Who will win "Game of Thrones?"
With two weeks to go, we all have our theories but only one will count. And so, as we approach the end, let's sort out some possibilities, in ascending order:
10. A baby Lannister/Targaryen. There's something a bit facile and unsatisfying about this popular theory — a convenient way for "GoT" to either sidestep a commitment, or resolve as some sort of real-world parable (we must clean up our mess before we hand it off to the next generation!) We've come this far. We want someone we actually know to win.
9. A Greyjoy. Euron has made himself indispensable to Cersei as master and commander of the Iron Fleet but it also would appear he may have put all his eggs in the wrong basket. A victorious Cersei would dispose of him, knowing he would lay claim to the throne himself. Meanwhile, it's hard to envision a scenario with Euron's niece Jara as queen, although she does have a role yet to play (If Cersei doesn't get to Euron first, will Jara finish the job?)
8. Bran Stark. As three-eyed Raven, he knows all, sees all, both the past and the future. His "warging" (into Hodor, or as the Raven or as direwolf Summer) has conferred omniscience or even changed history. But does anyone really want Bran as King — Bran least of all?
7. Cersei Lannister. If we accept the rough theory that "Game of Thrones" is a parallel to the War of the Roses — that entangled dynastic struggle betwixt the Lancastrians (Lannisters) and Yorkists (Starks) in 15th century England — then Cersei is Margaret of Anjou, who took over leadership from her enfeebled husband (Henry VII), then proceeded to make matters much worse. Margaret had great success, but was ultimately captured by the Yorkists and exiled. Unlike Margaret, Cersei does have a path to ultimate victory, but only if she kills everyone else on that path first.
6. Tyrion Lannister. What if — as the popular theory goes --- Tyrion is really Targaryen-born, and thus has greater claim to the throne that either Daenerys or Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen?) He's wise, witty, urbane and humane: Westeros could do a lot worse, and maybe couldn't do any better. So yes to Tyrion! Except, one imagines, both Jon and Dany would have to die first before he gets the call.
5. Sansa Stark. Sansa is more of a dark than light horse but she's still definitely in this race. Could Queen of the North also become Queen of the South? In her favor: Smart, shrewd, ruthless, she may lack the human touch of a Tyrion but now has the iron grip of a Cersei. Not in her favor: Dany remains an immovable object.
4. Daenerys Targaryen. The eighth season has pressed hard the storyline that Dany is both vulnerable and deserving of her vulnerability, and unless this is all just one overstuffed red herring, we can assume that Dany is doomed. Besides, it's hard to imagine a satisfying outcome where Dany reigns supreme. She is almost Shakespearean in her blindness and her tragic sense of entitlement. Her ambition o'erleaps itself, and — with further apologies to the bard — that ambition is nothing more than the shadow of a dream. Sorry, Dany.
3. Jon Snow. Like Dany, it's hard to shake the image of Jon as tragic-hero, who — again, with apologies to the bard — is but a walking shadow, and who is about to strut and fret his last hour upon this stage. A combination of Jon-as-King/Dany-as-Queen has been hinted at for multiple seasons now, but it's all just too obvious. Besides, Jon is Hamlet: Reluctant to take the throne, reluctant to assume his Targaryen destiny. He's reluctant because his role has already been played. Sorry, Jon.
2. Gendry Baratheon/Arya Stark. While this may represent the ultimate Disneyfication of "Game of Thrones," there is a way around mawkishness. Arya as Queen, Gendry as Hand to the Queen? Why not? They avoid matrimony — Arya's made that clear — and rule as a dynamic duo, and as winter descends (or does not?), these two lead the seven kingdoms through the long, and no doubt difficult, years ahead. I like this ending in one sense — it represents a full circle, with a Stark and Baratheon back in charge at King's Landing, but this time a smart Stark and decent Baratheon.
1. None of the above. If "Game of Thrones" has taught us anything, it's expect-the-unexpected. We'd be well-advised to do exactly that over the next couple of weeks.