Game of Thrones: Winter is Here (full season)   Books Included 
April 15, 2019 7:34 AM - Season 8 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Winter is here, and the show has outpaced GRRM's writing, but in case we want to talk about the books, here's a thread for speculating on this season.
posted by filthy light thief (39 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Given that we're "ahead" of the books at this point, I figured there's no need to put up a new post for every episode, but there might still be some overly bookish theories or speculation that could be considered spoilers, so here's a place to chat like that.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:36 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]

Oh thank fucking God we finally get to meet Harry Strickland. Please give us Jon Connington next episode!
posted by skewed at 7:43 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]

Here's an item: I read out Eyebrows' commentary on the black sails to Mr. Machine, our local Maester, and he was like BUT MAYBE IN THIS WORLD THE TYROSHI HAVE COLOR FAST BLACK DYE BECAUSE OF THE SNAILS.

And then we fell into a hole talking about Tyrian purple and Tyrosh as (not even thinly veiled) analogy for Carthage.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:47 AM on April 15 [9 favorites]

Westeros, where nobody ever gets to answer a question or finish a thought
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:34 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]

At least Tormund, my ginger muffin is alive.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:50 AM on April 15 [12 favorites]

I did like the moment between Sansa and Arya, where they both acknowledge being survivors and being strong in different ways. Also Sansa calling attention to how Tyrion has become so easily tricked by Cersei was a lovely reversal to show how well she has learned.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:54 AM on April 15 [6 favorites]

"Given that we're "ahead" of the books at this point, I figured there's no need to put up a new post for every episode"

I don't see why these are remotely related? Seems like each episode should have its own episodes, it's very much a show that's exciting to watch and then talk about and theorize and all that. Plus, Metafilter isn't really structured to facilitate extended length discussions over time. Most full series posts of ongoing shows seem to just be graveyards. I may be misinterpreting the purpose of this thread however.

Anyway, I had a blast watching this episode with a group of friends. I think it really was an episode tailor made for the anticipatory watch parties, everyone was hotting, hollaring, yelling, cheering, etc. It was a lot of fun and it seemed like they knew this first episode was more a celebratory landing spot before the show launches us into the terror and stress of seeing the characters we root for die and fail.

I'm really curious if Cersei is actually pregnant or not, I can see her making Tyrion think she is carrying to manipulate him into thinking he has cause to trust her. We know she's untrustworthy but her true plans have not been revealed just yet. I don't think Bron will actually kill Tyrion or Jaime, but it also seems too fairytale for him to just be like "lol ur sis wants me to kill you, but give me some treasure and I won't."
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:21 PM on April 15

Should start a pool: which main character goes first (this season and which episode.
posted by sammyo at 1:48 PM on April 15

I figured the only reason she slept with Euron was to cover the fact that she's pregnant again.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:49 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]

Cersei's pregnancy might make her feel like she has a good way out of the prophesy, of being supplanted by a younger, more beautiful queen. She'd probably be okay with that if she thought it were her daughter. Something about the way Euron said "I'm going to put a prince in your belly" made me think that he's going to be wrong on two counts, not him, and not a prince.
posted by skewed at 1:53 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]

"Should start a pool: which main character goes first (this season and which episode.)"

The group I watched the premiere and last season with had these printed out and we all filled one out. It will be fun on the last episode to see how wrong everyone was.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:50 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]

I don't see why these are remotely related? Seems like each episode should have its own episodes, it's very much a show that's exciting to watch and then talk about and theorize and all that.

Well, we will definitely have a post for each episode (there's already a post for 8.01), it's just that it will be a show only post. The question is whether it's worth having a separate show only and books included post for each episode (as was done in previous years), given how far past the books we are.

FWIW, I think it's a good idea to have a full season post for books included discussion, and then just do in show only posts for each episode.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:57 PM on April 15

before the show launches us into the terror and stress of seeing the characters we root for die and fail.

On Game of Thrones? Never!
posted by biscotti at 3:28 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]

Well it's a full series book thread, got any jucy spoilers? Doesn't Ned Starks wife get reanimated at some point?
posted by sammyo at 3:29 PM on April 15

Nah, Lady Stoneheart was ages back, was brought back using Beric's life, and Beric's alive in the show, so she won't turn up at this late date. Though I guess that might tell us something about whether he'll make it back from Castle Black next week, so there's a spoiler for you.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 4:22 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]

Um, what's up with the artwork the Night King nailed to the wall? Like, did he do that himself? His minions? How long did they sit around and neatly pin those limbs up like that while their undead army just sat around waiting?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:12 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]

Nah, Lady Stoneheart was ages back, was brought back using Beric's life, and Beric's alive in the show, so she won't turn up at this late date.

