Game of Thrones concluded Season 7 last Sunday, and although the wait until Season 8 may be unbearable, we have plenty of thoughts about the upcoming season. Plenty happened in Westeros and beyond, but there are still many dangling threads headed into the final season. So, here are four things we want to see in Game of Thrones Season 8. And yeah, spoilers ahead!
Conflict between Jon and Daenerys.
Jon Snow is Aegon Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne. How many times has Daenerys spouted off that it is her birthright, that she is the rightful heir? Possibly too many times to count. While Jon’s birthright has been teased since the Tower of Joy scene at the end of Season 6, and wasn’t fully revealed until the Season 7 finale, the topic doesn’t need to be drawn out for any longer. Jon and Dany had some passionate boat sex, so they better face the repercussions of that encounter and these new revelations, posthaste.
The worst thing Game of Thrones could do is have Bran/Sam somehow distracted from revealing the truth to Jon. If Jon arrives at Winterfell, and Bran and Sam have to go off on an adventure, further teasing the reveal of Jon’s birthright, it would be a huge misstep. Game of Thrones is at its best when it’s fully submerged in that grey area of character conflict. Jon’s parentage and relation to Dany is a huge game changer, and with so little time left before the end of the series, it shouldn’t be dragged on for much longer. It needs to be brought front and center from the get-go when Season 8 is finally here. Sure, its easy to root for Dany and her claim to the Iron Throne while Cersei reigns supreme as Queen, but what happens when it’s Jon standing in Dany’s way? This new conflict could and should easily be the most interesting shift in character dynamic on Game of Thrones, possibly ever, if handled correctly. Please, handle it correctly, HBO.
Prophecies run rampant in the world of Game of Thrones, but with the final season looming, it’s time to reveal whether they’re legitimate, or just nonsense. There are so many prophecies within the world of Game of Thrones: Who is Azor Ahai? Was Maggy the Frog right about Cersei? What about Mirri Maz Duur and her words to Dany? The list goes on and on and on. Game of Thrones either has to fully embrace the prophecies that have been set up in both the series and the books, or move on from that to develop the characters whom we love and hate. HBO’s own The Leftovers is a great example of how to approach this. And yes, minor spoilers for The Leftovers ahead.
While it’s not a 1-to-1 ratio, Season 3 of The Leftovers was built around the end of the world. There’s no bigger prophecy than that, right? A Biblical flood was coming, and the only way to stop it was for Kevin Garvey to retrieve one final component of a rain song, which he had to get from a dead Aboriginal elder named Christopher Sunday. We stood with Kevin on his journey to stop the end of the world, but as he admits that he never truly believed Kevin Sr.’s theory about the flood, a beautiful revelation takes place. Kevin doesn’t even try to save the world, and chooses to live in it instead. From there, The Leftovers transitions into a beautiful occurrence of character study to end the series on a phenomenal note. While The Leftovers never reached the same status of global phenomenon like Game of Thrones, there’s a perfect roadmap for the pivot that Game of Thrones can make in its final season. If Game of Thrones doesn’t bank on the prophecies that have been laid out, they need to double down on characters instead. Or, they can finally reveal that Theon is Azor Ahai. Whatever works!
Who is the Night King?
George R.R. Martin has consistently discussed good and evil, and the grey area in-between. In a 2013 interview with Collider, Martin stated, “The whole trope of absolute good versus absolute evil, which was wonderful in the hands of J.R. Tolkien, became cliche and rote in the hands of the many Tolkien imitators that followed. I’ve always preferred writing about grey characters and human characters. Whether they are giants or elves or dwarves, or whatever they are, they’re still human and the human heart is still in conflict with the self. As Faulkner says, all of us have the capacity in us for great good and for great evil, for love but also for hate. I wanted to write those kinds of complex character in a fantasy, and not just have all the good people get together to fight the bad guy.”
While Martin is still tacking away at his next novel, and the HBO show has diverted from the book series in a multitude of known and yet-to-be-seen ways, we want to continue to see Martin’s greyed thinking played out in Game of Thrones‘ final season. At the forefront of this, is the Night King.
As it currently stands, the Night King is a figure of absolute evil, and all of the “good people” are certainly getting together to fight the “bad guy.” While we have a small tease of how the Night King came to be, his story and motivations are stark. There are plenty of people holding out hope the Night King will be a character we are already familiar with, and the theories exist in hoards online. While we don’t necessarily need to have a huge twist about who the Night King actually is, we certainly need him to become a character that doesn’t exist purely as an ultimate evil. Just as we have seen shifts in Dany and Cersei as they have amassed power, we need to learn what exactly makes the Night King tick. Will this be a hard task to accomplish with so few hours left before the series ends? Certainly, but it will be entirely necessary to get back to the compelling character discourse that has made Game of Thrones so successful.
Before Season 5 of Game of Thrones, in an interview with Showbiz411, George R.R. Martin said, “People are going to die who don’t die in the books, so even the book readers will be unhappy. So everybody better be on their toes. David and D.B. are even bloodier than I am.” While Martin has gone on to say that characters who have since died on HBO, are still alive and well in the books, Season 7 felt very safe. No, we don’t need death on Game of Thrones for the sake of death, but that uneasy feeling never came to fruition in Season 7 of Game of Thrones.
Just take a look at the “biggest” death this season, literally, that came when Viserion was speared by the Night King. Sure, other characters had their final moments this season, but none of them came as that big of a surprise or as a threat to the overall narrative. Was it heartbreaking to see Dany losing a “child?” Sure. Did Lady Olenna have a memorable chat with Jamie before her death? Certainly. But just take a look at the full list of deaths throughout Season 7, though, and you’ll only find minor characters. We lost Benjen, two Tarlys, Thoros, and the Sand Snakes,vamong a few others. Even Littlefinger’s death came and went without much fanfare because of his reduced role as of late. Again, we didn’t need death for the sake of death, but Season 7 felt entirely safe, as the main cast of Game of Thrones made it out (mostly) unscathed this season. Hopefully, that means that we’re in for a wild ride when Season 8 rolls around, but it doesn’t make up for the safe choices made in Season 7.
Are there any big moments you want to see when Game of Thrones returns for its final season? Will we finally get the eternally-teased Cleganebowl? Will Bran time travel and become a spooky ice man? Will HBO finally shell out and see the return of Ghost to Jon’s side? Season 8 cannot come soon enough!