Features and Columns · TV

The Big Game of Thrones Moment That Could Make Things Even Worse

By  · Published on May 21st, 2015

Ramsay Bolton (HBO)

It is worth repeating: Game of Thrones is in love with shock value. There is no greater example of shock tactics, regardless of narrative purpose, than how last week’s final scene. As a community of writers who blog about Thrones, we’ve covered this to death. Darkness has consumed the Thrones audience and has even scared a number of them off. Which is why it would perhaps be rubbing salt in the wounds if I were to come up with a theory about a way in which Game of Thrones could somehow become even more disturbing in the final four episodes of season 5.

With that in mind, I would like to turn our attention to a theory about how Game of Thrones could become even more disturbing in the final four episodes of season 5.

Please note that this theory was put together using only what we’ve seen in the show, the previews and the behind the scenes featurettes. It does not include any specific book knowledge, but could very well be a spoiler. If my theory is correct, that is.

This entire theory was born during the recording of this week’s long but entertaining episode of A Storm of Spoilers, to which you can listen below. Beware of spoilers, obviously:

For this week’s theory, I’ve thrown leeches into he flames and stared at them far longer than any ophthalmologist would recommend. The visions that were returned to me by the Lord of Light were gruesome and horrible, because that’s what this show is into. Especially when it comes to the centerpiece of this theory, Ramsay Bolton.

Let’s begin by examining some facts:

King Stannis Baratheon has left The Wall and is headed with his army toward Winterfell for a face-off with the Boltons. We see in the episode 7 preview that his army is camped somewhere along the way. He’s giving a speech about never surrendering to Ser Davos:

Ser Davos, The Onion Knight (HBO/Screenshot)

It is safe to assume that whatever happens involves Ramsay Bolton, aka Joffrey: 50 Shades Darker. Actor Iwan Rheon is seen in the most recent Anatomy of a Scene featurette being interviewed in a camp setting similar to Stannis’. We can also see that he’s got some red on him, which means that he may have just finished filming a battle sequence.

Iwan Rheon on Set (HBO/Screenshot)

We can combine this with our knowledge that Roose Bolton plans to make his son a key component of his defense strategy against Stannis. He spent an entire scene having a heart-to-heart with Ramsay over the circumstances of his birth and ultimately pumping him up for the battle that is to come. We can deduce that Ramsay is leaving Winterfell, as the episode 7 preview shows him give Sansa the least comfortable goodbye kiss in the history of Westeros:

Gross. (HBO/Screenshot)

With Ramsay on his way toward Stannis and his army, something distressing is likely to happen. There is also a very ominous quote from Liam Cunningham, who plays Stannis’ right-half-hand-man Ser Davos. In an appearance on Sky Atlantic’s Game of Thrones after show about in April, Cunningham laid the breadcrumbs for something so terrible, it could rival the Red Wedding. When asked if anything could top the Red Wedding, he responded, “I would think so, yes. It’s towards the end of the season, and when I got the scripts, when I got to this particular section, I went: ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me.’”

At the time, I had made the assumption that whatever Cunningham was referencing was the same “bad thing” that Iwan Roen and Sophie Turner had been talking about in the press. And perhaps that Davos would be present to witness whatever horrors Ramsay had in store for Sansa. We now know definitely that Davos was nowhere near Winterfell during last week’s episode, so that can’t be it.

Whatever horrible, Red Wedding-topping tragedy that exists along Davos’ timeline is still to come. And perhaps it has something to do with this shot of a very upset Selyse (Stannis’ wife) from the season 5 trailer:

Selyse Baratheon (HBO/Screenshot)

The TL;DR Version:

Ramsay is going to sneak into Stannis’ camp and do something horrible, most likely to a character we like.

But who could it be?

Princess Shireen Baratheon. That’s who.

Princess Shireen (HBO)

For the entirety of season 5, we’ve been getting all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings toward the greyscale-afflicted princess. She’s had a number of heartwarming moments: She chatted with Gilly and Sam about greyscale and Ostrich Stark. She found out that her rigid, emotionless grammar-nazi father loves her (complete with a hug). And she had some laughs with Ser Davos, whom she’s been teaching to read since season 3. We also saw Davos warn Stannis that taking Shireen and Selyse with them to battle would be a bad idea. Leave them at The Wall, he said. He was probably right. That guy may not have all of his fingers, but his wits are intact.

This kind of streak of good feelings and ominous declarations of protection from other characters is the kiss of death on Game of Thrones. Every time she has a nice moment, I can’t help but wonder how the rug will be yanked out from beneath her. Will the fact that she’s carrying around a body full of royal blood put her in line for some Melisandre barbecue voodoo? Will her greyscale come out of remission and infect her father’s army, thus destroying the chances of him ever taking The Iron Throne?

In Game of Thrones, the darkest answer is usually the most likely. And Ramsay sneaking into Stannis’ camp to murder a child in front of her mother (who will realize too late that she should’ve been nicer to the girl) is the darkest answer.

I don’t like it either, but sometimes we look into the flames and all we see is death.

So don’t blame me. This is all part of the Lord of Light’s plan, or whatever.

More Game of Thrones Coverage here.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)