The end is nigh, dear readers: "Game of Thrones" comes to a close Sunday. But the fan theories, predictions, speculation and army of memes that have surrounded the epic series show no signs of slowing down. As the faithful (and the haters) await the series finale, here's a spoiler-heavy look at what could go down in Westeros.
BURNT TO A CRISP
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) incinerated King's Landing in "The Bells" — a fiery war crime that divided viewers and inspired enough think pieces to fill the Citadel.
The trailer for the final episode hints at the dreary, funereal aftermath. We see grim-faced Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and blood-stained Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) plodding through the ash-covered ruins of King's Landing. We see Dany, flanked by the Unsullied, gazing out over the heaps of wreckage. But the 37-second trailer is otherwise light on clues, although some viewers expect the newly-minted Mad Queen will face a reckoning ...
ARYA THE AVENGER
Arya endured and survived the horrors of "The Bells" — and now, many theorists believe, she will exact lethal punishment on the artist formerly known as the Breaker of Chains. But how exactly will the most nimble and cunning assassin on "Game of Thrones" take vengeance?
Reddit user hoowuurd predicted that Arya, the master of face-swapping, will disguise herself as stoic warrior Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) to kill Dany, "and set it up to look as if either Grey Worm killed Dany and then himself, or just flee the scene and leave it a mystery to the realm."
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Twitter lit up with speculation that Arya has been fated to assassinate Dany all along. You may recall the Red Priestess, Melisandre (Carice van Houten), prophesied that Arya would one day reveal her "darkness" to a person with green eyes. That's why some guessed Arya would fatally stab emerald-eyed Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) in "The Bells." But what if her preordained target is actually the Targaryen queen?
"The Bells" may have foreshadowed Arya's pivotal role in the finale. The soot-covered and bloody white horse she encountered in the final minutes of the episode struck some viewers as a nod to the Bible verse Revelation 6:8 —
Then I saw a pale green horse. Its rider was named Death, and Death's Kingdom followed close behind. They were given power over one fourth of the earth, and they could kill its people with swords, famines, diseases, and wild animals.
In other words, per the online chatter: Arya Stark is death incarnate — and she is coming for the Mad Queen.
TYRION ... THE TARGARYEN?
What would a "Game of Thrones" finale be without a big twist involving a key character's long-buried lineage? Reddit user mapps84 speculated that Tyrion could be the byproduct of a tryst between Dany's father, the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen, and Tyrion's mother, Joanna Lannister.
The evidence, according to mapps84? "In the books [Tyrion] dreams of dragons as a young boy. Tywin [his father] exclaims 'You are no son of mine.' ... I've come to this conclusion from the moments Bran has spent with Tyrion and the looks Bran has given him."
The proponents of the Tyrion Targaryen theory also point to a scene from "Home," the second episode of the sixth season. In the clip below, Tyrion visits two of Dany's dragon children, Rhaegal and Viserion, and soothes them with the sound of his voice. He even manages to touch one of the flying lizards without getting torched — a privilege usually reserved for Targaryens.
If the theory holds, who would have a more compelling claim to the Iron Throne: The Dragon Queen or her Hand? (That's assuming Tyrion even makes it through the final episode. Let's not forget Dany's ominous threat to her loyal adviser: “The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me.”)
Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) — the Spider, the Eunuch, the great gossip meister of Westeros and beyond — was reduced to ash during his fateful encounter with Drogon in "The Bells." But by the time Dany discovered his duplicity, the damage may have already been done.
He had apparently scratched out letters — perhaps to leaders across the Seven Kingdoms — with the breaking news about the true birthright of Jon Snow (Kit Harington). It's possible, many viewers believe, that Varys' missives, including one he can be seen burning, could jeopardize and potentially even destroy Dany's claim to the throne, setting up one final violent confrontation.
We'll have more coverage after the finale episode of "Game of Thrones," so stay tuned.