'Game of Thrones': 23 Burning Questions After the Series Finale

It's all over. Now what? The Hollywood Reporter breaks down David Benioff and Dan Weiss' ending, piece by piece.
Courtesy of HBO
'Game of Thrones'

[This story contains spoilers for the series finale of HBO's Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne."]

After eight seasons and nearly a decade on television, Game of Thrones closed its Emmy-winning run with a series finale written and directed by creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss. Even with 80 minutes on their side, Benioff and Weiss' challenge in resolving their adaptation of author George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series was a vast one, thanks in no small part to where they left things off heading into the curtain call.

For instance: Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the Dragon Queen who spent the vast majority of her life in exile across the Narrow Sea, fantasizing about reclaiming the Iron Throne of Westeros. In the series' penultimate installment, "The Bells," Daenerys turned those fantasies into a horrible reality, murdering scores of innocent lives in her conquest of King's Landing. She won the throne with fire and blood as she long promised, and plenty of it — and the results were certain to sit poorly with Jon Snow (Kit Harington), her boyfriend and secret Targaryen nephew, the true heir to the Iron Throne.

While Jon repeatedly claimed to have no interest in the throne, the former King in the North looked to face his greatest test yet: his heart versus his honor. Would his love for Daenerys and his disdain for the throne outweigh his duty to step in and save the realm, in the wake of the King's Landing conquest? And what about Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Hand of the Queen, the sole survivor of his house following Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei (Lena Headey) dying during Dany's assault on the city? Would he simply stand aside and allow Dany's reign to continue, or would he step in and do something about it?

Those questions and more now have answers, thanks to the series finale, which resolved not only the fates of the Iron Throne, Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion, but so many other characters as well: Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), just to name a few. How do we feel about how it all shook out? Well, how about we ask... ourselves? One last round of Game of Thrones burning questions for the road, coming right up.

1. Well, that's it! That's Game of Thrones. What did you think?

What did you think?

I'm the one asking questions around here, buddy.

I know, I'm just stalling because it's a tough question to answer. Can you ask me again in 10 years?

How about in 10 questions?

Sounds like a deal.

2. Let's drill into some characters and outcomes, at least. Surely you can handle that. How about the death of the Iron Throne?

Makes sense, right? It was a pretty popular theory along the way. While everyone was debating who would wind up sitting on the Iron Throne at the end of the series, there was a vocal contingent within the audience suggesting there wouldn't even be an Iron Throne to sit on. (Indeed, I have both won and lost final-season pools based on this very question, it would seem. But do I score points if I said "no Iron Throne," even though Bran Stark is in charge? I suppose that's rubble I must sort through when I'm no longer on the clock.) So it goes: Jon Snow assassinates Daenerys, prompting Drogon to show up and promptly melt the throne to bits. Why does he burn the throne and not kill Jon? Because Drogon knows...

…it was the Iron Throne that killed Daenerys, not Jon. Clever! Did you piece that together all on your own?

Totally.

Really?

Okay, no, I saw it here and am passing the scorching hot take onto you.

3. "Jon Snow assassinates Daenerys." That is a crazy thing you just said. Isn't that crazy?

It's crazy! "Assassinates" feels like a harsh word. Then again, Daenerys suffers a harsh ending — less harsh than the fates of the innocents she massacred in King's Landing, of course, but that was her choice as much as it was creators Benioff and Weiss' choice, not to mention whatever Martin has in mind for the end of his novels. For her part, in an interview with EW, Clarke sounds like she really had to work hard at convincing herself about Daenerys' turn toward the darkness. In the context of the series, Jon Snow requires some convincing as well, including a really well-acted scene between Harington and Dinklage, in which Tyrion confesses his love for Dany, while also positing that she must be killed and she must be killed now. So Jon goes ahead and does the thing, killing love in the name of duty, and living up to his old friend (and relative) Maester Aemon Targaryen (Peter Vaughan) in the process. Dany gets all Gollum in the eyes as she approaches the Iron Throne, Jon tries to talk some sense into her, she remains steadfast in her unique ability to save the world from itself, convincing Jon that he has to do the "right" thing — and the right thing is killing the woman he loves so she can't hurt anyone else. It's a wild scene, and a wild way for Dany's story to end after all these years.

