Yes, I’m crossing my geek streams, but there we go.
I’ve had some time to think about the pacing and structural choices in this season of Game of Thrones a bit more, so I’m going to put those thoughts out there.
I’ve remarked elsewhere that I wasn’t entirely convinced by the choice to finish the battle with the Armies of the Dead three seasons in, and basically consign the supernatural threat to the dustbin with three episodes left.
However…I’ve talked it over with a few people and thought about it, and there are ways for it to work. I don’t know that the show is taking any of these directions, but I’d be curious to see if they did.
First, now that the Battle for the Dawn is over, the human alliance at Winterfell needs to actually sit down and resolve their disputes. They’ve banded together to defeat an enormous, powerful foe, and while they certainly ought to celebrate their victory (and honour those who died), they also need to hash out their differences. These include:
- Is the North an independent kingdom? I’m of the opinion that they’ve earned it. Yes, Daenerys’ dragons helped, and everyone in Winterfell would likely be dead without them, but it was a Northerner who ultimately finished off the Night King, and Arya is well within her rights to demand Northern independence in exchange for her achievement.
- What happens to the remaining Unsullied and Dothraki? They’re sworn to Daenerys, but once the fighting is over, what do they get in return? Lots of gold and free passage back to Essos? Lands and titles in Westeros? Someone needs to think about this. Similar questions about the wildlings apply.
- Are there still going to be Seven Kingdoms after the battles are won? Can Daenerys reconcile herself to the possibility that the throne she seeks may no longer exist and be satisfied with that? If she’s really invested in “breaking the wheel,” as she claimed in Season Five (of cursed memory), surely this is exactly how one breaks the wheel.
And, of course, there’s the question of Cersei. We already know she’s acting in bad faith and that she’s still got the Golden Company, Euron’s Iron Fleet, and presumably some fairly large contingent of Lannister soldiers down near King’s Landing. Daenerys also has a fleet, and based on the preview for next week’s episode, it looks like she’s sailing to King’s Landing.
I still hope that we don’t end up with Daenerys and Jon fighting it out for the Iron Throne. Jon has shown zero interest in being a king up to this point, and to have him suddenly join the game of thrones seems antithetical to his character. He is still a Stark, and no matter which of his siblings takes over Winterfell (I’m on Team Sansa, obviously), an alliance between him and Daenerys would make a lot of sense to cement whatever agreement is made between the North and the Iron Throne (or what’s left of it).
If we look at the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, we still have some portion of the army of the Vale left (I think?), which is nominally under control of Robert Arryn. As far as I could tell in the dim lighting, Gendry is still alive, and could therefore potentially lay claim to Storm’s End as Robert’s son (and with Davos’ assistance) in the absence of any other Baratheon contender. The Lannisters are a hot mess, but Tyrion is definitely still around and is the obvious choice to take over Casterly Rock. Which leaves the Reach and the Riverlands mostly destroyed, but perhaps more willing to accept Daenerys’ overlordship in exchange for the protection of her dragons. Dorne…they’ve been through enough. Let’s just leave them be.
So I guess my top choice for an endgame to Game of Thrones is an amicable split of the Seven Kingdoms and some sort of alliance between Daenerys and Jon that puts the North and the restored Targaryens on more or less equal footing.
 Please spare all the thoughts for the Dothraki who were so poorly served by whoever was in charge of battle planning. They clearly chose gorgeous visuals (and, yes, they were gorgeous) over effective strategy.