In the final Send the Ravens column for season 6, we answer your Game of Thrones questions and discuss Cersei’s succession to the Iron Throne….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s hard to believe another season of Game of Thrones has come and gone already.
Of course it’s a debatable subject, but in my humble opinion, Game of Thrones is the best show on television currently so it seems like these 10 episodes just fly by faster and faster each year and considering the final two seasons are both shortened, it’s probably going to get even worse when the series returns in 2017.
For those unaware — Game of Thrones likely only has 13 episodes left and sources have said that season seven will be seven total episodes with the final season — season eight — ending with six more episodes.
It’s tough to even fathom that the show could be over that soon, but the end is near — although stay tuned for a pitch later this week for a Game of Thrones series that could continue the show for many years to come. More on that later, but for now let’s tackle one of the biggest questions coming out of the finale this past Sunday titled “The Winds of Winter” where a shit load of people died and when it was all over, Cersei Lannister was the person sitting on the Iron Throne.
Now it would be easy to look at Cersei as a power hungry monster who more or less slaughtered all her potential competition and that’s why she was crowned queen rather than somebody else, and as far as the show is concerned, you’re probably not wrong. By definition, Game of Thrones can’t delve as deep into family history on the show as much as author George R.R. Martin can do in the books, but still there is a line of succession that ends with Cersei as the most likely candidate to take over for her son Tommen after his suicide.
Only one other time in the history of the Seven Kingdoms has a woman held a claim to the Iron Throne and even then she never actually got the chance to rule. Rhaenyra Targaryen was the daughter of Viserys I Targaryen, who proclaimed her his heir upon his death but when he actually passed away, her half brother Aegon II Targaryen claimed the throne instead.
The two siblings then engaged in a brutal war known as “The Dance of the Dragons”, which I chronicled in a past Send the Ravens column, which you can read —> HERE.
So Cersei’s claim to the Iron Throne isn’t unprecedented, although technically she would be the first queen to actually rule the Seven Kingdoms.
As far as her line of succession, it’s long and twisted but the easiest way to explain it goes like this — technically the Baratheon bloodline is what you’d trace to find a new king because Robert conquered and toppled the Targaryen’s, thus his family would now be the ruling faction in Westeros. Unfortunately, Robert is dead, his brothers Stannis and Renly are both dead and the only child the two of them produced — poor Shireen — is also dead. All three of Robert’s children (even though they weren’t his kids to begin with) are also dead. So from there you’d have to start climbing up the family tree to find anyone still surviving to claim the throne in his name.
Immediately some will point to Robert’s numerous bastards — like Gendry, who we haven’t seen in several seasons — but bastards can’t take over unless they are legitimized like what happened when Roose Bolton did that for his son and turned Ramsay Snow into Ramsay Bolton (that didn’t turn out too well for him, unfortunately).
So now we’re back to that family tree and the quick way to explain this goes — the Baratheons are pretty much wiped out at this point in the story. You’d have to go way back up the line to a woman named Elyanna Baratheon, who married Mathin Lannister, who had a son named Jason Lannister. From there, Jason was father to Damon, Damon was father to Gerold, Gerold was father to Tytos and Tytos was father to Tywin.
Yes, that Tywin Lannister.
So based on the long, twisty history — and trust me, this is still only an educated guess with a lot of research — the rightful heir would either be Jamie or Tyrion Lannister. Now Jamie would have been disallowed because he was a member of the Kingsguard, but Tommen relieved him of that post after he staged a revolt against the High Sparrow. Tyrion is currently a fugitive, thus he’s not available either.
So that leaves — yep you guessed it — Cersei Lannister.
So unless Jamie wants to make a stink about it, and it’s not likely he will, his sister Cersei is actually the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Of course, in the crazy family history in Westeros, everybody is seemingly related to everybody else if you dig deep enough but for the sake of clarity, we’ll just stick with Cersei as the rightful heir and the new queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
With that said, let’s get to your final Game of Thrones questions for season 6!
@DamonMartin How can Varys travel halfway around the world so fast?
— B (@SENT_B_) June 27, 2016
Good question and the easy answer is it’s not possible.
But it seems the show runners behind Game of Thrones abandoned the long travel scenarios that seemingly haunt the books by just avoiding that subject all together as of season six. Remember, Robert Baratheon talked about how many weeks it took for his family to travel from King’s Landing to Winterfell back in season one and distances between two places anywhere in Westeros aren’t easy to get to on horseback, much less on foot. Now imagine the time it takes for armies to march from one place to the next. It’s a painfully long trip to get anywhere in Westeros.
