Night gathers, but soon our watch will end.

Game of Thrones is at the beginning of the end now that HBO unveiled the release date and first trailer for the eighth and final season. On April 14, the final battle for the Iron Throne and the survival of Westeros will begin. 

In just six episodes — though they’re expected to clock in at an hour or more each — the fates of the Starks, Targaryens, Lannisters and more will be wrapped up. And no matter who lives or who dies, the conclusion of one of the most well-loved shows of all time will surely leave a pretty fair share of fans feeling underwhelmed. (Don’t forget that series creator George R.R. Martin has urged fans to “expect something bittersweet in the end”).

With that in mind, here are seven predictions for season 8 of Game of Thrones:

Jon will learn of his true heritage

Given what the trailer showed us, and the fact that it’s been teased for two seasons — or up to two decades, if you’ve read the books — it seems pretty likely that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) will find out his true parentage. The use of Ned Stark (Sean Bean)’s first-season quote “You may not have my name, but you have my blood” in the trailer nails that home.

Whether it’s from Three-Eyed Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), Sam (John Bradley), both of them or someone else, Jon will learn what viewers already know: He’s not a Stark; he’s a Targaryen. Now he’ll just have to convince the rest of Westeros he’s trueborn.

The White Walkers will wreak some havoc...

The Night King and his army of the dead did some serious damage in the seventh season, thanks in part to the asinine let’s-capture-a-wight-and-take-it-to-Cersei plan. Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) kicked the bucket, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is down to just two dragons and the Wall has been partially destroyed.

With an undead dragon and an ever-growing horde of frozen zombies in hand, it’s safe to say that the White Walkers will do some serious damage now that winter has come.

...but they won’t win in the end

Look, it would be awfully anticlimactic if the White Walkers just wiped out all Seven Kingdoms. It’s pretty safe to say the living will find a way to either defeat or repel the dead enough to restore Westerosi life to normal. Maybe Sam will discover some ancient technique or spell, or maybe it’ll just be fire and blood (and swords and spears and axes) that end the Walkers’ onslaught.

Cersei’s prophecy will be completely fulfilled

Remember Maggy the Frog’s prophecy to Cersei (Lena Headey)?

Maggy cryptically predicted Cersei’s future. She would not marry Prince Rhaegar, to whom she was promised, but instead “the king” (Robert Baratheon). She would become queen but be challenged by one who is younger and more beautiful (she thought that was Margaery Tyrell, but maybe it’s Daenerys). And she would have three children — all of whom would die before she did — but the king would have 20 (Robert did have many bastards). 

Because Cersei is apparently pregnant by Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), it would not make much sense for her to have a fourth child. In addition, the show’s version of Maggy’s prediction left out a final portion of Cersei’s fate. In the book, Maggy warns Cersei that she will be killed by her valonqar, High Valyrian for “little brother.” Cersei thinks that means Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), but she’s also just older than her twin, Jaime. 

Jaime’s story arc has revolved around his transformation from snarky Prince Charming to crippled good guy. Perhaps his final redemption will be his ability to overcome Cersei’s hold on him.

Jon, Daenerys and Tyrion won’t all survive

Game of Thrones built its pop culture legend on its willingness to kill any character, no matter how important, at any time. Viewers have been reminded of this a million times: first it was Ned, then it was Robb and Catelyn at the Red Wedding, then Joffrey, then Tywin on the toilet…

Anyway, all men must die. And it would seem too good to be true if all three of the most prominent and beloved characters survived. Since Jon already died and was resurrected and Tyrion isn’t exactly a warrior, it’s a fair bet that Daenerys has a decent chance of never actually ascending to the Iron Throne.

In Game of Thrones myth, “the prince who was promised” — a term errantly applied to Stannis Baratheon but that may apply to either Jon or Dany — kills his beloved to create his flaming sword, Lightbringer. It’s not impossible that Jon will have to sacrifice Daenerys to destroy the Night King.

A new ruler will take the Iron Throne

If Jon’s true parents are revealed and both Cersei and Daenerys die, it seems obvious who would ascend to the Iron Throne. Jon, of course, would probably be reluctant to rule, but his knack for leadership has already seen him appointed Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and King in the North. Perhaps he’ll take the throne out of a sense of duty.

Cleganebowl

Many Game of Thrones fans are still waiting for Cleganebowl, an epic duel between Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) and his brother, Sandor “The Hound” (Rory McCann). The brothers have always hated each other and fought briefly in the first season. Maybe The Hound will to avenge the time his brother burned and scarred him as a child. This one’s a little bit less likely, but wouldn’t it be epic?

The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones begins April 14 on HBO.

@alexrmccann

am622914@ohio.edu