How the Bleak New 'Game of Thrones' Teaser Relates to the Destruction of the Great Sept and the Wall

Tuesday, 02 April 2019 - 1:52PM
Sci-Fi TV Shows
Tuesday, 02 April 2019 - 1:52PM
How the Bleak New 'Game of Thrones' Teaser Relates to the Destruction of the Great Sept and the Wall
< >
photo: courtesy of HBO/ Game of Thrones available on HBO and HBO NOW
As we approach its 8th and final season, we've re-examined our coverage of Game of Thrones over the last four years, partly in search of clues as to how the series will play out when it premieres on April 14th and partly in search – perhaps in vain – of some underlying logic or law aside from Lex Talionis  that might guide the show's jarring deaths, horrifying twists of fate, and unexpected resurrections. Time after time, we were left unsatisfied. Game of Thrones, like the sagas that came before it and the stories that inspired George R.R. Martin, takes place in a universe much like our own. Actions, however minute, have consequences. Policies are created to preserve power. Power tends to corrupt those who wield it. Through the lens of history, it would seem to be cyclical... but is it?

via GIPHY

The series begins at the end of a years-long summer as anxious Westerosi begin to consider the likelihood of an equally long winter. As the march towards winter begins, houses clash, alliances break, and tyrants rise to power through cruelty and various betrayals. Things and people thought long gone reappear. Things and people thought indestructible are obliterated. Diseases thought incurable are cured. By the time the snow begins to fall in King's Landing at the end of Season 7, two of the most important physical structures on the continent have been destroyed. The first is the Great Sept of Baelor which served the dominant religion in the Seven Kingdoms – the 6000-year-old Faith of the Seven – and was annihilated with its priesthood by Cersei Lannister with wildfire. The second is the 8000-year-old Wall which protected the Seven Kingdoms and was destroyed by an army of frozen wights, led by the Night King and armed with a dragon breathing ice-fire (the Wall doesn't burn, it simply crumbles). 


In Season 7, Episode 1, Archmaester Ebrose tells Samwell Tarly that bad times had come before and had always worked out in the end.

Opening quote
When Robert's Rebellion was raging people thought the end was near; the end of the Targaryen dynasty! How will we survive? When Aegon Targaryen turned his eye westward and flew his dragons to Blackwater Rush - 'the end is near, how will we survive?' And thousands of years before that, during the Long Night we could forgive them for thinking it was the end, but it wasn't, none of it was. The Wall has stood through it all, and every winter that ever came has ended.
Closing quote



Ebrose claims to be a skeptic, dismissively disregarding Tarly's inquiry and concerns, but his approach to history, both in this case and in the case of the cure for Dragonscale, is inductive. His certainty is based on thousands of years of carefully recorded history. History and its observable cyclical patterns are his faith: second-hand empiricism. His reasoning is based on the premise that since the Wall has stood for 6,000 years, it will always stand. This is the kind of faulty reasoning that people rely on every day to ward off the fear engendered by the harshest reality: death, the longest night of all. Contrary to Ebrose's implied assertion, not every winter ends. 

The latest teaser - released today - confirms it.




The threat coming through the Wall is entirely ahistorical. It is the consequence of things set in motion long before the Wall was built: a battle for resources following the migration of the First Men from Essos into what is now Westeros. The White Walkers are more than an Army of the Dead: they are the pinnacle of death's weaponization, now completely uncontrollable and intent on destroying even the cycle of life and death. In the Game of Thrones universe, it seems that all Gods are true, but only because they are aspects of Death, the Many-Faced God. 


The Great War, as Jon Snow describes it, is between life and death. But it's more than just between the White Walkers and the armies of the living. It's also about confronting the betrayals and lies that are buried with the dead that have set the living against the living. It's about considering whether life actually demands the continuance of lethal, intergenerational blood feuds or if there's room to start anew, as Jon Snow suggests when he forgives the Umbers and Karstarks. It's about deciding whether or not being chained to the Iron Throne – a symbol of death itself – is living at all.


Mortality in the Game of Thrones universe is, like ours, assured. As long as life – whether sparked by fire or ice – exists, however, there is always room for struggle, to wrestle with these considerations, to live. Syrio Forel put it best: 


Opening quote
There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'Not today'."
Closing quote



The final season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 14th on HBO. 




















Science Fiction
Game of Thrones
Sci-Fi TV Shows
No