Like pretty much everyone you know, I’m hooked on “Game of Thrones.”
When I first started watching, I was so invested that I found myself praying “Dear Lord, please let there be peace in Westeros” as I fell asleep. (I also prayed that Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary would find a good husband, which was perhaps an even taller request.)
The airing of the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” will perhaps be the most anticipated television event in my lifetime. The series averaged over 30 million viewers per episode in its most recent season, with numbers for the next expected to be even higher.
But not only are there a lot of fans, like me, they’re invested fans. They argue ad nauseam about what a minuscule detail might suggest, shame each other for spilling spoilers, and even spend time photoshopping characters’ heads onto Olympic athletes while they wait for new episodes. (Google “Game of Thrones Olympics” if you want to see what I’m talking about).
What all of this means, aside from a lot of money being made, is that this final season had better deliver. like, “Arya-holding-a-knife-to-the-throats-of-show-creators-DB-Weiss-and-David-Benioff-while-glaring-menacingly-and-promising-death-if-they-don’t” deliver.
Seriously, fans (myself included) will RIOT if they feel they’ve been robbed of a satisfying conclusion. After eight years of following dozens of characters and investing in such a highly detailed world, not only do we want a great ending, we need a great ending, and I think we deserve one too.
At this point, the show is off-book (meaning that the show has surpassed the timeline of the existing source material), meaning that whatever ending we get will be the first for all of us. (Author George R. R. Martin keeps delaying the release of his six installment, The Winds of Winter, which will be followed by a final seventh book, A Dream of Spring. )
But what would a satisfying ending even look like at this point? Inevitably, it will mean different things to different people, and you can never please everyone. But here are a few of the things that I would like to see:
Redemption for Theon, and a chance for him to tell at least one person what really happened to him
He had his first ever triumphant moment at the end of season seven, when he was able to convince his countrymen to help him try to rescue his sister Yara. (The plus side of not having balls means you can’t get kicked in them.) But other than Sansa, who really only knows bits and pieces, no one in Theon’s life is aware of the torture and trauma he experienced while being held captive by Ramsay Bolton.
I was so angry when people were so hard on him for jumping off the boat instead of fighting Euron during the sea battle in Blackwater Bay. As far as I’m concerned, Theon has a free pass to stay curled up in the fetal position in a safe and remote place for the rest of his life if he wants to. I would love for him to encounter a loving and listening ear and get the “It’s not your fault” treatment, a la Robin Williams in “Good Will Hunting.”
A chance to see Daenerys laugh
Honestly, this girl has been all work and no play for as long as we’ve known her. I’m surprised she’s made it this far without a sense of humor. I’d settle for a single hearty belly laugh, though what I’d really like is for her and Tyrion to stumble across a little jar of some dank Westerosi kush and light it up.
Give them a chance to share their dark sense of humor, gloat a little about how far they’ve come, and laugh so hard that tears stream down their faces.
Sansa as permanent Queen of the North
Now that Littlefinger is officially out of the picture, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and trust in her judgment once and for all. Like Theon, Sansa has been through a lot, but it’s only strengthened her resolve and helped her develop the shrewd judgment she once lacked.
I’d love to see her rule the North Queen Elizabeth style—which is to say practical, decisive, and single unto death. (Who wouldn’t be put off men if their first two “suitors” were Joffrey and Ramsay?) Get this girl a signature style, pile her red hair high, and stand back to watch her do her thing.
Plans for a Kingsguard A-team made up of Jamie, Arya, Brienne, Bronn, the Hound, Tormund, and Daario
Get these baddies together and give us an indulgent training montage, STAT! Heck, give them their own show. Include Gendry, Ser Jorah, Grey Worm, and the hottest surviving Dothraki warrior and have them compete for spots like one of those high school cheerleading movies. But seriously… how safe would you feel if this squad had your back? And how fun would the battle after-parties be?
Tyrion as Hand of the King/Queen
Tyrion is maybe the wisest person on the show, and should absolutely be advising whoever is in power. Only time will tell if that person is Jon, Dany, Cersei, or some unexpected underdog, but whoever ends up on the Iron Throne would be wise to make sure Tyrion is at their side.
A final scene of reckoning between Cersei and Jaime
To call their relationship “complicated” is the understatement of the century, and such a complicated relationship deserves a complex resolution. Even though Jaime walked out on Cersei at the end of season seven, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them together.
Yeah, Cersei is evil, and yeah, incest is creepy, but hear me out… imagine how difficult it would be if you were actually in love with your sibling. Don’t get me wrong, the Lannister twins deserve all the judgment they get. But that said, there’s something heartbreaking and deeply tragic about their story, and I would love for one final scene between them where they’re both at their most honest and vulnerable. Blood, sweat, tears, and maybe even a hurled wine goblet.
For the truth to be revealed
What I mean by this is that I want to know, once and for all, what really happened in all of the off-screen, out-of-book experiences that set up the events and motivations we’ve been witnessing. The truth about everyone’s true parentage (Tyrion, Gendry, Jon Snow, etc), more information about the Children of the Forest, the First Men, and the Night King, and at least something to guide us regarding whether or not the Lord of Light is for real or just total BS.
I’m fine if there’s some remaining mystery, but I don’t want to feel like there are too many balls left in the air. (Insert Theon joke here). And once and for all, HOW DID THE NIGHT KING GET THOSE HUGE CHAINS? IS HE AN ACCOMPLISHED BLACKSMITH OR STUDENT OF MATALLURGY?! I NEED TO KNOW.
An earned defeat of the White Walkers
These guys don’t seem to be into making deals or signing treaties, so chances are the only way the human race will survive is if they manage defeat the Night King. However, if I’m interpreting things correctly, he and his army of wights have been planning world domination for something like 8,000 years, so any triumph on the part of men needs to feel hard-fought and hard-won.
Meaning, there are going to have to be some casualties. Even more beloved characters must die, and long-standing cities and monuments will have to fall. In order for a win by the good guys not to feel cheesy or unrealistic, victory is going to have to come at a very high cost.
A chance to grieve the fallen, and a glimpse of what’s next
Call me cruel, but I want to see our heroes and heroines deeply affected by what they’ve been through. They’ve all endured enough trauma to keep every therapist in the world busy for a lifetime, and we need to feel the weight of these experiences.
Not everyone needs to Frodo themselves away to an equivalent Grey Havens, but we need to see whoever is left at the end of it all picking up the pieces. And finally, I want at least a scene of the future world. We’ve all waited so long to find out who will end up on the Iron Throne; give us at least of whiff of what their reign would look like.
A really good closing shot
Family photo-style pose, a la the original-ending of Return of the Jedi, anyone? Bonus points if there are holographic ghosts of the fallen looking on, and a cheery peasant song backed by helmet percussion.
By Rachel Woldum