Hello everyone, I’m about to share my thoughts regarding a few of the characters fighting to stay alive in the eighth and final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, so, in case you haven’t watched the show yet and you plan to do so, be warned that there are MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.
I’m going to ramble a bit through text just to put some distance between the SPOILER WARNING and the names of the characters. Maybe I should start by saying that I started reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series just a year or two before the show began; or maybe it was just a few months before the show began? I don’t recall exactly when I started reading the books, but I remember that the show was relatively new at the time. I love the detailed descriptions in the books, and the sheer depth of the world and people that George summoned from his imagination. If you watch the show and think it’s tough to remember character names and connections, try reading the books.
Book-snobbishness aside now, the show has moved into territory beyond that of the books. A nice version of me says “Oh, that’s okay, George told the showrunners how he wants things to end so we’re going to get a full story.” And that’s true, we are getting a full story – but it’s not quite the story that George wishes to tell, I think. So the meaner version of me says “Why the fuck can’t you finish writing The Winds of Winter, Mr. Double-R Martin?” I love the deeply complex and imaginative worlds that books can conjure into our heads, all thanks to the magic of creative writers like George R.R. Martin. I get emotional when I read. Sometimes, I grin like a loon, or laugh out loud, or cry like a baby as I read.
George and his books have given me a plethora of emotional payoffs, and he’s set me up for many more, but the show has stolen the thunder from him. All of the wonderful reunions and touching moments that I want to believe George had planned for the books have been happening in the show. I can’t count how many times I cried or got weepy throughout season seven, as Starks and Stark-friends reunited at Winterfell. Whenever Tyrion and Jaime get a chance to see each other again, I get tense and I usually tear up. I have a network of characters in my head that I want to see connect and remain connected in a happy way. Of course, this can’t always be the case. Anyway, I think I can finally talk about the characters I keep thinking of as my “favorites,” despite my love for many more of them – I can’t reduce my list of favorite characters too much, as they are always moving around in my head, but the following three characters have kept me waiting and wondering about their fates with every turn of every page and every fade-in and fade-out on the tv screen.
I’m a Greyjoy man. Not because I particularly enjoy or condone their brutal, viking raider-esque lifestyle, and not because I like insane assholes (fuck Euron Greyjoy and all he stands for), but because I’ve always had a soft spot for Theon.
Theon has gone through some shit. He was a ward of the Starks from a young age, so despite his bloodline, he’s actually spent more of his conscious time growing with and learning from the Stark family than he did with his blood relatives. Still, blood ties tend to define most things in Westeros, so Theon undergoes a rough, regrettable, but ultimately understandable identity crisis. Not quite a Greyjoy and not quite a Stark, Theon turns his back on the Starks and tries to take Winterfell for House Greyjoy.
Neither family is happy about this, of course. The Starks feel betrayed by a man who grew up among them, and the Greyjoys see Theon’s capture of a landlocked castle as folly. Just when Theon is about to join the Night’s Watch and permanently lock himself in a state of perpetual indecisiveness, the Bastard of Bolton comes along just to further fragment Theon’s identity. For a spell, Theon forgets who he is and puts the two influential families of his past aside as he fights to survive horrific torture and mind games at the hands of Ramsay Snow/Bolton. Eventually, however, a person from his past arrives to dispel his fugue and push him toward action. Forced to marry Ramsay, Sansa Stark is in a terrible position, fleeing from monsters in King’s Landing only to find herself surrounded by monsters at Winterfell.
And Theon saves her. Those in the know are well aware that I’ve combined the storylines of the books and the show. The show, as I see it, carries Theon’s story in a way that the books may not. I don’t know, George hasn’t finished book six yet. I love redemption arcs, and in the show, Theon is allowed to move away from his indecision until he finally finds the words he’s wanted to hear all his life.
“You can be a Greyjoy and a Stark.” Jon Snow says these words to Theon, and in time, it seems Theon lives up to them. He rescues his blood sister from his depraved and cruel uncle, using bow techniques taught to him at Winterfell. Once he rescues Asha/Yara, she tells him she can take back their island, and he may head to Winterfell to help Dany and Jon. Theon almost smiles at this. His humanity is being restored, bit by bit, and in the most recent episode of season eight, Theon finally arrives at a hospitable Winterfell. He has come to help in the coming battles, even though they may mean the end of him and everyone else in the place. Sansa smiles and immediately embraces him. They hug and their eyes brim with tears. They’ve both traveled long and treacherous roads, yet they are there at Winterfell before the possible end of the world, working in their own ways to do the right things.
If Theon Greyjoy dies in the upcoming battle with the Night King and the Army of the Dead (what a badass band name that would make), I will be incredibly sad, yet I won’t be particularly surprised. The whole series has made itself (in)famous for depriving many characters of plot armor. Valar morghulis, right? Theon has redeemed himself several times over, in my opinion. He has corrected his indecisive and rash actions to walk a more honorable path, and I’ve come to love him along the way. He is one of my favorite characters, and whatever happens, I’m glad I got to see his journey.
I originally planned for this post to cover three of my favorite characters, but I rambled on so long about Theon that I don’t think I should continue right now. There are two more characters I really want to discuss, but I’ll get to them later. Besides, I got to write a bit about other characters in this process, so I don’t feel like I’ve neglected anyone.
Keep on fighting the long night, everybody. Valar dohaeris.