“We have won the Great War; now we will win the last war,” – said by Daenerys Targaryen during the worst rated episode in the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’. Jamie Lannister has been reset to his factory setting as a ‘fuckboy’; Tyrion has never been more strategically useless since he became Hand of the Queen. As for Varys – he has stopped functioning as a Spy Master a long time ago; now he does nearly nothing but conspire against our Khaleesi. Nobody knows what happened in the producers’ minds. Maybe they simply gave up, putting a coffee cup in the show to mock us. People have started to question whether their favourite show will give them the truly epic battle and unpredictable finale that was promised.
It’s 200 per cent reasonable to express our anger and concerns to HBO – yet I still have faith in the last two episodes, and especially in author George R.R. Martin who explained the ending of the book series to the series’ producers. I would never question his ability to articulate a finale we will never forget. After all, he is the almighty one true God of Death who can make both the Lord of Light and the Night King tremble. So, what might happen in the end? I think these three lines in the show are worth consideration:
“I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel.”
“Power is a curious thing […] power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall.”
“You say you can’t have children. But there are other ways of choosing a successor. The Night’s Watch has one method. The Ironborn […] have another”
This first quote is said by Daenerys the Mhysa, to express her ambition on building a long-lasting dynasty in Westeros. The second is from Varys the Constructivist IR scholar, arguing that the nature of power is essentially a norm, an idea. Last but not the least, Tyrion discusses who could be the second in line to wear the crown.
These quotes seem unrelated, but perhaps they directly foreshadow the fact that what lies beyond the ‘ugly old chair’ – the Iron Throne, a symbol of Monarchy – is a new, better political system, which might bring and end to the relentless ‘Game’ of Thrones for good. The ‘Throne’ has governed the world for a thousand years; it’s a game of aristocrats, a dying system which brings the public nothing but bloodshed and chaos. Such ‘chaos’ would eventually become a ‘ladder’ for people like Little Finger to take advantage of – but not people without a title or a castle to inherit. Most civilians in the show died for nothing, because they’re expendable. And it would be sad if such ‘wheel’ of ‘game’ continues to roll in the final episode. Varys has every right to pledge his allegiance to the “Good People of Westeros” – but his solution to switch to another candidate whenever needed is wrong. Tyrion is the only character to have truly foreseen the future by proposing a new mechanism to reduce current political carnage. Thus maybe none of the characters we have vouched for will sit on the Iron Throne. Or maybe something even better: there will no longer be a throne, only the relic of the Red Keep as a museum, to teach future generations a lesson – similar to the real-life ‘Forbidden City’ of Beijing. A more modernised democracy based on the voting system of Night’s Watch and the Ironborn may potentially be built in the end, to transfer the real power into voters rather than the ruler. Only in this way can we truly see the ‘terminal’ of the great power game and open a brand-new chapter of Republic.
I mean it. If the Great War between life and death hasn’t already taught everyone the cost of the old Monarchy, why would we presume anyone can bring long-term peace and stability to us? Varys will die, Tyrion may die, Daenerys will never sit on the Throne as the prophecy implied in season two. Look beyond this show – think about what we have in the real world today: we have managed to (partially) shut the ‘power’ into a cage; made dominating politicians (like Kings and Queens) act as the servant and jester at times. But most importantly, we’ve made them disposable – because we as the voter are the guardians of power.
Although many aspects of this world order are still far from ideal, we should appreciate the ‘Iron Price’ we have paid to enter this liberal era. Once upon a time, they wrote the Hammer of Witches and burned, skinned and drowned women alive. Later, they threw people into gas chambers and Unit 731 with racial pride. Then they assassinated writers, presidents, journalists, and labelled student upheaval as an ‘Anti-revolution Riot’. Our history isn’t less gruesome than the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ written by Samwell Tarly. Whether in Westeros or on Earth, history progresses and evolves itself. And both histories shall sail towards a better tomorrow. The developing trend of human civilisation is that more and more ‘weak’ and ‘fringe’ minorities are gaining equal rights and individual freedom, desalting long-rooted discrimination, misunderstanding and invented superiority at the expense of their blood and tears. We will all continue to improve our existing era of history. This is my take-away from eight years watching GoT: I am ‘No one’ of house ‘Nothing’, and I bow to no one, I fight for all of us.
Welcome to the ‘End of History in Westeros’. And welcome to 2019 AD.
Haoyi is the PARSA Queer Officer of 2019.
Haoyi Jason Zou