Last night’s episode of Game of Thrones (Sons of the Harpy) ended on a truly shocking note that is going to have some huge implications for our cast of characters east of Westeros.
Major spoilers for both the HBO series and the novels follow.
The episode concluded with Grey Worm and his fellow Unsullied being ambushed by mobs of Sons of the Harpy. His group is overwhelmed, with Grey Worm injured and facing down what seem to be impossible odds. That is, until Ser Barristan arrives to save the day.
Alas, he too is seriously wounded in the fight, and while he is successful in saving Grey Worm’s life, Barristan collapses soon after. The fates of these two characters is never explicitly stated, which seems to leave room for the possibility of survival. However, we can be almost certain that Barristan is not walking away from this, and that’s going to have huge ramifications on the arc of the TV series compared to the books.
Has Ser Barristan fallen?
It’s super depressing, I know (I think we all loved that character a lot), but we can be fairly sure that Barristan the Bold is dead.
Why? Because the actor has openly discussed the fact that this is his last season (in fact, the part where he talks about Rhaegar as a minstrel was the final scene he ever shot for the series). So unless HBO decides to bring him back in a surprise moment in a future season (which has not really been their modus operandi so far), it looks like he’s gone for good.
How is this different from the novels?
Fans of the books will know that this is a huge departure from the source material. In the novels, Barristan does not fall to the Sons of the Harpy (that fight never happens at all). Instead, he continues to serve as Daenerys’s most trusted adviser throughout her troubled reign in Meereen.
In the books, Daenerys faces the two-pronged threat of an invading army from Yunkai (the city Dany sacked on her way to Meereen), and insurrection from within the city itself through the enigmatic Sons of the Harpy.
Daenerys is later removed from the picture when Drogon returns and flies her away. In her absence, Hizdahr zo Loraq (a character that’s also been heavily revised for the TV show) seizes power, although Barristan and Grey Worm refuse to acknowledge his authority. Suspecting that Hizdahr zo Loraq attempted to orchestrate Dany’s death before her departure, Barristan even goes as far as to arrest him, before personally taking command of Meereen’s army to defend against the Yunkish.
The most recent novel ends with Barristan leading his army to meet Yunkai’s forces in the field. Given what we just saw last night, we may have a few inklings on how that turns out for him…
What about Grey Worm?
Likewise, Grey Worm is never injured in a fight with the Sons of the Harpy in the books. Instead, he continues to lead Dany’s Unsullied, and backs Ser Barristan over Hizdahr zo Loraq after Dany’s disappearance. Grey Worm becomes Barristan’s closest ally in the plot to remove Loraq from power, and goes on to become a member of the ruling council of the city while they await Dany’s return.
Given what we saw last night, I’m guessing that Grey Worm makes it out of this one, and roughly takes on the role that Barristan did in the novels.
That’s just speculation though, and as we just saw, the TV series has absolutely no qualms about making huge departures from the source material. At this point, your guess on how it will all play out is as good as any.