Game of Thrones season 8: Who are The Golden Company and why are they Cersei Lannister's key to the Iron Throne?

The Night King is just one of Jon and Daenerys' many problems

Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 16 April 2019 15:16 BST
Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 Preview

With the return of Game of Thrones comes the arrival of a new threat nobody has seen coming.

The threat in question - The Golden Company - has been mentioned on the show before, most notably in the final episode of season seven when Cersei (Lena Headey) seemingly agrees to a temporary truce with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in a bid to attempt to defeat the oncoming threat of White Walkers.

However, she later reveals to a distressed Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) that she plans to use this opportunity to her advantage with thanks to a mysterious group known as The Golden Company.

Earlier in the season, during an exchange with the Iron Bank’s Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss), Cersei said she needed help growing her army and highlighted that Qyburn (Anton Lesser) has been making “overtures” to the this mysterious group. She even sends Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) to bring a representative to King's Landing for discussions, which he does so in episode one.

So, who are The Golden Company?

The answer: a collection of 10,000-strong mercenary sellswords based in Essos. They were mentioned as early as season four, when Davos (Liam Cunningham) told Stannis (Stephen Dillane) to hire the group, stating that they had some of the most skilled fighters in the land. Furthermore, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) used to fight as part of them.

The Golden Company could be exactly what Cersei needs to provide her with a chance to keep the Iron Throne – and its fleeting mention can’t be coincidental especially considering its mention in George R.R. Martin’s source material is fairly crucial to its events.

IGN points out that the group was founded by Targaryen bastard Aegor Rivers, and – comprised of exiles from across the land – has one rather important member: Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar and Elia Martell who supposedly perished at the hand of Gregor Clegane (otherwise known as The Mountain) before the book series’s events even began. In the books, he was rescued by Jon Connington, a character whose storyline has (kind of) been handed to Jorah in the series.

While it's not expected Aegon - who would be the half-brother of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) - will be introduced with just five episodes to go, it's a sure bet that the group will cause huge problems for him as well as Daenerys when the Night King is out of the way.

Still, considering the majority of Aegon’s storyline has been handed to Jorah suggests he could have somehow intercepted Qyburn’s meet with The Golden Company, potentially luring them away from Lannisters towards Targaryen rule in the process.

A few months back, HBO released a bunch of one-sheets featuring all the major players going into the final season, but the one featuring Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has generated a theory surrounding the character’s fate.

The final season of Game of Thrones continues every Sunday. You can watch the updated new opening title sequence here.

You can find our extensive ranking of every episode – from the worst to best – below.

The show will be available on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK.

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