There’s a trope in storytelling that’s largely a mainstay of fantasy narratives. In order to clear the world/town/school/whatever of a certain threat, our protagonists need to hit just one bad guy, and then everything’s good. Yes, I’m thinking of last night’s Game of Thrones episode.
From the second that we saw a white walker die and then his small scouting party collapse into bones at his death in Season 6, it’s been obvious that this was what was going to happen. Someone was going to get either some Valeryian steel into the Night King or some dragon glass, the Night King would ice over and die, and the great threat of the white walkers would be over in an instant. The show dragged it out over a largely entertaining 80 minutes, but we still largely just got exactly what I predicted. I hadn’t thought it would be Arya (although as soon as she disappeared from the narrative for about 20 minutes it became obvious), but there we are.
This trope is all over the place, even in one of my favorites. The Lord of the Rings ends with the destruction of the One Ring and then everything’s happy. The book is different with appendices that describe how the War of the Ring raged on in the North for a while longer, but the core narrative is done once that once thing is done. I think of vampire movies where the coven will die once you kill the main vampire (usually Dracula) or Reign of Fire where they needed to kill the one male dragon so that the entire race of dragons would then die.
It’s designed to focus the dramatic energies into a single action, but the more I see people relying on it, especially in something like Game of Thrones which is supposed to be the anti-Lord of the Rings, the more it bugs me. Granted, there are still three episodes left, and Cersei to deal with, but the biggest threat of the show is suddenly all done now.
What I fully expected from a show that originated from an author determined to undermine fantasy tropes was to see the army of the dead win, the Night King die, but the Night King replaced by one of our heroes, probably Jon Snow. The remnants of the living army flees south, begging Cersei to help them, but she’s so consumed by her own goals without any concern for anything outside of it that she kills the remnants. She then has to face the Army of the Dead on her own, and she loses. The dead take over Westeros.
But hey, I’m fun like that.