IT'S almost game over.
Today's Game of Thrones is not just the Season 7 finale, it's also the beginning of the end. After this episode, only six chapters remain in the HBO series.
Expectations for the final outcome are stratospheric. As the clock ticks down, the intensity of fans' demands is ratcheting up. They want twists, marriages, battles, revelations and, most importantly, a clean, decisive ending.
But what do Game of Thrones devotees need immediately? At least one consequential death in this episode, called "The Dragon and the Wolf." (Warning: Spoilers ahead for recent episodes.)
So far, Season 7 has been sweet by GoT standards. Yes, Olenna Tyrell drank the poisoned wine. Sure, Dickon and Randyll Tarly were incinerated. Viserion the dragon is now Viserion the zombie dragon. But none of these deaths packed an emotional wallop.
Remember the warm, bubbly bloodbath that was Season 6?
Gone were Hodor, Ramsay Bolton, Rickon Stark, Lancel Lannister and Grand Maester Pycelle. In the finale alone, Tommen Baratheon, Margaery Tyrell, Loras Tyrell and the High Sparrow all went belly up. That's why we love Game of Thrones. Like real life, it's raw and unpredictable.
Now that it's the end of the season, it's time to start making funeral arrangements.
Could they be for Cersei?
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown - and nowhere is that truer than in Westeros. Right now, Cersei Lannister sits on the Iron Throne, which is a rather perilous place. The last four rulers were, in order, slain (Aerys), rammed to death by a wild boar (Robert), poisoned (Joffrey) and forced into suicide (Tommen). It's not exactly the Magic Kingdom.
So if history is any indication, Cersei could kick the bucket soon. But how?
When Cersei was a child, a witch made a prophecy about her future, saying she'd wed a king and bear three kids. All of this has happened. But in George R.R. Martin's books, the witch also says Cersei will be killed by her little brother - which, if the TV show embraces that plot line, could mean either Jaime or Tyrion.
There's also been talk of marriage between Cersei and Euron Greyjoy, and we all know how weddings usually go down on Game of Thrones.
Speaking of unions.
Daenerys and Jon Snow need to find out the bombshell news that they're (probably) related.
In the finale of Season 6, the popular theory was very nearly confirmed: That Jon Snow is actually the child of Rhaegar Targaryen (Dany's big brother) and Lyanna Stark (Ned Stark's sister). After Lyanna died in childbirth, Ned lied and said Jon was his bastard son to protect the baby. Then this season, fans also learned that the Rhaegar and Lyanna were secretly married. So this bastard ain't no bastard - he's legit and royal by blood.
He's also Daenerys' nephew.
Alongside the messy human drama, a massive Army of the Dead is slumming it near the Wall, ready to pounce. Last episode, we discovered that killing a White Walker kills all the wights it created. Subduing the Night King, the characters presume, will take out the whole lot. Now the crew has plenty of deadly dragonglass weapons to fight the forces off, and a working strategy for how to defeat them. But that's too easy. There needs to be another surprise to make the Army of the Dead even more menacing, beyond that zombie dragon.
Let's skip ahead to next summer. When the show finally ends in 2018, the conclusion should be clear-cut and unambiguous, unless series creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff want to become pariahs. Somebody needs to win the game, and somebody needs to lose. However, that doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending.
Daenerys could become the new, murderous Mad Queen, or Sansa Stark's teased-at lust for power could shock everybody.
What Game of Thrones fans dream of, however, is to be wrong about everything. The series, at its best, bait-and-switches followers like the craftiest car salesmen.
What we want more than anything is for our jaws to drop.
This story originally appeared in the NY Post and is republished here with permission.
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