It’s ironic that the final season of Game of Thrones airs as Avengers: Endgame hit theaters. In the Marvel universe, a twelve-year process is coming to a close (albeit with spinoffs and various other entries to be delivered via the likes of Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel). In slightly less time (eight years), HBO’s delivery of George R.R. Martin’s incomplete epic series has been fleshed out and brought to a battle to end all battles by May 19. With little to compare it to culturally (Lost? Desperate Housewives?) it has provided years of water cooler and locker room fodder, while telling a complex, layered story about honor, responsibility, greed, and justice. And it’s almost over.
Honestly, if you woke up today and thought, I should check out with this whole Game of Thrones thing is all about, then… go watch Season 1, Episode 1. There are way too many things going on, and I’m not even talking about the fantasy league you could be playing in to see who is responsible for the most deaths. You just can’t jump in now.
But for those who have soldiered through Joffrey Lannister and Ramsey Bolton, from beheadings to Red Weddings, through Westeros and beyond the Wall, this is the emotional payoff we’ve been looking for. Of course, we absolutely expect a Battle of Helms Deep-type showdown, given that winter has come, and dragons are in the air, but this is still about what happens to our characters.
Ironically, two of my three favorite characters are still (or re-) alive in Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. I’m a sucker for good guys – and while these guys aren’t always (or haven’t always been) pure of heart, they end up being honest, even to a fault. Jon’s recent admission of his own birthright to Mother of Dragons’ Daenerys Targaryen will certainly crimp his sex life – but it might crimp his living above ground, too. Tyrion keeps getting braver while still trying to keep other people alive, even though that might be mutually exclusive. And then there’s the arc of two of my least favorites, Jaime Lannister and The Hound, who have each proved to be way classier than they first appeared (apologies to Bran and Sansa, respectively).
While the first two episodes have started slowly, making me feel a bit like I’m having the inevitable payoff withheld out of meanness, I’m still stoked. Given the countless hours I’ve spent reading the novels and watching the show, I can’t wait to see how things play out. And for all of the focus on shocking us into submission and proving to be unworthy of television or cinematic glory, we still continue to see those redemptive arcs (Theon Greyjoy, really?) and rest assured that true conniving evil like Cersei Lannister will get its comeuppance.
But there’s always the possibility that the Night King will kill them all. It’s one of the beauties of Game of Thrones.
What theories are you riding with for the completion of the series?