A terrifying theory about the Night King's plan is based in Game of Thrones' bloody history
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The living don't stand a chance.
To begin with, we know that there are enough Game of Thrones theories on the Internet to fill the Seven Kingdoms which is why JOE's particularly careful to only publish those that have some merit, or fact.
After all the theories and speculation, we finally know what the Night King wants, an endless night.
During the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, we learned that the Night King wants to erase all living memory and in order to do so, he's coming for the Three-Eyed Raven.
In order to accomplish his goal, the Night King needs to kill Bran - the Three-Eyed Raven - because he's essentially a human encyclopedia of everything that has happened in Westeros.
As Sam points out, true death is only achieved when people are completely forgotten by the living.
In order to bait the Night King into a vulnerable position during the Battle of Winterfell, the Jon-Dany alliance will place Bran/Three-Eyed Raven in the Winterfell Godswood, under the close protection of Theon.
While here, they'll try to draw the Night King out into the open for Dany's dragons to land a fiery strike. Then again, someone with Valyrian steel or dragonglass could make themselves a hero too.
As Jon said in the most recent episode, "The Night King made them (army of the dead) all. They follow his command. If he falls...getting to him may be our best chance".
In the trailer for the Battle of Winterfell, there's a glimpse of Night King's dragon, Viserion, but what if the dragon is not actually at Winterfell?
Thinking about things objectively, the Night King has waited thousands of years before breaching The Wall to come south, he's bound to have the patience not to run head first into a trap that's being laid by Jon Snow.
Also, if you're looking at the recent fights that the Night King has been involved with, he's never front and centre because he's far too smart to risk his neck.
Basically, he has an army of 100,000 wights and White Walkers. He also has the potential to grow his numbers even further.
Here he is observing the chaos from afar at Hardhome and beyond The Wall.
The only time that he's actively pursued a fight and got his hands dirty was when the Three-Eyed Raven (Max Von Sydow) was vulnerable in the cave.
You know what happened, the Night King left a mark on Bran that negated the magical protection that the Children of the Forrest gave them in the cave.
Ultimately, the Night King was able to walk into the cave and kill the old Three-Eyed Raven. Thankfully, Bran and Meera Reed escaped after Hodor's noble, yet tragic, intervention as he held the door.
Unlike Hardhome and Beyond the Wall, in this scenario, it's possible that the Night King only risked his neck in the cave to kill the Three-Eyed Raven because he knew that there would be 1) no dragonfire, 2) no Valyrian steel, 3) no members of the Night's Watch, or trained soldiers present.
It was a surefire win.
How would he know this? Well, it's very likely that the leader of the army of the dead is a greenseer - just like Bran. In fact, we've already outlined some compelling evidence to prove this.
Do you really think that the Night King will get his ice sword/spear dirty in the muck of Winterfell?
It's a callous attitude but if you want to kill something, wait until it's wounded and weak before striking.
In terms of the final shot of the most recent episode, it's telling that we didn't see the Night King beside his generals.
Similarly, even if he does get involved, the odds aren't exactly in his favour when it comes to aerial superiority.
Two of Dany's dragons vs. one wight dragon are not good odds - especially since Drogon is the bigger and more powerful beast of the three.
If the Night King is not at Winterfell, where could he be?
The popular theory is that he's heading to King's Landing because as we've already seen, Bran already had a vision of a dragon flying over the capital.
Note how the shadow is of one singular dragon.
On this note, we were also treated to the ominous vision that Daenerys saw in the Houses of the Undying.
Remember the one with the roof of the Throne room being destroyed and snow falling on the Iron Throne?
The popular theory is that this damage was done via dragon fire. However, it's possible that a wildfire explosion could have caused it too.
Clip via tf vb
Throughout the course of Game of Thrones, the population of King's Landing has frequently been mentioned as a topic of conversation and it has felt oddly foreboding, as if death is imminent.
In fact, the Season 7 finale had a very interesting passage between Jon and Tyrion as they were sailing into the capital of Westeros.
JON: How many people live here?
TYRION: A million, give or take.
JON: That’s more people than we have in the entire North.
If the Night King really is a clever tactician, he won't attack his enemy - The Three-Eyed Raven at Winterfell - straight away because the Jon-Dany alliance will be at their very strongest.
The smart move would be to let his generals do the dirty work, weaken the Jon-Dany alliance, and attack from a greater position of strength by getting more numbers at King's Landing.
Granted, nothing is certain but this bait-and-switch tactic has been used before in the show.
Robb beat Jaime this way during the Battle of the Whispering Wood and the Kingslayer outwitted Tyrion and Daenerys when he withdrew his forces from Casterly Rock to take Highgarden, so it's not uncommon.
With regards to the tactics of Jon-Dany's forces, the Game of Thrones showrunner, D.B Weiss, has already hinted that things may not go according to plan.
"The most important thing about that scene (the war room one) is understanding the lay of the land and understanding what their intentions are and what their plans are, what their expectations are, so we know what we're looking at. Things may not go entirely according to plan, so, we thought it was very important for people to know what everyone in the room expected, was worried would happen, hoped would happen."
Things may not go entirely according to plan.
Clip via GameofThrones
Nearly every battle in Game of Thrones has included a massive element of surprise.
The Battle of the Trident, and Robert's Rebellion, was built on a lie that everyone in Westeros fell for. At the Battle of Blackwater, Stannis' numerical advantage counted for nothing against Tyrion's surprising use of wildfire. The Battle of the Bastards saw Ramsay draw Jon out of formation by using Rickon as bait. That battle also saw a surprising intervention from the Knights of the Vale.
Nothing is ever predictable and if Jon is basing his entire strategy on the Night King appearing at the home of House Stark, it could backfire.
However, even if the leader of the White Walkers does appear at Winterfell, there could be an even bigger threat that's lying in waiting.
Ever since the first teaser trailer for Season 8 was released, it's obvious that the crypts of Winterfell are going to be very significant - we saw Arya fighting in one scene - and as the most recent episode frequently mentioned, the women and children will be taking shelter there.
However, it's worth remembering that the Night King does have the power to reanimate the dead and as the trailer for the Battle of Winterfell showed, Daenerys says to Jon "The dead are already here".
Granted, that could mean the army of the dead at the gates of Winterfell but it could also be one massive 'Holy f**k' moment.
The new credit sequence for the show also has a lengthy segment that's dedicated to the Winterfell crypts too.
Without getting too much into a debate of "it happened in the books but not the TV show," the Winterfell crypts are deeply significant in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. In fact, they're probably the finest example of Martin's ability to write a lingering mystery that keeps you hooked.
In A Game of Thrones, there's an ominous passage that relates to Jon.
"Last night he had dreamt the Winterfell dream again. He was wandering the empty castle, searching for his father, descending into the crypts. Only this time the dream had gone further than before. In the dark he’d heard the scrape of stone on stone. When he turned he saw that the vaults were opening, one after the other. As the dead kings came stumbling from their cold black graves, Jon had woken in pitch-dark, his heart hammering."
It should be noted that there are wild theories about Rhaegar’s harp and even some dragon eggs in the crypts too, but let's dwell on what we do know. 1) The Night King can raise the dead, 2) the Winterfell crypts have plenty of dead bodies, 3) the women and children are taking shelter in the crypts.
Again, this is just a theory but whatever way the Battle of Winterfell plays out, we're just dwelling on Ramsay Bolton's famous words.
"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention".
Bring it on!
If you fancy reading a deep dive on the Battle of Winterfell trailer, you can do so here.