guess poor Meera will have to drag Bran the rest of the way?).

Bran pulls himself to the weirwood, declaring that he is the Three-Eyed Raven and he has to be ready. He goes back to his vision at the Tower of Joy and follows his father into the tower (and I’m bursting with excitement!). Ned walks in to see his sister Lyanna lying in bed, covered in blood. Lyanna tells Ned she doesn’t want to die; he says she won’t and asks for water or a maester. Lyanna ignores this and pulls him closer, whispering to him. She says Robert will kill him if he finds out, and he has to protect him. “Promise me Ned” (and all the book readers rejoice!). A woman hands Ned a baby, and as the camera zooms in on the baby’s face, the scene cuts to Jon. I say R+L=J confirmed.

Jon and Sansa sit in front of an assembly of Northmen. They are arguing amongst themselves, and Jon attempts to keep the peace. Some of the men say the battle is over and want to go home. Jon says the true enemy is coming and bringing the storm. Lyanna Mormont stands up and calls out all of the Northern lords who didn’t come to the Starks aid. She says she doesn’t care if Jon is a bastard, he is her king and the King in the North.

Lord Manderly stands and admits Lyanna Mormont is right, and that he and the other lords were wrong not to support Jon. Lord Glover stands and declares his support as well. The other men rise and chant “the King in the North!” Sansa smiles, but then looks at Littlefinger. The look on his face causes her smile to fade, and I assume he is going to cause more problems for Jon and Sansa.

Jaime returns to King’s Landing, where the smoke still rises from the destroyed Sept. He arrives at the Red Keep in time to see Cersei walking to the Iron Throne. She climbs up to it and is crowned by Qyburn, who proclaims her Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Jaime looks on, disturbed, as she sits the throne; Cersei looks defiantly back at him. Something tells me the twincest is over.

Yara and Theon are setting sail from Meereen with their ships, which are joined by the former slaver ships (now sporting Targaryen banners). The dragons fly overheard, as Daenerys and Tyrion share an expectant look (with Varys in the background? How on earth did he get back so fast? He must have traded Littlefinger’s jet pack for a teleporter). Daenerys smiles, eagerly anticipating her return home.

Wow. Just, wow. I was blown away by how epic this finale turned out to be. It will be so hard waiting for next season…

What did you think – was The Winds of Winter a fitting end to season six?

Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale – The Winds of Winter Predictions (Spoilery Speculation)

Believe it or not, tomorrow is the season finale of Game of Thrones. It seems to take forever for the season to start, and then those 10 weeks fly by. It will be even worse with a shorter season 7 and 8, but I’ll take what I can get.

Below are my predictions for The Winds of Winter. I used several sources to formulate my theories including filming information, previews, rumors, foreshadowing in previous episodes, and music from the recently released season 6 soundtrack (which is amazing by the way; you can download it on iTunes or order on Amazon).  Let’s see how accurate I am after it airs:

Meereen – Daenerys will tie up loose ends and make plans to return to Westeros. She will put a provisional government in place (Missandei? Grey Worm?) before she leaves, and she may leave Daario behind to help keep the peace. The final shot of Daenerys will be her sailing west with Yara and Theon (there is a track called The Winds of Winter which seems to be a mash up of Targaryen and Greyjoy music – possibly the final scene of the episode?)

The Riverlands – Jaime and Bronn travel to the Twins for some kind of Frey celebration (toasting the fall of Riverrun? Another wedding perhaps?). It’s possible that Lord Manderly will be there (or someone filling that role) and will give a rousing speech before turning on his host. The Brotherhood Without Banners, or maybe even Arya, could join in the slaughter in sort of a Red Wedding 2.0. Jaime will surely survive, but Bronn’s fate is up in the air.

Dorne? – Varys will meet with Ellaria and Olenna, I’m guessing in Dorne, but it may be the Reach instead. He will convince them to back Daenerys to help throw the Lannisters out of power. That may not be necessary however…

King’s Landing – Qyburn will have his little birds kill Pycelle and possibly Kevan to give Cersei more influence over her son. The High Sparrow will convene the trial of Cersei and Loras. While the sept fills up with people coming to witness the spectacle, Cersei will order men to ignite the hidden caches of wildfile, destroying the sept and killing several key characters – the High Sparrow for certain, and probably Lancel, Loras, and Margaery. Tommen will die indirectly, and as an unfortunate consequence of Cersei’s actions.

