Editor's note: 'Game of Thrones' will return in 2019 for its final season on HBO. To help fill the void in all our lives now, when the series usually airs, we thought it would help to theorize how the show will end. Over the coming weeks, we'll run a series of "'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Theory" articles for your consideration. This is the third article in the series: (1)(2)
"Highgarden bought us the most powerful army in Essos — the Golden Company — 20,000 men, horses, elephants, I believe."
At the very beginning of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen and her brother Viserys are living in exile with Ilyrio Mopatis, a Magister of Pentos, across the Narrow Sea in Essos. Ilyrio is only seen in a few episodes, but his impact on the events of the series is far reaching. It is Ilyrio who arranges the marriage of Daenerys to Khal Drogo. It is Ilyrio who gifts Daenerys three dragon's eggs on her wedding day. And it is Ilyrio who tells the Spymaster of King's Landing, Lord Varys, all this information and more.
Ilyrio Mopatis is one of the people in league with Varys to restore Daenerys Targaryen to the Iron Throne. He's arguably Varys' chief influencer in Essos, at least that we know of. As Magister of Pentos, he's also a very rich man and that means power. We know little about him, in truth, but in his short time on the show, Ilyrio has proven to be a veritable kingmaker while supporting the Targaryen family. His connections to Varys and Daenerys may come into play once again.
"Abandoned" by her brother and lover, Jaime, Cersei Lannister currently occupies the Iron Throne, ruling virtually alone. She makes a deal with the "foreign whore" Daenerys Targaryen to pause their conflict until the Great War is won. Lannister troops will head north to fight the Army of the Dead. At least, that's what Cersei says.
Behind closed doors, Cersei reveals she has no intention of helping anyone. Her suitor, Euron Greyjoy, is currently en route to Essos to ferry a sellsword army called the Golden Company back to Westeros to fight for House Lannister. With the Company in tow, Cersei will wipe out whatever army survives the Night King and rule the Seven Kingdoms. At least, that's what Cersei thinks.
The Golden Company will arrive on Game of Thrones next season. That much is true. German actor Marc Rissmann (in photo at right) has been cast as their leader, Harry Strickland. However, that doesn't necessarily mean Cersei will get her army.
If there's one thing Game of Thrones has taught us about sellswords it's that they usually fight for the highest bidder, but there are exceptions (Daario Naharis, for example). Cersei has the support of the Iron Bank, but money may not be enough to win the Golden Company's loyalty.
In A Clash of Kings, the second novel in The Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, the Golden Company was founded 100 years before the War of the Five Kings by Aegor Rivers, one of the bastard sons of King Aegon IV Targaryen, born after the First Blackfyre Rebellion. Strickland and many of the core members descend from the original founders, which means they have Targaryen blood.
The books also reveal the Golden Company's motto, "Our word is as good as gold." They've supposedly never broken a contract. So, with that mind, wouldn't it be surprising if they did just that? In the books, Strickland refuses a lot of money to join a campaign against Daenerys. Knowing their history, it seems unlikely the Company would fight against a Targaryen. Perhaps they could be swayed to the other side by someone who knows The Mother of Dragons, and believes in her.
Lord Varys has no direct connection to the Golden Company, but his history of greasing the gears of the machine cannot be ignored. His friendship to one of the most influential men in Essos, Ilyrio Mopatis, cannot be ignored. And his dream of seeing Daenerys rule Westeros cannot be ignored. The Spider could easily swing a backroom deal through Ilyrio to win the Golden Company's favor, and hand Daenerys an army of 20,000 while crippling Cersei's hope for the future. Melisandre says Varys will die in Westeros. This could be the Spider's big moment before he does.