Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode, “The Long Night,” seems like a total victory for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen (Kit Harington). Jon’s little “sister”/actual cousin Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) killed the Night King (Vladimir Furdik), ending the threat of the Army of the Dead with one stab. Team Targaryen-Stark managed to hold the North, and Winterfell, against the greatest threat ever conceived in Westeros.
So, Dany’s upcoming final battle — or, “The Last War,” as she calls it — against Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) should be a no-brainer, right? Cersei doesn’t even have elephants, let alone dragons. If anyone is going to sit on the Iron Throne at the end of all this bloody terror, it should be Dany, not Cersei, who will keep her pointy seat if the last Targaryens fail. Yet, the newest photos from Thrones’ upcoming episode suggest Cersei is still the one to beat in this fight between dragons and lions. If you look closely, you'll realize Dany just might lose this war.
One image from “Thrones 71,” shows Dany, flanked by Varys (Conleth Hill) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), planning her siege of King’s Landing. We know it’s King’s Landing because the pertinent portion of Winterfell’s infamous table map reads “King’s Landing” if you zoom in and flip your laptop upside down to get a good look (as this writer did in a professional office). As is traditional for these types of Thrones scenarios, Cersei and Dany’s respective armies are represented on the board as blocks. Each small block is a section of the army, and each large block represents the house that will be leading that army. The more blocks, the more fearsome the army.
Cersei has eight small blocks in King’s Landing proper and also seven small blocks in Blackwater Bay. We can assume the pieces in the water represent Cersei’s navy, which she is sharing with replacement bae Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk). In contrast, the lightly-coloured pieces south of King's Landing likely represent Team Stark-Targaryen and amount to about eight haphazardly arranged small blocks. Cersei’s squad looks like it could swallow Dany’s alive.
This is when you remember just how many soldiers Dany lost in “Long Night.” If you look at the last time Dany had one of these battle planning meetings, during “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” her board was absolutely stacked with soldiers. There were nearly 100 blocks set up against the Night King’s combatant miniaturized army. Now it appears Dany would be lucky if she could scrounge up 10 measly fighting blocks.
Considering just how much the Battle of Winterfell devastated Dany’s host, her scrappy situation makes sense. About 99% of the Dothraki army was wiped out at the very beginning of the confrontation. We can assume, considering the sheer body count of the battle, the warriors who did return from the initial front lines assault were slaughtered at some point during the remaining fighting. The Unsullied also suffered many casualties, as our glimpses of Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) throughout “Night” prove.
Even Dany’s dragons were badly injured during the battle. Rheagal seemingly died in his clash with Ice Viserion, but previews for “71” confirm he survived. In those same previews, we can see Drogon, who was swarmed by wights, flying with gigantic holes in his wings.
And, if you look at the pieces of paper curled up next to the “Thrones 71” map, you’ll notice what may be sigils on the notes. No one looks happy about them. Could they be raven-sent notes from the houses of Westeros refusing to send Dany new troops following the fight against the Night King? Even though the Mother of Dragons is the one who saved them all from ice blue eyes and eternal night? It’s certainly possible, especially if the remaining lords hear about Cersei’s Golden Company purchase and Dany’s shaky dragon situation (gossip spreads fast in Westeros).
The Night King may be behind Team Stark-Targaryen, but, with three long episodes ahead of Thrones, the bloodiest battles may still be ahead.