My predictions: What will happen in the final season of Games of Thrones

The seventh and final season of Game of Thrones begins tonight. It’s one of the least predictable plots in television history, but as the show starts, I’d like to try to predict what’s going to happen.

This kind of prediction would not be possible were the final season based on a book by George RR Martin, but television series obey calculations aimed at pleasing audiences.

Other writers have pointed out a pattern that has emerged over the past six seasons. A major character dies in the first episode. There is the big battle in the second-last episode.

At least, there won’t be a cliffhanger to bring us back to the next season. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be foreshadowing, or some elements that point to possible futures for the characters that survive.

So this is what I think will happen.

The first major character to die will be, I believe, Brienne. Jorah Mormont will die—that’s a safe bet, because he has that creeping skin disease from two seasons ago. But he’ll die fighting for his beloved Daenerys.

Cersei will die, and the television audience around the world will cheer. Jamie Lannister will die, as well.

Bron will survive, because he is a survivor.

Tyron will survive—because he’s the most popular character in the show.

I have a bad feeling that Podric Payne will die horribly.

Sandor Clegane, the Hound, will kill his brother, the Mountain, in a final confrontation that’s been building up since the first season.

The big battle

The coming battle is no secret: the Night King and his White Walkers and army of dead will sweep down from the north, opposed by Jon Snow and Sansa Stark’s armies. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen will invade with her armies of Unsullied, Second Sons, Dothraki and, of course, dragons.

So the final war will be between the dragon fire and the ice of the Night King—the “Song of Ice and Fire” that is the actual title George Martin gave his series.

The three dragons will die, somehow killed by the Night King, but they’ll kill him, too. Jon Snow, whom we now know is not Ned Stark’s son, will be killed in the final battle, but his efforts will ensure that his cousin Sansa becomes independent Queen in the North, and that the living are victorious. Daenerys will win the Iron Throne.

And at the end will be a scene with another clutch of dragon eggs, to say “there is still room for more stories in this world.”

Agee? Disagree? What’s your prediction?

Who’s going to die this half-season of 24?

I’ve been a fan of 24 since it launched. It’s never failed to deliver a season of 24 hours (minus commercials) of riveting television that leaves you breathless. So you know where my butt will be for the next 10 Monday nights: on the couch in front of my TV set for the half-season. I wonder: should we now call it 12?

Writers and TV producers like formulas that work. Even 24 follows a formula: only Jack Bauer can save the world, but he has to defeat not only  the bad guys, but the authorities, too. Even though he has saved the world eight times in a row, even after proving he’s a good guy each time, even after showing the doubters that they were wrong eight freakin’ times, the authorities just want to lock  him away.

There are other pattens I have noticed, too, after watching eight seasons of Jack Bauer saving America and the world. Based only on the experience and my gut feelings, I boldly make some predictions about the coming season.

Who will turn out to be a traitor:

Steve Navarro,the man in charge of the CIA branch in London, played by Benjamin Bratt. What tipped me off: when he orders super-agent Kate Morgan to leave the field facility immediately, instead of waiting out the term of her job, and says “I really am trying to help you.” Help you stay alive when this place blows, he means.

Mark Boudreau, President Heller’s Chief of Staff, because he’s in the most potentially damaging position for a traitor to be. Plus, he’s married to Jack’s long-time love, Audrey, TV’s most annoying returning character. Can she not close her lips?

Who will turn on Jack:

Chloe, of course. Who has more reason to?

Who will turn out to be the indispensable, unforeseen hero:

Chris Tanner, the drone pilot. He won’t be just a victim, because he has too many skills, he’s too smart and he’s determined to set things right.

Who will die:

Erik Ritter, the guy who wants Kate Morgan’s job and taunted the handcuffed Jack Bauer. He thinks he’s better than he is, and he’s determined to prove himself. He’s just going to get in front of a bullet, but not before causing a lot of damage to his own side.

Jordan Reed: Chloe’s boy Chloe. He’s too nice.

President Heller: He’s dealing with incipient Alzheimer’s, his health isn’t perfect, he takes a bunch of pills and he’s heroic. He’ll do something that gets him killed around episode 9.

Mark Boudreau: Because we all hate him.

I didn’t catch his name and cannot find it online, but he’s Jack’s driver and assistant gunman in London. He has Friend of Jack Bauer Syndrome. It’s fatal.

