There are a lot of series that are on hold until 2019, but none are more highly anticipated than Game of Thrones Season 8, which will bring the story of Westeros' invasion by the Army of the Dead in 301 AC to an end. Why such anticipation? The show long outpaced the books (which are still stuck back somewhere with Stannis in the snows between Castle Black and Winterfell.) Therefore it is Game of Thrones that will tell us the ending of the A Song of Ice and Fire saga. Now new Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 clues are suggesting that whatever the ending is, it will be far from joyful.
The last two seasons have reoriented the story that HBO, David Benioff, and Dan Weiss began telling from a wholesale insurrection against the expected tropes of fantasy to something resembling a quite traditional denouement. After many seasons of an ensemble series with no clear lead characters, we now have a hero-in-disguise (Jon Snow) a Princess (Daenerys Targaryen), an unstoppable villain out of one of Old Nan's tales (The Night King) and a fight of good vs evil where we're *pretty* sure good will prevail. But writer George R.R. Martin has said from the beginning there will be no "Happily Ever After."
While the rest of us are waiting for the final episodes to air, those working on the show already know what happens. They've known since October, when the cast sat down for a two-day table read of the final six scripts. And according to Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister, parts of the script were hard for the cast to get through, and not just because they represented the end of the series after nearly a decade.
Speaking to Mashable, Headey revealed that the read through even became a This Is Us-style weep fest at one point.
I can tell you that we had a giant read-through with all the cast in October. And I think pretty much everybody cried at one point. And it was... pretty surprising.
What Headey doesn't clarify is what exactly was surprising: the twist that made everyone cry, or that it hit everyone so hard that the tissue boxes were being passed around the room.
Those who have stuck with the saga since it was published in the mid 90s have known that the ending couldn't be easy. This is, after all, George R.R. martin's story, the man who wrote Ned's Death, The Red Wedding and The Mutiny At Castle Black. Martin's tried to warn fans too. Going back as far as 2014, he's promised this will be a bittersweet ending, at best.
There are some people who read and want to believe in a world where the good guys win and the bad guys lose, and at the end they live happily ever after. That’s not the kind of fiction that I write. Tolkien was not that. The scouring of the Shire proved that. Frodo’s sadness – that was a bittersweet ending, which to my mind was far more powerful than the ending of Star Wars, where all the happy Ewoks are jumping around, and the ghosts of all the dead people appear, waving happily [laughs].
And again in 2015:
Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it's a bittersweet victory. Frodo is never whole again, and he goes away to the Undying Lands, and the other people live their lives. And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn't understand when I was 13 years old: 'Why is this here? The story's over?' But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more. All I can say is that's the kind of tone I will be aiming for. Whether I achieve it or not, that will be up to people like you and my readers to judge.
Though the show will get to it before he does, it will still be his ending. Let's hope it's one that leaves fans sad, yet satisfied.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO in 2019.