It’s difficult to conclude a massive epic like Game of Thrones without leaving some unanswered questions behind. Now that we know who lives, who dies, and who gets the throne, we naturally want to stop and take stock of everything. And maybe, just maybe, tease out where the story of the Starks and Westeros may lead to next.
Spoilers ahead for all of Game of Thrones and the Song of Ice and Fire books.
First, some non-spoiler space for eager pre-loading browsers and devices…
Okay, let’s begin.
What will Jon do next?
Whatever he wants, as long as it’s north of the [Broken] Wall.
Considering how…forgetful…the final season of Game of Thrones got, it’s understandable that Jon being exiled to the Night’s Watch again was a bit confusing at first. Didn’t they mostly get killed? And what’s the point of a Night’s Watch when the wildlings are free to wander the North and the white walkers are all gone? Did the show forget yet another long-established plot? Somewhat amusingly, the show plays into this doubt in its closing moments, showing that Jon’s exile was simply a ruse to allow him to join the wildlings (and Ghost!) and head north.
(Spin-off request: Tormund and Jon’s continuing adventures. Call it “A Song of Ice and Fire”?)
Did Varys manage to tell anyone about Jon’s true name, and did it matter if he did?
It’s questionable whether Varys managed to get ravens out to other houses in Westeros before Daenerys had him killed. Even if he had, though, none of the lords of the high houses at the kingsmoot in the final episode seem at all inclined to throw their lot in with yet another Targaryen.
Which makes Varys’ death all the more sad. In the end, no one wanted his advice.
Where is Arya going?
West across the Sunset Sea!
The lands west of Westeros are an open question in the Song of Ice and Fire books. The only substantial information we have comes from Fire & Blood, the recently released history of the Targaryen dynasty. In its pages we learn the tale of Elissa Farman, a sailor and the likely lover of Rhaena Targaryen (granddaughter of Aegon Targaryen I, the conquerer of Westeros). Elissa is ultimately accused of stealing three dragon eggs and selling them to Braavos in order to buy a ship called the Sun Chaser, which she uses to voyage across the Sunset Sea. (And yes, those three dragon eggs are possibly the ones that Dany ultimately hatches.)
Elissa is never heard from again, but three years after her departure, one of her fellow sailors makes it back to Westeros, stating that they found three distant islands in the Sunset Sea, and that Elissa then set off even further west from that point. Some years after that, a Westerosi sailor lord (Corlys Velaryon) claims to have spotted Elissa’s ship in dock at Asshai, the easternmost point in the known world. Elissa is never seen again, but if Corlys is to be believed, the Sun Chaser is perhaps the only Westerosi ship to have survived the attempt to cross the Sunset Sea, nearly circumnavigating the world as a result.
Arya has a tough voyage ahead of her.
What would have happened if Dany had lived?
This one is hard to speculate on since Daenerys’ turn was so rapid and half-finished. All we know is that she wanted to keep traveling and conquering and toppling existing power structures. (And also that Tyrion and Jon would not have been long for this world. The former for his betrayal. The latter for being terrible at lying.)
It would not have been surprising to see Dany make another sweep through Westeros before departing, with Sansa/Winterfell and possibly Lannisport being at the top of her whole “seats of possible treachery” target list. A visit to Braavos also seems likely, since those profiting from the Essos/Sothoryos slave trade are most likely financially entangled (or supported) by Braavos’ bank.
This scenario also raises the question of who Dany would have possibly allowed to rule and maintain Westeros in her absence. The only Westerosi ally that Dany has left that she possibly trusts would be…Yara Greyjoy? Would Yara accept a regency? Would that have been any better than what ultimately occurred?
Where did Drogon take Dany?
Probably to Dragonstone. No one occupies that seat any longer, so it’s possible that no one observed Drogon’s arrival, and it has been a roost for dragons for centuries. Drogon may feel some instinctual pull there, and it’s a fitting tomb for the Targaryen line.
The other possibility is that Drogon took Dany’s body all the way to the devastated Valyria, in an echo of the story of Aerea Targaryen from Fire & Blood. As it goes: one day the rebellious teen Aerea mounted Balerion, the largest and most dread of the Targaryen dragons (that’s his skull that Jaime and Cersei get buried next to) but, unable to control Balerion, was whisked off to parts unknown.
After more than a year, Balerion returns to King’s Landing with a starved and ill Aerea. What follows is an utter horror story, as Aerea is essentially burned and torn apart from within by fiery worms suspected to have originated in the ruins of Valyria. Since dragons are thought to have originated in Valyria, it’s possible that Drogon felt the same call that Balerion did.
