Whether you loved or hated the Game of Thrones finale, there’s no argument that it was a surprisingly happy ending for a place where, to paraphrase Ramsay Bolton, you shouldn’t expect happy endings. From the army of the dead to the dragon queen, all the major threats to the realm have been vanquished. The monarch is now a quasi-elected position, and no one evil is in charge of anything.
But there are still three major issues the series failed to address, which means things aren’t looking nearly as good for the Seven Kingdoms as the finale would have us believe. These are the questions that are haunting me — and they should be haunting you, too.
What was up with the Red God?
There are a few religions in the Game of Thrones universe, although only one should really exist. That’s because R’hllor, aka the Lord of Light, aka the Red God, the power worshipped by the priestess Melisandre and various peoples of the east, seems to be the only 100% actual deity of in the Game of Thrones. We know this because he literally gives his worshippers powers — like resurrecting the dead. He can put prophetic visions in fires for anyone to see, like the Hound, who saw the Wall coming down in the flames of a fireplace during season seven. And since his priests and priestesses can resurrect nonworshippers, R’hllor seems to have at least some degree of power over everyone on the planet no matter who or what they worship.
Although the Lord of Light had a very clear agenda for defeating the White Walkers, R’hllor is no benevolent god. He was also happy to give Melisandre the power to murder the people Stannis Baratheon wanted dead, either by shadow baby assassin or royal blood–filled voodoo leeches. Melisandre also burned Stannis’ daughter Shireen alive to save his weary, hungry troops back in season five. It didn’t work — R’hllor is powerful but not omnipotent, apparently — but for the most part, the Lord of Light held up his end of the bargain.
This raises many other questions. Are the Seven worshipped by most people in Westeros real? If so, why couldn’t they be bothered to lift their seven damn fingers to save their followers from the White Walkers? Why would anyone in Westeros continue to worship the Seven when not only is the existence of R’hllor demonstrably true, but he’s also the one who managed to save humanity from becoming ice zombies? And most important, why was the Lord of Light so interested in saving Westeros anyway?
I think the reason he saved all those nonfollowers is because he’s planning to convert them all. By the end of King Bran the Broken’s reign, there could be hundreds of shadow baby assassins running around King’s Landing.
What happened to the White Walker baby?
I don’t think the White Walkers are actually extinct. We know for a fact there was at least one White Walker left up north when the others broke through the Wall and headed south — although I guess he’s technically a White Toddler at this point. (I’ll just call him “the Ice Ice Baby” from here on out.) Back in season four, in one of Game of Thrones’ creepiest moments, the Night King took the baby Craster the wildling had left out as a sacrifice, carried it to White Walker HQ, placed his finger on it, and turned it from a regular human into the Ice Ice Baby.
Now, you might think that when the Night King died and all the other White Walkers he created exploded, the Ice Ice Baby would die, too. (Congratulations, you’ve just imagined a baby exploding. I hope you feel good about yourself.) But that may not be true. Unlike Daenerys’ fallen dragon, which the Night King resurrected for his own nefarious purposes, the baby was transformed while he was still alive. Plus, the Night King created it during some sort of special ritual where the baby was placed on a pedestal in what seemed to be an icy Stonehenge, which just screams powerful White Walker magic juju. I think it’s certainly plausible the Ice Ice Baby’s transformation was special — perhaps special enough for him to avoid the fate of his brethren.
If you’re unconvinced, that’s fine, because this is only a theory. But let me ask you this: Why would the Night King create the Ice Ice Baby when he knew he would be leaving to invade the land of the living? Why make him and not bring him… unless he was meant to serve some other purpose? What could this reason have been other than using the Ice Ice Baby as a fail-safe, a way to make sure a White Walker survived, just in case they were defeated, so they could survive for another Long Night? Guys, I think the Night King saw a problem, and yo, he solved it. (Now check out the hook while DJ Hodor revolves it.)
Was “the wheel” actually broken?
Tyrion seems to think so, but as Tyrion accurately points out in the finale, he is very often wrong. (Acknowledging that he was usually wrong was about the only thing Tyrion — once considered “the cleverest man alive” by Sansa Stark — got right from seasons six to eight.) However, a king chosen by an electoral college of Westeros’ various lords and ladies is a step in the right direction. After all, as Tyrion notes, a bloodline has no bearing on whether someone would be a good ruler, which is why Bran’s inability to have children is one of his best selling points.
Over the course of eight seasons, the show gave us plenty of examples of murderers (Ramsay Bolton, Joffrey Baratheon) and morons (Viserys Targaryen, Robyn Arryn) with noble blood who had no business being put in charge of a houseplant, let alone a continent. So electing the best candidate for king based on their merits is a huge improvement, which Tyrion says will break that metaphorical wheel in which horrible rulers crush the poor smallfolk underneath.
But you know what’s still ruled by inheritance instead of merit? Literally everywhere else in Westeros.
It’s all well and good that Bran’s in charge, but eventually some of these various lords and ladies will die, and some of their sons and daughters will gain these titles, and some of them will inevitably turn out to be shitheads. These shitheads will inevitably torment the smallfolk they rule over, just as they always have, because they just don’t care whether poor people live or die. No one broke the damn wheel at all. They just removed one of the spokes.
Eventually one of these shithead nobles — or maybe more — might start thinking that they should be ruling Westeros instead of some magic raven boy, and will start a war over it. It will be a war in which the smallfolk die, either as soldiers or victims, and an elected king won’t change how wars are fought, or who they make suffer. Worse still, an election doesn’t make that king any more immune from being overthrown; if anything, it makes them more vulnerable, because they no longer have royal blood to fall back on. All it would take is one competent shithead to start a rebellion and the wheel will be completely repaired.
Bonus: Is Podrick Payne really going to deprive Westeros of his amazing sexual prowess?
Okay, this probably won’t affect the future of Westeros as much as gods, ice babies, and the unending suffering of the proletariat, but it’s still a bummer for many in the Seven Kingdoms. One of the last reveals of the show was that Podrick Payne, Brienne’s quiet squire, had not only been knighted but had become a member of the Kingsguard, the band of elite knights who guard the monarch of Westeros. Like the Night’s Watch, the Kingsguard has draconian rules about what its members can’t do: own land, get married, or father children.
This is a tragedy, because as we learned in season three, Podrick Payne is Westeros’ utmost sex dynamo. In season three, Tyrion and Bronn took him to a brothel so he could lose his virginity — to three prostitutes, one of whom was a contortionist — and the women were so enraptured by Pod’s lovemaking that all three returned the money Tyrion had paid them. Let’s make this very clear: Podrick — a young man with no prior sexual experience — managed to pleasure three presumably very experienced women in a single session of lovemaking with such talent, skill, and who knows what else that they felt they could not in good conscience accept their rightful wages for doing their jobs.
But now his fucks are over, because Lord Commander Ser Brienne is definitely a stickler for the rules, and there’s no way she is going allow members of her Kingsguard to break that particular vow — especially her former squire. It’s heartbreaking to realize that after all that the people of Westeros have suffered, the comfort and relief of the Podrick Payne Sexperience has been denied to them as well.