The 5 Disappointing Ways Game Of Thrones Could Possibly End
We're all on board with Game Of Thrones at this point. Nothing is going to happen this late in the game to make us stop watching The Direwolf Boob-Death Hour. But what is it, exactly, that we want out of these final two seasons (or season and a half)? Are we just shutting our minds off and watching to be entertained, or do we have specific expectations for the climax of such a massive fantasy epic?
It's become its own little war inside my head, and I'd appreciate any help you can give me. I know how crazy that sounds, but hear me out ...
Rooting For The Characters We Like
There aren't any traditional "good guys" on Game Of Thrones. Or even "medium guys," really. The best we get is, like, "people who aren't unimaginable pieces of shit about 51 percent of the time." And that's great! It's a show with no set protagonist and no clear moral compass, so we truly do not know what's going to happen in any given potential murder scene. Which is basically every scene in Game Of Thrones.
On a show full of pregnant-stomach-stabbers, Frankenstein-ed nun-rapers, and amateur dick surgeons, it's only natural that we root for the couple characters we actually like to succeed. And after all of GOT's tantalizing, knife-twisting "fuck you"s to the audience, wouldn't it be ultimately satisfying to see Daenerys and Jon Snow obliterate the White Walkers, then jointly rule the Seven Kingdoms with Tyrion as their advisor and Arya as Royal "Remaining Characters We Don't Like" Murderer?
There's a lot of opportunity for growth in that particular field.
I know the show's never been about wrapping everything up in a satisfying way, but after trudging through seven seasons of barbed wire with our intestines hanging out, begging for anything nice to happen, would it really be too much to ask for the show to end with something resembling a triumphant victory?
On The Other Hand ...
Game Of Thrones has never been about "giving fans what they want." In fact, not only is it very deliberately the opposite of that, that's also PRECISELY why we love it. If all the show did was portray virtuous, likable characters triumphing over wormy cowards, then we'd just be watching some fairy tale from the '50s that would've lost our interest four seasons and a dozen unambiguous Jon Snow triumphs ago.
Victories that he would almost definitely frown through.
Ending the show with Jon and Samwell Tarly high-fiving and going "Ya did it, champ!" "No ... WE did it ...," followed by swelling orchestral music and a quick cut of all the Seven Kingdoms celebrating would be the biggest pulled punch in the history of fiction. Do we really want that?
Rooting For The Show To Resist A Traditional Narrative
If Game Of Thrones followed a traditional fantasy arc, Daenerys and Jon would unite to fulfill some vague "destiny," then defeat the White Walkers, unite the kingdoms, have some wizardy dude say "Gaea's will has been brought back into balance" or some shit, then they'd bang it out for 48 straight minutes in the final episode. But as we know, the perverse allure of GOT has always been its insistence on resisting traditional arcs -- and not just "resisting" them, but more like, smashing the traditional arc's skull with its bare hands at a combat trial while its horrified widow looks on -- so shouldn't the ultimate ending for this show climax in some unforeseeably horrifying way?
"And then I crushed the stereotypical story arc given to most characters of this type in modern fiction ... LIKE THIS."
How bold would it be if HBO's flagship series ended with the White Walkers just obliterating all of civilization? Or some other dark, insane twist that we didn't see coming? As much as we all love seeing Daenerys and Arya dish out badass revenge to utterly deserving shitheels, deep down, don't we crave for this show to piss us off and leave us throwing every remote, mouse, and game controller that we own at the screen until our dog gives us a "Whoa, relax dude" look? And we're all like "Shut the fuck up, DOG, you wouldn't UNDERSTAND!"
"Until you can FETCH a comprehension of George R.R. Martin's magnum opus, you'll never understand."
Deep down, us GOT fans are really just powerful CEOs with a secret humiliation fetish, and this series is the escort we pay to walk over our testicles in stilettos. That's actually the tagline for the show's final season.
On The Other Hand ...
In a way, though, isn't this just as predictable? The show ending with a "SEE? Everyone's DEAD! It all meant NOTHING!" moment might come off as some hacky horror-movie plot that you used to think was super edgy when you were in, like, eighth grade, because it's awesome that the good guys lost and that's how life works (cue doorslam and some Pink Floyd album you just discovered).
It's how life works and it's how my fan fiction works. I am 13 and the world is my gritty oyster.
Do we really want the show to resist a traditional narrative just for the sake of it? It's not necessarily "cheesy" if a powerful, charismatic character organically triumphs within the story. That's not catering to the fans, it's just a plausible outcome. And I'm sure it wouldn't be some neat and tidy "They all lived happily ever after!" anyway. But fiction shouldn't get automatic "deep" points just for choosing to be "sad" (Happy = BOGUS COP-OUT, Sad = FUCKIN' REAL LIFE, MAN).
"Crying is REAL life. Smiles are just for Disney movies and greeting cards." - Jon Snow, in my fan fiction.
Also, do we really believe that's how life works? That nothing matters and we're all gonna get trampled by ice zombies? We're all sitting here discussing a fun, cool Sunday-night fantasy epic that we're extremely passionate about. Let's not pretend to be fucking Lebowski nihilists.
Hoping For Social Commentary
While much of the allure of Game Of Thrones is just pure escapism, we also get a touch of something resembling a real-life issue from time to time, whether it be some form of gender politics, or an environmental allegory, or an eyepatch dude getting cleft in half then rebuilt through the magic of the fire god then no one mentions it for like four seasons (remember when that happened in real life? 2006 was CRAZY).
