I started my second fic last night to add to the ever-increasing droves of post-8.03 stories and am hoping to get some proper words down on it tonight and tomorrow with a view to posting hopefully late on Saturday / early on Sunday. (Notwithstanding that Paul and I are trying to cram in a trip to Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame this weekend before the latter gets spoilered to shit.) As it's a bank holiday, I've reset the Sky+ series link for the 2.00am showing of GoT so we can watch it earlier in the day and have more hours to process it before bedtime. (I'm seriously considering booking the Tuesday off after the final episode.)
It's heartening to know that literally everyone else I've spoken to about the episode had a similar reaction to me, which at least indicates I wasn't just being Totes Emosh about the whole thing. Three days later my colleagues and I are still flailing and yelling and passing theories back and forth. I love it. :D
Such being said, there are only three episodes remaining and I have a whole mess of theories running rampant in my brain which I really need to try and articulate. (I'm hoping my Ed Wood icon will somehow influence the powers that be.)
NGL, most of these are Braime-centric because I'm still terrified about how it's going to end for them.
Arya the Assassin
Okay, so we know full well that Cersei Lannister is still on Arya's murder list (though presumably the Hound is now crossed off - she didn't really confirm either way) and my perfect situation would be for Arya to silently kill her when she doesn't even know it's coming.
Even better would be that she can see it coming and Arya just repeatedly stabs her: for Sansa, for Ned, for Nymeria, for everyone Cersei has ever wronged in Arya's eyes.
As a bonus, Arya can kill the Mountain mere seconds before he kills the Hound, to return the favour to Sandor. Something quick and effective and absolutely deadly, for the poetic justice of Westeros's tiniest murderer taking out its biggest and most terrifying brute of a fighter without even breaking a sweat.
Then Dany can take the Iron Throne whilst Sansa is Queen in the North, and they can both vie for Arya as Hand to the Queen (she will refuse and offer to set up a kingdom-wide Queensguard of ruthless assassins instead). Then Sansa can elect Tyrion as Hand to the North and Dany can have Varys or something IDK. Or maybe Missandei.
Yara Greyjoy is reigning Queen of the Iron Islands; she builds a statue to honour Theon and if she hasn't killed Euron already then she just makes an example of him and throws him in the smelliest dungeon she can find for the rest of his life. Brienne is Queen of Tarth and lives happily ever after with Jaime. Either he or Tyrion inherits Casterly Rock but hands it over to Bronn instead (he can find his own bloody wife), both of them shedding the last trappings of the Lannister name. (Somewhere under the Red Keep, Tywin spins in his grave. :P)
This is the feminist powerhouse ending we deserve and I have no illusions whatsoever that it will ever happen, but I like to imagine this is how it would go down.
Daenarys the Mad Queen
Honestly, I think Dany's path is pretty much set on this; it's in her DNA. She's already proven herself ruthless and occasionally unreasonable in her quest for the Iron Throne, which has consumed her entire life and become her entire purpose. She still has at least one dragon, maybe two if Rhaegal is alive, so there's nothing stopping her from following in her father's footsteps and setting the entire of Kings Landing on fire just to get to Cersei. (I actually see no reason why she can't just take out Euron's entire fleet in one fell swoop, frankly. I can't see that the Scorpion would be much use on a boat.)
I'm also half-convinced that Jon's more legitimate claim to the throne is going to be part of what tips Dany over the edge. She's already indicated to Sansa that the North will not have a separate ruler, which would of course be the ideal situation: Dany on the Iron Throne and Jon (Aegon, whatever) as King in the North. If she's dead set on there being One Queen to Rule Them All, then as far as she's concerned, Jon/Aegon is her next biggest rival after Cersei. I'm not sure if he has any particular interest in ruling the Seven Kingdoms (he was a somewhat reluctant King in the North, if memory serves) and whilst I imagine he would attempt to make Dany see reason on that point, I don't think it will make any difference once her mindset is fixed on him as a rival rather than an ally.
