This week, Dany freaked Tyrion out and made him question his life choices when she had both Randyll and Dickon Tarly burned alive by dragon fire as a show of force. But one person who's life choices might have been altered even further, had someone seen fit to tell him before he left the Citadel: Samwell Tarly. With his father and brother gone, Sam is now the head of House Tarly on Game Of Thrones.
Well, technically he isn't at the moment because he hasn't renounced his Night's Watch vows. The entire reason Randyll sent Sam to the Night's Watch was so he would take those vows, be pulled out of the line of succession, and leave Dickon as his heir. But with both men gone, and no other male Tarlys to step up, Sam could easily wander away from those vows (or be released from them) and head back south to the Reach.
It wouldn't be too big a move at this point. He's already taken Gilly as a wife, in all but name, which is also a vow breaker. Sam's loyalty isn't to the Wall anyway. (Which is coming down sooner rather than later.) It's to Jon Snow. Sam's not heading back to the Wall now that he's leaving Oldtown. He's either heading to Winterfell or Dragonstone, whichever he hears Jon's at first.
But what will Sam do when he finds out his father and brother are dead, and he can go claim House Tarly as his own? According to actor Jon Bradley, actually not much:
He's now technically head of House Tarly, whether he knows it or not, but I don't know if that would register with him. That's a previous Sam who doesn't really exist anymore. He's broken free of that. As soon as he took that Valyrian steel sword and walked out of Horn Hill, none of that mattered anymore. He's his own man now.
That sounds all well and good, doesn't it? Free of responsibilities of running a House of that size, or politics, and so forth. Good on you, Samwell!
But here's the thing: It's not just House Tarly we're talking about here. It's the entire Reach.
House Tyrell is dead. Cersei took out everyone but Olenna, and Jaime did her in a couple of weeks back. When a House that is the Warden of one of the Seven Kingdoms dies out like that, that Kingdom is passed to either the family that was their stewards, or the next biggest House in the area. (In most cases, these are the same family.)
This is how the Tyrell got to be the rulers of the Reach in the first place. When Aegon Targaryen came to conquer back in 3 BC, the Reach was ruled by House Gardener, who had done so since the First Men arrived in the Dawn Age. But their entire line was wiped out in the fight to defeat the Targaryens, and so control fell to their stewards (and the next house down), House Tyrell.
Guess who the stewards are of the Tyrells, and the next house down in succession? Go on, guess.
Samwell Tarly isn't just the heir to House Tarly. He's the heir to the House that rules the largest area of Westeros outside the North, and the "breadbasket" of the continent to boot. He is a VIP for anyone to get on her side in the war, and in controlling Westeros. Dany would very much like him to bend the knee when she finds out he exists, I'll bet.
But as Gilly read last night, Dany isn't even the proper Targaryen heir to the Seven Kingdoms. Jon is. And getting control of all of Westeros behind him to fight the Night King is his aim. What do you think he'll order Sam to do when he finds out his best friend from the Wall is now the Warden of the Reach and can put a massive part of Westeros behind him in that endeavor?
Sorry, Sam. Duty calls.