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The Winterfell Crypts aren't safe, Arya's the Waif, and Darth Plagueis: The week in fan theories
Welcome to The Week in Fan Theories, your guide to what fan theories are taking the internet by storm!
With so many fan theories floating around the web, it can be hard to know which ones to take seriously and which ones are wildly off the mark. Some theories are brilliant breakthroughs that reveal a whole new understanding of what a work of fiction means, or they're spot-on predictions about what's going to happen in the next installment. Others are deeply flawed theories that nevertheless get traction on news sites
Because Avengers: Endgame premieres on Thursday, this is going to be an MCU-free entry of The Week in Fan Theories, because any Marvel theories would either be instantly outdated or they'd be spoilers, but you can bet we'll be revisiting the Avengers next week. In the meantime, we've got some Game of Thrones theories and a Star Wars take for good measure. Let's get started.
THE WINTERFELL CRYPTS ARE NOT SAFE
In the second episode of Game of Thrones' final season, about a thousand people say that the Winterfell Crypts will be the safest place in the upcoming battle against the Night King's undead army. Now, if you've ever seen a TV show before, this is a pretty good hint that, no, actually the Crypts are not going to be the safest place. It's tempting fate, the same way that Greyworm was essentially talking about how this is his last day before retirement, all but assuring that he's going to die in the battle to come.
That something bad is going to happen in the Crypts in the third episode seems almost like a given, but there are various fan theories about what, exactly, will go down. One of the most popular suggests that the Night King will use his ability to raise the dead to instantly animate new soldiers from their resting places in the crypt.
This seems plausible enough, though I wonder if ancient bones and corpses will have the strength to break through any heavy rock tombs. Less convincing is the theory that the Night King will reanimate familiar faces. It's extremely unlikely that there will be a Zombie Ned Stark, regardless of Sean Bean's precipitation. He was decapitated and then reduced to bones, which Littlefinger delivered to Catelyn Stark back in Season 2. Assuming boiled bones without any sinew or muscle can be reanimated in the first place, the resulting skeleton would not recognizably be Ned Stark.
Rob and Cat Stark weren't buried in the Crypts, as their bodies were dumped in the river after the Red Wedding. That leaves only two possible familiar dead characters — Lyanna Stark, who would be a 20-year-old corpse who none of the current characters knew in life, and Rickon Stark. And, like, Rickon Stark is not gonna be a big emotional reveal, y'all. Rickon? C'mon.
Expect something bad to happen in the Winterfell Crypts, but if it's an undead family reunion, then we've got some problems.
THE NIGHT KING IS GOING SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN WINTERFELL
The humans in Winterfell seem pretty sure that the Night King is going to come for Bran when the big battle breaks out, so Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are going to be waiting with their dragons to take him out. But, we haven't seen any glimpses of the Night King in any of the trailers for the battle, so a couple of theories posit that he's actually going somewhere else.
The Night King does have a dragon, after all, so it's possible that he could go on a solo mission and fly down south to sneak attack an important location. One possibility is King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. This option is bolstered by the fact that one of Bran's visions showed the shadow of a dragon flying over the city, and while his other visions have come to pass, this one still hasn't. Then there's the vision Dany had in the House of the Undying of a ruined, snowy Iron Throne. Might the dragon be an undead one, ready to wreak unexpectedly early havoc on King's Landing?
Another possible option is Oldtown, though this seems less likely. If the Night King wishes to destroy Bran because he's humanity's "memory," why not destroy all the books and maesters at the Citadel? It's a stretch, because the audience has no real reason to care about Oldtown, and because it's not clear that the Night King cares about books, or even knows what they are. Bran is a supernatural memory, which seems more his speed.
Chances are the Night King will be a participant in the Battle of Winterfell, rendering all this moot, but crazier things have happened.
ARYA IS ACTUALLY THE WAIF
This is a really misguided theory, and I, sadly, am unintentionally complicit. See, when Arya took her shirt off, some fans noticed that the scars on the side of her torso didn't match the scars she got when the Waif almost fatally stabbed her back in Bravos in Season 6. This fueled a theory that Arya actually died, and the Waif took her place.
Arya's quick recovery was indeed a little hard to believe. In 2016, after that episode aired, I did an interview with a U.S. Navy surgeon who said Arya almost certainly would've died, if not from the wounds themselves, then from infection when she jumped into the nasty canal water. The article was meant to be a bit of fun — Arya's survival wasn't an "error" in a show with magic and dragons, but it did test how far audiences were willing to suspend their disbelief.
Arya's survival and rapid recovery rang false with audiences for the same reason that Gendry's super-fast running in the "Beyond the Wall" episode did. Game of Thrones distinguished itself by taking the time to show consequences, so such easy storytelling contrivances feel wrong.
But, that doesn't mean that they are "wrong" within the fiction of the show. Arya's survival was bad storytelling, and the mismatched scars are a simple continuity error. Because think about it: Why does the Waif replacing Arya, and then acting exactly the way Arya would, make more sense than the idea that the showrunners made a lazy mistake?
PALPATINE, SNOKE, AND KYLO REN WERE ACTUALLY DARTH PLAGUEIS, A LITERAL PLAGUE
Finally, here's this Star Wars theory, which the website that aggregated it called "pretty deep fan fiction" despite writing about it as if it were credible. Essentially, the theory argues that Darth Plagueis, the Sith lord who supposedly could create life and trained Palpatine before his pupil murdered him, is actually some sort of plague himself. When he died, it was all part of his plan, and Plagueis was able to transmit himself "like an infectious disease" into Palpatine.
After the second Death Star blew up, the theory posits that Snoke went poking around in the wreckage looking for Sith artifacts, and Plagueis was able to infect him. Then Plagueis-as-Snoke aimed to train Kylo Ren because Plagueis wanted his body next. When Snoke died, supposedly Plagueis took over Kylo Ren.
It's, well, a lot, and it would take away agency from one of the new trilogy's most compelling characters and instead make him a pawn of a character we never saw aside from one highly meme-able mention in Revenge of the Sith. This theory weaves a grand tale to try to explain supposed "plot holes" and changing character motivations throughout the saga, but instead it just raises more questions. Questions like: what was the point of any of this if the whole thing has been secretly about a dead guy's ability to act like a disease?