Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 3, “The Long Night.”
As we head into the second half of the final season of Game of Thrones, our heroes have braved one of two large wars that have been set up over the course of the series. With the great war against the undead over, there are more major survivors than expected, but the heroes’ numbers have been significantly reduced by the incredible onslaught of wights. Now, Daenerys will presumably march south on King’s Landing to claim the Iron Throne, but her forces (and her claim to the rulership of Westeros) have been severely weakened over the past few episodes. In the epic fight against Cersei that’s still to come, who has numbers on their side?
Thankfully, some industrious Redditors have paid a lot of attention in the past seasons, and tracked what we know about Daenerys’ and Cersei’s army sizes. Prior to the Battle of Winterfell, Daenerys had approximately 10,000 Northerners, 10,000 from the Vale, less than 8,000 Unsullied, and less than 100,000 Dothraki (a number Jorah quotes in season 6). We saw what was apparently all the Dothraki extinguished by wights, and we know that the Unsullied and Jon’s forces also suffered heavy casualties. The battle episode, “The Long Night,” was shot in such a dark, confusing way that it’s hard to take a final count of the survivors, but we know at least these folks survived: Jaime, Brienne, Daenerys and both her living dragons, Arya, Gendry, The Hound, Jon Snow and his direwolf Ghost, Podrick, Samwell Tarly, Tyrion, Tormund, Sansa, Grey Worm and what’s left of the Unsullied, Missandei, Varys, and presumably any Dothraki who managed to survive the first wave of wights. We barely saw any other Northerners left in the fight, but Daenerys can likely scrounge up a few thousand for her army.
The real key to the second battle will be the two dragons and the fighting prowess of Arya, Jon Snow, Brienne, and any of Dany’s remaining army from Essos. We also haven’t seen Bronn yet, although he was sent on an assassination mission to finish off Tyrion and Jaime. But if they survive him, they could also complicate Cersei’s plans, given how well they know her.
On Cersei’s side, she’s got 20,000 strong from the Golden Company (at a heavy cost to the Crown), a small Lannister army that’s probably less than 10,000 soldiers, and around 30,000 Ironborn from Euron. She also likely has more ships than Daenerys, given that Euron built 900 ships, as revealed early on in season 7. Before the Battle of Winterfell, Cersei’s army would have been overwhelmed by the massive number of Dothraki soldiers — but now she has the numbers advantage. It looks like her decision to be devious and selfish by not sending her army north to fend off the undead has worked out well in her favor. That’s a little disappointing: Jon previously made out the White Walker threat to be the serious danger to Daenerys, but it now seems that she was correct when she said Cersei was the real enemy.
Somewhat hard to reconcile the metaphor for climate change with Cersei totally ignoring the White Walker threat and suffering zero negative consequences for that
— Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt) April 29, 2019
Besides numbers, Cersei could also have more wildfire, besides the stores she used to blow up the Sept of Baelor in season 6. And then there are Qyburn’s experiments in necromancy, which brought back The Mountain from the dead. We’re also likely to get the long-awaited Cleganebowl, where the Clegane brothers face off — The Hound spent half the latest episode panting in panic after coming too close to fire, due to the trauma The Mountain inflicted on him as a child, but he apparently survived the battle. And the Mountain will definitely be by Cersei’s side as a powerful chess piece in her army.
Still, with the army of the undead wiped out, and most of the major heroes still alive, including two Targaryens to ride two large, ferocious dragons, Cersei doesn’t have an easy fight ahead of her. If the past season and a half have been any indication, it seems like the good guys are set to prevail on Game of Thrones, even if it comes at some cost.
Correction April 29th, 1:20AM ET: This article was corrected to reflect that Daenerys’ 100,000 Dothraki forces have suffered casualties in past battles and have likely seen their numbers diminish.