So for the sake of storytelling, Game of Thrones just did away with that machination this season to help move the story along. If not, Jon probably still wouldn’t be at Winterfell after leaving the Wall, Littlefinger would barely be at Mole’s Town after leaving the Eyrie the first time at the start of the season and Arya would be on a ship somewhere in the middle of the Narrow Sea just waiting to hit land back in Westeros.
Minus the long trips, a lot happened this season and that kind of seemed on purpose.
@DamonMartin Littlefinger's next play? Didn't seem too thrilled…
— Jeff Fields (@JeffEFields) June 27, 2016
Lord Baelish certainly did not seem very happy after Sansa spurned his impromptu marriage proposal and fantasy of sitting on the Iron Throne with her by his side. As Jon was proclaimed the new King in the North, Sansa looked over at Baelish, who was clearly disgruntled by the whole ceremony. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Baelish, he doesn’t do well as a man spurned by not getting what he wants.
It’s hard to predict what Baelish will do next, but the one thing we know for sure is he excels in moments of chaos. He was the one who convinced Lysa Arryn to poison and murder her husband Jon Arryn, which indirectly led to the War of the Five Kings. He put Sansa in a marriage with Ramsay Bolton only to turn around and rat them out to Cersei to help cut them off from the crown after they established a relationship following the Red Wedding.
Baelish is a master manipulator and he’s got the Knights of the Vale more or less under his command now. If he feels like getting rid of Jon for the sake of making Sansa the Queen of Winterfell, he certainly has plenty of weapons at his disposal to get the job done. Then again he could cozy up to Jon before betraying him in another twist of events.
Whatever the case may be, Baelish won’t be satisfied just sitting as the warden over Robin Arryn until he comes of age to rule the Eyrie. He wants power and he’ll get it by any means necessary. Unfortunately, Baelish also wants Sansa and that may be his one weak spot that could bring about his downfall in the end.
@DamonMartin Where is Ghost?
— Steven Kelliher (@Steven_Kelliher) June 27, 2016
Somewhere inside Winterfell at this point. He wasn’t on the battlefield next to Jon and looking back it’s for good reason because he would have surely died. Given that Jon is now called “The White Wolf”, Ghost will surely be back next season.
My best guess is with all the money spent on “The Battle of the Bastards” as well as “The Winds of Winter”, a CGI direwolf just wasn’t in the budget for the end of the season.
@DamonMartin WHY did they have those kids kill Pycell? Wtf. Why didn't Quburn just kill Pycell himself?
— Lauren Murphy (@LaurenMurphyMMA) June 27, 2016
It just speaks to Qyburn’s truly evil and manipulative nature. Don’t forget he was kicked out of the Citadel for his unnatural experiments — namely wanting to examine and cut apart living humans for the sake of science — so convincing a group of children to become a pack of murderous killers isn’t beyond his reach.
Qyburn also re-animated a very much near death Gregor Clegane to now serve as the protector over Queen Cersei. Qyburn is just a wicked, evil bastard and turning children into his own personal hit squad is just one more way he’s clearly a haunted individual and the wrong man to cross if your name was Pycelle.
@DamonMartin From the first season until now, any idea how many years have passed?
— Thomas Gerbasi (@tgerbasi) June 27, 2016
This is a question that’s been debated by a lot of book readers (myself included) as well as show watcher and there’s no exact answer. There are several clues and it most lies in the conception of children on the show.
Daenerys got pregnant early in season one with Khal Drogo’s baby before nearly carrying that child to term nearly the finale in the tenth episode. We also know Walda Frey (eventually Walda Bolton) was married to Roose Bolton at the tail end of season three when he revealed his marriage to Catelyn Stark ahead of the Red Wedding. After killing all the Starks, Roose returned home with his new bride and eventually later in the season he announced that she was pregnant.
Lady Walda gave birth during season six, so there’s another nine months off the calendar.
As best as anyone can tell, Robert Baratheon died around 298 AC (Aegon’s Conquest) and where we’re at in the story right now is approximately three to four years later. Book readers have theorized between two and three years, but the TV show has certainly gone far beyond what’s been published so it’s likely three to four years have passed since the day we started Game of Thrones.
@DamonMartin I think we need a brief synopsis and lesson of Robert's rebellion (Non-book readers) & present results
— Sean Murphy (@Murphs56) June 27, 2016
The short, short version is this — Robert Baratheon was the rightful heir to the Stormlands, which is the seat of House Baratheon and he was betrothed to marry his good friend Ned Stark’s little sister Lyanna Stark. At a fateful tournament at Harrenhal, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen — the rightful heir to the Iron Throne at the time — won the final joust and presented a crown of winter roses to “the queen of love and beauty” but rather than give it to his wife, Elia Martell, he instead presented it to Lyanna Stark.
The next year, Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna and that enraged Robert to the point where he rebelled against the kingdom and started “The War of the Usurper” where he sought to get his future bride back not to mention smash every Targaryen he could find.
