It is currently 4 hours before Game of Thrones airs. Everything hinges on how Daenerys will react to this coming episode; she is the unpredictable fire in this coming song. Daenerys Stormborn has many advisors, but tends to keep her own counsel, which occasionally makes her decisions seem chaotic.
In “Stormborn”, Daenerys summoned Jon Snow, King of the North, Lord Commander in absentia of the Night’s Watch, to come south to Dragonstone and “bend the knee” – to swear fealty to her. This is a common move; both Lannister and Baratheon contenders for the Iron Throne demanded the fealty of the North in order to restore the concept of the Seven Kingdoms. Contenders for King (or Queen) of the Iron Islands made no such demands because they never had the authority in the first place, but Balon Greyjoy did attempt to conquer the North.
There is one thing that makes this seem unexpected: Upon meeting the Greyjoys, Daenerys did indicate that there was potential for the other Kingdoms to seek independence. This is partially because she seeks to be a just ruler: she does not wish to be “Queen of the Ashes”. This may also be because, unlike the Lannisters, who are equally new to ruling but with several generations of arrogance stacked on top of one another, Khaleesi Daenerys knows that she would be out of her depth in a Civil War. She struggled to carve an empire in Esos, and in the end, succeeded only in holding Mereen. The Seven Kingdoms would be easier to hold onto, but only just: they’re used to being ruled by a single monarch, even a Targaryen one, but they’re not exactly of one mind or leaping to her side.
Westeros has been in a state of Civil War more or less since Daenerys was born; she was born in exile because of a Civil War. The Seven Kingdoms only simmered for the following years before Cersei was ready to kill Robert. Since then, two more Kings of Westeros have died (four if you count the would-be kings rightly challenging Joffrey’s right to rule), plus a King of the North, a King of the Iron Islands, a Khal of the Great Grass Sea, and I’ve more or less lost count of the number of Lords slain by the various factions, including Dany’s. It’s exhausting for everyone, except maybe Jon, who has stayed away from all of it and is still more of a Lord Crow in goal than a king. As one of the few who has truly been fighting for a better life for her people, it’s likely to be more exhausting for Daenerys than the others.
Because of this, if the Lords of the North present a truly united front, there is a strong case that Daenerys will allow the North to remain independent. Of course, that’s not the all of it. Yara Greyjoy didn’t simply ask Daenerys to leave the Iron Islands alone; they agreed to help one another, and once Daenerys Targaryen has replaced Cersei on the Iron Throne the promise will go into effect. It’s not unreasonable to suspect that Daenerys will work out a similar deal with Jon: march South, be as effective in battle as his adopted brother was against the Lannisters, and the North will be left to rule itself. There is, of course, absolutely nothing in this agreement that suits Jon’s ends, so he will ask for dragonglass, and possibly the aid of the dragons.
Daenerys, like any southern monarch, will be difficult to convince of the army of the dead. She will be skeptical, and she won’t promise Jon an army, but she may want to come in person. We may see Daenerys (along with, perhaps, Tyrion and Varys) at the Battle of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
Ultimately, I don’t think much is going to drastically change what I’ve just said. There may be a few factors. Daenerys is not all business and no fun, and Kit Harrington is not without his share of fangirls, so Dany may be…let’s just say, inclined to find a reason to help Jon.
Varys may also reveal the truth of Jon’s parentage. It’s almost impossible to tell how this will impact the possibilities in the previous paragraph. On one hand, the Targaryen timeline, like Egyptian pharaohs, tended to wed brother-to-sister, so it’s unlikely that Daenerys will be disgusted by the idea of a family relationship. There’s also the fact that, even when sibling-incest is frowned upon by a society, cousins are sometimes seen as fair game (though the Cersei-Lancel affair indicates it may be viewed as a fairly similar offense within the Seven Kingdoms). On the other hand, Daenerys is not blind when it comes to her family. She knows that even her closest supporters see her father as just short of a demon, a madman who deserved the death he received. She also knows that the same incest-ridden bloodline produced Viserys, her own Mad King, whom she despises with every fiber of her being. It’s not unlikely that she will see intra-family marriage to be yet another chain that she must break.
I’ve been focusing on Daenerys’s mind-state, but let’s look at Jon. As I’ve suggested above, Jon is not interested in ruling a kingdom. He’s left it temporarily in his adoptive sister’s hands, but like Daenerys, Jon Snow is impulsive, ruled by morals and a single goal rather than long-term strategy. If Dany tells Jon that he must bend the knee before he can plunder Dragonstone, he will not hesitate. Whether he still considers himself beholden to the vows of the Night’s Watch is another question.
There are a lot of fan theories related to Jon and Daenerys and related topics. I read one last night that speculates that Daenerys and Sansa will wed in a political marriage. Personally, I think this is not remotely possible. I have no problem with shipping or fan fiction; for that matter, I encourage it. Ship whom you want; in the TV universe where they’re functionally adults, I’m a Danarya shipper. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. In the novels, Daenerys has had some encounters with women, but it’s as a very last resort and she is much more interested in men. In the show, Dany’s handmaidens had a reduced role and she has not had so much as a single sexual or romantic encounter with another woman. Sansa is a bit more of an open possibility, but at least in the theory I’ve read, the reasoning given behind it is proof that it’s a shaky theory.
The reasoning I’ve experienced is that Sansa’s abuse at the hands of Ramsey may cause her to lose interest in men and become interested in a same-sex relationship. That is simply not how sexual or romantic attraction works. The negative experiences may cause Sansa to be less openly intimate or to avoid placing herself in situations where she might be vulnerable. If she was already interested in a same-sex relationship, then she might feel more inclined to trust a woman than a man, but it wouldn’t just spontaneously pop into her head.
I’ve also seen the idea that anybody who has been involved in incest, whether willingly, unwillingly, or pre-conception, may be barred from the Iron Throne. Again, this is ridiculous. Certainly, people might rally against it, having experienced a grand total of one incest-free monarch on the Iron Throne in the past century, but if any army has the power to take and hold the Iron Throne, this detail will not prevent them, especially after Cersei activated the nuclear option dealing with the Sparrows.
Ultimately, while there may be some figurative dick-measuring, I think Jon and Dany will work together to beat both the Night’s King and the Lannister Queen. What happens after that will involve a few other players, but it’s important to remember that Jon and Dany, at least, are working toward very different ends. Once they understand this, they shouldn’t see one another as rivals.
Now, let’s see the episode air, and see just how wrong I am.
If you want to hear more of my thoughts and predictions, don’t forget to check out my first appearance on The Podcast Without Banners.