Game of Thrones Theory: The Final Battle Is Against Cersei, Not The Night King
Game of Thrones returns for a final season this month, but while the promos have been hyping a showdown with the Night King, the final battle will almost certainly be against Cersei Lannister.
With a little help from an undead Viserion, the White Walkers have finally breached the Wall and are heading South to Winterfell. The battle between the living and the dead, the mystery of the Night King, and Jon Snow's stand against them has been building since the opening scene of the very first episode. This was the moment that three rangers of the Night's Watch first met the undead creatures of winter, and the only man to survive that encounter deserted, heading South to meet his death on the business end of Ned Stark's sword.
Since then, Game of Thrones has been building up the White Walker threat, taking them from fairy tale monsters to a very real army. At the start of season 8, the Night King and his army will be walking into Westeros... but the fight against them isn't actually going to be the final battle of Game of Thrones season 8. That will be the battle against Cersei - for the Iron Throne itself.
- This Page: Clues That Games of Thrones' Final Fight is Against Cersei
- Page 2: Jon and Daenerys Can Launch an Attack From Dragonstone
It's easy to see why fans might think that the Battle of Winterfell, where the armies of the living and the dead meet, is going to be the big one for the season: the marketing has been focused almost exclusively on it. Teasers, trailers, and posters have centered on the Stark family homestead, whether they show the Starks in the crypts, the dragons flying overhead, or the aftermath of the battle in a snowy courtyard. Everything is pointing toward this fight, but it's also pointing toward that fight happening sooner rather than later.
The choice to make the Battle of Winterfell the focus of the marketing means that it's going to happen fairly early on in the season. Based on the titles for each episode, it's assumed that the battle is going to take place in episode 3 - and given that Cersei isn't about to head up to Winterfell to swing a sword, she'll still be in King's Landing after that, ready to defend her throne. It's likely that the first half of the season will focus more on the North, and the fight against the White Walkers, and the second half will be all about the fight against Cersei. The Queen hasn't been left out of the marketing (for the most part) because she's unimportant, but because the showrunners don't want to reveal who makes it through the first battle to fight her in the second half.
Although the majority of the marketing for the final season has avoided showing Cersei, or anything that obviously takes place after the Battle of Winterfell, some eagle-eyed fans have seen at least one scene that does. In the 'Together' promo, Jon and Dany are seen standing by a fireplace that looks like the one at Dragonstone, which was seen in season 7.
This scene might seem insignificant, but it's actually incredibly telling. At the end of the last season, Jon and Dany were on their way North by ship, so the fact that they return to Dragonstone means that they both survive the Battle of Winterfell, and decide to return to the island for some reason. There's a very (very) slim chance that they somehow return to Dragonstone before the Battle of Winterfell, because this is Game of Thrones and anything could happen, but there is absolutely no reason for them to head North, just to turn around and go back to the island, just to head North again for the battle against the Night King. So, what are they doing there?
One theory is that after surviving the Battle of Winterfell, Jon and Dany return to Dragonstone to use it as a base - and to attack King's Landing. After defeating the Night King (presumably, anyway), Cersei is enemy number one, and she'll be in King's Landing with the Golden Company (which Euron went to get for her). It's going to take a lot to defeat her, and Dragonstone is a solid place to use when launching an attack.
There's a reason that Stannis wanted to use Dragonstone when he was going to attack King's Landing in the War of the Five Kings, and it's that this is actually a good strategy. Stannis failed, not because he had a terrible plan, but because he was up against Tywin Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, and the Tyrells. Without all three, Stannis would likely have prevailed - and now, Cersei has none of these. She does have her own cunning and an army of sellswords, admittedly, but the true hero of the Battle of the Blackwater was Tyrion, who is now on the other side. It's likely that, knowing all he does, Tyrion recommends a return to Dragonstone in order to regroup and then hit hard at the capital. When that happens, it will be the true final battle of Game of Thrones, not the battle against the Night King.
Of course, the idea that a battle at King's Landing is going to be the big finale for Game of Thrones should come as no surprise. While the White Walkers have been teased since the first episode, so has the throne, and the idea that there are plenty of people who would love to take it for themselves. The books may be called A Song Of Ice And Fire, but the show is called Game of Thrones - and it's that throne that is central to the story. Even without showing Cersei in much of the marketing, the Iron Throne has been front and center (in creative ways), as HBO reminds fans that that is the true endgame.
The fight against the White Walkers is huge, of course - it's undoubtedly going to be a bloodbath, and there's no denying that it's incredibly important. However, it's primarily been Jon's story since the start. His search for Benjen, his trips beyond the Wall, his time at the Night's Watch, all of this has been about Jon and the Starks. The battle for the Throne, however, involves everyone in Westeros (and even beyond). This has always been the endgame, and fans shouldn't forget that Cersei isn't gone, she's just lying in wait... and there are still six episodes before the Iron Throne gets won for the last time.