What’s going to happen to Drogon?
Dragons can keep growing and can live for centuries. (The above-mentioned Balerion made it just a hair over 200 years.) If Drogon stays out of trouble, he could live a long time. Long enough to possibly see the dawn of industrialization across Westeros and Essos!
Are the seasons back to normal?
They appear to be. George R. R. Martin has mentioned that the variable seasons are an outgrowth of the larger mystical forces in play (the Night King and the Lord of Light in this instance) and now that one side has unequivocally won that struggle, there is reason to believe that the world will experience seasons as normal.
We seemingly have confirmation in one of the last shots of the season. As Jon and the wildlings make their way north from the Wall, they ride past new shoots growing up from the snowy ground. A dream of spring.
From a narrative standpoint, we want to assume that their planet now has regular seasons. If they are back to variable seasons then that means the winter that Westeros experienced was artificially created or encouraged by the Night King, and therefore wasn’t supposed to happen. Since Westeros experienced one of its longest summers in recorded history before the Night King started coming south, that would mean that Westeros would now return to an endless summer, a situation that spells just as much doom for Westeros as the Night King himself did.
If we assume that the planet has regular seasons now then that has huge implications for King Bran’s rule.
What should King Bran do next?
Bran and the King’s Council have a MASSIVE job ahead of them. The war has torn the continent apart. Resources are depleted. Leadership is unstable or as-yet-unknown. Availability of food is uneven or unknown. And there’s a new generation in charge that has a lot of progressive (well, progressive for Westeros) ideas that need funding that probably doesn’t exist and probably won’t turn up any time soon.
Bran has three advantages, though, and one of them makes all the difference.
- Lack of opposition. Anyone who might raise an army or any other kind of resistance to Bran is either dead or already allied.
- Relatively intelligent administration. Tyrion, Sam, Davos, Brienne, and Bronn are, for the most part, the best minds that Westeros currently has to offer. 4 out of 5 of the council genuinely want to put the needs of the country ahead of their own self-interests.
- Predictable food production. This is the big one. With regular seasons, Westeros can now produce more food overall and predict crop booms and busts. A more consistent food supply will boost population, which will produce more goods and services, which will boost trade income. Bronn and Sansa in particular are extremely well-positioned to take advantage of consistent agricultural schedules. Bran’s rule will coincide with the populace experiencing a plenitude that some of them have never known.
So here’s what you do, Bran.
Replace your Master of Whisperers with a Master of Information, or maybe even a Master of Education. You in particular don’t need notifications coming in, you need information and propaganda going out. And, honestly, Sam is probably going to suggest a countrywide education system at some point, because a populace can’t function democratically if the majority doesn’t know how their world functions.
Tour the countryside after the next harvest. Make your appearance as the new king coincide with the first bounty that Westeros will experience. Work on that king-side manner! Tell the folks you’re going to make sure they always have food. Make sure they always have clean water (as per Tyrion). Make sure they have good roads. That justice can be done. Make them think of you as Bran the Builder.
Next, draw up common laws, illustrate how to administer and enforce them, and chart a step-by-step of succession for electing a new king. Relatedly, order the high lords to make plans for choosing and grooming their successors now. The success of your reign will hinge on the next generation feeling the need for its continuance.
What would keep the Iron Islands and Dorne in the 6 Kingdoms?
The secession of the North (which is probably just now called The Kingdom of Winterfell?) from the 7 Kingdoms makes us all wonder why the famously independent Dorne and the stubbornly egotistical Iron Islands didn’t also request the same.
In the case of the Iron Islands, Yara Greyjoy probably wants to buy some time. Her fleets are depleted and they need allies in order to build back up to strength. Going it alone at this juncture would probably result in her swift downfall.
In the case of Dorne…who knows? Seriously, that one is a total mystery.
Does Westeros still owe a ton of money to the Iron Bank?
This detail got lost, but Cersei did take out a giant loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos to buy an army that got pulped immediately. Braavos would have written that off for the slaver…and fleet…and city-destroying Queen Daenerys, but we can’t imagine they’d do the same for King Bran. Westeros will need a few years of good harvests to build its coffers back up–especially following the secession of the North–but the Iron Bank doesn’t seem like it would be entirely willing to allow that.
So: What will Bran, or perhaps Westeros itself, have to give to pay bank the Iron Bank?