The North – Jon and Sansa will talk about her keeping secrets from him, and she will apologize for withholding the information about the Vale army. Littlefinger will tell Sansa he loves her and wants to marry her.  I’m not sure she will give him an answer yet, but if she learns the extent of his betrayal of her family, he may not be around much longer. Davos will confront Melisandre about the burning of Shireen, and he will ask Jon what her punishment should be. Jon won’t have the heart to execute the woman who brought him back to life, so perhaps she will be sent away instead. Sansa will be the new Lady of Winterfell, while Jon will be proclaimed King in the North.

Beyond the Wall – Bran, Meera, and Benjen will make their way toward Castle Black. Bran will have another vision finishing the sequence at the Tower of Joy. He will see his father find Lyanna in a “bed of blood,” dying after having given birth to a baby boy (there is a track called The Tower that will fit this scene perfectly). We probably won’t get the full reveal that it’s Jon, or that Rhaegar is the father, until next season. We will see the White Walkers again, and there is a slight possibility that the Wall will come down. It may be too early for that to happen, but the groundwork has definitely been laid for the possibility (see my previous post about that here).

I’m both excited and sad for Sunday to get here. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us on what’s sure to be an epic season finale! What are your predictions?

Will Arya Stark Survive to the End? (Spoilers and Speculation)

Arya Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire

In A Dance with Dragons, we last see Arya after she has made her first kill for the Faceless Men. She is given an acolyte’s robe and assigned as an apprentice to a mummer’s troupe led by Izembaro. In a sample chapter from The Winds of Winter – entitled Mercy – Arya encounters Raff the Sweetling while she is performing with the troupe. Raff is one of Gregor Clegane’s men who captured Arya and her friends in the Riverlands, killing Lommy Greenhands in the process. Arya avenges him, and in doing so she crosses another name off her list.

I think this event will lead to repercussions for Arya, as she wasn’t assigned to kill Raff and did it instead of her own volition. This proves she hasn’t truly become “No One,” and I don’t think she ever will. I’m not sure if Arya will leave the Faceless Men and escape back to Westeros, or if she will be sent to Westeros on an assignment and then decide to leave. Either way, there is still too much Arya Stark in her to ever completely give up her identity.

It’s likely she will continue to cross names off of her list, although there are few left. I could see her being responsible for killing Walder Frey and possibly Ilyn Payne, who are both in the Riverlands. I also believe she will encounter her undead mother, Lady Stoneheart, and kill her out of mercy.

Although George R. R. Martin’s original outline for his novels has Arya surviving to the end, there are hints in the novels that she will die. Her father tells her, “You have a wildness in you, child. The ‘Wolf Blood’, my father used to call it. Lyanna had a touch of it, and my brother Brandon more than a touch. It brought them both to an early grave.” Ned also says, “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives” – while her siblings are scattered like she is, they have maintained their identities and are emotionally close to others. Arya is very much alone in a physical and spiritual sense.

While in disguise at Harrenhal, Arya encounters Elmar Frey – the boy to whom Catelyn promised Arya when she made her pact with Walder Frey (of which Arya is unaware). Elmar is upset that his betrothal to his “princess” has been called off, and after insulting Arya, she tells him “I hope your princess dies.” However, the biggest hint at Arya’s death is Jon Snow’s comment to her that “when the spring thaw comes, they will find your body with a needle still locked tight between your frozen fingers.” Should she die, I believe she will warg into Nymeria and live out her second life as her direwolf.

Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

Maisie-Williams-as-Arya-Stark-000221236

As of episode 8 (No One), Arya has survived the Waif’s attempt on her life and reclaimed her identity as Arya Stark. She tells Jaqen that she is going home. I’m not sure if we will see Arya in the season finale, but I think her story will play out similarly to the books.

