Spoilers ahead for season six of Game of Thrones.
One thing you can't say about Game of Thrones is that the show doesn't know how to go epic, in the oldest sense of the word. Season six's penultimate episode featured its most spectacular and breathtakingly filmed battle yet, including rampaging giants, a brutal phalanx formation, and literal mountains of corpses. If you doubt how massive it was, watch this short documentary about how "The Battle of the Bastards" was filmed and learn fun facts like that the charging cavalry wasn't CGI and Jon Snow punched Ramsay Bolton in the face for ten hours to get the shots right:
Anyway, now that the battles of ice (Jon Snow vs. Ramsay Bolton née Snow) and fire (flame-breathing dragons vs. slaver ships catapulting fireballs) are over, what does the finale have in store? Game of Thrones has a reputation for spectacular ninth episodes followed up by somewhat perfunctory season finales. Yet despite how much of the budget was spent on CGI dragons and piles of dead bodies, there are still some major plotlines that need to be wrapped up in the finale. Here are some of the most pressing questions we might get answers to:
Will Cersei Blow Up King's Landing?
One of the biggest storylines this season has been in King's Landing, where the High Sparrow and his religious army and Cersei and her zombie knight have been trying to out-position one another. The finale will likely feature Cersei's trial—her nude walk through the city was apparently just the High Sparrow's idea of a bail bond—and the Faith has the upper hand. The High Sparrow is manipulating Tommen like a mummer's dragon, getting him to push Jamie out of the picture and then banning the use of trial by combat (thus nullifying her zombie abomination's mountain-size advantage). But Cersei still has a trick up her sleeve. In episode eight, Cersei's righthand necromancer, Qyburn, whispered that his spies had found something big. What could it be? Well, how about a bunch of hidden wildfire that Cersei could use to blow up all or part of King's Landing?
This season has mentioned the wildfire that the Mad King hid under the city a couple times. Bran saw it in his Weirwood-internet-history-lesson-montage, and last episode Tyrion reminded Daenerys that her father had hidden wildfire all around the city… including the Sept of Baelor, where the Faith will hold Cersei's trial.
(It's also possible the finale trial will be Loras's, but that might only give Cersei more space to plot her revenge.)
Will Arya Stick-Fight Her Way Out of Braavos?
If your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was Donatello, then you probably loved Arya's story arc this season. We got to watch her stick-fight with the Waif in the House of Black and White, then stick-fight with the Waif on the streets of Braavos, all while learning a thing or two about stick-fighting. Now that Arya is perhaps the greatest stick-fighter in the land and reunited with her long-lost Needle, will the Faceless Men just let her go peacefully—or will an army of assassins come after her, sticks and all?
Where Did Varys Sneak Off To?
Back when things were looking peachy in Meereen, Varys took off on a mission. The Spider is always weaving plans, so there's a good chance we'll see him up to something in the finale. A likely destination: Dorne. Yes, everyone hates the Dornish storyline, and for good reason. The less we hear about who "needs the bad pussy" again, the better. But even though the Dornish haven't been seen since the start of the season, it's unlikely they'll stay absent forever. Plus, Daenerys will need some Westerosi allies when she finally makes her way toward the Iron Throne.
Will Walder Frey Finally Get What He Deserves?
Although old creeper Walder Frey hasn't been seen much since co-engineering the Red Wedding, he's still one of the most hated men in Westeros both among the citizenry (who are appalled at how the Freys broke guest rights) and viewers alike. Now that the Boltons have been wiped out, it seems fitting that the Freys will start dying, and the trailer confirms that they will appear in the finale as they retake Riverrun. But who would kill him? Walder has long been on Arya's kill list, but she's currently stick-fighting in Braavos. One possibility is Brienne, who snuck out of Riverrun before it was retaken and wouldn't mind some revenge for Catelyn Stark. There's also the Hound and the Brotherhood Without Banners lurking around the Riverlands, probably ready to kill somebody or other.
Will Tormund and Brienne Get It On?
If Brienne didn't stick around the Riverlands, she headed back to Winterfell where a certain redheaded wildling is likely working on his sensual eating game. There's been plenty of hate this season, so maybe the finale could show us a little love?
Will the Ironborn Be Cool with Daenerys's "Have Pirates Promise to Stop Being Pirates" Plan?
While Yara and Daenerys's innuendo-laden negotiations were the faces that launched a thousand fan-fic ships, there was something a little easy with how quickly Yara Greyjoy agreed to give up her people's entire way of life. "No more reaving, roving, raiding, or raping" may be some poetic alliteration, but how is this going to work among a people who don't know anything else? The motto of the Greyjoys is literally, "We Do Not Sow." Can that be quickly adjusted to, "We Don't Not Sow"? And will the Ironborn go along quietly with this plan and change their economy into one where they make seaweed trinkets for Westerosi tourists?
Will Euron Fight Daenerys at Sea (or Steal One of Her Dragons)?
Speaking of the Ironborn, we haven't seen this season's new bad guy, Euron Greyjoy, in a while. Last we heard, he was building a massive fleet to chase down and murder Yara and Theon. While it should theoretically take months for a depleted Ironborn to build a new fleet, Game of Thrones has never been a stickler for timelines (Yara and Theon just sailed around half the globe in a few episodes… which kind of makes you wonder why it's taken Daenerys six seasons to get back). Surely Theon and Yara's escape wasn't going to be this easy, which means there's a good chance we'll see a big battle at sea. If it happens, they'll likely save the actual battle for next season, but the preparations might make a good cliffhanger.
Another possibility is Euron simply stealing one of Dany's dragons. How? Well, in the books, Euron possesses a magic dragon-binding horn. We haven't seen it in the show, but perhaps we'll be teased with it in the finale.
Will Sansa Enter Yet Another Horrible Marriage?
While Sansa got her revenge on Ramsay thanks to the arrival of Littlefinger's knights of the Vale—an army she, whoops, forget to tell Jon Snow about before he sacrificed most of their troops and almost got trampled to death—we all know that Littlefinger will want something in return. Littlefinger made his creepy obsession with Sansa known several times, so could he demand she marry him for saving her life? Or would he instead suggest a marriage pact with Robin Arryn, the heir to the Vale who loves to throw people out of the moon door? Neither is very appealing, so let's hope Sansa gets to enjoy some peace and the single life for a change.
Will Bran Finally Just Tell Us What the Hell Happened at the Tower of Joy?
One of the biggest mysteries in A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones is what happened at the Tower of Joy. The show teased us earlier in the season when Bran—via the Weirwood tree internet—watched a flashback of Ned Stark and his men defeating the tower's guards and rushing toward it as someone (a baby?) cried. What secret could be inside? Most fans assume it has to do with Jon Snow's true parents, which may mean that Tormund was exactly wrong last episode when he said, "Jon Snow is no king." We'll find out next Sunday. The wait is long and full of terrors.
Follow Lincoln Michel on Twitter.