The Eve: Saying Goodbye to Game of Thrones
We see more than a few ‘Eves’ in Game of Thrones. The calms before the storm, the night before the battle. We have Bronn and Sandor meeting in an inn. We have Jon and Sam talking about girls atop the Wall. We have Ser Davos discovering Shireen’s death as the first horns blow.
And now we find ourselves in the same place. On the Eve. The last Eve, before it’s all over, and Game of Thrones is done.
I was just a tad emotional writing this (it’s ok, it happens all the time). You can be emotional too, if you like. Why don’t we be emotional together? If you need a hand, perhaps listen to ‘The Night King’ or ‘Jenny of Oldstones’, or any music from Game of Thrones really. That’s why I did. Not that I needed the help.
Why am I emotional, you might ask?
Well, I put a certain emotional weight into stories. Stories I love, even more so. And there are few stories I love as much as Game of Thrones. I think it’s easy, in this hyper-focused Season 8, to forget. Even with all the call-backs and nods people forget how far we’ve come, how much we’ve given up getting here. Remember Joffrey and Catelyn? When the Night’s Watch was a thing? Remember a whole Theon or a sword-wielding Jaime? Remember the forgotten moments, Beric vs Sandor, Renly’s smug smile, Yoren?
I could go on, forever and ever, because this show gave us so, so much. More than we ever deserved, if you ask me. Countless characters, themes, locations, storylines, emotions, quotes, all of it.
And tomorrow it comes to an end. The horns blow. The battles arrives. We ride a roller coaster and then…credits. Darkness. “There is nothing on the other side”, Jon once told the Lady Melisandre. It can feel as if we’ve reached the same point. After all, come the dawn on Monday we’re going to live in a world where they are no future Game of Thrones episodes. And this is about as far as I’ve got without needing to take a break.
Ok. Phew. I patted the dog for a bit. I’m ready again.
I don’t do so well with endings. The closing of metaphorical doors, I’m not skilled in that regard. I honestly used to avoid watching the final season of sitcoms because I didn’t want the conclusion. I didn’t want to have seen every episode. I wanted there to always, always be the option that I could watch some more 30 Rock, for example. I expect that says quite a bit about me. Luckily, I’ve grown out of that little quirk. But still, endings hurt.
Especially when it’s something you love, right? Especially when it’s something that had a far, far larger effect on your life than any television has a right to, right? Especially when it is something that has given you a fandom, a community, true friends.
I think it’s called heart break. Maybe there’s a fancier word. Losing what you love. Wondering what happens after. Knowing that, invariably, it won’t ever be quite the same.
In this case, there are two tragedies. Yes, I’ll miss Daenerys and Tyrion and Arya and Winterfell and dragons and the damn opening credits. I’ll miss seeing the world on screen, as its been shown to me for eight seasons.
Of course I will, because I love it.
But then there’s also the meta-view. I’ll miss the event. Game of Thrones, I genuinely believe, is the last show that everyone will watch as early as possible, as a collective. The one you have to watch because you know basically everyone you know is doing the same thing (and because the story is so captivating you simply can’t wait). I’ll miss the actors, whom I’ve grown to love just as much as the characters they portray. I’ll miss the discussion, the podcasts, the livestreams, I’ll miss Game of Thrones being such an absolute cultural force that we are all drawn into it because it really is singular, because it really is the best thing that has ever been put on a television screen. I’ll miss the fandom and the people who share the same view.
Of course I will, because I love them.
I suppose then, I should count myself lucky, as we all should. Because though we stand together this Eve, looking out into the darkness and wondering what becomes of us, we do not have to say goodbye.
Game of Thrones ends in the literal sense, but that’s about it.
Lucky. Yes. Damn lucky. There is no goodbye because we are lucky enough to be fans of a world so large and richly detailed it can’t be deleted by the end of a tv show. We love a world that is captured in an even more beautiful way on the written page, to say nothing of the vast, vast histories that support it. And with those pages and histories comes the fandom. This fandom isn’t saying goodbye, it isn’t letting go, this world is going nowhere.
We have Winds and Springs to dream of. We have tales of an Egg and his Dunk to look for. We have burnt and bloody histories, more stories put on a screen for our enjoyment, and likely much else that we don’t even know about yet. Much more importantly, we’ve got each other.
Recall what Ser Alliser Thorne said when the wildlings came to the Wall
“Does this fandom end tonight?”
“Do you want to abandon this show and never think of it again?”
“That’s very good to hear! So let’s all just band together and keep up producing fantastic content and having the best damn community in all nerddom, yes?”
I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes, anyway.
I’m not producing any particularly good writing here, but I think I knew that likelihood going in. This wasn’t going to be a cohesive message. It was more about…reminding, I think. I want to remind you all of everything this show has been for the last eight years. The big moments and the small. The famous characters and the forgotten. All of it. It is so vast, so rich, there is honestly nothing else like it.
An Eve isn’t about looking forward into that darkness as much as it is about looking back. Look back, through every season and episode, look back at our show! Think of “Robb…you’ve broken your sword”, think of pigeons fluttering away in the King’s Landing sky. Recall the sound of Catelyn’s final scream and the last fire in Lancel’s eye. Picture the image Jon and Ygritte saw when they climbed atop the Wall. Remember to ask just which one of us was a marksman at ten.
On this Eve, look back at everything we’ve been given, then turn forward again. Not to the darkness, but to the fire that still burns beyond. That’s us there, with our little torches. Some of us were handed one by the books. Some of us by the show. Some of us even carry two. All the same, they burn.
Now that they’ve been lit, we carry them forwards. With our amazing content creators, whether they delve into history and lore, review the show, read through the chapters or analyse themes and arcs. Whether they be podcasters, video makers, or just consumers. We’ve all got the torch; we can all see the flames.
Like me, so many of us have made friends through this fandom or found passions and interests. It has been a major effect on us, one that is everlasting. This is no goodbye for that, not for a long shot.
It is the same with the show. Yes, it ends, but where does it go, really? Let’s not act like we aren’t all going to rewatch it multiple times in the years to come. Let’s not pretend the discussions and arguments will fall silent. And let us not kid ourselves into thinking that Game of Thrones isn’t such a massive, shining tower of wildfire in terms of popular television that it could never be removed from the public consciousness anytime soon.
(Besides, we’ll all be back for the prequel shows).
This is not goodbye. The fire is too bright for that. On this, the final Eve, there is one more spark left to fly, and then it is up to us entirely.
No doubt, I shall be very emotional tomorrow. Not because I am sad that my favourite show is ending, but because of how fucking happy I am that I was lucky enough to get it in the first place.
I won’t forget what it did for me. I won’t say goodbye. I will thank every single person involved in its making, because I owe them a whole lot. And I will definitely listen to the music over and over again.
I’ll watch, along with you all, and smile. One last time, we drink at the inn, chat on our wall, and hear the horns blow. We raise our heads to the horizon and say:
This is not goodbye, only thank you.