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Always look on the bright side of life…
Jon’s tears would also be a lot more convincing if he hadn’t killed her himself. Literally X Men The Last Stand-ing it.
Also considering Drogon just barbequed most of KL they’re all remarkably blasé about the fact he’s out there on the loose with no human to restrain his base impulses and/or hunger.
Of course that plays into the wildly out of place tone whiplash from one half of the episode to the other. And the less said about the dialogue and framing, the better!
Yeah, the tonal whiplash was astounding.
I think the Unsullied rejected the offer to settle the Reach and were sailing to Naath (Missandei told Grey Worm that Naath “our people are peaceful and can’t protect ourselves).
Yes, that’s explicitly made. They’re off the Naath (presumably not to die because of butterflies in the show’s universe).
In the ending scenes I really wanted to see a bunch of heavily armed and very well trained mercenaries pull up to Naath and be like, “My ex- is from this town. We live here now.”
Yeah, I forgot to edit that when I was writing on the fly.
I guess it works? The Unsullied can defend the people who can’t defend themselves until they die…although I don’t know if Naath is big enough to support about 10,000 additional people.
Pretty sure they said they lost half the Unsullied at Winterfell so it would be less than 4000 new Naathians given they started with ~8000 and some also died in Essos and Kings Landing.
If Naath is too small, the extra men could defend other areas that similarly need protection.
This actually worked for me… before the Winterfell battle Missandei and Grey Worm had their “These characters are going to die tonight” conversation about how they’d return to Naath and live peacefully with the unsullied protecting her people. Him going there in her memory is sweet and the one part of his finale characterization that worked for me.
And now our watch is ended. I’m off to Moletown.
Considering the price of sacrifice is self not others like we had seen with successful rise of stoneheart and fail of Stannis we anticipate in books along with what we see in Dany hatching dragons, the idea that Jon would kill Dany to control some outcome for prophecy and that of Azor Ahai particular while Rhaegar and Melisandre fail doesn’t seem likely to me. Along with Westeros being intact enough for anyone be ruler of anything let alone Bran be King. I can see Bran be a leader to rebuild Westeros but King? Formally? Nah
To be honest i think beyond shuffling order of events they have also exchange the jaime-cersei ending with jon-daenerys. Jaime not jon dies with his lover as a fuck you against destruction while jon kills his lover queen seems blatantly exchanged ending theme to me.
Also would like to add i find it hard to see how tyrion and Jon would live if they are meant to be the last dragon riders with dany when she dies? How the heck she dies while these tqo somehow are able to treak back without dragons and not dying??
Honestly i feel your interpretation is way to generous. Thank you for review.
I’m not so sure that self = sacrifice. Yes, Dany walked into the flames, but she also placed Drogo’s body there as well as the eggs.
I do think that the themes in the books of the price of sacrifice point away from this kind of scenario, though. Stannis’s whole plotline is a testament to that. If Dany must die to end the war, she’ll do it herself. Jon will probably be with her when it happens. If anything my takeaway from this is that he might live – or get an ambiguous ending where he survives the final fight in the Heart of Winter and disappears into the snow.
Good stuff! I agree with some but disagree with others.
1. Not sure about Tyrion finding Jaime and Cersei’s bodies only because I’m not sure the logistics of it. If FAegon is the one who takes Kings Landing and Dany burns it because of him, what are Cersei and Jaime doing? I expect them to be already dealt with by the time Dany shows. Tyrion finding them and feeling some measure of guilt makes sense, but logistically not sure how in the books.
2. Not sure the Sansa thing is necessarily true. It only requires Rickon’s death, which isn’t crazy high. Bran seems likely to either accept the Iron Throne and remove himself from the North, or just remove himself from any real possibility of inheriting by staying north of the wall or generally just believing he’s not able to rule. Jon currently isn’t even eligible in the books; this is likely to change but I really don’t believe his endgame is to remain King in any way.
3. I don’t believe the Unsullied were settled in the Reach. It was a suggestion (which I don’t think gets made in the books) that was immediately shot down by Grey Worm, and then he left for Missandei’s homeland. Maybe I missed though where the other Unsullied accepted, that’s possible.
4. I’ve never thought for a second Bran becoming King was remotely likely, but both the show runners and GRRM have openly said they know the ending and have strongly implied their ending (in general at least, even if some aspects are different) is the same. I have a hard time believing after all that and claiming they know the ending they just made up their own and gave it to, of all people, Bran, a not terribly popular show character. If they intended to drastically change GRRM’s ending in terms of who is on the throne, I imagine they would have picked someone else. I don’t know how GRRM gets there (and maybe I’m wrong), but if that’s who they have as King in the end, I have to think that’s what GRRM told them.
5. I’m less sure about the North continuing as an independent kingdom but I do actually think it’s possible. Northern independence is a big deal in the books (obviously) and I do think it’s possible they decide to remove themselves. I’m not that certain of it, though.
1. As I wrote about in the linked piece, I think Cersei is trying to set off the wildfire to kill both Dany and Aegon and get back on top, and Jaime stops her.
2. Given that I don’t think Bran is accepting the Iron Throne in the books…
3. Yeah, didn’t edit this.
4. I think people over-estimate how much GRRM, a notorious gardener not architect, told the showrunners. Given the fact that the showrunners have talked about “three oh shit moments,” I think the bullet points were extremely narrow and focused on Jon, Dany, and Tyrion, with the rest of the characters up in the air.
5. Northern independence is a big deal, but it’s also way more complicated (the Riverlands issue) and more ambivalent. The show made it way too monolithic for my liking.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the book ending is something like, the kingdoms rule via a council, and Bran is sort of an informal advisor/guide, maybe even without their knowledge by remaining north of the wall or in Winterfell and kind of whispering in their ears via Weirwoods and other methods, nudging things to guide the kingdoms along. Making him King in the show is D&D attempting to translate that. I just don’t really see anyone who isn’t a Stark buying into the Magic Wheelchair Boy as someone they should listen to; especially, as you said, if the North doesn’t join them.
One thing the finale did convince me of is that Bran regains his humanity instead of fully losing himself as a new Old God or whatever Bloodraven is. It seems like, as Arya and Sansa will, he learns from his cold calculating mentor in Dance who wants him to become “someone else”, but then then turns back from the brink and combines those lessons (and his new character class 🙂 )with his identity as a Stark to help his family and humanity. I just thought of this after reading your post but it makes too much sense to not happen, in my opinion.
It’s still fun to drink the honey-sweet tears of all the Sansa haters, though. Mmm, delicious. Queen in the North!
have you read this article on the finale? https://ew.com/tv/2019/05/19/game-thrones-finale-interview-emilia-clarke/
it has some interesting takes from the crew. Clarke seems to have understand her character more than the writers ever did, she read the books after all, so she was disappointed with her arc understandably. what caught my eye the most was Cogman’s statement regarding Dany: “I don’t know if she’s a villain”. i understand where he’s coming from (or rather where he wants to go) but when you make a character slaughter thousands of people for no reason at all and completely out of the blue you’re not leaving any moral ambiguity. this a big reason why the show fell flat, we’re being told who are the good guys and who are the bad ones, we can’t make that judgement for ourselves.
Yeah, I did. I feel sorry for her (and quite a few of the actors) wrestling with what must feel as a betrayal.
A) “Bran the Broken” is _ugly_
B) “Bran the Rebuilder” was right there.
Using it once, during his “coronation”: Weird flex, but OK
Using it at every opportunity: WTF
Agree, but they haven’t done any setup work on Bran the Builder.
I don’t think Bran Stark becomes the King of Westeros.
I have to disagree there.
Benioff and Weiss very clearly have no interest in Bran as a character. The only reason this ending would have ever happened is because it’s GRRM’s ending and they adhered to it.
It makes even less sense in the books. Bran is not concerned with things of this world. He’s not the one who’s being set up for politics. He’ll be under 12 when the series concludes, a cripple, and a mage. Who the hell is going to put him as King of the Seven Kingdoms? Where is his powerbase? WHY?
I think D&D were just going for a “Stark fuck yeah” ending and decided to put him there since they needed something to do with him.
The writers would have put Sansa on the throne if it was their own choice, pretty clearly based on their attitude.
There have been a number of metas written in fandom over the years discussing the kingship elements in Bran’s arc. And he was left in charge of Winterfell early on. It’s not the most obvious arc, at least at this juncture, but there’s a lot of story left to tell
As to why, as a super-powerful magical being and presumably somebody who in the books will be a major factor in the Long Night, there are obvious ways to make it happen.
They DID put Sansa on a throne. And that one makes sense. Any Stark ruling all Seven Kingdoms is ridiculous, but no Stark doing so is more ridiculous than Bran. He’s never even been south of Winterfell.
And I’m sorry, but one of the things that always made this series so great and unique is the realism of people’s reactions. There is no scenario where the population of Westeros, low and high, are willingly going to accept a guy who *openly* practices sorcery ruling over them. Bloodraven was bad enough, and he kept it hidden and was only the King’s Hand.
Yes, so put her on the (figurative) Iron Throne instead. Moreover, with the Targaryens gone, the new ruler must needs be from some other house.
How about the scenario where the apocalypse happens and Westeros needs a super-wizard to save the day? The choice of king will inevitably be made by a small number of people, as well.
You’re not quite understanding: the show has given us an inherently contradictory ending in the political situation of Westeros. The North cannot be independent and ruled by a Stark at the same time there’s a Stark on the IT. It’s just nonsensical. If you’re buying that Sansa is indeed going to end up ruling the North in the books, as set up by her mastery of politics, statecraft, and intrigue that she’s clearly been set up for, then there is not going to be a Stark on the IT. And if Bran is going to rule the North, then Sansa’s political arc was entirely pointless and Bran’s supernatural one was apparently actually setting him up to rule. This is all leaving out the possibility that the Targs WON’T be gone in the books. Dany’s fertility and giving birth to a living child or children has been discussed too many times for there not to be payoff. There’s quite likely to be Baby Jonerys when the books end that will be the rightful ruler on the IT.
Being necessary to save the world doesn’t mean he’s the most important in doing so, or that his efforts will be appreciated. He’s not one of the three heads of the dragon. I honestly see his role being a crucial support, not a leader. In either the fight against the Others or the political situation.
Sansa doesn’t have to be a queen for there to be a payoff for her learning about politics.
There is really no time in the books for Dany to give birth to a living child.
Bran being on the throne is GRRM’s ending, one way or another.
Then why does it keep being foreshadowed? And why do you say there’s no time? How do you know how long the series will take? It could stretch out for several more years in universe.
The same way Arya becoming Leif Eriksson is? The same way Jaime and Cersei embracing one last time before they’re crushed by random rubble is? King Bran, like just about everything else this season, is D&D horseshit.
Bran in the books is much more concerned with things of this world than Show Bran!
Although I think Bran will end up in some sort of leadership role by the end of the books. It would probably be more of a spiritual leader than a monarchical one. Personally I think its impossible for him to actually be king because the way I see it, in the books he will be tethered to the Heart Tree as Bloodraven’s successor. That’s where he will remain until another gifted greenseerer comes along to takes his place. Therefore he has absolutely no chance of gaining power beyond the weirwood net.