4. What do you make of the Mother of Dragons' ending? Did Game of Thrones do right by Dany in the end?

We're going to debate this question for a very long time. For some people, the answer is going to be a hard no. For others, it's the culmination of her entire character arc, someone who lusted after power for so long and when she finally got within sight of it, it corrupted her absolutely. I'm closer to the second camp, even if I don't feel like Game of Thrones earned the ending for Dany quite the way I feel Martin will earn the ending, should he ever write the ending. I did appreciate Tyrion basically listing out all the same reasons for Dany's heel turn as many others in the Game of Thrones hive mind did after "The Bells," but I also really did not appreciate one thing he suggested: Dany's turn to the dark side was destined due to her lineage as a Targaryen. Tyrion takes a hard stance on nature in the debate against nurture, while Jon goes the other way: "You think our house words are stamped on our bodies when we're born and that's who we are?" Much appreciated, and very sensible coming from a man who was born from a Targaryen father and a Stark mother, but was raised by a Northern family and is very clearly a Stark through and through. Jon doesn't get a say in the final vote for the new king of Westeros though, and nobody there really stands up for his side of the argument, so… ultimately, that's all pretty disappointing.

5. Do you think we have seen the last of Daenerys Targaryen?

I mean, yes? She died, dude. What are you asking?

Well, I was reading your recap and you said something about Drogon flying away with Dany's body so he could bring her to a red priest and bring her back to life. Do you really believe that?

Look, it was late. I don't really believe that. I believe Drogon clearly has some empathic connection to Daenerys and likely to Jon Snow as well due to his Targaryen roots; Drogon empathically knows the throne did bad things to Dany; he subsequently melts it down; he instinctively knows this is no place for Dany's body to rest, as she was never fully welcomed in Westeros, and therefore brings her back across the Narrow Sea where she belongs; and if none of that is true then at least it's the symbolic statement Benioff and Weiss wanted to make and it was a means of book-ending Dany's arc of exile. All that being said, if you want to go ahead and write your fan-fiction Game of Thrones sequel in which Drogon takes Dany to a new Melisandre type and she returns from the dead either with fire and blood on the mind or redemption in her heart, then by all means! Who's going to stop you?

George R.R. Martin might.

True. Maybe keep it to your head canon, then.

6. We have made it through five rounds of questions without really digging into the big controversy of the episode…

I know, can you believe how tall Robin Arryn (Lino Faciloli) has gotten? He must have switched over to giant's

No, I'm not talking about Sweet Robin...though now that you bring him up, it really was shocking to see how much he's grown.

Some people might not have even realized Robin Arryn was in the Dragonpit meet-up scene, that's how much he's grown! Robin Arryn is to the end of Game of Thrones as Iron Man 3 actor Ty Simpkins is to the end of Avengers: Endgame. How's that for a take?

7. Such a great take that it shall be left in isolation. Let me ask my original question, which actually also deals with someone who grew a whole lot over the course of the series: Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran and is now the man ruling over Westeros. Are you as aggrieved by this as everyone else seems to be?

I'm not. First of all, I love Isaac Hempstead Wright. I love late-stage Bran Stark. I love the easy memes and jokes he generates. Hempstead Wright loves all that stuff as well, for what it's worth. If my feelings were purely based on those factors and not the scope of the story, I would be very happy indeed. But my feelings must also take into account the scope of the story, and on that front? I'm still not mad. I think one of the great aspects of Game of Thrones' ending was how it closed certain characters' stories in ways we never anticipated, but ways that ultimately connected back to their beginnings — Bran being one of them. Tyrion sketches it all out pretty well, so I'll give him the floor:

"I've had nothing to do but think these past few weeks, about our bloody history, about the mistakes we've made. What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There's nothing more powerful in the world than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than Bran the Broken? The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He knew he'd never walk again, so he learned to fly. He crossed beyond the Wall, a crippled boy, and became the Three-Eyed Raven. He is our memory, the keeper of all our stories. The wars, weddings, births, massacres, famines. Our triumphs, our defeats, our past. Who better to lead us into the future?"

At that, Sansa suggests Bran does not want the throne, nor can he father children, which prompts this reply from Tyrion: "Good. Sons of kings can be cruel and stupid as you well know. His will never torment us." I am not so into Tyrion celebrating Bran's inability to have children, nor do I love the continued idea that children of problematic individuals are guaranteed to be problematic themselves. Those are the bigger issues I have with Bran's selection as king, not Bran himself.

