“Game of Thrones” did not end well. It wasn’t something that I hated but it was a show that had good to great writing and action for the first 6 seasons and in the last 2 completely forgot about consequences and any sort of logic, character development or scale. So going into that I got thinking about what I’d fix and how it could be applied to upcoming epic fantasy shows like “The Wheel of Time” or Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” show and even “The Witcher.” These 5 fixes will have the general idea behind them to apply on a broad scale and other shows as I hope those shows don’t make the same mistakes “Game of Thrones” made. There will be SPOILERS as this does cover the last 2 seasons primarily of “Game of Thrones” and major plot points.
1) Take the Two More Seasons That Were Offered
The biggest issue that can be said in how the storylines were handled was in how the story was rushed. Benioff and Weiss had been offered two additional seasons and if they’d taken it I think a lot of the problems that the story ran into with rushed plots and action would have been minimized or prevented completely. This is the first fix and it is super easy. The show was already getting away from the books so more time will show us the consequences of what characters have done such as the Burning of Sept or the Night’s King crossing the Wall. These are huge events that needed more development rather than the rush to action or status quo that we got. What comes next? What do other Houses think? These are all things that more seasons could explore which in turn can tie into the overarching narrative being told. Other shows should take the chance to explore their story unless they already know what they are doing. Benioff and Weiss were working from an outline in the end so flesh out that outline and make it real. That is what more seasons will let you do.
2) Winterfell Must Fall
We need to have the White Walkers have a win to establish their threat and Winterfell falling fits this perfectly. It also gives us a reason to return to the Vale and make use of the Alliances that the surviving Starks have made. There is no reason for Winterfell not to fall. This firmly establishes the apocalyptic threat and end of the world of the White Walkers and the need for Azor Ahai which can still remain ambiguous at this point and bring more characters from around the map into the picture and would involve the other Houses. The Fall of Winterfell returns us to the scale of the conflict which the writers seemed focused on shrinking during the last 2 seasons. This for other shows means tell a story with consequence. If you set up a Chekov’s gun like the threat of the White Walkers, pull that trigger and make their existence count and matter. This is a global conflict which ties into my next feedback, never forget the scale of the story being told and all the parties involved. The fight against the White Walkers and the Night’s King should be bigger and more than a single standoff. A threat that great needs to be paid off in scale and in Houses involved in the fight against it.
3) Involve the Other Houses
Part of what is missing from the show in the final seasons are allies and scale. We never get House Reed, we never get the politics of more of the North against the Boltons and the Northern Conspiracy and we never see how Cersei is holding all the powers together or the fallout of the Burning of the Sept. Wouldn’t some Houses be religious and end up joining Daenerys or Jon in protest? What is the state of Dorne and their houses? What of the other bannermen of Highgarden? Bringing more of these Houses and characters in shows us the politics of how to keep and negotiate power which was always one of the strongest parts of the show but was removed in the final 2 seasons of the show. “The Game” in “Game of Thrones” was forgotten for easy victories to drive the plot. Scale is important and the showrunners forgot it as we only had the Wall, Winterfell and King’s Landing in the end. Westeros is full of so many houses each playing the game of thrones. The early seasons remembered this and I hope the other shows do too. Make the world lived in and matter and never forget the scale of the conflict and all the parties involved.
4) Use Bran’s Powers and Define What He Is
Bran and what he became as the Three-Eyed Raven is never defined. He is a being that is made of the the minds of the Children of the Forest and Bloodraven. He even says he is no longer human and has warging powers. Not much needs to be done to show he’s manipulating but make it a reveal. He doesn’t have human desires or wants anymore so what is his endgame? If it is to become King and sit on the Iron Throne show that and explain the why, either in dream sequences or dialogue. This isn’t difficult. Show and tell would have easily solved the major Bran issue the show created by just having him sit around and become King at the end. He should be the one who is key to defeating the Night’s King but also the one who starts the war between Daenerys and Jon so that he can rise to power at the end of it all. Again, that plot point can still work but it needs more setup and if you introduce a character who has magic and other minds within them, do something within that. What does Bran want and what does it mean to be the Three-Eyed Raven where your desires are no longer linear and you aren’t even entirely human? Other shows with magical characters, please don’t waste them. Bran was one of the weakest parts of the show and the potential was there for so much more.
5) Give us a “Dance of the Dragons”
We could have got a final season of Jon and Daenerys at war in a version of the Dance of the Dragons of old of Targaryen against Targaryen. Martin loves calling back to the past so this should have happened rather than Jon just being an assassin. This could have been the battle before the White Walkers or after and what leads to Bran’s rise to the throne. There was no reason not to do this, instead we just got “My Queen” and jealous Daenerys for 2 seasons straight as both characters got ruined in how they were written. This ties into consequences and conflict and one of the themes Martin loves in his stories is history repeating in different ways. Give us that conflict and make it believable as both Jon and Daenerys would have different desires on the Westeros they want to exist and that should be fleshed out well and informed by their pasts and histories. Don’t forget who the characters are or forget what the world you’ve made is built upon.
These are the five ways I’d fix “Game of Thrones.” It has been a long time since the show ended and it was fun exploring the missed potential as all the threads were there to create a complete and at the very least good ending that fit the tone of the shows and books. I wish the best for other ongoing and upcoming fantasy shows and hope they can accomplish what “Game of Thrones” could not in the end.