While the circumstances will be different, I’m certain Bran is leaving the cave. Among other things, Dark Sister has to be taken south, and we know that some sort of “hold the door” moment is happening.
I actually do agree here. Bran is going to leave the cave. Dark Sister is going to return to Westeros being wielded by Meera Reed, although it’s anyone’s guess as to whether she’ll keep it.
Why is Dark Sister important?
I don’t know, but GRRM expressly confirmed that Bloodraven took it to the Wall with him, which means it’s in the cave. It will be wielded by somebody important. No point in setting this up otherwise.
I don’t think Dark Sister really has to go south, either. Jon already has a Valyrian steel sword to set ablaze at the right time.
It doesn’t have to be Jon wielding it. GRRM has set up its reintroduction (rather against logic, frankly), so there’s a reason for that.
I feel like only reason for Dark Sister to end up south of the Wall is if Arya is going to be wielding it in the endgame. After all, DS is described to be almost like a longer Valyrian steel version of Needle…
Now that would be cool.
I’m now trying to imagine Arya with Dark Sister and Littlefinger’s Valyrian dagger. The Night’s King wouldn’t stand a chance.
No Night’s King, but I could definitely see her dueling an Other on the battlements of Winterfell.
Precisely my thinking.
I think he’ll be tethered to the heart tree as well, but I’m not so certain it will be in the Children’s Warren. It might be the Tree at Winterfell.
Or they foreclosed off what he was probably going to be (Lord of Winterfell) by having Sansa end up as Queen in the North, and then had to think of something else.
That leaves you with another throne to fill, though.
Does it? I said in my comment below that I don’t think the Throne will necessarily be filled at all – Tyrion will be Hand, but if Steven ends up being right about Jon and Dany going into the far north to defeat the Others then I could see the show ending with him as Hand ruling on Daenerys’ behalf “until she returns”.
Whereas having Bran become King kind of feels like they needed to move him into a new lord position, because whatever Martin intended for him was closed off by changes to the Others’ aspect of the story.
“because whatever Martin intended for him was closed off by changes to the Others’ aspect of the story.” Also plausible.
Also a possibility. It’s not like Benioff and Weiss aren’t known for writing backwards.
I disagree. I think they needed someone to fill the post b/c it couldn’t be Jon, so they picked a male character who would fit.
Pretty much my thinking here. They had to do something with his character, so why not this.
I will grant that I could see a scenario where he rules the North at the end, but NEVER in a million years all of Westeros.
If Jon was supposed to take the throne, he would have in the show.
That’s literally what Steven said. Jon was ineligible to take the throne, so they picked someone else.
They would use whichever character gets it in the books.
Bottom line, there really is no reason not to think Bran ends up in charge. We’ve been told many times that GRRM’s ending is being loosely used here, and the identity of who ends up on the throne was something the writers were told right off the bat.
How was he ineligible in the show? I mean, what made him ineligible that they couldn’t have nonsensically ignored?
I am now firmly 100% convinced that NOTHING in this episode is actually what Martin meant to happen. No way.
There is no scenario, none, that could make Bran ruling anything to be believable, it’s simply completely against his character arc. He’s not concerned with things of this world, and is still going to be under 12 when the series concludes. And he’s a major character.
Arya trying to sail to the west? Since when has Arya expressed any desire to go sailing in the books? Or any skill at it? What the hell does that have to do with her character? And she’s a major character.
Jon rejoining the NW… no way. Just no way. What is even the point of the NW? The Others are destroyed and the Wildlings no longer a threat. And the Wall has a giant hole in it. In the books, it’s going to have been completely destroyed by the sounding of the Horn of Winter! And Jon is the most important character of them all.
An elective monarchy? Yeah, let’s be just like those brilliant ironborn, because their tradition of elected kingship has always worked out for everyone! Just look at the last guy they picked!
If there’s still going to be a united Southern Kingdom, then it’s absolutely idiotic to destroy the Iron Throne. It’s the symbol of the very concept.
As far as I’m concerned, my original scenario from before the beginning of the season is still in play: Jon and Arya dying in battle, Dany dying in childbirth, Baby Jonerys being raised by Aunt Sansa, who’s simultaneously Lady of the North and Regent of the Seven Kingdoms. Dany as Nissa Nissa is just barely within the realm of possibility, but only because it’s plausible within the books setup. We learned nothing from this horseshit.
I don’t see Bran as king either: he has no connections in the South, he is a boy and a paraplegic in an ableist society.
The only time Arya does take a ship, it’s in pursuit of a goal. She hasn’t really expressed interest in traveling just to explore. Davos would be more realistic.
Also, it’s revealed that Jon is the rightful heir to the Targaryen dynasty, has King Arthur associations and is the prophesied king/savior of Westeros . . . and it goes nowhere. As Chekov said, if you have gun hanging on the wall, and it isn’t going to be shot later in the story, then don’t put it there.
Davos would be more realistic, but still not in keeping with his character. He loved the sea, but he loved his kids more and wants nothing more than to go happily into retirement with his wife and family on Cape Wrath. He just can’t do that because he’s loyal to Stannis, so he sticks it out even as it costs him more and more.
So many violated Chekov’s Guns in this season. So, so, so many.
I’m saying Davos would do it when his kids are likely grown, maybe his wife has passed and he has retired from public life.
Just as in the Tennyson…Just saying.
He loved the sea, but he loved his kids more and wants nothing more than to go happily into retirement with his wife and family on Cape Wrath.
This isn’t true. In ADWD Davos talks explicitly in his internal monologue about how once the wars are done and his kids are grown enough for it to be safe to take them, he wants to those kids and sail all the way to the east, to Qarth and Yi Ti and other lands, which had been a longstanding dream of his that the time had never been right for.
Ah, you’re correct. I’d forgotten that. That part actually comes up when he hears the first rumors of Dany, ironically.
Still, his kids come first.
1. I think that, on some level, Book!Tyrion acknowledges that killing Shae was a crime, if the Winds of Winter chapter is of any indication:
What a fraud you are, Imp. You let a hundred guardsmen rape your wife, shot your father through the belly with a quarrel, twisted a golden chain around your lover’s throat until her face turned black, yet somehow you still think that you deserve to live.
2. So, Edmure finally returned, and if you thought the show tradition of having his family members treating him like dirt was gone, guess again.
3. For a moment there, I thought they were really going to accept Sam’s democratic plan.
4. I’m surprised Yara didn’t point out that an elective monarchy system didn’t stop Euron. Actually, scratch that, I’m not surprised.
5. I can see Jon deciding to live among the Free Folk once the books are over. His Nissa Nissa moment will probably be something like leaving Daenerys behind (with her permission) while fighting the Others or something.
6. I guess we’ll never know who the prince of Dorne is.
1. Yes, but I more meant, acknowledge to other people. This’ll make more sense when you read my essay about Tyrion IV.
2. Yeah, that felt cruel.
3. Nah, that was the one bit of feudal politics that actually made sense.
4. Good point.
5. Yeah, maybe. I don’t think leaving her behind cuts it tho.
6. Prince Autochthones Martell, apparently.
3. I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense, I’m saying I could have seen the producers disregarding feudal limitations to give it a happy ending.
6. Sorry, I don’t get the joke.
Making fun of the fact that they manufactured a (male) Martell out of thin air after so brutally dispatching Doran and Trystane.
I guess Quentyn was alive and well in the show after all but they kept him stashed safely in Yronwood? That sure felt jarring, especially since they dispensed with Arianne and made a horrible hash of the Sand Snakes (“I Went To Dorne And All I Got Was This Bad P**sy” still makes me laugh) not to mention their haircuts. (Tyene – I think it was Tyene – had the worst hairdresser in the Seven Kingdoms.)
Edmure was a doofus unto the end. In a series marked by fine casting and acting, I didn’t like his actor, but I’m ultimately a book fan. It did give Sansa a fine moment, though.
Did I blink and miss it, but was Roslin still alive, or did they just forget about her?
Assuming Arya didn’t get her when she purged her family at the Twins, they most likely forgot about her, as well as her son who is Edmure’s heir.
I actually think Edmures actor is perfect for the part, but the writing kind of assassinates his character. We only get Edmure the fool and never Edmure the good hearted person trying to do the right thing.
The incoherence of what the showrunners are doing is really astounding. I mean mixed metaphors and so on. In that Emlia Clarke interview at EW, Dinklage is quoted as saying that the showrunners said that “this was like America dropping the atomic bombs”…but that wasn’t an act of genocide. I mean academically and politically by the great consensus it isn’t seen as genocide. And in any case, the argument that “it was done for the greater good” carried the day there (as it did in Watchmen which used Hiroshima conscientiously as a political allegory to provide the proper moral challenge to the viewer/reader) but now they are equating this with Hitler because a female abolitionist did it. It presents abolitionism as a form of imperialism and inseparable and indistinguishable from it and Tyrion mansplains Dany’s arc as what I saw on twitter as essentially the discredited drapetomania.
GOT is basically like any other fantasy story now. You know Equal Opportunity Evil about Sauron having a more diverse set than the Fellowship. It presents equality or egalitarianism as untenable, extreme and evil and outside the status-quo of the medieval trappings of the show. It’s essentially what Moorcock critiqued Tolkien for in Epic Pooh only I think the show is less progressive than LOTR (books and show) is. The only representatives and possibilities of equality — Wildlings, Stannis, Daenerys — are painted as evil or false alternatives or in the case of wildlings willingly up and decide that they won’t be part of the 7K just so that Sansa can preserve her ethno-state without actually making a moral choice. The latter is essentially destroying the entire raison d’etre of the books…GRRM said it began when he asked “What was Aragorn’s policy towards the Orcs?” because he wanted his heroes to make choices, compromises and face consequences for being in that social order. Having Sansa have her lemon cake and eat it too is something that GRRM will absolutely never do.
Grey Worm surviving is the only grace note in this mess, and even that has a token thing sine he’s presented as a war criminal who dodged jail. It’s not significantly better than Harry Potter where at the end the Goblins are still anti-semitic caricatures who can’t be trusted, Hermione gives up her abolitionism (which was initially shown as problematic and parodic) and moderates into a reformist who convinces Harry to become a kind slaveowner.
This is a betrayal of everything ASOIAF was about.
I mean, I hate the show, but I don’t think the comparisons you’re drawing here are what happened in those books. Sauron’s army was homogenous. Just orcs. Good guys had Rohan, Gondor, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits.
And that’s literally the 100% opposite of what happened in Harry Potter. Hermione did not give up her anti-slavery crusade. She joined the Ministry, and eventually passed a law freeing all house elves in Britain.
Not in the books she didn’t. She convinces Harry in Book 7 that house-elves value better treatment more than freedom (that was mentioned in the earlier chapters), and equated a guy who hated Pureblood supremacy (Sirius) with someone who was (Voldemort) and presented an incompetent racist (Regulus) as the moderate alternative for being more comfortable hanging out with his slaves than Sirius did. The book says a “benign slavemaster” is the ideal. And Harry Potter ends the book a slaveowner. His last line before the epilogue is thinking about calling his slave Kreacher for a sandwich.
