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Game of Thrones season 8 death watch: Ser Brienne is in trouble in the Battle of Winterfell

This show doesn’t like happy endings. And Ser Brienne is so close to one.

Ser Brienne takes on the White Walker army in Game of Thrones’ third episode of season eight.
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

After spending two episodes setting the table, Game of Thrones is ready to bring everything crashing down. The third episode of the show’s final season will center the Battle of Winterfell, the fight where the forces of the living and two dragons take on the White Walker army and the Night King (who has his own zombie dragon).

In other words, we’ve reached the beginning of the end for some of our favorite Game of Thrones characters.

So Vox’s Game of Thrones death pool is much more expansive this week than it was in the first two weeks of season eight, considering all the ice zombie attacks, dragonfire, and sword-fighting that’s about to go down. After all, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” included several character reunions (including Theon and Sansa and Tormund and Jon Snow) and at least one preapocalypse hookup. Those warm and fuzzy moments are telling — Game of Thrones is notorious for unhappy endings, and for choosing story beats that are much more heartbreaking and tragic.

Safe: Everyone who’s currently at King’s Landing

Game of Thrones’ main characters are in two locations right now: Winterfell and King’s Landing. Only one of those places is about to be attacked by an undead army commanded by someone riding atop a zombie dragon. That means the current inhabitants of King’s Landing — Cersei Lannister, Euron Greyjoy, and her hired army, the Golden Company — are in the clear. Also safe is Yara Greyjoy, who, after being rescued in the season premiere, is apparently floating around with a small fleet and trying to claim the Iron Islands for Daenerys Targaryen.

In trouble: Everyone who’s currently at Winterfell

Everyone at Winterfell is in danger of dying in this episode. The Night King’s Army of the Dead is supposed to be unbeatable and extremely large, and the best way for Game of Thrones to convey the hugeness of that threat is to have some of its most major characters perish. But while no one is really safe, there are a few people we should be more worried about than others — particularly if they’re in a romantic pairing or if they’ve seemingly completed a character arc.

Ser Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister: In the last episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” Jaime knighted Brienne — and for the first time in Game of Thrones’ history, Brienne cracked a weepy, joyous smile. Her excellent sword-fighting skills were finally acknowledged, and someone she respects and appears to love gave her the highest honor of knighthood. Unfortunately, story-wise, this may mean a tragic death for her or Jaime.

Grey Worm and Missandei: Grey Worm and Missandei do not like being in the North. The Northerners treat them poorly and are possibly racist toward them; in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” we saw them talk about how they don’t want to grow old in the North, surrounded by so many people who don’t really care for them. Missandei told Grey Worm she wants to go back to Naath and “see the beaches again,” and he said he would take her there and that his people would protect her people, and they would live happily ever after. I don’t think Missandei will be seeing Naath anytime soon, either because she dies or Grey Worm dies to really ruin this happy end.

The Northerners in the Winterfell crypts: The strategy of sending civilians into the crypts, a place where dead people are buried, is puzzling. The Night King, has been well established as a zombie lord who can resurrect the dead. And while Arya, who is seen running in the crypts in the show’s season eight trailer, is a skilled fighter, she can’t protect everyone in the crypts.

Bran Stark and Theon Greyjoy: According to the plan discussed in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” Bran will be used as bait to draw out the Night King. That idea sounds pretty dangerous for Bran, but it sounds even more dangerous for Theon, who just had a pretty gratifying reunion with Sansa, but who’s now been tasked with serving as Bran’s personal bodyguard.

Tormund, Beric, Jorah Mormont, Podrick, and the swordsmen: These guys will be all be on the front lines of the battle, and will be in the most danger. If the White Walkers are as fearsome as they have been touted to be, it’s highly unlikely that everyone from this group will make it out alive.

Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow: One of the most curious things about the second episode of the season was the inclusion of “Jenny’s Song,” a hymn about a relative of Dany’s, Duncan Targaryen, who gave up his claim to the Iron Throne for a woman named Jenny. And giving up the Iron Throne for love is something that Jon could plausibly do, considering he loves Dany and doesn’t seem particularly excited about the Throne. The tragic detail to keep in mind is that Jenny’s song also chronicles how Duncan died in a fire, and how Jenny dances with his ghost — a possible foreshadowing that both halves of Westeros’s dragon-riding power couple might not survive to see the other become king/queen.

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