Warning: Season 8 spoilers and possibly spot-on predictions ahead.
Alright, so the first two episodes of the final “Game of Thrones” season were a bit, well, slow, to put it mildly.
But we’re gearing up for an epic battle scene in the third installment, which is scheduled to drop this Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO. The behemoth battle episode — directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who also oversaw “The Battle of the Bastards” and “Hardhome” — will last 80 minutes, and there are rumors that it will include the longest battle sequence in cinematic history. A co-executive producer recently told Entertainment Weekly that the episode “is completely unprecedented and relentless,” and “will blow everybody away.”
Here at the Globe, a simple question about who was most likely to die — or survive — the battle in Episode 3 devolved into a good chunk of the newsroom weighing in ... for several hours.
So here’s a look at which characters diehard fans think we should start to say “adieu” to (you know, “Valar Morghulis” and all that) based on breadcrumbs left by “GoT” writers so far.
Diving right in: In the new season’s second episode, the crypts of Winterfell were identified as the main point of safety for the battle. Gilly and Ser Davos convinced an adorable young girl to help “protect” them in the tombs, and Samwell Tarly and Tyrion Lannister were also advised to hunker down there, out of harm’s way.
Which led some fans to reach a devastating theory: It’s a crypt, which means there are many corpses down there — and the Night King can wield some pretty deathly magic. That doesn’t spell good news for those who were hoping to seek refuge there.
There's one thing I'm absolutely certain of in the year of our lord 2019:— Gabe Duverge (@GabeDuverge) April 22, 2019
The Crypts of Winterfell are not safe.
I really loved the subtle foreshadowing in #GoT last night.— Christopher Stoney (@ChrisStoney) April 22, 2019
No place in Winterfell is safer than the crypts.
All the women and children are in the crypts, because of how safe they are.
Nothing will happen to them down there.
In the crypts.
The safest place in Winterfell.
The crypt at Winterfell going to be real cozy until the Night King raises his arms and all the dead Starks start killing everyone down there— Austin Anfinson (@austin_anfinson) April 22, 2019
As for characters who actually know their way around a sword, fans had theories on who would survive — even if it tugged too much at the heartstrings.
For example, Unsullied fighter Grey Worm just promised to take his beloved Missandei to the beaches of Naath and protect her for the rest of her life — before promptly leaving to lead his troops into battle. The moment was so syrupy sweet for the couple, talking about what the future holds, that it has to be the end for one or both of them.
Meanwhile, Theon Greyjoy journeyed all the way back to Winterfell (like, really quickly, when that journey has taken seasons before, but that’s neither here nor there) to help protect the stronghold where he grew up. Considering dear old Theon previously betrayed the Starks by seizing Winterfell from them, before getting captured, tortured, castrated, and ultimately redeemed, the fact that he wants to fight and defend Bran Stark would be a pretty poetic way to go.
Plus, having just Theon and some of his Iron Islands warriors to protect Bran? As Globe columnist Nestor Ramos puts it: “His job is to guard Bran, alone, at that red tree, while a bunch of dead guys attack him? 5-4 odds.”
I've never been more sure of a death on game of thrones than I am of Theon Greyjoy dying at hands of the night king— The Chef (Steve) (@ChefWaites) April 22, 2019
Speaking of Bran: Does the whole plan to use the Three-Eyed Raven as bait to goad the Night King into getting close enough to kill “reek” (pardon the pun) of failure to anyone else?
Hot take:— Ashley Sparks (@Frazzalicious) April 20, 2019
1/6 The #NightKing is only able to cross the wall because he had put a mark on #BranStark that broke down magical barriers (like it did in the weirwood cave) and due to their mystical connection, Bran must die in order to defeat the Night King. #gameofthrones #theories
Don't know how to say this without spoilers, so forewarning, but my biggest fear with #GameOfThrones right now is that Bran/Sam die, nobody is left to confirm Jon's identity, Dany rejects it as a lie, we get final 3 episodes as a three-way fight between Dany, Jon, and Cersei.— Josh Boeke (@JoshBoeke) April 22, 2019
However, some fans noted that with his eerie seeing ability — and his turbo-powered memory of mankind — Bran actually seems likely to live, since killing him would introduce an “endless night” — which seems unlikely to happen halfway through the season.
