We learned a lot from Game Of Thrones’ eighth-season premiere, “Winterfell,” like how overly protective large adult dragon sons are, how you can spruce up any castle with a stylish corpse swirl, and that Bran has no time to waste because he needs to sit around all day waiting for one guy to show up. But the episode raised plenty of questions, too, and in this Mailbag Of Thrones we’re answering yours about empty castles, Melisandre’s return, would-be betrayers, and a Jon and Daenerys show down. And as always, be sure to send any questions that arise during or after this week’s episode to firstname.lastname@example.org.
James asks: At last count, Horn Hill sits lord-less. Could Sam inherit his family’s lands/titles now that the Wall is down and the Night’s Watch is effectively gutted? Alternatively, could Horn Hill be Bronn’s long-promised castle in exchange for sparing the Lannister lads?
Also, between the Hound’s new ax, Arya’s requested toy, and the Winterfell Industrial Complex cranking out dragonglass weapons, there was a definite “equip the party before the boss fight” vibe to the first episode. Could we see Melisandre or some other character introduce other “lost” weapons (Dark Sister, Blackfyre)?
After that exchange between Sam and Daenerys, she’ll probably give him anything he wants to patch things up between them, especially since he saved Jorah. Even if the Night’s Watch does exist at the end of the show (which it probably won’t), there’s an excellent chance she will free Sam of his vows and name him lord of House Tarly. He could even end up becoming warden of the south, a title Jaime Lannister offered to Sam’s father, Randyll. The Tyrells are extinct and someone needs to fill the role.
If Jon (or another Stark) end up king this is even more likely. Sam is a trusted ally and the last living male Tarly. That’s why this is one of the few castles in Westeros we hope Bronn doesn’t end up with, because it means either a) Sam dies or b) Cersei wins and rewards Bronn for killing her brothers.
The night is dark and full of terrors, but we aren’t prepared for either of those scenarios.
As for Melisandre, let’s wait one more question.
John asks: Does Melisandre return? If so does she come alone or with an army of religious zealots? What about Nymeria? I get the feeling we’re going to see some kind of “Battle Of The Five Armies” à la Tolkien—does Nymeria lead one of those armies?
All of those fanatics in Meereen, who Tyrion asked to spread the word of Daenerys to the Lord Of Light’s followers in an effort to keep the peace while she was missing, are still out there and their story is unfinished. Lots of them are also in Volantis, where a red priestess made Tyrion uncomfortable with an intense stare down, and that’s where Melisandre told Varys she was going when she left Dragonstone.
Melisandre said she will return to Westeros to die, and when she comes back she will have an army of her fellow believers to fight the Night King. While Melisandre thinks it might be Jon, they believe the Mother Of Dragons is the Lord Of Light’s chosen one. With the incredible powers we know Melisandre has, an entire corps of red clergy will make for one massive reinforcement for the living, especially if Winterfell falls and the living must flee.
It’s doubtful they will come bearing any lost weapons like Aegon The Conqueror’s lost sword Blackfyre though, since the show has never given those items much attention. A sheer wall of fire will still be pretty cool.
As for Arya’s direwolf Nymeria showing up: My gut says yes, she will, in a huge, heroic moment (though not leading an army, just a small wolf pack). But the part of me who screams “Where the fuck is Ghost?” every episode is less certain.
Jeff asks: I’m struggling with this, but, who do you think has more romantic chemistry: Dany and Jon or Anakin and Padme?
The fact this is a totally fair question says a lot. In some ways Anakin and Padme’s relationship seemed more authentic in Attack Of The Clones than Jon and Daenerys’ has on Game Of Thrones. The series didn’t “show” a lot of the work before they shacked up together, instead they “told” us they were into each other via Davos saying Jon kept eyeing her over. That didn’t feel honest, and that was before Jon bent the knee after spending the whole season explaining why he couldn’t.
But in Jon and Dany’s defense, neither of them has ever mentioned sand, and they could have. Dragonstone has a lot of sand. So rough, so coarse.
Lewis asks: In all of the seasons, someone is scheming against someone and inevitably someone backstabs someone else. With all of our main characters in the same place, who do you think will be this season’s Littlefinger?
Bronn is a sellsword, so even if he does kill Jaime or Tyrion (which would be amazing, but I don’t think will happen), it can’t be that much of a shocker.
I think Euron is going to listen to his niece and realize he picked the losing side, abandoning Cersei in King’s Landing. He already got what he really wants anyway. But picking Euron to backstab someone feels like it violates the spirit of the question.
Of all the people at Winterfell, Varys feels like the best bet. The show already had an intense conversation between him and Daenerys over this exact topic, so it was foreshadowed. He then had serious questions about her being like her father following the burning of the Tarly men. When Varys learns Jon Snow is really Aegon Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne, he could decide Jon is the best bet to unite the Seven Kingdoms and bring peace to the realm. Do I think he will? No, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.
The biggest problem for anyone at Winterfell who plans on betraying someone else is: where can they go? Who would Cersei welcome into her inner circle at this point?
Matt asks: What is Bran’s motivation for telling Jon about his parentage in episode one? If he’s so focused on defeating the Night King, why throw this wrench into things by potentially splitting these allies?
Bran seems to be the only human/Three-Eyed Raven who is completely focused on beating the White Walkers. The fact he told Jon is proof telling him must be important to winning the Great War. Even if it makes things more complicated for the tenuous alliance at Winterfell, Bran obviously knows it is ultimately what is in everyone’s best interests, even if it brings personal pain.
Bran just Doctor Strange’d Jon Snow’s Tony Stark. “There was no other way.”
Zack asks: With Jon/Aegon having the best claim to the throne, and his aunt Daenerys thinking she’s the rightful heir, what are the chances we see a three-way dragon battle royal this season?
Jon would never want the Iron Throne enough to fight Daenerys over it. Even if she were willing to go to war with him he wouldn’t engage.
But we could see a good old fashioned, de facto House Targaryen dragon dance if Daenerys is killed and turned into a wight by the Night King. (Give it to me.) We still wouldn’t get that three-way battle royal you asked about, because she’d then be aligned with the Night King, but Jon versus undead Daenerys in a dragon fight would be amazing.
It would also redefine what a “lover’s quarrel” can be, even if they don’t have the chemistry of Anakin and Padme.