Season 6 of Game of Thrones was chock-full of revelations and uncoverings: enough to make us crazy with the wait between now and next season. In the meantime, here’s five of our favorite Game of Thrones theories to keep us warm during the long winter to come. Be warned: here there be spoilers, of both the book and show varieties.
1. JAIME WILL KILL CERSEI
In the opening scene of the Season 5 premiere, we were treated to a flashback (the first of the series) in which a young Cersei Lannister visits Maggy the Frog, a seer and fortuneteller, in the forest outside Lannisport. In the show, Maggy offered two prophecies to Cersei – both of which have come true.
The first was in regards to Cersei one day being queen: “Queen you shall be… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.”
Maggy is obviously foreseeing the marriage of Margaery Tyrell to young Tommen Baratheon, but it also explains why Cersei was so horrible to Sansa back when she was betrothed to Joffrey.
The second was about Cersei’s children: “Gold shall be their crowns, and gold their shrouds.”
We were all pretty relieved when the diabolically depraved Joffrey met his nasty end at the Purple Wedding, but the deaths of Myrcella and Tommen have quickly emerged as two of the most haunting deaths of the series. Maggy’s prophecies came true, without a doubt – but in hindsight, these prophecies were rather self-fulfilling.
In the books, however, there is a third part to her prophecy which the show left out. After telling Cersei that she will live to see the deaths of her three children, Maggy adds that “…when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
Wait, what? What’s a valonqar, and what is their motive for killing Cersei?
In High Valyrian, valonqar means “little brother,” which Cersei has long thought to be Tyrion – in the books, she’s offered a Westeros-wide reward for Tyrion’s head because she’s so sure it’s him.
But we must not forget that, though Cersei and Jaime are twins, Cersei was the first one out of the womb, with Jaime just behind her – some say he was even grasping his sister’s heel as he came into the world. So yeah, he’s a younger brother, too.
The twins may have been everything to one another for most of their lives – “Each the other’s world entire,” to steal an awesome phrase from Cormac McCarthy – but now that Jaime has found honor and purpose in life beyond Cersei (a big thanks to Brienne of Tarth for this one), and with Cersei having gone crazy with vengeful bloodlust, it seems very likely that it will be Jaime who chokes the life from her.
Think about the look Jaime gives Cersei when he returns from the Riverlands to find his sister sitting the Iron Throne. He knows their son Tommen is dead, and he knows that Cersei is the only person spiteful enough to blow up the Sept of Bailor. Now think about how Jaime has spent the last 20 or so years trying to shake his reputation as a kingslayer. He’s known as such because he killed the Mad King, because the Mad King wanted to burn down King’s Landing, which would have killed scores of innocent people.
Now, all these years later, his sister – the woman he loves – has done just the thing Jaime once prevented, at the cost of his honor and reputation. So, I read the look he gives Cersei in the throne room at her coronation as one of fearful resignation to the fact that she’s beyond redemption, and that she must be dealt with.
It’s worth noting that the Valyrian language is gender neutral, which means that valonqar could just as easily mean “younger sibling” as “little brother.” As such, it opens the possibility of Cersei’s killer to be virtually any character who has an older sibling, and from Arya to Daenerys to most of the Sand Snakes, there’s plenty of folks who wouldn’t mind seeing Cersei dead. But my money is still on Jaime; there’s just way too much poetry in the prospect of him being the one to take her out.
In the Season 6 finale, we finally learned that Jon Snow is, without a doubt, the child of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lady Lyanna Stark, making him nephew to Daenerys and cousin to the surviving Stark children. The implications of Jon being both Ice and Fire are staggering in terms of the effect it will have on the story as we move forward, but what would make things even more interesting?
How about if Tyrion Lannister is also a secret Targaryen.
Broken down most succinctly by UnmaskedLurker at Westeros.org, the theory posits that the Mad King raped Tyrion’s mother Joanna at a tourney in King’s Landing, which led to Tyrion’s birth. The timeline of events certainly supports this idea – the tourney was in 272 and Tyrion was born in 273 – but that alone isn’t quite compelling enough. Here’s some other arguments that Tyrion is a Targaryen:
- Tywin, who was the Mad King’s Hand for much of Aerys II’s reign, never missed an opportunity to tell Tyrion he was “no son of mine.” Perhaps this is literal, rather than something simply meant to hurt Tyrion.
- Tyrion is rumored to have been born with a tail – a trait that appears far more often than average in the birth records of the Targaryens, an obvious consequence of their generational inbreeding. Rhaego, the stillborn child of Daenerys and Khal Drogo, is also said to have had a tail.
