At this point, there’s no room left for slow burns on Game of Thrones. With winter finally here and only two shortened seasons left–or one long but staggered season, depending how you look at it–HBO’s flagship series is primed for its epic conclusion. Not only have major characters consolidated power after a six-season buildup, but the cast’s promise of an accelerated storytelling pace all but guarantees that each of the final 13 episodes won’t waste any time in hitting crucial narrative beats.
That being said, there are still a whole lot of unanswered questions in Westeros. Sure, Emilia Clarke, aka Daenarys Targaryen, says season seven will tie up plenty of loose ends–even ones viewers may have forgotten about. But for every answer we get or even predict, there are many other mysteries across the Seven Kingdoms we can’t begin to solve on our own. How will Jon find out about his real parents? What happened to King Robert’s bastard? And is Sam seriously going to spend an entire season studying?
Below, 10 questions from here to Essos that we’ll need answered by season seven’s end.
Will Jon discover the truth about his parents?
Really, it’s more a matter of when Jon Snow will learn the truth: that he’s not actually Ned Stark’s bastard and is, in fact, his nephew–something Papa Stark might’ve told the newly-christened King of the North if he hadn’t lost his head in season one. Jon’s upcoming identity crisis seems inevitable, what with cousin Bran seemingly on his way back to south of the Wall with a lot of Three-Eyed Raven gossip to share. If Bran doesn’t share the news, there’s always the chance that Littlefinger–who’s well-versed in Stark family history and curiously referred to Jon as a “bastard born in the South”–knows more than he’s letting on.
Another question to consider: Who is Jon’s dad? R+L=J loyalists already have their answer (as does anyone who might’ve read this official HBO infographic), but nothing has actually been said out loud. Which is apparently a requirement, since we have actors on the show saying we’re still “pretty clueless” about that part. Whoever the dad may be, the truth will have immense repercussions on the game of thrones.
Who will Arya kill next?
Bloodshed seems to follow the younger Stark daughter everywhere she goes. She fled Braavos, but not without eliminating The Waif first (to be fair, she had it coming). And as soon as she returned to Westeros, the little assassin crossed Walder Frey off her kill list, minutes after feeding him his own sons. With the progress she’s made already, there’s little reason to assume Arya will pull back now. So who’s her next target?
The answer is likely proximity-based. While stomping around the Riverlands, she may bump into an old friend she’s already left for dead once: the Hound. And if she’s lucky, she’ll run into Beric Dondarrion, another name on Arya’s list who sold her friend Gendry (more on him later) to Melisandre and was last seen trying to convince the Hound to join his Brotherhood Without Banners. Speaking of Melisandre, the Red Lady was banished from Winterfell after admitting to burning Shireen Baratheon at the stake–and may very well be on a collision course with the Stark girl. If Melisandre’s prophecy holds true, then Arya may have a very busy season ahead of her.
Where is Nymeria?
The body count in Westeros has only risen over the years, and, unfortunately, the Stark children’s loyal direwolves haven’t been able to escape the carnage. Of the original pack of six, only two remain: Jon’s Ghost and Arya’s Nymeria. The latter wolf hasn’t been seen since Arya sent her away in season one, and her absence has only grown more apparent as casualties have racked up. Now that Arya is back in Westeros and perhaps on track to rejoin her remaining siblings, there’s also a chance that her homecoming might portend another big reunion.
Whether that happens in this season or the next remains unclear, or if it will happen at all. In the books, Arya gets glimpses of Nymeria’s life through warg-like dreams–something that hasn’t yet appeared on the show. But if the direwolves are manifestations of the Starks’ personalities, then it only makes sense to hope that the fiercest of them all could show up in time for the great war ahead.
What is Sam’s purpose?
Oh, Sam. Few characters on Game of Thrones get as happy a trajectory as the one this former crow got last season: He stood up to his family, he procured one of those rare Valyrian steel swords, he made it to the Citadel with his girlfriend and adopted son. But what goes up must come down, and the harsh reality of winter is bound to come for the maester-in-training. With the stakes ramping up this season, it’s unlikely that Sam–or any surviving character, at this point–will be relegated to a secondary role such as the go-to exposition dump for information about White Walkers. And with that Valyrian blade burning a hole in his bag, he’s bound to make his way back North sometime soon; after all, the humans are going to need as many of those White Walker-killing swords as possible.
What will become of Gendry?
