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By the conclusion to last weekend’s Game of Thrones episode, The Last of the Starks, a final, all-out battle between Cersei’s and Daenerys’ armies in King’s Landing seems imminent. While the armies square off, however, a few individuals are riding toward the city with murder on their minds. Hopefully, they get in and get out before Daenerys cranks up the thermostat in King’s Landing. Here’s what each of our killers is likely looking for.
Jaime’s scenes in the last episode inspired a bit of emotional whiplash in fans. On the one hand, he and Brienne finally hooked up, thus sating the appetites of shippers who’ve spent years waiting for this consummation — and good on Jame for finally sleeping with someone who’s not his sister! On the other hand, he did end the episode by leaving Brienne to ride back to King’s Landing in pursuit of Cersei, offering only a speech about how he’s “hateful” just like the queen.
Given that Jaime leaves after hearing that Cersei has provoked Daenerys by killing one of her dragons, a lot of people took Jaime’s decision to mean that he is ultimately going back to try and save Cersei. That feels like a misreading of the situation; it’s more likely that Jaime is riding to King’s Landing to kill his sister, not rescue/bed her (seriously, Jaime, you’ve got a wonderful, non-sister woman who wants you now).
Jaime understands that Cersei’s provocation will lead to Daenerys torching King’s Landing, killing all the innocent citizens in the process. He’s already killed one monarch to save King’s Landing from immolation, betraying King Aerys, who planned to detonate the stores of wildfire buried beneath the city. That’s the event that defined Jaime’s reputation in Westeros, earning him the epithet “Kingslayer,” and he would be coming full circle by saving the capital once again.
Besides, Jaime killing Cersei would be a thematically fitting end to his arc (he spent years doing wicked deeds for her, why not complete his redemption story by killing her?) and would also satisfy the prophecy Cersei received as a child, which stated that she would die at the hands of a “younger brother.” She always assumed it meant Tyrion, but her twin was born second, and is thus also technically younger.
Sandor Clegane (The Hound), too, has unfinished business in King’s Landing; specifically, he needs to get his long-delayed revenge on his brother, Gregor, aka The Mountain That Rides. If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the twisted tale of the Clegane brothers, the elder Gregor sadistically bullied Sandor when they were children, going so far as to shove his face into a pile of hot coals, giving him his distinctive profile.
Given Sandor’s hatred for his brother and the fact that they are two of the deadliest warriors in Westeros, fans have been eagerly awaiting a showdown between the two, a hypothetical bout called “Cleganebowl.” The theory has had a few false starts over the years. People thought that Cersei would attempt to get out of her troubles with the Faith Militant by appointing the reanimated Gregor as her champion in a trial by combat, with the High Septon appointing a reformed Hound as his. Cersei ultimately chose the flashier route of just blowing up the High Septon and all her other enemies, thus pushing Cleganebowl back a couple of seasons.
Now, the Hound is en route to King’s Landing, and it makes sense that he’s going to square off against his brother. Let the hype rise within you; Cleganebowl is nigh.
Arya’s got a list, and she’s checking it twice, and oh, look: There are only a few names left. The world’s greatest assassin (she even managed to gank the Night King, who had millennia of planning and an army of undead bodyguards surrounding him) has killed most of the people on which she vowed revenge. The only living members left are Cersei, Gregor Clegane, Ser Ilyn Payne, and the Hound, with whom she is riding to King’s Landing.
It seems like Arya has more or less moved past her grudge against the Hound. They’ve fought together against the army of the dead, he’s somewhat a changed man, and if she really wanted to kill him, she’s had plenty of chances the last few episodes.
So who is Arya going to murder in King’s Landing? Although she may hate Cersei most of all, it really makes more sense for Jaime to slay the queen. Likewise, Gregor is the Hound’s mountain to climb, although maybe he and Arya could tag team him? The Mountain is a big guy, but if they tabletop him, he should fall hard.
Ser Ilyn Payne is the executioner who beheaded Ned Stark, and it would be satisfying for Arya to finally avenge that early, shocking death. The actor who played Payne, Wilko Johnson, left the show after a cancer diagnosis, and while he has thankfully recovered after surgery, there is no indication so far that he will return to the show.
Then again, at this point Arya is a mystical ninja possessing powers beyond anything the other characters or even the plot can prepare for, so it’s entirely possible she murders all of the above, and then takes out Daenerys and Drogon for good measure, which would save Jon the heartbreak of having to kill his lover/aunt when she tries to burn down King’s Landing (nobody does family drama like the Targaryens).
In any event, there’s a good chance we’ll see some if not all of these murders come to pass in the next couple of weeks as Game of Thrones comes to its “bittersweet” conclusion.
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