In 39 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
The nuptials of Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo were, as all Dothraki weddings worth their weight in mare’s milk must be, a raucous affair, replete with public sex, roast meats, murder, and, by the grace of the enigmatic magister Illyrio Mopatis, the best wedding present a world-conquering Targaryen queen could ever want—three impossibly rare dragon eggs, colored black, green, and cream. They were inert and ancient fossils, turned to stone by the passage of years. And valuable beyond imagination. One, as Viserys remarks to Ser Jorah, is enough to purchase a ship; two, a ship and an army; three, a ship and a very large army.
Soon enough—heated by Drogo’s funerary flames; serenaded by the death howls of the witch Mirri Maz Duur—they hatched. The world would never be the same.
Just one question: Where did they come from?
Why This Loose End Matters
In the Thrones universe, dragons are weapons of mass destruction. Astride these great winged beasts, the ancient dragonlords of Valyria annihilated the great Ghiscari Empire, the oldest in the known world. Turning west, they waged war against the Andals, who, rather than be destroyed and enslaved, migrated to Westeros, eventually becoming the continent’s dominant ethnic and political group. The Valyrians razed the cities of the Rhoynar along the River Rhoyne, causing an exodus that, led by the legendary leader Nymeria (Arya’s fave!), came ashore in Dorne. At the height of its power and influence, the Valyrian empire spanned most of Essos, a feat that would be impossible without dragons.
The Targaryen family is the only notable house to survive the Doom of Valyria. Some 300 years before the events of the show, Aegon Targaryen, alongside his two sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya and their three mighty dragons and a small military force, sallied forth from Dragonstone and conquered Westeros. Eventually, the Targaryens’ dragons died off, and with them the house’s best hopes for fending off the decline of its dynasty. If the Mad King and his son Rhaegar would have had dragons at their disposal, Robert Baratheon’s rebellion would have remained a figment of Robert’s furious imagination.
Dany’s dragons, even before they were fully grown, were capable of bringing despots and weird magicians to flame-wreathed ends. Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal were still infants when they flambeed the Qarthian sorcerer Pyat Pree and destroyed the House of the Undying.
“A dragon,” Dany told the Kraznys mo Nakloz in perfect High Valyrian before Drogo burned him alive, “is not a slave.” Dany’s favorite child was about the size of large dog at the time. Soon after, Astapor became the first city to fall before Daenerys and her new Unsullied army.
Now fully grown, Dany’s dragons are capable—as we saw with the Second Siege of Meereen and the Battle of the Goldroad (a.k.a. the Loot Train Attack)—of reducing whole armies to cinders.
If there are more dragon eggs out there, and they’re found (Euron is an alarmingly well-traveled man), then the backbone of Daenerys’s power and legitimacy, already weakened by the loss of Viserion to the Night King, could be further degraded.
How Season 8 Could Address It
In the world of Thrones, the origins of dragons remain mysterious. Some stories say they emerged from the Fourteen Flames, the massive volcanoes that dotted the Valyrian peninsula. Still others think they came from the moon, as Doreah, Dany’s handmaiden from Season 1, notes. Other tales say that it was people from Asshai by the Shadow who discovered the creatures and brought them to Valyria. While the puzzle of where dragons originate from is elusive, the question of where Dany’s eggs came from is as good as solved.
George R.R. Martin provides an answer to the long-running mystery in Fire & Blood, his recently released history of the Targaryen rulers of Westeros, albeit in his typically oblique way.
During the reign of King Jaehaerys “The Conciliator,” there lived a noble lady named Elissa, of House Farman of Fair Isle. Elissa was, for a time, very close with Rhaena Targaryen, the eldest child of the late king Aenys (pronounced just like you think it is) and Queen Alyssa Velaryon.
Rheana, after the death of King Maegor the Cruel (whom she had been forcibly wed to), was thought by many to have the strongest claim to the throne in the realm. However, then as now, Westeros was biased against the possibility of a female ruler. In 48-49 A.C., after the coronation of her brother Jaehaerys, Rhaena retired to Fair Isle, where she made the acquaintance of Lady Elissa, who quickly became part of Rhaena’s court.
When Rhaena moved to Dragonstone, Elissa followed. Soon, though, she grew bored. Elissa had a heart for adventure; she loved to sail and yearned to explore. She petitioned Rhaena for gold with which to build a ship and her permission to use it to explore the Sunset Sea—the vast, unexplored body of water that lies to the west of Westeros. Rheana refused. “I could not bear for you to leave me,” she said. Elissa began to resent her friend.
As the months passed, the call of the sea became unbearable. Elissa asked again for leave to go. “I have asked you to stay,” Rheana said. “I will not beg. If you would go, go.” Elissa left the next morning, first for Pentos, then Braavos. Three weeks after her departure, Rheana’s people discovered that three dragon eggs were missing. They suspected that Elissa stole them in order to fund the construction of her exploration fleet. Far from Dragonstone, it was not a given that the eggs would hatch. If they didn’t, it was thought that they would simply “turn to stone,” as Grand Maester Benifer, the Archmaester of the Citadel in those days, said. King Jaehaerys responded to that idea: “Then some spicemonger in Pentos will find himself possessed of three very costly stones. Elsewise … the birth of three young dragons is not a thing that can easily be kept secret.”
Nice one, GRRM. Hundreds of years later, Illyrio Mopatis, a wealthy magister from Pentos, gifted Daenerys Targaryen three dragon eggs that had long ago turned to stone.
So, how could the show tie up this loose end? It’s unclear! There are only six episodes left. If there were more dragon eggs out there, it would be years before any dragon hatched from them would be mature enough to wage war. And if there are more eggs out there, the books—including the five main novels and various prequel tales—don’t tell us where.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.