It’s possible that she may be in disguise at the Frey celebration on Sunday. There is reason to suspect there will be a bad end for the Freys (possibly another Red Wedding type of scenario), so Arya could have a hand in what occurs. I think she could also potentially meet up with Sandor and the Brotherhood Without Banners once again. They are in the Riverlands, heading north, and if she goes with them hopefully she will reunite with Jon and Sansa. I still feel that she is destined to die, but the show may decide to take her character in an entirely different direction.

What do you think her fate will be?

 

Game of Thrones Episode 9 Play by Play (a Storm of Spoilers)

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The siege of Meereen is still going strong, as Daenerys watches from atop the great pyramid. Tyrion desperately tries to convince Dany that everything had been going really well until now. She looks like she isn’t buying it at all, but when Tyrion tells her they are being attacked because the masters can’t allow a free city to succeed, she relents.

Dany tells Tyrion of her plan to annihilate the masters, their forces, and their cities. Tyrion counters this by saying her father, the Mad King, had meant to burn King’s Landing to the ground before Jaime killed him (yet another reference to wildfire/the Mad King/burning King’s Landing…foreshadowing anyone?). He reminds her that she would be killing the innocent along with the guilty and suggests an alternative approach.

Dany and company meet with the masters to discuss terms of surrender, and the masters give them a pretty terrible option that involves handing over the former slaves and killing the dragons (why do I feel like these guys are going to get roasted?). Dany tells the masters they are there to discuss the masters’ surrender, not hers. Drogon arrives – looking intimidating as hell – and Dany climbs on. They fly over the city – observing the destruction – as Viserion and Rhaegal break out of the pyramid to join them (reunited and it feels so good….).

We cut to the Sons of the Harpy murdering the citizens of Meereen, but luckily the Dothraki horde comes to the rescue (even with their masks on you can tell the Harpies are thinking “oh crap”). Dany takes her three dragons out over the enemy fleet, which proceed to rain fire and blood on one of the ships.

Grey Worm talks to the guards protecting the masters, telling them they can stay and die for people who don’t care about them, or they can go home. Wisely, they choose the latter. Tyrion thanks the masters for the ships but reminds them they violated the pact they made with him, and one of them must die for that crime. Two of the masters are quick to throw the third one under the bus, so of course Grey Worm quickly dispatches them. The third is allowed to leave and let the other masters know what happened, and the fate that awaits them should they try to retaliate.

Over in the North, Jon, Sansa, and company parley with Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay is predictably obnoxious, and offers them terms they will never accept. Jon offers to settle things one on one, but Ramsay is smart enough to know that he would never win that fight. The Starks are vastly outnumbered and sure to lose the battle. Jon taunts him by asking if his men will want to fight for him once they find out he wouldn’t do the same.

Ramsay counters by asking if they are willing to let their brother Rickon die. Sansa asks for proof that they have him, and Ramsay produces Shaggydog’s head (shouldn’t that thing have rotted by now?). Sansa tells Ramsay he will die tomorrow and rides away. Ramsay takes one last chance to be awful by telling the rest of them that his dogs are anxious to meet them, and that he hasn’t fed them in seven days.
Jon, Davos, and Tormund discuss battle strategy while Sansa looks on. When the others leave, Sansa derides Jon for not asking her advice, since she knows Ramsay better than any of them. She tells him that Ramsay is cruel, that he lays traps, and that he plays with people. Jon asks what they should do to get Rickon back, and Sansa admits they will never get him back – Rickon is too much of a threat to Ramsay’s rule.

Sansa goes on to say that Ramsay will try to goad him into making a mistake. She says they should have waited until they had more men, to which Jon responds they are lucky to have as many as they do (not sure why she won’t tell him about the Vale soldiers she asked Littlefinger to bring, unless she isn’t sure they will come). Before she leaves, Sansa tells Jon she won’t be taken by Ramsay alive. Jon promises to protect her, but she says no one can protect anyone.

Tormund and Davos talk about the upcoming battle, and the talk turns to Stannis. Davos admits that Stannis wasn’t defeated by the Boltons, but by himself. Tormund says they both believed in kings who failed – Stannis and Mance – and Davos replies that maybe their mistake was believing in kings. Tormund replies that Jon Snow is not a king (nice trolling there, especially if Jon’s parentage is revealed next week).

