Season eight of Game of Thrones is nearly upon us – it starts on April 14 on Sky Atlantic. Here’s a rundown of what to expect as the battle for the Iron Throne comes to a head…
High profile deaths
The headline news is that Daenerys and Jon Snow are preparing to facedown the Night’s King and his undead army of White Walkers, last seen destroying The Wall that had been keeping them at bay. Back in King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister is all set to double-cross Snow and Stormborn by not supporting them in their battle with the zombies, despite her assurances to the contrary. Meanwhile, Arya is still has her kill list to work through (remember that Cersei is her number one target), Sansa has designs on the top job, Gendry is back on the scene and ready to swing his war hammer, the red priestess Melisandre has returned to cast more voodoo spells and Tyrion simply must be up to something. As any self-respecting Game of Thrones fan knows, spectacular death scenes are what the show is founded on and, with time running out and space for only one backside on the Iron Throne, expect many of the above to be bumped off in style.
Game of Thrones fandom is built on theories about what might transpire in the show, and we’ll soon know exactly which predictions were correct and which proved more unlikely than Theon Greyjoy fathering a child. There are the outlandish ones, like my friend’s prediction that the White Walkers will, after taking over Winterfell, bring Ned Stark back to life, to the ever-popular Cleganebowl theory: the enduring belief that the Clegane brothers, The Hound and The Mountain, will have an almighty scrap to settle their deep-seated grudge. The former seems like a long shot, but the fact that The Hound can be spied in his fighting gear during one of the season eight trailers has stoked excitement that the dream of the latter might be on the verge of finally coming true.
Who will be the last woman, man, dragon or White Walker standing? GoT’s greatest debating point and source of theories will surely be sorted out once and for all. At this stage, predicting who will come out on top is akin to betting on the Grand National; picking a winner is nigh on impossible. If anyone is favourite, it has to be the Night’s King, seeing as he’s currently in possession of a zombie dragon, but this is Thrones so a surprise is probably in the offing instead. As far as dark horses go, if I got Sansa in the office sweepstake, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. There’s something about that Stark girl, particularly the way she entrapped and hadLittle Finger dispatched in the last series, that tells me she’s in with more than an outside chance of ending up asthe Queen of the Andals and the First Men.
The unsung heroes
Over the course of seven seasons, writers DB Weiss and David Benioff have maintained a remarkable juggling act, keeping a huge number of narrative balls in the air. This is the season that not only will we find out how the big stuff plays out, but also how the background characters’ story arcs are resolved. Everyone will have their favourites and those they love to hate. I’m particularly keen to see Bronn return for one last job, Podrick Payne, who is back at the side of Brienne of Tarth, survive the horrors of war and for Theon to redeem himself by saving his sister Yara from the clutches of their evil uncle Euron.
Love is in the air
For such a bloody show, season eight of Game of Thrones could have more than a hint of romance about it. Cersei and Jaime’s siblings-with-benefits arrangement may have come to an end as the last season closed, with Jaime leaving King’s Landing for Winterfell to join the fight against the White Walkers, but there’s always Jon Snow bonking his Auntie Daenerys to keep the incest quota up. The scene in which the truth about their bloodlines is revealed to them, possibly by Jon’s best mate Samwell Tarly who worked it out towards the end of season seven, is one to look forward to. Then, there’s also Tormund’s infatuation with Brienne. Could everyone’s favourite ginger Wildling be the man to melt the heart of the toughest knight going? Well, he’s certainly got a better chance of finding love than poor old Jorah Mormont, that other besotted warrior, who over the course of GoT’s entire run has had to endure seeing his one true love Daenerys go off with a lunatic Dothraki, a rakish mercenary and, most recently, one of the Seven Kingdom’s most famous bastards. Is a happy ending too much to ask for this friend-zoned sap? Probably.
Game of Grammar
When Stannis Baratheon died in season five, so Game of Thrones lost its one-and-only stickler for grammar, with this would-be-king and professional misery guts picking up on the incorrect use of ‘less’ rather than ‘fewer on two separate occasions. Perhaps, just as someone will emerge the all-powerful king or queen of Westeros, so another will step forward as heir to Stannis’s grammar pedant crown. It’s very much all to play for.