Won’t the Night King resurrect her?
posted by tilde at 9:37 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]

Should start a pool: which main character goes first (this season and which episode.

I filled out a BINGO sheet, and among the characters that were available for that I'd pick either Beric or Edd.

Um, what's up with the artwork the Night King nailed to the wall? Like, did he do that himself? His minions? How long did they sit around and neatly pin those limbs up like that while their undead army just sat around waiting?

I thought this was ridiculous too, but apparently it's been a recurring motif throughout the show that I'd just completely forgotten about. Corpse Crafting is apparently pretty common among the undead. Anyway, this just firms up the fact that I'm rooting for the endless night.
posted by codacorolla at 9:45 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]

Do they fix errors with Wight Out?

I’m picturing all the Umber Undead coming back one armed. Hopefully (dupe from TV thread), they were bright enough to lop off their non dominant arms.
posted by tilde at 10:23 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]

Um, what's up with the artwork the Night King nailed to the wall?

I was randomly re-watching scenes from season 7 to fill in gaps in my memory and I noticed that the "armed spiral" showed up in the petroglyphs on the cave wall in the scene where Jon convinces Dany that the Night King has been the enemy all along.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:46 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]

Yeah, the White Walkers artfully arranging body parts into circular shapes, and pinning undead children in high places goes all the way back to the beginning of S01E01.
posted by firechicago at 8:03 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]

Those spiral shapes were also seen on the cave walls of the children of the forest, so I guess that's where they picked them up.

Have the books ever made mention of the effects of winter on Essos? I know it's more temperate than Westeros, but I often thought it conspicuous that they never spoke of 10 year winters when alluding to the 5000 year history of the giscaris and Valyrians.
posted by skewed at 8:23 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]

I guess I just assumed the wights work as kind of a flock, you know, how birds can fly in formation or ants and bees create elaborate homes? So I think the corpses just ARE ARRANGED, and it’s not an extensive crafting process. I can’t believe I’ve spent time thinking about this.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 12:43 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]

I don't think Bron will actually kill Tyrion or Jaime, but it also seems too fairytale for him to just be like "lol ur sis wants me to kill you, but give me some treasure and I won't."

If I were Bronn and I didn't want to kill my friends but still wanted money, I'd be trying to capture either Dany or Sansa and bring them to Cersei. Dany would be the bigger prize but would be harder to get as she's usually around Jorah, Grey Worm, and/or Jon.

Sansa, however, while not as a big a prize is still enough to force Jon's hand and provides a chance at revenge for Cersei as she still blames her for Joffrey's death.
posted by asteria at 8:39 AM on April 17

So is Esseros / Dorne done for the show? It seems like that might be the case, but there's just so much stuff that was apparently completely meaningless in the books if it is indeed how it happens.
posted by codacorolla at 12:24 PM on April 17

Essos as a location has probably been done since Dany sailed with the Dothraki and Arya left the House of Black and White. (It has occurred to me that, if Arya survives, she may decide that whatever losses she's suffered may have left her not wanting to be Arya Stark any more, and rejoins the Faceless Men in Braavos, but who knows.) Dorne may come into play, depending on who might be in charge now, and whether they've stopped killing each other long enough to remember who the real enemy is.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:09 AM on April 18

Maybe Dorne will be a Netflix spinoff
posted by tilde at 9:45 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

Prediction: Neither brother will kill Cersei.

She will die in childbirth giving birth to a little girl, the much younger and more beautiful queen who will supplant her. Because she dies in childbirth with Jamie's daughter, he's the brother that kills her (by impregnating her in the first place).

That still allows the prophecy of watching all 3 of her children die before she does. BOOM! Plot twist unlocked.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:22 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]

I'm really curious about the relationship between the lore resolution on the show vs the books, especially as the show seems to be pretty dialed in to a no-more-subverted-tropes approach as it hurtles to the end. (This is even before taking into account my deep suspicion that we may never see another book.)

