One of the things the A Song Of Ice And Fire books are most known for is George RR Martin’s clever foreshadowing. Time and time again, something that seems inconsequential ends up being a warning for a massive reveal. It’s not something that happens on the show as much, because a lot of it comes from songs and prophecies.
We have a sinking feeling we saw one of those moments on Game Of Thrones tonight, and it’s not good news for some of your favourite characters. And that includes one of the most significant characters on the show.
Because there’s no getting away from it, people are going to die in the next episode of Game Of Thrones. This is the final season, and the third episode of season eight will involve the show’s biggest ever battle.
We have more significant characters in one location than ever before, and that means we’re going to see some of them get pulled apart by White Walkers, and their armies of wights. We think we know who that’s going to be.
Cut to Podrick singing a fairly morbid song:
High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts.
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most.
The ones who’d been gone for so very long
She couldn’t remember their names
They spun her around on the damp cold stone
Spun away all her sorrow and pain
And she never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave. (x5)
Yeah, so that’s about death, obviously – but whose?
The song’s so significant we heard it in the episode twice; once in the episode itself, and once over the end credits, sung by Florence & The Machine. It makes the whole thing feel like we’ve just watched a Lord Of The Rings movie. The showrunners really want you to listen to those lyrics.
But forget the lyrics for a moment, we’d like to focus on the montage of characters that play out while Podrick is singing. We see Gilly, Sam and Little Sam, Theon and Sansa, Gendry and Arya, Grey Worm and Missandei, and Jorah. Some are settling down for sleep, some are preparing for battle.
There’s nothing really connecting these disparate characters. Some are in relationships, some aren’t. Jorah’s on his own.
None of them are really linked to each other in any major way in terms of the show’s subplots. They’re also a mix of major characters and supporting characters, so it’s not like we’re getting a glimpse at a unique perspective of the night before the battle, we’re just checking in with a seemingly random collection of characters.
But what if they’re not random? What if we’re seeing subtle foreshadowing before the Battle Of Winterfell, that’ll mean more after we’ve seen the episode? What if one character from each snippet is going to die in the next episode?
It’s not as tin-hat crazy as you might think. Each edit contains a character who has completed their journey in some way. There’s nothing really left for Gilly to do; she was the one who found the information that revealed Jon’s heritage (which Sam gets credit for), and it’s telling that we saw her for the first time in ages in last night’s episode. We were reminded of her existence – and her kindness – one last time. But was it a kindness?
Gilly stopped the little girl from joining the fight, convincing her to protect the crypts. Why do we feel like that’s going to have tragic consequences? And that Tyrion’s presence in the crypts is going to be more significant than Dany realises? We think he’ll be instrumental in saving people when the crypts are attacked – because no-one seems to realise that the crypts are massively dangerous.
In the latest trailer, Dany says ‘The dead are already here.’ They are – in the crypts. This season has been at pains to remind us that the Starks keep their dead in Winterfell, the Night King can raise the dead, so suddenly the crypts doesn’t feel like such a safe space, does it?
Back to the montage. Theon has found forgiveness from his sister, and now from Sansa – we’d bet our castle he’s dying in the next episode. There’s even a lyric in the song that’s related to him – ‘She couldn’t remember their names’ – when Theon became Reek, he lost his own name.
Grey Worm and Missandei have made the fatal mistake of making future plans, which means one of them is doomed – maybe even both. Our money’s on Missandei, her death would be just a bit more dramatic in terms of its effect on Dany (who’s going to get increasingly more despotic in these final episodes).
Jorah has a major moment of full circle completeness in the episode that many may have missed – when Sam gives him his ancestral Valyrian steel sword, it completes a path of redemption that started when Jorah lost his own ancestral Valyrian steel sword, after he brought shame to himself. Jorah will definitely die in the next episode, presumably saving Dany.
Finally, Ayra and Gendry. This is possibly the most worrying element of the montage, with the biggest possible major character at risk. If someone has to die out of those two, the smart money’s on Gendry. But we’re a bit concerned that we haven’t really had any shocking moments this series yet, and the next episode marks the halfway point – which means Arya could be in trouble.
Of the two of them, Arya’s closest to completing her journey. She seems to have killed everyone on her list she wants to kill (note that the list comes up in the episode, and it’s clear she’s not as focused on it as she once was), she’s been reunited with her family, she’s been forgiven by the Hound for leaving him for dead, she’s even found love in the arms of Gendry, completing that arc.
Gendry is (probably) safe, as he’s nowhere near completing his story – as Robert’s only surviving son, he’s arguably the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and that hasn’t really come up yet.
In the earliest trailer, we saw Arya running through what appeared to be the crypts of Winterfell. Could she be killed at the hands of a dead Stark? Catelyn Stark and Robb Stark aren’t buried there, as their bodies didn’t make it back from the Red Wedding – as far as we know.
If they somehow were returned offscreen (and bear in mind this is a show that’s kept Ghost offscreen for several seasons, only to reveal he’s been there all along in last night’s episode), then that would be the biggest jaw-drop moment in Game Of Thrones history. Especially if it’s Catelyn that does the deed (Lady Stoneheart, anyone?)
Just like Theon, Arya has a deep cut connection to the lyrics of the song. Of all the characters, she’s the one most associated with dancing (she does the water dance to avenge the people she’s lost, her ‘ghosts,’ the ‘ones who loved her the most’).
She’s also associated with names – thanks to her list. The song says ‘She couldn’t remember their names’ and, in forgiving Beric Dondarrion and the Hound, their names have been scrubbed from Arya’s list; they’ve been forgotten.
One last clue to Arya’s fate – Maisie Williams posted an image of her last day on set, with her trainers covered in blood. White Walkers don’t bleed, so whose blood was it?
One thing’s certain – in the next (feature-length) episode, the dead in the crypts will rise, and Arya will (probably) die. We’re not sure if the two things are connected, but Arya’s days are numbered either way. If she does die in the next episode, it’ll be the biggest shock since Ned Stark for casual fans. They won’t see it coming. We’re excited for the reactions next week.