game of theories

Everything Game of Thrones Needs to Resolve Before It Ends

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Game of Thrones takes its final bow on May 19, and it has many character arcs and even more plotlines to tidily wrap up before it does. Of course, we are no sweet summer child: We’ve been on the Game of Thrones beat since Bran was no more than a precocious, innocent wall climber, so we know the likelihood of everything getting a satisfactory resolution is roughly on par with Cersei getting her elephants. We know better than to expect straight answers, especially from the people of Westeros — but that doesn’t mean we can’t want them all the same.

And so, with a dream of spring right around the corner, we thought it best to start considering the many plotlines loved and lost on this show and which ones absolutely need closure before series’ end. After Sunday’s penultimate episode, “The Bells,” we saw quite a few characters take their fatal final bows — from the fiery conclusion of the long-awaited Cleganebowl to Jaime and Cersei’s doomed embrace in the bowels of Kings Landing — but there’s still plenty left for Game of Thrones to unravel in the series finale next weekend.

What Needs to Be Resolved

Why did Jon Snow die?

Photo: HBO

Jon Snow was brought back for a purpose — but it doesn’t feel like that purpose was to become an undead winner and king in Westeros (unless the “Jon Snow is the new Night King” theories come to pass, which: Please do). So this raises the question: What was the point of bringing Jon Snow back? What exactly is his reason for still living even after he’s already been dead? Is he the Prince That Was Promised, Azor Ahai reborn anew, as so many Red Priests and Priestesses prophesied throughout the season, or is this an allegory for something more? My money is on his killing Daenerys now that she’s gone mad, for the good of the Realm, fulfilling her Nissa Nissa-esque qualities and turning a forlorn Jon Snow north … forever.

Who ends up on the Iron Throne? And does it even matter?

In the grander scheme of things, the first question is most important to the story as a whole. But when it comes to the TV iteration alone, this question is arguably the biggest one: Does it even matter who is there, or will the gods or magic or some unknowable force always have the run of Westeros? It’s a question the show needs to answer, not only because it’s been the whole point of the series (in book and TV form) but also because HBO strategically chose the hashtag #ForTheThrone to publicize its final year. So who ends up on ol’ Irons? There’s no way it’s going to be Jon Snow or Daenerys, right? Unless it is, because it’s what the gods demand and nobody here actually has any free will at all.

Why this war, and why now?

Perhaps the biggest question of the series outside of who ends up on the Iron Throne is why we’re hearing this particular story about Westeros. What does this war tell us about the world itself? This question is at the center of just about every story, especially ones about war, and it’s doubly important when we consider just how many wars this fantasy continent has seen, according to novelist George R.R. Martin’s source material. So what, pray tell, is special or interesting or divergent — or even just representative — that makes the song of ice and fire the tale he wanted to tell? What’s the moral of this story?

What We’d Like to See Resolved

Yara Greyjoy, looking for the closure she deserves. Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

What’s going on with Yara Greyjoy?

Okay, so she took the Iron Islands, but will we ever see her again? Is she queen now? Will she ever know about Theon? Show us a bit more of our beloved, no-nonsense Yara, please. It’d be nice to see at least one queen have her day.

And while we’re here: Is Ellaria Sand finally/actually dead?

No one wants the show to go back to Dorne, but admit it, you’re curious how long she managed to hold out in the Black Cells.

Azor Ahai and magical prophecy: Does any of it even matter?

The series’ decision to include any of the books’ many prophecies has gotten more and more confusing as it has proceeded to mostly ignore them or just use them to lightly move the plot. The two biggest — Azor Ahai/the Prince That Was Promised and the one surrounding Cersei — once felt important, but were they ever, really? Or is this just some sort of Harry Potter–Neville Longbottom situation, where there could have been more than one Chosen One? Or do the religions just put them out there to inspire people for the good of the future? If that’s true, how do all these religions feel about Bran?

What is Bronn’s greater purpose?

Why is this character still alive, and how did he get so, so bad at negotiating deals for himself? We know Martin has a soft spot in his heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things; does that mean the story involves an endgame in which some less-noble characters get elevated in order to create a new era of Great Houses to rule the Seven Kingdoms? It would be an interesting twist to add before the prequel series — which some believe could be about the smooth-talking founder of House Lannister, Lann the Clever, who persuaded the Casterlys out of their ancestral home, Casterly Rock. Sound like anyone we know?

Plots We Know Are Never Getting Resolved, but C’mon!

Remember the Iron Bank?

It was mentioned briefly last season, and has always been known as a shadowy, lever-pulling force behind the scenes — because money makes the world go ’round, even a mystical, magical, fake one! But now that Cersei has paid her debts (and, uh, isn’t around anymore), is it truly no longer a threat? Or now that the bank doesn’t have to be loyal to the person paying it off, maybe it’s actually backing someone else’s claim? The answer is probably no, but hey, you never know, right?

What’s up with magic and religion? Do they actually control everything?

The power wielded by the gods sure seems to be real, as does the magic surrounding the unburnable Dany Targs and the warg-y ways of Bran. But where magic ends and religion begins — and what powers each and why — are large questions looming over the entirety of the story. Yet so much of the magic and religious prophecy has been confusing or seemingly inconsequential. Why have gods who can alter things with prophecy and acolytes’ adoration and blood magic if all that ultimately means nothing? Does magic, or having magic, mean anything at all, or was it added only to bring a little sparkle to the story? For the books’ readers, this question feels important, since the fallibility of prophecies and the fear surrounding a lot of magic (hello, the Citadel!) has played into the journeys of many characters — particularly Melisandre (and her misreading of the prophecies in which she works), Thoros of Myr (R.I.P.), Bran/the Three-Eyed Raven, and even creepmaester Qyburn. It would be nice to see the series address it a little bit, don’t you think?

What about the Children of the Forest?

Speaking of magical creatures and beings, what about the fuckers who allegedly created the Night King? In season four, we met one of their kind, Leaf, at the Three-Eyed Raven’s old weir tree, and we watched with Bran as they plunged some dragonglass into the heart of the man who would end up being the Night King, turning him into a monster. They also seemed to protect the old Three-Eyed Raven from their underground tunnels. So their impact on the story is huge … but to what end? With the Night King gone, are we just going to ignore all that and what it means? Why have these ancient magical creatures show up for a few seconds as the architects of this previously unkillable evil, only to never see or hear from them again?

Are we not getting some of these answers because they don’t really matter … or because they’re part of the central mystery of the prequel series and knowing them could undermine the next phase of this franchise?

This actually seems pretty self-explanatory.

What will start the next cycle?

Because there’s absolutely no way that’s not happening, right? So many people were egregiously wronged in this battle for Westerosi supremacy. Houses, castles, and livelihoods destroyed — you name it, it’s probably been ruined somehow. So if chaos is a wheel, who’s going to be next to turn it on its side in a quest for dominance? Tell me it will be little Lord Arryn or even this new, mysterious Prince of Dorne? Because there’s no way this series is wrapping up without some sort of unhappy ending.

Everything Game of Thrones Needs to Resolve Before It Ends