(Warning: The following contains potential SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season seven, as well as wide-ranging discussion of the events of the recently concluded sixth season of the show. Proceed with whatever level of caution your friendly neighborhood Three-Eyed Raven suggests to you is wise...)
Now, with Game of Thrones being based on a best-selling series of novels and all, it of course makes a certain amount of sense that the show would be able to throw more foreshadowing into the mix than most of its contemporaries. After all, show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have more-or-less known what'll happen in, say, season five, ever since they started shooting the pilot . By the time the show got around to the recently concluded sixth season, however, it had almost entirely overtaken its source material - and, as such, diverged substantially from the novels.
This One Scene In Game Of Thrones Season 1 Foreshadowed The Hell Out Of Season 6
So much so, in fact, that it seemed as though we ought to take a few minutes to break down just how much of the current season Game of Thrones was tipping its hat towards way back in its second ever episode - season one, episode two, and that scene of Robert and Ned discussing the past.
"What do you say, just you and me on The Kingsroad, swords at our sides?"
Now, Robert and Ned may not have made it onto the Kingsroad as a wise-cracking double act - or, indeed, out of season one - but if there's any line that set the stage for the next six seasons' default plot dynamic, it's this one. Think back to the most memorable moments of each past season, and odds are half of them involve a pair of 'odd couple' adventurers making their way along the roads of Westeros (or beyond). Perhaps Robert had more of a gift of foresight than we thought...
Or, then again, perhaps not:
"Must have been a rare wench to make Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor."
After all, it sure does seem as though Robert fell hook, line and sinker for Ned's deception when it came to the true origins of Jon Snow - something that took a full six seasons to finally be revealed. Though, then again, Robert and Ned made that particular plot twist pretty clear, in retrospect:
Robert: "You never told me what she looked like."
Ned: "Nor will I."
Ned's honor, it seems, stretched even unto death - and season six.
Meanwhile, the pair also demonstrated a complete lack of open-mindedness when it came to the resourcefulness of a certain Targaryen:
"Daenerys Targaryen has wed some Dothraki horse-lord. What of it?"
A prediction which, as it turns out, looks set to bite the kin they left behind in the ass come the start of season seven - all because Robert couldn't get past his obsession with the past, and the 'sins' of the Targaryens as a whole. As he reminded us - neatly setting up the Tower of Joy in season six as he did so...
"What her father did to your family, that was unspeakable. What Rhaegar Targaryen did to your sister, the woman I loved."
Meanwhile, Ned was no wiser, noting:
"Even a million Dothraki are no threat to the realm, as long as they remain on the other side of the Narrow Sea. They have no ships Robert."
Something which was absolutely true - right up until it wasn't. Season six's final shot of Daenerys crossing the Narrow Sea in her shiny new fleet could hardly have echoed this moment more if we had heard Ned Stark's words on the wind she sailed on. Except, of course, for the fact that Robert himself inadvertently predicted the role of Dorne (and to a lesser extent the Iron Islands) mere moments later:
"There are still those in the Seven Kingdoms who call me 'usurper'... That Targaryen boy crosses with a Dothraki horde at his back, the scum will join him."
Now, Viserys ('that Targaryen boy') may not have made it out of season one himself - but that doesn't mean that 'the scum' weren't ultimately just as happy to join his sister.
Ned's words, however, may hold a warning for Daenerys too, though:
"He will not cross. And if by chance he does, we'll throw him back into the sea."
A long shot, perhaps, considering the sheer size of Daenerys' forces - but if season seven opens with a ship-wreck, or a bloody battle on a Westerosi beach, then don't say Ned Stark didn't warn you...
"There's a war coming, Ned. I don't know when, I don't know who we'll be fighting, but it's coming."
Or, in other words? Robert essentially - despite his suspicion that it would be Viserys crossing the Narrow Sea - predicted both the eventual invasion's lengthy delay, and the fact that there would be an unexpected figure (Daenerys Stormborn) at its head when it finally arrived.
Or, y'know, he meant one of the several wars Westeros has had in the meantime - but either way, that's some nice foreshadowing there... and not for the first time.