Game of Thrones: the Frustrating Questions Left Unanswered by the Season 8 Finale
Varys’ voice from the flames, the fate of the Dothraki, the future of the Seven Kingdoms… The Game of Thrones finale left more than a few unanswered questions behind.
Warning: contains spoilers for Game of Thrones seasons 1-8.
We’re excited for HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon. But as always, the problem with a prequel is that it can only fill in more detailed background to the story we’ve already seen – it can’t continue that story, or pick up on any loose hanging threads from its parent show. The Game of Thrones TV finale left us with a fair few unanswered questions – we can only hope a rumoured sequel eventually comes along to answer some of them.
We’ve gathered a few of the most pressing of these unanswered questions below. We’re not including deliberately open endings, like Jon Snow riding out beyond the Wall with Tormund (is he abandoning the Night’s Watch to go and live with the Wildlings?) or what happened to Drogon and Daenerys’ body (did he eat her?!). But even excluding those, there are a fair few bits and pieces that feel less like open endings and more like flapping plot threads left unfinished.
Who was Quaithe and What Was Her Deal?
This is a really old hanging plot thread that goes all the way back to Season 2. In the books, Quaithe is a mysterious figure who occasionally turns up to offer Daenerys cryptic warnings. In the TV show, she talks mainly to Ser Jorah, and her warnings are less like prophecies and more like she just has a lot of information, both on Jorah’s past and on their present. As a result, once she’s helped Jorah and Dany recover Dany’s dragons, she just disappears, never to be seen or mentioned again. She’d more or less served her purpose in the show, but it’s a strange dangling question that no one ever thinks about again – who was she, how did she know so much, and why did she want to help Dany?
Who Was the Voice That Called Out to Varys from the Flames?
When the Red Priestess Kinvara meets with Tyrion and Varys in Season 6 episode ‘The Door‘, she says to Varys, “do you remember what you heard that night, when the sorcerer tossed your parts in the fire? You heard a voice call out from the flames, do you remember? Should I tell you what the voice said? Should I tell you the name of the one who spoke?” And then she doesn’t, and we never find out. Varys forgets everything he ever knew about spying, reveals that he’s about to commit treason, and is executed, in one of the most disappointing character endings in the whole series.
Who Was the Night King?
In the TV show version of this story we saw, in one of Bran’s visions, that during a war with the First Men, the Children of the Forest killed a man and turned him into the Night King, thus giving birth to the White Walkers. There had been years of fan speculation about who the Night King actually was, primarily based on the books, where he has a completely different back-story (was he King Brandon Stark? Was he a time-travelling Bran Stark?). In the end, though, the TV version was just some dude.
Why Could Bran “Never be the Lord of Anything”?
In Season 7, Bran clearly told Sansa “I can never be Lord of anything” when she brought up the fact that he is now the rightful Lord of Winterfell. And yet in the series finale, when Tyrion nominates Bran to be King of the Seven/Six Kingdoms, he says, “Why do you think I came all this way?”
This is really more a plot hole resulting from the rushed ending than anything else, but just what was going with Bran in those last two seasons? We know he was no longer really Bran Stark, but the Three-Eyed Raven – OK, fine. Was he lying when he told Sansa that meant he could never rule politically? Was he just saying what he knew he needed to say in order to get the outcome he wanted? Or did things change when Arya managed to kill the Night King? Was the whole series manipulated by the Three-Eyed Raven so he could take power for himself? Was Bran secretly ambitious all along? And when the Three-Eyed Raven said Bran would fly, did he just mean warging into ravens rather than the more exciting dragon-riding possibility? The questions about Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven, and everything going on with both of them just go on and on.
What happened to the Dothraki / Daario and Meereen / Meera and Howland Reed?
All three of these are basically unfinished storylines. Daario was dumped by Daenerys and abandoned in Meereen at the end of Season 6 and never seen or mentioned again, the Dothraki were apparently mostly wiped out in the Battle of Winterfell, though a few of them turned up again at King’s Landing, and Meera left partway through Season 7 to protect her family, while Howland Reed was only ever seen in flashback (unless he’s one of the nameless lords in the climactic trial/monarchical election in the Dragonpit). Were there any Dothraki survivors at all by the time King’s Landing had been destroyed? Did slavery come back to Meereen or did Daario manage to keep on top of it? Did the Reeds survive the war? No one knows.
Who is the new Prince of Dorne?
The changes to the plot involving Dorne in Season 5 were some of the most notorious and poorly received changes to the books, which was a shame, since Oberyn Martell’s story in Season 4 had been done so well. But no one was really mollified when the Prince of Dorne, Doran Martell, was abruptly killed off at the beginning of Season 6 (a total waste of Alexander Siddig) and the whole storyline was wrapped up with Ellaria Sand’s torture and presumed eventual death at the beginning of Season 7.
All of this was unsatisfying enough, but to add insult to injury, at that meeting in the Dragonpit, we see a new Prince of Dorne who doesn’t even get a name. Who is he? Is he one of Oberyn Martell’s other children, since we only saw the Sand Snakes on the show but we know they weren’t his only offspring? Was he some other distant relative of Doran and Oberyn? Have a new family taken over? Do they still want revenge on the Lannisters? Were they Targaryen allies, like their book counterparts? And how does the new Prince manage to look so effortlessly cool with so little to do throughout that meeting?
Will Dorne and the Iron Islands leave the Seven/Six/Five/Four Kingdoms?
That meeting in the Dragonpit strayed a long way from its agenda, serving as the trial of two different people (only one of whom is even present), a debate on what form of government the Kingdoms should adopt going forward, and the election of their next and possibly last King, Bran the Three-Eyed Raven, who might live for centuries. Some poor secretary is having a meltdown trying to write the minutes.
Another consequence of this multipurpose gathering was that the Seven Kingdoms abruptly became Six when Sansa Stark told her brother, ‘actually we in the North are off bro, bye!’ and Bran, flying in the face of colonising powers everywhere, just shrugged and let it go. There have been well established independence movements in both Dorne and the Iron Islands for years by this point, so are they going to just up and leave as well? Or is it only Bran’s siblings who are allowed to take entire kingdoms out of his realm on a whim?
Why are Arya, Brienne, and Davos at that meeting?
Still on that Dragonpit meeting, some of the attendees seem to be determined by who has a spot in the credits more than anything else. One of the Stark children should be there, as Lord or Lady of Winterfell, and if there’s some question over whether that’s Sansa or Bran then both could attend. But Arya doesn’t hold any kind of title, and even if Brienne has become head of her House, it’s not an especially important House. Davos even questions out loud whether he gets a vote when they elect Bran as King. But this is a meeting run by the guy who started out as the person on trial, so who knows what logic lies behind the organisation of it. Considering Tyrion is the only surviving character with any notable organisational skills, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out he put together his own trial at this point.
And Finally, What Did Podrick Do to Those Girls?!
How did Podrick, in the course of losing his virginity to some sex workers, manage to please them so much that they didn’t charge him? Given how depressing the world of Westeros is, he was probably just nice and friendly to them. Though while we’re on the subject of brothels, a fan did come up with a genuinely funny punchline to Tyrion’s famous unfinished joke about going into a brothel with a honeycomb and a jackass, published in The Irish Post. So at least that’s a nice bit of closure.