Spoilers for the first five seasons of Game of Thrones follow.
Game of Thrones, much like its literary inspiration A Song of Ice and Fire, is designed to be obsessed over. Each event and each answered question only begets further—often unanswerable—questions. That’s part of the reason the show’s fans fancy themselves amateur detectives and also why they spend a considerable amount of time tearing their hair out trying to make sense of it all in between episodes and seasons.
This year is no exception. Perhaps more than any other season finale to date, “Mother’s Mercy” changed the Thrones landscape and left fans with a handful of burning questions that are sure to be over-analyzed and dissected for the next 10 months. Here’s a guide to the most relevant ones:
1. Is Jon Snow dead? (And if so, will he come back from the dead?)
If you’ve spent any time on the Internet in the last few days, you might think this is the only important question being asked about any topic. Perhaps it should be. It is a major question. When last we left Jon Snow, he was staring up at the cold night sky in a pool of his own blood after being stabbed by several mutinous members of the Night’s Watch. By all accounts, he should be dead.
Except here’s the thing, Jon Snow really can’t die. Not because he’s immortal or the show’s leading protagonist (though the latter would make a decent argument), but because he’s simply too integral to the show and its central mysteries. At this point, R+L=J is a rather well-known theory among the show’s serious fans (not to mention book readers)—so much so that, as the legend goes, George R.R. Martin asked Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, “Who is Jon Snow’s mother?” before signing off on their adaptation.
Despite the declarations of Kit Harington and Dan Weiss that Jon is dead, they’ve not entirely ruled out that he could, at some point, cease to be dead. A number of theories explaining how Jon could return—in one form or another—have been floated in great depth since the finale aired. Maybe he warged into Ghost. Maybe he warged into Stannis. Perhaps Lady Melisandre can use her special connection with the Lord of Light to resurrect him. Or maybe the Night’s King, having established quite the keen interest in the Bastard of Winterfell during the Battle at Hardhome, will endeavor to raise him as he has so many others.
Whatever the case may be, unless the show is deviating greatly from the books, it seems unlikely we’ve seen the last of Jon Snow.
2. Is Stannis Baratheon dead?
If it seems decidedly likely that we’ve not seen the last of Jon Snow, it appears the exact opposite for Stannis Baratheon. Yes, we didn’t actually see Oathkeeper take the head from his shoulders, but it would be a pretty major bout of audience misdirection for him to remain breathing. As Grantland’s Andy Greenwald astutely pointed out, it’s entirely possible that the effects weren’t up to snuff for Stannis’ demise and that’s why the actual moment of decapitation was cut from the scene.
Also worth mentioning: Unlike Jon Snow, the story of Stannis Baratheon appeared to be over by the time of his presumed death. Hard to imagine where his character would have gone from there.
3. Is Myrcella Baratheon dead?
Sorry, but yeah. Hope you’re ready to see more of Dorne in Season 6.
4. Is Myranda dead?
5. What’s the deal with Arya’s eyes? Did she go blind?
It certainly looks that way. It’s still not entirely clear how the Many-Faced God actually operates, but he doesn’t appear to be the most forgiving deity. Apparently Arya needed to be punished for taking a life from him (adios, Meryn Trant), and this seems like a rather fitting punishment given Melisandre’s Season 3 prophecy. What’s less clear is whether this is a temporary condition or a permanent one. Unless Arya develops some Daredevil-esque abilities or quickly becomes a respected maester, it seems unlikely she could last long on either side of the Narrow Sea.
6. Who was the big fella carrying Cersei toward the end of the finale?
That would be Gregor Clegane, better known as “The Mountain.” Well, actually, let’s back up for a second. It’s unclear at the moment whether it’s actually The Mountain, or really some Frankenstein’s monster version of The Mountain (safe bet’s on the latter). He’s been hiding out under that sheet in Qyburn’s lab ever since Oberyn Martell poisoned him with Manticore venom during their mano-a-mano combat last season. Here’s what we know about him now:
- When Cersei asked Qyburn if the treatment would weaken Ser Gregor, the former maester replied, “Oh, no” like it was an absolutely absurd question.
- He has taken a vow of silence until he has killed all of Cersei’s enemies.
The Sparrows would probably do well to watch their collective back.
7. What is up with Olyenna Tyrell and Littlefinger?
Both were conspicuously absent from the last four episodes of the season, having apparently carried out their vengeance upon Cersei. Even so, they seem to have sacrificed their queens for the sake of capturing a bishop. As far as we know, Margaery and Loras are still jailed and Littlefinger left Sansa Stark to rot in Ramsay’s sadistic clutches (and now she’s literally leapt to freedom with the artist formerly known as Theon). The Tyrell matriarch and Lord Baelish have been two of the savviest operators in Westeros since the show’s start, but both will need a few more tricks up their sleeves if they’re going to hang on to those reputations.
8. How screwed is Daenerys right now?
Hard to say. She certainly seemed pretty nervous about being surrounded by an enormous Dothraki horde—enough so that she dropped one of her rings to provide a Hansel and Gretel-style clue for Drogon (nah) or whoever else comes looking for her. At one time, she was a genuine Khaleesi, respected and revered by Khal Drogo’s clan (with a few notable exceptions). That said, it seems unlikely that this particular horde will foster the same respect for her. Unless Drogon decides to get up and let his mother ride on his back again. That would probably change things. Barring that, Daenerys may be headed for a quick descent from queen to captive.
Only about 10 more months until we maybe have answers to all of these questions—and many new ones.