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Game of Thrones S7 Preview Part 3: Team Stark

Hi, it’s Ser Exposition again, refreshing your memory and doing some theorizin’ ahead of the new season of everyone’s favourite swords-n-realpolitik TV show. So far we’ve covered the Lannisters and Dany and the Gang. Today it’s House Stark, and it’s a long one because there are so many Starks still alive! That can’t last, can it?

Partway through Season 6, Jon states his goals succinctly: he wants to unite the North so he can face the White Walkers with a united front. Sure enough, by the end of the season, Jon and Sansa are in Winterfell, having defeated Ramsay Bolton. Jonny Snowpants, working his way through the checklist!

In the trailer, Jon’s at to-do list item #2, as we see Jon and an assortment of legendary badasses (Beric Dondarrion, the Hound) fighting wights and Walkers. The presumption is that this is north of the wall: is it? Winter is here, after all, and if the walkers don’t breach the wall at some point, they’re not the existential threat they’re made out to be. This could be further south.

Season 6 ends with Littlefinger trying to convince Sansa that she’s the rightful leader of House Stark, not Jon. (I’m so tempted to just call her Salsa from now on: sometimes autocorrect is right.) How far will this potential conflict go? The trailer itself seems to downplay it, as it ends on a line from Sansa, repeating something her father said: “the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives”. But only a fool judges a show by its trailer. They wouldn’t have set up this storyline if it wasn’t significant.

Let’s not forget about Mystic Stark, the Branster. Season 6 ends with Cold Hand Benjen dropping him and Meera off near the wall, and in the trailer – shocker – he’s going through the gate. We also see him at a Godswood, but who knows if it’s the one by the wall, or the one at Winterfell. Bran is carrying a knowledge bomb, after all: that Jon is the bastard son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and thus the rightful heir to the Targaryen line, not Dany. Will Bran get to deliver this payload, and when? It seems almost too simple that he would team up with his remaining siblings and have a big group hug. But clearly, from the trailer, he’ll be needed to fight the Walkers by warging into crows and shit.

Just a little idea bubble: what if he tells Salsa about Jon’s parentage, and she keeps it to herself?

And then there’s Face-stealing Ninja Stark, Arya. At the end of last season she’s back in Westeros, having just thrown House Frey into disarray by assassinating its head and baking his two most likely successors into a pie. Is she part of the group hug too? Even if so, she’s got to get up to some other stuff – it sure will be dull if she hangs around saying, “yeah, good idea” to whatever Jon and Salsa say. I would expect some assassination missions instead, and the likely target is Cersei.

Before I move off the Starks, I’m a little curious about what will happen in the Riverlands, the war-torn area caught geographically between basically all the other areas (see map below). It was ruled by the Tullys until the Red Wedding put the Freys in charge, supported by the Lannisters. We just saw Jaime take Riverrun for that alliance in Season 6. The likely move is that Littlefinger and his army of Vale Knights kindly volunteer for the job of wresting the Riverlands from what’s left of House Frey. If Edmure Tully can be found, liberated and trusted, they could install him as a Stark-aligned leader. But will that ensnare the northern forces in the battles of the south? Riverrun is likely to get caught in some back-and-forth between Lannisters and Targaryens.

Final thought. Do we really think four Starks are going to make it to the finish line? I don’t. But I’m basically stumped at which ones are most likely to drop off. No, I don’t think Jon’s legendary status gives him plot armour; in fact, I think it makes him a liability. If you have thoughts, hit me up on twitter! Link in the footer.

GoT S7 Preview 1: Team Lannister
GoT S7 Preview 2: Team Targ
GoT S7 Preview 3: Team Stark
GoT S7 Preview 4: Team Rando