It’s ended. The Iron Throne hasn’t so much as been won as it’s been melted into a pool of metallic goop by an annoyed dragon and the most surprising of all players in the Great Game has came out as the new king of the Six Kingdoms. There were several great happy ending moments when the acclaims on Game Of Thrones rolled:
Sansa being Queen of the North as the single most powerful model, with Jon’s reunion with Ghost and Tormund a strong second and Brienne being given the lofty place she always deserved. But there were also a few little indications of fate packed in there as well.
Possibly because this earth has bred a culture of expecting the worst, it’s not possible not to behold how the Game Of Thrones ended and not see where the possible obscurity lies…
1. Bran Lives For 1000 Years
Though Sam’s ideas of democracy are batted away as absurd by the leaders of the Six Kingdoms, Tyrion does motivate in them a better dedication to democracy that will see Bran’s substitute determined upon by a council of powerful peers.
That’s a lot better than a son inheriting a position, mostly when Joffrey and Tommen’s heritages are still so present in the memory. And more significantly, it should mean that the best person for the job is always crowned every generation.
It doesn’t matter how good Bran’s Small Council rule in his stead, they’re all mortal and will all die quite soon. They will then be substituted until Bran’s sovereignty is over. Which means numerous times, in fact, because the last Three Eyed Raven lived for more than a thousand years and only died when he was murdered by the Night King.
The thought of Bran ruling in eternity might appear like a smart idea, but he’s only as good a leader as those he appoints (since he has no yearning to rule at all) and anything like that permanence for a ruler is totally exceptional in this world. It’s going to be a hard alteration to say the least.
2. The Stark Line Is Done
In a revelation hardly fitting the recent history of the Stark family, all of the Stark children end up with a happy ending. There are limitations (like Jon is officially part of the Night’s Watch, Bran doesn’t really want to be king and Arya is split from the rest of her family), but they’re all given something that fits their original supports.
And more significantly, they are all given endings that would make Ned Stark proud. If his head hadn’t been lopped off, apparently.
The prospect might be bright for the Starks, but it’s not going to be a long-standing one.
Arya has no interest in romance (and even if she did, her children wouldn’t be Starks – they’d either be named for their fathers if lawful or as bastards), Sansa would drop her name when married, no matter how powerful she is, Bran’s dick doesn’t work as his sister was so eager to indicate and Jon’s reconciled his promise of celibacy.
In other words, we’re facing a dead end for one of the great old houses of Westeros. Within one generation, they’re gone.
3. The Unsullied Are Literally All Doomed
Somehow, everyone manages to persuade Grey Worm that releasing Dany’s killer and the man who deceived her (which ultimately led to her death also) and he decides to deliver what he can on his pledge to Missandei of a life of peace together.
That manifests as him selecting to take the Unsullied to Naath, Missandei’s homeland – with the allegation that the historically perilous place (because they make good slaves) would have the defense it was always robbed. Romance, thy name is Grey Worm.
The only trouble there is that the island of Naath does has security thanks to a set of the natives. The island is home to a kind of big black and white butterfly that carries an contagious disease, originally known as Butterly Fever. Sounds appealing doesn’t it? Wrong.
The disease first makes you feverous, then you begin to ripple agonizingly to the point of dancing hysterically and then, just when you think it sounds quite amusing, you sweat blood and your flesh just kind of comes off your bones. So yeah, a romantic gesture, but who’s going to love a exciting, dancing skeleton?
4. It’s All Just The Death Of Imagination
In the end, we get a realistic conclusion, instead of a heroic one. Dany is killed for her breakdown and for the risk of what she’d do in future if she was left to reign and though it means Jon can’t sit on the Throne as a hero (partially because there’s no throne left), it’s quite happy, as endings in this world go.
One thing we’ve heard repetitively since Game Of Thrones broke onto the scene was that George RR Martin was spent in rebellion over anything else. He was never going to write a “straight” fantasy story where the hero sat on the throne and good defeated evil without some almighty cost.
Everything would have an threatening admonition (which is kind of where the space for this article to exist even comes from).