8. We know Martin hasn't finished his version of the story yet, and that there are very likely some key beats from the final season that won't appear in the final books. That said, where do you think he'll land with Bran? Same spot?

Roughly, yeah. Martin has said that the first scene he ever envisioned for Game of Thrones was the one in which Bran sees his father execute a Night's Watch deserter, learning the invaluable lesson: "The man who passes the sentence should also swing the sword." Then the Stark family discovers Summer and the other direwolves, and the rest is history. That's where Martin started: a boy watching his dad kill a man in a bitter cold fantasy world. Of course, if Martin planned for that boy to go on an intense journey of personal loss, physical struggle and existential transformation, with a seat at the heart of the kingdom as the ultimate destination? Clearly, he wasn't going to reveal that bit of information. Bran as the king of Westeros feels way too specific to be a Benioff and Weiss creation; it feels like it's ripped right out of Martin's own mind.

9. Fair enough — but maybe this is one area where Benioff and Weiss should have veered away from Martin's plan, right? Doesn't it just feel off? Don't be nice, be honest.

Okay, it feels a little off, and for me, here's why: Hempstead Wright has talked about how he, Benioff and Weiss intentionally decided to strip some emotion away from Bran once he became the full-on Three-Eyed Raven. There's a radical shift in his character from the season six finale to the season seven premiere, and you can't quite blame it on the impact of the Three-Eyed Raven download; Bran downloads that information within season six and doesn't make the internal shift in subsequent scenes, so it was clearly a choice made between seasons. I think it was ultimately not a great choice. Rendering Bran a fair and balanced individual so he can become a fair and balanced king is all well and good, but when Bran comes across as someone who doesn't emotionally invest in anything anymore, then it's hard to emotionally invest in him. It doesn't help that he was gone for all of season five. The fact that he sat out of an entire season and still comes back to become the king basically makes him the Chris Underwood of Game of Thrones.

10. Thanks for bringing that up, because it was on my list of issues with Bran the Broken. if he was always going to end up in charge of the realm, then why did Benioff and Weiss exclude him from an entire season of the series?

There was the practical reality of Hempstead Wright growing rapidly, but also the story concern that Bran reaching the Three-Eyed Raven in season four and not being able to leave the Three-Eyed Raven until season six would mean too much time for Bran to dwell in a cave and just… chill? I understand that reluctance on some level, but in hindsight, I think it was a massive mistake to keep Bran out of the picture for a full season. We missed an entire season in which Bran could solve some kind of historical mystery or learn more about dynasties within Westeros, giving us a ton of road map for not only the Jon Snow as Aegon Targaryen reveal (which, let's be honest, didn't really matter all that much in the end) but also (and much more importantly) for Daenerys' turn to the dark side. Imagine a season where Bran goes and sees the Doom of Old Valyria, or witnesses Aegon's Conquest, or some other major event from the Targaryens' past — stuff that informs Dany's eventual landing point, and also helps solidify why Bran would one day be the right person to lead. Instead, season five kept Bran on the bench and sent us to Dorne. Everybody loses.

11. Here's another concern about Bran: In season seven, he was a full-on jerk to Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) when he dismissed her from his care, after so many years on the road together. We're supposed to feel good about that guy being the king?

That was definitely uncool! But maybe Bran's lack of filter is ultimately a good thing? This is the "we don't have time for all this" guy, which means his tolerance for drama is low, while his drive for action is high. Sounds like a good man to rebuild in a time of great crisis, right?

12. Here's another thing that doesn't sit right with me…

You know other things happened in this episode beyond Bran's appointment as king, right?

I do, but this one's going to bug me all week: Bran knew he was going to become the king, right?

It kind of seems that way. After Tyrion gives his big overture about Bran's worthiness, he turns to the young man and says: "I know you don't want it. I know you don't care about power. But I ask you now, if we choose you, will you wear the crown?" Bran's response: "Why do you think I came all this way?" So, yeah, it sure sounds like he knew he was going to become the king.

Then Bran can absolutely see the future, right? He knew Theon (Alfie Allen) was going to die at the hands of the Night King, he knew Arya would show up to kill the Night King just a couple minutes shy of Theon's death, he knew Daenerys was going to ravage King's Landing…

…he did see the dragon's shadow over King's Landing long ago in a vision, yeah…

…which means he saw all of that and also saw himself ascending to the throne. We're clearly supposed to feel happy about the royal outcome on Game of Thrones, but looked at from a certain view, isn't Bran's ascension actually kind of chilling? A little bit mischievous, even? 

