Warning! The following post contains spoilers regarding the Season 7 finale and possibly Season 8 of Game of Thrones. Read at your own risk!
In a shocking but somehow simultaneously unsurprising move, Cersei Lannister unveiled her real plan to win back Westeros in the final moments of the Game of Thrones Season 7 finale. As it turned out, Euron Greyjoy was not a coward wishing to retreat to the Iron Islands. He was actually shipping off to fetch the Golden Company to come and aide the queen in retaking Westeros. For those familiar with the group, it was an evil and brilliant play, and for everyone else it may have just been confusing. Here's a breakdown for fans left scratching their head, with some details regarding how the Golden Company might be used in Season 8.
What Is The Golden Company?
The Golden Company, in short, is a group of 20,000 strong sellswords operating out of Essos. Much like Bronn, they get paid to fight for their employer and will do anything provided the price is right. Unlike Bronn though, who has an ongoing agreement with Tyrion Lannister, the Golden Company is notorious for their loyalty to their contract even if an enemy is to offer a larger sum for their allegiance. Prior to Cersei's mention, the Golden Company was last heard of in the Game of Thrones series by Davos in Season 4 when he suggested Stannis hire them, and again by Daenerys that same season when she reminded Ser Jorah Mormont's of his past membership in the mercenary group.
In the novels, the Golden Company was founded long ago by the bastard son of Aegon Targaryen the IV, Aegor Rivers. Rivers is long gone, but the company remains strong with their values to honor their contracts, and sack the towns of their employer if they cannot repay their debt. Needless to say, anyone who hires the Golden Company pays one way or another.
Why Cersei Wants To Use Them
Not only is the Golden Company known for their honor, they're also known for being successful. Essentially, they're going to be the Dothraki and Unsullied type of warrior that Cersei desperately needs to even the odds against Dany and Jon's remaining forces when they return to the south. Widely considered the best mercenary group in the free cities, the Golden Company will better respond to the heat of battle than the average Lannister military man and may even give the highly trained Unsullied a run for their money.
As for other reasons to use the Golden Company, let's remember that Cersei has access to way more money than she has to friends at the moment. As it stands, she's far and away the least popular ruler in Westeros, and when people learn she just double crossed the people trying to fight the undead in an effort to protect her throne, they're gonna like her less. Luckily for her, the Golden Company acts on coin and not feelings and will have no qualms in following through on her plan without giving it a second thought. For Cersei at least, it's a good thing the Lannisters are so notorious for paying their debts, otherwise this plan may not have even been an option.
How Cersei's Plan Could Succeed
In an ideal situation where everything goes right, Cersei's plan may work. While the other would-be rulers of Westeros head North to battle the Night King, she doesn't lift a finger and gains 20,000 soldiers to help her retake the land she has lost. Even better, the Golden Company will be able to do so with practically zero casualties as both Jon and Daenerys are still under the assumption Cersei is aligned with them so their holdings will be unguarded.
Once the war is over, Jon and Daenerys will have to return and face Cersei's army plus 20k extra guys with whomever they have left. If the Night King's army is truly as dangerous as it looks, they won't have a lot of people left and will have saved humanity only for Cersei to promptly crush them with her superior army. If Jon and Dany lose and it's the Night King she must battle, then Cersei at least has the south fortified with some of the most talented fighters around to keep her and that baby safe from anyone wishing to do her harm.
How Cersei's Plan Could Fail
"Ideal" is the key word for Cersei's success, and her current situation is far from ideal. For starters, Cersei is banking on the White Walkers ultimately being destroyed before they reach the south. In making no preparation for the White Walkers, she'll be woefully unprepared if they do manage to break out of the North and into her region. Not only that, but if the Night King destroys the two opposing armies fighting against him, he'll simply resurrect them and add them to his army, which will easily outnumber Cersei's regardless of whether or not she has the Golden Company.
That's IF her plan even makes it that far as Jaime is already off to presumably send word of his sister's plan. Even if he doesn't, Theon will surely notice something is up when he returns to the Iron Islands and doesn't see his uncle Euron there. From there, all it would take to end this is someone riding a dragon back to King's Landing and burning the Red Keep to roast the would-be double crosser, and there goes any contract the Golden Company had in place.
Unfortunately, fans may have a long wait until they see the Golden Company in action as Game of Thrones won't be releasing Season 8 anytime soon. In the meantime, there's still plenty of time to be spent reading up on people's thoughts regarding the season and what could be coming following Sunday's epic season finale. Those still wishing to discuss the finale should head over to our interesting post regarding that big Jon Snow reveal and what it might mean regarding his character. Finally, anyone just wondering what they're going to watch now that Game of Thrones is on a break can visit our fall premiere guide.