Jon visits Melisandre (nice to see her again finally). He asks if she has any advice for him, and she bluntly replies, “Don’t lose.” Jon tells her that if he falls in battle, she shouldn’t bring him back. Melisandre can’t promise not to try – she obeys the Lord of Light, not Jon. She says the Lord gave him to her for a reason, and that he has some purpose to fulfill.

Davos is taking a walk in the snow before the battle, and he comes across Shireen’s pyre. The stag he carved for her is lying in the snow. He picks it up and seems to realize what happened to her. This doesn’t bode well for Melisandre.

Back in Meereen, Theon and Yara have arrived and have sought an audience with Daenerys. Tyrion remembers Theon and reminds him of all of the awful things he did. Yara assures Tyrion that Theon has paid for his crimes, but Tyrion retorts that he’s still alive.

Dany interrupts to discuss the ships they brought and what they want in return. Yara tells her they want her support to take back the Salt Throne from their uncle, Euron. Theon tells Dany that Euron is building ships and plans to bring a fleet to her. She asks why she shouldn’t wait for him and is informed he will force her to marry him, then kill her when he has control of the Seven Kingdoms.

Yara asks that the Iron Islands allow to be independent again, and Dany agrees, as long as they end their culture of raiding and pillaging. Tyrion wonders what will happen if all of the kingdoms start demanding independence, and Dany replies that they are free to ask. She says all of their fathers were evil men who left the world worse than they found it, but they are going to leave it better than they found it.

Outside Winterfell, the Stark and Bolton forces face each other across the battlefield; Jon’s army looks dismayed at the sheer number of Bolton soldiers. There are flayed men burning on crosses, and I’m dying to know who they could be. Ramsay rides out with a bound Rickon trailing behind him (thank goodness he isn’t one of the burning men).

Ramsay threateningly holds up a knife, then cuts Rickon’s bonds. Ramsay tells him to run to Jon, as he readies a bow behind him. Jon panics and leaps onto his horse. Arrows land close to Rickon as he runs (swerve, Rickon, swerve – don’t run in a straight line!), and Jon desperately tries to make it to him. Just before Jon can grab him, an arrow pierces Rickon’s chest, and he falls.

Jon stares Ramsay down and forgets Sansa’s advice, as he foolishly charges. The rest of the Stark cavalry is forced to follow. Arrows rain down around Jon (thankfully he is fully encased in Valyrian plot armor), and his horse is struck. Jon is thrown to the ground. Jon pulls out his sword and readies himself to face the Bolton cavalry that is bearing down on him. Things look bleak, but luckily the Stark horsemen crash into the Boltons just before they reach him.

The fighting ensues, and Ramsay orders his archers to fire on the chaos – hitting friend and foe alike. Davos refuses to do the same with his archers, and decides to lead them into the melee instead. Ramsay send the rest of his soldiers into the fray, and they quickly surround the much smaller Stark army. The Boltons form a circle of shields and spears and proceed to close in.

Wun Wun and the wildlings valiantly try to break through the shields, which continue to tighten around them. Tormund sees the pile of bodies and leads his men in that direction, hoping to climb up and away from the spears. Jon is caught in a press of fleeing men and is knocked to the ground – he gasps for breath as he’s trampled under their feet. Finally he manages to get free, as a horn sounds in the distance. It’s Littlefinger to the rescue, with the Vale army in tow. The mounted forces make quick work of the Boltons, and Sansa smiles to see her plan was a success (with Littlefinger smirking smugly at her side).

Jon climbs over the pile of corpses to see Ramsay surveying the carnage. As Jon takes off after him with Tormund and Wun Wun, Ramsay bolts for the safety of Winterfell. He reaches the castle and secures the gate, saying the Starks don’t have enough men for a siege. Maybe not, but they do have a giant, and Wun Wun quickly breaks through (looking rather unfortunately like a pincushion with the number of arrows that have been shot into him). Ramsay finishes him off with an arrow through the eye, and challenges Jon to one on one combat (oh so now he thinks it’s a good idea. Ha).