Half of Chloe’s goth hacker group. Because Jack was once in the same room with them, thus infecting them with the same ailment that will kill the Jack’s driver.

About three dozen British and American police officers and soldiers. Because that’s just what happens when Jack Bauer’s in town.

Those are my predictions. Now let’s see how accurate I was in 10 weeks.

True Detective: A TV show writers can learn from

Image from HBO’s True Detective opening
I know, it’s been more than a week since the conclusion of this innovative show aired. But I’ll argue that I have let my impression process in the back of my mind, and now I’m ready to make a more carefully considered evaluation.

True Detective, in case you missed it, was an eight-episode series on HBO starring Woody Harrelson as Detective Marty Hart and Matthew McConaughey as Detective Rust Cohle, investigating a series of ritualistic murders. Through the series, the two detectives pursue clues that lead them to a group of “devil worshippers,” who abuse and kill children from poor, marginalized communities, including prostitutes, as part of their rituals. While the geographic setting stayed on the Louisiana coastal plain, the series jumped between three time periods: 1995, when Rust Cohle, the new guy on the force, joins partner Marty Hart; 2002, when the partners fraught relationship finally breaks down almost irreconcilably and Cohle leaves the police force and Louisiana; and 2012, when on Cohle returns to Louisiana in pursuit of the same cases he had started on in 1995, which leads to an internal police investigation.

The mystery begins with the discovery of a murdered girl, 

her body blindfolded and tied in a praying position in front of a tree. Antlers are tied to her head and strange symbols are painted on her back. Clues lead to a similar cold case from years earlier, and the detectives then find the same symbols on the bodies painted on the wall of a ruined rural church.

McConaughey’s character, Rust Cohle, took extensive
notes during his investigations. He created a believable,
if emotionally damaged persona.

As the episodes progress, the clues seem to point to involvement of preachers, politicians and other prominent men in the area. A preacher, Billy Lee Tuttle, attempts to take the investigation away from Hart and Cohle in favour of a special task force to investigate anti-Christian crimes. 

The series jumps between 1995 and 2012, with occasion glimpses into 2002. The main visual clue is hair: while Harrelson only has to remove his toupee to age, McConaughey goes from a typical cop haircut to shaggy hippie/dirtbag look, with full handlebar mustache.

The strength of the show was the writing. 

The plot was sharp and engaging, the characters flawed, vulnerable and absolutely believable. The dialogue was genuine and perfectly credible. 

Even though the time setting kept changing, it was never hard to keep track — the hair was one visual clue, but that was the least of it. The dialogue and the progression of the story always made it clear what era we were watching. Every scene made me want to see the next one, even though the subject, ritualistic sexual child abuse, was the toughest imaginable.

The story actually reminded me of two things: one was the actual police investigation in Cornwall, Ontario, of a pedophile ring including priests and other community leaders who shared their victims; and the other is an excellent book by Gae-Lynn Woods, Devil of Light, a mystery set in east Texas with a plot very similar to the first season of True Detective.

The only downfall to True Detective was the final episode. 


I cannot believe I just told part of my audience to stop reading my review. Ah, well.

The whole show seemed to be building up to the two cops busting open a decades-long scandal, a ring of men, including some prominent and “respectable” community and state leaders, kipnapped, abused, raped and murdered children, then covered it all up. But when Cohle and Hart find the centre of the abuse ring, the abandoned “Carcosa,” they only find two men, neither of them prominent or powerful. There is a satisfyingly gruesome final fight scene, the bad guys are killed and the good guys vindicated.

But it felt, to me, like a cop-out. 

The evidence implicated powerful, rich men in the state, including senators, religious leaders and teachers, but none of those were ever caught. There is a throw-away line: “We didn’t get them all,” one detective says to the other at the end. “No, but we got some,” is the reply.

In the final episode, the heroes take the battle to the enemy’s lair. But what the heck is this thing?

While that may be more authentic — the Project Truth inquiry certainly did not lead to widespread convictions in Ontario. But it’s not satisfying from a storytelling point of view. As a viewer, I want tom find the villain, and I want to see him/her/them if not defeated, then  at least some kind of acknowledgement. True Detective alluded to the villain, and then forgot about them in the final episode, where the story becomes more of a straightforward cop shoot-em-out.

In sum, True Detective was an excellent series: engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking. Well worth watching live or recorded — and a lesson for anyone who wants to know what good writing is.