How Defeating the Night King in Game of Thrones Could See the End of the Starks

HBO
HBO

The HBO series Game of Thrones has advanced far beyond the book series it's based on, meaning that not even diehard George R.R. Martin readers know how the show will end. All we can do is theorize as we wait for the eighth and final season to premiere this Sunday. One of the biggest questions we all have is in regards to the Night King and whether or not he, along with his army, can and/or will be defeated. And if so, what consequences will that bring? One theory claims that the undead leader will be conquered, but that the living Starks will be sacrificed in order for it to happen.

The Telegraph posed the idea that the Night King was once a Stark (as Old Nan once told Bran was a possibility). This theory, when paired with the idea that killing a White Walker would also kill all of its creations, could mean the end of the House of Winterfell.

What's the evidence behind this bold theory? The publication explains a few key things. The first, and the most obvious, is that the series is known to kill off main characters we all love. Eliminating the remaining Starks would mean saying goodbye to Sansa, Arya, Bran, and even Jon, whose mother was Lyanna Stark. They also point out how showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss previously revealed there would be "three holy s**t moments" throughout the show—which came directly from Martin—with only one left for the final season. (The co-creators clarified that the first was Shireen's death, and the second was Hodor's origin story.) The last moment could be any number of things, but killing off the fan-favorite family in one move might be the most shocking possibility.

Another potential reason this theory could work is the Starks' connection to the White Walkers. Thousands of years ago, the Wall was created by a Stark named Brandon the Builder, as the legend goes. It's also believed there was magic involved in building it, something that hints the undead were involved. The Telegraph goes on to explain that since it was apparently Brandon who enforced that there must always be a Stark at Winterfell, it begs the speculation that he could have made some type of pact with the Walkers. There are a ton of details from that time that we just don't know.

And of course, if you're into the theory that Bran Stark is actually the Night King, this also aligns nicely. There's no doubting Bran has a connection with the lead White Walker, even if you don't believe he is or will become the Night King. Could their bond be because they're family? There's not enough evidence to know for sure, but the idea is interesting.

The other part of this theory derives from something we learned in the season 7 episode "Beyond the Wall." While trying to capture a wight, Jon Snow kills the White Walker the wight was traveling with, which in turn destroyed nearly all of the wights in that group. The men wonder if killing a Walker means killing any wights that he turned, which leads Beric Dondarrion to point to the Night King and urge Snow to "Kill him, he turned them all." Jon cryptically responds, "You don't understand." If killing a Walker means killing its creations/followers/descendants, would killing the Night King mean immediate destruction of all the undead? But what of the living? If the Night King is a Stark, and the current Starks of Winterfell are his descendants, might they die along with the undead?

What The Telegraph is suggesting here really is a complex two-parter, but as with any theory, there's always a possibility of there being some truth to it. The Night King being a Stark would explain a lot, and having the remaining Starks die in order to defeat him would fit the kind of tragic, bittersweet ending we should all be expecting from the series.

Soon enough, all of these theories won't matter, as the finale is almost here. Game of Thrones returns for its final season on April 14.

[h/t The Telegraph]

7 Things We Know (So Far) About Baby Yoda, the Breakout Star of The Mandalorian

© Lucasfilm
© Lucasfilm

From the moment he appeared onscreen in the closing moments of the premiere episode of the new Disney+ series The Mandalorian on November 12, the creature referred to as Baby Yoda has become an internet sensation not seen since the likes of the IKEA monkey. The Rock has displayed his affection for the cooing green infant on Instagram; a man purportedly got a tattoo of Baby Yoda holding a White Claw seltzer and insists it’s permanent; and a Change.org petition is underway demanding a Baby Yoda emoji.

That Baby Yoda has gripped the imagination of the country is no small feat, as precious little has been revealed about his origins other than that he appears to be a member of the same unnamed species as Jedi master Yoda, which has traditionally been shrouded in secrecy. More will be revealed as The Mandalorian continues its weekly run through December 27. In the meantime, here’s what we know so far about the alarmingly adorable creature canonically known as “The Child.”

1. Baby Yoda is 50 years old, but he still seems a bit behind developmentally.

Owing to the long lifespan of Yoda’s species—Yoda himself lived to be roughly 900 years old before expiring in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, set five years prior to the events of the Disney+ series—it makes sense that the “baby” in the show is the human equivalent of someone about to subscribe to AARP: The Magazine. We learn Baby Yoda’s age in the first episode, where Mando is told he’s being tasked with finding a target that age. It’s a clever bit of misdirection that sets up the climactic reveal that the bounty hunter is after an infant.

And though his habits—tasting space frogs and playing with spaceship knobs—seem developmentally accurate, child experts told Popular Mechanics that such curiosity is more in line with a 1-year-old, not the 5-year-old Baby Yoda might be analogous to in human years. He’s also not terribly verbose, putting him behind what one might expect of a person his relative age.