Dany's ideal has always been to unite the Seven Kingdoms peacefully under her rulership, but this now seems like the pipe dream of a naive young princess. There have been occasions where she has not acted peacefully. Now that she's lost most of her army, not to mention Jorah Mormont, I honestly think she's going to snap.
All this talk of Mad Queens brings me nicely onto my next theory.
Okay, so that being taken into account, we may well end up with two Mad Queens who are in desperate need of deposing, and that brings me to Jaime and Brienne.
Jaime is the Kingslayer, of course, and Brienne is the only person in the world who knows the truth of what happened. I have two concepts of where this could go.
Part of Jaime's character arc is his redemption, and we've already seen echoes and foreshadowing of this: Bran repeating "The things we do for love" at him during his trial at Winterfell to remind him of what he used to be, and obviously his journey north to fight for the living. So, my first theory is that Jaime's redemption comes in the form of him becoming the Queenslayer and killing Cersei before she can destroy the city like Aerys before her, except this time his deeds are lauded and celebrated. The disgraced Kingslayer becomes the heroic Queenslayer.
By that same token, I think there is also scope for Brienne to become the Queenslayer, but her target would be Daenarys rather than Cersei. Brienne is loyal to Sansa, the Starks and the North; I don't think we've seen any particular indications of loyalty to Dany herself, and I suspect that if Dany goes full-on Mad Queen then Brienne will act on all those vows Jaime bestowed upon her (particularly "protect the innocent") and take Dany down before she can cause any collateral damage.
With both of these theories running in tandem, it would result in both Brienne and Jaime suriviving (trust me, I have absolutely no faith that this will happen; I highly suspect at least one of them is not getting out of this alive) and how marvellous would that be, to have two Queenslayers save the Seven Kingdoms?
I literally do not care who is on the Iron Throne as long as both of my baes survive.
Jaime the Father
So, Cersei is pregnant, or at least claims to be. It could be Jaime's, or it could be Euron's. She's clearly not going to tell us, or possibly she doesn't know herself. Possibly she's not even pregnant at all.
It's a foregone conclusion that Jaime is going south, because they need his expertise (I'll get to that in a minute). The key to his redemption is him finally breaking away from Cersei both physically and emotionally. He's in the north, for now, but Cersei's pregnancy still has a hold over him regardless no matter what he might say to the contrary. They've had three children together and he didn't get to be a father to any of them; there's absolutely nothing to suggest that he would get to be a father this time, either, particularly as Cersei has already attempted to get him murdered once and is in the process of trying again (Bronn, please do the right thing or I will never forgive you). But this is Jaime, and he's a heartsick idiot when it comes to his children.
So, he will go south with the Starks and Daenarys and whatever army they have left, and they will get to Kings Landing and fight through to the Red Keep and Cersei will act like the toxic quicksand she always is when it comes to Jaime. By the time he gets there Cersei should be, what? three, maybe four months gone? (As a ballpark figure - I reckon it would be one month before she realises, Jaime gets to Winterfell probably 4-5 weeks later and he's going to be there at least another month, then there's the journey south again.) So if she's not pregnant it will be obvious immediately (though I wouldn't put it above her to pretend anyway) and she can't use it as an excuse to reel Jaime back in any more.
BUT. WHAT IF.
Right, so, in the Braime fandom we have one common goal, which is known as The Bang That Was Promised. I literally cannot tell if the series will deliver on this but IF THEY DO there is every likelihood that Brienne would also be pregnant and it would DEFINITELY be Jaime's. And if she's going south as well, which she clearly will because they're a badass inseparable twin-sword-wielding double-act now and there's no way she's going to let him face Cersei on his own, she would probably realise her situation around the time of their arrival. She'd panic and fret and put the irregularity down to the stress of battle, and he would take one look at her and just know, and they'd have to shelve all the emotions for later because there's still a throne to fight for.