- As we saw early in Season 6, Tyrion has an indelible kinship with Dany’s dragons. Maybe Tyrion’s ability to smooth-talk people can also extend to dragons, but it seems more likely the winged beasts can sense in Tyrion a kindred spirit. We know that, according to Rhaegar Targaryen’s prophecy, the Targaryen dragon must have three heads. It seems a lock that Dany and Jon will represent two of them, and it’s seeming more and more likely that Tyrion will be revealed to be the third.
This is a fun theory, but I think I’d like to see Tyrion remain solely a Lannister. To make him a Targaryen bastard would be to undo all the drama surrounding Tyrion’s place and purpose as a Lannister, especially the troubled relationship he had with his father. On top of that, how many mind-blowing revelations about characters’ true parentage can the show unveil without becoming silly and overused? I think that number is 1, and Jon’s got it on lock.
3. THE WHITE WALKERS ARE ACTUALLY THE GOOD GUYS…OR AT LEAST NOT THE BAD GUYS
Another huge revelation in Season 6 is that the Children of the Forest were the ones to create the White Walkers. It definitely complicated our understanding of the Children’s seemingly peaceful ways, but more than anything, it made us look at the White Walkers in a new light.
When Bran sees the creation of the Night’s King in a vision, he asks Leif why they did such a thing. She tells him the White Walkers were created as a weapon to help them beat back the encroachment of the First Men, which occurred around 8,000 years ago.
Say what you will about the violent brutality exhibited by the White Walkers, but this revelation complicates our understanding of the Night’s King and his White Walkers: It paints them as tragic figures.
Redditor GumdropGoober posits that because the White Walkers were more or less “dormant” for the thousands of years between the wall being built and current events, something specific must have drawn them out. It seems likely that the reemergence of magic (particularly pertaining to the fiery magic surrounding dragons) has given them reason to reveal themselves; after all, their ice magic is fire magic’s counterpoint.
We also need to remember that, once the wall went up, men promised to stay south of it, giving the Land of Always Winter to the White Walkers. Over the many years that came to pass, it wasn’t the White Walkers, but men, who broke this accord. Between the wildlings who went to live there and the Night’s Watch brothers who foray into the North to find them, the encroachment became unforgivable. Add this to the reemergence of magic in the world, and it’s clear the White Walkers have no choice but to march south once again in an effort to protect themselves and bring balance back to their world. What would Game of Thrones look like if it was told from their perspective?
4. BRAN STARK IS ACTUALLY EVERY BRANDON STARK WHO EVER LIVED
“Brandon” has been House Stark’s go-to name for thousands and thousands of years; a quick look at the “Brandon Stark disambiguation page” at Westeros.org lists no less than fifteen of them over the years – and these are just the ones who made history. For our purposes, let’s look at three of them.
First, there was Bran the Builder, who was the first King of Winter and builder of Winterfell, and also built the Wall – likely with the help of giants and definitely with the help of the Children’s binding magic.
Then there was Bran the Breaker, who joined forces with Joramun, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, to bring down the Night’s King and subsequently erased all record of the cold lord from history (could it be that the Night’s King was himself a Stark once upon a time? He sure did take a strong interest in Jon at Hardhome, and in Bran in general…).
Lastly there was Ned’s older brother Brandon, the one-time heir to Winterfell who was sadistically murdered by the Mad King, along with their father Rickard.
This theory claims that all of these Brans were, and are, the Bran we know from the show. Mind-blowing, right? (check out Syri0_F0rel’s super-deep dive on this at Westeros.org). With Season 6’s revelation that Bran can not only see across time and space, but manipulate it, it stands to reason that he’s possibly been both present and instrumental in all the great events of Westerosi history.
The Three-Eyed Raven tells Bran that he cannot interact with the past – the “ink has dried” on those pages. But young Ned clearly hears Bran outside the Tower of Joy in Episode 3, and let us not forget how greatly Bran affected the life – and death – of Wylis, the boy who would become known as Hodor. As such, the ink of the past is never fully dried – at least for young Bran – nor is it immutable.
Let us turn to Old Nan, the wet nurse who served the Starks of Winterfell for time out of mind (Nan originally arrived at Winterfell several decades ago to take care of yet another young Brandon Stark), and also filled Bran’s head with a ton of scary tall tales about White Walkers, giants, and ice spiders big as hounds.