2. Baby Yoda is male.

After rescuing Baby Yoda from an untimely demise at the hands of bounty hunter IG-11 in the debut episode, the titular Mandalorian takes off with his young bounty to deliver him to his Imperial employer known as the Client (Werner Herzog). In episode 3, the Client receives the baby; his underling, Doctor Pershing, (Omid Abtahi) refers to the character as “him.” A pre-order page for a Mattel plush Baby Yoda also refers to the character as a "he." We have, however, seen a female member of Yoda’s species before. In 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, a green-skinned Yaddle sits wordlessly on the Jedi Council.

3. Baby Yoda’s genetics are of great interest to what’s left of the Empire.

Why was Mando sent to fetch Baby Yoda? From what we could gather in episode three, the Client was desperate to gather knowledge from the creature, with Doctor Pershing told to extract something from his tiny body. That motive has yet to be revealed, but thanks to The Phantom Menace, we know Force-sensitive individuals can carry a large number of Midi-chlorians, or cells that can attenuate themselves to the Force. One fan theory speculates that these cells can be harvested, creating people with greater capabilities to wield Jedi powers.

4. Using the Force really tires Baby Yoda out.

In episode 2, a battle-weary Mando is in real danger of being trampled by a Mudhorn, a savage beast. Channeling his (presumed) Force abilities, Baby Yoda is able to dispatch of the threat, but the effort seems to exhaust him, and he spends most of the rest of the episode sound asleep.

5. Baby Yoda might become a Jedi Master in a hurry.

Despite his infantile status, it seems like it won’t be long, relatively speaking, before Baby Yoda achieves the Zen-like mindset and formidable skills of a Jedi Master. It’s been pointed out that Yoda achieved that rank at the age of 100, at which point he began training Jedis. That would mean Yoda’s species is capable of some pretty rapid development between the ages of 50 and 100.

6. Werner Herzog has a soft spot for Baby Yoda.

Herzog, the famously irascible director of such films as 2005’s documentary Grizzly Man and 1972's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, portrays the man known as the Client, out to capture Baby Yoda. Interacting with the puppet on set was apparently a source of amusement for the part-time actor, who sometimes addressed Baby Yoda as though he were not made of rubber. "One of the weirdest moments I had on set, in my life, was trying to direct Werner with the baby,” series director Deborah Chow told The New York Times. “How did I end up with Werner Herzog and Baby Yoda? That was amazing. Werner had absolutely fallen in love with the puppet. He, at some point, had literally forgotten that it wasn’t a real being and was talking to the child as though it was a real, existing creature.”

Herzog was so emotionally invested in Baby Yoda that he reacted harshly when The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau and producer and director Dave Filoni spoke of wanting to shoot some scenes without the puppet so they could add him as a computer-generated effect later in case the live-action creature wasn’t convincing. “You are cowards,” Herzog told them. “Leave it.”

7. Baby Yoda bootleg merchandise has become a force.

When Favreau decided to keep Baby Yoda under tight wraps before the premiere of The Mandalorian, it forced Disney to postpone plans for tie-in merchandising, which can often leak plot points from film and television projects in retailer solicitations months in advance. As a result, precious little Baby Yoda merchandise is available, save for some hastily-assembled shirts and mugs on the Disney Store website. That leaves craftspeople on Etsy and other outlets to fabricate bootleg Baby Yoda plush dolls and other items.

The shortage runs parallel to the predicament faced by toy maker Kenner upon the release of the original Star Wars in 1977. Faced with a huge and unexpected holiday demand for action figures, the company was forced to sell consumers an empty box with a voucher for the toys redeemable the following year.

Stranger Things Star David Harbour Claims He Still Doesn't Know if Hopper Is Dead or Alive

Jason Mendez/Getty Images
Jason Mendez/Getty Images

With the fourth season of Stranger Things in the works, fans are holding out hope that Jim Hopper, played by David Harbour, is still alive and will be returning to the series. It turns out that we aren’t the only ones.

ComicBook.com reports that the Black Widow star recently made an appearance at German Comic Con Dortmund and, naturally, was asked if he would be returning to the Netflix series. The 44-year-old actor replied:

“Oh my Lord! I don’t know. Should we call the Duffer brothers? We don’t know yet, we don’t know. They won’t tell me anything, so we’ll have to see. I think you’ll find out at some point, we’ll find out at some point. Let’s hope he’s alive.”

The Hellboy actor then asked the crowd if they wanted Hopper to still be alive. When he was met with an explosion of cheers, he joked, “Guess what? Me too. Because I like working.”

Though many are still in mourning over Hopper’s presumed death at the gate of the Upside Down, Harbour stated that it was integral to the character that he died to release the guilt around his daughter’s death. He explained:

“I think Hopper—from the very beginning I’ve said this—he’s very lovable in a certain way, but also, he’s kind of a rough guy. Certainly in the beginning of Season 1 he’s kind of dark, and he’s drinking, and he’s trying to kill himself, and he hates himself for what happened to his daughter. I feel like, in a sense, that character needed to die. He needed to make some sacrifice to make up for the way he’s been living for the past like 10 years, the resentments that he’s had. So he needed to die.”

Though his death might have been necessary to rid him of his demons, we hope to see Hopper return.

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