Spoilers, ahoy! If you haven't seen all 50 episodes of the HBO series "Game of Thrones," some or all of it will likely be spoiled for you below.
When you play the "," you win or you die. But by now, fans of the show have come to realize that even if you win, . And so I watched the Season 5 finale on Sunday night with an ever-growing sense of dread.
For almost a full hour, the show's writers doled out formidable heaps of justice to the characters who have done the most sinning (or been the most sinned against) in the last half-decade. The parents who sacrificed their own daughter in the name of unproven magic just last week will not make it to Season 6; Arya Stark crosses another name off her hit list with a flourish; Sansa Stark finds another unreliable savior in the nick of time; and Cersei Lannister is finally forced to atone for being just generally terrible in an equally terrible and brutal scene.
And then came the sucker punch we all knew was coming -- though not in what form -- in the season's final minutes: several puncture wounds to the gut and chest of Jon Snow, who is shown apparently bleeding to death in the final shot.
Predictably, the Internet immediately commenced losing its collective mind over this tragic ending. There are plenty of theories rooted in online forums, in George R.R. Martin's books and in interviews with cast and crew that suggest Jon is not really dead, or that he'll be resurrected later, or that his soul has been magically transposed into the body of Ghost, his dire wolf, or that he'll become a White Walker. And those are just for starters.
Or, as actor Kit Harington himself told Entertainment Weekly: "I'm dead. I'm not coming back next season."
Wishes do come true
With the show now seemingly more than willing and able to deviate from the books on which it's based, it's entirely possible that Jon Snow's fate hasn't even been decided yet by those creative deities who hold his life in the palm of their word processors.
As such, I'm less concerned with guessing games and more interested in taking stock of how many items from myfor the season finale came true Sunday night.
Remarkably, after the show I found that nearly half of my wishes were granted from a list that was only about half serious anyway. Cersei got the comeuppance she deserves, Arya had her vengeance on another name from her list (although at a cost), and a few wishes were half-granted -- Brienne of Tarth took out Stannis Baratheon and it seems likely she's on her way to rescue an escaped Sansa Stark. And of course, Jon Snow looks to have suffered a not entirely meaningless, but certainly undignified, death.
The Season 5 finale also left us with plenty to wish for. The house of Lannister is essentially broken, with Tywin dead, Cersei stripped of her power and her daughter, Myrcella, dying in her uncle-father Jaime's arms, just after acknowledging her knowledge of her incestuous conception. The Lannisters seem to have spent much of this season paying off their debts, to be sure.
With Tyrion now the lone ascendant Lannister sibling, we can look forward to watching him attempt to run Mereen from behind the scenes, which I still hope could lead to fulfillment of a few more of my wishes -- seeingride on a dragon with the Khaleesi before an epic turn to the dark side in the Season 6 finale. (Yes, I think George R.R. could take a few pointers from on this one.)
Looking forward further
In a very brief exchange only made more significant by the "Previously on..." recap at the beginning of the show, Cersei meets a new member of the Kingsguard, Ser Robert Strong. Scenes from the recap strongly hint that Ser Strong -- who has conveniently taken a vow of silence -- is actually the re-animated body of "The Mountain," Gregor Clegane. With the addition of this Frankenstein's monster, the only fantasy trope the series still lacks is vampires.
Separated from her dragon, which may understand English but still remains mopey, Daenerys seems to have a more uncertain future (and dirtier clothes) than she's been faced with for a few seasons now. The same goes for the humiliated red witch Melisandre and the newly blind Arya Stark, who played out one of the show's most intriguing new story lines in Season 5.
On the other end of fortune, things are looking up for Sansa, Reek, Brienne and Pod. And we also were treated to a reunion of one of the show's most enjoyable bantering duos: Tyrion and fellow schemer, Lord Varys, aka "The Spider." (Seriously, somebody give those two a podcast like, last year.)
But all this is cold comfort for the heartbreaking final scene and the prospect of facing a Season 6 in which the Night's Watch will go on sans Samwell Tarley and Jon Snow.
That leads me to conclude with my theory on what will really become of the Lord Commander. Clearly Jon Snow is destined to fill the saga's one remaining gap and become its first vampire. Or maybe he'll be resurrected and jump a shark on water skis.
I know, I know...same difference.