The time has come once again for Game of Thrones—the hit HBO show about hiking with your pals and smooching your relatives—to return to TV after a lengthy absence. The forthcoming eighth season will be the show’s last, and though it features only six episodes, it’s already been confirmed that they will all be over one hour long. The seventh season premiered way back in July 2017, and fans will have waited almost two years for new footage of siblings touchin’ butts by the time the eighth season starts on April 14.
***SPOILERS FOR SEASONS 1-7 OF GAME OF THRONES TO FOLLOW, OBVIOUSLY***
After a layoff that long, you might need a primer on where things stand as we head into the last six-to-nine hours of Game of Thrones ever. The show may be drawing to a bombastic conclusion and Thrones’ famously spread out cast of characters will only continue to aggregate, but after seven seasons of easter eggs and mysteries, there is still room for surprises. Most of the cards have been played, though that is no impediment to the community of enthusiastic Thrones theorists. It is time now to discuss the last and, in my opinion, most important Game of Thrones fan theory.
Season 8 will have to concern itself with the conclusions of two wars; one relatively normal one between the Lannister dynasty and the invading Targaryen-Dothraki-Dragons coalition, as well as the high-fantasy-ass conflict between what will probably be the survivors of that war and the army of ice zombies last seen breaking through The Wall with an undead ice dragon. The battlefield seems set. Everyone is accounted for and has chosen their sides. The only intrigue that remains is which characters will survive it all.
However, what this theory supposes is this: there is another army, a force glimpsed only once but hinted at a few other times that will enter and turn the battle for Westeros. I am talking, of course, about the Dog Army.
Game of Thrones has proven its commitment to being elliptical over and over again. The very first scene in the series showed some Night’s Watch dudes getting owned by white walkers, and the series will probably conclude with man’s triumph over the zombies. The first time we see the Stark family in the pilot episode, they stumble onto a family of direwolf puppies, and each Stark kid gets a cute little dog, most of whom die in horrible ways. Would it not be fitting if the show’s end also featured direwolves, too?
Only two direwolves are still alive. Arya’s wolf, Nymeria, was unaccounted for over the course of six seasons after Arya was forced to scare her away to spare her from execution. As she made her way through Westeros last season, she encountered a now-massive Nymeria leading a pack of big huge doggies.
The Dog Army theory is, essentially, that Nymeria and her pack of wolves will grow, move north, and take on the army of the dead as a surprise late entrant. I suppose you gathered that from our name for the theory, which was popularized last year before Arya returned to Westeros and then declined after Nymeria’s brief Season 7 cameo seemed like it resolved her arc for good. A variation on this theory proposes that Arya will either control Nymeria or become her, a possibility supported by her frequent and Bran-esque “wolf dreams” in the books. That would be rad, I guess, but not as satisfying as Dog Army, and also, the show hasn’t given her warg powers.
To the proof:
- A visual effects supervisor told the Huffington Post late last year that Jon Snow’s direwolf Ghost would have “a fair amount of screen time” this season, where he “does some pretty cool things.” It stands to reason then that Nymeria also shows up.
- It would be cool as shit and I like typing “Dog Army.”
- The first clearly discernible figure in the show’s first trailer is a statue of a wolf seven seconds in. This is ironclad.
- My earlier point about the elliptical nature of the show.
- The history of direwolves’ effectiveness against zombies throughout the show’s run.
- The primary impediment to showing direwolves on screen is how expensive and tricky it is to shoot with regular wolves. But the show took a hiatus specifically so it didn’t have to rush things, and they have to know Season 8 will be incredibly popular, so why not blow the wolf budget?
There you have it. Prepare for the Dog Army. Here is what a battle between a dog and an ice dog might look like.