Warning: This post contains spoilers about Season 7 of Game of Thrones.
Aside from the fact that she’s a murderous and manipulative snake in the grass, Cersei Lannister would be the most annoying kind of friend for a very simple reason. Cersei’s the kind of person who smugly alludes to gossip, and then says she can't tell you any specifics. You know Cersei is scheming, but you don't know what she's scheming about.
From her meetings with the Iron Bank and her negotiations with Euron Greyjoy, we've known Cersei was designing some opaque, Littlefinger-esque plan all season. Thanks to the simple fact that we’re mere spectator, not players, of the Game of Thrones, we finally found out what Cersei’s been planning during last night’s finale — though it took until the very end of the episode for Cersei’s real plan to reveal itself.
Here’s what we thought happened at first.
In what seemed to be a major character shift, Cersei agreed to meet with the King in the North and the Mother of Dragons. After watching Jon Snow's science project presentation on wights and White Walkers, Cersei agreed that the war in the North was the "only war that matters." Her ally, Euron Greyjoy, seemed to be less keen on getting involved with the war in the North. After seeing the wight, Euron Greyjoy ran home to the Iron Islands with his fleet — at least, he said he was going to.
Cersei agreed to lend her troops under one condition: Jon Snow pledge neutrality, and not take sides in Cersei and Daenerys' eventual fight for the Iron Throne. But since Jon had already “bent the knee” to Daenerys, Jon couldn’t pledge neutrality. At that, Cersei abandoned the meeting, and briefly plunged our merry warriors into despair. Tyrion saved the day by bravely speaking to his sister, seemingly convincing her to lend Lannister forces to the cause.
After successfully winning over the mean Queen Cersei, Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys pat themselves on the back and set sail. That was easy, right?
If that all seems wildly out of character to you, then that’s because it is. As Cersei revealed to Jaime at the episode's end, she and Euron were both putting on a show for their noble and naïve visitors.
Cersei never intended to actually help the army of the living. She's just placating Jon and Daenerys with the idea of a truce. While the distracted Targaryens turn their gaze to the North, Cersei will be gearing up to defend her throne. Her buddy, Euron, will be there there to help. He really left the meeting to head to Essos and pick up Cersei’s latest batch of mercenary soldiers from the Golden Company, which will help Cersei fill out her depleted army.
For the first time, Cersei’s ahead. As Daenerys focuses on Northern threats, Cersei can bolster her grip on the throne.
Her plan is far from airtight, though. First, there’s the issue that Jaime Lannister was born with the twins’ heart and moral compass. After finding out about Cersei’s duplicitous plan, Jaime leaves her. How will Cersei’s pregnancy change her reaction to Jaime’s abandonment? Can Cersei really send the Mountain to kill the father of her unborn child, even if Jaime is heading North to tell Jon and Dany?
Theon Greyjoy’s return to the Iron Islands will also complicate Cersei’s plan. During the meeting at the Dragonpit, Euron teased Theon by saying he had Yara. After an incredible fight scene (Theon is officially Reek no more), Theon commended control of a fleet and is officially headed to the Iron Islands to rescue his sister from his uncle's clutches. When he arrives to the Iron Islands and realizes Euron isn’t there, will he send a raven to Jon and Daenerys?
Finally, Tyrion Lannister deduced that Cersei is pregnant, once again. Will he be able to use that knowledge to negotiate later on?
Of course, the biggest flaw in Cersei's plan is that the White Walker army is coming. They've broken down the Wall, and no amount of soldiers bought from the Golden Company can stop them. Cersei thinks she's winning the Game of Thrones by playing a long game, but she's missing the longer game, which is the simple fact that everyone will become zombies if all the major powers don't cooperate. In that future, there is no Iron Throne, and there are no winners.
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