In 10 days, Game of Thrones will finally return. And 35 days after that, Thrones will end. In less time than it seemingly takes Littlefinger to zip around to every corner of Westeros, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will deliver a conclusion to the story George R.R. Martin first introduced 23 years ago—and in that precious time they’ll have to answer half a hundred pressing questions: Who will live? Who will die? Who will tell Jon he’s doing it with his aunt?
Separate from those series-shaping questions are countless smaller but still crucial details that the show may or may not explore in the final season. These are Thrones’ loose ends: the characters, places, events, prophecies, and more that the story has made audiences wonder about over the past seven seasons but has yet to satisfyingly wrap up. In the run-up to the final season’s April 14 premiere, we’ll be digging through these loose ends, looking at why they matter and how they could affect the endgame as we count down the days to Thrones’ long-awaited conclusion.
The Loose End
Since Brienne’s introduction in Season 2—an iconic one-two punch of smashing Loras into the dirt and swearing fealty to his royal boyfriend Renly—she has proved to be one of the most loyal, honest, and lovable characters on Game of Thrones. And despite the series repeatedly telling viewers how undesirable she supposedly is, Brienne has picked up a couple of notable suitors throughout the course of the show, and they could not be more different: Jaime Lannister and Tormund Giantsbane.
Brienne first meets Jaime in Season 2 when he is imprisoned in Robb Stark’s camp, and she remarks that he won’t last the night among a horde of angry Northerners. “Who wants to die defending a Lannister?” she asks. It’s hard to argue the point, especially considering Jaime’s first words directed her way: “Is that a woman? … Where did you find this beast?” As first impressions go, not great.
But like all the best rom-coms, the most passionate love stems from hatred—plus, a good road trip never hurts. Throughout the course of Season 3, Brienne and Jaime bond over a series of horrific and, especially in Jaime’s case, character-altering encounters. He loses his hand, delivers an unbelievable bathtub monologue, and begins to discover his humanity. Brienne is slightly less changed by their journey, but there’s no doubt—fighting a bear really brings a couple together.
But later seasons have pushed our blond beauties apart. Like an incestuous boomerang, Jaime keeps returning to Cersei’s side, while Podrick replaced him as Brienne’s backpacking buddy as she searched for Sansa and Arya Stark. A series of hopeful yet tense reunions and time together at King’s Landing did little to move their relationship toward any real development, beyond some sword swapping and countless loaded gazes.
Season 6 also had a new complication in store for Brienne’s love life: Tormund. He may not have fought a bear with Brienne, but he probably could have given her some tips on how to get around those claws.
Despite turning into a lovestruck ginger puppy every time Brienne walks by, Tormund hasn’t been able to foster the kind of connection Brienne built with Jaime over the course of more than a season. But there’s something to be said for complete and total adoration, and I love a man who loves a tall woman. And as first impressions go, Tormund takes this one in a walk.
Sure, it’s one-sided, but Brienne deserves to be worshiped, and it’s endlessly endearing just how lovestruck Tormund becomes in her presence. Plus, he’s given us such beautiful meme fodder. Points for viral content, my guy.
But who does she really belong with in the end? The crude but well-meaning wildling or the handsome, supremely fucked-up knight with heaps of baggage? As Westerosi options go, she could do a lot worse.
Why This Loose End Matters
Let’s be clear: Brienne doesn’t need a man at all. She’s a fiercely independent and capable woman who has never been defined by the men around her. But she’s also a caring, loyal, and emotionally available person who fully devotes herself to those she loves. No, Brienne doesn’t need a man, but she damn well deserves one.
In the time between seasons, fans have divided between Team Jaime and Team Tormund, and it’s hard to imagine that she wouldn’t get closure with at least one of them.
For what it’s worth, Gwendoline Christie herself seems to be Team Jaime. In an interview with The New York Times, she said, “When Brienne and Jaime are together, something incredibly magnetic seems to occur … I’m endlessly fascinated by their dynamic. I really am.”
She was decidedly less enthusiastic about Tormund’s prospects. “He’s a man who’s bragged about having sexual intercourse with a bear,” Christie said, “and so I question whether that is necessarily the right person for Brienne.”
There’s one more important argument in Jaime’s defense, and Christie didn’t say it, but I will.
Jaime is—and I cannot stress this enough—really fucking hot.
Brienne, go get your man.
How Season 8 Could Address It
Season 7 left Brienne in a complicated position with both Jaime and Tormund—one wavering between her enemy and her friend, and the other potentially separated from her by an army of wights.
After a tense reunion with Jaime at the Dragonpit in the finale, Brienne pleads with him to abandon Cersei and join them in the fight against the Night King. “Fuck loyalty!” she tells him (which means a lot coming from Brienne). “This goes beyond houses, and honor, and oaths. Talk to the queen.” He brushes her off but goes on to do exactly that, leaving Cersei to join the fight at Winterfell in the coming season.
All signs point to their coming reunion and some sort of rekindled relationship. Besides, House Stark will not be thrilled when Jaime shows up at their gates, and he’ll need someone to speak on his behalf—no one will be better suited to do so than Brienne.
As for Tormund, it’s not looking great. He spent some time bonding with Brienne at Winterfell before heading north later in the season, but for all his intense eye contact, she remained unswayed. No matter! In one of the best character meet-ups of last season, Tormund and Sandor Clegane discuss Brienne on their walk to find a wight, and our favorite lovestruck wildling gushes over his “yellow-haired beauty” waiting in Winterfell. “I want to make babies with her,” he tells a skeptical Hound. “Think of them—great, big monsters! They’d conquer the world!”
Those babies seemed unlikely even before Tormund was at the Wall in the finale, watching Viserion topple it to the ground with him on top. Now, Tormund is stranded at Eastwatch with an army of the dead between him and Winterfell. Can he get back to Brienne before the battle begins? Hard to say, but his odds seem worse than Jaime’s, who we know will make it in time.
That said, far be it from me to predict whether Brienne will actually end up with Jaime or Tormund, living happily ever after and producing large, violent children, or perhaps with no one at all. In no world do I expect even two of these characters to survive the final season. But that doesn’t mean a brief relationship or declaration of love can’t happen, and some sort of pre-battle confession between Jaime and Brienne is one bit of fan service I can’t help but want.
And if Brienne and/or Jaime have to fall in battle, various details foreshadow them dying together. Jaime said in Season 5 that he wants to die “in the arms of the woman he loves.” He chose Brienne’s side over Cersei’s already—how deep does that choice go? As for Brienne, her original question—“Who wants to die for a Lannister?”—may be answered in deeply personal fashion. Nothing is sure, except that I will go down with this ship until the bitter end. Team Jaime all the way.