How Game of Thrones Season 8 should have ended (according to me)

This is a 4-episode treatment I wrote [very quickly] straight after watching the much-disputed finale to Game of Thrones in 2019. It picks up at episode four, because the opening three episodes were fine – more than fine, in the case of The Long Night, which was stunning. I also added an extra episode called The Trident.

It’s raw and unedited and utterly pointless, but if you’re a fan of the show, you might enjoy it.

So, without further ado…

Episode 4: The Last of the Starks

Ghost is still missing after the Battle of Winterfell. Jon leads a mass funeral cremation for the dead. At a feast, Daenerys legitimizes Gendry as a Baratheon and makes him Lord of Storm’s End, the ancestral home of House Baratheon. Gendry proposes to Arya, but she declines – he decides to return to Storm’s End to fortify it against a potential Lannister attack. Jaime reveals to Brienne that he still believes Cersei can change but would rather kill her himself than let Daenerys burn her alive.

Dany and Jon talk privately about their shared Targaryen lineage. She tearfully admits that she wants the throne but will submit to him when the time comes. Jon insists he doesn’t want to be king, and she is the only Queen he will bow to. A servant girl listening outside the door reports this to Varys.

At King’s Landing, Cersei delivers a speech to a crowd of lords and ladies in the throne room, warning them of the impending approach of the Dragon Queen. She tells them rumours of an army of the dead were lies spread by Daenerys and the North to unsettle them before declaring that King’s Landing will be ready for any dragon attack.

Daenerys plans to immediately storm King’s Landing, but Sansa argues the soldiers need rest. Bran tempers the situation by reminding them they won the Battle of Winterfell only because they all worked together. Ultimately they agree Jon will lead the army on foot while Daenerys and her fleet sail to Dragonstone. Afterwards, Arya and Sansa tell Jon they distrust Daenerys, but he defends her. As they leave, Bran warns Jon not to tell anyone who he is until the time comes.

In a tavern, Bronn receives a message from Varys. Arya and Sandor Clegane ride for King’s Landing, with Sandor swearing he will kill his brother or die trying. Sansa reveals her misgivings about Dany to Tyrion, who reminds her it was a Lannister monarch who killed her father, not a Targaryen.

Tormund returns to the Wall with the wildlings. Jon bids farewell to Sam and a pregnant Gilly. Jaime leaves for King’s Landing, despite Brienne’s tearful plea that he stay. He tells her he’ll come back for her and they share a kiss.

Sansa admits to Dany that in spite of everything, she still doesn’t trust her completely, but says she’ll bend the knee if it means Cersei is defeated. Dany says she wants Sansa to rule the North because she can think of no-one better to do it. They part on better terms, though not entirely at peace.

Tyrion and Brienne watch the Northern army move out. Brienne reveals that Jaime is travelling solo to King’s Landing to deal with Cersei one way or the other. Tyrion asks her to stay at Winterfell and protect Sansa, for now.

Dany and Jon reaffirm their love for one another as they part. As Jon leads the Northerners, Unsullied and a handful of Dothraki south, Dany sadly watches him go with one hand on her belly.

Episode 5: The Trident

At King’s Landing, Cersei discusses battle plans with the Commander of the Golden Company, warning him not to underestimate Daenerys. However, she urges him to obliterate her army when he gets the chance.

On the ride south, Jon discusses the upcoming battle with Varys, who hints that he knows about Jon’s true parentage. Missandei and Grey Worm talk about their future plans in Naath.

As Dany and her fleet approach Dragonstone, Euron Greyjoy ambushes them with the Iron Fleet and wounds Rhaegal with a scorpion arrow, crippling one of his wings. Drogon torches several of Euron’s ships before Dany is forced to retreat in order to save Rhaegal. Most of her fleet is destroyed in the ensuing battle with Euron, who is the far superior sea-master.

At the Trident, Jon’s forces are also ambushed by part of the Lannister army, but the Tully forces arrive to turn the tide in the battle. Ghost, who had been tracking the army from Winterfell, also reappears and saves Jon. In the chaos, Missandei and Varys are captured by Bronn, who takes them straight to King’s Landing.

On a hill overlooking Dragonstone, Dany comforts the injured Rhaegal. A soldier informs her that Jon’s army was ambushed and Missandei and Varys have been captured by Cersei.

