For the Love of R'hllor, Stop Spreading Bad 'Game of Thrones' Theories
Game of Thrones wrapped up their seventh season on August 27th, 2017 and won’t be coming back to TV until sometime in 2019. I know you miss it. I miss it too! Even as I have become somewhat disenchanted with the show thanks to the feeling that they’re less concerned with grounding the show in the world they spent many seasons building and more concerned with zipping from battle to unearned reveal, I do want to see how it all turns out. Sure, I have some strong feelings about what should and shouldn’t happen in that final season but I’ve tried to stay away from hard-core theorizing. There’s a reason for that and the reason is; this show does not really go in for mythology and intrigue the way people coming up with these theories want it to. It just doesn’t. Since they’ve gone off book there’s been very few plots that did not unwind exactly the way they showed on screen and the few that did, like the Stark sisters last season, were infuriating in the way they prioritized a big reveal over consistent or logical characterization. Which brings us to the the terrible theory currently circulating that Bran is the Night King and THAT is how both the show and the books will end. Several problems with this:
- It’s taking evidence from the show as proof for what’s going to happen in those books, when the stories are significantly different at this point. Some major plot points may be the same but, frankly, they may not be. Martin hasn’t finished the books. That’s all we know about them. And Martin and Benioff and Weiss seem to have very different understandings of the story at key places.
- There’s a lot of “this person we think is dead isn’t really dead” and literally every death shown on screen has been a true death. All of ‘em. Even the ones who came back had to do so with magic, the people who did that magic (Thoros, Melisandre) are not everywhere, and the characters were 100% actually themselves and actually dead first. This has generally been true of the books as well, Martin likes to think he’s cagey with that “fades to black” shit but the difference is pretty clear.
- It’s using people acting against character on the show as proof that they are not themselves when generally that’s just whats been happening lately to serve the plot. And anything that hinges on a deep-undercover Faceless Man plot has proven to be wrong so far. (hey, remember when Arya was really The Waif because no way could she survive being stabbed in the gut and thrown in a filthy river? Good times.)
- Some of it relies on actor interviews as though any of those have ever been accurate and not just people trying to stay vague enough to stay on the good side of their NDAs while still being able to answer questions. Leaving aside the times they were just straight up fucking with us. Remember Lena Headey’s “Lady Stoneheart” hint? Or Maisie Williams blurting “she’s dead” to a question about why Sophie Turner’s hair wasn’t dyed Sansa-red between seasons? Never trust the actors.
- The whole theory is too long to debunk point by point, but the idea that Bran as Night King is only trying to destroy the Heart tree falls apart when you remember that the Night King got a dragon at the end of Season 7 and instead of riding that dragon straight to the Isle of Faces and destroying the whole thing on his own (remember, one entire Westeros per day is dragon speed given Dany’s rescue mission to Beyond the Wall) he used it to bring down the wall and lead the Army of the Dead into Westeros. Maybe there’s a “Misunderstood White Walker” theme to be explored, but this isn’t it. Also, still don’t understand why The Night’s King of the books has been bowdlerized into “Night King” of the show. Are apostrophes that hard?
There are some interesting theories that work with the text to subvert our first impressions, one of my favorites is The Meereenese Knot which draws together textual support from many different POVs to show that our understanding of Meereen may suffer from the biases of the POV characters and our lack of an in-culture perspective in those cities. It’s interesting, thorough, and does not involve interviews with actors. It could still be 110% wrong, but I have more trust in it than in anything that’s drawing in mythology from the show, since the first thing that seemed to be jettisoned when they went off-book is any real understanding of the mythology or history of Westeros.
We all want ways to fill the time until the show comes back and we see what version of an ending it’s going to give us. I get that. I’m filling that time by attending another Con of Thrones this year and holding a panel trying to figure out how the hell The Seven fit into the end of this. You should come! It’ll be great! The way to NOT fill the time is obsessing over actor interviews and using “Everyone is a Faceless Man” as an explanation for shoddy theorizing. We’re better than that.