Where is the Night King? What is going on in the Winterfell crypt? And who is going to make it out of the episode alive? Two superfans weigh in on this week’s episode.
Gird your loins everybody, the Battle of Winterfell is upon us.
Episode three of season eight of Game of Thrones is going to be an 82-minute long epic battle sequence, filmed over 55 consecutive gruelling night shoots in Belfast. This is the longest battle ever committed to film, and one of the most ambitious episodes in the history of Game of Thrones.
You know what a battle means, though, don’t you? Death. Death has many faces, as Arya flirtingly said to Gendry, but it is also going to claim many victims in this coming episode. Face facts now and start preparing yourself: all your favourites are going to die.
But what else is going to happen in episode three? Do we need to talk about the Winterfell Crypts? And where, oh where, is the Night King (who might also be Jon’s father)? Stylist’s Kayleigh Dray and Hannah-Rose Yee, two Game of Thrones superfans, weigh in.
Which GoT characters will survive the Battle of Winterfell?
HRY: Night gathers, and now our watch begins Kayleigh. I think the question we need to ask ourselves going into episode three isn’t who is going to die but who is going to make it out alive.
KD: Personally, I’m convinced that some of our key players are protected by plot armour. Beric will almost definitely die, but not before he revives the Hound for one last time (the people need their Cleganebowl, damn it). Tyrion Lannister clearly has unfinished business to attend to (and a date with an Unsullied prison guard, according to my GoT insider).
Samwell Tarly is surely more important to the storyline than White Walker fodder. The Night King is obviously going to swerve any dragonglass spears this time around, otherwise where’s the JEOPARDY for the next three episodes? And I suspect Daenerys Targaryen will live to fight another day, too… albeit without the likes of Missandei (probably dead), Jorah (definitely dead) and Grey Worm (so very, very dead).
Which brings me to the Starks. Sansa feels safe enough: we need her steely resolve to pick up the pieces when the battle is all over, after all. Jon Snow is in a slightly riskier position, what with his aunty/lover seemingly determined to stop him getting to the Iron Throne before she does… but my Belfast insider told me they saw Kit Harington filming at King’s Landing. I reckon he still has more to give before he bites the big one.
Bran, though, is EXTREMELY exposed in the gardens of Winterfell, and feels a little bit too detached from life and reality to care about meeting his maker. Maybe he, like Dr Strange of Infinity War, has a plan which involves sacrificing himself for the greater good. And Arya? Well, a lot of fans of George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire have a bad feeling about our little ninja warrior’s chances, honing in on what feels like an oddly ominous exchange between her and Jon Snow from the first book.
Now that Arya has a sword named Needle, and winter is in Westeros, some fans believe this was foreshadowing of her death. And we have seen her scurrying through the crypts of Winterfell looking more than a little anxious… but George R R Martin DID promise his wife that he wouldn’t do anything bad to her favourite character. Then again, David Benioff and DB Weiss haven’t made any such promises. Hmm. I think she’s probably fine. She’s probably fine. She’s … probably fine?
Gendry, though? It pains me to say it, but he (along with Gilly, Theon, Tormund, Podrick and Davos Seaworth) is probably doomed to die in Winterfell. And I suspect that Brienne and Jaime aren’t safe, either: one of them has to go. After all, they are in the most dangerous position outside the Winterfell walls, and both have found some sort of resolution to their stories: she’s been knighted, he’s found redemption, and they managed to express their love without saying any words out loud. Could it be that BOTH OF THEM end up in a bloody pile in the snow? God, I hope not. I really wanted him to be the one to kill Cersei…
HRY: Wow, Kayleigh! You speak so much truth and wisdom. You see all – you are the Three Eyed Raven – while I am the wise-cracking second fiddle, which I think makes me… Tyrion? Oh dear.
Good points, all. I think we should very safely start preparing funeral pyres for anyone who had a good episode last week. Did something nice happen to them? It was probably Game of Thrones saying goodbye to your fave.
That means, yes, goodbye to the Knight of the Andals, Knight of my heart Jorah, who was given Heartsbane purely for the purposes of watching him drop it when he is inevitably killed this week. Goodbye Theon, who came back to Winterfell to die. Goodbye Tormund, all the giant’s milk in the world can’t save you now. Goodbye Davos Seaworth, who spent episode two talking about how he literally cannot fight to save his life. Goodbye Grey Worm. You’re never going to – SOB – take Missandei to the beaches of Naath. Sorry, I’m not crying I just have leaking tear duct syndrome.
Which GoT characters will be turned into White Walkers during the Battle of Winterfell?
HRY: I think we all need to come to terms with the fact that it’s probably goodbye Brienne or Jaime. I think it will only be one or the other, because I have read this awful, truly upsetting theory that what is going to happen next episode is a whole lot of deaths, and then the Night King turning all your favourites into zombies, and then we have to watch our favourites be killed, AGAIN, by someone close to them.
Think about it: nobody wants to watch Brienne die. But what if she does. And then she is raised into zombie Brienne, which is so upsetting to even think about, and then we have to watch Jaime slay zombie Brienne. I mean… fuck that noise, right! Fuck that fucking noise!!!
