Game of Thrones' seventh season ended with a zombie dragon, a gorgeously rendered disintegrating wall, and a crumbling story. In hopes that this visually stunning show's final season can rebuild a little for its last and most exciting act, here are 23 questions it'd be great to see answered. (Here, by the way, are the questions I had going into this season.)
1. What will Sam's role be going forward?
In particular, how will Sam find out about his father and brother's deaths? Will Bran tell him? How will he respond? Does his defection from the Citadel mean he's also left the Night's Watch? If so, can he inherit Horn Hill? If not, now that Jon and Daenerys are allies, will Sam still be willing to help Jon? It's not like he loved his dad.
2. Why did Jon seem so put out when he got news that Bran and Arya were alive?
Even Daenerys noticed that he didn't seem happy. What gives? Does he care about being King now? Is he worried others will try to make Bran King of the North? If that's the issue, well, it seems weird. Only a short time ago, he almost got himself and all his men killed when he risked it all to try to save Rickon from Ramsay. Have his feelings toward the Stark kids changed? If that's not the issue, well, what happened there?
3. Why was Tyrion standing gloomily while Jon and Daenerys had sex?
Is he a) in love with Daenerys, b) preparing to betray her thanks to some backdoor deal with Cersei he made when the camera cut away from their conversation in a very fishy way, c) concerned about the succession, or d) something else? That Tyrion is quietly enduring his family psychodrama is no secret — more on that here —but there are a few signs pointing to the possibility that he's more desperate than he seems, and not above fooling Daenerys when he needs to. You might recall that Daenerys asked him to write to Jon Snow and demand that he bend the knee. Tyrion did write to Jon Snow, but he conspicuously omitted the knee bit. Hm.
4. Will Daenerys honor her female allies?
Daenerys formed an alliance with Yara, Ellaria, and Olenna. Thus far, Daenerys has been a crappy ally to everyone but Jon Snow. She met with Cersei and Euron and didn't even mention either Ellaria or Yara, let alone request their release. Remember that brief shining moment when Daenerys' map was surrounded by female leaders and advisers? (They were wiped off it by Euron, who doesn't need maps since he teleports.) Dare we hope that the Mother of Dragons will honor her commitments to her female allies?
5. Does it matter that Dany and Jon are related?
David Benioff and Daniel Weiss seem to think that the R + L = J reveal will matter greatly going forward. I mean, it's interesting stuff, I guess, but beyond some provisional discomfort for Jon and Dany, is it that important? Why would it be? We're at a point where norms have pretty thoroughly broken down: A bastard is King of the North, a usurper is Queen at King's Landing. I wrote about how little names and title seemed to matter in Season 7. It's hard to imagine either Daenerys or Cersei caring much about Jon's claim to the throne; sure, it's technically better, but both seem prepared to use force to assert their claim.
6. Hey, where's Gendry?
7. What's up with the moody Stark siblings?
We learned in the finale that Arya and Bran are capable of behaving normally when they want to; Bran, who answered Sansa's questions in an unhelpful monotone, is pretty darn chatty with Sam — and shows him a lot more gratitude for his meager assistance at Castle Black than he ever showed Meera. Arya, likewise, seems to have recovered some of her humanity. I'm not inclined to give this much importance; it feels like the writers just forgot that these characters have spent their other scenes being creepy and unhelpful. But if it does mean something, well … what?
8. What does Littlefinger's death mean for the Vale?
I wondered (before Season 7 began) whether the people of King's Landing would approve of Cersei becoming queen. The answer turned out to be: Who cares? Still, I'm wondering the same about the people of the Vale. We never saw Sansa — who should excel in court intrigue and diplomacy — reaching out to Yohn Royce or anyone else from the Vale in order to smooth things over. He seemed fine with her executing Littlefinger in the moment. Is that it? Will Sweet Robin take that well? How will others respond to the news that Arya killed Baelish? Will the Starks lose the Knights of the Vale?
9. Will Jaime and Brienne ever get together?
Brienne feels like she's shaping up for a love rectangle with Jaime, Tormund, and even potentially The Hound. It seems pretty clear to me that she loves Jaime, and that those two are meant to have a moment. The bulk of Jaime's character development happened with her — and stalled out for several seasons thereafter. What will happen when they're traveling together?
10. Where do Varys and Melisandre fit in?
Varys and Melisandre used to be major movers and shakers. They spent a season doing next to nothing after seeming poised to represent the two poles governing the show's final act: the Lord of Light acolyte and the skeptic. Will they fulfill that function? If not, will Varys finally resume his function as Spider? Because he was pretty bad at it this season; Daenerys didn't seem to have any good intelligence on what her enemies were up to, which led to the surprises at Highgarden and Casterly Rock.
