No, not that Endgame.
Game of Thrones is over, and I, like so many others, have a zillion thoughts about it rolling around.
A word of warning – this post is ALL SPOILERS – ALL THE TIME. Do NOT read on if you’re not done watching, because I won’t be coy about anything.
I’m going to say up front that whenever I’m invested in a series, be it television, books, movies, I, by default, desperately try to like it. I am the master of Disbelief Suspension, and the King of Benefit of the Doubt. There was a lot I liked about this season that others didn’t.
But now that I’ve had a chance to ruminate, I think I can better say what I’ve been feeling, and especially what I felt at the other night.
I think my biggest takeaway is that Benioff and Weiss must have run completely out of steam. They sat down with their 47-bullet (or whatever) outline from GRRM and said, “Holy shit, we are TIRED. But we have to finish this up. Okay, we’ll write/film all of these points here. In this order…” And in so doing, they failed/didn’t bother to create any of the connective tissue that made the series so compelling. As I recall, both HBO and GRRM wanted them to do two or three more seasons, which would have paced everything perfectly. But they refused/failed.
Maybe they didn’t even know how to do it. In seasons 1-6 they were able to rely on Martin’s deep and abundant plotting and development, but once they’d played that out, for some reason they just stopped trying.
DB: Okay, what’s next?
DW: Uhhh, okay, Dany goes mad and burns King’s Landing
DB: Okay. (writes 1/2 page) Got it. Now what?
I think that when we finally get The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, the major plot points of who lives, dies, and reigns, will probably follow what we’ve seen. We’ll follow Dany’s descent into madness for three hundred or more pages, until when she finally rises into the air on Drogon’s back (with Rhaegal in tow, because no fucking way is George killing off another dragon) and they RAZE King’s Landing in her madness to personally destroy Cersei and everyone else, we will KNOW there was no other thing that could have happened – of course she went mad. She finally fucking lost it, I knew it!
I don’t know if they really didn’t know how to work without Martin’s detail, or if they were just thinking that almost ten years of this was enough and just wanted done with it.
Honestly, it would have probably taken ten episodes in season 7 (instead of eight,) ten in season 8, and another ten (or at least eight) in season 9, to finish it all with at least some of the care that went into the first six seasons. But I think we needed that. And I think the series deserved that.
It might be that it’s hard to carry on a series for over ten years like that. It’s a huge chunk of anyone’s life to work anywhere for twelve years, but I have a hard time believing any of the actors would have begrudged the need to finish it completely. I think it was just D&D who were desperate to move on, giving us a highlights only season without any of the foundation to hold it together.
While we’re on the topic, I think I had an easier time believing this character arc than others I’ve seen on various social media. But that’s me – because I’m the one filling in the blanks from earlier clues, and I just sort of do that. And really, all of the raw material needed to take her to where she ended up was there in the series, let alone in the books.
Just look at her title(s):
Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.
That is some serious cult-like messianic shit right there. I mean, all the royals have titles that anchor their claims to right-to-rule, but the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, in those titles there is something much more than just some legal entitlement to the Iron Throne. It’s a sense of destiny. Once you step through a fire with rocks and come out with dragons on your shoulders, who would be rational? Who would approach the throne with anything other than as a demigod, chosen by the gods?
But in order to get there, we needed to see the demigod bit by bit undermined. We need to see her losing an ally, and the impact it has, Selmy, or Jorah, or Missandei. We need to see more leading up to it and more of the hole it leaves, and how she copes (or rather doesn’t.) We need to see her discovery of Jon’s true identity eat away at her, more than just with a few dudes around a mug of ale (or Starbucks.) He shouldn’t tell her who he is. She should tell him and it should create a schism between them, however that looks. She needs to be at a true, brutal breaking point by the time she sits upon Drogon on top of the gates of King’s Landing and hears the bells, the evidence of Tyrion’s final betrayal to save his own family, the hated enemy. Then she’s not just being a crazy firebitch. She’s literally tearing down everything her betrayers sought to save. They shall not have it, for she will burn it all. And we’d believe it, by then.
Then she and Jon don’t have to have that hackneyed confrontation in the ruins of the throne room. She doesn’t have to even try to convince him. He comes up, while the northmen fight the unsullied as it all goes to shit down below, and gives her once opportunity to stop. She says Dracarys and…
He’s a true Targaryen, and he survives – unburnt. When he approaches Dany to either finish her or accept her surrender, Drogon lunges, but with a wave of his hand, Jon rebukes him and cows him, because he’s fucking Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of his name, and that’s what Targaryens do. Then when she gives him no choice, he kills her.
Now there is no need for this stupid six week jail thing and kangaroo court (I know it isn’t really one of those, but I’m being petulant right now.) Now all will see he’s a Targaryen. He will mount up on Drogon over the dead body of his mother, because it’s Targaryen blood that masters the will of the dragons, and he sails down to bring death to the Unsullied and finish this travesty once and for all.