Wow, yeah, maybe a little bit. Remember back in season seven when he met Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) for the first time?

"Chaos is a ladder."

Right. Maybe Bran saw Littlefinger's past, brushed up on his political mover-and-shaker moves, and took some for himself as he moved forward on the quest for the throne. Maybe Bran really is the bad guy after all.

Whoa. 

Look, don't get hung up on it. That's just a fun thing you can talk to your friends about in the years to come, it's not actually real and even if it is, it absolutely does not matter.

13. Okay, sounds good. Clearly, we could talk about Bran all day — how "Bran the Broken" is not a nice name but how it harkens back to Tyrion's speech about "cripples, bastards and broken things" from the first season; about how "Bran the Broken" is a clever callback to "Bran the Builder," the mythical Westeros hero who built the Wall and is likely going to factor into Jane Goldman's Game of Thrones upcoming prequel; so on and so forth — but we really should move on…

But what if we don't?

Excuse me?

You and I have spent a little while now batting the merit of Bran's worthiness back and forth. Why not let Isaac Hempstead Wright get in a word or two?

…wait, Isaac's here? Has he been reading this? I am suddenly deeply embarrassed. 

Don't be, you've been talking to yourself publicly for weeks now and privately a whole lot longer than that; no time for shame. Anyway, he's not here, but Hempstead Wright did indeed provide The Hollywood Reporter with some thoughts about his character's ending in a guest column posting here soon. Here's an excerpt:

"As for me, I am thrilled with the way the show ends. At the beginning of the show, Bran is a disabled 10-year-old with slim chances of surviving in this harsh universe. He will never be the warrior who comes in on horseback and saves the day, but he is resilient. He survives attempted murder more times than I can count; he journeys with only a handful of other people to one of the most dangerous and northerly points on the map, and he returns one of the most powerful characters in Westeros. I find it an extraordinary character arc to see him go from a vulnerable character totally dependent on others to the one person who holds all the keys to understanding the world. Bran becoming king is a victory for the still and considered people of this world, who too often get sidelined by the commotion of those who are louder and more reactionary. He doesn't shout to make himself heard, but instead waits and chooses his words and actions very carefully. In that, I think Bran presents a valuable reminder to us all in this day and age where sensationalism is rife and anybody can voice an opinion to millions, to sit and consider things a little more carefully."

And with that, I think we can move on. 

14. Alright. Jon Snow. Let's talk about him. Are you happy with where he wound up?

Happy-ish. Happy for him that he's alive. Happy he finally showed Ghost some love. Happy that Jon does not ultimately have to live a life at the mercy of destiny. I think there's something powerful in the idea that even when all things were drawing him toward the Iron Throne, he ultimately rejected it and instead broke his own heart to spare everyone from a cruel future. I like that he gets to basically say, "I'm a Targaryen, but I'm a Stark," and even doubles down by going Full North, joining the Free Folk in the lands far away from Westeros proper. He runs away from Castle Black, where he was sentenced to spend the rest of his days. In that way, I suppose, he rejects his Starkiness and takes a page out of the Targaryen playbook, doing something unexpected and a bit punk rock. But I'm always going to wonder why we had to spend so much time on Jon's Targaryen heritage in the first place, and even more so, why he had to die and come back to life; it just feels like the whole thing was a lot of drama for an endgame that could have been accomplished more elegantly.

15. Is there something we should take from the final image of the series: Jon and the Free Folk stepping into the Haunted Forest, never to be seen again?

I loved that final image, actually. Game of Thrones began with the gates at Castle Black rising, as three riders ranged forth and into the haunting unknown beyond the Wall, straight into certain doom at the hands of White Walkers. Game of Thrones ends with the reverse image, looking right into where those riders were once heading, this time with Jon Snow and his new people peacefully walking out into the wild, with no need to fear the dead. If you were looking for some sweetener in the bitter ending, there it is. Jon lost so much along the way, but he gained a lot as well, and he did indeed make the world a safer place for at least one group of people. His actions brought the wildlings south of the Wall when they needed safety from the White Walkers. His actions brought disparate forces of the realm together to face of the White Walkers, ending the greatest threat in human history. Now, with the Night King and his forces gone, Jon can join the wildlings in their home, in a place where he can belong and actually start over again. The show didn't do Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) much justice, but I enjoy Jon effectively following his lead and becoming the new King Beyond the Wall. Will there be peace in Westeros? Ask again in 10 years, but beyond the Wall? At least we have our answer.

