This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones' latest episode, "The Long Night"
Whether you enjoyed Game of Thrones' Battle of Winterfell or not, there's no arguing that it completely changed the trajectory of the series' final episodes. While the first half of the season was focused almost wholly on Jon (Kit Harington) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) preparing their armies to fight against the Night King's forces -- something the show has been building since its very first episode -- the threat of the dead was completely eliminated in Sunday's episode once Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) fatally stabbed the Night King with the catspaw dagger, thus killing off all the wights and White Walkers.
While there are those fans who are stunned that the actual climax of Game of Thrones is going to be a battle between warring factions of people, rather than the much higher stakes fight between the living and the dead, it's felt inevitable the series will end this way. Game of Thrones, and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books, have always been about exploring the best and worst of humanity -- specifically the murkiness of how you define these characteristics -- and not the binary good vs. evil that the Night King's war represented. The Game of Thrones fans first fell for was one that was more interested in the challenges of ruling, rather than achieving a momentary victory, and it's exciting that the show's final episodes seems to be returning to those core ideas by recentering the drama on decidedly human problems rather than supernatural ones.
But after expending all their efforts on the war with the Night King, how are Jon and Daenerys even going to stand a chance against Cersei? Their forces are drastically depleted, having lost practically the entire Dothraki and Unsullied armies (which is problematic on a whole other level as well), and those who did survive are wounded and exhausted from the taxing battle. Yet now it seems they must soon begin the long march south to King's Landing to take on Cersei and her 20,000 men, all of whom are fresh and ready to fight.
While a shocking number of our main characters survived the Battle for Winterfell (for better or for worse), it's unclear just how many soldiers Jon and Daenerys have left. But if they are going to pose any threat to Cersei, they'll most definitely need more fighters on their side. Fortunately, there are plenty of MIA characters who could conveniently return in the next two episodes to help out.
After turning against the Starks, re-pledging his loyalty, and then turning on them again, Lord Glover (Tim McInnerny) and his men stayed at Deepwood Motte rather than join in the fight against the Night King. While this was a massive betrayal at the time, it actually may have been for Jon and Dany's benefit in the long run. When Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) arrived at Winterfell, he told Jon that everyone between the castle and the Wall had been recruited to the army of the dead. However, given that Deepwood Motte is decently northwest of Winterfell, the seat of House Glover would likely have been out of the way enough that the Night King probably didn't saunter over there on his way to kill Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright). Meaning, House Glover could flip flop once again and join in the fight against Cersei. (And wouldn't it be nice to see Robett Glover die on the battlefield as penance for being such a turncoat all those times?)
Yara (Gemma Whelan), after having taken back the Iron Islands, could also rejoin Daenerys' forces, bringing with her whatever remains of her own Iron Fleet. And we'd bet Dorne -- and whoever is ruling it now -- would jump at the chance to finish their revenge against Cersei (that is, if they can stomach teaming up with Tyrion [Peter Dinklage] and Jaime [Nikolaj Coster-Waldau] in the process). Plus, while Dany lost almost her entire Dothraki and Unsullied armies, she still has an entire fighting force at her disposal that she's yet to put into play in Westeros. When Daenerys set sail to reclaim the Iron Throne, she left her lover Daario (Michiel Huisman) and the Second Sons in Mereen to keep the peace. It'd be in her best interests now to summon the remains of her forces for help in what she dubbed the "Last War" in the teaser for Episode 4. It'd also likely fuel some awkward Daario-Jon interactions that could be fun to see.
Of course, all this strategy is assuming that Jon and Daenerys will continue to work together in the war to come. The already noticeable divisions within their forces were made even clearer during the Battle of Winterfell when Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) came for Sansa's (Sophie Turner) lack of loyalty to the Dragon Queen, while Tyrion's own loyalties became a bit murkier as his tender moments with the Lady of Winterfell hinted that he may be more torn between the two women than we previously imagined. But the real damning indication that the tenuous alliance between Jon and Dany might fall apart in the next episode -- or at the very least, drastically shift -- now that she knows the truth about Jon's parentage and Sansa's true feelings comes from the Episode 4 teaser, which shows Daenerys in two separate instances addressing crowds without a Stark in sight. In one, she's flanked by Varys (Conleth Hill) and Missandei, and in another she is giving a toast completely alone.
So before anyone seriously preps for this final battle against Cersei, which will likely take place in Episode 5, the show will first have to address the internal power struggle playing out between Dany and the Starks -- which honestly sounds a lot more fascinating than another hour-plus of barely decipherable carnage. Bring it on.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c.