There’s a lot going on as we head into the final season of Game of Thrones. There are issues about parentage and rightful claims to the throne. There are questions about various alliances and whether they will hold long enough to save the Kingdoms from any number of potential calamities. There are murders to commit and quips to quip and if I don’t see Bronn on-screen at least four times in every remaining episode, I am going to scream. All of these are topics worth discussing at length as the season premiere approaches, and you are welcome and encouraged to do just that. I’m not going to talk about any of them right now. I want to talk about how cool it is that Game of Thrones has an ice dragon.
It’s really cool. And it’s cool in a bunch of ways. Even just saying it out loud to someone who might not have kept up on the show is fun. Try it sometime. Wait for someone to tell you they stopped watching after season three and then, real casual-like, say something like “Oh, well now there’s an evil undead frozen dragon who breathes blue fire that looks like a laser.” Maybe it won’t sway them to start watching. Who cares? You don’t get a lot of opportunities in life to string together phrases like “evil undead frozen dragon.” Enjoy them when you can. Savor the moment. They call it the present because it’s a gift, you know? I just made that quote up. Do not fact-check this.
The way the ice dragon was created was cool, too. You remember it all, probably, but let’s rehash it for kicks anyway. Jon Snow and his band of chilly beefcakes headed out on a noble but poorly-planned mission — Noble But Poorly Planned would be a good title for Jon’s memoir — to capture a wight and bring it back to the people to show them all what a threat the Walkers are. They did grab a wight (yay) but then they quickly found themselves marooned on a rock inside a frozen lake and surrounded by the Night King and his army (whoops). They sent World’s Fastest Man Gendry out to get a message to Daenerys, who ordered a dragon-based rescue mission. It went… Well, it could have gone better.
So, to recap: The Night King basically baited then to come out to his turf so he could bait Daenerys to bring a dragon so he could heave a magic javelin through the sky and take down a dragon. Every part of that plan is audacious and diabolical, but it’s the heave that really gets me. Other people who wanted to knock a dragon out of the sky — Qyburn, Cersei, Bronn — used a giant crossbow in their attempt. Machinery was involved. The Night King was like, “Nah, I’m just gonna wing it, don’t worry” and then he straight-up Patrick Mahomesed that sucker into a moving target with enough force to pierce the dragon’s thick, scale-covered skin. The throw itself is impressive. The bravado to hinge your entire long-term war plans on one magical javelin heave is another thing completely. Bold. A little nuts. Very cool.
(At this point, you might be thinking something along the lines of “Hmm, are you… are you rooting for the Night King to win? It kind of sounds like you might be.” The answer is no. I am not. Mostly. Maybe a little. It’s just that he’s pretty clearly the best tactical commander on the show and it’s not like anyone else’s hands are clean. He could end up being a great leader. The White Walkers seem to support him. And maybe being a subzero zombie goon is great! You don’t know! Let’s at least hear him out first, I say. )
The existence of an evil ice dragon creates cool possibilities for the final season, too. Have you all started to wrap your heads around this yet? Because I have. Let me put this little spark in your brain to see if it ignites the same fire it did for me: We could be heading for a Top Gun-style aerial dogfight with dragons instead of fighter jets. I know the potential of a CleganeBowl has people justifiably amped up, and that’s fine, but I am now officially all in on a dragon dogfight. Daenerys against the Night King. Fire-breathing brother versus brother. Someone get Kenny Loggins to make an original song for the scene. I am barely joking about any of this. Show me dragons engaged in a multi-colored firefight in the Westeros skies and I’ll show you a man who will happily forgive various travel-based liberties taken by the creators.
“Um, the distance between those two locations is hundreds of miles and yet he appeared to traverse it on foot in one afternoon. Are we to believe he has some sort of as-yet-unmentioned speed-based superpower?”
“Hush, the dragons are fighting.”
Even if it kills some of my favorite characters, I mean, there are worse ways to go. We’ve seen worse ways to go, on this show, a lot. The Red Viper died because The Mountain jabbed two egg-roll-sized thumbs into his eyeballs and squeezed his head until it popped like a grape. That doesn’t seem fun. Joffrey got poisoned at his own wedding and died surrounded by people who were not entirely unhappy to see him go out gasping and purple-faced. Naive woodland creature Tommen got so sad that he walked straight out a window. These are all horrible circumstances for different reasons and they are all filled with pain and/or anguish.
Death by ice dragon, though? That’s a pretty quick one, I bet. You don’t have much time to think about it and it won’t be long before you’re gone. At most, you have time for an “Ahhh, nuts” before the blue flames engulf you. Look at what it did to The Wall.
I know this is getting morbid. I’m sorry. I don’t think it’s unfair, though. Game of Thrones is a show littered with death. So many characters have died and so many more will die. It’s not unreasonable to think about death in the context of the show, from how your favorite characters might die to the ways you would or would not like to die if you were a character on the show. A lot of people in Westeros probably just die from, like, untreated infections. I don’t think they have antibiotics in the Seven Kingdoms. Compared to that, getting roasted by an evil ice dragon seems like a pretty cool way to go out.
Now that I think about it, maybe more shows should introduce evil fire-breathing ice dragons late in their runs. Just to spice things up and keep people on their toes. I’ll tell you one thing: All of the problems the people have on This Is Us would look prettyyyyy trivial if a white dragon with a rocket-armed zombie demigod on its back swooped into town and started torching private property. Would it change the course of the show completely? Yes, of course. Would it arguably ruin everything the show has done to this point, taking years of foundation building and character development and plopping it all straight into the toilet in exchange for 30 seconds of cheap thrills? Probably.
But would it be pretty cool in the moment? Undoubtedly. For me, at least. Which is what really matters.