Rhaegar Targaryen's Ghost

The Bittersweet Ending That Must Be

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So I was reading a Vox article [https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/9/1/16225980/game-of-thrones-finale-ending-impossible] that talked about the potential ending of the show. I was impressed with the author's knowledge of the show, but frustrated by the assertion that a satisfying ending is impossible. While the three tropes that the author focused on certainly are accurate, any true fan of Game of Thrones knows that simple will not be GRRM's ending. It discussed how no matter what the ending will be disappointing because the show could not possibly achieve a heroic, subversive, and history based ending, and laid out the three possible ways that it could end:

1. Jon and Dany win and live happily ever after. (heroic)

2. Someone else is on the throne. (subversive)

3. Gendry, Phillip Plumm, or some other person of in-universe historical legitimacy ascending to the throne. (historical)

But I thought that these were all far too simple. (Plus, if D&D were searching for a subversive ending, wouldn't they just have the Night King wipe out all of humanity?) 

 

Why can't all three of these goals be achieved? The author made some valid points about how the universe building of ASOIAF is one of the reasons that people have become so obsessed with it. Why can't that history be tied in together with a heroic yet genre-subverting ending?

I've long thought that the ending would be quite straightforward, and nothing that happened this season has changed my view on that. 

The Night King must be defeated, and Dany must ascend to power and eventually "break the wheel". This is like the heroic ending that wouldn't be subversive at all, except the show has been spoon feeding us the Jon-Dany happily ever after ending. By continuing to push this, anything other than these two on the throne together will be seen as something subversive. For the heroic part, that could be Jon sacrificing himself for Dany and the realm to kill the NK. And historical? The rules of succession that Tyrion pointed out in episode 6 and the tomes of information on Targ lineages and family history that GRRM has created would come into play as Dany re-institutes a Targaryen dynasty on the throne. I don't think the "breaking the wheel" will lead to a democracy, I think it will be restoring the Targaryen wheel. 

 

So after all this rambling, I guess what I'm asking:

Wouldn't Jon jumping off Rhaegal and killing the Viserion-riding-Night King in a last minute way to save Dany (who is carrying his heir) but Jon actually dying in the process be an ending that successfully satisfies all three of the different types of endings? And, isn't this the type of bittersweet ending that GRRM wants?

I'm imagining a dramatic scene where Dany/Drogon dive in a last minute attempt to catch Jon, but they'll be unsuccessful. Seems right up his alley, and it's an ending that won't be cheesy or too unpredictable. 

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2 hours ago, Rhaegar Targaryen's Ghost said:

So after all this rambling, I guess what I'm asking:

Wouldn't Jon jumping off Rhaegal and killing the Viserion-riding-Night King in a last minute way to save Dany (who is carrying his heir) but Jon actually dying in the process be an ending that successfully satisfies all three of the different types of endings? And, isn't this the type of bittersweet ending that GRRM wants?

I'm imagining a dramatic scene where Dany/Drogon dive in a last minute attempt to catch Jon, but they'll be unsuccessful. Seems right up his alley, and it's an ending that won't be cheesy or too unpredictable. 

If you support Jon and dislike Dany, you could probably think that such an ending was subversive. I for one am invested in characters other than Jon and Dany. 

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Jon dying to save Daenerys, who carries his heir, or vice versa, is not subversive. It's bog standard fantasy.

You can't have your cake and eat it. Either you get a traditional ending, or you get a truly subversive one where both Jon and Daenerys end up somewhere very far from the Iron Throne, won't be heroes after all, and might die anti climactically and humilliatingly.

Edited by Vibalist

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3 hours ago, Rhaegar Targaryen's Ghost said:

Wouldn't Jon jumping off Rhaegal and killing the Viserion-riding-Night King in a last minute way to save Dany (who is carrying his heir) but Jon actually dying in the process be an ending that successfully satisfies all three of the different types of endings? And, isn't this the type of bittersweet ending that GRRM wants?

The heroic sacrifice ending is, as Vibalist says, bog standard fantasy, not subversive trope breaking.

If you want to do that anyway and still break the trope somehow, try this: 

Drogon and Viserion are dogfighting, and they injure each other so badly that they both go spiraling down into a field covered in magical icy mist.

Seeing this, and despairing that all hope is lost, Jon remembers something: Sacrificing Shireen's king's blood may not have won the battle, but it did actually work to clear the mists and cold, and he's got super-special double-kingsblood, plus dragonfire instead of just a bonfire. So, he lands Rhaegal, stands in front of him, shouts "dracarys", and bursts into flames. And the mists instantly clear. To reveal that the Night King died anticlimactically in his crash, and Dany was already standing triumphantly over him. Jon's sacrifice was at pointless as Shireen's.

