The end has begun in Westeros with a grand but ultimately thin welcome back for patient Thrones fans. Our first episode of the final season may have felt like trying to drink a milkshake and getting a strawberry stuck in the straw, so you only get a taste of the sweetness, but that taste was still pretty great. I eagerly greeted this season just like the little boy breaking through the crowd to anxiously see the arrival of Dany and her army. After all, we waited nearly 600 days for this. It’s about time.
The ground we cover in “Winterfell” sure does seem like it fits more with Season 7, but since that season ultimately felt like half of one, we can give it a pass and wait one more week for the nasty business that’s sure to come. This feels like a calm before the storm (of swords made of dragonglass), and there certainly is a pall hanging over each moment. The question is, will the inevitable crawl of the Night King’s hoard be met in unity or not? Can all these reunions work through the awkwardness of past mistakes and work for the common good of all? Let’s survey.
Our two sides are drawn- one in Winterfell, the other in King’s landing. With Tyrion, Jon Snow, Daenerys and her dragons, the sneaky Arya and the impressive Unsullied army all in Winterfell, it sure feels like they’ve got a better advantage than little ol’ Cersei on the iron throne, even with the Golden Company. But of course, the game has now been put on pause for the sake of life itself. The Night King (read: death) bears down on Winterfell, and he’s apt to do as Cersei is counting on and heavily weaken the numbers. That is, if they don’t do it to themselves first.
It sure seems like we’ve got a bit of a Romans 14 situation on our hands. People who should be unified towards a common goal squabbling over things that are ultimately inconsequential. Forgive the imperfect parallel, but it’s a natural comparison if you are a Christian and have found yourself in a discussion over whether or not you should be watching Game of Thrones. Each player in our game has seemingly valid points of who should be king or queen. “It doesn’t matter,” Jon says repeatedly. But to Sansa and the people in the North, it very much does. Is Sansa wrong? Not necessarily. Does she have a point? Yes, but so does Jon. The Night King won’t care who sits in what chair when he brings his army to Winterfell.
What then do we do? Paul says for the Christian in matters such as these, we obey our conscience, and do so in honor of the Lord. But how do we reconcile opposing opinions? Paul clearly dictates that we’re not to pass judgement on one whom “God has welcomed.” He goes on to say to not “destroy the work of God” for the sake of food (or by greater application- for the sake of rightness). He then implores us to “pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.” Jon and Sansa may each have a valid opinion on rightful throne holders, but they need not let that destroy them before the Night King arrives.
The wild card here in our story is the new revelation given to Jon about who he really is. And it’s not so much what he will do with this knowledge, but what Daenerys will do with it. If you look again at the gruesome omen the Night King left for Tormund and crew to find, it sure looks like a Targaryen sigil. The spiraling arms, the fire consuming them- it resembles the three-headed dragon flying on Targaryen banners. There may be more to Dany than even she knows. And as we have already seen Sam wonder – would she give up what she holds so dearly for the cause of peace and mutual upbuilding?
The theories are certainly flying faster and looser than Jon Snow on the back of Rhaegal. Some paint Daenerys as the ultimate villain of the show, others say the throne will be melted down in the end (a welcome potential, given what it has caused). But while the conflict between Dany and Jon is certainly the crux of our story, thematically it has been leading to a connection between them that should prove for the betterment of Westeros. Surely they’ll be the crescendo of this Song of Ice and Fire right? Right?! Well, I suppose that depends on where their conscience takes them.