Kayleigh, who is the fave you don’t want to see die and turn into a zombie, and who is the person you don’t want to watch kill their zombie iteration?
KD: What a question! I strongly believe that Arya is being pursued by Zombie Gendry in the crypts, now you mention it, so that’s gonna suck. But I actually think I’d be even more devastated if Sam had to kill Zombie Gilly: their love story is one of the purest in GoT to date. And I concur: Brienne the Zombie would be very upsetting, particularly as the idea of a shuffling undead with no morals is so opposed to everything the newest Knight of the Seven Kingdoms stands for.
HRY: ZOMBIE GENDRY. A plague on your house for putting that cursed image into my brain!
Will Lyanna Mormont survive the Battle of Winterfell?
HRY: Tools down for a second, Kayleigh. Important question we need to answer right now: is Lyanna Mormont going to survive?
KD: If history has taught us anything, it’s that child soldiers are always a recipe for tragedy, but… well, Lyanna’s a total badass, and if anyone can find a way to survive this non-PG career shift, it’s her. Plus the writers need her. How else are they going to tick off that ‘feminist speech’ box in the upcoming episodes?
HRY: I agree. It wouldn’t be out of character for Game of Thrones to kill her purely for the shock value, but why would they have had that powerful scene between my love Jorah and Lyanna in which he stressed to her that she was the future of House Mormont. Even Game of Thrones wouldn’t be so cruel as to make that point so clear, only to kill both the surviving Mormonts in one episode. Right? Right???
Are the crypts of Winterfell magical?
HRY: Let’s back the truck up for a second here. You mentioned that you were worried that the thing chasing Arya through the Winterfell crypts could be Zombie Gendry. I think we need to talk about the Winterfell crypts and we need to talk about them right now. Namely, is Jon the worst strategist ever for putting everyone down there when they’re locked in a battle with an army that can literally raise the dead? And the crypts are, you know, full of dead bodies?
There is a theory kicking around the swampy corners of the internet that some of the Stark ancestors could be raised from the dead either to protect their Stark descendents or to fight them. I do not like this theory, as almost everyone in that crypt – including Ned Stark – are just a bunch of bones now, and watching a reanimated skeleton packs no emotional punch. But what do you think is going to go down in the crypts?
KD: Well, we know that the absence of Lady Stoneheart - a key character from the books - has been driving fans mad for some time. Couldn’t a reanimated Catelyn corpse be a nice poetic stand-in? Fighting for her family, wreaking revenge on those who have wronged them, killing anyone who dares lay a finger on her children? I’d go for some of that. GoT isn’t about beautifully preserved corpses and angels, after all: in the books, Stoneheart is pallid and terrifying and has a huge gash running through her throat. She’s a proper scary-looking wench, and a staunch reminder of death, and THAT is so Game of Thrones it’s unreal.
But will it happen? Will we get to see Zombie Catelyn, joined by Rickon and the headless skeletons of Ned and Robb, defend the North? I have no idea. The clues are all there, though: the headless Direwolf statues ‘guarding’ the crypts, Arya’s desire to meet the Dead, Jon’s dreams of going into the crypts and being met by the “dead kings” as they “came stumbling from their cold black graves” – something he interpreted as an act of war, but was obviously a sign of real kinship and a validation of his bloodline.
And then there’s the fact that Winterfell was built by Bran the Builder. The same Bran the Builder who built the Wall, with its magical protection against the White Walkers. Why wouldn’t he have built that into his family’s home too? It’s so unlikely, and I doubt the writers are going to give us what we want (because they don’t like to be predictable), but the words “safe in the crypts” were uttered SO MANY TIMES in the last episode that I feel they have to mean something big. They can’t just be down to bad repetitive writing. They can’t.
HRY: I would be interested in watching some ancient, Harry Potter-esque blood magic of love coming into play that would protect everyone in the crypts from White Walkers. And maybe Arya is leading White Walkers down there purely for the purposes of sending them to their death. I’d be down with that. I’m just not down with seeing a bunch of dead Stark skeletons brought back to life, because seeing Ned or Lyanna’s skeleton feels so empty to me.
What role will Ghost, Nymeria and the Direwolves play in the Battle of Winterfell?
HRY: Kayleigh, did you notice that Ghost was back last week? Just a few seconds mind, it costs a lot of money to animate a direwolf, so he was just sort of chilling in the background. But why would you bring back Ghost if not to have him help during the Battle of Winterfell?
Do you think Ghost is going to save Jon? Oh my god, do you think Ghost is going to become Zombie Ghost, and Jon will have to kill him? Also whatever happened to Nymeria?
KD: There’s a theory going around the internet (and a very good theory at that) which suggests Ghost and Nymeria will lead a pack of wolves into Winterfell and save the Starks. They may possibly even be joined by the ‘dead’ Direwolves, if they were buried in the crypts and the crypts are as magical as we’re all hoping they are. But, dead wolves aside, Ghost and Nymeria surely have a role to play in events to come. As George RR Martin said: “You don’t hang a giant wolf pack on the wall unless you intend to use it.”