It stands to reason that Arya may also seek out old friends, not just her family and enemies. When it comes to Gendry, however, she’ll likely have a difficult time, if only because he’s ostensibly been rowing down the Westerosi coast for the last three seasons. But in the interim, King Robert’s bastard has become a more important player whether he knows it or not, making his probable return a more vital event than before. With the deaths of his uncle Stannis and cousin Shireen in season five, Gendry was left as the only known Baratheon, legitimate or not, in all of Westeros. But after King Tommen–the last of Cersei’s children she passed off as Robert’s–died in the season six finale, House Baratheon died along with him. Now that Cersei has usurped the throne, Gendry’s bloodline is primed for a comeback, posing yet another potential claim to the Iron Throne. It also helps that the actor who plays him, Joe Dempsie, arrived at the season seven premiere, all but confirming a Gendry reappearance.
Will Euron marry?
Despite being a comparatively late introduction, the scummy pirate and new King of the Iron Islands Euron Greyjoy seems like he’ll be a scourge for multiple parties this season, particularly for his niece and nephew. But with Yara and Theon firmly allied with Daenerys as she crosses the Narrow Sea, Euron’s hopes of taking the Iron Throne by dragonfire are dashed. If that pits him against the Mother of Dragons, then he may seek to align with Cersei, whose new reign is most threatened by Daenerys’s (and Tyrion’s) arrival. And in Westeros, there are no better means of cementing a new alliance than by marriage–the very offer he’d planned on extending to the Khaleesi. Whether or not two power-mad beings such as Euron and Cersei could stay married for long is up for debate, but Cersei has sold enough of her soul to make the offer a plausible one.
Will Ser Jorah find a cure for greyscale?
Last viewers saw Ser Jorah Mormont, he’d been sent away by Daenarys a third time. This time, on a mission to find a cure for his fatal disease before returning to her side. The late Shireen Baratheon is proof positive that a cure for grey scale exists; his challenge seems to be finding it before he turns into a stone man. With Jorah in Essos and all the maesters across the Narrow Sea in Westeros, his best bet may very well be a healer he’s already encountered on his side of the world: Quaithe. A mysterious and masked woman Jorah meets alongside Daenarys in Qarth, Quaithe is also seen ritually protecting a man who must sail into Old Valyria–the very place Jorah was infected. If she can protect from grey scale, chances are she may know how to cure it as well. And given the interconnected nature of Game of Thrones‘s narrative, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Jorah the Andal’s salvation has actually been foreshadowed for four seasons.
When will the Wall fall?
Almost as inevitable as Jon discovering the truth about his lineage, the Wall needs to come crumbling down at some point. Otherwise, there won’t be much of a war if the White Walkers can’t actually get through to the Seven Kingdoms. With season seven supposedly comprised of one oh-shit moment after the other, the Wall could feasibly melt away by the premiere’s end (it won’t, though). Then again, it does seem like the type of showstopper moment with which to end a season, paving the way for a final season almost entirely dedicated to the war between the living and the dead.
All that being said, the Wall is basically begging for destruction, what with the Night’s Watch being poorly staffed and Bran–still wearing the enchantment-breaking mark from being touched by the Night’s King–making moves to cross the threshold. There’s also that old horn Sam found beyond the Wall in season two, rumored to be the legendary Horn of Winter capable of bringing the whole barrier down. Was the prop just a red herring, or will it play a pivotal part leading up to the series’s conclusion?
Who is going to die?
The question that hangs over each episode of Game of Thrones, but now takes on extra urgency as the series prepares for the home stretch. Though this is a show predicated on the idea that literally no one is safe (RIP Ned), some characters–the King in the North, the Queen on the Sea, the Hand of the Queen–presumably have some degree of narrative insurance after having stayed alive this long. Others, namely the remaining Stark siblings, have a high likelihood of survival after years of abuse and, you know, losing everyone else in their family.
That leaves a whole swath of potential losses across the Seven Kingdoms, some of whom are fan favorites (cough Brienne and Grey Worm cough) but wouldn’t recalibrate the entire plot if they perished. Then there are others, such as Yara and Theon, who are hurtling toward a showdown with an angry relative that may snuff one or both of them by its end. Loyal sidekicks Sam, Podrick, and Davos Seaworth are all but guaranteed mortal peril, while Cersei and Littlefinger’s double-crossing machinations have put pretty huge targets on their backs.
In the end, however, winter is finally here, and everyone is headed for a zombified fate if the Night King isn’t defeated.
Who will Ed Sheeran play?
Yes, the singer behind those inescapable grocery store hits will make a cameo in season seven, allegedly sharing screen time with a certain Stark girl. We just hope there’s prosthetic makeup (or a paper bag) involved because there’s nothing more distracting than seeing Ed fucking Sheeran in Game of Thrones.