Although fans might waffle on Bran, one person that everyone seems to agree will meet his end is Jaime Lannister. The point of proof: Years after Jaime shoved Bran off a windowsill in the very first episode, the two met up again in Sunday night’s episode, and Jaime tried to apologize. Bran, however, shot back with an ominous message.
Even if Jaime survives, though, there’s always the possibility that Bronn — paid by Cersei to kill her “traitorous” brothers — will be waiting in the wings with a crossbow, hoping to get back at the Lannister for not quite following through on his debt.
Brienne of Tarth, who has emerged as a fan favorite over the years, also had a victorious episode last Sunday. Lady Sansa stood behind her, Tormund seems like he just can’t stop obsessing over her, and Jaime crowned her a knight. Brienne seems to have successfully completed her heroic arc — so it seems pretty obvious that the beloved female warrior is doomed as well, according to some fans.
What a sweet moment when Brienne was knighted by Jaime... of course, that only means that there's a very high probability SHE DIES. Those #GameOfThrones bastards like to set you up like that.#DemThrones Arya Dany Sansa Gendry Tormund Theon pic.twitter.com/kTDk0r5iT8— Antonio Chong (@AntonioChong) April 22, 2019
Meanwhile, the death of Ser Jorah Mormont, who has served as Daenerys’s trusted adviser, might have been foreshadowed in the second episode, as young Lyanna Mormont told him after a tense conversation: “I wish you good fortune, cousin.” Sure sounds like a goodbye to us.
In fact, the whole Mormont line might be at risk. That scene may have also indicated that the young Lady of Bear Island (also a fan favorite) is also slated to die, as Jorah pleaded with her to stay in the “safe” crypts, telling her: “Listen to me: You’re the future of our house.” (Don’t worry, crypt theorists, she didn’t agree: “I will not hide underground. I pledged to fight for the north, and I will fight.”)
Speaking of those hiding underground. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that Tyrion survives the crypt (“I think we might live,” he said on the brink of the battle — prompting laughter). One fan made a pretty good argument that Tyrion could later on be killed by his longtime friend, the mercenary Bronn.
And Samwell Tarly, who revealed to Jon Snow that he is actually Aegon Targaryen and has a valid, bloodline claim to the Iron Throne, might now be in Daenerys’s crosshairs. Plus, that whole “Samwell Tarly, slayer of white walkers, lover of ladies” bit — that could be a final farewell to the show’s nerdy brainiac.
So, that brings us to some of the biggest characters.
With Arya and Gendry’s love scene last week (“We’re probably going to die soon; I want to know what it’s like before that happens”), the special weapon she asked him to make her, and with Gendry describing the White Walkers as “death” incarnate, some theorized that the pair could be foreshadowing their deaths.
Here are the thoughts of our (much more eloquent) colleague Nestor Ramos: “I don’t think Arya’s going to die. But if she does it could be because her story arc was essentially a coming of age story. She’s not particularly relevant to the battle, and I could see her doing something heroic and fatal to save Jon or maybe even the Hound — in the process extracting a promise from him to follow through on her pledge to kill Cersei. This would set up the necessary battle between The Hound and his fat brother. Killing Arya at this juncture would also bring back the (literally) cutthroat earlier seasons of the show, when beloved characters were removing each other’s heads more than each other’s clothes.”
As for Sansa, there wasn’t much chatter about the eldest Stark sister kicking the bucket, and with good reason. After the power show she just put on for Dany, it seems unlikely that either one is going anywhere — so that the argument about titles and houses and the North bending the knee can live on for another day. (After all, there are still three more episodes after Sunday’s, and there has to be some kind of conflict for those — Sansa v. Dany seems ripe for the pickin’.)
And several fans are noting that it doesn’t seem likely Jon Snow (sorry — Aegon Targaryen) will die in the battle. One Elle article describes several different ways that the noble-hearted leader could help usher in a satisfying ending for the series, which can’t happen if he dies (again).
And although some fans might be souring on Daenerys after the first two episodes of this season, it seems unlikely that the showrunners would bring the Mother of Dragons through such an elaborate plotline over seven seasons just to off her in a battle with an enemy she didn’t plan to fight in the first place.
Whichever way you’re leaning on each character, remember what Peter Dinklage — who plays Tyrion — said on “60 Minutes” earlier this month about the series finale, which airs May 19: “It ends brilliantly. . . It really makes you question yourself,” he said, adding, “and not in any sort of snarky way — in a beautiful way. . . It’s really good.”
Who do you think will be killed off — or survive — in this Sunday’s episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.