What Rowling does on twitter stays on twitter. Say what you want about George Lucas but that guy didn’t lack any conviction about actually putting his re-edits into the home releases rather than ex-post-facto policing and editorializing his works for new audiences.
David Brin and others point out that Sauron’s army has Orcs, Uruks, Goblins, Haradim, Easterlings (men of the East) and so on who command those giant elephants in the third movie. He also raises men and empowers them to fight elves and wizards (the Nazgul being men who can duke it out with Gandalf and others).
She absolutely did in the books. Rowling is the author, like it or not, and what she says is Word of God. Regarding Kreacher, I think we’re meant to interpret it as “asking, not ordering”.
You’re counting the Ringwraiths as making Saurons army more diverse? Seriously? You want to talk about slaves, here’s some guys who were forced into the Dark Lord’s service for all eternity because he devoured their souls.
I can give you chapter-and-verse….Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 10 – Kreacher’s Tale. Read there and see what Hermione actually says to Harry. She tells him to be a kindly slavemaster. There’s nothing in the books about Hermione actually freeing house-elves, either on-screen or in epilogue chapters.
D. W. Griffith you know said that The Birth of a Nation wasn’t racist but that doesn’t make it true. I don’t think Death of the Author always works…but it does when you have such a wide gap between what’s there and what isn’t.
Sauron’s army was not homogeneous. Besides orcs and Trolls and stuff, there were large numbers of men from the South and East.
We can let the real historians opine, but the current view (consensus, I think) is that dropping the atomic bombs was not necessary to end world war II and the Japanese were already prepared to surrender. That said, I would always prefer my side to be more aggressive and build in a margin of safety to successfully to doing what is needed to win, so I don’t fault the allied commanders.
A Eunuch army setting sail for a peaceful Island that they don’t know for no real reason seems like a bad idea, but no more foolish than making Jon Snow commander of an otherwise purposeless penal colony. But other than Jon killing Dany and Drogon meting the throne, the rest of the episode was just filler.
To be honest, I would have been equally satisfied if they just replaced the last episode by instead releasing on twitter a set of bullet points of their “official” ending along of the gif of Dany with dragon wings.
Even after the atomic bombs, there was very nearly a coup against the Emperor when he decided to surrender. They were issuing machine guns to schoolgirls. The western mindset has a difficult time grasping how completely the Japanese population had bought into the “Glorious Death” mindset from top to bottom. The bombs were absolutely necessary.
Screw it, I don’t really want to get into an off-topic debate on this, and shouldn’t have replied. I’m asking Steven to delete it if he’s looking through these.
Will do in just a sec.
Why did they even need to invade? Just blockade the island until they come to their senses.
Yeah, the thematics of slavery and tyranny were deeply fucked up.
I saw Cogman’s thing about wanting to make it ambiguous, but they really failed at that.
I think the showrunners really are closet Confederate apologists, either unconsciously or because their nerd-passion for Alt. Reality thought experiments have made their political consciences cold. I mean in S6 Tyrion tries to make deals with slaveowners and so on, and while the climax proved Grey Worm and Missandei right, they still bent backwards (revealing that Jaime told Tyrion about the wildfire) to give him a win. And now in the final episodes they fridge Missandei and slander Grey Worm and make “abolitionism was always about taking over the world”. I always thought their HBO series was a bad idea, now I think it’s Griffith-level immoral to allow them to touch it.
I could see that. Spend any time in alt history circles, and you see people adopting Lost Cause arguments about the harshness of Reconstructiona nd the like, almost by osmosis.
because their nerd-passion for Alt. Reality thought experiments have made their political consciences cold.
You know, I have a nerd passion for alternate reality thought experiments and I’d like to think it hasn’t made my political conscience cold.
Well do you want a cookie for being such a good boy? Failed attempt at jokes aside. I was offering that as a sympathetic reason for why two guys who seem to be liberals seem to have such noxious views and are going out of their way to inseminate those into a show and context that doesn’t need them. I am sure people who indulge in alternate history community are across the spectrum, but I do think looking at history that way, as a kind of game, might potentially blind you from seeing things in a human way. Seeing the Confederacy and imagining how things would be had they won…requires you to make assumptions about them, especially since we know that the Confederate military and political victory was never on the cards.
I was offering that as a sympathetic reason for why two guys who seem to be liberals seem to have such noxious views and are going out of their way to inseminate those into a show and context that doesn’t need them.
And my response was basically “it isn’t really a sympathetic reason.”
Yeah, I think that equating all alt-reality nerds with the Lost Causers is painting with too broad a brush. I mean – there’s only about a million or so jumping-off points for alternative realities *worldwide*. I myself think that alternate realities are fun and interesting to contemplate.
I want to clarify something: I don’t think all alt-history fans are Lost Cause sympathizers. What I think is that, in the intellectual atmosphere of alt-history forums and the like, there’s a lot of unexamined biases about historical theories and positions – what kind of Reconstruction Lincoln would have pursued, what caused unrest during Reconstruction, what the Confederacy/Robert E. Lee’s views about slavery were, etc. – which are no longer accepted by the academy. You see many of the same biases even in published alt-historians like Harry Turtledove, for example.
And, like a lot of internet fora, there is a fringe who hold uglier views and who like to use them to recruit – which isn’t that surprising, since we’ve seen alt-right recruiting on anime and furry forums, that sites that discuss the Confederacy and WWII a lot might be a prime target. I always considered it a red flag when user names showed up on both Confederacy-wins and Germany-wins threads and only those threads…
I’m not going to argue that Confederate would be a good show, but my impression is that it would just be dystopian fiction like Handmaid’s Tale or Man In the High Castle (which is if anything less realistic than a Confederate victory). And the issues with Game of Thrones are not that D&D absorbed some noxious political views from reading alt-history forums (something they may not have actually done), but instead that they didn’t put in the time/effort to make some outcomes feel earned.
Basically agree with everything except Jon rejoining the Night’s Watch. The Night’s Watch kind of becomes obsolete IMO with the whole hole in the wall, much less so if the whole structure falls down as you speculate in the Books, plus the free folk are already on the other side and want to settle the land, not go back to the frozen wasteland beyond so that decreases any visible need. If he kills Dany I can see him renouncing his throne and going into a self-imposed exile back into said frozen wasteland.
You see this is my main problem, lack of pay off despite all the build up. Jon could have done everything in the show short of riding Rhaegal without being a Targaryen. And there is Jon way in the world people just brush off his ability to ride a dragon of all things like they did in the show, or how everyone who finds out glosses over his heritage and keeps it a secret afterwards despite pushing its responsibility on to him up to that point. It’s incredibly frustrating and just unfair as all hell to punish Jon for doing it, it’s another thing entirely if he leaves of his own free will because of his own guilt but not to impose something like that on him after all these sacrifices he’s made already.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Martin just told them that Jon ends the series “beyond the Wall” without more specifics.
That assumes that the end of the White Walkers is the same in the books and the show.
I’ve been a long-time reader and admirer of your writings on ASOIAF, but I haven’t made an account until yet. So thank you for everything you’ve written so far, sincerely.
Some of my thoughts as they pop into my head:
1. The Dany = Hitler allusions (Nuremburg rally, “first they came for the slavers”) aren’t something I’ve seen that much push back yet, but I imagine it will come out in full force once everyone has digested that last episode. Among all the missteps of this last season I think this quite possibly the worst. It’s staggeringly lazy, has no relation to the story at hand and is honestly pretty revolting.
2. An elective monarchy being the outcome is something I can totally see, but I’m a bit biased here because I’ve been wondering about this for years now. But obviously it will not be everything it’s cracked up to be by Tyrion here: in-universe the Iron Born had one and it didn’t empower them much at all, in the real world the Holy Roman Empire for example shows that it doesn’t mean the end of dynasties or civil wars. But there isn’t any possible ending that includes everlasting peace anyway, and putting the future fate of Westeros in the hand of a series of Great Councils while setting up the new leaders of each “kingdom” to be not horrible seems as good as any to me.
3. Bran … I could see it happening maybe. But only if he plays a much more pivotal and widely known role in the defeat of the Others and is much more competent altogether and if all the blood-line claimants are dead, exposed or refuse. Well and there’s the problem of 11
4. Jon ending up among the wildlings I can totally buy, It’s really weird that he’s not even discussed as an option for the throne though. Even among those who don’t know about his Targaryen blood he should be a pretty obvious choice by the show’s own logic where he’s this super inspiring leadership figure, no?
5. Maybe I’m a bit too cynical but a lot of the ending felt like setting up possible sequels to me. There just seems to be more care taken to set characters up for future adventures than to conclude their character arks as they stand.
6. Smaller nitpick, but: Edmure’s been done dirty. He’s one of the few lords who seems to sincerely care about the smallfolk and doing his duty even if it means humiliating himself and in the end he’s brought back just to be a punchline. Just … why?
7. It’s kind of hilarious how the time travelling Hodor twist was one of the biggest and most celebrated twists the show did since leaving the books behind and then it’s not mentioned ever again and has had no impact in even the remotest way whatsover.
Odd, 3. seems to have been swallowed somehow, luckily I wrote this in notepad so here it is again, let’s see if it works now:
3. Bran … I could see it happening maybe. But only if he plays a much more pivotal and widely known role in the defeat of the Others and is much more competent altogether and if all the blood-line claimants are dead, exposed or refuse. Well and there’s the problem of the Westerosi not being too fond of wargs and the likes. However he did show a gift for rulership when he was Lord of Winterfell and GRRM did say something to the effect of “if a 12-year-old has to conquer the world then so be it” in relation to skipping the five-year-gap. But yeah, it’s kinda weird and it smells a bit of doing it for the sake of it being unexpected. And the North definitely can’t Northxit out of there in case Bran becomes king. I really don’t get how the hell that happened.
Dany got shafted so much by the show. RIP Magic Dragon Princess, Westeros didn’t deserve you.
1. So far, I’ve mostly seen me and Emmett keying in on this.
2. Yeah, that was eyebrow raising. Elective monarchy, sure, that’s not so different from the Great Councils, but it doesn’t end political conflict at all.
3. Yeah, I just don’t see it.
4. His name was mentioned, but was too controversial. Pushback from the Greyjoys.
5. God I hope not.
6. Yeah, that felt quite cruel to bring him back just to mock him one more time.
Not only that, it tends to weaken the central power of the state, as successive monarchs will make deals tat slowly cut away more and more of their power in order to get elected.
And that’s a bad thing in a feudal context where the central power of the state is what’s necessary in order to maintain the king’s peace and the king’s justice. Westeros might eventually end up with a king who needs to do something like legalize private wars to win the election… which will, of course, remove like 90% of the reason for having a king to begin with.
Isn’t Westeros closer to the size of a continent than a nation state?
