Warning! Potential SPOILERS below for Game of Thrones Season 8!
Boasting the most popular television show in the world brings with it some unique problems, as HBO continues to discover with Game of Thrones. While basking in the phenomenal success of the series, the network has also been plagued with issues such as hackers blackmailing them and posting scripts and entire episodes online, as well as the series being pirated over a billion times. As production ramps up this fall to shoot the final 6 episodes which will comprise season 8, the complication now on the minds behind Game of Thrones is how to prevent the hotly anticipated ending of the series from being leaked?
The answer: shoot multiple versions of the ending, according to HBO’s Casey Bloys. The plan is reportedly to shoot four versions of the series’ conclusion. It’s an ingenious strategy designed to fool not just paparazzi who will be stalking the set trying to capture spoilers, but also the series’ rabid fanbase, who all have guesses and theories about how Game of Thrones – which has long since surpassed the popularity of the still-incomplete A Song of Ice and Fire cycle of novels from creator George R.R. Martin – will ultimately conclude.
The multiple endings plan, of course, creates its own fun guessing game: What will the four endings be? And then the biggest question of all: which of the four endings will be the real ending? With this in mind, we do what the Three-Eyed Raven can’t and peer into the future to guess the final fate of Westeros and the men and women who dwell within.
ENDING 1: EVERYONE DIES
Game of Thrones is one of the most bloodthirsty television shows ever and has never been shy about killing off its main characters, starting with the purported hero of the series Ned Stark (Sean Bean) in season 1. Our parting sight of season 7 was of the eastern section of the Wall being blown to pieces by the Night King and his undead dragon Viserion, followed by the hundred thousand zombies comprising the Army of the Dead crossing over into the mainland of Westeros. Now that the White Walkers have truly begun their invasion, we still don’t know if the combined forces of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the Northern army led by Jon Snow (Kit Harington), and the Lannister troops we expect Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to assemble will be enough to actually defeat the undead.
It’s very possible they won’t be able to. Even with the dragonglass Jon is mining from Dragonstone and forging into weapons, Daenerys’ two living dragons Rhaegal and Drogon, the few Valyrian steel swords in existence, and the Dothraki and Unsullied armies Daenerys brought from Essos, the forces of the living may not be able to stand against the evil magic of the Night King. There’s a lot of speculation about what the Night King’s ultimate endgame is – something none of the characters have even considered besides their overarching fear of all of them being killed. Thus far, the Night King has simply been unstoppable. Will Game of Thrones end with everyone turned into Wights and the Night King bringing winter to the Iron Throne – as Daenerys once saw in a vision when she was trapped in the House of the Undying in season 2?
Admittedly, the ‘everyone dies, evil wins’ scenario – while not unthinkable – is far-fetched, even for Game of Thrones. Season 7 has been introducing rays of hope that weren’t there before, from the reunion of the Stark siblings at Winterfell, to Jaime rebelling against his sister/lover Cersei (Lena Headey), to the romance that has blossomed between Daenerys and Jon Snow. The Night King murdering everyone and being victorious would be quite a slap in the face to the fans who have been watching all along hoping for good to ultimately triumph over evil. But again, this is Game of Thrones, and, though it’s a cynical ending, everyone in Westeros being wiped out is certainly one way to cure Westeros of all of its ills. The Night King being unbeatable has also been set up from the very beginning.
ENDING 2: CERSEI WINS
Cersei Lannister, reigning Queen of Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, has proven herself over the past 7 seasons to be the cleverest player in Game of Thrones. She has long been accused of not being as cunning as her late father Tywin (Charles Dance), and she has been underestimated by all of her enemies. Nearly all of those enemies are now dead, and those that are left are marching towards the North to meet the embodiment of Death itself. We now know that Cersei lied to Daenerys and Jon about joining the Lannister army to theirs as a combined force to fight the White Walkers; her plan is to let them wipe each other out and then deal with whoever is left. A dishonorable plan, yes, but honor is for the Ned Starks of the world, and Ned Stark is dead (much of that was Cersei’s doing).
Cersei has proven herself to be a true survivor and someone who has managed to climb ever higher to the seat of ultimate power in the process. By staying put in King’s Landing and letting the war in the North sort itself out, she positions herself as a vulture ready to pick at the bones of the survivors. And even if the Night King wins and turns all of Westeros into Zombieland, Cersei still doesn’t care – she’ll just leave the continent behind to rot.
