‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 post-mortem: What lies ahead in Season 8? Here are the Top 4 cliffhangers

HBO ended Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” in epic fashion. Most of the major characters gathered together in King’s Landing, TV’s most famous bastard was legitimized, and the Night King blasted through The Wall atop his new pet ice dragon. And now, we wait for Season 8.

The final season of the hit fantasy saga will not begin production until October. No air date has been set, but it could debut as late as 2019. It seems we fans will have to suffer through our own “Long Night” of anticipation. So with my heart rate recovered and head a little clearer after Sunday’s finale, let’s buckle in for the winter and think about where the finale left us. These Top 4 cliffhangers and unanswered questions from “The Dragon and the Wolf” should lead us right into the set-up for Season 8.

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Tormund and Beric – The first question most fans had after the Night King blasted a hole in The Wall was whether Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Beric (Richard Dormer) survived. The two fan favorites were positioned atop The Wall when it became to crumble. At one point, the pair reach momentary safety and watch their fellow soldier plummet to the ground. But then the camera cuts away to show most of The Wall around Eastwatch being destroyed. But “Game of Thrones” has taught viewers that if we didn’t see a body, there is still hope for survival. And if such a huge deal was made of Tormund almost becoming wight food in the previous episode, it does seem odd to kill him off-screen the following week. Fingers crossed they managed to make it to the portion of The Wall still standing. After all, Tormund still needs a first date with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie).

Dragonglass – With the dead marching south, the living will need weapons and quickly. As the only blacksmith featured on the show, Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is likely responsible for forging the required obsidian armory. The season finale may have provided a clue that Gendry is already at work off-screen, as Jon held a dagger of Dragonglass that looked finely fashioned with a hilt. Book readers will also remember that the smith Gendry apprenticed for was one of only three people in Westeros capable of crafting Valyrian steel weapons, and that knowledge could have been passed to Gendry. Right now Jon (Kit Harington), Arya (Maisie Williams), Brienne, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Sam (John Bradley) are the only people known to possess a Valyrian blade. While I would certainly pay to see that group duel some White Walkers, Gendry’s ability to supply various regions of Westeros with the proper weaponry could decide which kingdoms live or die in the Great War.

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The Golden Company – Cersei (Lena Headey) admits that her promise to send troops North was a lie. Instead she is using money from the conquered Tyrells, and sending Euron (Pilou Asbaek) to purchase the mercenary Golden Company of Essos. What is the Golden Company of Essos? Founded by a legitimized bastard of Aegon Targaryen, Aegon Rivers, they are a ferocious and expensive army of sellswords. Unlike most mercenaries, they value a contract above all else and loathe those who break them. This could prove problematic for Cersei, should the army discover her original promise. In addition, The Golden Company has always is compiled of mostly Westerosi exiles who long to return home and serve a Targaryen ruler. So they could end up wanting to serve Jon, a secret Targaryen who proved himself honorable in the dragon pit. Or side with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), who is pure blood and has a former member of the Golden Company by her side: Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen).

What’s in a name? – “The Dragon and The Wolf” confirmed the infamous R+L=J theory, cementing that Jon is the legitimate child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. I suppose the fan theory should be re-titled “R+L=A,” since we also discover Jon’s birth name is Aegon. Though it is a likely homage to Aegon the Conqueror, the name choice is bizarre since Rhaegar already had a young son by that name with his first wife Elia Martell. This could simply signal Rhaegar’s obsession with the “prince that was promised” prophecy, so he was going to name any and all of his sons Aegon. If Lyanna heard of the other son’s death before she gave birth, she may have wanted to honor her husband’s wishes and kept the name. Does this mean that Jon is the metaphorical “chosen one” who is meant to rule? The people of Westeros may be more inclined to accept a Targaryen ruler who grew up in the Seven Kingdoms over a dragon queen with foreign armies. There may be trouble ahead for everyone’s favorite power couple.

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