From: San Antonio, TX
Unless I am mistaken, the Golden Company has been paid for (I seem to recall that the Tyrell gold escaped the Loot Train massacre and made it to King’s Landing). Therefore, the 20k mercenaries are loyal to Cersei … so long as she is alive. Should she die, the Golden Company will have little motivation to fight - they are historically loyal to their patron, but probably not dumb enough to fight and die for a dead patron who has already paid them.
Moreover, having executed, double-crossed, or otherwise alienated almost all of the ladies and lords in the Seven Kingdoms, including her own Lannister cousins, and having lost any support amongst the common folk of King’s Landing (after the suspicious explosion in the Sept killed their populist religious leader and beloved Queen Margaery), Cersei is fresh out of friends, except Qyburn and the undead Mountain.
All of this means that once Cersei is dead, there will likely be no one in King’s Landing willing to take up her fight. Cersei is like the Night Queen of King’s Landing. Kill her with assassins and the resistance collapses.
This is the smart play for Daenerys, who has no Dothraki left, severely depleted Unsullied ranks, two wounded dragons, and exhausted/wary Northerners who are loyal to, and fight for, Sansa.
But, Daenerys time and again succumbs to impulse over reason (such as executing those who refuse to bend the knee after she defeats them in battle, or charging her dragons against the Wight masses instead of first locating the Knight King and undead Viserion or lighting the defensive trench with fire). She just lost the one person who knew how to counsel patience successfully (Sir Jorah Mormont). She no longer trusts Jon/Aegon, since discovering he holds the superior legal claim to the Iron Throne. And she no longer believes that her Hand is the wisest advisor in Westeros. I am not even going to try to predict what sudden impulse she is going to follow next, but it may well be her last.
I am going to go out on a limb and leave Jon/Aegon out of the contest for the throne. He was raised by Ned Stark to value personal oaths and undying loyalty to them. I still think that he takes his oath as a member of the Knight’s Watch seriously - including foreswearing any title. He will look back on the example of Maester Aemon Targaryen, who kept his oath rather than exercise his own claim to the Iron Throne. Indeed, Maester Aemon may have secretly known who Jon/Aegon really was and revealed his own story as an example to be followed. Besides, Jon/Aegon never wanted to be King of the North, much less King of Westeros.
Which leaves Sansa. Her character follows a classic theme in literature: a person who falls from position and undergoes severe adversity, growing into a leader who earns the respect and even love of those whom she ultimately leads.
Sansa learned to survive as a captive of Joffrey/Cersei, a captive in all but name of Littlefinger, and a captive of Ramsay Bolton. She intentionally made everyone underestimate her in order to stay alive, but also carefully observed and learned from all of her captors. Realizing that Jon was going to impulsively march on Winterfell with inadequate forces in an attempt to save Rickon, thereby falling into Ramsey’s trap, Sansa secretly made an alliance with Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vail, who saved Jon’s forces at the Battle of the Bastards. She nearly fell for Littlefinger’s final scheme to sow conflict between her and Arya, but was able to recognize it as almost the same plan Littlefinger had used to pit sisters Catelyn Star and Lysa Arryn against each other, ultimately precipitating the conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters.
Sansa expressed some defiance to Daenerys before the great battle; she could backpedal on this defiance in the short term, waiting for Daenerys to embark on some fatal impulse. Sansa seems to sense the pulse of the Northerners and may realize that no one wants more violent conflict in light of what has just happened.
So, if I were to make a prediction:
Daenerys gets Sansa’s acquiescence to lead what is left of the Northern armies and the Unsullied south, allying with the Tully forces at Riverrun (Jaime and Sansa convince Edmure Tully that it is in his best interest) to confront the Golden Company and Lannister army.
A battle of some sort results, with the still recovering dragons making up for the lack of numbers to trigger a stalemate. One dragon is lost, which causes Daenerys to fly into a rage, literally, riding the last dragon (probably Drogon) in a futile and fatal attempt to win the day.
In the meantime, Jaime, Bronn, and the Hound slip into King’s Landing to assassinate Cersei (I seem to recall that a witch told teenage Cersei that she would die at the hands of a loved one). However, the plan does not pan out (of course), and Arya deals one or more of the death blows, maybe while wearing Walder Frey’s face.
Sansa assumes the Iron Throne and brings peace at last to the people Westeros, who in turn love their red-headed queen who decides never to marry but be “wedded” to her people.
The Three-Eyed Raven tells Lord Commander Targaryen and Maester Tarly that he has discovered the Night Queen of ancient legend, living in the far north with her White Walker children (donated by Craster and his daughter wives) ….
A brilliant summary and position piece. I find your potential outcomes to be not only plausible, but probable. Great take on the series.