Fair warning, spoilers are coming. If you aren’t caught up with the Game of Thrones television series, I recommend not wasting time reading this when you should be watching the show.
Last Sunday’s episode, “Stormborn,” was full of amazing moments. Arya reunites with not just one but two old friends, Tyrion calls back to his Season 1 time with John Snow, and Sam makes a meta remark about how Archmaester Ebrose should retitle “The Chronicles of the Wars Following the Death of King Robert I” to something more “poetic” (like A Game of Thrones or A Song of Ice and Fire *wink wink*).
But perhaps the biggest moment of the episode came during the clash at sea between the divided Ironborn forces of Yara and Euron. It’s been over four seasons since the show’s last sea battle, season 2’s Battle of the Blackwater, and fans have eagerly awaited another boat-bound showdown.
The Battle of the Ironborn starts off with a bang as Euron drops onto his niece’s ship with a war hammer of a boarding ramp, his men quickly overwhelming her forces. Of course, Yara isn’t alone on this voyage; her brother Theon, Ellaria Sand, and the Sand Snakes, Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene are also on their way to Dorne. Well, they were on their way to Dorne. By the battle’s end, Yara, Ellaria and Tyene have been captured, Theon clings to a broken board drifting through the Narrow Sea, and Nymeria hangs by her own whip from the ship’s prow where Obara has been impaled. Not a very pretty picture.
Though it hasn’t been explicitly stated, Euron is surely going to be delivering his captives to Cersei in the coming episode. If not all three, at least Ellaria and Tyene. Which leaves many fans, myself included, wondering what will happen to Dorne without any clear leader. It has also led me to a theory and one I figured I better explain before “The Queen’s Justice” airs tomorrow night.
With the deaths of Obara and Nymeria, only two Dornish characters even remain alive in the series, Ellaria and Tyene. From the books, now-deceased Prince Doran has a daughter, Arianne, but since she hasn’t been mentioned this far into the show, she’s likely been written out entirely and his son Tristan died at the hands of the Sand Snakes last season. Oberyn, who would have been next in line for the throne, had already died during his battle with the Mountain leaving behind a litter of 8 bastard daughters though 5 of them have also been forgotten from the show like their cousin Arianne. Now, only Tyene remains. This leaves the lingering question as to who will rule Dorne if neither Ellaria or Tyene make it out of King’s Landing alive. There are simply no Dornish characters left.
Hold that thought and jump back to the Crownlands during Season 5, Episode 2 “The House of Black and White” when Jamie recruits Bronn to travel with him to Dorne. At the time, Bronn is walking with his betrothed Lollys Stokeworth when Jamie informs him that the betrothal is no more and that in exchange for his help rescuing Marcella, Bronn will receive a much better girl than Lollys, who has rights to a much better castle. In the books, Bronn left King’s Landing shortly after Tyrion flees for murdering Tywin, marries Lolly’s, never goes on the adventures we see him on with Jamie, and has removed Lollys’s elder sister Falyse from the Stokeworth family castle after killing her husband in single combat. But as of the start of season 7, Jamie still owes Bronn quite a lot. Maybe you can see where I’m going with this.
The chance is slim and hinges on several factors, but I think the show is setting up Bronn of the Blackwater to become Lord of Sunspear. For one thing, Bronn and Tyene seem to have a connection almost immediately fighting with one another during their initial meeting and their prison interactions speak for themselves. Seems pretty lucky that the one Sand Snake left alive is the one that clearly liked Bronn. If this connection was strong enough, just maybe Bronn will speak to Jamie in her favor. It would also be a strategic move on Cersei’s part. Though Bronn has no loyalty for Cersei, he is loyal to Jamie (or at least his gold and promises) who in turn is devoted heart and soul to Cersei. This would put someone Cersei can hold sway over at the heart of the wild southern kingdom of Dorne, a location seemingly every ruler of Westeros has struggled to control.
Compared with the books, show Tyene is often considered a combination of two of Oberyn’s daughters, Tyene and Elia. Book Tyene is Oberyn’s third eldest daughter born to a septa from the Reach and his only daughter born of an Andal woman. In the show, Tyene is instead Ellaria Sand’s eldest daughter, who in the books is named Elia Sand. This change was likely made as Ellaria is only mother to the four youngest Sand Snakes, all too young to plan a coup or murder their prince. Regardless of who her mother is, Tyene would appear to be Prince Doran’s eldest heir, even if she is his brother’s bastard.
Of course, Cersei is hungry for justice; Ellaria murdered her daughter Marcella after all. Which leads to the seemingly obvious conclusion of Cersei doing the same to Ellaria and taking her daughter from her right before her eyes. It would be a very Cersei thing to do. But it would also be a very predictable thing for Cersei to do and the show tries to steer away from predictable most of the time. All it would take would be for Jamie to advise her to make a decision in the name of strategy rather than revenge. Kill Ellaria for Marcella and force Tyene to swear Dorne’s allegiance to the Lannister’s.
Most would put points against the theory as Tyene is too strong willed and ferocious like her father for Cersei to let her rule Dorne. They wouldn’t be wrong. But unlike her sisters, Tyene still possesses an air of innocence about her, possibly enough to trick Cersei. Lady Olenna saw right through Tyene but Cersei lacks the Queen of Thorn’s wisdom. And this is where the marriage to Bronn would also come into play as wedding Tyene would make Bronn Lord of Sunspear and Prince of Dorne.
Bronn’s loyalties are stretched between the Lannister brothers, more specifically their gold. Though pledging allegiance to Cersei would make Tyrion his enemy, he’s traveled with Jamie for longer, fought by his side on more occasions, and knows that working for the crown has more potential for profit. This also clears Jamie of his debt to Bronn, Tyene is definitely a better girl for the sellsword than dull Lollys.
This theory clearly hinges on several big “ifs.” Cersei would have to let Tyene live, Jamie or Bronn would have to speak out in her favor, and Tyene would have to let go of her stubborn temper and pledge allegiance to the Lannister’s for all of this to fall into place. Plus, Lena Headey (Cersei) and Jerome Flynn (Bronn) reportedly won’t work together due to a breakup prior to being cast on the show. So this would all have to happen without Bronn or Cersei ending up in the same room as one another. But I’ll hold on to that 2% sliver of hope that maybe all the pieces of will slip into place and Bronn of the Blackwater will be Prince of Dorne and Lord of Sunspear. Until Sunday, all we can do it theorize.