Will Bronn survive the Battle of Winterfell?
HRY: The person I’ve been missing the most these past few episodes is Bronn. I love that man and his obsession with coin, chicks and castles. I keep holding out hope that he’s going to betray his three driving principles and swagger up to Winterfell to fight for the living, but do you think that’s likely?
KD: If anyone is unlucky enough to wander into Winterfell just as the dead are pouring in from the North, it’s Bronn. But I reckon he will fire that crossbow to save one of the Lannister boys - and then die, probably. Horribly, too.
HRY: Yes, I really cannot see him killing either Tyrion or Jaime with that crossbow. If anyone, that crossbow is going to be used on Cersei, but my personal jury – aka my brain – is out on who is going to pull the trigger and kill the woman.
What is the Night King’s motive?
HRY: Speaking of Cersei, we need to talk about King’s Landing. You have an amazing theory about what the Night King might be up to, and I think the people need to hear it.
KD: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen might be bad at strategising (fight the White Walkers on high ground, hide the women and children in the crypts, and cut off the Night King’s head does not a battle plan make), but I suspect the Night King isn’t. In fact, I reckon he’s nowhere near Winterfell right now. Instead, he’s winging his way to King’s Landing, where he’ll launch an attack on Cersei on her own turf (POETIC JUSTICE!) and create an even bigger undead army. I believe this with all my heart, solely because my taxi driver in Belfast told me that they built a new King’s Landing set at Titanic Studios and then blew it the fuck up. Bad news for Cersei, worse news for our Winterfell-based heroes. Because, when they finally win their battle (at huge personal cost), they’ll barely have a moment to breathe before they realise the ACTUAL battle is about to begin.
It’s ludicrous, and twisty, and guaranteed to wipe out so many of our favourite characters. In short, it’s VERY GAME OF THRONES, isn’t it?
When will Winterfell burn?
KD: It’s the biggest question on Google right now: when does Winterfell burn? It makes sense: all of the preview photos for the episode seem to be lit by a warm, flickering orange glow, and we do know Dany can get a little trigger-happy with her dragons… maybe the Battle of Winterfell is going to see Ned Stark’s home destroyed?
HRY: I mean, didn’t your loose-lipped Belfastian taxi driver also tell you that Winterfell burns, baby burns? It would play nicely into your theory that the end of Game of Thrones is going to see our heroes wandering Westeros for a new home, and I do think that of all the possible things that could have a huge emotional impact on the characters of the show – especially the Starks – watching Winterfell crumble into ash is one of them.
This is their home, the one that they fought so desperately hard to recover in season six, and this home means so much to them. Watching it burn down is going to be intense. But it also means that maybe the Starks are going to be looking for somewhere new to live. I’ve heard the Red Keep is quite nice this time of year.
Final theories and predictions for the Battle of Winterfell?
HRY: I think the two of us are in agreement that season eight of Game of Thrones has really been laying the track for Sansa. She’s definitely making it out of next week’s episode alive, and if you wanted to put your eggs into any particular basket, I’d be putting mine in hers.
Any last thoughts? Do we need to talk about Azor Ahai? Is the Prince that was Promised going to reveal themselves in this episode? We know that Samwell Tarly is going to come out of The Battle of Winterfell looking pretty good – Entertainment Weekly was on set for the filming, and they noted that he looked “badass” in his fight scenes. But do we think this is the moment that Azor Ahai and/or their sword Lightbringer is going to make an appearance? Or are we putting too much store in that prophecy.
KD: I have a feeling the stage will be set for Azor Ahai and Lightbringer, but that they may save that little treat for the big bad battle come the end of the series. We may get more of an idea as to who fulfills the prophecy, though (if Pod didn’t give it all away in the last episode with that heavily metaphor-laden song). Then again, we may also find out that there’s a third contender for the Iron Throne in the form of… Tyrion ‘Actually a Targaryen’ Lannister.
HRY: Alright, quickly, let’s wrap this story up before we get bogged down in 55 consecutive night shoots creating it. Who is the character you think is definitely going to die next week? And who do you think will definitely survive?
Mine is Jorah. He’s dead. It breaks my heart to say so, because he’s been my favourite character since season one and he’s the man who anchors the emotions of the series in his softly-tanned, furrowed brow and his adoring gaze. Farewell, sweet Ser Jorah. You can rest now.
Oh, and Sansa is surviving.
KD: I’d have guessed Jorah as well, to be honest, but for the sake of being unique and special… Grey Worm is 1000% dead in this episode. And in terms of the survivors? Hmm. I’m going to bet all my Lannister gold on Tyrion making it through yet another battle unscathed. Don’t let me down, Imp!
HRY: By imp you mean me, right? I won’t, Kayleigh. I won’t let you down.
Game of Thrones airs on Sunday nights on HBO in the US and Monday mornings (and again in the evening) in the UK on Sky Atlantic and Now TV.