You’ve likely heard that HBO is developing a sequel series to Game of Thrones, focusing on everyone’s favourite bastard-turned-king, Jon Snow (Kit Harington).
Picking up after the original series finale, the prospective show would follow Jon beyond the Wall, after he went into permanent exile along with the last of the wildlings in 2019’s final episode The Iron Throne.
Harington is in talks to reprise his role in what would be the seventh scheduled Game of Thrones spin-off show currently in production at HBO, according to The Hollywood Reporter, alongside House of the Dragon and several others.
I’m a Game of Thrones super-fan, so a return to Westeros featuring any of its wonderful characters should excite me. I’m even a fan of the controversial ending (we do exist!), so I should be intrigued to see what Jon’s up to.
But when a friend sent me the news this morning, all I felt was unease. It’s understandable that HBO would do something like this because it’s launching a streaming service soon and can only compete with Disney and Netflix by producing as much #content as possible. But why… this?
The finale upset millions of fans who demanded that creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss set it right. But the wordless montage of the Stark siblings at the very end of the series made the point that Arya (Maisie Williams), Sansa (Sophie Turner), Jon and, by extension, the show itself, had nothing left to say.
In the final scene, Jon had secured as much peace for himself as he could. A life of war, trauma, and death literally and figuratively lay behind him; he had a chance to pick up the broken pieces of himself and quietly carry on. Off he went, silently into an uncertain future.
After his season six resurrection, Jon spent the final portion of his story dragging himself through numerous battles and accepting numerous titles when all he really wanted to do was find internal peace. Emotionally scarred but finally free, the open question we’re left with is whether he can find internal peace in the icy wilderness.
A single blade of grass emerging from the snow suggested that he might.
To this day, The Sopranos’ infamous sudden stop is possibly TV’s most iconic ending. Was Tony shot? Did he leave the diner alive but with the constant fear that somebody might want to take him out? Will Meadow learn to park properly? None of the answers matter because the questions were the entire point.
In Game of Thrones’ case, Jon’s ending is enough. We can use our imaginations to fill in any blanks. There are other stories to tell. Turning the cameras back on would be a conservative move from a TV network that seems anxious about losing the Streaming Wars. That’s not something I would ever expect of HBO.
If Jon comes back, where does the drama originate? Is there infighting between the wildlings? Was there a dangerous species beyond the Wall that we forgot about? Were there more White Walkers buried somewhere this whole time? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. None of us need to know.
If any single network helped us understand that TV is an ideal storytelling medium, it’s HBO. Desperately clambering to answer questions left open by Game of Thrones, simply because it’s scared to lose ground in the ceaseless battle for our attention, would only undermine its history of taking huge risks and making them work.
Another concern is what a successful Jon sequel might mean for Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), another character so traumatised by the series’ events that she also left Westeros behind. She finished Game of Thrones sailing into uncharted seas, unaware of whether she would find new life or sail her boat into oblivion. The lack of a clear resolution to her story is its exact purpose.
Game of Thrones needs to die on its own before HBO kills it. I see constant claims that ‘nobody cares about Game of Thrones anymore’ and that its legacy is permanently tarnished. I wish that were truly the case. I wish there wasn’t a seventh spin-off show in production.
I’m looking forward to House of the Dragon because its events are so detached from the main series that it represents a new starting point. But I wish it would be allowed to develop before yet more Westeros #content was foisted upon me. Who wants a Game of Thrones equivalent of The Book of Boba Fett?
I miss Game of Thrones every day and it breaks my heart that we’ll never get new episodes. From beginning to end, it’s my favourite story. But I never, ever want it to come back. I embrace the heartbreak. The writers were finished, the cast were finished, the production staff were finished. And, honestly, so were the viewers.
As an audience, it’s important for us to accept that stories have to end and remember the ordeal of being a Game of Thrones fan during that final season, no matter which side of the debate we were on. Sometimes our questions will be answered and we’ll be satisfied; sometimes they’ll leave us feeling angry and empty. That’s just how the cookie crumbles.
Pointless sequels and spin-offs have always existed and they always will. But I don’t think we’ve ever experienced a time like this, when so many sequels and spin-offs have been forced into existence simply because the same five or six mega-companies now own every piece of intellectual property you can think of and feel obligated to show it all off.
So please, HBO, if you’re reading this and are actually having second thoughts: I’m happy to have fun with House of the Dragon, a story that’s disconnected from the main show. But let Jon Snow have endless snuggles with Ghost beyond the Wall, allow Arya to spend eternity sailing into oblivion, and please, please let Game of Thrones die on its own.