Rumors persisted that Rhaegar and Lyanna were actually in love and that he never actually kidnapped her. Most people who knew Rhaegar loved him and felt he was benevolent and would eventually be a phenomenal king so kidnapping a woman seemed really out of character for him.
Regardless, Robert eventually killed Rhaegar in combat before storming King’s Landing along with the Lannister army, who turned against “The Mad King” Aerys II Targaryen before he was killed by his own Kingsguard member — Jamie Lannister. Robert ended up sitting on the Iron Throne, thus ending a more than 200 year Targaryen dynasty.
Every Targaryen was wiped out with the exception of Daenerys and her brother Viserys, who were smuggled out of Westeros and across the Narrow Sea to avoid being murdered. Robert then ruled for the next 15 years (according to the books) or approximately 17 years in the TV show version.
@DamonMartin why were Sansa and Jon excited when the white crow was mentioned? I didn't understand
— Andrew Allen (@AndrewA1994) June 27, 2016
The white raven symbolized a message from the Citadel telling them that the seasons have changed and winter has finally arrived.
Seasons on Game of Thrones last a long, long time. Sometimes people are born, live and die without ever seeing summer or ever seeing winter. When we first met Ned Stark at the start of season one, he warned that “winter is coming” because this unusually long summer was going to finally come to an end.
Now summer is officially over.
And the Starks are happy for a couple of reasons.
One, Ned Stark promised “winter was coming” non stop until his death so it’s a way to remember him in a way since the seasons finally changed and don’t forget the Stark family words — “Winter is coming”. They are a family built in winter, who thrive in the winter.
@DamonMartin Jon is half stark and half targarian… So his Dad is the Mad Kings brother?
— Jonathan Matthews (@jahlive78) June 27, 2016
If the rumored story is true — and a big part of that was confirmed in the season finale — Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar was “The Mad King” Aerys Targaryen’s son so technically Jon Snow would be his grandson.
We know for sure Jon is Lyanna’s son now but we never heard for sure that Rhaegar was his father. Of course it’s easy to assume that based on Lyanna telling her brother Ned that he had to protect the baby because if Robert (Baratheon) ever found out, he’d kill him. Robert would have no reason to kill Lyanna’s child unless it was Rhaegar’s son.
@DamonMartin what relation does that make Jon and daenerys ?
— James (@jim36198625) June 27, 2016
Based on the rumored lineage from above, Jon would technically be Daenerys’ nephew — as strange as that may sound. Daenerys is the youngest child of “The Mad King” Aerys II Targaryen and Jon is the (allegedly) son of Rhaegar Targaryen, who was also son to “The Mad King”. So that would make Daenerys his aunt even if she might be younger than him based on their current ages.
@DamonMartin My question is whether Jaime and Cersei will rule together? Or will this tear them apart?
— Adam Thompson (@911spatcher) June 27, 2016
More likely to tear them apart.
In the books, Jamie has kind of abandoned his sister after all they’ve been through. He actually leaves King’s Landing and ends up at Riverrun just like he did this season as he tries to retake the castle from “The Blackfish” Brynden Tully. Much like the show, he ends up using Edmure Tully to take the castle back and he continues to travel around those lands to take back areas that were once captured by Robb Stark during the war.
Along the way, Jamie receives a letter from Cersei saying that she’s been imprisoned by the High Sparrow and she’s asking him to be her champion in a potential trial by combat. Jamie tosses the letter away and has it burned.
So after returning home to be with Cersei, Jamie now finds the Great Sept of Baelor has been blown to bits, his uncle Kevan and dozens of others are dead and his last remaining child — Tommen — is also gone, it’s hard to believe he’ll be all that excited that Cersei is the last woman standing.
He may not betray her right away, but it’s not likely Jamie is going to stand by and do nothing while she goes completely mad.
@DamonMartin the vision aside, what is Bran going to do at the wall?
— Jeff Fields (@JeffEFields) June 27, 2016
Bran is going to go through the Wall and attempt to warn the Night’s Watch and presumably eventually make his way back home to Winterfell to prepare everyone for the upcoming war against the Night King and the White Walkers.
Bran has seen visions of the past and the future and he knows better than anybody that the dead are coming to kill the living. So think of Bran like a Westerosi version of Paul Revere. He’s going to go everywhere and scream at the top of his longs “The White Walkers are coming! The White Walkers are coming!” and hope people will actually listen.
There you have it folks, another season of Game of Thrones is finished and another year of Send the Ravens has come to an end. The good news is we will be reporting from San Diego Comic Con in less than one month’s time and attending the Game of Thrones panel so make sure to stay tuned for any season 7 updates as they become available!