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Three questions raised by the Game of Thrones episode 5 teaser images

Varys is up to something

jon snow - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO

The first half of Game of Thrones season 8 had an obvious threat: the Night King. He and his army of the dead were marching south toward Winterfell and our heroes had to stop him. Then they did.

In the show’s final two episodes, the “enemies” are a lot more complicated. Instead of the magical army of the dead, the show’s characters are facing off against each other, and wrestling with conflicting and constantly shifting loyalties. Ahead of this week’s penultimate episode, HBO has released a few teaser images, but they’ve raised more questions for us than they’ve answered. Brace for scrutinizing and speculation.

Are Jon and Varys conspiring against Daenerys?

varys and jon snow on dragonstone beach - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO

This image is the most tantalizing of any HBO has released so far. Last week we saw Varys pitch Tyrion on the idea of supporting Jon for the Iron Throne instead of Daenerys. It seems like this could very well be The Spider doing more of the same. But if Varys didn’t guess right, and Jon’s a little more loyal than he might have thought, it’s possible this information could get passed straight back to Dany. The biggest question about this image: who else was in the boat with Jon? It looks like Davos is there, but who else can Jon count among his strongest allies, and did this happen before or after a battle at King’s Landing?

How big is Dany and Jon’s army after the Battle of Winterfell?

jon snow army - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO

During the Battle for Winterfell in episode 3, “The Long Night,” it certainly seemed like the North’s forces were mostly decimated. But in episode 4, the characters explained that while we may have only seen a few hundred soldiers left alive at the funeral pyres, they only lost about half of their total forces. In this preview image we get a look at some of the North’s remaining army and it actually looks pretty substantial. So where were all of these guys last week? And, more importantly, are those Dothraki riding horses among the Unsullied soldiers. Didn’t almost all the horse lords of the Great Grass Sea die at Winterfell? Guess not.

Who is Harry Strickland, and why is he even here?

harry strickland - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO

Characters in Game of Thrones have all kinds of names. Some characters are named Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Jaqen H’ghar, even Eddard Stark, or Tormund Giantsbane. This guy is called Harry Strickland. It isn’t the most exciting name in the world. But maybe his purpose will make up for it? What exactly that purpose is a mystery. We know that he is the leader of the Golden Company, so he’s probably going to do some leading and some fighting, but beyond that, it’s pretty hard to guess. Maybe he’s only here so we’ll know who the leader is if the Golden Company decide to surrender?

Daenerys, Tyrion, and the not-excited pre-battle faces

daenerys - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO

Beyond these three major teases are Game of Thrones’ traditional batch of “life is about to get rough” preview stills. With each battle, our heroes grow warier, and the quest to the Iron Throne becomes hazier. In the shot above, Daenerys looks particularly drained. She’s carrying the burden of Missandei’s death and likely not thrilled by whatever Tyrion has to say. If Varys is wooing people to knock her out of the game, it’s entirely possible Dany’s end is in sight. You wouldn’t be smiling either. Get this queen a coffee!

Here’s Tyrion, Euron, and Grey Worm gearing up for major confrontation in the yet-to-be-titled episode 5. For a guy who just lost the love of his life, Grey Worm looks amped to fight.

tyrion - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO
euron - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO
greyworm - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO

And then there’s Cersei...

cersei - game of thrones season 8 episode 5 HBO

...who looks exactly the same in every season 8 moment? The Lannister matriarch has been holed up in King’s Landing since season 7, waiting patiently for her foes to get wiped out by the Night King. Didn’t happen. So now it’s time to battle everyone else on the planet, and with a trademarked half-smiling stance. Makes sense: Cersei does have a fleet of scorpions, a stash of wildfire, and no mercy. So watch out, everyone else on the planet!

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