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Another way to be subversive is to have Daenerys on the Iron Throne. And then she turns out to be a horrifically incompetent ruler.

See, her only experience is with conquest and war. She doesn't know how to keep a kingdom stable or how to deal with the politicking. Turns out Tywin's iron fist was much better suited for Westeros. By attempting to transition society out of feudalism, Daenerys takes on too big a task, breaks too many traditions at once, tries to change too much at a time. Her intention to break the wheel comes to nothing, people no longer believe in her humanism, and feudalism persists. Turns out you need an actual strategy beyond fire and blood and tearing down the system in order to effectuate change.
 

This would tie in with what we've seen of her so far. Logically, Meeren should be in ruins after she left Daario Naharis - of all people - behind to rule it. If that's not horrifically bad leadership, I don't know what is.

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8 minutes ago, Vibalist said:

Another way to be subversive is to have Daenerys on the Iron Throne. And then she turns out to be a horrifically incompetent ruler.

See, her only experience is with conquest and war. She doesn't know how to keep a kingdom stable or how to deal with the politicking. Turns out Tywin's iron fist was much better suited for Westeros. By attempting to transition society out of feudalism, Daenerys takes on too big a task, breaks too many traditions at once, tries to change too much at a time. Her intention to break the wheel comes to nothing, people no longer believe in her humanism, and feudalism persists. Turns out you need an actual strategy beyond fire and blood and tearing down the system in order to effectuate change.
 

This would tie in with what we've seen of her so far. Logically, Meeren should be in ruins after she left Daario Naharis - of all people - behind to rule it. If that's not horrifically bad leadership, I don't know what is.

interesting thought. Daario pointed out this in s6 and we are seeing how she has a temper.

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I feel like Missandei's very explicit translation of The Prince(ess) That Was Promised prophecy in episode 2 was strong evidence of foreshadowing that Daenerys is the PTWP. The show in particular is many things but subtle is not one of them. That means they are either deliberately trying to misdirect or trying to foreshadow things to come. So many other pieces seem to point to it being Jon that I don't think you could ever call it a twist. 

I think one or the other is going to end up being the Nysa Nysa in this story, which would certainly be very conventional fantasy storytelling if Dany ended up dying to save Jon, but I can't think of many many (if any) where the gender roles were reversed. I personally think a female being the savior in the end would be pretty subversive for the genre, and Jons death would fit the bittersweet ending that GRRM has promised. 

My prediction is that Melisandre returns with the Spell to reforge Lightbringer but she'll need King's blood to do it and Jon will volunteer himself.  Dany will survive and raise their offspring. 

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2 hours ago, Str1fe5 said:

I feel like Missandei's very explicit translation of The Prince(ess) That Was Promised prophecy in episode 2 was strong evidence of foreshadowing that Daenerys is the PTWP. The show in particular is many things but subtle is not one of them. That means they are either deliberately trying to misdirect or trying to foreshadow things to come. So many other pieces seem to point to it being Jon that I don't think you could ever call it a twist. 

I think one or the other is going to end up being the Nysa Nysa in this story, which would certainly be very conventional fantasy storytelling if Dany ended up dying to save Jon, but I can't think of many many (if any) where the gender roles were reversed. I personally think a female being the savior in the end would be pretty subversive for the genre, and Jons death would fit the bittersweet ending that GRRM has promised. 

My prediction is that Melisandre returns with the Spell to reforge Lightbringer but she'll need King's blood to do it and Jon will volunteer himself.  Dany will survive and raise their offspring. 

Why d you think Lightbringer needs to be reforged? The PtwP myth is explicitly about pulling an already-existing sword from a fire:

Quote

There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be the Prince that was Promised come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.

(In the novels, of course, that quote is about Azor Ahai come again; Melisandre thinks AAR=PtwP, but she could be wrong.)

In both show and books, Melisandre thinks she can make Stannis into AAR/PtwP by having him pull a burning sword from a fire, and that sword will be Lightbringer. And it seems like her mistake here is that a fake burning sword that's only glamored to look like it's on fire can only make a fake AAR/PtwP, not that the sword needs to be reforged.

Also, I don't think there's even any mention of Nissa Nissa on the show, so it would be very strange for them to sacrifice Jon to reenact a legend they haven't even mentioned in the first 7 seasons.

Meanwhile, even if the sword does need to be reforged, surely it would be AAR/PtwP that does the forging? The whole content of the AA myth in the books is his forging of the sword. If Melisandre reforges it, then she, not Dany, would be AAR.

