Winter Is Coming

Jonathan Jagmin

Like most of the modern civilized world, I find myself drawn to the TV every Sunday to willfully receive the hour-long session of abuse and dream-squashing colloquially referred to as Game of Thrones.  I’ve been an avid reader of the books for the last several years, and have watched with glee as various climactic moments have played out to the gentle and unknowing TV-only fanbase.  I watched many a reaction video to the Red Wedding, the Mountain and the Viper, and other key moments of grotesquerie found within the series.  With the end of season five, the TV-only crowd joined me in my years-long misery of wondering about Jon Snow’s fate.  Seeing as he’s indisputably the best character the show has to offer, his future has been a constant source of conversation for many years, spurring debates about his lineage and purpose within the greater narrative.

With the start of season six, the promise of answers glimmered in the eyes of the fanbase.  We were eager to finally learn if Jon would be the first of the noble Stark men to cheat death, hungry to know the truth behind his parentage, to learn if he was the legendary hero that Westeros needs so badly.  The vast majority of the viewing public waited with anticipation, knowing in their hearts that this would be the moment the good guys finally won one.  However, my reaction upon watching the first episode of season six was radically different from most, and it has completely altered my hopes for the future of the series.

To put it plainly, the opening of the season’s first episode “The Red Woman” kinda twisted something inside me, turned it the other direction.  Having those old wounds reopened, seeing Jon’s lifeless corpse, left to freeze under a sign reading “traitor” put a lot of things into perspective for me about the world that this series inhabits.  The simple fact is, the “good guys” consist of an extremely small population of human beings.  By and large, the vast, vast majority of the inhabitants of this world are depraved, selfish, violent, murderous, greedy and heartless.  When I think of the idea of Jon Snow becoming some sort of Luke Skywalker, wielding a brilliant sword and saving this society of ungrateful, disgusting brutes, it makes me gag a little inside.  I don’t want Jon to be Luke Skywalker.  I want him to be Darth Vader, and here’s how I want it all to play out.

As season six progresses, I want the truth behind the Others/White Walkers to be laid bare.  I want it revealed that they are not like vampires or orcs or demons.  They are not vicious monsters, preying upon mankind; they are the planet’s defense system against the devastation that mankind is capable of bringing to fruition.  The Wall was not constructed by man, as a way of protecting humankind from the terrors of the far north.  The Wall is a barrier to keep man from venturing outside their tiny, warm corner of the world.  The Wall was built by the Walkers to keep the rest of the world pristine, untouched by man’s need for industry and conquest.  The Wall is part of the natural cage that they keep us herded within.  When all of the facts regarding the Walkers are revealed, it should be made clear that they exist to thin the herd of humanity when their decadence threatens to spill beyond the borders of their enclosure.  The phrase “winter is coming” will take on a new significance.  This is not a winter that mankind will largely survive.  Man will be sent back to the stone age, back to the beginning, to start over, as has happened so many times before.

Meanwhile, we rapidly start to see a change in Jon Snow’s overall demeanor.  He is becoming more and more detached from the societal constructs of mankind.  He is becoming less interested in protecting the herd, especially when that herd consists primarily of hyenas.  At the end of season six, Jon travels north to challenge the Night’s King, the current leader of the White Walkers.  We witness a truly awesome duel between the two, from which Jon emerges the victor.  Instead of acting as mankind’s savior, however, he instead chooses to take command of the enemy ranks and becomes the new master of the Walkers.  The season closes with Jon and his undead army destroying the Wall and marching into Westeros proper to bring an end to mankind’s current era.

During season six, we also see a continual subtle change in the community’s opinion of Danaerys, struggling to maintain rule at the other end of the world.  The cornerstone moment in her character shift occurs when Jorah and Daario arrive to rescue her, and some twist of fate places Jorah in mortal danger.  Danaerys is given the opportunity to save her former confidant, and instead chooses to allow him to die, out of pettiness and spite.  From that point, she continues to sour the viewers’ opinion of her, committing one selfish or short-sighted act after another.  But, this transformation is never too heavy-handed.  She never turns into her brother Viserys, never earns the full ire of the fanbase.  But she definitely becomes harder to root for.  By the end of this season, she has already rebuilt her army and fleet, and is poised for conquest.

Season seven begins with Danaerys’ long-awaited invasion of Westeros.  She has obtained full control of her dragons and the Iron Throne is won after a series of grueling conflicts. She unifies the Seven Kingdoms under the Targaryen banner, and just in time too, because Jon’s dead army has become a very real and imminent threat.  The series reaches its climax when Danaerys’ unified military and Jon’s horde meet in the Riverlands for the epic final battle.  An entire episode is committed to this conflict, and at its peak we see Dany riding atop her black monster Drogon meeting face to face with Jon.  The two square off in an impressive fight between man and dragon, when Dany manages to corner Jon and bathe him in dragon fire.  It appears that mankind has slain its nemesis, until Jon rises from the flames, unscathed.  You see, he’s the product of both Stark and Targaryen bloodlines.  He is Lord Commander of the White Walkers, and the Blood of the Dragon.  He is the Song of Ice and Fire.  In an instant, Jon beheads Drogon, as his undead minions swarm the other two dragons and tear them to pieces.  Dany lies on the ground at Jon’s feet, defenseless, defeated but defiant.  She angrily begins to repeat her familiar collection of epithets, “I am Danaerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the Unburnt-“ at which point her head is unceremoniously lopped from her body by Jon’s sword.  In an instant, the entire audience realizes it’s over.  Humanity has lost.  The undead horde sweeps across the battlefield and man counts down the seconds to extinction.

In the series’ final minutes, the known world is revealed to have been largely frozen over, with the exception of a small collection of islands in the southern seas.  Jon has hand-picked roughly one hundred men, women and children to act as the foundation for the next age of mankind.  The survivors include the few remaining fan favorite characters such as the living Stark children, Tyrion Lannister, Davos Seaworth and so forth.  The series concludes with a long, silent sequence in which Jon walks through the frozen remains of King’s Landing, and sits upon the Iron Throne in solitude.

Now granted, this is almost certainly not how most people would want Game of Thrones to end.  I would guess that most want to see Jon, Dany and Tyrion teaming up against the White Walkers to save the world.  I wager it’s very likely that this popular scenario is exactly how things will play out.  I personally think my dream scenario is a better fit for the overall mood and atmosphere for the series as a whole, and it would be nice to see a major series such as this end on a truly dreary note.  Whatever manner in which Game of Thrones comes to a close, things are guaranteed to get a lot uglier before they get better.  Winter is coming, after all.

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