There are only five episodes of Game Of Thrones to go. Somehow all of the knotted up plotlines and strange prophecies must resolve themselves over 7 or 8 hours of TV time. Despite the quite pedestrian pacing to Episode 1 of Season 8, we have entered the endgame phase for GoT.
But just what kind of ending are we heading for, exactly? All things seem to point to an unholy battle at Winterfell between the Army of the Undead and the 'greatest army every assembled'. The official Aftermath trailer, released two weeks ago, would certainly lead viewers to think so:
GoT fans with an interest in military strategy feel that following the battle, if/when they lose, Jon Snow and co could retreat to Moat Cailin - where we last saw Littlefinger - which contains many advantages for fighting an undead army.
Twelve hours later it's just occurred to me that they should've run south to Moat Cailin. Let's see the dead navigate the damn everglades around that place. The dragon is still a problem, obvs, but we can work with that #GameOfThrones
— Sarah Walsh (@BigDamnHerosSir) April 15, 2019
Not smart: facing the army of the dead in a small castle such as Winterfell, in the midst of winter, with little supplies, snowy plains on one side, and woods on the other.
Smart: facing the army of the dead in choke points with rivers nearby, such as the Twins or Moat Cailin. pic.twitter.com/VNpQgzgQ60
— Alex (@classicmacro) April 15, 2019
One of the most interesting fan theories to come out of Episode 1 - one that various visions seems to confirm - is that the Night King, in fact, has no interest in a dragon battle, but instead make a bee line for King's Landing.
Read all of gp0n's theory here:
When the army of the undead line up for the battle of Winterfell, the Night King and his zombie dragon will not be there. Instead he will already be near to his next target ... King's Landing.
If you play out what the battle of Winterfell would be like in your head if the NK+Viserion would be there... it would be easy for Drogon/Rhaegal to take out the zombie dragon; it's 2v1 and wight's all can be killed by fire.. including Viserion. It would not be difficult to simply fly up to Viserion and breathe fire on him, and that would be that. THE NIGHT KING IS NOT STUPID, not enough to kamikaze his most powerful asset. - If you have a superweapon that you can't use against a particular target, then you find a different target.
Most people have come to assume that the living will lose The Battle of Winterfell and fall back to Moat Cailin ... I predict they actually win the battle... only to find out soon after that there is a new army of the dead much bigger and much further south... the population of King's Landing.
During season 4 while Bran is being ushered north to meet Bloodraven, he touches a wierwood and has a set of visions which we see. All of those visions have since come to pass, except the ones where he sees a destroyed thrown room & a dragon shadow pass over King's Landing. I believe the reason we are only shown a shadow was to not give away that it is actually the NK and Viserion, not Dany and her dragons.
Also, the most important vision that Dany is given while at the HotU is an image of the thrown room destroyed, and covered in ash or snow. I think this was to show what the NK will do, not what Dany will do.
(I believe this was the entire reason that the writers sent Bronn north. Bronn will be the source of this news to the survivors at Winterfell; on his way north he will spot the NK+Viserion heading south)
Bottom line, I simply don't see the NK risking his newfound ice dragon in a fight he is sure to lose.... when he can simply fly down south to KL where there are no dragons to deal with ... and 1 million new recruits for his army packed tightly into a small area.
Follow-up edit: This could be where Bran comes into play. The NK probably wont want to face off against the other dragons head-to-head, but rather fly around Westeros destroying castles to make things easier for his footsoldiers .... so they will need Bran's Sight in order to track & hunt him. It would be too difficult for an army on foot to chase the NK on a dragon, so Bran could warg into ravens to serve as a guide for dragonrider(s) to his location.
In the comments, another Redditor detailed why this theory works.
"It really checks a lot of boxes for me. It explains why smart people (Tyrion and Varys) have really not misjudged cersei. It gives context to the weird number of times the show has discussed the population of Kings Landing, especially relative to the North. It gives Night King a chance to sit the throne and a weapon to threaten the living dragons. It gives a good explanation for Dany's House of Undying dream. It gives a means to wrap up the series spectacularly (there is wildfire throughout the city)"
This could be all proven wrong next week, but if the Night King does in fact head for King's Landing, his army could be about to get much more fearsome.