Death marches on Winterfell. This is it. After eight seasons of build-up and foreshadowing, winter has finally come for our favorite characters. We were treated to a particularly sweet episode in last week’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” No one died, people sat around the fire swapping stories, and Arya jumped Gendry’s bones.
Thing is, this is Game of Thrones, so any wholesome moment is 100% going to be followed up with death and sadness. Robb Stark getting married and attending a wedding feast? We all know how that turned out. Sansa escaping King’s Landing and returning North? That didn’t work out so well for her, did it? Jon Snow becoming Lord Commander and saving the wildlings? It’s stabby-stabby time.
Reportedly, “The Battle of Winterfell” will be the longest battle sequence in film or TV history, rivaling The Lord of the Rings’ Battle of Helm’s Deep, according to director Miguel Sapochnik. The episode will also contain the most billed characters since the series pilot.
However, it’s a guarantee that a good chunk of those characters aren’t going to see Episode 4. Here are the ones that I think are going to kick the bucket.
1. Grey Worm
Grey Worm has been Daenerys’ loyal military commander since Season 3, when she freed him and the rest of the Unsullied from the chains of slavery. In “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” Grey Worm pulled the classic ‘cop who’s two weeks away from retirement’ move by planning his post-war vacation with Missandei to her home isle of Narth. Rookie mistake, Grey Worm. The show isn’t going to give my favorite couple a happy ending, so you can bet your balls that he bites the dust this week.
Ya hate to see it. In probably one of the most emotional scenes of the series, Brienne of Tarth was knighted by Jaime Lannister, fulfilling her life-long dream of becoming a knight. Not only did she check off her bucket list, but she’ll be fighting outside the walls on the front lines. If she does go down next episode, she’ll at least have achieved her life’s work, which is something most people in Westeros don’t get.
Ever since the wildling defeat at the Wall and Mance Rayder was burned at the stake, Tormund has been the unofficial leader of the Free Folk. Not only that, he’s been one of Jon Snow’s strongest allies, fighting with him at Hardhome and Beyond the Wall. He’s never been the type to want to grow old and sick, so I don’t think it’ll be against his wishes to die fighting for his friends (and very tall lady love.) Let’s just hope he manages to take out a few White Walkers with him.
4. Ser Davos
Ser “not much of a fighter” Davos finds himself on the eve of yet another massive battle. While I’ve always enjoyed his straight-forward, Ron Swanson-esque council and loyalty, he’s sort of outlived his stature on the series. I’m not exactly sure what the series would plan for him in the last few episode aside from maybe serving more soup. I’ve got my money on this grizzled Season 2 veteran finally taking a dirt nap.
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Sam’s been having a no good, very rotten week so far. He just found out Queen Daenerys burned his father and brother alive and the Night King is coming to kill them all. The one thing that would truly crush his spirit is if Gilly and Little Sam died. Don’t worry though, they’re safe in the crypts beneath Winterfell. Y’know, the crypts that everyone keeps saying are the safest place for the civilians? We know that’s probably not going to be the case, and Gilly’s probable death is just the thing to send Samwell Tarly into true despair.
6. Beric Dondarrion
How many times has he been brought back? Five? Six? Lord Beric Dondarrion lost his restart button when Thoros of Myr died during their escapades Beyond the Wall in Season 7. He’s stated again and again that The Lord of Light isn’t done with him yet, but all signs lead to the big battle between the living and the dead being the reason why. Maybe he’ll be the one to kill the Night King? Maybe he’ll just be able to take down a bunch of wights and walkers with his flaming sword? Either way, Beric is probably going to meet his destiny next week.
7. Podrick Payne
Sex God Pod has come a long way since Season 2. He’s come from pouring (spilling) wine for Tyrion to squiring for Brienne and learning how to fight along the way. While he did kill a Kingsguard for attacking Tyron at the Battle of Blackwater, I’m not so sure he’ll survive the Army of the Dead. That, and he sang the very emotional “Jenny’s Song” in the previous episode, which seems like a fitting sendoff for Podrick Payne.
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The Spider. From Essos to King’s Landing, back to Essos, then back to Westeros, and now in Winterfell. Lord Varys is quite out of his element, both in the North and so close to warfare. As the preview trailer for Episode 3 suggested, Varys will be in the crypts during the battle. Those crypts. The ones that are perfectly safe. Varys is no warrior and “no hero” as he told Ned Stark way back in Season 1, but maybe he’ll get a dying chance at heroism. After all Melisandre told him, “I have to die in this strange country, as will you.” Now seems the time to fulfill that prophecy.
Theon Greyjoy’s full redemption arc will likely come to an end this week. After betraying the Starks in Season 2, Theon paid dearly at the hands of Ramsay Snow/Bolton. Yet, he started to redeem himself when he helped Sansa escape, sailed with his sister to take Daenerys to Westeros, rescued his sister, and sailed to Winterfell to join the Starks. In the battle plans, he’s sworn to defend Bran in the godswood, and dying to protect the boy he once pretended to kill seems like a poetic way to go.
Jaime’s death would certainly be the biggest of the episode if he were to fall in battle. The Kingslayer’s left Cersei behind after fully realizing what she is, he’s made his way alone to Winterfell to fight for the living, alongside a host of people he once considered his fiercest enemies. Like Theon, Jaime has gone through quite the character arc. Of the Lannister children, I think it’ll boil down to Cersei and Tyrion in the final episodes, which means we may have to say goodbye to Jaime. In addition, Jaime’s potential death opens the door for my theory that Arya will kill Cersei while wearing Jaime’s face. You heard it here first.
Wildcard Death: Bran
Bran might just be the most important character on the show. As he revealed in the prior episode, The Night King is coming for him because he holds the memory of mankind. Killing him would mean reducing humanity to animals. What if the Night King succeeded? Would humanity instantly crumble into dust like Bran said? Or, would wise book worms like Sam carry on the histories and knowledge of the Seven Kingdoms?
If we look back at Season 6, when Bran is rescued by the half-dead version of his Uncle Benjen, he learns that Benjen survived being stabbed by an ice sword of the white walkers when the Children of the Forest found him and plunged a dagger of dragonglass into his heart, stopping his transformation into the undead, but making him not quite alive either. Bran may use this knowledge to become half-dead himself, or to prevent the full death of another character. Do half deaths still count as deaths? We’ll find out.