Warning: This post discusses potential spoilers for Game of Thrones' eighth and final season.
"He's sailing with his fleet to Essos, he's going to ferry the Golden Company back here to help us win the war for Westeros."
In Game of Thrones' season seven finale, Cersei told Jaime all about her master plan to betray her truce with Daenerys, by sending Euron Greyjoy to Essos to pick up the 20,000 person strong mercenary force known as the Golden Company. Now some of Game of Thrones' latest casting news out of the Realm indicates the untrustworthy Euron will not only return with the famed fighters in tow, they'll be sticking around long enough to be involved in either a big battle or a big betrayal. But their appearance could also mean a sellsword we already know well might also make his way to the Seven Kingdoms to help save his queen.
Watchers on the Wall reports that Marc Rissmann (The Last Kingdom, Into the Badlands) has been cast as Harry Strickland, the leader of the Golden Company in the novels. It looks like this announcement was supposed to be kept a secret though, because both his agency and his Spotlight CV have since deleted the news after posting it.
But the dragon is out of the pit on this one, and it might reveal just how big a role the Golden Company will play in the final season. That's because when Rissmann will be needed on set points to when Cersei's paid soldiers will be called on.
This was the casting notice Watchers on the Wall reported about back in September, which Rissmann fits to a tee.
GoT is looking for a Mercenary, aged 35 – 50. He’s described as an authoritative, fit, cool and charismatic military type. He’ll be appearing in 2 episodes of season 8. The role requires he be able to ride a horse- no surprise for a mercenary on Thrones! The actor will be rehearsing in October, filming the week commencing December 11th, and then once again in May and June of 2018.
It wasn't clear at the time this was for Harry Strickland, because the physical description is nothing like the squat, balding, somewhat-cowardly Strickland of the novels. But HBO has never been shy about casting better looking versions of book characters for the show, so that's not a problem. What's really important about this being for Harry Strickland though isn't how he looks, or even that the Golden Company is really coming to Westeros, but when Rissmann will be required on set.
HBO is so worried about the series' ending being spoiled they are shooting multiple false finales. So, it's not hard to imagine they'll be shooting the show's ending as late as possible, some time next summer. If Harry Strickland will be filming as early as December, we would bet Euron will return to Westeros with him and the Golden Company in one of the first couple (of six) episodes.
And if Rissmann needs to come back five or six months later for his next appearance, that would indicate Harry Strickland not only stuck around near King's Landing for a long time, but that the Golden Company will be there for whatever enemy Cersei ends up facing, likely on the battlefield.
That massive battle could be part of the War for Westeros Cersei specifically wanted the Golden Company for, or to fight the White Walkers who have made their way south. Either way, those 20,000 fighting men will be needed to earn their money.
Although Cersei might not be able to depend on them, because who knows if they'll be willing to stick around or fight when they realize their enemy is either a) a lady with two dragons or b) the army of the dead with a dragon. The Golden Company has a great track record of honoring their contracts, but when it comes to mercenary forces, people are rightfully wary of how reliable they will be when it matters.
In the novels Illyrio Mopatis says, "Sellswords will not stand against Dothraki screamers," so who knows how they'll do against dragons or zombies. Even Cersei herself says, "Loyal sellswords are rare as virgin whores." There's not a whole lot of faith in soldiers who are only loyal to their bank account, and we're pretty sure the Night King doesn't pay his wights.
Either the Golden Company will be there at the end to fight Cersei's war, or they'll doom her by running when the enemy shows up.
There's something else this casting news might tell us though, and it has to do with a sellsword we already know really well, Daario Naharis, and how he might also arrive for a big fight. There were some who thought he was a candidate to show up as the leader of the Golden Company since he was the leader of the mercenary force the Second Sons. It made a lot of sense, since we doubt his desire for constant adventure would keep him in
Slaver's Bay the Bay of Dragons as a peacekeeper for long, even though that's what Daenerys ordered of him.
But now that we know Harry Strickland is showing up in Westeros, it seems even more likely Daario will end up there, too. The Golden Company going to the Seven Kingdoms is the kind of news that will spread like wildfire across the whole world. When Daario learns about it he'll know it won't be a positive development for Daenerys. She doesn't hire people to fight for her, nor does she need the manpower since she commands every single Dothraki.
The Golden Company and their impossibly high price tag would only be contracted by someone rich who opposes Daenerys, so without being told Daario will know they are fighting for Cersei Lannister. And for a man who loves his queen and swore his sword to her, there will only be one place for him to go, Westeros. (It's doubtful she'd view that as him betraying her orders.)
We don't expect Harry Strickland to suddenly become an important character on Game of Thrones, not with only six episodes left in the series. But it does look like the Golden Company will play an important role in how it all ends for Cersei--good or bad. And his appearance in the Seven Kingdoms makes it a good bet Daario Naharis will show up for a big showdown, too.
Although considering his romantic past with the Mother of Dragons, who knows if that will end up being with Jon Snow instead.
What do you make of this casting news? What does it mean for the final season? Share your best ideas with us in the comments below.