Spoilers ahead for Episode 4 of Game of Thrones Season 8.
Believe it or not, only two episodes of Game of Thrones are left, and there are still a bunch of loose ends to tie off. The fourth episode of Season 8 ended with Cersei scoring some big victories on Daenerys, thanks to the death of Rhaegal, the destruction of a bunch of Dany's ships, and the execution of Missandei. Dany presumably went back to Dragonstone to lick her wounds and plan her next attack, and a new episode photo reveals Jon Snow will join her there. But why?
First, take a look at Jon Snow back on the sands of Dragonstone:
That right there is Jon Snow walking up the beach of Dragonstone with Varys at his side, apparently having sailed to the island on one of Dany's surviving ships and rowed to the island. Unless Davos is off-screen, he did not travel to Dragonstone with Jon. On the one hand, it does make sense for Jon to rendezvous with Dany at the ancestral home of House Targaryen. On the other hand, is it a smart move?
Episode 4 proved that Cersei controls the seas thanks to Euron Greyjoy, and Dany already had most of her fleet destroyed and one of her two remaining dragons shot down over the waters off Dragonstone. By sailing to Dragonstone, Jon runs the risk of losing one of the last surviving ships of Team Targaryen and being blockaded by Euron's fleet, at best, if he encounters the Iron Fleet.
At worst, the Iron Fleet could carry the Golden Company to Dragonstone, and the Golden Company has the numbers to overwhelm whatever forces Dany has left with her on Dragonstone. Jon clearly left the remnants of the Unsullied, Dothraki, and Northern fighters on the mainland after leading them down from Winterfell, and Dany may not have more than the small force she brought to the standoff with Cersei.
For all his faults, Euron is a smart and deadly seaman, and he has arguably done the most damage to Dany's cause since she sailed to Westeros. Traveling across the sea for a confab with Dany seems unnecessarily risky for Jon. Throw in the fact that the leader of the Golden Company is an experienced commander, and taking Jon from his men may have been unwise as well.
Ser Davos is a good man and was a worthy Hand for Jon during his brief stint as King in the North, but is he a battle commander? As much as Jon was hardly a strategic genius when he botched the plan at the Battle of the Bastards, he'd be more of an asset with his men than chatting with Dany on Dragonstone. Of course, Varys and Tyrion might benefit from seeing Jon and Dany together.
Varys and Tyrion already have serious doubts about whether Dany should sit the Iron Throne; if Dany comes across as dangerously volatile contrasted with Jon being relatively calm (not having lost a child or seen his best friend executed recently), then their loyalties could be even further divided. The odds are already looking pretty good that Varys at least will betray the Dragon Queen.
Now, is all of this to say that Dany and Jon's cause will be damaged because the Iron Fleet and/or the Golden Company? Certainly not.
If we could count on Game of Thrones following logical courses of action in the final fight for the Iron Throne, then Dany wouldn't have been shocked to see the Iron Fleet come out of nowhere around Dragonstone, Cersei probably would have had forces on Dragonstone, and Dany wouldn't have sent her injured and weary army on a month-long walk from the North to King's Landing.
Should Jon's trip to Dragonstone backfire on the fight to defeat Cersei? Arguably, yes. Technically, Dany didn't even need to risk journeying her forces from the mainland back to Dragonstone after the showdown outside the walls of King's Landing, assuming that's what happened. We'll have to wait and see whether or not Game of Thrones goes in a strategic direction with the final conflicts. It's not like Game of Thrones has never made noticeable mistakes before.
The next episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday, May 12 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.