Is there a canonical list somewhere that keeps track of the unresolved mysteries from the books? It'd be interesting to sort by how the show dispatches them, like (off the top of my head):

Most likely how intended/supported by existing text: L+R=J
Unclear if how GRRM intended/foreshadowed: "Hodor," Jorah/grayscale, coldhands, Arya/faceless men
Not resolved in show yet: Azor Ahai, Cersei's prophecy
Totally bailed: lady stoneheart, fAegon, something up at the citadel

I'm sure I'm missing a lot, and maybe have some things mislabeled. Because it really seemed like GRRM was winding up for another 6 books rather than heading toward any kind of conclusion, I'm not convinced at all that (say) the show totally bailing on fAegon means anything at all re: his importance to the book plot.
posted by range at 7:56 PM on April 19

A theory for the ending:

Azor Asshai, the legendary hero who defeated the Great Other the last time around is said to have re-forged his legendary sword Lightbringer three times - once tempering it in water, once by plunging it into the heart of a lion and once by plunging it into the heart the heart of his wife Nissa. There's a prophecy that Azor Asshai will be reborn as the Prince that was Promised, when the Great Other needs to be defeated again. A big believer in that prophecy was Rhaegar Targary, which is why he was so adamant that the dragon needs to have three heads, and he needs to have three kids, which is why he impregnated Lyanna, which started this whole mess. And the result is Jon. So people who believe that Jon is supposed to be the Prince who Was Promised like to speculate that he will turn his own Valyrian steel sword into his own version of Lightbringer by plunging it into the heart of his Nissa Nissa, which would presumably be Dany.

I'm not into that sort of trope, so I would hate this plot development, but I can't say this theory is entirely baseless. Substantial magic in ASOIAF is always powered by human sacrifice. Now, my reading is that human sacrifice is what actually caused all these problems, so I'm side-eying the idea that it's also going to be the solution, from an ideological perspective, but there's a certain narrative logic to it. Quite possible that someone will get something sharp plunged into their heart in the course of a magic ritual until all is said and done, especially if the result is not only a new magic sword, but also your very own version of a thinking zombie fighting on your side.

I've also seen a theory, that the zombies' corpse art is supposed to symbolize the site of the original sacrifice that created the Night-King, the Weirwood in the center of a stone spiral from Bran's vision. In the first season we have seen different corpse art as well - a circle with a strike through it, which is theorized to symbolize the Isle of Faces, the location of this most magical weirdwood amidst the stone spiral in the heart of the Riverlands, where the treaty that ended the Long Night the last time was worked out. This is where it all started, this is where it all ended the last time, so it stands to reason that this location will also be important this time around.

Berric setting fire to the spiral-corpse art with his flaming sword could be seen as forshadowing as to how to end the War for Dawn. Dany could sacrifice herself to become Night-Queen, and keep the NIght-King off Jon's back, while Jon uses the new flaming magic sword resulting from the sacrifice to set fire to the Weirwood in the Stone Spiral on the Isle of Faces, which would presumably end all magic in Westeros forever, instantly kill the dragons and anyone resurrected by magic, including Jon himself, but also finally end the tradition of human sacrifice for power-ups, which has to count as a plus. Would rather meet the criterion "bitter-sweet".
posted by sohalt at 1:24 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]

This felt unfair to drop in the "tv only" thread, even though it's kind of meta. (also apologies if GoblinHoney's cries above are heard and an 8.2 books thread gets spun up)

I enjoyed episode 8.2 quite a bit more than a lot of season 7 and 8.1 and all I keep thinking is that the scenes that took place all felt like they came from GRRM's sketch book of "scenes I will write when I get to that book." I'm not saying every scene and I'm not saying every line. And maybe I'm way over-estimating my GRRM truther abilities, but there were the super-clear "ahead of book but cribbed from GRRM's drafts" scenes last season, and scenes that feel like the showrunners said "let's move this ship along." And ep 8.2 felt a lot like GRRM's fingerprints were heavily on it to me. I'd love to be prove wrong (read: dear GRRM, please write the god damn books before you die and don't punt on them saying "ah, everyone knows the end now anyway.")
posted by jermsplan at 8:37 PM on April 21

Kind of a big revelation from episode 2: The Night King's primary objective specifically, or maybe primarily includes killing the Three Eyed Raven. Is there anything in the books to suggest that or is it a show only thing?
posted by skewed at 8:44 PM on April 21

