‘Game of Thrones’: Everything That’s Been Set Up for the Finale

It’s been one crazy season for Game of Thrones. Without the books to fall back on, it’s led to some intriguing plot developments, as well as momentum like we’ve never seen before in the show’s history. George R.R. Martin’s story has always been determined to move along at a deliberate pace. As it turns out though, all it took to buck that trend was outstripping the source material. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have taken it as a cue to shoot the plot forward, setting up a series of climactic conclusions for the final two episodes of Season 6. So what exactly is coming? Here’s everything we’ve seen so far. [Update, 6/23/16: Added season 6 finale preview (see above).]

1. Daenerys is back and ready to rule

Daenerys Targaryen - Game of Thrones, Season 6
The Queen officially returns to Meereen | Source: HBO

Things have been relatively quiet on the Daenerys front since she seized control of the Dothraki. Meanwhile in Meereen, a period of relative peace was shattered by the Wise Masters, who are now staging a full-blown siege. Tyrion’s own political maneuverings were apparently all for nought, with his efforts to prevent full-scale war having officially failed. Now the Mother of Dragons has returned to the throne though, ready to rain fire down on all who oppose her, and backed up by a Dothraki horde. An invasion of Westeros seems almost inevitable at this point. Whether she’ll set foot on her home soil by the finale remains to be seen, but it would certainly make for an awesome ending to the season.

2. The Bastard Bowl

Jon Snow - Game of Thrones, Season 6
Jon Snow gears up for battle | Source: HBO

All signs have been pointing toward this for a while now, but we’d be remiss in not mentioning it at all: The Bastard Bowl is coming. Game of Thrones will utilize the famously climactic penultimate episode as a stage for the battle between two Northern bastards in Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton. On Snow’s side, he fights to regain his family’s ancestral home. For Bolton, it’s to solidify his hold on the North, forever installing his family as the primary rulers in the region. The odds do seem stacked against Snow (even with a giant on his side), but a last-second save from Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale could be coming, given the secret letter Sansa sent calling for help.

3. The Hound takes a step toward redemption

Sandor Clegane - Game of Thrones, Season 6
The Hound in Episode 8 of Season 6 | Source: HBO

Before Season 6, it was assumed that Sandor Clegane was no longer around, having been defeated by Brienne of Tarth and left for dead by Arya. Being as stubborn as he is, he apparently survived even that, having joined up with a group of peaceful missionaries to build a sept in the countryside. His new life is quickly interrupted when riders from the Brotherhood Without Banners come calling, slaughtering everyone and leaving him with a newfound thirst for vengeance. He’s since achieved his revenge thanks to Beric Dondarrion, and yet still it doesn’t feel like his story is finished. Why reintroduce him seven episodes into the season only to wrap up his arc just one episode later? No, the Hound’s work is not done, and by the finale, we hopefully will find out why.

4. The Tower of Joy, Part II

Tower of Joy - Game of Thrones, Season 6
The Tower of Joy | Source: HBO

Early on in Season 6, Bran was shown a vision of the past by the Three-Eyed Raven, taking him back to the Tower of Joy. Here he saw his father and Howland Reed defeat Ser Arthur Dayne, and then enter the Tower after hearing a scream. This is where Bran is pulled out of the vision, asking the question on all of our minds: Who’s in the Tower? Most fans seem convinced that Lyanna Stark is up there giving birth to Jon Snow, but we won’t know for sure until we see for ourselves. In order to get some much-needed answers, Bran will need to return to that flashback and enter the Tower of Joy, potentially giving us a fantastic full-circle moment to close out the season.

5. Arya returns to Westeros wearing her finest plot armor

Arya Stark - Game of Thrones, Season 6
Arya Stark quits the assassin life | Source: HBO

The Arya plotline this season has been one of the more frustrating ones we’ve seen. After getting stabbed six times in the stomach and tumbling into a muddy river, she apparently was in good enough condition to parkour her way through a chase scene with the T-1000 version of the waif not days later. She then killed the waif, skinned off her face, and was given the OK from Jaqen H’ghar to leave the Faceless Men in peace, because apparently killing one assassin got her off scot-free. Here we have to just sort of believe that this all makes sense, as a vehicle for bringing Arya back home to hopefully reunite with her sister and Jon Snow.

6. Cersei uncovers a secret in Kings Landing

Cersei Lannister - Game of Thrones, Season 6
Qyburn and Cersei | Source: HBO

Things have not been going well for Cersei Lannister lately. After being forced to do the world’s worst walk of shame through Kings Landing, she’s spent much of her time being outmaneuvered by the High Sparrow and Faith Militant. Now that her son Tommen is allied with the very same religious fanatics she put in power, she’ll be forced to stand trial sans a combat options. Still, she might have an ace in her sleeve, hinted at by Qyburn confirming that a “rumor” he investigated turned out to be “much more.” Theories abound as to what this could possibly mean, with some pointing to hidden stores of wildfire beneath the city coming into play for the final episode of the season.

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