The season six finale of Game of Thrones hits screens tonight and we're looking ahead to the big events we're hoping will take place and the questions we're hoping will be answered in The Winds of Winter. Sinead Brennan has the lowdown.
1. Tower of Joy
After becoming the Frodo and Sam-style storyline of Westeros, Bran's travels were the least exciting, but important nonetheless, part of Game of Thrones for a long time. After a season's break he came back with a bang and provided some of the best scenes in season six and because we get a quick glance at him in the episode ten teaser, we know he'll feature in the finale.
One of the scenes that caused much excitement, anticipation and scream-at-the-tv frustration this season was the Tower of Joy flashback. WHY did Bran have to call out for Ned and stop him from carrying on up the stairs so we could find out WHO was in the tower?! WHY did the Three-Eyed Raven cut their visit back in time short?! WHY do we still not know if the R+L=J* theory is true?!
In a season that has been uncharacteristically kind to viewers; Jon Snow's resurrection, Ramsay's demise and increased dragons, it doesn't feel beyond the realms of possibility that this big question might just get answered in the season finale. I mean, there are few better ways to end a season than with a big reveal like that, answering a question that has plagued the fandom for years.
Now that Bran is free to test out his skills without having his hand held by the Three-Eyed Raven, it's fair to assume he would want to find out more about his own family and spend time in their company, even if he can't interact with them fully.
If the theory is ever to be addressed - and why would they show the Tower of Joy at all if they didn't plan to eventually - when would be a better time? As the world closes in, our main characters near their end goals and the show begins to wind down, now is the time to know the truth. But even if we, as viewers, know, will Jon ever find out? Who could possibly know something like that and keep it a secret for so long?
Littlefinger? Varys? Ned's brother Benjen?
Of course, the Tower of Joy scene could give us a totally unexpected answer. Maybe the theory is false. Maybe R+L does not = J.... Nahhhh.
There has been so much foreshadowing of Wildfire this season that I can't help but think this could be a really explosive finale, literally.
Tyrion revealed to Daenerys just last week that her father, the Mad King, was said to have kept a large supply of Wildfire beneath King's Landing with the aim of burning the city to the ground. Of course, we knew this already. Jaime revealed this as the reason for killing the King in the first place, thus saving thousands of lives and earning himself the rather unfortunate nickname, Kingslayer.
This could be the rumour Qyburn investigated for Cersei that will form part of their new plot to secure her freedom from the High Sparrow now that the Trial By Combat option has been torn away from her.
We all know that Cersei would stop at nothing to protect her children and regain her power, and Jaime even reminded us of this fact via his chat with Edmure Tully a while back, just in case we'd forgotten how ruthless she could be.
What is interesting is that he chose to confide this to Tyrion and not Cersei. Is this because he knows what she is capable of? Does he fear what she would do with that knowledge? Will he have to also turn on her in order to stop her from doing what the Mad King had planned all those years ago?
Let's cast our minds back to one specific part of Cersei's prophecy; that her younger brother would kill her. While Cersei and Jaime are twins, she was born first, meaning that both Jaime and Tyrion are her younger brothers. Given that Tyrion is otherwise engaged, could Jaime be the one to do the deed for the good of the realm?
Jaime is currently off dining with the Frey's according to the finale trailer, so this might not all go down in the next episode, but just imagine the possibilities!
What is more likely is that Cersei will use some of the Wildfire stock to burn down the Great Sept, but would she be able to save both herself and Tommen from the blaze? Will she end up being the one to finish out that part of her prophecy, about all of her children dying?
Maybe the showrunners were messing with us and pointing us in the direction of Wildfire to throw us off the scent and there's something completely unexpected at play...
3. The trial
Cersei and Loras will finally be tried for their sins this week, with the High Sparrow and seven Septons to hear their confessions and dole out some punishment.
We're sure Cersei has something up her sleeve, but what of Loras? When he and Margaery were locked up, she proved herself to be incredibly strong of mind while he fell to pieces. If things don't go his way, will she be able to go along with the Sparrow's course of justice or will she break character?
Regardless of how things play out, the trial is sure to be edge-of-your-seat intense. Here's hoping Cersei (I never thought I'd be rooting for her) comes through and takes down the Faith Militant, when Winter comes there's just no time for them.
4. The Freys and the Lannisters send their regards
Walder Frey is back and in the trailer for the finale we see him toasting to Jaime Lannister, who is back at the scene of the infamous Red Wedding in order to build the alliance with the loathsome family. But what is their next move?
What are they planning? There has been very little death this season in terms of main characters; will that change in the finale? I hope not!
5. Jon and Sansa
They were never that close, with Sansa actually apologising to Jon for being so awful to him when they were growing up, but their reunion was one of the most moving and beautiful scenes in Game of Thrones to date. It was a moment of pure joy and I'm not ashamed to say I shed a little tear.
Over the last few episodes there have been some moments of tension between the pair, with Sansa frustrated that Jon didn't consult her on how to deal with their shared enemy, Ramsay Bolton, when she actually knows firsthand what he's capable of. I understood her frustration there, but I still don't get why she kept her letter to Littlefinger and the Knight's of the Vale from him.
In the teaser for the big finale, Jon tells her that they need to trust each other because they have enough enemies already. If they can actually band together and work as a sibling dream team they'll be all the stronger for it. With Sansa having learned from the best during her time as one of the most unlucky people in the seven kingdoms, she has a darker streak and if she can use her skills of manipulation and deception alongside Jon's honour and strength they could have it all.
Will she end up screwing her half-brother over when it suits her? Here's hoping she doesn't ever feel threatened by him because one thing's for certain, she wants to be in charge for once in her life.
