Everyone who’s shocked that Theon Greyjoy survived another Game of Thrones season, raise your hand. Now keep it up there if you’re still stymied as to whether a single, final season is enough to reshape and redeem the guy into someone worthy of the Stark or Greyjoy surnames. Or of the others' time. Or of yours.
Yes, the beleaguered, rheumy-eyed redhead helped usher Sansa Stark out of Ramsay Bolton’s clutches, but that entailed a death-defier jump that I'm not sure either believed they'd survive. And yes, he did eventually return to his birthplace in the Iron Islands to shoulder up with his badass, sexually fluid sister Yara and at least try to act Greyjoy-ful.
If loving these two is wrong, we don't want to be right. Right?!
But when the going got shockingly tough, the tough—that would be Yara Greyjoy—fought worthy of some cheesy superhero special effects until she was overtaken by her turncoat uncle Euron, badly bloodied and chucked in a dungeon—the last we saw of her. And Theon? Young Theon leapt in the drink, rescued this time by Iron Islanders who firmly believe Yara’s baby brother is better off as shark bait.
Or is he?
After a sound season-finale talking to by Jon, the other Stark who is only half a Stark (and has no bloomin' idea what his other rightful surname affords him)—the lad who had his man parts gruesomely removed by Ramsay Bolton decided to nut up anyway, take Jon’s advice about earning his names and be the hero Yara needs. (Or does she?)
Turns out Ramsay ultimately did the guy a favor in that regard.
When a burly, surly Iron Islander name Harrag decided he’d had enough of little Thee-Thee tagging along—never mind barking orders at him and expecting him to listen—he delivered a knee to Theon’s nether region. Through the magic of television, it seemed to barely sting.
But it also served to remind Theon that he could take a blow and remain standing. That he could be the victor at the end of the fight. And for the first time since his capture by the Boltons, Theon gets a legion—albeit a small one—of men to accept him as a leader. Or at least his mission to go rescue Yara, anyway. It's a start.
So now what?
When Season 8 does dawn, I'd like to suggest that someone immediately hand Theon a crossbow—the guy was always lethal with one of those and I'm guessing he could pick it back up and see himself fit as a warrior again, which is so, so key. Robb Stark once valued his input in matters of war, so perhaps Jon and Dany might be willing to do the same if Theon proves himself and returns the legit Greyjoy leader to the collective fold.
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Or just for fun, since the better Greyjoys have vowed themselves to Daenerys and her army of unsullied, what say we pair Theon with a noble warrior mentor able to make war but not love in Greyworm? it could work.
Ultimately, the Season 7 finale was all about the power of family, the importance of your name and knowing who and what you stand for (ain't that right, Arya and Sansa?) as armageddon looms. As Arya, Sansa, Bran and Jon all claim their noble place in the cruelest of worlds, affording the other, other Stark brother the chance to atone—both as a Stark and as a Greyjoy—could avenge Ned Stark best of all. And be the very reason Theon was pulled from the sea.