(Spoilers ahead for the fifth episode of Season 8 of “Game of Thrones”)
There’s a bit in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” books that didn’t make it into HBO’s “Game of Thrones” that has nonetheless been a big point of discussion for years among fans of both the books and the show: the prophecy, given to Cersei by a witch when she was young, that said that she would be killed by a “valonqar.”
“And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you,” the witch told her. “Valonqar,” if you’re not aware of this backstory, translates to younger brother or sibling (it’s a gender-neutral term).
Cersei in the books took this to mean that Tyrion would kill her, which fueled her paranoia about him throughout the saga.
Though that prophecy is absent from the show, it seemed likely that it would still apply because the death of a character as prominent as Cersei (Lena Headey) — which is reaching its conclusion before the book series — would almost certainly occur as intended by author George R.R. Martin.
And this week, Cersei’s death did finally occur, and it was, in fact, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) who was responsible because she rained dragonfire on the Red Keep in King’s landing and eventually it collapsed on top of Cersei. Dany could be the valonqar, since she is the youngest of the Mad King’s children and is thus a younger sibling.
But that’s probably not what the prophecy was foretelling. It appears, in fact, that the valonqar is Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Cersei’s twin brother who was born minutes after she was. Jaime did not murder Cersei, of course, so that would put this scenario firmly in a “certain point of view” kind of situation.
The key bit here is that Cersei was sobbing in her final scene, and Jaime had his hand on her neck as the life was choked out of her by the rubble of the Red Keep as it collapsed on her. This fits, just not in the way that you would probably have expected.
It’s important to keep in mind that the witch was certainly messing with Cersei to some extent, responding to Cersei’s scorn and general haughtiness. So the prophecy can be seen as technically true, but phrased in such a way as to maximize its impact on Cersei’s life.
It’s a fitting way for “Game of Thrones” to resolve the matter. Martin’s entire saga is about defying the sort of logic that you usually expect from a fantasy story like this, with prophecies that are either nonsense or play out in ways that are not immediately clear. Another recent example: Arya (Maisie Williams) being the one to kill the Night King despite the fact that she doesn’t seem to fit the concept of the Prince that was Promised.
“Game of Thrones” still has one more episode to pull something like this, with the series finale just a week away. It’ll be interesting to find out if it’s got any more tricks up its sleeve.