An interesting theory a friend mentioned to me that's floating around online is that the zombies at Winterfell are only part of the force - the other force is moving on a mostly completely unprepared King's Landing so that it can soak up their armies and hem in WF from both sides with an even larger army.
posted by codacorolla at 8:45 PM on April 21

I totally don't buy the 3 eyed raven being the NK's objective. Wasn't the 3ER north of the wall all these millenia? Why not simply lay siege to the tree and never let the successor(s) get in (Bran's not the first to have the power transferred). I think this is just some lame wrap it up with a reason for bran to be bait rather than one of GRRM's plot points.

Also can't believe no one has suggested using the dragon(s) for reconnaissance, or having one of them perched on the red keep to ensure that Cersei kept her end of the bargain. wtf?
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:03 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]

Rereading the first book in advance of next episode, there are a lot of very freighted lines involving Tyrion.
”’When I was your [Jon’s] age, I used to dream of having a dragon of my own. . . . Even a stunted, twisted, ugly little boy can look down over the world when he’s seated on a dragon’s back. . . . I used to start fires in the bowels of Casterly Rock and stare at the flames for hours, pretending they were dragon fire. Sometimes I’d imagine my father burning. At other times, my sister. . . . Don’t look at me that way, bastard. I know your secret. You’ve dreamt the same kind of dreams.’”
Well well well
posted by sallybrown at 6:45 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]

I think there’s a good chance that Bran dies next episode.. 1) That plan working out as predicted would shock me more than Cersei surviving the last episode. 2) I believe the Night King wouldn’t move on to King’s Landing without having dealt with the Bran situation first, and I’ll eat my hat if the zombies don’t make it to King’s Landing. 3) Bran has just had that fireside chat with Tyrion conveying some piece of information we didn’t get to hear anything about, which makes me conclude it’s going to be crucial to defeating the zombies. Much has been made of Tyrion’s cleverness last episode, so he’ll probably get to have one last clever idea before all is said and done, and that’s going to be putting the pieces together to defeat the Night King, one of them being whatever Bran told him just now. At any rate, Bran’s days as an exposition device seem pretty done.

Does that mean the ultimate climax won’t be about shit with Bran, the children, red good magic, etc after all? Probably, not. 1) Bran might just figure out a way to fake his death to get rid of the Bran body, including the Night King’s mark and warg into someone else. (Theon? A dragon? Ghost?) 2) Even if he actually dies, he’ll probably pull of some significant piece of magic before that, that’s going to play heavily into the ultimate outcome. He’s conviently placed himself right next to the Weirwood after all, I’m sure he’s planning a little something. (Probably with Theon? By the end of the last book Theon was set up to be sacrificed to the Red God under a Weirwood tree, with hints that Bran might have a hand in it via ravens, do I smell I last act book-show convergence?) 3) Bran might just pick the most devastating moment to join team Undead, if he hasn’t already. I mean, honestly, could he have been any less useful so far? Goading Jon via Sam to bring up the whole birthright question at the most inconvenient moment to mess up things with Dany, coming up with that doomed-to fail Night-King-bait-plan, not a word of warning about the potential pitfalls of sending all the women and children to the crypts in a war against the Undead? Are we sure Bran’s still on the side of living here? And if he still considers himself to be, might he just have decided that Winterfell and all its current inhabitants simply have to be sacrificed for the greater good?

Bran may or may not bite it next episode, but the repercussions of his actions next week will probably determine the ending in some way or another.
posted by sohalt at 11:29 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

In the books doesn't Euron have what is probably the actual Horn of Joramun on his boat? It's been so long, and Euron (screen and page) sucks so much that it's slipped my mind entirely, but that seems to point towards him betraying humanity for a better deal.
posted by codacorolla at 2:05 PM on April 23

Different horn, codacorolla. Euron has Dragonbinder, and I believe the whereabouts of the Horn of Joramun/Horn of Winter are currently unknown.

I heard some pretty convincing speculation that the purposes of both horns have been either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented by characters. (Think these ideas were from the YouTube channel of either Preston Jacobs or In Deep Geek.)

