When Game Of Thrones began, the whole appeal and promise of the show were what’s to come.
The battles. The dragons. The magic. The White Walkers. The wars to come. It was all coming.
Just like mankind itself, the characters in Game Of Thrones are largely concerned with what’s to come — their endgame. Not the end game, but their’s.
Daenerys has traversed across deserts and oceans and mountains to reclaim what she believes is truly hers. Cersei is willing to blow up city streets to protect and advance the Lannister name. Arya is seeking revenge. Melisandre wants to prove the legitimacy of her religion. Littlefinger is the human embodiment of manipulation. All of these players playing their game of thrones, too ignorant to realize they’re playing the wrong game entirely. Everyone in the realm has spent all this time playing checkers, only concerned with getting their pieces across the board and turning them into kings, while they should have been practicing their chess all along.
And it’s all due to hubris.
Even in a world like this — a world with resurrection and black magic and ‘ice spiders as big as hounds’ — it’s hubris that will be the ultimate downfall of the villains and the heroes alike. It will be the same hubris that caused Icarus to fall from the sky and turned Walter White into Heisenberg that will be the eventual undoing of the Westeros. After all, it is hubris that may be man’s greatest flaw.
Which is why the only way this story should end is with the end of man itself. Because the enemy, the true enemy, the endgame, isn’t man at all, and therefore does not suffer from our same tragic flaw. By the time the Seven Kingdoms and all of its various warring lords get their shit together enough to acknowledge their true enemy, the White Walkers, it will already be too late.
More than half of the population that inhabits the world of Game Of Thrones have yet to receive but a word about the impending Walker invasion, and we’re supposed to believe that over the course of the next 9 episodes, these same people are going to regroup and rally against a common enemy? That the Lannister forces and the wild Dothraki are going to just let bygones be bygones? That after all this self-destruction and war, that there’s going to be anything left to defend anyway? Not a chance. In fact, anyone who’s been paying attention to the show should have seen this end coming all along.
This is a show that unceremoniously beheaded its main character and moral compass in its first season. Granted, the character of Ned Stark — and his death — are the catalyst for the show’s events, but the point is that the show-runners had the guts to follow the source material’s lead. They had the guts to off (basically) the entire Stark family in the middle of season three. And they’ll have the guts to give the masses an ending that offers no redemption, no hope, and no justice.
Game Of Thrones, for all its spectacle and lore, mysticism and miraculousness, is a show about man’s thirst, and subsequent quest for power, and how that journey ultimately leads to their demise. Even Jon Snow, the show’s hero, the one we’re all rooting for, the only one who isn’t positioning himself for power, is plagued by the pollution of hubris.
Jon Snow should have paid for that hubris with not only his life, but the life of his men. The only reason they escaped was through sheer luck. Unfortunately, by the time the Great War comes, there will be no such thing as good luck.
Because there is no luck in chess. Chess is, or should be, a game removed of emotion, greed, pride, and hubris. Chess is a game of planning, calculation, uniformity, and execution. And with the current state of the Seven Kingdoms, all of those qualities seem to be all but unattainable.
Game Of Thrones has always been a game of chess, it just took it’s players too long to realize.