How Game of Thrones Should End

By  · Published on June 15th, 2015

Game of Thrones is officially done with a season that mostly felt like it was setting the table for the big, final feast for crows. It managed some shocking moments, some controversial scenes, and one of the most cinematic battle/slaughter sequences ever put to TV, but it was undoubtedly clearing a path for the conclusion that the production is now barreling toward – the sixth season we’re all thoroughly prepared for now. You can feel it in your bones. The end is coming.

We don’t know how many seasons there will be (more than 6, fewer than 10, thanks Stannis), but we’ve reached the point in the story where the chess pieces are all on the board, salivating at the chance to rush to the middle, and after the most recent crop of inhumane actions, I’ve finally figured out how I want the show to end.

Back when Stannis was shown being a sweetheart to his daughter Shireen, a cry went up from a large potion of fans, suggesting that the show was finally trying to pull our sympathies over to his side, to set him up as a hero who was worthy of cheers instead of ambivalence. I was under that spell, too, until I remembered that Game of Thrones doesn’t operate that way at all. In fact, it functions exactly in the opposite direction – creating warm moments in order to destroy characters we like either by moral fluctuations or good ol’ fashioned mortal coil shuffling. Still, it’s hard to resist the pull of a traditional narrative when considering what the show does with its relationships.

Which is why – after Stannis did what we knew in our hearts was coming – it dawned on me that the White Walkers should win. Humanity is nasty, brutish and sure to bend you over the bed (or a nearby coffin) if its power-hungry whim strikes.

I mean, I like a few, and I can sympathize with many of them because they say words, have beards and don’t stab babies with fingernails until their eyeballs freeze, but that’s now the extent of my concern for humanity as a whole in Westeros.

What’s more, the nihilistic, Hobbesian bent that George R.R. Martin infused in the stories from the beginning as well as the pathological subversion of expectations makes the dead wiping out the living a completely viable ending. It would piss of millions of loyal fans, but what TV show finale doesn’t?

We don’t even really know who the White Walkers are or what they want. They have the backstory depth of bacteria. Heartless invaders. Others. Maybe if we got to know them we’d see that they’re a truly welcome alternative to flawed, horrible humans. Maybe there’s no hunger in White Walker culture. No pain. No narratively unsupported rape. No gleeful penis mutilation.

The bottom line: How many knife-based playdates does Ramsay Bolton need to set up before we question if maybe humans are the bad guys of the story?

It’s nice to imagine a traditional fantasy ending where the smartest and most heroic of the heroes band together to wage war on pure evil, but Game of Thrones hasn’t been all that interested in the traditional, and at this point, I’m rooting for the zombies.

Related Topics:

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.