It probably didn’t help that Edmure’s actor didn’t have the appeal that so many of the other cast had. (See: Charles Dance, who made Tywin Lannister fun to watch despite all the evil he wrought.)
I was so mad about the “first she killed all these slavers and we cheered” bit that I actually paused the stream so I could scream about it on Tumblr.
Gods, that pissed me off.
Also: I love that the show has whitewashed the Meereen’s slavers into mere “noblemen”. As if they’re just like the Starks or Martells or something.
1. I always thought the “Nissa Nissa” sacrifice was going to be Ghost, since one of Jon’s POV chapters has him thinking about how Ghost is closer to him than anything else. I just don’t see when it would be a good time for Jon to drive the sword through Daenerys’ heart, unless it’s some weirdness in the Land of the Others in the final book where he needs to revive its fire.
Which I suppose is possible. Maybe our last Jon POV chapter will end with him standing alone amidst the ice of the Land of the Others, holding a burning sword and determined to find and destroy the rest of them. He doesn’t feel the cold and doesn’t need to eat nor drink, so it would be like Coldhands 2.0.
2. If you’re right about Dany being horrified at accidentally burning the city, then I could see her before the Iron Throne in the ruined Red Keep while mounted on Drogon, then deciding that she hates it and giving it the “Dracarys” treatment instead of dismounting to sit it.
3. I think it will be an Lords-elected Hand (Tyrion). Tyrion will be Hand of the Queen “until she returns”, with the implication that they’ll just pick another Hand when he dies. The Stewards of Gondor, but messier and more likely to fall apart into civil war once things recover a bit.
4. I do not think Sansa will be Queen in the North, given the symbolic severing of her tie to it with Lady’s death. That felt more like pay-off for the alternative route they took Sansa through in the show, whereas in the books I think she’ll be the Lady of the Vale.
By the way, seeing grown-up Robert Arryn reminds me that they could have preserved what will probably be Sansa’s arc in the books in a different way: have her engaged to Robert Arryn, her cousin. First cousin marriages were a thing that happened with nobility, albeit not as much as you might think due to the Catholic Church prohibitions.
5. I wouldn’t totally rule out the Sam bit, although I’d expect him to bring up the Night’s Watch precedent in his argument. Same reaction from the Lords, though.
4. I do not think Sansa will be Queen in the North, given the symbolic severing of her tie to it with Lady’s death. That felt more like pay-off for the alternative route they took Sansa through in the show, whereas in the books I think she’ll be the Lady of the Vale.
Sansa’s story has not been severed from the North in the books. Home and her Northern heritage are a consistent part of her story, hence, e.g., the famous snow castle. The Vale is merely a stage on which she can learn to play the game of thrones, it isn’t her home.
I disagree on that. Unless Harry the Heir dies before she marries him, I do not think Sansa’s destiny is to rule in the North.
Someone has to. Bran is out, for one reason or another. Sansa is the next one up after him.
Her arc ever since Book 2 has been pointing her Home, and there she will stay.
Whether she rules or not, she will be in Winterfell. Her story is all about returning and rebuilding there.
Unless Harry the Heir is a character anybody actually gives a fuck about, I don’t think Sansa’s long-term destiny is going to have much to do with him.
Aside from giving her control of the Vale forces?
Harry is “The Young Falcon.” Dashing young men who are called The Young Heraldic Beast don’t tend to last long. See: Daeron the Young Dragon, Robb the Young Wolf. Harry is going to buy the farm, probably from some kind of treachery the same way Daeron and Robb died.
Not until after he’s married and consummated the marriage with Sansa, though, because I’m pretty sure she’s taking the Vale Armies north.
Her ties to the North were NOT severed with Lady’s death. That was symbolic of her betrayal of the Starks by not backing up Arya, and happens at the *beginning* of her character arc. The rest of the books involve her slowly realizing what she had and how much better her life was in the North. She’s valuing it more and more, and the story is clearly taking her back to the North permanently.
There were a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments in ADWD which *might* be some kind of Queen Sansa in the North foreshadowing: 1) When Ryman Frey shows up in front of Jaime Lannister with a camp follower who is wearing Robb Stark’s crown. Jaime, snarkily, addresses her as “my lady” and she says, “I’m no Lady! I’m the Queen!” as I said, wearing Robb’s crown…naturally, Jaime shuts that down quick smart and confiscates the crown. But that could be a callback to Sansa losing her status as *Lady* and becoming Queen – in her own right rather than marrying a King.
Then, 2) Robb’s crown shows up in the hands of Lady Stoneheart. I really, truly hope that poor Sansa isn’t crowned by her mother’s zombie corpse, that would be cruel even for GRRM. But I *can* see the following: Sansa with Vale army passes through the Riverlands en route to the North and her being recognized by the remaining River lords – WHO HAVE SEEN CATELYN TULLY IN PERSON AND KNOW HER WELL, AND ARE NOT GOING TO BE FOOLED BY A BOTTLE OF HAIR DYE, LITTLEFINGER. Lord Karyl Vance of Wayfarer’s Rest has *seen* Sansa, standing in the gallery watching Ned do his Hand thing.
Sansa will meet up with the BwB (who have a mole billeted nice and snug in Riverrun) and remaining Riverlords, will be outed as Sansa Stark, proclaimed Queen by the Riverlords and Valemen, perhaps save Petyr’s hide as in the show (because she figures she needs him for now) and hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the North we go.
I predict Petyr’s downfall at the hands of Sansa will begin when she finds out, “he did WHAT to my best friend?” She still thinks about and misses Jeyne, and I think the latter’s horrible fate will loom large in Petyr’s downfall. (From what I can tell, Petyr probably thinks of Jeyne merely as Sansa’s maid and not her actual dear friend.)
1. No, I think the Ghost sacrifice, if it happens, happens earlier, possibly in conjunction with his resurrection.
2. That I could see.
4. She will be Lady of the Vale through Harry. Whether she rules the North and whether that’s as a Queen or a Lady, I don’t know.
5. I don’t see Sam as any more a cultural democrat than Tyrion, tho.
1. That I’m skeptical about. I feel like if the show could have used the death of Ghost in Jon’s resurrection to bring him back and eliminate the need to include him, they would have. Instead they kept him on, but apparently he doesn’t serve any purpose other than a companion to Jon at the end.
2. Yeah, that feels very Dany-ish.
3. I just think it’s more plausible than 9- or 10-year-old Bran getting selected as the next King. That felt like the show trying to awkwardly justify his storyline after cutting out most of what he does later in it in the books. Plus it fits with Tyrion being the survivor who has to put the realm back together.
I am really not happy with the last two episodes. I feel a bit like Ralphie from A Christmas Story when he discovers that Little Orphan Annie was just a big scam. The ending was effectively “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” Meaningless, pointless, not grounded in the character arcs or the book series’ themes. It was like B&W were more committed to “subverting expectations” rather than actually telling a coherent story. The thing that bothers me the most though is the thought that anything that happened in the last two episodes will happen in the books.
I read an excerpt from the book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” and it’s even more of a downer than A Christmas Story. Ralphie couldn’t afford to buy Ovaltine, so instead he went through the trash of wealthier families to collect proofs-of-purchase to send in for his ring. And the result is a commercial for something he still can’t afford.
1. They made Bran king? That stretches credulity. He is a paraplegic in an ableist society, and the lords, being a warrior-caste, wouldn’t look kindly on a king who can’t even participate in battle. He also has hardly any connections with the southron lords.
2. I’d place more money on Davos as the next Elissa Farman given not only is he an experienced ship captain, but in ADwD, he mentions his bucket list includes sailing to far away places. I’d see him doing that when he gets older and is retired. Of course, if he does find Americos, he wouldn’t be as terrible a person as the actual Columbus.
3. Regarding Sam’s idea, yeah, Sam is no Lafayette. Feudal Westeros also has no history of democracy except among the Vale mountain clans and the Night’s Watch, both of which aren’t exactly universally well-regarded. In real-life, it took centuries to go from feudalism to democracy in Europe. It took things like higher literacy rates, and the weakening of the land-owning aristocrats through modernization, ie the economy switching from agriculture to industry which reduced their economic power, and the invention of guns which would render knights obsolete, and close the gap in military power between a commoner and a nobleman.
4. I don’t see Dany choosing to burn King’s Landing, the Twins, definitely. Promising justice for the Red Wedding would be a good way to win potential support from the riverlords and the Blackfish.
5. I could definitely see a king being elected, but when a Great Council is called at the end. Jon would be the top candidate: being Rhaegar’s son he has the best claim, he has no enemies except among the universally despised houses of Bolton (which isn’t long for this world), Frey and Lannister and leading the fight against the Long Night would make him a national hero. Riding a dragon and being acknowledged as the prophesied savior of Westeros would give him a certain divine status, close to a demigod.
6. So Jon is revealed to be secretly the heir to the Targaryen dynasty and . . . it goes nowhere. What’s the point of giving him a secret royal heritage if it doesn’t impact the storyline?
All of this except #5. Only place they elect kings in Westeros is the Iron Islands, and the last time the Ironborn did that we got Euron. Nobody is going to want to be like the Ironborn.
Viserys I and Aegon V were selected as kings by the lords. I meant it would be the same way for Jon
Ah, I misinterpreted it then. I thought you meant you could see a permanent switch to an elective monarchy.
1. Yeah, it’s pretty weird.
2. Maybe, although I think the allusion there is to Tennyson’s Ulysses rather than Columbus.
4. Choosing, no. Accidentally, yes. See previous essay.
5. A Great Council does at least have some grounding.
6. Apparently just to drive Dany MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaad.
Yeah, same with Arya’s face-changing and Bran’s warging contributing very little to the plot. Or even Varys’ letters.
And what’s with the lack of northerners revering the Old Gods? Or was the Long Night 2.0 supposed to end that religion?
Bran becoming king was very much out of left field for me. I can’t for the life of me understand why made Bran king when they still had with them a viable claimant. Why didn’t they make Gendry king? Out of everyone assembled he arguably had the best claim though it is a very, very shaky one. Sure he is baseborn and born illegitimate but then again his father did sit on the Iron Throne. Now sure the Iron Throne no longer exists but that doesn’t mean hereditary rule of its domains went with it. Considering that he has already taken up his father’s name and mantle to rule the Baratheon holdings, I don’t think anyone could argue against letting him become king as Robert’s heir.
True, the Hapsbergs had hold over the throne of the Holy Roman emperor, and the by the time Cortes arrived in Mexico, the elected monarchy of the Aztecs was being occupied by a single family.
Gendry can also fit the mold of the warrior-king more easily given his size and strength while Bran can’t even fight.
Well, Gendry wouldn’t be as random a monarch as Catherine I of Russia, who was born Martha Skavronska in Lithuania, a peasant woman unable to read or write. (Fun fact: neither Empress Catherine of Russia was born with that name: Catherine II was born Sophia.) Long story short, she married Peter I of Russia and the army and nobles chose her as successor – actual Tsarina – after his death. She was a decent ruler for her short time on the throne (TB and alcoholism did her in).
