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As Game of Thrones sprints toward the inevitable Battle of King’s Landing, we got a glimpse of every major character in episode four, and how their road to the present is going to shape the outcome of the series.

sansa1
Helen Sloan/HBO

Sansa Stark

As Arya said in episode one of this season, Sansa has become the “smartest person we know.” Every decision of hers seems calculated in a way that no other character seems to consider. Sansa spent three seasons under Littlefinger’s wing and as we saw when she revealed Jon’s secret to Tyrion, she’s using all her knowledge and deceptive skills to move up the ladder of power, because Lord Baelish was definitely right about one thing: “Chaos is a ladder.”

Remember that Lyanna made Ned “promise” to protect Jon’s identity on her deathbed and Ned kept that promise until the day he died. He was a man of honor. In this episode we saw Jon ask Sansa and Arya to make the same “promise” only to see Sansa break with honor and spill the beans to the first person who could help her create chaos. Sansa has proven through her actions in this episode to be more the child of Littlefinger than the child of Ned Stark, which is a scary thought.

We know that Littlefinger used to calculate every move by envisioning himself on the Iron Throne and asking himself if this helps get him closer to that goal. Could it be that Sansa has adopted his goal of sitting on the Iron Throne and is now making each of her decisions with that in mind?

She has one valuable ally that can certainly help her achieve whatever it is she’s after…

arya
Helen Sloan/HBO

Arya Stark

The Hero of Winterfell was conspicuously absent from the celebratory feast where everyone was toasting her and celebrating her heroism. We didn’t see Arya interact with anyone this episode other than Gendry and The Hound—both clear callbacks to her path on the Kingsroad. And in the end we see Arya and the Hound reunite on that same road they traveled together for two-plus seasons.

Arya has reverted back to her list, and is finally making her way to King’s Landing to finish the job she started back in season one: kill Cersei.

Given how close Arya and Sansa have become this season, it seems unlikely that Arya left without conferring with her sister. Sansa and Arya are likely working together to end Cersei’s reign. The real question that remains: What is their plan after Cersei is dealt with?

jon snow
Helen Sloan/HBO

Jon Snow

This episode, Jon seemed to revert back to the naive “you know nothing” version of himself. He’s too trusting of his sisters and he’s too trusting of Daenerys.

He’s walking into the lion’s den (literally) as a completely vulnerable character. He thinks Daenerys cares about him when, in fact, the truth is that she’s using him just like Sansa is using him and the truth of his identity to manipulate others.

Jon’s selflessness and trustworthy nature will be the downfall of him. It was alluded to far too much this episode, and his goodbye to all his friends seemed far too on-the-nose to be anything but a final farewell. It seems more than likely that Jon will die one way or another before all is said and done, like he did at the end of season five, naively believing that the people around him care about him, when the truth is: They resent him. “You know nothing Jon Snow.”

dany
Helen Sloan/HBO

Daenerys Targaryen

This whole season (but this episode specifically) has shown Daenerys’s descent into madness, reminiscent of her father, the Mad King.

She’s become power hungry and paranoid just as he did. She doesn’t trust anyone and is becoming fueled by nothing more than rage. She’s inspiring so much fear in those closest to her that it seems as if they’re now plotting against her, just like they did her father (who ended up being murdered by Jaime Lannister, a Kingsguard sworn to protect him). All signs seem to be pointing toward the “Mad Queen” seeing a similar end, murdered by those closest to her who were sworn to protect her—Tyrion and Varys, we’re looking at you.

jaime lannister
Helen Sloan/HBO

Jaime Lannister

Jaime may be the character who had the most obvious callback to his former self. He specifically says to Brienne that he isn’t a “good man,” and recites all the awful things he’s done in the past, including crippling Bran and murdering his cousin while he was held prisoner by Robb and Catelyn Stark.

He’s running back to Cersei as he has throughout the show, but it seems now he’s doing it with a different purpose: to murder her and fulfill the Valonqar prophecy that states Cersei will be murdered by her younger brother (they’re twins, but Jaime is actually a few minutes younger than Cersei, so it checks out).

In the first episode of the entire series, we saw Jaime attempt to murder a child to protect his own children. Could it be that in the final episode of the series, Jaime murders his own child (the unborn baby in Cersei) to protect the world?

cersei
Helen Sloan/HBO

Cersei Lannister

To me, the most pivotal scene that revealed this theme in all its glory was Cersei’s conversation with Euron about her pregnancy. It’s a direct reference to her deceit of her former husband, Robert Baratheon. She was impregnated by Jaime Lannister, but passed her children off as Robert’s. She’s now doing the same with Euron.

In conclusion…

All of the major players in Game of Thrones have unique stories that helped shape who each of them are. But now we’re seeing those backstories lead to the demise and rise of each of them. In Qarth, the Quaith said to Daenerys: “To go forward you must go back.” It seems now, more than ever, that prophecy was true of every character in the show.

Related: Game of Thrones’ Season 8, Episode 4 Recap: A Debt that Can't Be Repaid

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