Skipping all the textual evidence, the basic theories go that:
1) Dragonbinder doesn't bind a dragon to a person; it binds people to a dragon. That is, it was used by Valyerians to bind subjects or slaves--and that's how Euron suddenly wins the Kingsmoot.
2) The Horn of Joramun wouldn't bring down the Wall; that's just what Mance told the Wildings to get them excited about searching for it. Instead, it would wake the giants (whatever that means, exactly) to help fight the Others.
posted by hippugeek at 8:37 PM on April 23

I’m pretty sure Varys will turn against Dany. He’s opposing her in the books and I expect book and show storylines to converge again any time now, since the ending has been said to be pretty much the same, at least concerning the broad strokes.

Whether that’s for the good of the realm, well, there’s going to be room for interpretation. Varys probably genuinely believes that this is his sole motivation, but so does Dany. And they are both equally willing to get rid of anyone who gets in their way.

On thing I’m fairly certain of is that Varys isn’t a Targ loyalist at all. In the book, he’s not backing the Targ with the best claim (there are rumours that Aegon is actually his friend Illyrio’s kid, which I find pretty plausible), but the one he’s personally had a hand in raising, who should be most receptive to his influence. Varys thinks he can socially engineer the perfect ruler. When he murders Kevan, he explains his reasons - Aegon has been shaped to rule before he could walk; he’s been trained as a knight, but he also knows several languages, has been instructed in the faith, etc. and most importantly, he “has lived with fisherfolk, worked with his hands, [...] he knows what it is like to be hungry, to be hunted, to be afraid”. In contrast to Tommen who has been raised to see kingship as his right, Aegon presumably knows that kingship is duty.

But there are some signs that Varys is rather tragically overestimating his pedagogical skills here, because the Aegon we meet in the Tyrion chapters is a bit of a brat, who definitely knows that people thinks he’s super special. (Poor Varys reminds me a bit off those upper-class parents who think their kids will be down-to-earth, just because they don’t shower them with pocket money. True privilege goes so much deeper than an ample monthly allowance). I don’t detect great signs of humility in the scene where Tyrion gently advises not getting too cocky about his better claim in marriage negotiations with Dany, since she’s still got the better army after all - Aegon is having non of it. He’s the superior Targ, Dany should come woo him. Compare that Jon’s behavior in a similiar situation - he knows to swallow his pride if that gets him the army he needs to protect his people. I think we can safely say that Vary’s pedagogical mission has failed.

Ironically, Dany fits the description of the perfect prince Varys gives to Kevan a lot better than Aegon in many regards. She certainly knows more about being hungry, being hunted, being afraid , than little Aegon who’s always been fussed about by all these teachers and mentors, chief among them Jon Conningtion who was clearly besotted with his dad. You can tell that to Aegon it’s all still just a big adventure. Compared to Dany, he hasn’t seen shit (and I do think the books do a good job showing how her traumatic personal history often makes her identify with the downtrodden, so I think Varys isn’t exactly wrong about this criterion, he’s just wrong as to how to achieve this effect).

But the fact is that the person who argueably fits Varys stated vision of the perfect Prince best is Jon Snow, who’s the most the reluctant ruler of them all, and thus the truest anti-thesis of “kingship as a right” one could wish for.

Now I profoundly disagree with Varys’ idea that the person most fit too rule is the one who wants it least, firstly because I really don’t think it describes Varys himself, who’s mostly competent and not the worst option for Westeros, and secondly, because at some point, stability is indeed a worthwhile goal, and for that you don’t just need charismatic leaders who can inspire their followers to give them power, you need savy operators who don’t just know how to get power, but also how to hold onto it. There’s no holding on to power without playing politics, and people who don’t on some level enjoy that game won’t be good at it. Dear Jon certainly isn’t. He got murdered by his sworn brothers, and even now he probably wouldn’t survive a second without Sansa doing her best to at least somewhat keep Northerners in line. (Those council scenes where Sansa voices their concerns might be seem like her undermining Jon, but I think that’s more due to the unwillingness of the show to devote much time to these matters; in the books she would presumbably do that kind of stuff behind the scenes and be the only reason the Lords haven’t given up on Jon completely at this point).

So I’m not sure if Varys would be really acting wise to ditch Dany for Jon, but according to his own logic, he certainly should. He’ll probably do it against Jon’s wish, involving the Golden Company and get executed for treason.
posted by sohalt at 12:28 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]

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