Gendry seems like a good sort who would make a good King. Someone would have to teach him to read and write but Davos learned as an adult, and so could Gendry. Septon Barth was of humble birth and made a great Hand (arguably, he and Alysanne were the real brains behind Jaehaerys “the Wise”).
I honestly didn’t hate this episode or ending. I think it is partially due to the fact that my ending predictions from way back (at least season 2 or 3) would be that the Iron Throne would be destroyed and that some form of non-hereditary monarchy would come to Westeros.
Honestly, I think a lot of what happens in this episode will probably happen in the books. Sam as Grand Maester and writing “A Song of Ice and Fire” seems a gimme. The North breaking off into their own kingdom is plausible. Jon is almost certainly going to kill Dany to fulfill Azor Azai. Davos as Master of Ships and Brienne as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard (like Duncan the Tall) also seem like details Martin would include. I also think Bran being selected king must be GRRM’s idea since I don’t think D&D would select him over any of their personal favorite characters (Tyrion, Sansa, Arya) unless they were specifically informed that he was the final ruler.
Yeah, I think the unlikeliness of Bran is actually the best argument that that’s coming from Martin rather than from Benioff and Weiss.
And then the counterargument is then: “So you’re going to put the scion of a family that is based in a kingdom that just seceded in charge of the South? A crippled boy who is a known sorcerer, can’t have kids and continue the dynasty, and has no powerbase other than a now foreign kingdom? After everything Martin’s done to make this a believable medieval world, THAT’S what you’re going to do?”
That’s a really weak argument tho. It’s not like Benioff and Weiss haven’t pulled unlikely shit out of their back pockets before.
Literally their entire given reason for Arya turning out to be Azor Ahai was that it was unlikely.
I know this is a wild theory, and it really depends on how things play out in the books, but with Bran/Three-Eyed-Raven having just been appointed King, does this mean the Children of the Forest have won their war against humanity by having one of their own creations now dominating human affairs? Or if there’s anything left of Brynden Rivers, the ultimate triumph of the Blackfyres?
I also worry for Bran’s future, not only will he probably live a very long life, foresee any potential assassinations coming his way, he might get himself attached to a tree or something. 😛
Or if there’s anything left of Brynden Rivers, the ultimate triumph of the Blackfyres?
Brynden Rivers was the single most zealous anti-Blackfyre partisan imaginable. He told lies and dishonored both himself, the office of the Hand of the King, and the Iron Throne itself to murder helpless Blackfyre prisoners, that’s how much he hated them.
Oh yeah, my bad. I usually get the people involved in that conflict mixed up. Cheers for the correction. 🙂
“Making the “and then they came for the communists” argument about slavers is ugly, ugly, ugly.”
Steven, which part is this? I think I missed that.
“When she murdered the slavers of Astapor, I’m sure no one but the slavers complained.
After all, they were evil men.
[SIGHS] When she crucified hundreds of Meereenese nobles, who could argue? They were evil men.
The Dothraki khals she burned alive? They would have done worse to her.
Everywhere she goes, evil men die and we cheer her for it.”
The crazy part is that all of that is true. All of those people were utter SOBs and Dany absolutely should have been cheered for taking them down. Literally, Tyrion, you’re saying this like it’s a BAD thing! It’s not!
It was extremely Gamergate in my view.
I’m struggling to read those words as not being a male panicked response to evils committed by men being called out by a woman with the power to do something about it. Who might be next, seemed to be the thrust of Tyrion and Varys’s fears.
Seriously in the light of #metoo and Confederate those lines came off as extremely tone-deaf and verging on irresponsible, given the current backpedalling on women’s rights in America thanks to you know who.
Didn’t we cheer when Tyrion set the Wildfire trap and killed countless sailors, including Davos’ own son? Didn’t we also cheer when Tyrion killed Tywin with a crossbow? Didn’t we cheer when Jaqen H’ghar killed some 20 goons in Harrenhal at Arya’s bidding? Didn’t we cheer when Arya made those Freys into pies and slaughtered every male Frey at the twins? Or when Sansa fed Ramsay to the dogs? This video cites that as one of the many inconsistencies why this Dany turn doesn’t work. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mlNyqhnc1M). To accept Dany’s past history as indicative of her going bad, you have to see that universally applied to all acts of violence by the rest of the cast. It doesn’t work. “Foreshadowing is not character development”.
The foreshadowing for Dany attacking KL isn’t there anymore than say Sansa planning to Red Wedding Jon and the other Starks. I mean Sansa said at the start of S7 she admired Cersei, and in S6, she was crafty and manipulative and let Jon and the wildlings die while not telling them about the Vale. You could have justified Sansa red-wedding her surviving family with the exact same excuses and same justifications they use for Dany. I am sure Benioff would say, “We thought about her cold sadistic look when she sent those dogs at Dany”. I am sure Sansa defenders will then bring up what about when Dany looked coldly at Viserys’ being crowned?
Re : your last sentence, on a forum, someone said it was obvious from season 1 that Dany would turn evil because of her “flat affect” when she watched her brother die. This must have been the brother who was always loving and protective towards her, as opposed to Viserys?
And what was she supposed to do rather than watch? Plead with Drogo to let the attempted murderer of their child go free? This isn’t even getting into the fact that pretty much every major character has watched someone’s death (or caused someone’s death) with a “flat affect”!
Yeah, that argument bothers me, because by implication anyone who rejoices at the suffering of their abuser is evil, and I don’t accept that.
You’ve mentioned the opinion that Cersei is likely to use the chaos of Aegon’s battle with Dany to send Gregor on a killing spree. Do you think that might be what Jaime’s last straw is, rather than wildfire? He kills her to stop the the horrible crime that he didn’t as a teen?
No, I think the thematics for Jaime point more to the wildfire – he didn’t kill Aerys because Aerys sent out Gregor.
My thinking is from his reaction to Rhaegar’s accusations in his Harrenhal dream, it feels like there might be some unresolved guilt/growing realization of what House Lannister’s done.
1). The show becomes a lot less frustrating when you quit thinking about it in terms of Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens, and think of the whole series as a triumphal tale of how a lowborn scum sellsword decided to go to a tournament to celebrate the appointment of a new hand, got sidetracked when he decided to escort a noble lady as she arrested a prisoner, and along the way, he rose in power all the way to Lord Paramount of the Reach and Master of Coin.
2). The CNN recap called Arya’s ship the S.S. Spinoff.
3). I noticed the opening credits removed the Lannister lion from behind the throne.
4). I lose faith in a adaptation where SweetRobin Arryn and Edmure Tully lives but Summer and ShaggyDog die.
5). Say what you will about Dany or Edmure, but I think the character treated most cruelly by D&D was Meera Reed. She was literally used up and tossed away thanklessly
6). When Tyrion told Jon his fate was NW, I nearly woke my wife screaming “Why?” No way it exists going forward, unless they’re stripping away all pretense of nobility of the mission
7). So many unfixed Chekov guns: Howland Reed, Varys letters telling the realm of his parentage, Dany’s fertility.
8). How long before academic papers come out detailing Dany’s descent into tyranny and equating Jon as “a good Nazi” that didn’t really believe in the killing but went along with it because “he was a patriot to the state”, and when he saw it had gone too far, pulled a Rommel and tried to assassinate the Fuerher? I put the over/under at eight months.
1. Oy vey. Not that I don’t like Bronn’s rise to power, but suddenly becoming Lord of Highgarden is implausible.
5. A lot of characters were used that way, see 7.
6. Yeah, unless they’re doing the NW recommitting to defense vs. Others and the Others as a potentially recurring threat, it doesn’t work very well.
Bronn’s rise blew… it was undeserved. He was an fine character for his banter, but the dude is now Lord of the Reach, and Master of Coin? Can he even read? King Bran and Tyrion are so concerned for the realm, wanting to make a better world, and they elevate this chump to be a critical part of that process? Absurd.
Maester Steven, is some of this missing from my view due to WordPress stupidity? The first line I can see is, “What (I Think) Will Happen:”.
Previously, the Star Wars Prequels were my Gold Standard for how not to do a Face/Heel turn in a story, even with foreshadowing. And that’s with it happening 2.5 movies into a 3 movie story, not 72 episodes into a 73 episode story.
Imagine Star Wars if there were only movies 1-3, and Obi-Wan killed Anakin instead of maiming him. I think we would all be kind of wondering “What was the point of all of that again?”
Tyrion acknowledging the murder of Shae as a crime worth punishing! Well, that’s surprising. I hope we see that in the books.
This was actually enraging to me, because the show radically changed the context from the books in order to make Tyrion look better.
In the books, Shae is terrified and begging for her life and doesn’t resist Tyrion’s cold-blooded murder of her at all. It is in fact I would say a top contender for the very worst thing Tyrion has ever done.
In the show Shae tries to kill him. She goes for the knife first, before Tyrion moves or does anything, and tries to shank him in the neck. Given that Shae is bigger, faster, stronger, and outweighs Tyrion (this is another thing that makes me angry about the show, because Tyrion is shown contending physically with her on roughly equal terms and that’s not how it works) when Tyrion got lucky enough to get her into a chokehold you can make a strong self-defense rather than murder argument, because if he lets her up she’s going to knife him.
Jon rejoining the Night’s Watch? Maybe. I’d always thought that Stannis would be the 1000th Lord Commander, but a once-and-future LC isn’t crazy.
I already know I’m going to be frustrated by the books going forward if they’re ANYTHING like the show, because I’m firmly on Team Jon Had It Coming.
At the very least, I’ll be annoyed if there’s no reckoning for Jon openly betraying his oaths AND the conspirators against him receive heavy punishments. Like, one or the other; either what both of them did was okay or what neither of them did was okay.
This frustrates me as well.
I get that they were going for a greater good argument with Daenerys, but in terms of honour, Jon’s defining trait and supposedly the moral centre of the show…
The action he takes is kinslaying twice over, as well as king (queen) slaying, the act for which Ned was vehemently opposed to Jaime Lannister. It’s also betrayal of a lover, killing of a woman, and killing of possibly a pregnant woman – who would be pregnant with his OWN child. And she’s highborn.
And who is she killed for? Well, at the word of her proven traitorous Hand who plotted against her and perhaps to kill her, and as vengeance for killing her previous adviser who also plotted to kill her.
And if we’re going full medieval morality here, who has she actually killed that mattered? Some smallfolk and some soldiers of the opposing army. No-one highborn who wasn’t an enemy. This is a show that for seven seasons has been very clear that only highborn people REALLY matter – and this episode’s very next scene rams that painstakingly home as they laugh about democracy. The smallfolk don’t get any touching funeral scene or words of respect like the soldiers of Winterfell did.
Seriously misfiring on all cylinders and for what? A big twist, tonedeaf parallels to both Hillary and Hitler, and no real narrative payoff for anyone. Woeful.
One thing that REALLY bothered me is that apparently all the great houses die out for lack of heirs. WTF. Sansa ends up in that Elizabeth I shenaningan, Yara is not likely to have children, ok you can have Gendry, Tyrion and the unknown Martell prince and Edmure has a child, but the Starks…we’ve come all this way and now there won’t be a future generation? And that’s not an issue? In the books this ALWAYS matters.