Also, there's no indication that Nissa Nissa has king's blood. The reason Nissa Nissa works as a sacrifice is that AA loves her more than anything in the world. If Dany's not forging LB, but rather Melisandre is, Melisandre doesn't love Jon more than anything in the world.

The only actual legend we have about king's blood is that it can wake dragons from stone. Which is also a legend of PtwP, according to Kinvara. But both Kinvara and Melisandre are sure that Dany has already done that part of the myth, sacrificing her husband and son to hatch her dragon eggs, which seems like a much better match for the myth than assuming it's the same thing as Lightbringer (unless, of course, Lightbringer is metaphorical for the dragons, in which case, again, it's already done). And, even if they're wrong, surely it would have to be Dany sacrificing Jon's king's blood, not Melisandre doing it for her.

Of course we know that king's blood has power in curses and shadowbinding, and we see it being used to melt snow and dispel icy mist. So, I could still see Melisandre sacrificing Jon, or Jon sacrificing himself, for power to defeat the Night King. But I don't see it being done to create Lightbringer, or to fulfill any part of the PtwP myth.

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What a mawkish and underwhelming ending that would be.

I want to see something unexpected, like the White Walkers actually winning. The bittersweet part can be that they retreat into hibernation afterards, allowing the Children of the Forest to repopulate Westeros.

Alternatively, if the White Walkers really MUST be defeated to spare the feelings of precious little daffodil viewers, then it should be a pyrrhic victory in which almost all human life has been wiped out (including Dany and Jon), forcing the survivors to live out the rest of their days in Essos or make a very primative new beginning in Westeros with no castles or iron thrones.

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Yet another cool ending would be if all those prophecies didn't mean anything at all, and neither Jon nor Daenerys were special. Have Melisandre and all these others be followers of false religions that don't predict the future, have the so called Chosen Ones be normal people who, by sheer coincidence, fit the descriptions in the prophecies. Make them die anticlimactially, like Stannis in the show, who was also 'special'.

Or make the White Walkers/Others a benevolent race merely defending itself from what it perceives to be human aggression. Make the heroes wipe them out, only to realize afterwards they've committed genocide on an entire people they could have negotiated with. Make it a story about prejudice and fear of 'the other' and how it leads to war.

Just make it something else than one hero sacrificing him/herself to save the other one, or prophecies. That's not subversive.

Edited by Vibalist

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11 hours ago, Vibalist said:

Another way to be subversive is to have Daenerys on the Iron Throne. And then she turns out to be a horrifically incompetent ruler.

See, her only experience is with conquest and war. She doesn't know how to keep a kingdom stable or how to deal with the politicking. Turns out Tywin's iron fist was much better suited for Westeros. By attempting to transition society out of feudalism, Daenerys takes on too big a task, breaks too many traditions at once, tries to change too much at a time. Her intention to break the wheel comes to nothing, people no longer believe in her humanism, and feudalism persists. Turns out you need an actual strategy beyond fire and blood and tearing down the system in order to effectuate change.
 

This would tie in with what we've seen of her so far. Logically, Meeren should be in ruins after she left Daario Naharis - of all people - behind to rule it. If that's not horrifically bad leadership, I don't know what is.

Perhaps have her saving the world, but subsequently ruling as Aerys III.  Or she and Jon save the world, and then are treacherously murdered by jealous underlings. 

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1 hour ago, Vibalist said:

Yet another cool ending would be if all those prophecies didn't mean anything at all, and neither Jon nor Daenerys were special. 

The thing is though, that no matter how (and if) they die, both Jon and Daenerys are already special;
Jon has died and was brought back to life, he's the westerosi version of Lazarus. Some of the wildlings consider Jon a demi-god due to this.
Daenerys can walk into a firestorm with the only consequence being that her clothes burn up. The dothraki consider Dany a demi-goddess due to this.
 

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6 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Perhaps have her saving the world, but subsequently ruling as Aerys III.  Or she and Jon save the world, and then are treacherously murdered by jealous underlings. 

Or give us what looks like the most bog-standard bittersweet ending ever, but then sucker-punch us:

Jon dies heroically to save Dany and the world, Dany dies in childbirth, but at least they have a healthy heir, and with Tyrion as Hand and Varys as Regent, what could go wrong? The next scene is a replay of the Varys-Kevan scene, with Tyrion in place of Kevan. Varys monologues his plan but is clearly not telling the truth, and then the show/book ends and we'll never find out what he's really planning or what's going to happen.

