The people behind "Game of Thrones" have only two more chances to set the internet ablaze with wild fan theories, feverish predictions, rampant speculation and a Citadel's worth of memes before the series wraps May 19. As the faithful await Sunday's installment, here's a spoiler-heavy look at what could go down in Westeros.
When we last saw our Westerosi friends, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), bolstered by her new collection of SUV-sized crossbows, seemed to gain the upper hand in the fight for the Iron Throne. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), on the other hand, was in a bind.
Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), one of Dany's most loyal allies, was killed in the battle at Winterfell along with most of the Dothraki army. Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), her trusted handmaiden, was beheaded. Rhaegal, one of the dragons, was shot down from the sky by the salty sadist Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk).
It seems a vengeance-fueled battle — the Last War, as Khaleesi put it — will anchor the fifth and penultimate episode that airs Sunday, an 80-minute chapter that Clarke has encouraged fans to watch on "the biggest TV you can." But the 49-second, dialogue-free trailer is light on specifics — and the clock is ticking, literally:
DANY BREAKS BAD?
"Game of Thrones" has sprinkled the last few episodes with hints that Dany, the Breaker of Chains, could swiftly descend into insanity like her father, the "Mad King" Aerys II Targaryen, and prove herself unfit to rule the Seven Kingdoms.
In the most recent installment, "The Last of the Starks," Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and the crafty political strategist Varys (Conleth Hill) quietly fretted about Dany's mental state. The episode also featured not-so-subtle shots of Dany scowling at the men celebrating Jon Snow (Kit Harrington).
House Targaryen has long been afflicted with madness, partly due to inbreeding. Cersei alluded to this history in the second season episode "A Man Without Honor," telling Tyrion: "Half the Targaryens went mad, didn't they? What's the saying? 'Every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin.'"
Twitter was rife with debate over the possible "Mad Queen" arc, with some viewers saying it's been foreshadowed all along and others arguing it's a last-minute reversal to serve the needs of the plot. "[I]t’s the weakest form of storytelling to try to justify a reversal in plot/sympathy/behavior," New York Times television critic James Poniewozik said in one Twitter thread.
Meanwhile, some fans contended that the "Mad Queen" innuendo was misdirection, and that Dany remains an essentially benevolent (and occasionally ruthless) liberator of Westeros and whose thirst for revenge against Cersei and the ruthless armies of King's Landing is warranted.
"After all, not every Targaryen coin toss ends in badness — as the books tell us, on the other side of that coin is greatness," Vulture commentator Nate Jones wrote.
HERE BE DRAGONS
Let's go back to the dragons. Viserion was killed by the Night King and reanimated as a wight at the end of season seven, and he was (presumably) offed for good amid the Winterfell battle in this season's "The Long Night." Rhaegal, for his part, took a crossbow shot to the neck and tumbled into the watery deep at the end of "The Last of the Starks," joining the long list of "Game of Thrones" characters to meet their maker.
In other words, Drogon is Dany's last surviving dragon — and evidently, the supersized crossbow archers of King's Landing have a good shot of taking him down, too. But a fan theory bubbling up on Reddit this week suggests that Dany's brood of flying lizards is larger than we might believe.
The theory, circulated by Reddit user Justzxcvbnm on Wednesday, hinges on Drogon's disappearance at the end of the fifth season. We'll let Justzxcvbnm take it from here:
This theory says that in the fifth season, when Drogon spends almost a whole season gone, hes actually laying eggs and is in fact a female thats why he was burning fields full of sheep, goats and etc to feed the baby dragons. Hes the only one who disappeared, the only one who drove herds and took them all like roasted sheep.
The trailer for this Sunday's episode contains what might be a subtle clue. Euron, the rakish brute who fired the fatal shot at Rhaegal, seems to be unusually frightened by the sound of a dragon's roar. And since he's already faced down one such creature, it stands to reason there might be more looming on the horizon.
Drogon is not the only resident of Westeros with a possible pregnancy. Cersei, for her part, has repeatedly claimed that she's with child. Euron believes the baby is his, but the real dad — assuming duplicitous Cersei is actually pregnant! — is most likely her brother, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
How will all this paternity drama resolve when Jaime arrives in the capital?
Stay tuned for more coverage of the final two episodes of "Game of Thrones." In the meantime, we'll leave you with the wise words of Bran Stark: “I’m going to go now.”