The opening episode of Season 8 of HBO’s Game of Thrones saw multiple reunions and preparations for war. Cersei appears to be the only one interested in the Iron Throne for now; Euron just wants to impregnate her and leave (or so he claims) while everyone else is focussed on fighting the Night King. But sooner or later the Night King will be defeated (or so our characters hope!) and the Iron Throne will once again be the prize. So what should Dany, Jon, Sansa, Euron and Arya do to achieve their goals?
“Did you bend the knee to save the North- or because you love her?”
A pertinent question. To gain power, Sansa should convince the other Northmen (and Northwomen- I see you, Lady Mormont!) that Jon has betrayed the North.
Key line: “Danaerys would have joined us in fighting the Night King whether Jon bent the knee or not. She saw the army of the dead and the Night King slew her dragon. Jon threw away the crown you gave him and betrayed the North to bang a hot chick and joyride dragons. I am Ned Stark’s trueborn heir and I will take back the North.”
Goal: Sansa is crowned Queen in the North. She becomes ruler of an independent kingdom.
Threats: Jon and Arya don’t seem to desire power, so may happily go along with this- unless Danaerys persuades Jon that the North should remain part of the Seven Kingdoms. Killing Dany would be a good move here, just to be on the safe side.
Possible allies: Lyanna Mormont, who is annoyed that Jon abandoned his crown. And everyone who wants an independent North.
Arya’s not interested in the throne, preferring a life of adventure to one of power and responsibility. However if she wanted to be queen (and one-up her Queen in the North sister) she could marry Jon once she finds out they’re not half-siblings but cousins. Cousin marriage is tolerated in Westeros and in fact Tywin Lannister married and impregnated his first cousin Joanna Lannister, fathering Cersei and Jaime out of incest. (Apparently the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree). If Jon ends up on the Iron Throne then Arya and he could become joint rulers. Of course Dany would have to be disposed of. If Arya doesn’t want to use her Faceless Man skills to accomplish this, she could stir up hatred against Dany by publicising her execution of the Tarlys and playing the “Mad King’s daughter” card. Cersei has conducted a very similar smear campaign. Arya could go further by staging riots and protests to make it appear as though Dany is unpopular, which could inspire the public to rise against her and support Jon’s claim. In the autobiography Confessions of an Economic Hitman, the CIA is claimed to have pulled off this tactic to depose a democratically elected Iranian president and install a dictator. No reason why it couldn’t work in Westeros.
Goal: Enable Jon to win the Iron Throne, then either rule with him or sail off into the sunset.
Key line: “We’ve always loved each other as siblings and been closest to each other. Let’s take your birthright together. They took Winterfell from our family, but now we’ll take King’s Landing and all of Westeros from them.”
Threats: Sansa and Dany, who could also benefit from political marriages to Jon. Killing both would be the safest course, though Arya and Sansa seem to be getting along better now. Tyrion could be a threat if he supports Danaerys. Jaime could be a threat if he doesn’t want Cersei deposed or killed, or he could be an ally.
Allies: Jon, Stark loyalists and possibly Jaime Lannister.
I don’t believe for a moment that this worldly, skilled magician’s (at least in the books) character is just sticking around to fulfil the role of Cersei’s latest bedroom toy. He should- and is probably planning to- impregnate and marry Cersei, then off her and rule either through his heir as Lord Protector of the Realm, or directly by claiming kingship by right of marriage, as Cersei did when she took the throne bloodlessly.
Goal: Become King or have his son or daughter become King or Queen.
Threats: Jaime Lannister, who was next in line, and Yara Greyjoy. Granting Yara the title of Queen of the Iron Islands and assuring their independence from the Crown would be a good way around this. Euron should also kill Jaime just in case, and possibly also Gendry if he finds out he’s a Baratheon bastard.
Allies: Only his Iron Islander supporters and possibly the inhabitants of King’s Landing.
Key line: “Finger in the bum.” Seriously, go read the books if you haven’t already. HBO’s hatchet job on this evil, mysterious Greyjoy wizard is a character assassination.
George R.R. Martin can’t even write a character if he hasn’t got their name right- and the names are meaningful. This makes me ponder the meaning of Dany’s name, which (almost) contains the Mad King’s (Daenerys is similar to Dan- Aerys). However, it’s not uncommon for Targaryen names to use the ‘aerys’ or ‘erys’ ending, e.g. Viserys, who actually was pretty mad, and one of their ancestors was named Daenerys. Is power slowly corrupting her? Whichever way she decides to go, slapping a ring on her undead toyboy is the best option. Dany has worked all her life to regain what she believed was her inheritance. I don’t blame her if she finds it difficult to turn it all over to some lad who just found out he’s a Targaryen, especially with the Iron Throne almost in sight. Furthermore, Dany seems to be a bit of a feminist, believing in some form of gender equality. It may be galling that as his daughter, she is most closely related to the Mad King but it’s her gender which pushes her further down the line of succession than grandson Jon. Marrying Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen VI and engaging in shared rule would satisfy both of them.
Key line: “Targaryen blood remains strong through inbreeding. We were meant to be together and bring peace to Westeros.”
Threats: Sansa, who doesn’t approve of Dany and probably blames her for seducing Jon into giving up on an independent North. And Cersei and Euron, obviously.
Allies: Tyrion, possibly Jaime, and her huge army.
Jon Snow a.k.a. Aegon Targaryen VI
Jon may not be interested in becoming king, but if he wants to support Dany, it’s probably still best achieved by marrying her so no-one can claim that she is not the legitimate successor.
Allies: Stark bannermen, the Wildlings, the former Night’s Watch, Arya and possibly Brienne. Combined with Dany’s army and dragons, this pairing would be an unstoppable force.