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Spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of Game of Thrones Season 8.
Game of Thrones is fast-approaching what will likely be the biggest and most epic battle sequence in its entire run, and that's no small accomplishment considering the scale of the fight at Hardhome in Season 5 and the Battle of the Bastards in Season 6. The Battle of Winterfell filmed for almost two full months of night shoots, and with just about all the major characters other than Cersei present, the odds are quite good that a lot of beloved characters are going to bite the dust.
Fans can theorize and speculate for days about who will live and who will die to no avail, but there are other, more specific theories worth considering as we count down the remaining hours until the Battle of Winterfell.
As Game of Thrones builds to a battle between the living -- including the Three-Eyed Raven, an 18-year-old assassin who can change her face, and two dragons -- and a horde of ice zombies led by their mythical icy overlords, can we really call any theory too wild to be possible? Read on for some wild theories about the Battle of Winterfell that just might actually come true!
The Winterfell Crypt Awakens
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the people at Winterfell preparing for battle, several characters mentioned the crypt as the place to be for folks wanting to sit out the fighting. The children -- other than Lyanna Mormont, who intends to fight -- will be below, along with key characters like Tyrion (at Dany's insistence) and Varys. Gilly and young Sam will be there. It was not confirmed, but characters like Sansa and Missandei will likely be down there as well, safe and sound. Right?
Well, according to this theory, the crypt is just about the worst place in Winterfell to be sealed into when the Night King arrives. The Night King is so terrifyingly dangerous because of his ability to raise the dead and turn them into his soldiers. By stashing people down in the crypt -- a.k.a., the long tunnel lined with dead Starks -- and presumably sealing them in to protect them from the dead on the outside, are the strategists dooming them to be killed by the dead within?
Why It Might Be True: Episode 2 dropped so many mentions about how safe it's going to be down in the crypt that it seems all but guaranteed that something will go wrong down there, and it is only natural to wonder if sealing people in a tunnel lined with corpses to protect them from the creature known for raising corpses will backfire. It would make for a dark twist, and most of the characters to die would be nameless innocents to raise the body count and up the tragedy.
Why It Might Not Be True: The Night King may have an army filled with dead in various states of decomposition, but most of the dead in the Winterfell crypt have been dead for a very long time, and there's presumably just not anything holding the bones together. Though skeletons are capable of reanimating, as that's how Jojen Reed died back in Season 4, they were still attached. Long-dead Starks can't be more than separated bones at this point, with not enough left to reanimate.
Rickon might be fresh enough to be problematic, but any half-decent archer could take down wight Rickon without much trouble. The kid couldn't serpentine in life; I doubt he learned the fine art of the zigzag in death? (Too soon?) Besides, most of the dead are probably sealed into their final resting places. While it's possible the long-dead Starks in the crypt could rise, my money is on disaster coming in a different form. Cool theory, but not realistic, even in a show with ice zombies and dragons.
The Army Of The Dead Surrounds Winterfell
The best strategic minds in Westeros are gathered in the North for the Battle of Winterfell, and the planning session was packed with so many characters that they could barely all fit around the table. According to the plans, the Dothraki and Unsullied armies will be the first to face the dead from outside the walls of Winterfell, and Brienne will apparently lead a group of Knights of the Vale (and Jaime) out there as well.
The forces would eventually fall back, and the idea is that the Night King will target Bran in the godswood as the Three-Eyed Raven, with only Theon and some ironborn protecting him.The problem is that the planning session proved everybody is counting on the army of the dead attacking from the front. What if the Night King takes a page out of Ramsay Bolton's book and employs a maneuver to surround the living at Winterfell?
Why It Might Be True: The Night King certainly has the numbers to surround Winterfell, and he might even be able to do it more or less on the sly if the winds of winter start blowing snow around. He doesn't especially have to worry about losing those numbers either, as he can always replenish his army with those who fall in the field, and there will undoubtedly be plenty of those. Perhaps the dead will swarm Winterfell like they swarmed Hardhome. There's not that much dragonglass.
Why It Might Not Be True: Game of Thrones did already pull this trick in the North once before with the Battle of the Bastards, and the Battle of Winterfell is the big climactic battle of the series with almost all of the major characters in the mix. The good guys need to win this, and it might not be believable if they manage to overcome the dead if the hundreds of thousands swarm from all directions.
It might be less of a battle and more of a slaughter if the Night King uses his numbers to his absolute advantage. Would Game of Thrones really make all that planning for nothing? It's not like the heroes will get a redo this time around, even if Winterfell is likely doomed. (More on that later.)
