13 things that Game of Thrones needs to get right to perfect its finale
The end is here
After eight seasons of breathtaking television, Game of Thrones comes to its dramatic conclusion and while nobody knows for sure what's going to happen, here are some things that we'd like to see.
Granted, none of this could happen and while there are literally thousands of theories and ideas about how the show could end, we're looking at the broad strokes here.
Also, we haven't won 38 Emmy Awards and unlike the people that signed the petition to remake season eight, we're happy to let whatever be, be.
However, all men must die...and our watch must end.
Here's what we'd love to see.
1. Stick with Dany’s arc
Like it or hate it, she's now The Mad Queen and we've already done a deep dive on that.
The showrunners need to own this and embrace it.
Don't reduce the impact of Dany's destruction of King's Landing because it's clear that as a leader, she prefers to be feared than loved.
Rather than give her character a small moment of redemption, or have her momentarily torn between being a 'good' character and an 'evil' one, we'd prefer to see the writers double down on her descent into madness.
There just isn't enough time to see Daenerys struggling, flip-flopping, or being plagued with guilt about what she has done to the innocent people of King's Landing.
Also, now isn't the time for subtle throwbacks or foreshadowing.
If Dany is the real villain of the piece, it's time to amplify the threat that her leadership poses to the safety of the Seven Kingdoms - if that's even possible.
2. Pick a definitive winner of the Iron Throne
If the Throne still stands - there are people that want it to be melted down and for each kingdom in Westeros to democratically rule themselves - then we really hope that there's a definitive claimant to the Iron Throne when the final credits roll.
Well, we all believed that the war against the White Walkers would be the show's endgame.
How wrong we were.
But, in some ways, Thrones has always been concerned about highlighting a universal fact, people are absolutely horrible to each other and power attracts the worst type of leaders.
If you're going to eliminate the Night King and Cersei as the 'big bad villains' of the piece and embrace Daenerys' 'last minute' heel turn, the war for the Throne better mean something.
3. Focus on the main players
As soon as it was reported that the final season was only going to be six episodes, every Game of Thrones fan had the same thought - how could they wrap up all of these different storylines and give each character a fitting send off?
Thankfully, death has helped the writers here because we've already said goodbye to plenty of characters in season eight but as the finale approaches, the showrunners really need to limit their narrative focus.
Daenerys, Jon, Tyrion, Sansa, Arya, the Three-Eyed Raven.
They're the main characters here.
Again, we love all of the characters on the show - we're really hoping for that Ghost and Tormund spin-off - but if audiences are hoping for a real sense of resolution, those aforementioned six characters are the most important ones to get right.
They're the ones that we spent the most time with, too.
4. The small council
Going into the last episode, the list of 'supporting characters' are alive for a reason and they better be used.
They all have bonds, loyalties, friendships, skills, and experiences that would make them decent candidates for any incumbent King's/Queen's small council.
Okay, with Game of Thrones, anything can happen and these people could even end up on the Iron Throne but the smart money is that they won't be.
We're looking at the likes of Samwell Tarly, Ser Davos, Brienne, Gendry, Robin Arryn, Grey Worm, etc.
Like, Brienne is Kingsguard material already and if a Stark takes the throne, she's tailor-made. It's not rocket science.
You could lump Tyrion and the Three-Eyed Raven into the mix too but they might have loftier ambitions than simply being a member of the small council. Who knows?
A final shot with some of these characters sitting in their chair, getting to grips with their roles as newly-appointed members to a small council would be a very handy narrative device to close their arcs.
Then again, maybe Ramsay Bolton was right. Perhaps we won't get the happy ending, but it's a plot device that would work and make sense.
5. Kill Daenerys
A controversial ending, but it would make sense.
After threatening to 'burn them all' and reduce King's Landing to ashes, Dany's father was killed by Jaime Lannister.
It would be morbidly poetic for Daenerys to die in the exact same way.
We've always heard that the ending will be bittersweet.
What if the Mother of Dragons actually gets the throne (she eliminated Cersei) but never gets to sit on it? We've already seen this happen during her vision at the Houses of the Undying.
Just a thought, but nobody can argue that she's on a collision course with Jon/Aegon's stoic and noble principles.
If Jon doesn't retaliate for Dany's genocidal destruction of King's Landing, it would be the biggest character assassination in the history of TV.
6. Keep true to the characters
There's no denying that the storytelling in season eight hasn't been as coherent as previous seasons but even within the narrative of the past five episodes, the creators really need to stay true to what the characters have said and done.