As Ramsay fires off arrows, Jon picks up a shield and charges. Jon reaches him and proceeds to give Ramsay a very satisfying beat down. Jon only stops when he sees Sansa arrive – he must be planning to let her decide his fate.

At last, Winterfell belongs to the Starks again. The Bolton banners are torn down, and the Stark banners are raised in their place. Melisandre stands on the ramparts, just as she saw in the flames. Davos looks up at her, his hatred clearly written on his face. If looks could kill, his would have thrown her off the wall to smash onto the courtyard.

Sansa and Jon look at Rickon’s body, and Jon says they will bury him in the crypts, next to their father (perhaps he will discover something meaningful while he’s down there? Pretty please?). Sansa asks Jon where Ramsay is being held. The scene cuts to a bloodied Ramsay tied to a chair. He wakes to see Sansa staring at him through an iron gate. Ramsay taunts her by saying she can’t kill him, that he’s a part of her now. Sansa replies that everything about him and his house will disappear, and we realize Ramsay is locked in the kennel.

Ramsay’s dogs walk out of their open cages, and he is confident they won’t harm their master. Sansa reminds him that he hasn’t fed them in seven days, and they are starving. One of the dogs licks the blood off of Ramsay’s face, then proceeds to take a bite. As they rip into him, we hear him scream. Sansa walks away with a satisfied smile on her face.

Wow – that was amazing, continuing the trend of the epic ninth episode every season. Minor nitpicks include predictability (was anyone actually worried Jon would die?), Sansa continuing to keep secrets, and Littlefinger being the one to save the day. I hate Sansa being obligated to him in any way, especially considering what he wants from her. Hopefully she is smart enough not to fall into a trap. But what a fitting end for Ramsay.

What did you think of The Battle of the Bastards? Can the finale possibly top it?

 

Will the Starks Finally Win? (Spoilers and Speculation)

An epic battle is brewing, and it’s hitting our television screens this Sunday. In case you aren’t hyped enough already, here is an amazing fan-made preview for your viewing pleasure (HBO seriously needs to hire whoever created this):

Episode 9 is titled “The Battle of the Bastards” – which I can’t believe is the actual name – so it appears that the majority of the hour will focus on the clash between the Starks and the Boltons. The outcome is far from certain, but I do think the Starks will win in the end.

How will they pull it off? The Starks are definitely outnumbered and outmatched, so they will need some significant help (and luck) to be victorious. We already know that Sansa has written to Littlefinger for aid, so presumably he will come to her rescue. Whether he will arrive in time, or what he will demand in return, is anybody’s guess.

I think Jon will try to settle the score by single combat – Jon versus Ramsay. Ramsay will refuse, realizing they have the larger army and that the odds are in their favor. Ramsay also has Rickon, so perhaps he will try to use him to convince the Stark forces to surrender. Of course – Ramsay being Ramsay – it’s equally likely he will torture or kill Rickon, just to spite them.

Watchers on the Wall also reported some casting news last year that hasn’t yet come into play. One of the roles being cast for this season was “Fletcher…a fat nobleman in his 60’s. He has distinctive rugged features, a Northern accent, and a distinguished air. He has a stirring speech during which he unexpectedly shifts political allegiances.” Most people speculated “Fletcher” was just a code name for Wyman Manderly. The Manderlys have been mentioned several times this season as potential allies for the Starks. I expect Lord Manderly to appear on Sunday, and to declare his allegiance to Jon and Sansa.

Unfortunately I don’t think the Umbers and Karstarks will follow suit – they will fight on Ramsay’s side, but they will likely pay the price for their betrayal of the Starks. The Vale soldiers will probably arrive after the battle starts, and be instrumental in winning the battle. I hope Sansa is just using Littlefinger to get the additional forces they desperately need, and that she won’t let him off the hook for what he did to her. Ramsay will probably be captured rather than killed (at least not right away). Jon and Sansa will execute him for his crimes after the fight is over – hopefully it won’t be quick and painless.

Good will triumph over evil this time, and it’s long overdue in my opinion. It won’t come easily, and many will die before the end. I do believe Sansa and Jon will see Rickon die, which will be another terrible loss for two people who have already suffered greatly.

What are your predictions for Bastardbowl?

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