Everyone knows that In Game of Thrones, you win or you die, and it looks like next week's finale, "The Winds of Winter", could live up to that mantra quite well. Whilst we are still reeling from Episode 9 - as the show offed poor little Rickon Stark and kind-hearted Wun-Wun the giant - there is no time to get sentimental. Episode 9 is stereotypically your big hitter of the season, but the promo for Episode 10 doesn't show any sign of the action slowing down. By the looks of it, there will be a courtroom drama over at King's Landing as Cersei AND Loras face their trials, as well as your usual ice and fire strife. With this in mind, let's run down who is most likely to 'hold the door' in the season finale and joining the Game of Thrones ever growing In Memoriam section.
This is the biggest rumour to come out of Thronesland in a while is the one about the 'Mad Queen', suggesting that Cersei Lannister will destroy King's Landing with Wildfire! History tells us that before Aerys II Targaryen was stabbed in the back by Jaime Lannister, he intended to burn King's Landing down in a similar fashion. The theory posits that the 'rumour' Quyburn confirmed in Episode 8 was the existence of a laaaarge stash of the stuff still hidden under the capital. We last saw Tyrion use Wildfire to his advantage in the Battle of Blackwater, but could his Lannister sister be about to use it for more nefarious purposes? The future isn't exactly bright for Cersei; Maggy the Frog's prophecy stated:
the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.
Valonqar means 'little brother' in High Valryian, leading many to speculate that Tyrion, or even Jaime, will kill the blonde bombshell. Can Jaime re-enact his Kingslayer days and really kill his own sister-turned-lover?
Maggy the Frog, that's all I'm going to say (again). Despite foreshadowing the fall of Cersei, the well known prophecy also saids that all of the Lannister children would be wrapped in shrouds of gold by mummy dearest. So, if Cersei goes bye-bye, Tommen has to go first. To be honest, we are amazed that the boy king lasted so long in the world's most uncomfortable chair, but survive he did...until now.
Tommen sealed his fate when aligning with the shady Faith and High Sparrow. Wife Margaery may be on her husband's side, but when it is King vs. Faith, who comes out on top? We had best start looking for a new ruler - don't worry, there are plenty in contention.
'Uncle' Kevan Lannister
Sadly, in all this cannon fodder, there are sure be some civilian casualties. Arguably one of the 'nicer' members of the Lannister clan, the current Hand of the King is in Westeros's most cursed role - seriously, working under David Brent would be better than this. Ser Kevan may be a seasoned war veteran, but I don't think he realises just how much danger he is in. With both his niece and the Faith against him, Kevan's time is short.
Another one to stir up the "they killed an LGBT character" crowd, Ser Loras has been left rotting in a cell for a whole season now. With both he and Cersei guilty of their crimes, at least one of them must pay the price in the finale, and odds are on the Lord of Flowers. We already saw the character face defeat under the torture of the Faith, and it looks like Loras, just like us, has resigned himself to a Thrones demise.
As for Loras's buxom sister, drawing roses on pieces of paper for Diana Rigg is all well and good, but even the schemiest of schemers can't escape a wave of Wildfire. We know that Margaery has something up her sleeve to dethrone the Faith, but she isn't banking on Cersei Lannister's end game. I'm guessing that Margaery will succeed in ridding King's Landing of the religious nut-jobs, but whether she will escape with her life too remains in the balance!
Now that Cleganebowl is kaput, is there really any need for a zombie guardian in the world of George R.R. Martin? I mean, he doesn't really say a lot, and if things go down the way we think they will, Cersei could need help escaping King's Landing. Could we be heading for another "hold the door" as The Mountain sacrifices himself to aid Cersei's getaway?
The High Sparrow
Jonathan Pryce's stint as the old father time has run its course. Over two seasons we have seen the High Sparrow ascend from soup kitchen worker to full on Pope. With both Margaery and Cersei plotting against the religious leader, there is only one way this character can go! The High Sparrow wasn't all bad I guess - at least he doesn't wear socks with sandals.