How could they forget about eyepatch guy? HE HAD AN EYEPATCH.
We're certainly not looking for the show with the killer vagina-smoke-demons to lead the fight towards transitioning to single-payer healthcare (well, I personally am, but most viewers likely aren't), but a massive pop-culture platform like Game Of Thrones does have a unique opportunity -- and some might argue, obligation -- to at least hint at some sort of point beyond just "This is a fantasy world and none of this is real so when it ends, go back to real life and stop thinking about it." Why not use its unique position as an automatic shared-conversation to approach an issue in a subtle, non-confrontational way?
On The Other Hand ...
Is there any way that this wouldn't end up turning into a clunky, thudding nightmare? Even a well-conceived, well-executed social message would undoubtedly spawn dozens upon dozens of the most nauseating thinkpieces imaginable. And no corner of the internet would be safe, as they'd come both from people who can't wait to cram GOT GIFs into their pre-written arguments on barely-related topics, and from people who inevitably crack down on GOT for taking some "political stance," or whatever position they want to imagine the show has taken in order to get as mad at it as they want to be.
The dragon blew fire, CLEARLY making incisive commentary on global warming.
The show's primary obligation is to its characters and to its story, not to cram in winking allegories to real life in some inevitably inadequate way. That said, I didn't disagree with the sentiment when Hodor's last words were to turn to the camera and declare "end for-profit prisons!" But I'm not sure it completely fit the narrative.
We Just Want Badass Shit To Happen
I've never understood when people complain that Game Of Thrones is "slow." The dialogue scenes are often some of the show's strongest; Jon Snow and Tormund trying to convince rival bands of wildlings about impending danger while they're all struggling to save face is a million times more interesting than watching Jaime and Bronn swordfight a bunch of faceless Dorne henchmen. But on top of that, all the unfolding political machinations and character rivalries make the eventual spurts of insane action -- the Blackwater battle, the army of the dead ambushing Jon and the freefolk -- all the more rewarding. Also, if you think GOT is too "slow," allow me to introduce you to every other HBO drama series ever.
HBO: You'll Tell Your Friends That It Was "Definitely Interesting."
By the time the final season rolls around, GOT will have set up more potential conflicts involving more characters we're emotionally invested in than any piece of fiction in history -- no movie or series of movies has the luxury of spending 70+ hours building a world before thrashing towards a bloody climax. If any show has earned the right to just go absolutely insane with some balls-out, crazy-ass ultrareckoning in the final season, it's this one. Dragons fighting undead giants, long-established characters decapitating the fuck out of each other left and right, direwolves going behind White Walkers' knees and another direwolf pushing it so it falls overtop the first wolf and they both laugh at it -- you name it.
When that kid wakes up, he's gonna get straight wolf pranked.
An all-out Westeros Royal Rumble where any character could die at any time would have the potential to be the most amazing, ridiculous, nerve-wracking battle scene in TV or movie history. There won't be an opportunity for something like this again for a long, long time, so let's just go all-out.
On The Other Hand ...
Is that what Game Of Thrones is really about, though? Some of the battle scenes have been amazing, for sure, but is some massive CGI'd quick-cut-fest really going to feel like a fitting ending to such an intricately-detailed universe?
Obviously there'll be some battles in the final season, but do we really want this unique, developed genre epic to end with some obligatory action scene like every run-of-the-mill superhero movie we've seen a hundred times? The "big battle" scenes usually aren't even the best parts of superhero movies, and often feel like they're only there because the movie cost seven hundred billion dollars and it'll look like the producers laundered the money if that scene's not in there. But how different would a big GOT "final battle" type scene even be from the end of the Avengers films or Lord Of The Rings or any number of action franchises? There's only so much shit you can do with armies marching towards each other.
Make them march faster?
If we're rooting for GOT to resist slipping into some comfy, traditional-fantasy couch ass-groove, shouldn't we be hoping for a crazier climax or series of climaxes than some big battle scene we've already seen on the show a couple times? Answer: I genuinely don't fuckin' know, if it's not clear at this point in the article.
Who Cares? Whatever Happens Happens, And We're Just Gonna Kick Back And Be Entertained
Why even go into the final seasons with any expectations? Let's just see what happens, be grateful to have gotten to watch such a crazy fantasy saga for so many years, talk about it at the next couple parties we're at while standing in someone's kitchen, and move on.
Endings are never completely 100 percent satisfying to everyone, nor should they be, and there's NO way this show's ending isn't gonna get dissected ad nauseam anyway, so why sweat it? Let's just kick back and see what happens. Probably something extremely happy, I'm guessing.
On The Other Hand ...
I mean, c'mon. I'd love it if this were the case, but we're all on board with this show for a reason, and it's not "we don't care what happens." And sure, no ending of any show is ever gonna make everyone completely happy, but there's definitely a massive gulf between "oh man, that was ridiculous!" endings and "are you kidding me? They ended it like THAT?" endings. And after seven-plus years of investment, and SO many unbelievably memorable TV moments, anything short of "mold-breakingly amazing" for the Thrones finale is gonna feel inadequate on some level. Which is an ABSURD standard to live up to, but, well, it's reality.
When you surprise murder Sean Bean nine episodes in, you're asking for a letdown.
That's YOUR fault for making an awesome show we all care about so much, you IDIOTS. BIG mistake.
So, what do you actually want to see happen in the final Thrones seasons? Feel free to demand away in the comments.
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