16. Arya Stark did not kill Daenerys, like many people thought. In fact, she didn't kill anyone. She's heading west of Westeros. What's west of Westeros?

No one knows — it's where all the maps stop. Will we see Arya explore the edges of the world? Maybe, maybe not. It feels like an incredibly obvious direction for a future Game of Thrones successor series, with Maisie Williams returning at some point down the line as Arya Stark voyaging out into the world and enjoying new adventures. But we probably won't see it.

17. Really? Game of Thrones ended on such an open note for so many characters. You really think we won't see the further adventures of Arya or anyone else?

Really. At least, that's how it's going to be if Martin gets his way. In 2018, when news first broke about HBO moving forward with Jane Goldman's pilot set thousands of years before Thrones, Martin said the following: "Yes, this is a prequel, not a sequel. None of the characters or actors from Game of Thrones will appear in the new show. All of the successor shows we've been developing have been prequels, as I have mentioned before." It doesn't preclude the possibility of Martin some day changing his mind and telling more stories about Arya and the rest, but at the very least, it's not in the cards anytime soon. 

18. Assuming this is the last we see of the Stark sisters, then what are your thoughts on the endings for Sansa and Arya?

Sansa's ending is a pretty straightforward one, right? How many times have you heard the words "Queen in the North" chanted among the fandom over the past few years? A bunch of times, I'd wager! And it finally came true for the daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, now reigning over a free and independent North. How she was able to pull that move off so openly while the new prince of the infamously isolationist Dorne was just a few chairs down really boggles my mind, but I'm going to choose not to spend too much time thinking about that. As for Arya, Game of Thrones ignored my final prediction and instead went with my Final Path backup hope: for a journey far away from Westeros, mirroring her trip to Braavos at the end of season four. It's so great that Arya's story ends with the young wolf putting killing behind and instead embracing the wanderlust she gained from her time on the open road — turning her tormented experiences into something positive, a desire to travel and not only see the world, but discover it. 

19. One of my favorite parts of the finale was how it honored some of the characters who didn't make it into the finale — like Jaime, whose story ends thanks to Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) updating the White Book. What did she write?

First of all, I loved that as well. Here's what was already written: "Ser Jaime Lannister. Squired for Barristan Selmy against the Kingswood Outlaws. Knighted and named to the Kingsguard in his sixteenth year for valour in the field. At the Sack of King's Landing, murdered his king, Aerys the second at the foot of the Iron Throne. Pardoned by King Robert Baratheon. Thereafter known as the Kingslayer. After the murder of King Joffrey I by Tyrion Lannister, served under King Tommen I."

Here's what Brienne added to that page — it's incomplete: "Captured in the field at the Whispering Wood. Set free by Lady Catelyn Stark in return for an oath to find and [return] her two daughters. Lost his hand …"

The rest of that page cuts off, forcing Brienne to write a new one. Here's how she concludes Jaime's story: "Took Riverrun from the Tully rebels, without loss of life. Lured the Unsullied into attacking Casterly Rock, sacrificing his childhood home in service to a greater strategy. Outwitted the Targaryen forces to seize Highgarden. Fought at the Battle of the Goldroad bravely, narrowly escaping death by dragonfire. Pledged himself to the forces of men and rode north to join them at Winterfell, alone. Face the Army of the Dead, and defended the castle against impossible odds until the defeat of the Night King. Escaped imprisonment and rode south in an attempt to save the capital from destruction. Died protecting his Queen."

20. Speaking of books… A Song of Ice and Fire! Sam Tarly (John Bradley) really did write the thing! Fun fan service or too cute?

Can't it be both? Fans called this one for years. Whether it was always the plan, or a matter of Benioff and Weiss leaning into a fun idea from the fan community, who can say? Certainly not Benioff and Weiss, who are giving no interviews about the finale, and certainly not Martin, who does not speak much of the show anymore and clearly won't spill the beans on the future of his own books, such as that future exists.

How big of an opportunity did Game of Thrones miss by naming the finale "The Iron Throne" and not "A Song of Ice and Fire," or even "A Dream of Spring," which is supposed to be the final book's title?