Elsewhere in Westeros...
As ever with Game of Thrones, most of the episodes are a game of two halves, so who could kick the bucket outside of King's Landing?
Amazingly, Ser Davos survived "The Battle of the Bastards", but what is the Onion Knight supposed to do now? Row off into the distance like King Robert's bastard, or get some sweet revenge? Clearly Davos has been put here for a purpose, and that is to rid the world of the Red Woman. Finding Shireen's burnt up wooden stag has brought all the feels flooding back. The promo for next week sees Ser Davos outing the Red Priestess and her role in Shireen's death, so don't expect Jon Snow to show any mercy. Just as Robb Stark offed Rickard Karstark for child murder, Mel could lose her head. At least at 400 years old, she has had a good innings.
At the same time, did Davos's luck just run out? He has survived the Battle of Blackwater, and the Battle of Winterfell, but can he really survive the Battle of Blood Magic? We can't see Melisandre giving up without a fight, and we already know that her lady parts can pop out smokey assassins. Watch your back Davos!
We still hold out hopes for Bri-Mund, but with Brienne noticeably absent this week, it could be too little, too late. If "The Winds of Winter" lives up to its icy name, there could be a finale showdown of White Walkers vs. Wildlings. Snow and crew may have just taken down the Bolton forces, but they are by no means equipped to take on a frozen army of the undead. If Tormund returns to the Wall, expect to see the Night's Watch fallen and a welcoming party of Walkers waiting. Tormund is currently Jon Snow's 'northern' Hand of the King, and as we've already seen...that's a very dangerous role indeed!
A promo with Walder toasting "the Freys and the Lannisters send their regards"... mate, you just sealed the deal. Walder broke the laws of never harming guests under your own roof, and has been living on borrowed time since. With Arya heading for Westeros, many are speculating she may pop by the Frey's for a spot of dinner! The 'late' Walder Frey won't be late for much longer.
It isn't all doom and gloom!
Finally, who are we definitely carrying over to the (shortened) seventh season of HBO's blood-soaked gem?
No matter who dies in King's Landing next week, it is safe to assume that Ser Jaime won't be joining the majority of his family in a shroud of gold. The one-handed fiend has grown from floppy-heard sister f****r, to one of the show's most admirable characters. There will surely be consequences for Jaime after the finale, but death is not one of them.
He may have told Melisandre not to bring him back, but 'The Prince Who Was Promised' isn't ready to leave us again so soon. Surviving a hail of arrows (seriously) and being trampled half to death means that Benioff and Weiss have a bigger plan for everyone's favourite bastard. Turn that frown upside down!
Whilst she is currently 'Gendry' somewhere at sea and heading for Westeros, the 'girl' is only just getting her teeth back into Starklife. If Arya does make an appearance at the House of Frey, it is doubtful that she will go the same way as her mother and brother. Whilst we will never get that full Stark reunion at Winterfell, it is highly likely that Arya, Sansa, Bran and Jon will all have a family hug-it-out at some point.
Three dragons, a horde of Dothraki and a fleet of Greyjoys...sure, Euron may be coming for Daenerys, but the gods seems to be on her side with this one. 'Nuff said!
The wise-cracking drunkard is firmly by the side of the Mother of Dragons. Along with the newly recruited Greyjoy kids, the Imp isn't going anywhere...ever!
As the faceless men often say, "Valar Morghulis" (all men must die), but who are we ready to say goodbye to? The show is known for its frequent character deaths (just look at this season), but in fact we haven't seen any MAJOR characters leave us in a while. Ned, Robb and Joffrey are all up there as WTF deaths, so who is next? George R.R. Martin said that the show would deviate three times from his books and that we have already seen two. Is it time for HBO to swing us that all important third curveball? Tune in next week to find out more.