The Season 7 finale of GAME OF THRONES promises to be the biggest episode to date – and that’s just in terms of the runtime.
As Winter finally arrives, as the White Walkers get themselves a dragon and as all the major players of Westeros prepare to meet on the eve of all-out war, here’s a basic primer on things that we know so far and what to expect come Sunday night.
(But you should prepare yourselves for huge shockers regardless.)
1. It will be the longest Game of Thrones episode to date
The Dragon and the Wolf will clock in at 78 minutes and 43 seconds, so don’t worry when the clock strikes 10 and there’s still plot points left dangling.
2. There will be some kind of meeting of fire and ice
The episode is titled The Dragon and the Wolf, which fans are logically extrapolating to mean Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington), or at least the houses of Targareyn and Stark more generally, as the two animals are their sigils, respectively. The two represent the two sides of George R. R. Martin’s titular A Song of Ice and Fire, so could this finally be a coming together that reveals the key to the entire series? Or does it just means Daenerys is going to bone her nephew, as a large segment of the fanbase is eagerly anticipating?
3. A showdown in Dragonpit
A new set will be introduced in the episode, and will feature a meeting between several of the show’s most important characters, including (according to official episode stills and trailers released) Jon Snow, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Cersei (Lena Headey), Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk), Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Pod (Daniel Portman), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Varys (Conleth Hill), Theon (Alfie Allen), Davos (Liam Cunningham), the Hound (Rory McCann) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie). Phew. (Props to Vanity Fair for the full list.)
Notably missing is Daenerys, but most people are pretty sure she’ll show up as well.
4. The ice dragon cometh
Last week, in the show’s saddest death scene to date, one of Daenerys’ dragons, Viserion, was shot down by the Night King, only to be reborn by episode’s end as he was touched by the White Walker and opened one giant dragon eye – now a pulsing electric blue, signaling he had crossed over to the other side of the impending war. And it sounds like we may not have to wait too long to see the new Viserion.
“It leads to major plot points very quickly,” director Alan Taylor told Newsweek. “It’s a game-changer, because for the first time the Night King has nuclear capability. With this one step, he’s changed the terms of the battle. It leads to something dramatic very soon.”
“Very soon” certainly sounds sooner than 2018, and there’s only one episode left this season.
5. The Starks are staying out of this one
Aside from Jon, official stills show Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) back home in Winterfell. We know Sansa sent Brienne to serve as an ambassador for the Stark house, but this means she’s left back home without her protector and with Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) lurking around and Arya (Maisie Williams) too, presumably. We can only hope the seemingly feuding sisters are actually setting a larger trap for the manipulative Littlefinger and aren’t ending this season on the sour note they left things in the last episode.
The Bran of it all has led to speculation that we could see another crucial flashback, particularly with Gilly’s bombshell revelation last week regarding Rhaegar’s marriage annulment. And after all, Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark are a dragon and a wolf, respectively, as well.
So that’s what we do know about the finale and the future of the show.
But, of course, there are still so many things we don’t know yet. Will Sam (John Bradley-West) make it to Winterfell? What will become of Cersei’s and Daenerys’ respective dilemmas regarding their heirs? Will the likes of the Hound, Brienne, Bronn and others end up in the pit with their swords? Where has Ghost been and will we ever see him again? And is incest really just okay now? Really?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.