But maybe her stories weren’t all that crackpot after all; White Walkers and giants are definitely real (where are our ice spiders, Old Nan?!?), and though she sees the past through the blurry lens of someone who’s lived a long, long time, perhaps her other observations have more than just a ring of truth to them. Take this passage from the first book:
“Sometimes, Nan would talk to [Bran] as if he were her Brandon, the baby she had nursed all those years ago, and sometimes she confused him with his uncle Brandon, who was killed by the Mad King before Bran was even born. She had lived so long, Mother had told him once, that all the Brandon Starks had become one person in her head.” (Emphasis added)
Could it be that all these Brandon Starks became one person in Nan’s head because they were, in fact, the same?
The implications of this theory are huge. It suggests that all of Westrosi history has been molded and influenced by the work of a young boy who actually isn’t a young boy at all; if this theory proves true, it would mean that Bran isn’t just super-old, but timeless. For Bran, the passage of time is no longer linear; he is everywhere, always.
As much fun as this theory is, I hope it isn’t true. For Bran to have omnipotent influence over so many major events throughout history would take away the free will and agency from literally every other character we’ve even seen or heard of in Game of Thrones.
5. SAMWELL TARLY IS THE AUTHOR OF “A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE”
There have been some great new theories to emerge as a result of information gleaned from the Season 6 finale, but this one is my favorite. In a tag-team theory from this subreddit, it is argued that the entire story of Game of Thrones has been told from the perspective of Samwell Tarly, many years after the events of the series have come to a close. George RR Martin has always said that the series will end on a bittersweet note, and also that Samwell is most like him of any character. How bittersweet would it be to have Sam, Martin’s in-story analogue, remembering the old days, now that all his friends and loved ones have died? The answer: Very bittersweet. Like, all the bittersweet.
First, we need to note the similarities between the sun-orb from the opening credits to the chandeliers/lens refractors in the Citadel library:
Then, we need to notice how the map of Westeros in the opening credits appear to be convex, with the outer edges appearing to turn inward toward the viewer, as if the map is being viewed through lenses…
…Lenses like this:
If nothing else, it seems inarguable that the opening credits can be seen as anything but being a maester’s view of the map (and, by extension, the people and events) of Westeros.
But why make it just any maester, when it could be our favorite maester (in training, of course), Samwell Tarly?
I love this theory not only because it’s poetic as hell (no, I absolutely did not tear up when I read it the first time, thank you), but also because it doesn’t seem to interfere with/predict how things will shake out between now and the end of the series. It’s simply a great way to wrap up the show, and it will also remind us, though our favorite characters have long since died, that the Game of Thrones carried on into a new day.
BONUS ROUND: 3 THEORIES THAT DIED IN SEASON 6
Cleganebowl: In Season 6, we saw the return of the Ser Gregor Clegane (The Mountain), and his younger brother, Sandor (The Hound). It was long-hoped that the two would meet in a trial by combat, with the Mountain fighting for Cersei and the Hound fighting for the Faith of the Seven.
But with the Faith Militant (and so much more) being destroyed by Cersei in King’s Landing, and the Hound presumably heading north with the Brotherhood Without Banners, it look like the Clegane brothers won’t be crossing paths anytime soon, if ever. Too bad.
Lady Stoneheart: In the books, Catlyn Stark’s carved, waterlogged body is pulled from the river just after her murder at the Red Wedding. Beric Dondarrion uses the rest of his resurrective mojo to give Cat the breath of (almost) life, giving his own (for good and for all) to do so. Catlyn rises as Lady Stoneheart, an undead force of vengeance who will stop at nothing until the Freys and Lannisters are punished for what they did to her family.
In Season 6, we find that Beric Dondarrion is quite alive and well, and he makes no mention or inference to Catlyn or Lady Stoneheart. In a meta-moment for the show, we see the Hound (like, the kind of “see” that can’t be unseen) urinate into the river (where Catlyn is found in the books), which is read by many as the show’s way of saying that the chances of LSH showing up at this point are less than Hound piss. Given the amount of time that’s passed since the Red Wedding, it seems highly unlikely that she’ll show up; but lots of characters have been talking about her lately, so who knows.
The Grand Northern Conspiracy: It was heavily speculated that there was a large contingent of faithful Northerners who never lost hope that a new Stark would come to rule the North – they were only playing along with Roose and Ramsay Bolton’s plans in order to gain their trust before springing a plan of retribution into action (Check out redditor Yeade’s incredible breakdown of the theory here).
Aside from the poor old lady who told Sansa that “The North Remembers,” everyone else seems to have totally forgotten. From Lord Karstark’s early submission to Ramsay, to Smalljon Umber’s total betrayal of the Starks by giving Rickon to Ramsay, it seems more appropriate to say “The North Consists of a Bunch of Self-Serving Cockwombles.” But hey, at least a 10 year old girl was able to remind them what was really important. There’s been a raven: Winter is here.
What other enduring theories did we miss?