Most Fascinating Questions after Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5: The fifth episode of Game of Thrones‘ eighth and final season was many things. Tense and cinematic? Yup. Full of shots that looked straight out of an action movie? Oh yeah. But the penultimate episode left us with one burning question:
Who will take the Iron Throne now? Spoilers ahead!
There’s no nice way to describe the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. Daenerys Targaryen attacked King’s Landing and set the city ablaze, and she refused to back down even after Cersei’s army surrendered.
Thousands of innocent people were burnt to a crisp by Drogon’s fire, or slaughtered by Daenerys’ Unsullied soldiers and Dothraki riders. It was, in a word, brutal.
Until she stormed King’s Landing, Daenerys looked poised to become the new ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Because she’s the daughter of Aerys Targaryen – otherwise known as The Mad King – she’s always had a claim to queenship.
Over the years, Daenerys has proven she has what it takes to rule: strength, compassion where it counts, and bias for bloodshed when necessary. But she’s also killed without mercy in the past, and she hasn’t always strategized wisely without the guidance of her counsel.
Her behavior on the latest episode threatens to undo all of her past triumphs. Many fans are convinced she took a free-fall when she destroyed King’s Landing, and there’s no way she’ll ever be able to redeem herself. Unless she can persuade the rest of Westeros to bend the knee and recognize her as Queen, there’s a good chance she won’t fulfill her deepest desire to sit on the Iron Throne as her father once did.
That brings us to Jon Snow. He’s the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne, but he’s made his feelings on the matter quite clear.
“I don’t want it, I never have”
He bent the knee to Daenerys before either of them knew his true parentage, and so far he’s remained loyal to her.
But perhaps there’s more at play here, particularly since Jon had his brother-cousin Bran Stark inform his sister-cousins Arya and Sansa of his heritage. Sansa then told Tyrion Lannister, who told Varys, who was subsequently executed. Jon probably didn’t know he’d set off this chain of events, but other people might think it was all a deliberate ploy.
Some fans think Jon will be forced to kill Daenerys, thus ending her reign of terror. He’d take the Iron Throne against his true desires, but for the greater good of his people. That would certainly fulfill the vision Daenerys had back in season 2, in which Dany envisioned
herself walking through the throne room, looking up to see the ceiling torn apart, then approaching an Iron Throne that was covered in snow.
After watching this most recent episode, many believe the snow is actually ash, but what if her vision represented Jon Snow taking the Throne?
If Jon doesn’t seize the Iron Throne, another force from the North could: Sansa. She’s a keen political strategist. And she has no trouble delivering justice when it’s required.
“Thank you for all your many lessons, Lord Baelish. I will never forget them.”
Her childhood spent in King’s Landing under the watchful eyes of Cersei Lannister forced her to grow up quickly, turning her into one of the smartest, most compassionate people in a room. Though her heart has remained with Winterfell and the North, she began Game of Thrones wanting to serve as Queen alongside King Joffrey more than anything.
Perhaps a part of her is still holding onto that dream. We last saw Arya riding on the back of a pale horse, badly wounded and escaping the rubble of King’s Landing. Maybe she’s on her way to kill Daenerys. Or maybe she’s making her way back to Winterfell to warn everyone that Dany has really lost it this time.
Arya has exhibited many characteristics of a strong leader: determination, cunning, and compassion for others.
Some fans think Arya will kill Dany and then put her training at the House of Black and White to good use, ruling Westeros using someone else’s face. Then again, that would contradict Arya’s previous statement to Gendry:
“I’m not a lady. I never have been. That’s not me.”
Consider Bran. As wild as it sounds, he could genuinely take the Iron Throne. He’s technically not even Bran Stark anymore. He’s the Three-Eyed Raven, and he uses his powerful gifts to keep people well-informed and well-prepared. Tyrion Lannister once told Bran he’d make an excellent leader, and Bran seemed to cryptically suggest he had no desire for the Throne.
“I don’t really want anymore.”
A lot of fans are putting their money on Bran because of a remark Varys made about who should oversee Westeros:
“Have you considered the best ruler might be someone who doesn’t want to rule?”
To guide them into a brighter future, people will want someone new and unlike any other ruler they’ve seen before. And who better to teach future generations about history than an entity that can access more information than anyone else in the world?
The final major contender for the Iron Throne is Tyrion Lannister. He’s certainly proven capable in politics. And he remains the Hand of the Queen to Daenerys, even if he’s realizing that she’s in no position to rule.
If Dany dies in the series finale, Tyrion will arguably be the most politically-savvy character left standing. He’s fought in battles. He’s masterminded war strategies. While advising kings and queens, he’s learned that ruling isn’t all about extremes.
Plus, he’s saved King’s Landing before – in the Battle of the Blackwater. That means there’s a good chance he can prevent further drama down the road if he takes the throne.
When it comes right down to it, there’s a distinct possibility that no one will sit on the Iron Throne. Perhaps the sacred seat corrupts anyone who takes it, and the song of ice and fire was meant to end on a hollow note, and with an empty chair.
As we’ve seen before, absolutely anything can happen on this show.
For now, all we can do is wait. The answer will be revealed when the final episode of Game of Thrones airs. Godspeed!
In meantime, let us know what you think, who will take the Iron Throne? At @TheYdraft… Stay tuned..!