Tonight is the final episode of “Game of Thrones.” This means nothing on a how-does-it-change-the-world scale, unless you are one of millions who have watched this show from the beginning, which I believe was the Paleolithic Era. In which case, it feels like it’s the most important night in history.
I confess, I am one of those people. I have seen every single episode of Game of Thrones, and not through binge-watching, which is for gutless cheaters.
No, I’ve done it one dragging Sunday after another, after another. And since each episode costs, like, $45 billion dollars to make, production is rather slow, which explains why Game of Thrones is in its eighth season, but feels like it’s been running for 120 years.
It all ends tonight. Somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose. Ah, but who? I remember the very first episode, which closed with a royal brother and sister, who on that fine afternoon were just, you know, getting jiggy with it, and they pushed a little kid out a window, and I thought, “OK, this isn’t ‘I Love Lucy.’ ‘’
Ever since then, the show has been a mystery. And that’s to people who WATCH it!
But what about all those who don’t? By now, there has been so much controversy about this program — and by controversy, I mean nearly a million people who, lacking any form of outside life, signed an online petition last week to fire the writers of this season and replace them with better writers who can be true to the REAL Game of Thrones TV show, even though these writers are the ones who CREATED the Game of Thrones TV show! — that even the un-indoctrinated want in on the action.
So I am here to help.
By the time you finish this column, you will know everything you need to know for tonight, and everything that has happened on Game of Thrones since its origin during the Eisenhower administration.
Just follow along.
Winter is coming
OK, so, first of all, there’s only one character whose name you will remember. Jon Snow. That’s because his name is Jon Snow. A 4-year-old could remember Jon Snow. He sounds like one of Santa’s elves.
Everyone else is named Clegane or Varys or Melisandre or Beric Dondarrion (yes, a real character) and you will just end up referring to them by some memorable feature, like “the blonde” or “the eyepatch” or “the creep with the dogs” or “the dwarf.”
The “dwarf,” by the way, is the only GoT actor anyone had ever heard of before the show started, Peter Dinklage, whose name in the show is Tyrion Lannister, which is why everyone calls him “the dwarf.”
Tyrion is part of a really bad family, in which the father was a vicious ruler, the brother and sister have sex, their kid gets to be king, their next kid gets to be king, and in the end, none of it matters because THEY ARE ALL DEAD.
So don’t worry about them.
That brings us to another family, the one everyone likes. Their last name is Stark. Many of the Starks are dead, too, although it mostly happened six years ago in a single scene known as “The Red Wedding,” which you may remember because, according to the kind of people who signed that petition, the entire world stopped for 24 hours, while they mournfully whispered, “HOLY #$@$!”
Anyhow, there are still a few Starks left. One of them is Sansa Stark, who people call “the red-headed one.” She’s pretty and spoiled and mostly does stupid stuff. The other is her kid sister, Arya, whom people admire because she looks like a member of Fagin’s crew in Oliver Twist, and she kills anything and everything, mostly with a sword the size of a toothpick.
Arya is extremely popular now, because a couple weeks ago, at the end of an episode that was pretty much 90 minutes of bloody murder, she stuck a knife into the blue-eyed zombie called the Night King, and shattered him like a cheap windshield.
As a result, seemingly half the new parents in America are naming their little girls “Arya.” In 25 years, most weddings in America will be an Arya marrying somebody, hopefully not named “the eyepatch.”
You win or you die, right?
Moving on. The wild card in this whole thing is the young woman some viewers call “the mother of dragons” or “the blonde” or “the one who married Aquaman.”
Her show name is Daenerys Targaryen. Like the Golden State Warriors, Daenerys was mostly seen as unstoppable, and, until last week, pretty much everyone would have been happy if she ended up queen of the realm, partly because she is in love with Jon Snow, who everyone also likes, because he basically wanders around the program never losing a battle, hardly desiring anything except another pelt of wolfskin to throw around his neck, and not dying.
It’s true. Jon Snow came back from the dead. And the first thing he said was, “My God, is this show still on?”
No. He actually doesn’t know how he came back from the dead. But we all figured that meant he was going to end up king, because you don’t reincarnate to become a mutton shop owner.
Alas, every time someone suggests Jon Snow actually become the king, he looks at them like a kid with lumpy oatmeal and says, “I don’t WAHHNT it!”
What he does want is the dragon queen to become THE queen. Because she is strong and good and true, and also because he is sleeping with her. Or was, until he discovered she is actually his aunt.
(By the way, this kind of thing didn’t stop a lot of other GoT characters from getting up close and personal, presumably because they live in a time when there are only a handful of families anyhow, so chances are, if you do enough research, sex is going to be some kind of family reunion.)
But the whole “You’re my aunt” thing has put a chill on the relationship between Jon Snow and his “Dany.”
And then came last week.
Last week, on the verge of everything she ever wanted, Dany went nuts. Riding on the back of a dragon, she destroyed an entire city, killed thousands of innocent people, along with a lot of guilty ones, and left her loyal followers whispering, “Maybe this whole dragon mama thing isn’t such a great idea.”
By the way, there are apparently two kinds of dragons. The kind who get killed by a single spear, and the kind who don’t get killed by a thousand spears. There’s only one of them left now. The rest are on backorder.
The pack that survived
So with that, you are basically caught up. I’m not bothering to tell you about a Red Priestess, or a giant called The Hound and his monster brother, or the Spaniard, or the guy who died nine times, or the man with skin disease, or the half-sons and “bastards,” as they are referred to, or the lords and ladies of different castles, or even The Wall, which used to play a huge part in the story but now is just a pile of melting ice.
The fact is, if you only watch tonight’s episode, you are coming along at the simplest time in the epic, because MOST OF THE CHARACTERS ARE DEAD!
So it’s either Jon Snow, or the woman he loves, Dany, or Arya, or Sansa, or Tyrion, the last of the Lannisters, who drinks more wine than France.
You’re liable to see other characters, like a kid named Bran, whose eyes roll into the back of his head, or Sam, a gentle librarian (yes, even in a land of bloodthirsty, incestuous powermongers, they still read books — mostly about bloodthirsty, incestuous powermongers).
But don’t worry. These are bench players. They’re not getting the ball in the final minute. Either Jon will kill Dany, or Dany will kill Jon, or Arya will kill both of them, or Sansa will somehow catch the kingdom in her lap, or Tyrion will surprise everyone, or the dragon, fed up with all this nonsense, will open his mouth and say, “With all of you gone, the sequel is about ME!” and burn them all to a crisp.
One way or another, it ends tonight. And next weekend we can return to our lives.
As to the nearly million petition signers demanding a re-do of this season, please. Stop. Eventually, we need to get off the couch and take a shower.
Which by the way, in eight seasons, is the one thing I’ve never seen a Game of Thrones character do.