How I would have ended Game of Thrones
I'll admit it for you if, unlike the rest of the internet, you're still in denial. The series finale of Game of Thrones didn't satisfy.
Sure, there were moments that reminded you why you've devoted yourself to HBO's flagship show for the better part of the last decade. I won't recap them. Chances are, you've already discussed them at length with the person you sleep with.
But as the credits rolled, you felt cheated. Why?
I think it's because the show betrayed the very motif that captivated you in the first place.
GOT, you've pleaded to skeptics (like me who joined the party late), is about people vying for power in an unforgiving world. Sure, it's got some wizardry and dragons, but it's about the people.
The people. The people. The people.
I'm with you and agree...right up until the finale's second act turn to be precise.
On second thought, let's do a quick recap, and I'll show where I think it all went wrong.
[Spoilers ahead...big time.]
Kings Landing is a pile and bones of ashes courtesy of Daeneryus, who's clearly the bad side of the aforementioned coin the gods flip every time a Targaryan is born.
Jon Snow, the show's lone true hero, is torn between loyalty and morality. Tyrion, eager to force the hero to action, points out that Snow himself has been on the back of a dragon and wouldn't incinerate an entire city if given the chance.
So in a moment of Shakespearean tragedy, Snow kills Daeneryus and rids the realm of its most brutal tyrant.
Now here comes the dragon. And here's where we and Jon Snow have a problem.
The dragon, which just recently wiped out the city at the bequest of its mother, is pissed. That works. Everything we've seen of this dragon to date reveals its unwavering loyalty to its now-dead mother.
Someone has to pay. That works, too. Of course, the dragon wants justice and like most dragons, this one probably isn't going to let due process run its course.
But the dragon can't kill Snow because, altogether now, Snow has Targaryan blood and the dragon can't kill a Targaryan.
Everything's working to this point. We've got the pedal to the dramatic metal, the narrative's engine redlining when the dragon breathes a blast of fire just over Snow's head.
I'm on the edge of my seat, begging to know what happens next.
What is Jon Snow--our hero, the rightful heir to the Iron throne--going to do?
What heroic act will he commit to take hold of the moment and slingshot the most watched fantasy show in history to its climactic end?
The hero does absolutely nothing but cower while the dragon melts the Iron Throne.
The Iron Throne. The ultimate prize in the game. The thing whose conquest has been the root of all strife in the realm. Melted...by a dragon while the hero watches impotently.
In a show that's lived on its brutal portrayal of people against people, a dragon can't suddenly find a moral compass and make a decision that affects the fate of the world.
Yet, it happened.
Is this a simple case of the dragon tasting sour grapes? If my mom can't sit on the throne, then no one can.
Or did the dragon do the people a favor as if to say look at what this thing has done to you. Here let me help you realize a change is gonna come.
Argue with me. Tell me about some obscure moment in a previous episode that foreshadows this and I'll make you an Iron Throne ice sculpture for Christmas.
In simple terms: Game of Thrones robbed its hero of his balls when it let a dragon--the most fantastical of all inventions--make the decisive action that changes the kingdom forever.
But Jon killed Daeneryus, you say. He never wanted the throne, you say. No arguments from me on those points.
But the finale fell on its face at this precise moment and everything that came after it---which otherwise works and concludes the show with characters forging to new adventures--didn't pack the punch it should have.
Here's how I would have done it. Let's begin just after the dragon, distraught over its mother's death, sprays fire over Jon Snow's head.
Jon Snow stands tall, undaunted by the dragon's flame. He locks eyes with the beast who seems poised to incinerate his mother's killer.
The stare down persists. Neither breaks until finally the dragon drops its head at Snow's feet.
Endless rows of soldiers look skyward as the dragon ROARS overhead. The soldiers BANG their spears on the conquered earth in rhythmic unison, acknowledging their queen.
Zooming in to the dragon, we see it is not the queen commanding the beast, but Jon Snow.
Snow's dark eyes seem darker as he flies the dragon just over the heads of the soldiers, unleashing a stream of fire just above the garrison.
Snow can see the fear in the soldiers' eyes and piss at some of their feet. His plan is working.
Tyrion looks on from a perch high above, wondering if Snow's gone mad.
Now we see the dragon has something in its clutch. It's the Iron Throne, which the dragon drops in a clearing relinquished by scared soldiers.
Snow hovers the dragon over the throne. All watch in silence as the dragon unleashes a mighty burst of flame and melts the Iron Throne to its core.
With the throne reduced to molten rubble, the dragon ascends and flies back to the where its mother lies.
Snow dismounts and watches the dragon scoop its mother in its claws and, without looking back, flies east.
Snow turns and sees Tyrion, backed by an impromptu tribunal of dignitaries, none of whom are sure what to make of what's just happened.
Snow looks them over, locking eyes with those who will decide his fate. After several beats, he speaks:
It is done.
As written, the above scene would take about two minutes of screen time. 120 seconds to give GOT fans a chance to see their hero act as heroes should.
The rest of the finale can stay as is--save for maybe the scene where an imprisoned Jon Snow doesn't feel right. In my ending, he stands by his actions because that's what heroes do.
That's how I'd do it differently, believing in the supreme truth that heroes don't suffer a bout of inaction at the critical moment.
Save that for the sequel.
Fred Smith was born in the '70s, wore long socks and short shorts in the '80s, played drums in bands in the '90s, and became a husband (to the greatest woman on the planet) and a father in the 2000s. This decade he's made a few movies and written a few books you can check out on this site.
Stick around. Have a few rounds on the house. Then, you know...buy something.
Fred Smith's latest book of short stories, The Closet, is now available on Amazon HERE.