As history has proven, trying to second guess Game Of Thrones is usually futile, which is exactly why we love it so much. Well, that and the dragons. And the battles. And the sex. And Bronn. And Stannis' beard, before he murdered his own child.
Anyway, we digress. With the final episode of season five and the existential ennui of a post-GoT world looming, we've taken the last chance to try and predict what will happen in the (rumoured to be jaw-dropping) finale.
We know there are spoilers out there already – it's a fact of life, like death, taxes and trolls – but so far we've managed to stick out fingers in our ears and avoid them (along with all the books – apologies George).
So with that in mind, here are five probably already disproven predictions for 'Mother's Mercy'.
1 | Frankenmountain
Remember The Mountain? Ser Gregor Clegane? Big fella with the strong thumbs? Gave us The Greatest Game Of Thrones Scene Ever (Official)? He was last seen lying under a blanket in Maester Qyburn's laboratory after his near-fatal fight with Prince Oberyn at the end of season four. If you remember, Qyburn told Cersei one of his 'bold' experiments could save his life, but that it might 'change him' (and we doubt that meant put him in touch with his sensitive side). We haven't seen or heard of The Mountain since, except possibly when Qyburn visited Cersei in jail this season and said, somewhat cryptically, that "the work continues", which may well have been a reference to his attempts to resurrect the most fearsome fighter in King's Landing.
Now, as we know, Cersei is about to be put on trial by the High Sparrow for indulging in a bit of the old incest. And what happens when someone in GoT goes on trial? A trial by combat, of course! And who better for Cersei to call upon as her champion than The Mountain 2.0, now presumably even more lethal than before. If that happens, expect him to win the fight and then take out all the Sparrows in a single rampage, leaving Cersei back in charge. Because the one thing the Lannisters always do besides pay their debts is win out in the end.
2 | A bloodbath at Winterfell
The maelstrom brewing at Winterfell could, in theory, see a six-way key character battle involving Roose and Ramsay Bolton, Stannis Baratheon and Jon Snow (if he makes it back from the wall on time), Brienne of Tarth and – er – Littlefinger, who told Cersei he was planning to swoop in with the (hitherto unseen) Knights of the Vale at the last minute to take the North from the depleted Bolton / Baratheon armies.
Credit to David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, they've constructed the plot so that it is very difficult to see who is going to come out on top here. On the one hand, as Roose Bolton pointed out in 'Hardhome', they're in a very strong defensive position behind the walls of Winterfell. On the other, Stannis has just sacrificed his own child to get a power up from the Lord of Light. Brienne will presumably get stuck in at some point, otherwise she'll hit Gendry levels of pointlessness.
Given that the show has groaned at times this season under the weight of so many characters, we're going to go out on a limb and say Roose, Brienne and Littlefinger are all in for the chop, leaving Stannis the main Northern antagonist for season six with Jon more or less by his side.
3 | Arya makes one big (and possibly boring) decision
Crunch time for Arya, as her lacklustre season as a cleaner in a morgue comes to a close. She's been training to become a Faceless Man and given her first task in poisoning the Thin Man, but has been distracted by the sudden arrival in Braavos of Meryn Trant, one of the first names on her long-standing 'kill list'.
This is classic fork-in-the-road-of-destiny stuff. We'd be surprised if the eternal killjoy Jaqen H'ghar didn't give the young Stark an ultimatum: either let go of your old life (and grudges) in order to devote yourself fully to becoming a Faceless Man, or give up your training and take revenge on the killer / pedophile / man with the world's scariest face the next time he visits the brothel.
As much as I'd love to see Ayra take the second option and grow up to be The Hound instead, it would be astonishing to see the writers render her entire storyline this season effectively pointless. Faceless Man it is, then.
4 | Dany just keeps going
Daenerys has been pissing about in Meereen for years now, and things have never looked more bleak for her there than in the wake of the Harpy rebellion at the fighting pit in 'The Dance of Dragons', which also saw the death of her key political ally (and husband) Hizdahr. Who could blame her for riding Drogon out of town and never looking back? If I was her I'd find a nice beach in Dorne and f**k the lot of them.
Except, of course, she still wants to take King's Landing and become Queen of the World, so she still needs her army of Unsullied and her advisors Tyrion, Missandei, Daario and the newly reinstated (temporarily at least) Jorah. Perhaps they could hitch a ride on Viserion and Rhaegal. Either way, it feels like a change of scene could be on the cards, and not before time, either.
5 | The White Walkers reach the wall
It may be a season (or more) too early for this, but depending on how the rest of the chips fall, might the ominous final frame of 'Mother's Mercy' – the one designed to paralyse us with excitement under next year – be the sight of the White Walkers finally reaching the wall?
After all, it's not exactly a million miles from Hardhome through the Haunted Forest to Castle Black, is it? (OK it might be a million miles, the map isn't clear). So, travelling at anything like the speed they were scuttling over that fence to kill the Wildings, they should be there in no time. The question is, can they climb the wall? Or will they burst through the barrier into Castle Black? Either way, Winter needs to be getting a move on.
Could the episode title, 'Mother's Mercy', hold any clues? Daenerys is the obvious 'mother' (of dragons), though she doesn't appear to be in a position to dole out much mercy to anyone at the moment, unless it means she is going to spend the final episode telling her dragons not to scorch the remaining Sons of the Harpy (which sounds rather dull). Then there is Cersei, the other 'mother' of the show, who may be shown mercy by the High Sparrow (again, rather dull). The only other mother I can think of is the worst one in Westeros – Selyse Baratheon – who just demonstrated the exact opposite of mercy by burning little Shireen to death, though it seems highly unlikely she'll play much of a part in the finale.
Of course it could refer to something literal – a potion, perhaps, like 'Milk of the Poppy' (maybe what Qyburn uses to revive The Mountain? Really not ready to let this Mountain thing go, sorry).
Final thought: might the issue of Jon's real Mother – the worst kept secret in the show, if some people are to be believed – finally be raised in the show? It would be a good twist for his character if, somehow, he gets a hint that he is not quite the bastard he thinks he is.