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How Game Of Thrones Just Set Up An Epic Plot Twist

Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 4, "The Last of the Starks"

The side of the living won the Battle of Winterfell on the third episode of Game of Thrones' final season, defeating the greatest supernatural threat the Seven Kingdoms ever faced. But that was far from the final fight the humans would have to carry out. On the following episode of Game of Thrones, entitled "The Last of the Starks," those who survived the affray with the Night King and his Army of Dead briefly celebrated victory with drinking games and some surprising professions of love before heading south to fight the Last War — the war against Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). When Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), some of the Stark family, and their allied forces arrived at King's Landing to confront Cersei, Game of Thrones set up a major plot twist that changes the way many fans are thinking the series will end: Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) might end up killing Cersei. 

As an added, reiterated warning: spoilers are ahead.

Game of Thrones' final season has continually teased tension between aspiring queen Daenerys and Sansa, who admits to her brother-slash-cousin Jon Snow (Kit Harington) during "The Last of the Starks" that she doesn't fully trust the Mother of Dragons, as her tunnel vision toward the Iron Throne makes it so that she has little concern for the people who would become her royal subjects should she succeed Cersei as the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Meanwhile, Daenerys is grappling with the loss of Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and the revelation that her lover, Jon, is actually her nephew, Aegon Targaryen, and has a stronger claim to the Throne than she does. Sansa is looking out for her people and wants the best for Westeros, and Dany has her eyes locked in on the Throne and wants the best for, well, herself. This establishes an interesting dynamic when those stationed in Winterfell travel south to King's Landing and demand Cersei surrender to Daenerys. 

Being the ruthless woman she is, Cersei refuses to accept Daenerys' terms and beheads her trusted adviser and Handmaiden Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) as punishment for Daenerys not giving up her campaign for the Throne and bending the knee to Cersei. As the episode teases, Missandei's murder, paired with the killing of one of her last two living dragons and everything else she has been through prior to that moment, will push Dany past her breaking point. It appears she will no longer be able to think clearly and may give up all efforts for civil discourse in favor of bloodshed and dragonfire to gain what she feels is rightfully hers. 

As The New York Post's Lauren Sarner argues, Daenerys' seemingly imminent tumbling into madness and violence places Sansa in a position to do what Daenerys has long intended to: remove Cersei from the Iron Throne in any way possible. While Dany is flaming King's Landing and avenging the death of Missandei — as well as the murder of her father, King Aerys Targaryen, who was slain by Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) during Robert's Rebellion — Sansa can ensure the safety and prosperity of the Seven Kingdoms through dethroning Cersei.  The most effective way to do this is, of course, by killing the reigning Queen — and many are convinced that's exactly what Sansa will do.

Proponents of this plot twist idea point to the prophecy a fortuneteller named Maggy the Frog (Jodhi May) told Cersei when she was young. Maggy correctly predicted that Cersei would marry a king (Robert Baratheon), he would have many illegitimate children while she gave birth to three (Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella), her children would wear gold crowns and die before she did, and that a "younger and more beautiful" queen would eventually come to cast her down and take from her everything that she holds dear. Most believed that Daenerys would be the queen to crush Cersei, but following the events of "The Last of the Starks," it seems Game of Thrones might twist expectations and present Sansa, the de facto Queen of the North, as the young and beautiful queen who will boot Cersei from the Iron Throne. 

Killing Cersei would be a full-circle moment for Sansa — even more so than it would be for Daenerys. If Dany murdered Cersei, it would serve as retribution for her twin brother, Jaime, killing her father. Plus, it would solve the whole "end Cersei's reign and get her off the Iron Throne" thing. But for Sansa, the moment would mean much more. Sansa grew up in King's Landing while she was betrothed to Cersei's son Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson); learned firsthand just how vicious kings, queens, and their advisers can truly be; and came to understand that power is neither for the weak-willed nor for those without any compassion. Her experience in King's Landing influenced her every decision from there on out, including how she escaped Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) and dealt with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). (Murder, we're talking about murder.)

On the other hand, there remains the chance that the young and beautiful queen Maggy the Frog spoke of has already cast Cersei down, and that the only part of the prophecy left to fulfill is the portion that foresaw a "valonqar," a little brother, strangling Cersei. This isn't mentioned on the series, but it is in the books. Some argue that it was Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) who stripped Cersei of everything she's ever loved — power, beauty, pride, and her children — when she married Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) and became Queen. Margaery's stint on the Iron Throne beside Tommen took from Cersei her sovereignty, and Tommen and Margaery's newfound devotion to the Faith of the Seven on season 5 of Game of Thrones saw Cersei lose nearly her entire head of hair and be forced to perform a naked walk of atonement through King's Landing. Cersei eventually killed Margaery and her family when she blew up the Sept of Baelor, which drove Tommen to suicide

That considered, some believe Cersei has already been cast down, as she isn't the same woman she was before Margaery entered her life. The rest of Maggy's prophecy details that when Cersei's tears have "drowned" her, which they seem to already have at this point, her little brother will "wrap his hands about [her] pale white throat and choke the life from [her]." The only two people who could do that are Cersei's brothers Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Daenerys' Hand, and Jaime, who is about to arrive at King's Landing from Winterfell to doing something he teased as "hateful." If Margaery was the queen Maggy spoke of, one of the Lannister men could be the person to kill Cersei if Game of Thrones elects to follow Maggy's prophecy as it's detailed in George R.R. Martin's novels. If Margaery wasn't, the most recent episode of Game of Thrones hints that Sansa could be the queen to take her out — which would fall in line with Maggy's prophecy as presented on the series, since it leaves out the mention of the valonqar entirely.  

Sansa bringing Cersei to her end would certainly be unexpected — especially from Cersei's perspective — but it would make sense. Cersei played a part in executing Sansa's father, Ned Stark (Sean Bean), and sequestered her to King's Landing and away from her family for the majority of her formative years. The woman who ends up killing Cersei being the same one she masterfully manipulated and tormented as a young girl? That would be pitch-perfect. Cersei has a keen sense of poetic justice, and perhaps Sansa does, too.