Warning: This post is all about the spoilers, so stop reading now if you haven’t seen the Battle of Winterfell.
“The Long Night” may be over, but Game of Thrones is just getting started. The first half of this six-episode final season has pitted Westeros’s human citizens against the invading White Walkers and their leader, the Night King. With that threat now gone with the (winter) wind thanks to Arya’s timely intervention, the survivors can turn their attention towards an even deadlier foe: Cersei Lannister, current occupant of the Iron Throne. Based on the preview for next week, Daenerys believes that reclaiming the crown for House Targaryen will be an easy task. But we know it’s not gonna be that simple, both because Cersei is such a formidable adversary and that all the remaining episodes are all feature-length — implying that plenty of obstacles and complications lie ahead before a winner is declared. Maybe one of these burning questions will be answered along the way as well.
What’s Bran got to do with it?
Kudos to Bran for painting a giant target on his back and waiting in the Godswood for the Night King to find him. But we apparently aren’t alone in thinking that he could have used his psychic powers to be more involved in the actual battle instead of merely observing the action via a literal bird’s-eye view.
I do not feel like doing anything. I am just gonna bran the whole day.#BranStark— Chanda Mwenechanya (@kafundisha) April 29, 2019
On the other hand, Bran’s relative inactivity did allow Theon to complete his journey from zero to hero and put Arya in the position to pull off the finishing move that has launched a thousand memes. By staying alive, he’s also successfully preserved Westeros’s collective memory for future generations; in fact, some have suggested that he was playing videographer during the Battle of Winterfell, using his ravens to “record” images of the fight. Apart from making additional home movies, though, it’s an open question as to what larger purpose Bran serves now that the Night King has failed in his mission to record over the Three-Eyed Raven’s mind. After all, it’s not like Cersei is going to be lured out of King’s Landing by the prospect of killing the kid who Jaime pushed out of a window all those years ago.
One internet theory is that Bran’s future path will take him down a darker direction. Playing off the longtime assumption that Bran and the Night King are linked, this new prediction posits that Bran’s scars from his first encounter with his undead nemesis in Season 6 already turned him evil. And now that the Night King’s body is gone, he’ll only assert more control over the Three-Eyed Raven’s mind as the company moves south to King’s Landing. “They hyped up The Night King for seasons upon seasons, years upon years and this is how he goes out?” insists the Reddit user behind this theory. “There's just no way. I think there's more going on than what meets the eye.” Or, you know, three of them.
Lowkey I think bran stark is evil. What if the night king was his competition. Or he becomes the next one. That ending was a bit too easy #GamesOfThrones— Abhay Leal (@AbhayLeal) April 29, 2019
I'm just gonna say it. BRAN STARK IS EVIL. Just yall wait .— sals (@KaliSals) April 29, 2019
What’s the deal with that dagger?
It’s like we always say: The dagger that goes around, comes around. Arya had a single weapon to take on the Night King: a catspaw dagger made of Valyrian Steel. In the end, that was enough, as the Faceless Men-trained assassin used a two-handed move she previously previewed in a skirmish against Brienne to drive the blade home.
If Bran recognized his sister’s weapon of choice, he didn’t show it. But die-hard fans have long memories of the blade’s long journey to the Long Night, which commenced in the second episode of the show’s first season. Way back then, its intended target was none other than Bran himself. At that point, the boy had just survived his forced fall from Winterfell’s tower, and a Lannister-dispatched assassin was sent to make his injuries fatal. But Bran was saved at the last minute by the dynamic duo of his direwolf, Summer (RIP), and his his mother, Catelyn. The identity of the assassin’s employer was never officially revealed in the series—though Littlefinger seems a likely culprit—but the novels implied that Joffrey was behind the failed scheme. That certainly tracks with the kid’s inability to do anything right.
After that near-miss, the catspaw fell into the hands of Rodrik Cassel, followed by Littlefinger, Ned Stark, Littlefinger again and then Bran, who handed it over to Arya when they were reunited at the beginning of Season 7. (It’s worth noting that the blade was old before it entered the show’s continuity: one of the weighty tomes housed in the Maester HQ, The Citadel, had a picture of the catspaw next to a description of Valyrian weaponry.) Now that the blade has tasted royal blood once, it may do so again. You can bet that Arya will have it on hand for the next big target on her Kill List.
That wasn't no regular dagger. The Catspaw was found in one of the books Sam was reading at the Citadel. Arya outchea with the Jordan 1 of Valayrian daggers.. pic.twitter.com/jzsz8ysro2— ☆Lord Petty Baeless☆ (@MeGaMoBux) April 29, 2019
“The little hero always beats the big villain in all the stories.” -Petyr Baelish— Sam (@entity0z) April 29, 2019
From Season 1 Episode 7
don't forget Petyr gave the Catspaw Dagger to bran in season 7, to which he then passed onto arya... he knew damn well what she'd do with it. #GameofThrones #AryaStark
Ohhhh so THATs why bran gave arya catspaw way back in season 7 pic.twitter.com/Lz6gjvaDYL— Nanda (@ehgimanagimana) April 29, 2019
Did Melisandre see Cersei’s killer?
It only took a single look for Melisandre to deduce that big things were in store for Arya during their first encounter way back in Season 3. “Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes — eyes you’ll shut forever,” the Red Woman prophesied at the time. Fast-forward five seasons, and Arya is 2-for-3, ending the lives of Walder Frey (“brown eyes”) and the Night King (“blue eyes”). As for those pesky green eyes, they happen to be in the head of one Cersei Lannister, meaning that Melisandre now seems to be going all-in on Arya being the one who will restore peace to Westeros.
Melisandre to Arya: brown eyes (Walder Frey), blue eyes (The Night Queen), green eyes (Cersei?). Eyes that you'll shut forever. pic.twitter.com/EeqLjUJfPF— maría ramírez (@guaca_maia) April 29, 2019
That’s a significant change of heart for the formerly zealous follower of the Lord of Light’s teachings. Earlier in the series, she saw Jon Snow as the one destined to become the Azor Ahai or The Prince That Was Promised — the fighter who would vanquish the darkness with the power of the Lightbringer blade. As the prophecy goes: “There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”
“The cold breath of darkness” can certainly be taken as a reference to the Long Night, which ended with Arya — rather than Jon, who was busy staring down Viserion at the time — fighting back the darkness with her catspaw taking the place of Lightbringer. In that case, she earns the title of Azor Ahai, Lightbringer or no Lightbringer. But darkness still lurks in the heart of Cersei Lannister, and despite Melisandre’s prediction, there’s no guarantee that Arya will ultimately be the one to close those green eyes.
But Azor Ahai is more than that. She/he has to come from rhaella/aerys’s bloodline, has to be born in salt and smoke and the bleeding star is a vital point. Arya doesn’t have any of these characteristics. https://t.co/eUCS8IkD8y— nie (@beysdany) April 29, 2019
Arya is not Azor Ahai, and therefore the Night King will rise again. Only after they defeated Cersei will they realize this and end the series with the true Azor Ahai creating Light Bringer. Bran was warging the whole time so we don’t know what he was doing yet. #GamefThrones— Jon (@JStrezz) April 29, 2019
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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