In 32 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
Hey, remember Quaithe?! Jorah Mormont encountered the mysterious masked shadowbinder during Daenerys’s Season 2 sojourn in Qarth, the greatest city that ever was or ever will be. The first time was at a garden gathering, after Dany had made the acquaintance of the warlock Pyat Pree.
Pree—one of the Thirteen, the oligarchical leaders of Qarth—made quite an impression. He bid the Mother of Dragons to gaze deeply into a gem. Then he created an illusion of himself and invited Dany to visit him at the House of the Undying.
After this, as Dany mingled with the Qarthian elite, Quaithe approached Jorah with a warning. “I am no one,” the shadowbinder said, “but she is the Mother of Dragons. She needs true protectors now more than ever.” There will be those who covet Dany’s dragons, she told Jorah, for “dragons are fire made flesh. And fire is power.”
Pree was just the sort of rapacious opportunist that Quaith warned Jorah about. After the warlock stole Dany’s dragons, and killed several of her followers in the process, Jorah sought Quaithe out. He found the shadowbinder applying protective wards to the body of a sailor who was set to travel past the cursed ruins of the Valyrian Peninsula, a foreshadowing of Jorah’s own journey in Season 5. Quaith immediately takes Jorah’s measure. She understands that Jorah wants to please Dany, not out of duty, but because he loves her.
“Will you betray her again?” Quaith asks him. Jorah, shaken, cannot answer. She asks again. “Never,” he finally says.
Sensing that Jorah is telling the truth, Quaith tells him that “the thief you seek is with her now.” Jorah rushes off to find Daenerys fleeing from a meeting with the Thirteen in which Pyat Pree and Xaro killed the other members and declared Xaro the King of Qarth. Jorah kills one of Pyat Pree’s doubles, who was demanding that the Mother of Dragons come to the House of the Undying.
Daenerys does recover her children, torching Pyat Pree and the House of the Undying before locking up Xaro in his vault to rot forever. Quaithe, meanwhile, disappears from our tale.
Why This Loose End Matters
Quaithe’s warning and the information she gives Jorah is crucial for clarifying Mormont’s emotions and bolstering his sense of mission. It’s important to Quaithe that Dany keep control of her dragons. But why? What are her motivations?
In the books, Quaithe provides more than some stage direction for Jorah. To Dany, Quaithe speaks one of the most analyzed prophecies in the series: “To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” Later, in Astapor, the shadowbinder appears to Dany in a dream, repeating her entreaty to pass beneath the shadow.
In Meereen, Quaithe appears to Dany again, saying, “The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.” And finally, after Drogon carries her out of the chaos of the fighting pits and out into the emptiness of the Dothraki Sea, Dany, alone and wandering, has another vision of Quaithe. “Remember who you are, Daenerys … the dragons know. Do you?”
There aren’t too many people in our story, either the book or show version, who want to be helpful out of a sense of pure altruism. Quaithe seems to understand the link between dragons and the return of magic to the world. Understanding why Quaithe wants to help Daenerys might help explain a lot about how the universe of Game of Thrones works.
How Season 8 Could Address It
The figures Quaithe warned Dany about in the books—interpreted to be everyone from Aegon Targaryen to Tyrion to one of Dany’s Meereenese advisers—either won’t appear in the show or have long since been addressed; plus, Dany has already ventured to Westeros, so those prophecies can’t really appear in Season 8. The show could bring back Quaithe and have her appear to Jorah in a vision. The show obviously moved beyond the books long ago, and Quaithe’s last book appearance is contemporaneous with the final minutes of the final episode of Season 5. However, the book version of Quaithe always appears to Dany in quiet, lonely moments of gathering peril: in Qarth, when shadowy magicians planned the theft of her dragons; in Astapor, when she was surrounded by enemies she could not see; and when she was bogged down in Meereen and the Sons of the Harpy were plotting her downfall.
Only Jorah knows of the show version of Quaithe. She knew that Jorah loved Dany, and that before he knew her he betrayed her. She also knew that because of his love for her, he would do anything, risk anything, to protect her. Daenerys will need that protection now.
Season 8, with the battle of Winterfell and stakes that affect the entire world, will be perilous beyond measure. The Night King and his forces of darkness are threatening to exterminate humanity, wipe the slate clean, and establish an icy kingdom across the continent and the globe. To meet that threat, Dany and her allies will have to navigate a thicket of political and familial concerns. The fault lines between what Daenerys, as a Targaryen, represents and the insular culture of the North are real. Will Sansa, whose focus has become security, both for herself and the North, support Daenerys, an outsider? Will the noble families of the North follow her and Jon? What will happen when Dany discovers that her lover is her nephew and that he has a better claim to the Iron Throne than she does? And what of Cersei and her mercenary army?
With the Long Night about to fall upon Westeros, the stakes are larger than the question of who will sit on the Iron Throne. Can Dany accept that? And how will discovering Jon’s true parentage change her calculations? More than a battle for humanity or power, for Dany this has all the hallmarks of an identity crisis. Quaithe told Dany to remember who she is; Dany will soon have to come face-to-face with exactly what that means.