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The Green Fire In Game Of Thrones Explained

Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 5 "The Bells"

Throughout its run on television, Game of Thrones has demonstrated its affinity for cameos. Actors, musicians, and even athletes have popped up in one-off spots, and aspects of the fantasy drama's story have circled back to make their own sort of cameos as well. Game of Thrones pulled off another one of these surprise appearances on the fifth episode of the final season, which featured the emergence of an element viewers hadn't seen in years: Wildfire.

It goes without saying that there are major spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. Last warning before things turn into a spoiler-filled free-for-all. 

Entitled "The Bells," the latest Thrones episode saw Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her allied forces carry out their siege of King's Landing — which came off the back of Dany witnessing Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) order her man-of-all-work the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) to kill Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and the Mother of Dragons sentencing her Master of Whisperers Varys (Conleth Hill) to death after he betrayed her. Clearly, Daenerys wasn't in the calmest or most rational state of mind when she and her troops rocked up to the Westerosi capital. Watching Missandei be decapitated, quickly realizing that people in Westeros love Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and will support his legitimate claim to the Iron Throne, and understanding that she only knows fear in the country proved too much for Daenerys. She unleashed fire and fury on King's Landing, commanding her dragon Drogon to burn the city down even after its people rang the bells and surrendered. 

But it wasn't just dragon fire that blazed through King's Landing. Bursts of emerald flames did, too. 

For those who may not recall what that green fire is, it's Wildfire — a highly flammable and incredibly volatile liquid created by the pyromancers of the ancient society known as the Alchemists' Guild. Also called "the Substance," Wildfire begins as a bright green liquid and burns with great strength when it's ignited. It doesn't carry quite the same properties as normal fire, as it cannot be extinguished with water, only with sand.

Season 8, episode 5 wasn't the first time viewers caught a glimpse of Wildfire, of course. 

Cersei utilizes caches of Wildfire hidden beneath the Sept of Baelor to blow up the place of worship during season 6, which kills then-Queen Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and allows Cersei claim the Iron Throne after then-King Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) takes his own life following the fiery carnage. 

Wildfire appears on season 2 as well, when Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) learns that Cersei is planning to use Wildfire as a weapon of defense against Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and his fleet on Blackwater Bay. Tyrion and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) pay a visit to Wisdom Hallyne, the Head of the Alchemists' Guild in King's Landing, just ahead of the Battle of the Blackwater. Hallyne tells Tyrion and Bronn that it "could well be true" that Wildfire is potent enough to burn off people's appendages — and then highlights an intense connection between Wildfire and House Targaryen.

"The substance burns so hot it melts wood, stone, even steel! And, of course, flesh. The substance burns so hot it melts flesh like tallow," Hallyne says. "After the dragons died, Wildfire was the key to the Targaryen power."

Wildfire popped up again during season 3. On the fifth episode of that season, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) reveals the true reason he slaughtered the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen: he wanted to burn every last inch of King's Landing using Wildfire. The Mad King, realizing that his opponents were going to win the battle, had his pyromancers tuck stores of Wildfire in various locations throughout King's Landing. 

Jaime explains to Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), "The Mad King was obsessed with it. He loved to watch people burn, the way their skin blackened and blistered and melted off their bones. He burnt Lords he didn't like, he burnt Hands who disobeyed him, he burnt anyone who was against him. Before long, half the country was against him. Aerys saw traitors everywhere, so he had his pyromancers place caches of Wildfire all over the city. Beneath the Sept of Baelor and the slums of Flea Bottom, under houses, stables, taverns — even beneath the Red Keep itself."

As past seasons have established, Wildfire is a chosen weapon of House Targaryen — one that its members favored when its greatest advantage over the Seven Kingdoms, their dragons, all died out. It only makes sense that Wildfire would appear again when Daenerys, the last living child of the Mad King, let the devastation of death, the reality of fear, and the overwhelming desire for power turn her into a version of her father. The Mad King attempted to burn King's Landing with Wildfire and couldn't, but his daughter finished the job decades later. 

It's almost guaranteed that the Wildfire seen on season 8, episode 5 came from the caches that the Mad King's pyromancers placed across King's Landing — ones no one had found until Dany ordered Drogon to blast his flames everywhere. But even if it isn't, if the Wildfire of the latest episode wasn't left over by the Mad King and was somehow planted there by Cersei herself, the sequence does more than just provide a vision of Christmas-colored chaos. It also draws yet another terrifying parallel between Daenerys and her father, the man she tried so hard not to become

Will she suffer the same fate he did, killed by a knight with a swift hand? The final episode of Game of Thrones, airing Sunday, May 19, will reveal the answer.