Look at you educating the masses! I don't think it was a missed opportunity at all, as far as how it fits with the rest of Game of Thrones. The primary interests of the adaptation were always right there in the title: Game of Thrones, not A Song of Ice and Fire. Fantasy elements abound throughout the series, but at its core, this was a political show about the corrupting power of... well, power. It was epitomized in the Iron Throne, not just the centerpiece of the series, but the centerpiece of the finale. I'm a book-fan first, obviously, but "A Song of Ice and Fire" does not fit Benioff and Weiss' interests; disagree with their interests all you want, but the name didn't align with how they adapted Martin's story.

21. Whose fate are you happiest about?

Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), Master of Ships. From Flea Bottom to the Small Council, the Onion Knight ends the series right where we need him most: a good man at the heart of the realm. Davos gets my favorite line of the episode, when everyone's delivering their support for Bran as king: "I'm not sure I get a vote, but aye." Classic Davos. Frankly, I would have been happy enough to see him survive the series, but to see a person like him in a position of prominence — one that returns him to his roots out at sea, no less — is very satisfying indeed.

22. Whose ending do you like the least?

Honestly, I liked most of them! I'm still chewing on Daenerys' death and Bran's ascension to the throne, but I'm already on my way toward making my peace with both. I suppose I didn't love how it all ended for Bronn (Jerome Flynn), who gets a big reward even after punching Tyrion square in the nose in "The Last of the Starks," quite easily one of my least favorite scenes in the entire series. (That said, "Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, Lord of Highgarden, Lord Paramount of the Reach, Master of Coin and Lord of Lofty Titles" has a nice ring to it.) I would say I'm not fond of how the series treated Tyrion in the end, if not for the fact that Peter Dinklage delivered some of his series-best acting in the finale, and was also gifted one great final line — the penultimate words of the series, in fact: "I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel." Really, the stuff I disliked most lands firmly in the ideas department: laughing in the face of democracy, blaming a person's genetics for all of their failures... oh, and the water bottle. Seriously, we're doing this again?

23. Before we wrap up, back to the first question. That's Game of Thrones. What did you think?

You were supposed to ask this 12 questions ago, friend. 

Oh, come on…

You snooze, you lose. Ask me again in 10 years.

Oh, come on!

I know I'm being cheeky, but it's my honest answer. Did I hate the Game of Thrones ending? I did not. Did I love it? I did not. As with the full final season, there's much that I loved and much that I loathed. There's a lot in between, as well, elements that I enjoyed or lightly disliked but otherwise did not feel all too strongly about. My central concern remains intact: t'was too fast, too furious. With some extra time to stop and smell the winter roses along the way, I would have enjoyed it more, and I suspect others would have enjoyed it more as well. But we did not get that extra time; what's more, there was no way this series was ever going to end in a way that satisfied everyone, even the majority. If you didn't care for it, in time, it may grow on you. The final act of Game of Thrones features so many radical character shifts and other heavy contemplations, that it's going to take a while for some to fully feel the impact. To know me at all is to know how much I love Lost, and to know me well is to know that I really disliked the final season of that series when it first aired and in the years that followed. But this past winter, I rewatched it all for the first time in a long time, and nine years out from the series finale, I not only enjoyed it, but thoroughly loved it. Times change, so do people, and so do shows. When Tyrion says "ask me again in 10 years," and when I say the same, it's not just side-stepping a question. Like the fine wines Tyrion enjoys so much, Game of Thrones' ending may age into something beautiful, or it may become even more unpalatable than it tastes right now. I'm not ready to make the call — but I am more than ready to put the bottle in the cellar.

Fair enough. Valar Morghulis.

Valar Dohaeris.

Read all of THR's Final Path series, featuring character-by-character predictions:

1. Jon Snow
2. Daenerys Targaryen
3. Tyrion Lannister
4. Cersei Lannister
5. Jaime Lannister
6. Sansa Stark
7. Arya Stark
8. Bran Stark
9. Samwell Tarly
10. Theon Greyjoy
11. The Hound
12. Brienne of Tarth
13. Varys
14. Melisandre
15. Davos Seaworth
16. Jorah Mormont
17. Bronn
18. Tormund Giantsbane
19. Beric Dondarrion
20. The Dragons
21. The Night King
22. Across the World of Ice and Fire
23. Final Predictions

Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for continuing coverage.