As Robert Baratheon said to his pal Ned Stark in Season 1 of Game of Thrones, "There's a war coming, Ned." Those words ring especially true as we head into the final handful of episodes of this season, where Game of Thrones typically unloads its biggest battles and orders extra buckets of fake blood and mannequin parts for believable dismemberings. But Bobby Baratheon was only partially correct: it's not just one war, it's several wars — plural — that are coming, as Season 6 has painstakingly built up several over its last few hours.
We know it's hard to keep track of who is mad at whom and why, so here's a little refresher about what wars are in store, who's fighting them, and who we think will win.
The Rumble at Riverrun
Location: Riverrun, a castle in the Riverlands, which is just south of the North territory that was once ruled by the Starks.
Who will be fighting: The Tullys hold the castle, and The Freys and The Lannisters are trying to take it. Also Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod (Daniel Portman) will be there in a case of "wrong place, wrong time."
How we got here: Riverrun was long the seat of the Tullys (Catelyn Stark's family), until Walder Frey (David Bradley) came along and killed a bunch of Starks at the Red Wedding through a deal with the Lannisters and because he's a huge jerk. Riverrun was gifted to House Frey by the Lannisters as a prize, but was taken back by Brendyn "The Blackfish" Tully (Clive Russell) off camera in Season 6. Now Walder wants it back. Elsewhere, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) was ordered by King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) to take a whole bunch of Lannisters and reclaim Riverrun for Walder since the geezer is "400 years old, " according to Jaime, who might not be wrong. And Brienne and Pod are heading to Riverrun on orders from Sansa (Sophie Turner) to rally the Tullys for the Stark cause.
Who will win: As great a military mastermind as Jaime is, Riverrun is a near-impenetrable fortress with huge advantages to those defending it. On one side are sheer walls rising from the river's waters and on the other are towers that give archers target practice at invaders below. This one goes to the Tullys, unless the Lannisters want to play the waiting game and try to starve them out. But how fun is watching hungry soldiers for half a season?
Bonus information: If spoiler-y theories are correct, there may be an unexpected player in the mix.
The War for Winterfell
Location: Right in the heart of the North, about equidistant from the Wall to the north and the North-Riverlands border to the south.
Who will be fighting: The Starks, led by Jon Snow (Kit Harington), whatever houses in the North come to the Stark's aid, and Jon's wildling army on one side. The Boltons and (probably) the Karstarks, Umbers, and Manderlys, who have pledged loyalty to the Boltons on the other. And if we're lucky, mayyyybe Littlefinger's army from the Vale will hop on the Stark side.
How we got here: Winterfell was in the hands of the Starks for 8,000 years until Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) felt so insecure and unloved by his dad that he decided to take the castle over in the wake of Ned Stark's death in Season 1. As part of his betrayal of Robb Stark, Roose Bolton sent his bastard son Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) to take Winterfell from Theon but keep it for himself. Ramsay later killed his dad after Roose produced a real heir, and he now sits in Winterfell feeding people to his dogs. Now Jon and Sansa, eager to revitalize the Stark name, are gathering support to take their crib back.
Who will win: Duh, obviously the Starks now that Jon has cheated death and Sansa is Sansa Fierce. The only question is how much they make Ramsay suffer. Let's hope it's a lot.
Bonus information: The ninth episode of Season 6 is titled "Battle of the Bastards," which must reference this fight, right?
Location: King's Landing, the capital of Westeros, in whatever the King's Landing version of the Octagon is.
Who will be fighting: This is all theoretical, but Zombie Mountain a.k.a. Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) versus his brother The Holy Hound a.k.a. Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) in a trial by combat with Cersei Lannister's (Lena Headey) life on the line. High stakes everywhere!
How we got here: Cersei may have been absolved for her sins of adultery with her cousin Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) with her epic Walk of Shame in Season 5, but she never confessed to doing the deed with her brother Jaime. The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), still in control of things in King's Landing, has ordered her to stand trial for banging her bro, but Cersei is opting for trial by combat since she has the Zombie Mountain as her champion. Here's where the theorizing comes in: With the Hound's return in "The Broken Man" and his apparent devotion to the faith and the seven-pointed star, it's possible that the Hound will end up the champion of the faith against his brother, who there's no love lost for.
Who will win: Does anyone really think that the Hound and his limp can defeat the monstrous undead Mountain? Yep, people do. Which would mean the end of Cersei. It's hard to think the Hound would return only to die a few episodes later. We're taking the underhound — err, underdog — in the upset. Sayonara, Cersei.
Bonus information: Some wildly passionate fans of the books have been eagerly anticipating this fight for years, and you can see their insanely entertaining ramblings over at the Cleganebowl subreddit. Get hype!
Dany's Death Dealing by Dragon
Location: Westeros, all of it.
Who will be fighting: Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), on top of Drogon with a sea of Dothraki soldiers, Unsullied, various knights who have joined her cause, and of course, Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) of House Friendzone on one side, everyone in Westeros on the other side.
How we got here: Before Game of Thrones even started, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) had to take the Iron Throne by unseating Dany's dad Aerys "The Mad King" Targaryen. That meant Dany and her brother Viserys were S.O.L. about inheriting the throne, and Dany went into self-exile in the Southern continent of Essos to avoid being killed by the Baratheons. Now she's got dragons, experience, and a bunch of followers who feel she has the true right to the Iron Throne, and she's itching to cross the Narrow Sea and torch all of Westeros until the Iron Throne is hers. You all heard her rousing speech on the back of Drogon. She means business.
Who will win: We're not betting against three fire-breathing dragons and one pissed-off woman. Of course, she'll have to get to Westeros first, which we've all been waiting for for five-plus seasons.
Bonus information: Her walk north is coinciding with the White Walkers march south, so all these wars might mean nothing and Dany's fire versus the Night's King's Ice will be the real fight and put all other fights to shame. Then Jon and Dany can get married and live happily ever after!
Who are you picking in each of the battles?