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Well, it is clear that there will be an epic battle between ice and fire. If the Night King and the White Walkers are destroyed, probably also all dragons will die in the battle.

Out of the main characters a lot will die, that is sure. The question is who will survive. Melisandre and Varys are destined to die. All others are somewhat unclear.

 

 

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2 hours ago, MinscS2 said:

The thing is though, that no matter how (and if) they die, both Jon and Daenerys are already special;
Jon has died and was brought back to life, he's the westerosi version of Lazarus. Some of the wildlings consider Jon a demi-god due to this.
Daenerys can walk into a firestorm with the only consequence being that her clothes burn up. The dothraki consider Dany a demi-goddess due to this.
 

If Jon is special for being brought back to life, then so is The Mountain. And what about Beric Dondarrion? He's been brought back so many times that he must be REALLY special. In hindsight it actually seems rather forced and contrived that everyone is gravitating towards Jon, meanwhile Beric is dismissed as merely a minor servant of the Lord of Light. 

Daenerys just has the fire resistant trait that some Targaryens possess. As much as the show producers love to exaggerate this for dramatic effect, I don't believe she is actually fire proof. And she certainly isn't immortal.

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1 minute ago, Khorkalba said:

If Jon is special for being brought back to life, then so is The Mountain. And what about Beric Dondarrion? He's been brought back so many times that he must be REALLY special. In hindsight it actually seems rather forced and contrived that everyone is gravitating towards Jon, meanwhile Beric is dismissed as merely a minor servant of the Lord of Light. 

Daenerys just has the fire resistant trait that some Targaryens possess. As much as the show producers love to exaggerate this for dramatic effect, I don't believe she is actually fire proof. And she certainly isn't immortal.

The mountain technically isn't alive, or is on some sort of crazy life-support. He's special for sure though.
Beric is special as well, no one is arguing about that. No one is dismissing him as a minor servant of R'hllor either, it's Beric himself who has put himself in this role, and he seems content with it.

Can you name some other Targaryens who possessed the same level of fire resistance as Daenerys?
The producers might love to exaggerate it, but that doesn't mean that it's not canon in the show, no matter ones personal opinions about it.
You might not believe she is actually fire proof, but from everything we've seen in the show, she most certainly looks to be.

No one has claimed that she's immortal, so why the strawman?

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1 hour ago, MinscS2 said:

Beric is special as well, no one is arguing about that. No one is dismissing him as a minor servant of R'hllor either, it's Beric himself who has put himself in this role, and he seems content with it.

Beric's suggestion to assassinate the NK and wipe out his army seems like quite the bold move for someone who puts himself in the role of only a minor servant.

Quote

Can you name some other Targaryens who possessed the same level of fire resistance as Daenerys?
The producers might love to exaggerate it, but that doesn't mean that it's not canon in the show, no matter ones personal opinions about it.
You might not believe she is actually fire proof, but from everything we've seen in the show, she most certainly looks to be.

We haven't encountered many Targaryens on the show, so the sample size is far too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

If we're going by the books, then GRRM's stance is fairly clear. There have been many Targaryens who share a tolerance for fire or heat, but none of them are actually fire proof - including Daenerys.

You can interpret the funeral pyre incident however you like, but I personally don't see it as a sign that Daenerys is intended to be some kind of divine being.

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I think what will happen in the show is jon and dany rule but a ton of other characters will die,kingslanding will be destroyed,and due to the WW the amount of people dead will be staggering and those will be the bitter sweet ending.

Also I suspect that tyrion or jaime will end up being a drunk or something because of the guilt they feel.  Add in that the true hero of the series davos will probably die along with more then a few other minor and big characters that we love and it won't be a disney ending. That said they have to have some hope in it so having jon and dany survive will take some of the sting out since overall those two characters are loved (as well as tyrion).

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5 hours ago, Khorkalba said:

Beric's suggestion to assassinate the NK and wipe out his army seems like quite the bold move for someone who puts himself in the role of only a minor servant.

We haven't encountered many Targaryens on the show, so the sample size is far too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

If we're going by the books, then GRRM's stance is fairly clear. There have been many Targaryens who share a tolerance for fire or heat, but none of them are actually fire proof - including Daenerys.

You can interpret the funeral pyre incident however you like, but I personally don't see it as a sign that Daenerys is intended to be some kind of divine being.

I don't believe she is a divine being but the show makes it clear she is completly immune to fire.

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Perhaps Dany and/or Jon ends up on the throne, but all three dragons are dead by this point. Or maybe Dany gets pregnant, but then miscarries or gives birth to a stillborn child.

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