The second episode of the final season of Game of Thrones set the stage for what may be one of the most epic battles ever seen. Literally. Reports are that next week’s war for Winterfell will be longer than the Battle of Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings and perhaps one of the longest battle sequence ever put to film. Naturally, episode two has fans asking questions in anticipation. Will Arya and Gendry become a couple? Can Jon Snow and Daenerys work out their rival claims? Which favorite characters will live or die?
These are all important questions, but I’ve been pondering a different one: can the Night King reanimate your chicken dinner?
Hear me out. For eight seasons we’ve heard about the coming of the White Walkers and their legion of the dead. The Night King and his White Walkers are the great existential threat to all the characters in all the realms of Westeros. They represent not just death but metaphorically stand for all the great issues that humanity ignores, such as climate change, while we squabble over petty politics. But despite all the “winter is coming” quotes and creepy White Walker body parts art, we don’t really know how they work.
The White Walkers can reanimate the dead. Okay. But what are the limits? The wight that Jon Snow and company brought to King’s Landing was pretty decomposed and gnarly. Can they reanimate a skeleton or does there need to be some flesh attached? Can they re-aminate a headless corpse? A single body part? A single bone? Cremated remains? We know they can reanimate animals like horses. What about the whole chicken that Tormund Giantsbane probably gobbled up before drinking his horn of wine? Is a squawking half-digested chicken dinner going to burst out of his stomach while he flirts with Brienne?
These might seem like joke questions, but they could actually be pivotal to the plot. Consider this: half of the characters have been sent to the crypts of Winterfell. It felt like every other scene someone said: “you’ll be safe in the crypts” and, since this is Game of Thrones, we know damn well they aren’t going to be safe at all. If there’s one thing everyone knows about crypts, it’s that they are full of dead bodies. And if there’s one thing everyone knows about the Night King, it’s that he reanimates dead bodies. So it’s probably a safe bet that we’re going to see some dead Starks come back to life.
It’s possible that Catelyn Stark (hello Lady Stoneheart?) and Robb Stark (whose head was replaced with his pet wolf’s head last time we saw) are buried there. Perhaps the killed direwolves are as well. We don’t know. We do know that one major character is buried in the crypts: Ned Stark. Stark was beheaded in season one, but his bones were given to Catelyn by Littlefinger in season two. It’s unclear if the skull was included. Rickon Stark was later buried next to his father in the crypts.
TV shows love to put reunions in their final seasons. It’s a way to show the long journeys that characters have had and to give the fans the scenes they always wanted to see. We’ve already seen the surviving Stark siblings come together, Jamie reunite with Brienne and Tyrion, Sansa embraces Theon, and the surviving Night’s Watch members rejoin Jon Snow. But this is Game of Thrones, not This Is Us, so it’s a good bet that the next reunions we will see will be less sentimental and more zombie horror nightmare fodder. Will we see a Ned Stark skeleton monster? Rotting zombie Rickon? Wolf-headed Robb wight? It all might depend on if the Night King can reanimate your chicken dinner.
Hopefully, if season 8 has any sanity at all, we’ll find out the answer to this pressing question very soon.