11. What role will the Lord of Light play?
There have been plenty of hints that the Lord of Light has a part to play in the confrontation with the White Walkers. In practice, his resurrected avatars Jon and Beric have fared decently in battle, but not in ways that suggest they've been chosen. Have they? Is there Lord of Light magic that's relevant to the Children of the Forest magic that produced the White Walkers?
12. Should we be worried about the show's children?
We know that Craster gave the White Walkers his babies. Why do White Walkers want babies? Are there White Walker nurseries? Kindergartens? Schools? Cities? Do they grow?
13. What happened to Jon's army of women?
"Dragonstone" included a thrilling Rosie the Riveter moment when Jon announced that women would be joining the men in mining for dragonglass and even fighting. Little Lyanna Mormont announced that she didn't plan to sit by the fire while men fought for her. So my question is … what happened to all that? I haven't seen any women training at Winterfell besides Brienne and Arya, who have always stood out as exceptions. Does Winterfell have a Title IX program? Are we going to see women and men take up swords and shields and fight the Walkers?
14. What will Bran say to Jaime — the man who tried to kill him and left him unable to walk — when they meet?
Can it please be something as deeply inappropriate as what he said to Sansa?
15. Will the citadel appear again? Will scholarship matter?
An Archmaester told Sam that they — the maesters — are "the world's memory." Does Bran's native ability to witness the world's events trump historical scholarship? The conversation between Sam and Bran in "The Dragon and the Wolf," in which they piece together the truth about Lyanna and Rhaegar, suggests that it's actually crucial that they collaborate. I hope the show remembers that. If Bran has Google, I hope Sam can keep feeding him good Boolean search strings. (Wouldn't it be something, by the way, if the maesters came after Sam for stealing library books, especially given that the Faceless Men let Arya get away with a bunch of masks?)
16. Seriously, WHAT DO THE DRAGONS EAT?
This has been bothering me for so long. Daenerys had to chain them up a few seasons ago because they were roasting children alive. In "The Dragon and the Wolf," she specifically mentions that "letting them roam free around the city was a problem." Subtext: They were eating people. They are roaming free right now and have been for ages. WHO ARE THEY EATING? HOW IS THIS NOT AN ISSUE?
17. Are Jaime and Cersei enemies now?
It kind of seems like Cersei deliberately drove Jamie away? Did she? If so, why?
18. Is Cersei actually pregnant?
Was Cersei's weird body language in the finale — she had her hands folded roughly at womb level as she walked — meant to imply her pregnancy to Daenerys and Jon? If so, given that she wants to lie to them about pretty much everything, does it follow that the pregnancy is fake?
19. Daenerys supposedly torched all the food in "The Spoils of War." It hasn't come up since. Is this going to … matter?
20. What's Daenerys' platform these days?
Daenerys made precisely opposite campaign promises to the surviving Lannisters from "The Spoils of War" and the Dothraki: She promised the first group she wouldn't murder their families or tear down their castles, and she told the latter she'd do exactly that. So far, reconciling very different military cultures hasn't seemed to be a problem for her. Will it finally become one? If it doesn't, it kind of feels like nothing means anything.
21. Will Sansa be an inspirational or inadequate leader?
On the subject of clashing leadership styles: In "Dragonstone," Sansa wanted to subject Alys Karstark — who eerily resembles her — to the exact treatment she herself received at King's Landing. She wanted to punish her for her father's alleged crimes and strip her of her property. It's a troubling scene, the kind that suggests Sansa was on the wrong track. Her instincts for governing were wrong, or needed some course-correction. (She cited Cersei as an educational influence.) Next thing we know, she's a brilliant manager planning expertly for winter. What happened? Whom did she learn this from? What development did we skip?
22. Is there tension rising with Sansa and Jon?
If Sansa and Jon clash over her decision to execute Littlefinger and his to bend the knee to Daenerys, can it please be a substantive disagreement that doesn't devolve into Sansa whining that he doesn't listen to her as she refuses to give specifics? (Yes, the "Battle of the Bastards" dialogue still rankles.)
23. Now that the show has a few years under its belt, will it do more complex work with memory?
I'm thinking of Arya bugging Sansa about taking their parents' chambers. Will Sansa ever address the fact that she was raped and tortured in those rooms? The girls have spent a few scenes now staring fondly at the training yard remembering their childhoods. Is it possible that Sansa can look at Winterfell without seeing men being flayed? And while we're on the subject of Winterfell nostalgia, there's been A LOT OF FOND TALK about Ned Stark. Does anyone (besides Littlefinger) remember Catelyn fondly? It's one thing for Lady Stoneheart to be eliminated from the show; it's kind of intense to completely erase Catelyn's shadow and memory from the show, particularly now that her children are all back home.