The great puppet master of Westeros, the orchestrator of pretty much everything, Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. What is he up to?
All of his schemes have had a huge impact on the world of Game of Thrones and while it was always known that he loved Catelyn Stark, and it's possible he has a genuine soft spot for her daughter Sansa, his love of power is his only real driving force.
Marrying Sansa off to Ramsay Bolton, he put her in grave danger and allowed her to be subjected to his sadistic, torturous ways. Confronted with the reality of how his plan panned out when Sansa told him of the horrors she experienced, he looked truly sorry, but a man like Littlefinger is a good actor. It would be a first for him to not know his enemies, not fully understand the pawns in his game and be unaware of their strengths and weaknesses, so I find it hard to believe that he was really in the dark.
Looking back to season five when he met with Cersei in King's Landing after killing Lysa Arryn and bringing Sansa back to Winterfell, Littlefinger suggested that the crown let Stannis' army battle with the Boltons, for the Lannister army to then swoop in while the "victor licks his wounds" and regain control of the North. He even offered up the services of the Knights of the Vale, promising Cersei Sansa's head in return for the title of Warden of the North.
The Bolton army is defeated and the Knights of the Vale only arrived in the nick of time, so they probably suffered very few casualties in the battle. Not a bad outcome for Littlefinger. Now, welcome inside Winterfell, he is in a very strong position. There is no doubt in my mind that he wants to be Warden of the North, but will he make good on his promise to Cersei, especially now that her power is waning? Will he try to marry Sansa and gain power that way?
His plans are usually well disguised so we should expect a big twist coming our way at the hands of the brothel owner.
7. Is Sansa pregnant?
There have been a few hints recently that Sansa might be pregnant with Ramsay's baby. I really, really hope for her sake that there's no truth to the rumours, and I choose to believe that she isn't until they specifically say it on the show.
From telling Littlefinger that she could still feel what Ramsay did to her, to Ramsay saying he will always be a part of her, to the new dress she made herself at Castle Black (this one's a real stretch but I had to include it), there are a few nods to the possibility that she is carrying a Bolton heir.
If she is actually pregnant - fingers crossed that she's not - this would possibly make her want to marry Littlefinger if he did propose in order to make the baby appear to be a Baelish.
8. Davos and Melissandre
Davos finally knows the truth about what happened to poor little Shireen and he didn't have much time last week to dwell on it what with the impending battle and all, but the Red Woman won't be getting off lightly.
After forming an alliance with Jon - you bring someone back to life and it's bound to happen - she is no doubt going to be a good source of wisdom to him as they journey forward, but will he keep her around when he hears the truth?
9. Daenerys and Tyrion set sail
Finally, it's looking like Daenerys, Tyrion and co. are set to leave Meereen - rejoice!
Having secured some ships thanks to Theon and Yara (how did they get to Meereen so quickly?) and the defeated masters, Daenerys Stormborn has a big enough fleet to head west.
In the preview for this week's episode, Tyrion tells her that she is "in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying" and this is just exciting to hear. Her exploits in Essos are finally at an end and it's only a matter of time before Daenerys and her dragons join all the fun (?) in Westeros.
One of Bran's visions saw a dragon flying high over King's Landing. This could've been a flashback to the heyday of the Targaryen rule when the last dragons were still in full flight, but I like to think it's a flash-forward to one of Daenerys' dragons enjoying a fly around to soak in the new scenery.
How her followers - especially the Dothraki horsemen - will fit in is beyond me, but it's sure to make for interesting television. The main thing is that the dragons are heading west and will hopefully have a big part to play in the fight against the White Walkers. Remember when the Three-Eyed Raven told Bran that he would never walk again, but he would fly? How cool would it be if he warged into Drogon?
For any of this to happen they need to set sail, so hopefully this final episode will see that happen and we can start into season seven from a much stronger place story-wise for the Mother of Dragons.
10. Will Winter come?
Winter has been coming since season one, could it finally arrive in the season six finale?
As the looming threat of the White Walkers grows ever more prevalent, when will they actually reach, and breach, The Wall? It could be a bit too soon for this to actually happen but we're running out of time in the series so it'll have to happen eventually.
Every time a Valyrian steel sword is mentioned or shown on screen I always find myself thinking who best deserves and needs it going forward.
With swords, dragon glass and fire, can the kingdom of men succeed against the White Walker army? If they don't, it would be a pretty grim end to the show and there'd be a certain feeling of 'what was it all for?' but maybe Winter actually coming, and the White Walkers taking over, is the only actual end? When you play the Game of Thrones you win or you die, but even when the throne is won, the game continues because there is always someone else with their sights set on it. The story could go on forever, but sadly, it won't.
*R+L=J is the theory that suggests Jon Snow is the lovechild of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Rhaegar is said to have fallen in love with Lyanna and taken her away to the Tower of Joy, thus starting Robert's Rebellion because Robert Baratheon, too, was in love with Ned's sister. When Ned reaches the tower, like he did in Bran's flashback, it is thought he enters it to find his sister on her deathbed after giving birth to Jon, and he promises to look after him.
Choosing to tell everyone that Jon is his own son, because Robert would want a Targaryen heir killed to secure his own reign, Ned raised him as his own, keeping his true lineage a secret from everyone, including his wife Catelyn. A noble, loyal man like Ned Stark would never cheat on the wife he loved, would he? If the theory is true, Jon would be Daenerys' nephew and the real heir to the Iron Throne. Having been born to a Stark mother and a Targaryen father, is it thought Jon Snow is literally the Song of Ice and Fire.