Except he doesn’t, because he’s still also Jon Snow. He accepts Greyworm’s surrender and bids them leave within three days to the isle of Naath while he begins to put all this shit back together.
And then they kings gather, and officially coronate the King of the Seven Kingdoms, because of course Sansa will bend the knee. Maybe they’ll still have to drown Yara or something, who knows…
That said, Drogon MELTING the Iron Throne was a thing of bewdy.
I don’t know. It will be interesting to see what GRRM does.
Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen VI
And what exactly is the point of him anyway?
To take us all the way through the story where Jon Snow goes from bastard to the Night’s Watch to the Lord of Winterfell to Aegon Targaryen, the rightful High King and heir to the Iron Throne for literally nothing is utter crap.
I mean, I get subversive and “no happy endings,” but Jesus, it really is okay to spend seven seasons on the reveal of who he is and spend the rest of it figure out how he actually gains the throne, whether he wants it or not. Of course he doesn’t want it, but Jon does what is necessary first, and it is necessary to bring an end to the warfare, restore the kingdoms, and deal with the North beyond the Wall, to be sure the threat of the Night King and the Undead truly is forever ended. Why do I think it isn’t? *shrug*
Just because our favorites kept getting killed doesn’t mean it’s all for nothing and you don’t get even one fucking prize at the end.
No. No, no, no. Send this the Imp back to Casterly Rock to take over the Kingdom. He’ll have Aegon and his dragon to back him up. He did his part, and making him Hand yet again seems silly. I should probably think this further through, but oh well.
Grand Maester? No. THIS is Jon’s Hand. He’s learned, he’s a lord, and he’s Jon’s most trusted friend.
And the whole ASOIAF book scene? Blech. If you wanted to show that, you take a last moment to show an aged Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of his Name, decades later poring over the book in the twilight of his life, his rheumy eyes settling on the title page, “A History of the Usurpation and Restoration of House Targaryen to the Iron Throne and the War of the Seven Kingdoms, as compiled by Samwell of House Tarly, Hand of the King.”
Let someone else be Grand Maester.
Brandon Stark/The Three-Eyed Raven
Shouldn’t he be tied up with roots under a fucking tree up North? I thought that was the whole point? He’d do his part, then become the memory of the land, blah-blah-blah. Maybe I need to read that part again.
Queen of the North
I can work with this.
Drown this asshole. Now. Like in episode 4. Right before he kills another dragon to save CGI money. Or wait…
Jamie Lannister, Kingslayer
This dickhead. I guess his going back to Cersei kind of makes sense. Maybe he knew she was bound to die. I don’t know.
Maybe we still let Euron kill him, but we do it because they make it clear that he understood what it meant that Tyrion knew about the baby? I mean, duh. The rumors of incest had been there for years, and I’m pretty sure the idiot said as much to Cersei when he was doing his best to not get laid (because anyone who acted like he did to any woman would totally not get laid.) So they fight, because he’s not going to be fucked over by a one-handed perv, but we leave it in doubt…
Okay, here we go. We spent seven seasons watching her go from little girl to Faceless Assassin. We watched her kill the waif. We watched her kill the Night King. But dammit, there is only ONE kill we were all waiting for.
Okay, besides the Hound and the Mountain. Shut up.
Again – it’s not about never having happy endings. It’s about going through the death and destruction of nearly ten years and getting a fucking PAYOFF.
So we catch up to Cersei as she’s fleeing. Qyburn is dead (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – loved that one) and she’s left the Hound and the Mountain to their family reunion. And there is Jamie. He’s survived the battle with Euron. He looks like shit, but he’s there for her. He takes he down to the escape tunnel, in the shadow of the dragon skulls. He stops for a moment. She turns to ask what’s wrong.
He says, “Winter is Here.”
Confused, she says, “What?” as Jamie runs her through. Not with his longsword. With a narrow, pointed Needle. As Cersei crumples to the ground, Jamie takes a hand to his face, and removes it, revealing, of course, Arya, who had come upon Jamie’s body and did what she fucking TRAINED to do.
Because what the hell was the POINT of that entire trip to Braavos when she didn’t do a damn thing with it after killing Frey? Yet another deeply wasted opportunity, regardless of the many ways it could have played out.
Then she can get on a boat and discover America or whatever.
Gods, what a mess. What an absolute mess. And I find I’m hoping that George won’t just deviate from the show, but will repudiate the ending and give us something much more satisfying that, even if it wasn’t how we would have done it, still makes us feel like, yes, it ended in the best way it could have, and we should have seen it coming from the start.
I wanted so much to like the ending. I really did.
And I really, really didn’t.