Game of Thrones fan theory

Game of Thrones‘ seventh season certainly left fans with a lot to talk about – and it’s a good thing, too, since we probably won’t see the eighth and final season until sometime in 2019. One of the many fan theories that popped up in the wake of the most recent finale involved the potential return of a significant side character, but a new piece of casting news seems to have shot that theory out of the sky like the Night King hurling a spear into Viserion. Read on to find out what to expect from Game of Thrones season 8.

The season seven finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” featured a meeting between practically all of the surviving major players in Westeros: Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, all three Lannister siblings, The Hound, Brienne of Tarth, and more. The pirate scoundrel Euron Greyjoy was there too, until he saw with his own eyes the chained and undead wight that Jon and company transported to King’s Landing from the North; that was enough for Euron to peace out of there, presumably for good.

But it turns out that was just a clever ruse. Cersei and Euron were working together the whole time, and while it looked like Euron bailed once and for all, he actually left King’s Landing to retrieve the Golden Company, a ruthless army of mercenaries and sellswords who fights for whoever pays them the most.

Here’s where the fan theory comes in. Remember Daario Naharis, Dany’s lover who she left in charge of Meereen while she finally sailed to Westeros? He’s the leader of a separate unit of sellswords called the Second Sons, and some people have speculated that because he’s such a good fighter and now has some political experience serving his queen, he may have been able to take over the Golden Company during the time he’s been off-screen. The theory goes that when Euron comes calling, Daario would agree to have the Golden Company fight for Cersei only to pull a surprise attack on the Lannisters because he’s been aligned with Daenerys the whole time.

But that theory now seems incredibly unlikely, because Watchers on the Wall report that a different actor has been cast in the role of the leader of the Golden Company:

According to his Spotlight CV and his agency, German actor Marc Rissmann will “join the cast of Game of Thrones in the 8th and final season of the show.” The actor’s resume helpfully tells us exactly which role he’ll be playing in the season, and it will ring a bell with readers of George R.R. Martin’s books: Harry Strickland, leader of the mercenary group known as the Golden Company!

Rissmann appeared on the BBC series The Last Kingdom, as well as an episode of AMC’s Into the Badlands. But the fact that he’s playing Golden Company leader Harry Strickland puts a serious damper on the prospect of ever seeing Daario again. Frankly, that’s fine with me; I feel like that character has served his purpose, and the show has already walked up to the line of being just a little too cute with some of its reveals, so a sweeping “gotcha!” moment from Daario leading the Golden Company seems a little too easy for the climactic season of such a lengthy and complex story.

There are only six episodes of Game of Thrones left (each one will cost a cool $15 million, by the way), but don’t be too sad: multiple prequel shows are in development, so it’s a safe bet that we’ll be hanging out in Westeros (or maybe Essos and beyond) for many years to come.

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