In 31 days, Game of Thrones will finally return. And 35 days after that, Thrones will end. In less time than it seemingly takes Littlefinger to zip around to every corner of Westeros, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will deliver a conclusion to the story George R.R. Martin first introduced 23 years ago—and in that precious time they’ll have to answer half a hundred pressing questions: Who will live? Who will die? Who will tell Jon he’s doing it with his aunt?
Separate from those series-shaping questions are countless smaller but still crucial details that the show may or may not explore in the final season. These are Thrones’ loose ends: the characters, places, events, prophecies and more that the story has made audiences wonder about over the past seven seasons but has yet to satisfyingly wrap up. In the run-up to the final season’s April 14 premiere, we’ll be digging through these loose ends, looking at why they matter and how they could affect the endgame as we count down the days to Thrones’ long-awaited conclusion.
The Loose End
In The Godfather, oranges foreshadow death. Vito Corleone is shot after shopping for oranges. He dies after peeling an orange. Oranges are on the table in the meeting of the five families, who later get merc’d. When the annoying guy who owns that terrific horse has dinner with Tom, there is an orange on the table. Next time we see him, BOOM—dead horse head in the bed.
Pie plays a similar role in Game of Thrones. Today is March 14, Pi Day (because the date is 3/14 and the first digits in pi are 3.14—you get it), and there is no better time to dive into how the entire Game of Thrones universe hinges on the most coveted food in the seven kingdoms. Consider the evidence:
- In the penultimate episode of Season 1, “Baelor,” a hungry Arya is desperately trying to trade a dead pigeon for a pie. (That’s an even worse trade offer than what the Giants got for Odell Beckham Jr.) The shopkeeper tells Arya to leave, and just a few moments later, she watches Ilyn Payne lop off her father’s head.
- At Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding in Season 4, Joffrey forcefully carves a massive pigeon pie with his brand-new Valyrian steel sword, killing one of the birds that was supposed to fly out (it basically looked like this). Minutes later, Joffrey dies.
- In the Season 6 finale, Walder Frey eats meat pie that turns out to be made of his own sons, whom Arya killed, carved, cooked, and served to Walder. Arya pulls off her disguise, slices Walder’s throat, and smiles as he bleeds to death.
- We don’t know what Tywin ate as his last meal, but he was on the toilet for a long time, and we all know what a second slice of pigeon pie does to the stomach.
Like the oranges in The Godfather, pie is a harbinger of death. However, like everything in Thrones, the rules aren’t that simple: Pie can also bring life, love, and family. When Brienne and Podrick are dining at the Crossroads Inn in their search for Sansa, they enjoy Hot Pie’s kidney pie so much they compliment him, and then politely listen as Hot Pie drones on about the importance of making gravy. Later, Hot Pie tells them that Arya is still alive, completely changing the course of Brienne and Podrick’s journey as they go looking for (and find) Arya.
A few seasons later, Arya stops at the inn on her way to King’s Landing to assassinate Cersei. At the inn, she reunites with Hot Pie, eats plenty of pie, and makes a point of telling him it is delicious (and he makes it a point of telling her how important browning the butter is). Hot Pie, clearly flattered, tells Arya that the Boltons are dead and her family controls Winterfell again. Arya is stunned, and she reroutes from King’s Landing (a journey motivated by death) to Winterfell (a journey motivated by love). In her next scene, Arya finds Nymeria, the direwolf she hadn’t seen in 60 episodes.
That makes pie a little more complicated than oranges. Game of Thrones is about choices, and the most important choices a person can make concerns how they treat their fellow humans when pie is involved. In the Thrones universe, pie serves as a Harry Potter–style sorting hat, but instead of choosing what building you live in at boarding school, it decides whether you live or die, and it separates the selfish from the selfless, the kind from the cruel, and the happy from the hangry. When characters are dicks, like Joffrey or Walder, the universe summons their blood like Hot Pie summons nice browned butter for some dough. But when characters accompany the the pie in their stomachs with love in their hearts, they can be rewarded with newfound love, unexpected reunions, and renewed purpose.
In Season 7, there’s a jump-cut from Sam cutting off Jorah’s Greyscale to a pie at the inn, and the implication is clear: Pie heals all wounds as long as you send compliments to the chef.
Why This Loose End Matters
Do you care who will live and who will die? Then you care about pie.
How Season 8 Could Address It
It is well established that the central mystery of the final season of Thrones is who will eat pie, and whether those people will die or find love. If Jon and Dany get married, they may serve a pigeon pie at the reception like Joffrey and Margaery did. Perhaps they’ll choose to dine with the commoners on their wedding day in an act of generosity so grand that the gods would grant Dany the ability to have a child. But this is Game of Thrones, so there is a 94 percent chance that if there is a wedding, and there is pie, they will both be brutally slaughtered, or a dragon head will end up in their bed. Or perhaps the Valonqar prophecy will be fulfilled when Jaime and Cersei begin bickering while eating pie, just like their son (and possibly their father). Maybe the Night King will get so hungry while marching south that he’ll stop at the inn for a bite of pie and be so taken aback by Hot Pie’s attention to gravy and the familiar taste of browned butter (most people don’t have time, but it’s crucial) that he’ll remember what it means to be human. That’s how the show ends. With the Night King eating pie like the Avengers eating shawarma, he’ll choose to let humanity live rather than die. He’ll choose life. He’ll choose pie.