As I write this, there are nine episodes left of the HBO series Game of Thrones (Season 7 Episode 4 just aired). With main characters starting to interact with other main characters in a major way, the third act is upon us and there may be enough information to make some reasonable guesses.
I want to put this out there before leaks and spoilers cross my path and bias my thoughts — because I will read them if I see them. So far, I only know of a tidbit that George Martin spilled about Jon Snow.
*** WARNING: BELOW THIS POINT THE NON-CAUGHT-UP COULD DIVINE SPOILERS ***
We’re basically down to the principle Starks, Lannisters, Targaryen(s), and the Night King — which makes this a lot easier. While there are other players on the board who will still have their impacts, it doesn’t seem like they will take the gold.
First, I don’t think the Night King will win. That’s basically an FU to the readers/viewers that I don’t think even GRRM is willing to risk. Also, since the ending of the books and the series will likely jibe even though the journeys there may be very different, it’s likely that details from the books that don’t make it in the series will turn out to be more red herrings than Chekhov’s gun.
It doesn’t seem like most of the active field characters will survive long enough to sit on the uncomfortable sword chair. Let’s go all BRAN-9000 and try to see where Jaime, Arya, Dany, and Jon will end up.
Jaime – Assuming he survived dropping down the improbably deep lake when Drogon tried to make some Jaime-beque, I think it’s going to be a small reprieve if he stays allied with Cersei. His well of doubts makes him a liability to his sister and more and more of a red shirt. If he flops over to Tyrion’s side, which seems possible but not likely, he could survive but as a vassal, not a ruler. More likely, I think he falls and Ayra takes his face to get close to Cersei.
Arya – Once she finishes her list, I don’t see her as having much of a story point. Sure, she could perhaps marry Gendry and be the Lady of whatever castle he makes for himself, but given her history I think she’ll have to pay her debt to the Many-Faced God. I do think she’ll be the one to off Melisandre and Cersei.
Daenerys – I don’t want Dany to die, but with the dragonrider constantly putting herself in risky places she’s ill-equipped to survive without said dragon, it doesn’t seem likely that she’ll come out unscathed. The unburnt isn’t the unspeared or the unzombified. She’ll likely go down a hero, possibly saving Jon or someone else who seems important to her or him.
Jon – From what GRRM said, Jon has a sort of cloud over him because of his resurrection. I don’t think DnD have to commit to that for story reasons. Even so, because he’s noble and valorous, it seems unlikely he’ll be the rightful final ruler. Because of this, if he survives (more-or-less….a big “if” given his resignation about death), which I think he will, he’ll try to find someplace quiet to live out his days as he’s really tired of fighting and this time he means it.
So, that leaves the administrative players: Cersei, Sansa, and Tyrion.
Cersei – I don’t believe anyone thinks Cersei is going to survive. As I mentioned, I think Arya in a Jaime mask will kill her — that’s if the prophecy was actually true and not a misdirect or mistaken interpretation. Her staying on the Iron Throne is pretty much on a par as the Night King winning the chair. A fandom no-go.
Sansa – I’d be surprised but not stunned if Sansa ended up on top. While she’s learned a lot about politics and intrigue, she still holds onto what it is to be Sansa despite all that’s happened — not a small consideration considering how well Arya and Bran have hung on to who they were. I do think she survives and becomes the Warden of the North. I also wouldn’t be surprised to find her married to Theon (if he survives), if only for convenience to form a union between the houses.
Tyrion – The bastard in his father’s eyes (and rumored possible Targaryen in any case) ends up being the ruler of however many kingdoms survive the war with the Night King. He might even have a dragon in the end, just like he wanted as a child. I suspect he’ll be a fairly decent ruler. It seems unlikely he will wed again…too busy and too scarred, though if he committed to a relationship I wouldn’t mind him and Sansa bonding for the right reasons this time. His hand might be Varys, but even if not, I think their friendship will endure.
And that’s my guess. The series’ motif of ice and fire is still Stark and Targaryen, but instead of Jon and Dany it’s Sansa and Tyrion. In about a year I expect I’ll be shamed by my hubris in positing this, but what the heck. It could instead be some Braavos-funded mercenary we’ve yet to hear of. Being a writer, I know that there are so many ways to play everything out there will be little hope for certainty until several episodes into season 8. But for now, given the still scant resources available even as we’re in the endgame, this is what I’m throwing onto the wall to see if it sticks.