And then, GUH, can you imagine that stand-off?! Cersei trying to tempt Jaime back on the promise of his unborn child when he's just found out Brienne is pregnant? I think his choice in that case would be evidently clear, and all I want is to see the look on Cersei's face when Jaime tells her. (And latterly the look on Brienne's.) And then for someone to kill her before she can murder Brienne and/or Jaime in a fit of jealous rage.
I want this like BURNING but I very much doubt it will happen.
Jaime the Strategist
Given the absolute shitshow that was the Battle of Winterfell, if they go south without employing Jaime's obvious expertise I will start throwing things. This goes for Tyrion as well.
They're going up against the Queensguard, the Lannister army. The army which Jaime has commanded for most of his adult life, which he was in the process of rallying before Cersei did an about-face and threatened him with the Mountain. If they try and go up against that army without his input they might as well not bother.
As for Tyrion, he knows the Red Keep like the back of his hand and he knows all its weak spots. I know this is something he failed at when they tried to sack Highgarden, but this time he would do better, because this time he would have something to prove. The two of them combined would make a formidable force if only they could be put to good use.
Also, Jaime and Tyrion between them know Cersei better than anyone. Tyrion did naively trust her more recently, but that's because Tyrion has a soft heart and wants to see the good in people. It would just be so lovely for the two brothers to finally show a united front against her.
I also have a pet theory that somehow Jaime manages to convince the Lannister army to fight against Cersei because of their latent respect for him. Fingers crossed.
Jaime (and Tyrion) not!Lannister
There's been a significant and obvious shift in both Tyrion and Jaime the further from Cersei they've gotten, the most notable of which is that neither of them are particularly blond any more, and neither of them are draped in Lannister red and gold. (In fact, in the darkness of the Battle of Winterfell, Jaime's - presumably borrowed - armour looked a similar blue to Brienne's. That cannot be a coincidence.) This obvious shift speaks to one thing: they are no longer Lannisters except by name.
A name is an important thing, of course, particularly a name like Lannister which brings with it various associated pros and cons - for both Jaime and Tyrion currently it's more of the latter. It's the final thing still dragging them both down. The only people who make exception for them are Sansa (because Tyrion was the first person in Kings Landing to show her genuine kindness) and Brienne (because she's Jaime's conscience and the shape of his salvation), so for that reason alone I hope their two respective women have enough sway to convince Jon / Dany to use them properly.
The only thing remotely connecting Jaime to the Lannisters now (Cersei's dubious pregnancy notwithstanding) is the golden hand. He's still wearing it only because he has nothing better to replace it with. I would absolutely love for him to finally get it melted down and fashioned into something more practical, like a hook or some kind of multi-functional base. (Tyrion can help him design it.) Once he loses the golden hand he loses his very final shred of Lannister-ness, replacing a useless appendage designed only for appearance (and only so his missing hand did not offend Cersei) with something functional. Just, anything to stop Jaime moping about being a one-handed man and feeling he's somehow the lesser for it when the opposite is clearly true.
When the war is over, if they both survive, I would love Jaime and Tyrion to completely shuck off the Lannister name (this kind of ties in with Bronn ending up at Casterly Rock). They can both go by Waters, or Snow, or something else of their own creation. Tyrion and Sansa can renew their wedding vows and become Lord and Lady Stark of Winterfell. Jaime can marry Brienne and become Lord Tarth.
I have no hope whatsoever that any of these will be remotely accurate, but I just had to get them out of my brain.
As terrifying as this fandom / ship spiral is, at least it's distracting me from work. The Email from the other week is still a bone of contention (some colleagues have responded, others have not) and our TL is promising a team meeting at some point as well as long-over due supervisions, so I imagine there's going to be a lot of annoying things in my immediate future. But quite frankly, at this point, the fate of my favourite fictional characters feels like a far more vital thing to worry about. :P
So, at the very least, for the next few weeks my journal will be mercifully free of work moaning and - perhaps not so mercifully - full of GoT-related screaming instead.