The most entertaining facet of Game of Thrones is that no one is ever safe. The minute things start looking good for a fan-favorite character is the minute fans have to start worrying about that character.
And season eight — the show’s last — is poised to yield the biggest death toll yet, with the Night King’s army marching south, and an inevitable showdown looming between Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister as the story wraps up for good.
No major character died (the Night King killed and turned Ned Umber, a tertiary character, into a terrifying zombie boy) in the first episode of the season. That means there are only five episodes left for this show to kill off all our favorites and for someone to grab the Iron Throne.
So here’s our assessment headed into the season’s second episode regarding which characters are currently safe and which ones need to keep one eye open at all times.
Game of Thrones’ final season premiere felt like a bit of a refresher on what happened in season seven, with some table-setting for what’s to come. At Winterfell, some characters met for the first time while others reunited with one another after years apart. The same thing was happening at King’s Landing, as Cersei welcomed back Euron Greyjoy after he ferried the Golden Company to her.
Because of the way Game of Thrones has divided its two human forces between Winterfell and King’s Landing, there’s very little chance that anyone of real significance is going to die before the Night King and his forces arrive at Winterfell’s gates — which could happen as soon as episode three, or even at the end of episode two — unless Cersei’s forces from King’s Landing attempt to ambush the forces at Winterfell (or vice versa).
The two characters who were most in trouble last week, Yara Greyjoy and Tormund Giantsbane, were both shown alive and (relatively) well. Theon Greyjoy rescued Yara from her uncle Euron, and Tormund is now on his way back to Winterfell to warn the Starks and Dany after seeing the Night King’s carnage at Last Hearth.
And when the Night King does officially arrive at Winterfell, it’s likely the swordspeople who will be at greatest risk: Brienne of Tarth, the Hound, and Beric Dondarrion. But for now, most of Game of Thrones’ major players are still on solid ground as far as survival odds are concerned.
Currently in danger
Samwell Tarly: In the first episode of the season, Sam told Jon Snow about Jon’s true parentage after Daenerys told Sam that she had one of her dragons roast Sam’s brother and dad.
The problem Sam faces now is what happens when Jon tells Dany the news that Sam relayed about Jon’s parents, which makes him Dany’s nephew. Based on how Dany’s been written — she’s been told all this time and she fully believes she’s the last Targaryan left — and how she sees the Iron Throne as destiny for her and vindication for the Targaryen family after Dany’s father King Aerys II was removed from the throne years ago, it’s tough to see Dany graciously accepting the news that Jon is actually a Targaryen (he’s Dany’s older brother’s only son) and its rightful heir.
This double whammy of incest between Jon and Dany and denied succession to the throne will likely cause Dany to question the validity and proof of this news, to say nothing of the source. And if Jon tells Dany that Sam was said source, she could lash out and accuse him of spreading lies as retribution for her killing his family members, family members who also refused to recognize Dany as their queen.
Jaime Lannister: Jaime arrived at Winterfell at the end of the season’s first episode, and one of the first people he saw was Bran Stark, who he previously tried to kill all the way back in Game of Thrones’ very first episode. They haven’t even spoken yet, but Bran’s frigid stare and Jaime’s look of worry in response is everything you need to know about the tension between the two.
But it’s not just Bran and his fellow Starks who won’t be pleased to see Jaime.
Many years ago, it was Jaime who killed Dany’s father, earning him the nickname “Kingslayer.” The move ultimately made Robert Baratheon king and Jaime’s sister Cersei queen, removing the Targaryen family from the Iron Throne. It’s safe to say Dany won’t welcome Jaime with open arms.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO and its streaming platforms.