But basically, the conclusion of Game Of Thrones is the death of thoughts and fancy and fantasy. Had Dany won the Iron Throne, it would have been a conquest for magic and dragons and wonder and dreams, but when Bran sits on the throne, it’s a realistic triumph for democracy and the incorporation of clean water systems and being rational.
That’s good for the kingdom, but it’s not that great for our hearts. And neither is the breakdown to deliver on many other magical things: in the end Bran didn’t warg into a dragon, there was no real detection of Azor Ahai, the Lord Of Light dropped out of the game totally and the White Walkers were killed off early for a more human focus.
It wasn’t a bad finale, regardless of how you turn it, but the demystification of the Seven Kingdoms was an dreadful proposition for anyone who wanted it to be about unicorns and secret mermen.
5. Nobody Comes Back From The Sunset Sea
Because she’s just like Nymeria, Arya’s conclusion sees her heading out on her own (well, with a crew) to the west of Westeros on a fearless journey of discovery. Her ending shot is one of pensively looking out to new possibilities and the pledge of her own thrilling spring.
Want to know what’s West of Westeros? Nobody knows. Want to know, more basically, why nobody knows? Because nobody ever comes back. That might as well be a huge red flag. With a deadly sign on it. And a skull and crossbones. On fire.
Arya is going to meet awful horrors the likes of which nobody has ever categorized, because anyone who’s seen them has been eaten, stabbed or just usually killed by them. Or they’ve just vanished completely and nobody has ever been able to figure out.
The most renowned names who went on the same journey – Brandon the Shipwright and Elissa Farman – both left and were maybe consumed by the abyss. As Lady Crane tells Arya in Season 6 Episode 8 “the edge of the world” is west of Westeros, which is what induces her to go that way – “I’d like see that,” she says.
The trouble with seeing the boundary of the world, obviously, is that it’s not something you can boast about after you’ve fallen off it.
6. What About Everyone Loyal To Dany?
After we observe Dany become the “Mad Queen” – or at least lose herself to the destruction of her entire earth being torn apart very rapidly – she’s killed, heart-breakingly by Jon and the Seven Kingdoms are apparently saved. Jon is sent away, the Unsullied leave and Bran reigns alongside his Small Council, who set about upgrading and leading in a new era of harmony and improved democracy.
But like, what about the literally thousands of people who are still devoted to Dany? Putting aside the mysterious self-conjuring Dothraki and Unsullied for a moment and the powerful associates who are settled by Bran’s coronation (Yara and Dorne), you have to make some allowances for the fact that the attacking force was not the boundary of Dany’s following.
When she left for Westeros, Dany left behind more of the Dothraki and the Unsullied as well as Daario Naharis (and the Second Sons) as her peace-keeper in Meereen. How the hell is he going to respond to the news that she’s been killed by the lover who replaced him? That’s certainly going to sting enough to bring him looking for reprisal of some kind
And then there are the people Dany liberated: innumerable people who were saved from oppressive slavers who greeted Dany as a goddess. They now have no monarch and have a serious axe to grind with their appreciated leader killed. You can’t just brush that under the carpet.
7. Sam And The Citadel
In spite of having once turned his back on the Citadel because of its anti-progressive attitude and the dankness he faced there, Samwell Tarly ends up being their official delegate in Bran’s Small Council as he’s selected to the position of Grandmaester of King’s Landing.
He’s then liberated to start again his maester work, assisting his boss turn up with the title for the Seven Kingdoms’ history and wearing robes that appear he’s fallen into his grimy laundry basket.
Won’t the archmaester have something to say when they comprehend that Sam is literally the worst maester of all time on top of him being the worst Night’s Watchman? To do both, you have to take a swear of celibacy and Sam’s been shagging Gilly all over Westeros for a few years now and reveling in telling Jon Snow about it.
He might be booksmart and he might have peeled Ser Jorah back to health, but Sam is not the archmaester’s kind of people and him finding out about Sam being in a relationship is definitely going to root hostility. And on top of that, anyone seen to be breaking vows in this world never ends well.