Game of Thrones could conclude with just such a scenario: Cersei saving her own skin (and that of her unborn child) and abandoning Westeros for greener pastures. As long as she – and thus House Lannister – lives, Cersei would certainly call that a victory. Still, as smartly as Cersei has played the game of thrones, she’s finally made the one wrong enemy: her own twin brother Jaime. Whether Jaime will do what many fans feel is his destiny and kill his sister (or they die together) is a big question to be answered by the time season 8 ends. As Game of Thrones‘ greatest (living) villain, odds are Cersei will at long last get her comeuppance and won’t make it out of season 8 alive.
ENDING 3: JON SNOW DIES
Jon Snow has already died once, at the end of season 5. Will he die again? It’s funny to think that a man who has endured the kind of hardship Jon has, including being stabbed to death by members of his own Night’s Watch, is actually one of the most blessed people in Westeros, but he is. As season 7 definitively stated, Jon Snow is really Aegon Targaryen, trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Jon and Daenerys, who is unknowingly his aunt, are poised to finally learn the truth from Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Sam Tarly (John Bradley) when they arrive in Winterfell together in season 8. This will open up a host of problems should they survive the war with the Night King. The primary one will be who gets to sit upon the Iron Throne? Daenerys has been fighting to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms her whole life, while Jon has no designs on being the ruler of the entire country, but circumstances change, and the patriarchal society of Westeros may prefer the male Targaryen heir to the female.
Jon Snow dying a second and final time, while tragic, as Jon has been the true blue hero of the entire series, is the clearest path to the Iron Throne for Daenerys. All she would have to worry about then is deposing Cersei, which she still has the literal firepower to do (again, if she and her dragons survive against the Night King). A scenario where Jon sacrifices his own life out of love for Daenerys so that she can continue is certainly not out of character nor out of the question for Jon Snow.
ENDING 4: DAENERYS DIES
Something that season 7 has been foreshadowing consistently is Daenerys’ death. Be it her brave but foolhardy instances of riding Drogon into battle or the sheer number of times Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and her other advisers have warned her that all it takes is one arrow to kill her, the seeds have been continually planted in fans’ minds that Daenerys may not make it through to the end to sit upon the Iron Throne she covets.
Throughout the course of the series, Daenerys has transformed herself from a scared young girl sold into slavery into a self-possessed, confident queen with the power and loyalty to win back the kingdoms that once belonged to her family. Daenerys failing to do so – and thus failing to ‘break the wheel’ and build a new and better world that has rallied so many to her cause – would be tragic indeed, and just the kind of tragedy that would be fitting for the kind of fantasy epic story Game of Thrones is. There’s also another matter season 7 has directly addressed: the matter of succession. If Daenerys’ belief that she can’t have children, even with Jon, holds true, she would be unable to continue the Targaryen dynasty as Queen.
While Daenerys is destined to go down as one of the greatest and most heroic female characters ever on television, the way Game of Thrones has set up all the pieces for the final act of their epic tale seems to point to the Mother of Dragons being the final player sacrificed in the game of thrones – which paves the way for Jon Snow to be the ultimate winner of the Iron Throne. While we don’t want to lose Daenerys, the possibility of her death is subtext that season 7 has been actively pushing forward as text, and Daenerys herself could ultimately – perhaps inevitably – be the pivotal death at the conclusion of the series.
A happy ending where Jon and Daenerys defeat the Night King, defeat Cersei, and rule the Seven Kingdoms together as husband and wife would be lovely (and could even be shot to fool everyone). That kind of fairy tale ending, however, is completely unlike Game of Thrones‘ established style of storytelling. This isn’t Disney, and a rosy happily ever after is simply too far fetched to expect for from this series. Fans should brace themselves for tragedy and a conclusion that is bittersweet, but hopeful (at least). Therefore this ending – Daenerys dies, Jon Snow becomes King – is the one we believe will be the “real” one for Game of Thrones.
Agree? Disagree? Which ending do you prefer for Game of Thrones? Sound off in the comments!
Credit: John Orquiola (http://screenrant.com/author/joho/)