Arya previously told Gendry that she wasn't the marrying type. Please don't have the final shot of Arya getting married to the new Lord of Storm's End.
Similarly, Daenerys just executed Varys for conspiring behind her back. Dany now needs to turn her evil glare towards Tyrion because he did the same thing.
Elsewhere, Jon has repeatedly said that he doesn't want the Iron Throne. Ending the show with Jon being the King of the Seven Kingdoms would jar.
Just keep things consistent.
7. Bran needs to do something
On paper, the Three-Eyed Raven was set to be one of the coolest characters in the show due to his supernatural powers.
In reality, this season has mostly featured scenes where Bran is making everyone feel really uncomfortable.
We're holding onto hope that there will be a big reveal/moment soon, though.
A revelation, a vision, an insight. Just give us something.
The Three-Eyed Raven needs to have some impact in terms of the overall story forward because in season eight, he has only been relevant to the story when the Night King came and attacked Winterfell.
8. Don’t do a Dallas
For the love of Christ, we really hope the show doesn't end with Bran warging into some weird concept time travel, or getting stuck in a time loop where he's recreating/erasing some of the major events that unfolded in the show.
Anything like that would belittle the whole eight seasons of storytelling and detract from the motivations, arc and performance of every single character.
9. Scale the action back
In strictly storytelling terms, lots of people didn't like the pacing and writing of the last episode. That's okay.
However, there's no denying that it was absolutely beautiful to look at.
The cast and crew deserve a huge amount of credit for what they've achieved on season eight - just like they've done throughout the show.
However, after seeing the epic destruction of King's Landing, there's no need for the finale to end with a gigantic war to end all wars.
Granted, a bit of violence and action won't go amiss, but there's no need to top the Battle of Winterfell or The Bells for spectacle.
Thrones has always been more powerful when the focus has been on the relationships between the characters.
With this season, you can't help but shake the feeling that the action and 'big moments' - as good as they are to watch - have been mainly used to paper over the cracks of the writing and plotting.
If the season finale reverses this trend and stays character-driven, we could be onto a winner.
10. The Wire montage
Just like Game of Thrones, the final season of The Wire didn't quite match the lofty standards that the show previously set but David Simon's wonderful drama did stick the landing and this final montage was a big reason why.
We've already said that every character shouldn't be given a 10-minute goodbye monologue, but at least give them a few moments of a farewell that makes sense to their overall journey.
For example, who wouldn't like to see Gendry sitting down for the first time on the Storm's End throne, Tormund and Ghost roaming the snowy plains of The North, Bronn gazing out from the balcony of his newly-acquired castle as he counts his gold?
It's not rocket science, but it really does matter.
A sense of closure, that's all we ask.
11. Dear Jon, hug the damn dog
If Jon ever sees Ghost again, he better hug that damn direwolf.
12. Make peace with all of the following...
Game of Thrones theories are a great way to spend the time but they can also drive you insane.
Thrones has always been a unique beast with the books, fanfare, and TV show combining for a strange hybrid that's unique to modern pop-culture.
However, the books are the books. The show is the show. Theories are just that, theories.
The final episode has an awful lot to boxes to tick.
It doesn't need to buckle under the expectations of delivering upon every single piece of fan fiction.
On that note, we're fairly certain that the season finale won't reintroduce/pay off the arcs from characters like Quaithe, Jaqen H'ghar, Daario Naharis, Howland Reed and Meera Reed.
We'll probably never get to see Arya perform her very cool 'switching faces' trick that she developed when learning to be a Faceless Man, Bran having a vision about the Great Tourney at Harrenhal, or see Hot Pie again.
If this isn't enough, just remember that George R.R. Martin will finish The Winds of Winter... someday... we think...
13. A bit of mystery won't hurt...
The Night King is gone.
The White Walkers are gone.
The army of the dead are gone.
And yet, this author has about 1,000 questions from the sequence below.
Okay, the spin-off will deal with the origins of the White Walkers but Thrones viewers are dying to know something a little bit more about this. Not everything, just something.
After all, this 'White Walker baby' did appear in the Three-Eyed Raven's vision of all the seismic moments that occurred in Game of Thrones. It has to mean something, right?
We're all going to watch the spinoff but the intrigue and lore of the White Walkers in Game of Thrones is still a big draw. It would be nice to know that there's more to come.
Anyway, whatever happens, it's bound to be emotional.