Arya Takes Down Viserion
All of Arya's trips down to the Winterfell forge weren't just to ogle the dreamy blacksmith. She was bound and determined to have a weapon specially made for the battle, and Gendry was just the smith to do it. She gave him the plans, and the result was a staff with what appears to be a detachable dragonglass spearhead.
Arya is trained with a staff thanks to her time with the Faceless Men in Essos, and Season 7's "Beyond the Wall" proved that a spear is one way to take down a dragon. In Episode 2, she revealed to Gendry and reminded viewers that she has killer aim when throwing pointy objects. Doesn't it stand to reason that she'll try to take down undead Viserion in the battle?
Why It Might Be True: Game of Thrones made a special point of showing Arya's design for her weapon and sending her to the forge to ask Gendry to make her weapon as a top priority. Were her visits to the forge partially to fan the flames between Arya and her long-lost blacksmith BFF so that the big sex scene would make sense? Probably. But Thrones made the point that this is a special weapon and Arya has killer aim. Viserion makes sense as a target for her to at least try and take down.
Honestly, part of why this theory is so appealing to me is that nobody in any of the strategy sessions mentioned a plan for taking down Viserion. They know the Night King reanimated Dany's fallen dragon thanks to Bran, and they know Viserion is how the Night King took down The Wall. If the dragon is powerful enough to blast down a mighty wall that stood for thousands of years, the walls and buildings of Winterfell don't stand a chance. Surely somebody put some forethought into taking down Viserion. Why not Arya?
Why It Might Not Be True: The Night King may have been able to kill Viserion by throwing a spear, but that seemed to be some kind of magical weapon. Arya also told Jon in the premiere that his longsword was too heavy for her; the spear Gendry made specially for her may not be heavy enough to pierce Viserion's scales. Without a scorpion like the one Bronn used to injure Drogon, the spear might need to hit an eye to get the dragonglass into soft flesh. Maybe Arya really just wants to fight with a staff!
The Red Woman To The Rescue
Melisandre has been absent from Game of Thrones since taking her leave from Dragonstone early in Season 7, and considering how many of the heroes want her dead, it would make sense for her to stay away... except she told Arya that they would meet again back in Season 3, and she told Varys before leaving Dragonstone that she'd return once more to "die in this strange land." She hasn't returned yet, and one long-running theory suggests how she could save the day.
In George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga, there's a group of slave soldiers known as the Fiery Hand tasked with defending the temple of the Lord of Light in Volantis. Given that the Lord of Light is seemingly a key divine player in the conflict, it stands to reason that Melisandre could recruit this group to travel to Westeros and join the battle at Winterfell.
Why It Might Be True: We have to assume that the heroes will defeat the army of the dead somehow, as the actual game of thrones part of Game of Thrones still needs to be settled, and only three episodes will remain following the big battle. The living are vastly outnumbered by the dead, and a lot of people are undoubtedly going to die.
They really might need some fiery reinforcements, and Melisandre has to come back before the final credits roll. She probably wouldn't serve much of a purpose in settling who deserves the Iron Throne once the White Walkers are defeated. Sure, the Red Woman riding in with the Fiery Hand might be a little too close to Gandalf the White riding in at the Battle of Helms Deep in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to avoid comparison, but it would work.
Why It Might Not Be True: Lord of the Rings isn't the only fantasy saga to have pulled off a last-minute save in a huge battle, though. The same thing more or less happened in the Battle of the Bastards when the Knights of the Vale rode in to save the day and help Jon defeat the forces of Ramsay Bolton. Unlike the books, Thrones hasn't mentioned the Fiery Hand, so Melisandre riding in with them to rescue the beleaguered at Winterfell would be pretty deus ex machina. It would make for an epic save, though!
The Night King Went To King's Landing
The final scene of the second episode of Season 8 saw the arrival of the army of the dead near Winterfell, with the White Walkers on horseback, leading the hundreds of thousands of wights. Notably absent from the White Walkers and wights, however, were the Night King and undead Viserion. One would think they'd be at the head of the army, right? Where are they?
Well, one theory suggests that the Night King went much farther south than Winterfell on the back of Viserion, with the goal of attacking King's Landing while the majority of the fighters and both living dragons are occupied in the North. Tyrion revealed in Season 7 that a million people (give or take) live in King's Landing; even a small portion of that population would give the Night King his own army in the far south.
