The good people at HBO are either doing a very good job of keeping a lid on production, or else they’ve simply filmed so much of the season already that there’s not much left to reveal that we haven’t already seen. (The little birds have been very musical this off-season.) I noticed we were running low on filming news when Watchers posted something about some actor having an interesting character name on his CV, and the post was almost entirely about asking what this name could possibly mean. (My answer: it’s a placeholder name, irrelevant to stuff happening on the show.)
With that in mind, this tidbit from GRRMartin isn’t new, either, but I think it’s still worth mentioning.
“I think you need to have some hope…we all yearn for happy endings in a sense. Myself, I’m attracted to the bittersweet ending. People ask me how Game of Thrones is gonna end, and I’m not gonna tell them … but I always say to expect something bittersweet in the end. You can’t just fulfill a quest and then pretend life is perfect.”
Bittersweet ending. He’s mentioned this to us before. Give me a mo’ and let me dig up the story…
Here it is! GRRMartin refers to Lord of the Rings in describing how he plans the ending:
I haven’t written the ending yet, so I don’t know, but no. That’s certainly not my intent. I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet. I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory.
Tell us more?
And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn’t understand when I was 13 years old: “Why is this here? The story’s over?” But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more. All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for. Whether I achieve it or not, that will be up to people like you and my readers to judge.
I like the sound of that.
Razor Harris adds:
This certainly gives me hope that, in the end, the good guys of the story will win. Maybe Jon Snow will become a Targaryen and marry Daenerys and usher the Seven Kingdoms into a new era of peace and prosperity…or the White Walkers/Others will just overrun everyone and everything, and Westeros will become one giant ice-skating rink with the undead horde doing pirouettes and playing pickup games of hockey. With George R.R. Martin, you never know what’s coming next, and that’s why we love him.
Based on Martin’s reference to the scouring of the Shire, I’m thinking the ending to ASOIAF will be closer to Jon and Dany as King and Queen of Peace and Prosperity than to the Ice-Skating Rink of the Undead scenario. It won’t be all sunshine and bunnies. I’m picturing, there’ll be the big battle with the White Walkers, and the dragons will do some collateral damage as they burn the Others to a puff of dust, and after the battle is finished, a new monarch will take the Iron Throne—I’ll assume Dany for now, but I’m open to other ideas.
Once the new monarch is in place, the last handful of chapters will be devoted to putting Westeros back together. That’s the parallel to the scouring of the Shire. Most of ASOIAF has been devoted to showing the process of Westeros getting fucked up by people in power making shitty decisions; that’s the parallel to the Shire getting taken over by greedy men. Then there’ll be the epilogue, where we see how everyone is doing now the war’s over.
And on that note, I actually think that, of all the characters who are still alive at the end of Dance, most will survive to the end. There’ll be some more beloved faces who’ll die in the last two books, because of course they will, but when all is said and done, most of the ones we care about will still be alive, and of the survivors, most will be getting on with their lives. Sticking to the Lord of the Rings parallels, there’ll be a few characters who are so traumatized by the wars over the realm that they can never really get on with their lives. I can see a Frodo-type ending for Jon, for example. He’ll be resurrected because he still has business to take care of, but he’ll never quite get back to himself. Outside of those few Frodo-type endings, though, most of the survivors will be okay. There’ll be plenty of sweet endings among the bitterness.