But what does that really mean? We’re all expecting a showdown between the White Walkers and the Targaryens, and by a plurality here, I mean Jon Snow and Daenerys of course. But what if there is more to this? Are we expecting such a straight-forward ending, really?
There are some pretty great fan theories out there, and I’ve talked about some of my own plenty of times before (just check the got category on this site). However, I came across a really neat one from Nerd Soup regarding the motivations and lineage, really, of the White Walkers. It makes for some interesting watching, so please feel free to take a look.
George R. R. Martin has said many times that he hates good vs. evil tales that paint one side as overwhelmingly good and another side overwhelmingly bad. Any characters that we have previously had who could clearly be put into these molds have been mostly killed. Joffrey. Ramsay. On the other side, Ned and Robb, Catelyn Stark, etc.
So, what is up with the Night King?
There’s a lot of backstory and lore here, but the books have not presented the White Walker story in any meaningful way. They seem like a menacing force of evil. The show runners on HBO have said they look at the Night King not as an evil king but as Death himself. I think this is too simplistic, and quite frankly, I’m hoping they are simply misleading us intentionally, as they had to do to build suspense and disbelief about Jon Snow’s death.
The video above does a good job of presenting an alternate path forward, one that I hope is closer to how the series ends up. Instead of Good vs. Evil, humans have reneged on an old pact written during the creation of the Great Wall. It does not really make that much sense that a species of creature who live in winter and ice would be subverted by an ice wall. If anything, it makes more sense that they created it.
After all, the children of the forest did not appear to possess any true ice magic and were more focused on life and fire spells, which you can see in the series. So, they just don’t seem to be a likely candidate. Then, there is Brandon Stark “the Builder” and founder of House Stark, who is supposed to be the human architect of the Wall. However, a wall 700 ft tall and 300 miles long made from ice from a frozen lake doesn’t really seem like the best material men might use and it certainly would have taken a long, long time for men, even with the help of giants and the children of the forest (who don’t seem to do all that well in the cold).
Which leaves a far more likely builder–the White Walkers. They literally have ice for blood in the books and various ice magics. Would it make more sense for them to have built the wall to create a buffer line between men and the extreme north and they are only raising an army to attack again due to the continued presence of the Wildlings in their territory, the birth of the dragons which are igniting fire magic again, the strengthening of the Lord of Light (a fire magic deity), and the loss of the human sacrifices from Krastor that were helping them reproduce (according to Martin, White Walkers do not reproduce naturally but instead must convert a human child).
Don’t get me wrong. There are many theories about the White Walker motivations, including getting back at the First Men, the link between Bran and the Night King, and even the first Night’s King and the supposed White Walker bride that he had on the wall. But, I think it’s worth thinking about the White Walker motivations.
Since I’m in Portugal for another week, I’ll miss the first episode tonight. So, if you’re back home and streaming or watching, I’m a bit envious, but I’ll catch up and then we’ll figure this out together!