What reason do we have to think that Sansa won’t have kids? Just because people like to analogize her to Elizabeth doesn’t mean she’s going to emulate every aspect of her. No doubt she’s a little traumatized by her past experiences with men, but surely there’s one decent noble man in the North? And she’s still got some time.
And there’s even less evidence for your speculation re Yara. She’s a queen now, and I don’t imagine she intends to spend all of her days at sea.
Overall, the finale was just one big “meh” for me. A few thoughts:
1. I’m in the camp that Bran as king has to be a GRRM notion. D&D had too many other, more attractive, options available to them: Jon is the safe choice, Sansa is the fan service choice. Hell, even Tyrion would likely please many fans, and I’m not sure the logical flaws are any greater than with Bran. I’m assuming the GRRM will do a much better job of setting up how Bran is a plausible choice.
2. I didn’t care for the execution of Bran’s selection, which made it seem like Tyrion just came up with the idea of Bran as king while hanging out in his cell, and everyone was just so persuaded. I would have liked some indication that this was actually a prearranged bit of theatre, perhaps orchestrated by Sansa. After all, this “great council” is heavily dominated by Starks: for some reason Arya, Bran, and Sansa are all present as if they should get separate votes, along with their bannerman Manderly, their uncle Edmure, their brother/cousin’s best friend Sam, that same brother/cousin’s right-hand man Davos, their cousin Robert Arryn (who adores Sansa), and Arya’s special friend Gendry. The others consist of a dwarf representing the remains of the hated House Lannister, a Greyjoy, a recently elevated sellsword, and some Dornish dude — hard to see how they could rally behind a rival candidate even if they were inclined to do so. It would have made a nice conclusion to show that actually, the Starks are perfectly capable of playing politics too, instead of everyone just apparently recognizing Bran’s eminent suitability because, uh, stories blah blah blah.
3. LOL at the idea that “we’re going to put an end to this petty scheming and sniping by… uh, electing our monarchs, so there’s constant politicking and jockeying for position!” And I’m sure the notion that Sansa’s future children will have claims to the Iron Throne as well as the North won’t be a source of problems…..
4. I totally buy the idea of Northern independence. Torrhen Stark only knelt in the first place because of the threat of dragons; once the Targaryen dragons died off, independence was really just a matter of time. The problem is that you could probably say the same about Dorne and the Iron Islands, if not all the Kingdoms.
5. I did love Jon getting reunited with Ghost. Him being exiled to the Night’s Watch was not something I’d considered, but I think I like it. And I’m not so sure that the NW is redundant now. The Long Night has come before and it could come again. I know the show has implied that it was all due to the Night King, but I don’t know that it’s for certain. The Wall might need to be rebuilt for the same reason it was originally built — protecting humanity from the Others.
6. Depending on how you look at it, Master of Whisperers for King Bran is either the most aggravating job, or the cushiest. “Your Grace, my sources tell me that…” “Yep, knew that already.” “I have also learned that…” “Knew that too.”
I don’t believe that there is any contract between GRRM and D&D that says “X storyline MUST be done this way”. There’s quite a lot of indication for the opposite, that they have creative control.
So, for anything happening in the show that people don’t like:
1. GRRM didn’t mention anything, and D&D came up with it themselves.
2. GRRM did mention something, but D&D thought they could come up with something better and did it instead.
3. GRRM did mention something, but D&D liked it or couldn’t think of anything better.
I don’t think there’s a case where GRRM mentioned something, D&D didn’t like it, but put it in anyway out of obligation.
Very good point.
I wasn’t suggesting that D&D put anything in out of contractual obligation. I agree that they presumably have complete creative control.
I do think that D&D put some weight on GRRM’s key plot points, and that they would prefer to avoid a scenario where the ending is significantly different than his planned resolution. Of course they wouldn’t use his ending if they thought it sucked, but I don’t think they regard themselves as writing on a completely blank slate.
I’m not looking at this from the perspective of “who’s to blame for this” and trying to take D&D off the hook for the unsatisfying aspects. I’m just saying that if you’re asking me to predict what happens in the books, my guess is something similar.
What I find rather unlikely is that GRRM gave them some other ending, and D&D decided “nah, it’ll be better if it’s Bran.” Unless GRRM’s ending is really esoteric, like a complete breakup of all seven kingdoms, or some minor character the show has barely used ending up on the throne — and even then, I would think they’d pick someone else. I just don’t get any sense that D&D have been particularly fond of Bran or done any work to foreshadow this.
D&D decided “nah, it’ll be better if it’s Bran.”
That’s what they essentially did with Arya.
I also can’t think of anything in the books thus far that foreshadows or points to Bran ending up as a king, and quite a bit that doesn’t, including prejudice towards disabled people and general preference for Kings to be martial people. There’s also the question of how Bran would even get to Winterfell, much less King’s Landing since Hodor seems fated to die.
GRRM has said the major beats of the end will be the same, but the path there will be different.
4. I totally buy the idea of Northern independence. Torrhen Stark only knelt in the first place because of the threat of dragons; once the Targaryen dragons died off, independence was really just a matter of time.
Not necessarily. If this were true then every nation-state that only existed because of the puissance of one specific conqueror would have fallen to flinders after their death, and many of them didn’t; many went the distance.
In the context of Westeros, what you’ve got here is a collective action problem; after the Targaryen dragons died, if any constituent part of the Seven Kingdoms wanted independence they’d need to jump with all the other parts at once or they’d get creamed by a massive host consisting of levies from the other six.
Yeah, that’s the thing: nationalism is way more contingent in the books.
I would argue bookNorth is way more ambivalent about Northern independence, and their views really differ based on the broader political environment – if a Lannister is on the throne vs. a Targ, etc.
Same thing goes for Dorne: their views about independence are very different when part-Martell Targaryens are on the Iron Throne vs. Lannisters.
A North that needed outside help to restore the Starks and save themselves from the white walkwrs should probably be more ambivalent and I’m surprised no one ever brought that up.
True. Sansa and to a lesser extent Arya got real shifty about that: thanks for the help, but we don’t want to reciprocate!
Isn’t nationalism closely connected to the rise of print & literacy? In a pseudo-medieval society like Westeros, you expect the reach of a central government to be smaller than it was when magnified by dragons.
I was thinking mainly about the distances involved, as well as the cultural/religious differences. You bring up a good point about the collective action problem. Northern independence would still have to await the right opportunity.
Provided the living win I feel like it would be left vague if there are WW still out there afterwards, since no Night King magic button, though killing the WW commanders themselves to disintegrate the dead that they raise will probably play a large factor in defeating them.
But even if there are still WW in hiding afterwards it’s still impractical to me, you have no real usable fortification to guard the border anymore and the only threat that would keep the Nights Watch relevant in the Free folk are irrelevant by this point. The people of Westeros don’t have the means to make a new Wall, so in effect the show NW really are just a penal colony, and I don’t see anyway wasting their time with that in the books even if guarding the old border is still requires a dedicated military presence from now on.
It is odd that the one leak which turned out not to be true was the continued threat of the WW.
I wonder if D&D meant to put that in, but kind of forgot to mention it.
Maybe it was in an early draft and then pulled?
Second-time commenter here (first was a necropost on the TWOIAF analysis on the Iron Islands). Hello Steven!
Finally, this shitshow is over. I hope you can come back now to the CBC analysis. I know you’re stuck on the Fire and Blood dissection, but since I postponed my read on that until I catch up with your CBC of the main series (that’s how much I like them), I wish you put FaB off a bit as well. LOL
I’m currently working on Tyrion IV as we speak.
But, but, we clearly need a historical overview of the effectiveness of elective monarchies!
(I’m kidding, and would never presume to tell you what to write or when.)
That’s awesome, Mr. Attewell. I appreciate theyour efforts.
Thanks to the crappy ending we have learned:
– Cersei was a brilliant strategist when she empty-promised to help defeat the Night King (and it would have worked, too, if it weren’t for those pesky kids and their [large white] dog!). After all, Dany’s army was decimated while Cersei had time to equip her fleet and walls with extra-large crossbows.
– The Citadel masters were right to ignore the threat of the army of the dead and to continue to gaze at their navels. After all, the threat didn’t bother them, and their day-to-day activities weren’t interrupted
– Randyl Tarly is a noble victim who, in light of his killer, stood against the evil conquering oppressor.
– if there is no wheel, it can’t be broken!
– Once a bureaucratic institution has been created, it can’t be destroyed, even when it’s reason for existence has been destoyed.
Slavery might be bad but doing anything about it is worse.
Bran as king is highly likely to have been something in GRRM’s notes – and it makes sense, given that GRRM seems to be a fan of enlightened humanistic medievalism. I don’t think it’s the choice D&D would’ve made themselves. That said, I also would not be surprised if GRRM goes in a different direction in the books, assuming we ever get any more. He seems like the kind of person who would see how something plays out in practice, realizes Bran-as-king doesn’t really work, and goes off in another, more organic direction as the story plays itself out.
I do wish that Cogman’s ambiguous approach to Dany’s war crime would have prevailed. The atomic bombings were clearly what they were going for, but an even better analogy is to the firebombing of Dresden or Tokyo, where you have to really work at it for a few hours to torch a city completely in one evening. Those actions were controversial at the time, especially the Dresden attack, even as they came against a city in a regime ruled by the embodiment of human evil. The debates over the appropriate use of modern weapons in pursuit of ideological goals are fascinating and clearly what the show was aiming at, but they botched it.
Ultimately I believe one of GRRM’s purposes here, at least when he set out 25 years ago, was to show that some medieval values are superior to modern values. I wonder how much he thinks that still holds up.
I don’t think it’s particularly likely more than anything else. I would argue Bran’s election is due in no small part to simply how many characters they’d paired down. They didn’t have many options.
I’ll take that as a confirmation that Young Griff & Arianne Martell end their stories as King & Queen of Westeros 🙂
Just awful artistically and grotesque politically.
I want to shout out to someone who did NOT disappoint: Michele Clapton, costume designer. I really hope we see a retrospective of the queens’ GoT outfits coming to a museum near me. Her Sansa and Cersei costumes, in particular, were stunning and detailed. I think Clapton’s one miss was early on (of course), when Margaery was still married to Renly, she appeared to be cosplaying as a burrito in one scene. But I swoon for so many of Sansa’s and Cersei’s costumes. Michele deserves ALL THE AWARDS.
Yes, the cone of shame dress. Otherwise, I would agree, it’s been amazing work.
I agree the costumes were detailed, but I’ve been spending the whole season baffled by them. Cersei blew up the Great Sept and then showed up in the Throne Room dressed in this black, shoulder-pads, corset/suit of armor looking sinister outfit. As if her dress screamed “I’m now the big bad guy!” and she never wore another “feminine” outfit again. They were feminine takes on masculine/power outfits.
