With just three episodes left in the final season of Game of Thrones, fans have a lot of feelings about how the epic series will come to a close. After Sunday night's action-packed, high-stakes episode, many are divided; while some viewers can't wait to get back to King's Landing, others are disappointed, wishing the battle against the dead had been the show's final climax.
Following the Battle of Winterfell insanity, I noticed a lot of reactions on social media (and around my office) from people who felt let down, as if the whole point of the show was wiped away in one fell swoop once Arya Stark comes in with her sneak attack and the Night King falls. So Arya takes on the Night King and that's just . . . it? The fight between the living and the dead is suddenly over? I understand that opinion, but I disagree. It may be an unpopular take, but to be honest, I'm actually pretty excited to have the White Walker army taken care of so that we can return to the manipulation, politics, and fascinating character dynamics on Game of Thrones. Divided loyalties? Quiet conversations loaded with meaning? One last fight for the Iron Throne? Sign me UP.
To be fair, I'm also the one who could watch Cersei sip wine and drop biting one-liners for an entire episode, but that's a testament to how invested we've become in these characters and the fascinating, surprising dynamics that pop up among them. Even during the Battle of Winterfell, for instance, one of the most poignant scenes comes in the form of a silent, knowing look between Sansa and Tyrion in the crypts, and it's in those quiet but meaningful scenes that I realize how much I truly love the show.
I still have a whole lot of questions about the Night King and Bran. Will we ever find out more about the Night King's identity? How do Bran's powers really work? Was there more to the Night King's motivations? It does feel there are remaining loose ends for which we might never really get any answers, and the show has certainly been criticized for glossing over some of the magical elements of the series, which can become frustrating. For readers of the book series in particular, it might seem as if some of the mythology is lost. Who cares about the silly this house vs. this house drama when the fate of mankind has been on the line? Wasn't the battle between the living and the dead the true war?
These people can eliminate the ultimate enemy and win the fight for life itself, but still they persist in their commitment to fight for the Iron Throne.
That's just it, though; in the end, even when humanity's survival is at stake, the people of the Seven Kingdoms still can't come together. Cersei refuses to join forces with the North, and those seemingly petty but centuries-deep allegiances hold strong. There's something to be said for the statement that makes — that these people can eliminate the ultimate enemy and win the fight for life itself, but still they persist in their commitment to fight for the Iron Throne.
Following episode three, I understand where some of the disappointment may be coming from, especially when it comes to wanting to know more about the Night King, but ultimately we're at what feels like the inevitable conclusion. Do I feel like more of the major characters probably should have died during the Battle of Winterfell? Yes. We all thought there would be more deaths following that huge fight, but the fact that fewer people died sets the stage for a final battle with a heavier impact. And although the White Walker threat has certainly been the main undercurrent throughout the series, the battle for power over the Seven Kingdoms has been the key motivator for many of the characters, particularly Daenerys and Cersei.
Over the past seven seasons, the story has expanded in scope, action, and lore that's ripe for theorizing, but just as necessarily, the plot needs to narrow down before the big finish, which I feel confident will be one hell of an ending. Personally, I'm ready for the final episodes to zero in on the true game of thrones, and I wouldn't be surprised if another curveball — or twelve — is thrown our way. The Night King isn't the only one capable of magic and intrigue, and the battle against Cersei is more loaded for these characters, so here's to watching the ones we know and love return to the fight that may be the most shocking of all: the battle against one another.