Why It Might Be True: Hey, the Night King has to be putting Viserion to good use somehow, right? Last season proved that Dany's dragons are capable of carrying people vast distances at a quick pace. Dragonstone isn't far from King's Landing, and she made the flight beyond The Wall to save Jon and Co. (and lose Viserion) quickly. Tyrion also made it clear in Season 7 that Dany could easily take King's Landing if she unleashed her dragons.
If the Night King went to King's Landing with Viserion, he could probably take the city. The Golden Company wasn't present to see the wight in the Season 7 finale, and they would be totally unprepared for the threat of the Night King. Besides, surely Game of Thrones intends to revisit Dany's chilling vision of the Red Keep from the House of the Undying, right? It could work, and the Night King could still have time to fly back north and wreak havoc at Winterfell.
Why It Might Not Be True: Even with Episode 3 being supersized, cramming an assault on King's Landing or even the reveal of the Night King in King's Landing might be too much for an episode that involved 55 nights of filming at the Winterfell set. Also, how would Cersei and others survive? Even though she's on my list of characters almost certain to die, I doubt she'd bite the dust before the second-to-last or last episode. I could suspend my disbelief for this kind of twist, though.
Beric Dondarrion Resurrects Somebody
Beric Dondarrion has already been killed off several times, only to be brought back thanks to the help of Thoros of Myr and the Lord of Light. Unfortunately for Beric, Thoros died beyond The Wall, and nobody at Winterfell is present who could resurrect him, barring a very conveniently timed arrival from Melisandre. If Game of Thrones decides to kinda sorta adapt a book arc of Beric's for Episode 3, however, we could see him give his life to resurrect somebody.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, Beric is responsible for giving kiss of life to the corpse of Catelyn Stark when Thoros refused to do it, citing how long Catelyn had been dead before the Brotherhood found her. Beric died and stayed dead after bringing back Catelyn, but she wasn't the same woman. Thus was Lady Stoneheart born.
Why It Might Be True: Beric has to still be kicking around for some reason, and Episode 2 reminded viewers that Beric has been resurrected a bunch of times and that Thoros isn't around to bring him back. There are also some people he could believably give up his life to bring back. He certainly wronged Gendry by selling him to Melisandre, which was also mentioned in Episode 2. Could he bring back Gendry? Or Arya, in repayment for being taken off her kill list?
Or maybe Jon? He didn't promise not to resurrect Jon a second time. I could see Beric giving his life in exchange for somebody else's, and it's not like he's instrumental to the game of thrones. There's probably not time for a Lady Stoneheart-esque plot, but the plot point from the book could at least be somewhat adapted.
Why It Might Not Be True: I'm pretty confident that Beric is going to die, but he might not be important enough of a character for the episode to spend much time on him coming to the conclusion that he needs to administer the kiss of life to somebody else. I won't be shocked if this theory does come true. His time definitely feels like it's running out, and resurrecting an innocent could redeem his act of selling Gendry, even if it's not Gendry he saves.
The Dragons Roast Winterfell
Even if the army of the dead doesn't surround and swarm Winterfell, trailer footage combined with the sheer numbers make it pretty likely that Winterfell will be overrun. If Winterfell seems lost and filled with the dead and the White Walkers, couldn't somebody come to the conclusion that roasting Winterfell would be the smartest course of action?
The Starks probably wouldn't love the idea, although Jon might go along with it, since he's been the one character on Game of Thrones who's kept his eye on the prize of taking out the army of the dead. Dany has the dragons to do the roasting, no sentimental attachment to Winterfell (especially since none of the Northerners other than her lover/nephew seem to like her), and at least part of Winterfell will probably burn. Might the dragons do it on the bidding of the living?
Why It Might Be True: I've actually held this theory for quite a long time, as Dany's dragons roasting Winterfell seems like a heartbreaking yet logical way to get rid of a lot of the enemy, especially since the living without handy dragons to ride really only have dragonglass weapons and a handful of Valyrian blades to make their last stand against the dead.
It would also be a reason for the Northerners to continue disliking and distrusting Dany. Winterfell is iconic to the North and House Stark. Even if burning it saves Northern lives, the Northerners may not take kindly to Dany's decision, and that could affect the game of thrones.
Why It Might Not Be True: Hey, maybe the good guys will triumph without Winterfell burning at all! Alternately, it could burn for reasons unrelated to Dany wanting her dragons to roast the enemy swarming Winterfell. Not everything can be awful and tragic at the battle, right? Right?!
Find out if any of these theories are accurate when the big Battle of Winterfell episode of Game of Thrones airs Sunday, April 28 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Don't forget to vote in the poll below to weigh in on what you think will happen!
Which theory is most likely to come true?