This season, Sansa started dressing the same way, which I would think would sort of bother her vassals (they’re knights that swear to defend a lady’s honor, you’d think they’d want their women to be wearing fancy dress). I always had two thoughts: “Why is Sansa still wearing her Dark Phoenix X-man costume? Doesn’t she know which series she’s filming?” and “What the hell purpose is the giant steel ring and chain for?” Seriously, it really bothered me.
Then, on E6 when Dany showed up on the steps of the Red Keep wearing the same damn black costume that Cersei wore after blowing up the Great Sept, I knew it was all over for her. All season long, Dany has been wearing blinding white costumes, and if I could stand to subject myself to re-watching e5, I would have sworn she left for battle wearing white, but I’ll admit I could be wrong.
For the record, I never thought of Nazis when Dany was speaking on the steps of the Red Keep, I was thinking of the Empire with Storm Troopers. (Yes I know where their inspiration came from). Still, it was a lot more eloquent/sexy Darth Vader than anything else to me, so I wasn’t disturbed by the imagery as many others were.
So Bronn is now both Lord Paramount of the Reach and Master of Coins. Somehow I feel that he’s not qualified.
Eh, Mace Tyrell was Lord Paramount of the Reach, though admittedly he had some “help” behind the scenes.
More seriously — Bronn should be fine. He’s not intimidated by other nobles, so his new bannermen will not run roughshod over him, and he’s more than capable of putting down any insurrections. (Although House Hightower might be a problem.)
He’s humble enough about his limitations to accept the advice of his maester on any subjects that he needs help with and gives a damn about. And this time of rebuilding is probably well-suited to a newly promoted commoner: people are less likely to care that Lord Bronn doesn’t know which fork to use at dinner and can’t be bothered with falconry.
I wonder what Bronn’s sigil and house words will be? A crossbow and “who do you want me to kill”?
Bronn doesn’t have any experience with major administration. That Mace Tyrell used to be in charge, at least officially, just says that the system isn’t a very good one, not that Bronn is fine.
Add to that Bronn being given a national role that he’s completely unsuited for, economics and taxation, and one has to wonder how long before Bran’s reign has every other lord saying “these people let regions secede without question, made Tyrion-backs-the-worst-rulers Lannister the Hand, and made a sellsword in charge of money, we’re out”.
If we’re going by the books his house name will be “Blackwater” and his sigil is a green chain engulfed in flames as an homage to the famous battle he took part in. Don’t know what his motto is, assuming he even has one.
I’m not sure “bannermen will not run roughshod over him, and he’s more than capable of putting down any insurrections” is necessarily true. The Tyrells had a hard enough time ruling the Reach b/c they were stewards, Bronn has no claim beyond being handed the title by Tyrion Lannister.
Bronn’s personally a good fighter, but that doesn’t do you much good if your vassals rebel against you and you don’t have an army to fight them with.
In that case, I wonder if the Hightowers are just going to eventually eject Bronn (does he have any allies? Is the Queen in the North going to give a toot?) and install themselves as Lords Paramount of the Reach. They have Oldtown, they’re rich, they’re numerous, and they are one of the oldest families.
As much as I criticize the show at times, I try not to assume absolute stupidity on the part of the writers and/or characters who aren’t shown to be stupid, and if Bronn would be sent to Highgarden with nothing more than a piece of paper to back his claim, that would indeed be foolish for all the reasons you point out. Obviously I’m not expecting Bronn to single-handedly take on an army. The whole thing doesn’t work if the royal court and its allies don’t demonstrate that they will back him militarily if necessary.
But if the crown is prepared to back him up, and the Stormlands, Iron Islands, Westerlands, Riverlands, and Dorne will answer the call, then I don’t see how Hightower or any other vassal can hope to succeed via open rebellion.
Ergo, I assume that (in-universe) Bran and Tyrion aren’t that foolish, and Bronn isn’t that suicidal. Bronn would still face a host of challenges, of course, but more in the nature of foot-dragging and recalcitrance than open defiance.
The illiteracy is a problem, I admit, but then — Robert (presumably) could read, he just didn’t bother to all that much, and while I wouldn’t call his reign a triumph, his failure to read wasn’t really the reason for his downfall.
I don’t deny that it’s a stretch for Bronn to occupy his current position, and like a lot of the ending, there’s largely a fan-service element to it.
Somehow I feel that he’s not qualified.
In the books Bronn isn’t even literate. Being able to read should be on the list of qualifications for Master of Coin.
As for Lord Paramount of the Reach… someone was saying a few weeks ago that D&D’s conception of feudalism is literally that it’s a mafia racket, and that you can just give someone like Bronn the Reach the way you’d give a new capo the rackets on the south side.
And it doesn’t fuckin’ work like that.
In the books he’s just been falling upwards though (at a much more believable pace) – I could see him ending up at an absurdly high position at the end of the series -probably not lord of the Reach though.
To give him credit, he hasn’t been failing: he fought on the winning side at Blackwater, he made a marriage alliance and then killed or drove off the other claimants to the title, etc.
I think that if he actually becomes Lord Stokeworth (because Lollys has inherited at the end of AFFC) then that’s plenty high for a lowborn and illiterate former sellsword.
In the books, I also wonder what the position of Lolly’s rape-conceived son Tyrion Tanner is. I surmise that, being illegitimate, he can’t inherit Stokeworth and Bronn will want his trueborn children, if any, to inherit. So off to the Citadel, the Faith, or the Wall (assuming the latter exists) with you, little Tyrion.
Yeah, not being able to read is a problem. His attitude towards finances was also somewhat questionable.
I suppose somebody will teach him, though alas not poor little Shireen. But in general, it’s like they grabbed a random well-liked character and gave him a random office just to tie up loose ends.
I can see Dorne getting independent before the North after all, they were in the shadow of the IT for less time than any other Kingdom. Also, if it is to have kingdoms breaking from the IT, I could also see the Iron Islands going rogue with a benevolent queen Asha.
So… it makes a lot more sense if the kingdoms split apart and each region goes its own way.
You didn’t comment on the greatest of the greater winners of the Game of Thrones, Bronn of Blackwater, Lord of fo**ing Highgarden, fo**ing Marshal of the fo**ing Reach, builder of the whorehouses, master of the coin!
Bronn appeared 3 times in this season, but boy, he knows how to use the little screen time he gets!
And for the seven god’s sake… stop calling Dany “Hitler”… there is nothing nazi on her (where is the “master race”?). She is Lenin/Stalin through n through trying to kill the “lords” (capitalists) and free the slaves (proletarians). Any kind of socialist/commie dictator, to be fair.
I hate when people give a free pass to “fo**ing” socialists!
If you hate when people give a free pass to socialists and communists, you’re on the wrong site. The guy who runs it and 90% of the commenters are socialists and communists. If you’re on the right, just grit your teeth, ignore anything political as best you can, and focus on ASOIAF.
Take a look at the speech she gives and how it’s framed, and then look at Tyrion’s talk about how they felt everything was fine when she went after slavers. The former looks and sounds very much like some 1930s propaganda films, and the latter like Niemoller’s writing.
I did some more digging and found something interesting. Apparently to prep for this, Clarke watched a lot of films of dictators, including Hitler.
There is no way any of this was coincidence. They deliberately took the female abolitionist and turned her into a Nazi.
I found the Bronn thing ridiculous.
The reason I made the reference is that Dany’s speech scene was a clear visual reference to Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, from the layout and orientation of the troops to the color palettes, etc.
Are you a socialist, like thatrabidpotato said, steven?
I’m asking because I wouldn’t think so. I read many of your content, including all the economic development series and the political history of the regions and I would never guess you were. Maybe a progressive left, social democrat, but socialist… that would be a surprise.
Anyways… It doesn’t really matter your political view. I find your content great!
I understand the “visual reference to Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will”, but the thing is… there is visual reference and there is the actual speech and everything Dany always said and did, since her first liberation of Astapor was far more socialist than nazi.
I mean… Her “prejudice” is all against class (slavers, lords aristocrats of “the wheel”), not against an ethnic group. Also, she tries to protect a class (former slaves/oppressed small folk), not an ethnic group or any so called “superior race/culture”.
That’s where my “hate” comes from. I get that the producers tried to evoke a “Hitler” vibe for her, but that’s just wrong and gives a free pass to socialist dictatorships that really were based on the same speech that Dany gave.
Also… It’s not like “Commies” don’t do pretty parades:
That’s a military thing that comes with a militarized society, like nazi and socialists dictatorships.
But sure, It might just be my prejudice to socialism/communism.
I’m a libertarian, btw, before anyone accuses me of being a fanatical sparrow ;D
I’m a social democrat.
Sure, the USSR did military parades, but they’re different from Nuremberg rallies in how they were staged and filmed. (For ex, you usually don’t see Stalin or whoever giving a speech at the same time as the military is parading – that was usually reserved for the Presidium or the Party, which has a very different context.)
The visual storytelling is clearly comparing her to hitler.
The Iron Islands raid Westeros when there’s no authority to stop them, so I expect their independence would be less acceptable to the other kingdoms.
Hi! Longtime reader, first time poster, and big fan.
I’m struggling to resolve two of the things you mention in the first section, which I agree are both probably true: that the show swapped the burning of KL and Battle For The Dawn endgames, and that Jon will kill Dany (rather than her falling in battle with the Others). Jon killing Dany as a fairly straightforward Nissa Nissa redux seems off to me. Relegating her to a sacrifice made by someone else seems off from her arc, where she ends up where she is, for better and for worse, through her own choices. Following a lot of the three-fold prophecies from the House of the Undying, where the third ones seem to point to Jon, I think that Jon killing her will be the third treason, the “one for love.” “Treason,” to me, implies something more like what we saw in the final episode, where he kills her because he disagrees with her willingness to kill innocents, rather than sacrifices her for a cause that they both support. And if he’s sacrificing her *despite* his love for her, how is the treason *for* love? Love of the entire world, I guess, but that hews closer to duty.
And then I remembered PoorQuentyn’s twitter theory about Jon striking out into the Land of Always Winter, being asked to sacrifice Bran, and refusing.
So what happens when Jon Snow/Aegon VII Targaryen, the Last Hero, arrives at Ice Chernobyl with the weight of the series and world and genre on his shoulders? I think he learns that the Others will indeed accept an innocent sacrifice to back off…but unlike Stannis, Jon refuses. https://t.co/KJknzHpLQf
— Emmett Booth 🌹 (@PoorQuentyn) May 7, 2019
So what happens when Jon Snow/Aegon VII Targaryen, the Last Hero, arrives at Ice Chernobyl with the weight of the series and world and genre on his shoulders? I think he learns that the Others will indeed accept an innocent sacrifice to back off…but unlike Stannis, Jon refuses. https://t.co/KJknzHpLQf
— Emmett Booth 🌹 (@PoorQuentyn) May 7, 2019
It’s not all in one thread, so I transcribed it here (also spoilers for His Dark Materials!):
I don’t think the animating force behind the white walkers in the books is a bipedal war leader who will personally march south of the Wall. I think it’s in the weirwood hivemind, with maybe a wasted physical form lingering in the lands of always winter, much like Bloodraven.
