Warning: This post contains potential spoilers for season seven of Game of Thrones.
The return of Game of Thrones is finally here. Sunday's premiere will mark the beginning of the end for the HBO drama, as the story of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and the rest of the realm's remaining players is set to conclude after just 13 more episodes — split into two shortened seasons.
But before we start worrying about the ultimate outcome of the world's most popular show, let's focus on what season seven has in store for the Seven Kingdoms. Here are the top 10 questions we hope the next seven episodes answer below.
Will Jon and Daenerys get married?
With Dany finally en route to Westeros, it seems like a foregone conclusion that she will cross paths with Jon at some point in season seven. But what remains to be seen is whether that meeting will lead to a romantic connection. On one hand, they're two of the show's big three remaining power players and a marriage alliance between them could be a deciding factor in the fate of Westeros. On the other, the confirmation that R+L=J in the season six finale means Dany is Jon's aunt, a detail that makes things more than a little weird. "Out of all the people in Thrones, Jon, of all people, is probably the least up for incest," Kit Harington — who plays the King in the North — recently told Entertainment Tonight.
Can Bran change the past?
Based on the chain of events that culminated in the death of Hodor in the fifth episode of season six, we know that Bran's greenseer abilities give him the power to affect the past in some sense — but to what extent? This sequences suggests that time operates in a closed loop in the Thrones universe, which means Bran cannot change the past through time travel, he can only fulfill it — i.e., Bran shattering Hodor's mind by warging into him was inevitable. However, we're holding off on this assumption until we get a bit more information.
Who is the One That Was Promised?
Jon and Dany have both been declared the One Who Was Promised — a prophesied savior in the religion of R'hllor who is the reincarnation of legendary hero Azor Ahai — by two different Red Priestesses of the Lord of Light, Melisandre and Kinvara, respectively. However, while there is evidence to support both candidates, it's not yet clear which — if either — will be the one to wield the flaming sword Lightbringer to lead the people of Westeros against the White Walkers. That is, of course, if this prophecy comes to pass at all.
How will Cersei's prophecy play out?
The future foretold for Cersei by Maggy the Frog seems to have been fulfilled. Cersei was promised to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen as a young girl, but ended up marrying King Robert Baratheon following Robert's Rebellion. He went on to father many illegitimate children while Cersei's three kids — who are all dead — were a product of her incestuous relationship with her twin brother Jaime. Finally, not only did Margaery create an ultimately fatal divide between Tommen and Cersei, but Daenerys is now on her way to Westeros with the intent of taking more of what the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms holds dear.
However, in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series, there is a final line to the prophecy that the show did not include: "And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar [High Valyrian for "little brother"] shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you."
If this part of the prophecy comes into play, it may mean that Cersei will meet her end at the hands of Tyrion or — the more likely option according to some fans — Jaime.
Will the Wall fall?
Even though he was marked by the Night King in a vision, Bran still seems intent on returning south of the Wall. But considering the icy 700-foot, 300-mile long barrier is the only thing standing between the people of Westeros and the White Walkers' army of undead, this could prove to be the young Stark's worst decision to date.
"The Wall is not just ice and stone," Benjen told Bran and Meera in the season six finale. "Ancient spells were carved into its foundation, strong magic to protect men from what lies beyond. And while it stands, the dead cannot pass."
Some fans believe the mark made by the Night King could nullify these spells, causing the Wall to come crashing down after Bran has crossed to the other side. Uh-oh.
How will Jon discover R+L=J?
Now that it's been seemingly confirmed that Jon Snow is not the illegitimate son of Ned Stark but rather the child of his sister Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen, it's only a matter of time until the King in the North discovers his true parentage — or so we hope. But while Bran — who looks to be journeying back from beyond the Wall — is (possibly) the only person alive who knows this information, there are also other believable theories as to how Jon will finally learn about his Targaryen heritage.
Who is Sansa truly loyal to?
Sansa didn't protest when Jon was declared the King in the North. But judging by the glance she shared with Littlefinger immediately afterward, she had doubts about that decision. The elder Stark daughter has transformed into one of Westeros' most cunning game players over the past six seasons of Thrones, but she has yet to show how she intends to play her hand. Will she align with Littlefinger in pursuit of sitting on the Iron Throne or will she remain loyal to Jon and her family?
"When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives," she says in the closing moments of the second season seven trailer, seemingly referencing the Stark direwolf sigil.
How does Arya's face-changing work?
Arya may no longer be "no one," but thanks to her gruesome assassination of Walder Frey in the season six finale, it's clear the young Stark daughter is still perfectly capable of using the face-swapping skills she picked up while training at the House of Black and White. What's not clear is how exactly it all works. Does a person have to be dead for her to wear their face? If so, did she murder the servant girl she disguised herself as at the Twins? Or did she just borrow some faces from Jaqen before leaving Braavos? There's a lot of missing pieces to this puzzle.
Will Cleganebowl finally happen?
If a showdown between the Hound and his now-zombified brother, the Mountain, actually ever takes place, some fans are liable to lose their minds. Unfortunately, as of right now, the Hound looks to be headed North with the Brotherhood Without Banners while the Mountain is busy bashing in the heads of Cersei's enemies in King's Landing. But as long as they're both (somewhat) alive, there's still hope for this long-awaited sibling smackdown. The hype lives on.
What do the White Walkers want?
While Thrones has been teasing the impending conflict between the living and the White Walkers since its very first scene, the ultimate endgame of the Others is still pretty ambiguous. The Night King and his lieutenants have apparently been around for thousands of years — it was revealed in season six that they were created by the Children of the Forest to fight off the invading First Men. So why are they just now making moves? Is their only desire total domination?
"[The White Walkers] certainly behave with intelligence," said one presenter during the "Through the Weirwood's Eyes: Exploring Bran's Visions" panel of Con of Thrones. "In the opening scene, they intentionally let one of the rangers, [Will], go to spread fear. And that's the point. They want people in the Seven Kingdoms to be afraid of them ahead of time. Fear is a really powerful weapon and it works...You know they're intelligent. Whether that means they also have hopes and dreams and desires and specific consciousness..."