Beware, for this post is dark and full of spoilers for Game of Thrones Seasons 1-7.
Here are all the best Season 4 theories, unanswered questions, unresolved plots, and forgotten tidbits you need to remember before winter comes for the endgame in Season 8.
Who can forge Valyrian steel?
Season 4 opens with Tywin melting down the Stark family Valyrian sword Ice down into two swords for House Lannister (later named Widow’s Wail and Oathkeeper).
This is a subtle reminder that Valyrian steel — the only thing that can kill White Walkers — is not only extremely rare, but also that only a few people in the world know how to re-forge it. Tywin tells Jaime he hired a blacksmith in Volantis, but in the books it’s actually Gendry’s mentor, Tobho Mott, who possesses the rare knowledge and magic needed for this skill.
Since Gendry returned to the show in Season 7, a long-standing theory is that he will use his what he learned from Mott to go a step further than just reworking. The pile of dragonglass being forged in a brief scene from the Season 8 trailer seems to all but confirm that Gendry will forge the first new Valyrian steel weapons since the Doom of Valyria.
And they’ll need it.
Everything we learned from the White Walker transformation
One of the most important scenes from Season 4 (if not the entire series) is something we never saw in the books: the White Walkers on their home turf.
In the scene where Craster’s last son is sacrificed as a “gift to the gods,” a White Walker takes him to what we can assume is The Lands of Always Winter. It’s the part of the map no humans ever dare go, where the White Walkers hung out for thousands of years since the first Long Night. It’s also probably where they kept Craster’s transformed sons (and any other sacrificed humans) safe, raising them to maturity or until they’re more battle ready.
What this Season 4 scene with the baby at the alter gave us a glimpse into is how the White Walkers aren’t just some mindless evil. They have their own rituals, history, needs, and even culture in a sense. Inarguably, it proved their goal isn’t just the destruction of all humans because, actually, they seem to need humans (alive humans, since the zombie-like wights are different) in order to create more of their own kind.
This culminated in a fan-favorite theory that the White Walkers’ real goal is to protect themselves from extinction, either due to the return of a threat like the dragons or to a dwindling numbers of human sacrifices to keep their population strong.
In general, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of White Walkers left. The most we’ve ever seen together is in this Season 4 scene, where twelve stand in the background as the Night King performs the transformation. We’ve never seen any female White Walkers, leading us to believe this transformation process is their only current means of reproduction (read more in our Season 2 round up).
The fact that thirteen White Walkers are present here could have its own significance, but we’ll get to that in our upcoming Season 5 round up.
Many fans think that, despite what we’ve been lead to believe, the White Walkers won’t be defeated in war, but rather with a peace treaty. It’s also most likely what happened the first time they came during the legendary Long Night, striking some sort of agreement with the humans to stay on their side of the Wall in the Lands of Always Winter.
I mean, isn’t that more believable than the legends of The Last Hero or Azhor Ahai, which claim that a single person defeated them in combat? And isn’t it more logical that the creatures who can do ice magic built the Wall themselves, rather than the myth that it was built by humans and giants?
Some even believe that the Night’s Watch was initially created to ensure this peace was maintained between humans and the White Walkers. Which brings us to the legend of the Night’s King.
Who is Melisandre, and how much of her magic is a trick?
After the Season 6 reveal, we know that Melisandre has been using glamour this whole time to cover up the fact that she is centuries old.
But another pivotal scenes happens in Season 4, when she explains to Selyse in the bath tub that, “Most of these powders and potions are lies. Deceptions to make men think they witnessed our Lord’s power. Once they step into his light, they’ll see the lie for what it was – a trick that led them to the truth.”
Most believe that Melisandre believes in her cause, but can create illusions in the flame that lead people like Stannis to do what she believes they must do. But in general, don’t be quick to trust what any of the Red Priests show other characters in the flame.
As for who Melisandre really is, there’s no solid arguments that would be relevant to the show.
But her age, whether a couple hundred or several hundred years old, means she was alive at the height of the Targaryen dynasty. This could make her one of Dany and Jon’s most vital allies as far understanding their fire magic and dragons — potentially even helping them raise a new dragon from stone.
What did the Three-Eyed Raven mean when he said Bran would fly?
One key phrase that fans keep coming back to is the Three-Eyed Raven’s assertion to Bran that, “You will never walk again. But you will fly.”
Now, this could easily just be meant in a metaphysical sense, with Bran flying through history or even flying as a flock of ravens in one moment during Season 7. But it’s also very like George R. R. Martin to give a phrase like this several meanings.
What will come of the Arya/Hound reunion?
It’s easy to forget, but the Hound was one of the first people on Arya’s kill list. Yet when last they were together, Arya refused his pleas for her to kill him and instead left him to die slowly on a mountain side.
He didn’t die, as we know. Actually, from the looks of the latest Season 8 trailer, he’s now at Winterfell. And so is Arya.
What will their reunion look like? Arya’s not one to show mercy to a person on her list.
But in Season 6, she mentions the Hound twice during her training with the Faceless Men. She claims to hate him, but Jaqen accuses her of lying. Later when the Waif questions her about the Hound, Arya says she didn’t kill him because she’d taken him off her list, and didn’t really want him dead anymore.
The Hound seemed to glow with a sense of pride when Brienne told him that Arya’s become a true warrior in the Season 7 finale. So it’s clear he holds no hard feelings toward her.
Tyrion might not be a Lannister, and is actually a secret Targaryen
A running joke is that just about everyone is a secret Targaryen, from Varys to Craster. But when it comes to Tyrion, there are just way too many sly hints to ignore.
Throughout his Season 4 arc with Tywin, Tywin says every variation of “you are not my son” imaginable. There’s a lot more textual proof that Tyrion’s Season 1 assertion that, “All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes,” is literal. He could very well be a bastard of Dany’s father, Mad King Aerys.
Throughout the books, people talk about how King Aerys openly lusted after Joanna Lannister, Tywin’s wife. It is almost certain he had sex with her at least once. Rumor has it that before she married Tywin, Joanna was Aerys’ mistress, and eventually dismissed as the Queen’s lady-in-waiting for that reason. Then there’s the story of how Aerys took “liberties” with Joanna during the bedding ceremony of her and Tywin’s wedding.
All of this set the precedent, but the timing wouldn’t make sense, since Joanna was never around Aerys much after that. Until George R. R. Martin made a point in A World of Ice and Fire to state that Joanna attended a celebration in honor of Aerys reign in 272 AC. He publicly made comments on Joanna’s breasts and, later for unknown reasons, Tywin tried to resign as Hand of the King.
A little under a year later, Tyrion was born. And some can’t help but speculate that his “deformities” were caused by incestuous Targaryen genes.
The show only added fuel to the flames in Season 6 when Tyrion had a whole scene with Daenerys’ pissed off dragons, unchaining them. We cannot stress enough how badly this should’ve gone for Tyrion. The fact that they accepted him is some of the best evidence to support that they sensed his Targaryen blood.
The biggest hitch to this theory is that fans aren’t sure why it’d even matter at this point if Tyrion were a Targaryen.
Before Season 7, the speculation is that he’d be the “third head of the dragon,” AKA he’d ride Viserion while Jon would take Rhaegal and Dany would continue to dominate with Drogon. But Viserion is gone now. And there’s not enough bonding time in the world that would make him able to be ridden by Tyrion.