If so, well…I get why the show didn’t do that!! It probably wouldn’t have translated very effectively. You need a singular actor doing concrete things. I think the closest we’ll get to *that* regarding endgame in the books is Euron.
Not a perfect comparison, but when our heroes rebel against God in His Dark Materials, God himself turns out to be old and wizened and basically a pawn at this point, despite having started all this trouble himself. We might get something similar in ASOIAF.
The Last Hero story in the books hints we’re going to see someone (Jon?) striking out into the Land of Always Winter to deal with the Others. We’ve already seen versions of it, bc GRRM likes to play with archetypes from multiple angles, but I think it’ll be a big part of endgame.
Those versions being Waymar Royce in the book one’s prologue, Sam in ASOS while retreating from the slaughter at the First of the First Men, Bran in ADWD on his way to Bloodraven’s cave…and Quentyn, who goes through the “fire” version of the traditionally “ice” Last Hero story.
And I’m sure there are more! Point being, I thin Jon striding out into the wild with a few companions to deal with the Others once and for all will be a big part of endgame in the books, and Season 7’s Wight Hunt might’ve been a (much lesser) translation of that.
My guess is we see both the Last Hero story and Dany’s dream about melting an enemy army “armored all in ice” at the Trident pay off. Dany fights the army like Aragorn at the Black Gate, Jon heads into enemy territory to finish things off like Frodo at Mount Doom.
So what happens when Jon Snow/Aegon VII Targaryen, the Last Hero, arrives at Ice Chernobyl with the weight of the series and world an genre on his shoulders? I think he learns that the Others will indeed accept an innocent sacrifice to back off…but unlike Stannis, Jon refuses.
Instead, he sacrifices himself, or rids the weirnet and world of the white walker presence without Killing The Boy. The prince was indeed promised…TO THE OTHERS, but Jon like Ned will save the children. That’s my guess as to the big thematic takeaway from the books.
Yep, I think the boy Jon will be asked to kill to save the world from the Long Night is Bran, and as with Ygritte, he won’t be able to bring himself to do it. Mount Doom, but inverted: ice instead of fire, north instead of east, being asked to sacrifice love rather than power.
PoorQuentyn’s theory seems like a very plausible endgame to me. And if Jon wouldn’t sacrifice Bran to the Others, it seems unlikely that he would kill Dany as a way to defeat the Others. So I thought: what if she, like Stannis, is willing to sacrifice one child to save the world, and wants to give them Bran? I don’t know how they would be communicating about this if Jon’s in the far north and Dany’s at the Trident, but otherwise it makes sense to me. She is sickened by the horrors of King’s Landing, rejects Euron, falls in love with Jon, and rises to the occasion of defending the realm from the army of the dead, but in the end she is still willing to sacrifice an innocent for the greater good and Jon isn’t. And Jon kills her, for personal love of Bran as well as an unwillingness to sacrifice an innocent. It parallels the show, where Jon both did his duty to the realm by killing Dany, but also did it to protect his sisters, who would never be safe from her. And then killing her gives him Lightbringer and he’s able to destroy the very Heart of Winter while saving Bran. Bran goes on to take a leadership role in the healing of Westeros and the dream of spring, somewhat similarly to how he does in the show. What is the life of one boy against an entire kingdom? As it turns out when he rebuilds that kingdom: everything.
Pace to Emmett, but I think he’s entirely wrong about this.
Firstly, I don’t think Martin would have bothered setting up the idea of Nissa Nissa and the difference between lesser and greater sacrifices, nor the idea that only a death can pay for life, nor the idea about love and duty being in conflict, if he didn’t intend to use them. I would also add that everything about sacrifice and Azor Ahai positions it as an act against the White Walker and the Great Other – a sacrifice that births the blade which can destroy them – rather than an act demanded by them. Just as I don’t believe there was a pact, I don’t believe the Great Other wants ONE sacrifice, it wants all life as a sacrifice.
Second, I really really don’t like the idea of Jon killing Dany after the battle is over. I think it falls into the same pitfall that the show did, of putting the Game of Thrones ahead of the Song of Ice and Fire. If Dany dies saving the world, it hews better to her prophetic narrative and gives her an aspect of grace. If she dies because Jon thinks she’s a tyrant, it’s an act of petty politics that incidentally also fails the what is the lilfe of one against an entire kingdom test.
Steven, dont you believe there is some symbolism in the direwolves which imply Bran will end up on the throne, Sansa becomes Lady of Winterfell and Arya goes west?
Lady – Sansa becomes Lady of Winterfell
Grey Wind – Robb comes with the banners of Stark house but his cause is lost for the wind
Shaggydog – A shaggydog story, Rickon will inevitably die as his story doesnt have any real purpose
Nymeria – Arya is the warrior woman who goes west just like Nymeria did
Summer – Bran is the king of the Seven Kingdoms that will usher in the summer
Ghost – Jon dies and comes back to life
No, I think that’s a stretch.
Yeah the first part up to Jon killing Dany part was the pits. After that though I do feel they nailed the supposed bittersweet ending, despite the logic gaps.
P.S. I read somewhere that Arya said something to Lady Crane (In season 6 I think) about what’s west of Westeros. Also there was that season finale shot of her leaving Westeros at the front of a ship in the 4th season. So some (admittedly thin) foreshadowing for Arya Farman did exist.
One or two very brief moments or offhand comments do not equate to character development and/or motivation. To make something stick, you need to hit it repeatedly. GRRM is the master of laying breadcrumbs down, giving hints, clues, and teases about a future event, yet still managing to stun/surprise when the event is revealed. The best example is the Red Wedding, where as an a reader, it was a total surprise, but on re-reads, you can see it was there the whole time.
You mentioned about 30 seconds of screen time in a 74 hour event before it happened. That’s not enough prep-work to make the landing stick. Here are some other career paths that Arya could have done, that would have made a landing stick better, because equal/more “foreshadowing” time was spent on it:
– Arya could have returned to Braavos to work in a traveling theater group. “I loved the plays, and it feels like I get to put on someone else’s face for a while [sly wink to the audience]”
– Arya could have turned to Gendry and proposed marriage “My list is now finished, and I am free to love you [#AryasChoiceNotSocietyExpectations #MarriageForLoveNotForPolitics]”
– Arya could have returned with Sansa as her Master of Arms “I must stay with my sister, she needs someone to train her army [#ThePackBandsTogether #WomenCanFightToo #NorthernNinjas!]
– Arya could have said, “You know what? I need to go to the Riverlands, there’s someone I need to find” #NymeriaComeHome
In all honesty, the series spent about as much screen time showing Tyrion rearranging chairs at the next small council meeting as they did trying to set up the future career vocation for Arya.
Yep. As with the whole “closing eyes” prophecy, it smacks of reverse-engineering.
Proper foreshadowing takes repetition, following GRRM’s threefold revelations model.
Dan Weiss publicaly apologised to GRRM during the preview of the final season for ” not treating his characters as well as they deserved it” ( or something similar), and I believe the way they treated the endgame so to speak was more” who lives, who dies” than ” what will happen.”
I think your theories are spot on, but I am afraid I will not stick around to see if this is what GRRM intended. The dnding of the show just confirmed that DnD cannot do subtlery- they had to go with ” evil x good” in the end- and they do play favorites with the actors. And yes, I think they missed the tone entirely, but they have been missing the tone for a while now.
As you pointed out, the timeline seems off. They named the series ” Game of Thrones” which already implies they are more interested in the political plot than the magical. I do think they split Book!Aegon´s plot between Jon Snow ( the whole legitimate heir, Varys backing stuff( and Cersei ( Golden Company and taking down- claiming dragons?) and the only way they could make sense of Daenerys dying by Jon´s hands in this context was if she went too far in Jon´s mind.
So they left all the foreshadowing for a baby behind, simplified things and rewrote History to say ” Targ=bad=cray cray” . Daenerys, as many characters, are supposed to be grey. they changed Jon and Tyrion to the point they are pacifists in the series. They took the grey out of many characters, left Daenerys as a villain, and wrapped the series finale with a bow by giving the Starks kids- not Jon- a happy ending so that we could say it was not entirely bitter, but also sweet.
I do believe in your timeline- it makes more sense this way. Daenerys face off Book!Aegon and is responsible by buring at least part of KL to the ground. It could be an accident or intentional. Westeros has no slaves for her to free and the Lords have a much firmer grasp on his information travels. She will be considered a ” mad queen” by many, but then again, GRRM will leave up to us to decide if she indeed is mad or not.
The she will go North. In the show, the long night was only a night- maybe in the books, it will take months for The Others to cross the Wall ( no undead Viserion at that point, as no wight hunt needed) . Daenerys could indeed have a child with Jon in this scenario. The treason for love could mean many things- Daenerys is not even sure Jorah betrayed her for gold, so again, we would be left with our doubts. Maybe Tyrion betrays her for love of his family? Maybe Jon will kill her as she did to Khal Drogo- mercy? Maybe it is not a Nissa Nissa literal scenario, but more a ” only death can pay for life” , about their child?
Who knows, right?
Do you have a link to Dan Weiss’ interview, because that’s quite surprising.
“George, thank you for letting us take your children into our care, sorry we didn’t treat them better,” Weiss said.”
“The North remaining independent with a Stark on the Southern Throne? I don’t think so. One or the other.”
Exactly my thoughts. The Starks can’t have their cake and eat it.
This is like a British dude who never stepped outside UK before, shows up at the EU headquarters and is declared head…. after Brexit.
I have mixed thoughts about Arya’s new voyage, regarding both what might be the consequences for her and her crew if they have to sail all the way to Essos, and what might be the consequences for the indigenous inhabitants of any “new” lands they reach. She is part war-weary Frodo, part Elissa Farman come again – but this voyage could also constitute a Westerosi prequel to “Aguirre, the Wrath of God”.
But in addition to the Lady Crane conversation mentioned in comments above, there was a strong visual and structural rhyme that helped make her ending work for me on an emotional level: she sails east in the final scene of Season 4, and west in the final sequence of Season 8.
Interesting that everyone was getting a Nuremburg vibe from Dany’s speech. The content of the speech gave me much more of a very early Soviet, “The World Revolution starts now, comerades!” vibe for me at least.
You’re talking about the content, I’m talking about the visuals in context of Tyrion’s speech to Jon.
Ah, my bad. Yeah, visuals are definitely Nuremburg-esque.
So apparently, King Bran is on the same level as Shireen burning and Hold-The-Door Hodor as something George told the showrunners?: http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/production-diary/season-8-episode-6-finale-isaac-hempstead-wright-bran-interview
“[Creators] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] told me there were two things [author] George R.R. Martin had planned for Bran, and that was the Hodor revelation, and that he would be king. So that’s pretty special to be directly involved in something that is part of George’s vision. It was a really nice way to wrap it up.”
Count me skeptical.
King in the North? It makes sense for the book character, I guess, even though he won’t leave no issue, but Rickon’s kids can be his heirs. For the show character though, anything makes sense, because D&D “wanted it to happen”.
Or maybe this is all just damage control after the “I thought it was a joke script” remark.
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