Bran Stark is the man with the plan to defeat the Night King, and there couldn’t be a better time for it. With the White Walkers finally arriving at Winterfell at the end of the second episode of Season 8, all hopes currently lie on Bran’s plan to draw out the Night King and allow someone to kill him.
We know next week’s episode is going to be the epic Battle of Winterfell and that apparently it will make history as the longest sequential battle scene to ever be committed to film. But with three more episodes of Season 8 after that battle, it seems safe to assume that the Night King might not go down as easily as Bran, Jon, and Daenerys may hope.
First, let’s recount Bran’s plan: he is going to use himself as bait by waiting in Winterfell’s Godswood near the Weirwood heart tree, hoping that his presence there will draw out the Night King from his army so that Jon or someone else can destroy the White Walker’s leader once and for all.
According to Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven is the Night King’s number one priority among the Army of the Living because the Three-Eyed Raven is the keeper of the world’s stories, and once he is dead, the legacy and history of the Seven Kingdoms are gone with him. As Bran says, “He’s tried before, many times with many Three-Eyed Ravens.”
The Night King’s ultimate goal is to create the “Endless Night,” to erase the world of men and, by destroying the Three-Eyed Raven, destroying its memory. Bran finally brings up the often-theorized-about fact that the Night King marked him seasons ago, which means the Night King knows where Bran is at all points in time. “I need to lure him into the open before his army destroys us all,” Bran says. Theon volunteers himself and the Iron Born — who had better be armed with some Dragonglass — to stay by Bran’s side and protect him.
In theory, it’s a good plan to get the Night King out into plain sight. But there could be more to Bran’s location choice than it just being easily wheelchair accessible. We found out back in the Season 6 episode “The Door” how the White Walkers were originally made by the Children of the Forest: the Children bound a man (presumably, the man who became the Night King) to a Weirwood tree and plunged a piece of Dragonglass into his heart, thus causing him to be turned into the blue walking ice man we now know today.
Could the secret to destroying the Night King be as simple (or, simple in storytelling terms) as recreating that moment? Could Bran be drawing the Night King to the Weirwood tree so that Jon (or anyone else with a Dragonglass/Valyrian steel blade) can plunge their special weapon into his chest, pinning him to the Weirwood tree and undoing everything that came before? Could the end of the White Walkers and the wights not be through death, but a reversal of a cruel fate the Children inflicted on the White Walkers many years before?
It’s a concept that fans have been theorizing about for years, and one that would be fitting to Game of Thrones’ style of storytelling. The White Walkers weren’t evil to begin with; they were men turned into weapons by the Children to destroy the First Men, who were threatening the Children’s home. Three-Eyed Bran often doesn’t reveal all of the information he knows to his rapt audience — case in point, only dropping “The things we do for love” to let Jaime know that he remembers being pushed out of the window, but not revealing that detail to the rest of Daenerys’s court. So there almost certainly is more to his decision to lure the Night King to Winterfell’s Weirwood, even if our theory about him being stabbed with a Dragonglass weapon doesn’t prove to be true.
The real question is whether or not destroying the Night King will be enough to destroy his horde. We learned in Season 7’s “Beyond the Wall” that the White Walkers seem to abide by vampire rules, where killing the White Walker who made a pack of wights is enough for them to no longer be reanimated. Does the same logic extend to the White Walkers themselves, as in, if the Night King falls, would all the White Walkers he made fall with him? Or does Jon and Daenerys’s army need to defeat each of the White Walkers seen at the end of this episode to fell the Army of the Dead?
It seems more likely than not that the gang won’t destroy the Night King in the next episode, but that doesn’t mean that the plan of trying to pin him to a Weirwood tree (literally) won’t play a key role in defeating this threat. It was a bit surprising to learn that no dragon ever tried to kill a White Walker in the many battles with the Night King that have raged before. Hopefully someone at least tries before the end of Game of Thrones, even if that plan doesn’t work.
As for the idea that the Three-Eyed Raven is the only one who is the keeper of the stories of Westeros, Sam seems rightfully concerned and backs up Bran’s assumption that the Night King would come straight for the Three-Eyed Raven. That moment adds interesting fodder to the theory that Sam will be the person to finish Archmaester Ebrose’s book “A Chronicle of the Wars Following the Death of King Robert I,” which will inevitably be called “A Song of Ice and Fire” after Jon, Daenerys, the Night King, and those fire-breathing dragons.