Euron reports his success to Cersei, who claims to be pregnant with his child. She orders the gates of the Red Keep remain open, making the citizens hostages to deter an all-out assault on the city.

Tyrion is rescued from the sea. As he recuperates at Dragonstone, he speaks at length with Dany, urging her to think carefully about her next move. She says she will burn King’s Landing to the ground if it means Cersei is defeated. Tyrion reminds her of Jorah’s wise counsel and keeps her anger at bay, temporarily.

Jon’s army arrives at King’s Landing (Arya and the Hound are already there) and sets up camp. Jaime arrives shortly afterwards and learns what Cersei and Euron have done. Believing Tyrion to have been killed in the sea battle (as the news of his rescue hasn’t yet reached the camp), he resolves to murder his sister. As the sun rises, he leaves early to infiltrate the city.

Daenerys and her army arrive at the walls of King’s Landing. Cersei and Daenerys demand each other’s surrender, with Cersei threatening to kill Missandei. Varys appears next to Cersei and reveals he was a traitor all along, passing on information that helped Bronn and the Lannisters ambush Jon and Dany. A still-injured Tyrion attempts to appeal to Cersei’s humanity to get her to surrender, but Cersei refuses, and has Gregor Clegane behead Missandei, an act that horrifies and enrages Grey Worm and Daenerys. Dany pulls her army back and begins planning the attack.

In Winterfell, Sansa and Bran talk about who will rule the North, regardless of the outcome of the Last War. Sansa admits she fears Cersei will win. Bran says he can see hope on the horizon.

On a hill overlooking Dragonstone, Rhaegal watches as a new fleet approaches in the distance.

Episode 6: The Bells

Cersei, Bronn and Varys look out on Dany’s army and discuss what to do if the walls are breached. Cersei says she wishes she still had wildfire, and admits she would sacrifice the whole city if it meant winning the war. Varys says Daenerys won’t destroy King’s Landing while civilians are inside. 

Arya and Sandor Clegane infiltrate the city. Daenerys arrives on Drogon but remains at a distance over Blackwater Bay, beyond the reach of the scorpions. Euron Greyjoy sails the Iron Fleet towards Dany, who draws them out of the bay into misty waters. There, the combined forces of Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen – transported on a new fleet led by Yara Greyjoy – encircle and destroy the Iron Fleet, with Euron seemingly killed.

In King’s Landing, Jaime is unable to break through the panicked crowd and tries to find another way in to the Red Keep. As Yara’s fleet approaches the city, they hurl flaming projectiles at the ramparts, destroying the scorpions. Drogon burns up the soldiers attempting to man the walls.

On the other side of King’s Landing, the Golden Company face off against Jon’s forces. As the sell-swords begin to charge, Drogon bursts through the gates behind them and consumes their rear guard in fire. The remaining Golden Company soldiers are trapped between fire and the approaching Northerners, Unsullied and remaining Dothraki, and are easily (and brutally) defeated.

Seeing that Cersei’s army is rapidly losing the battle, Varys escapes the city. Jaime reaches the secret passage into the Red Keep but is surprised by Euron, who has managed to escape the destruction of his fleet. The two fight and Jaime is badly wounded but manages to stab Euron. Leaving him to die, Jaime enters the Red Keep.

Jon leads Daenerys’s army into King’s Landing. The Lannister forces are overwhelmed and the city signals its surrender by ringing the bells. Dany struggles desperately between her duty to be merciful and her desire for vengeance, before flying straight for the Red Keep on Drogon. Cersei sees her approach and, on the advice of Qyburn, leaves her chambers.

Grey Worm’s rage finally boils over and he hurls his spear at a Lannister soldier, sparking a slaughter in the streets of King’s Landing. Jon attempts to stop the Northerners from killing the unarmed Lannister soldiers, but to no avail. Greyworm leads the Unsullied towards the Red Keep.

Dany reaches the Red Keep and begins attacking it on Drogon, avoiding arrows fired from the few remaining Lannister archers in the ramparts. Cersei, escorted by the Mountain and Qyburn, makes her way downstairs to the courtyard entrance.

Jon and Ser Davos try in vain to stop the Northerners from butchering the Lannisters and people of King’s Landing. In the fray, Ser Davos is run through with a Northerner sword. Dismayed, Jon kills the Northerner and several of his comrades. The sight of a dying Ser Davos causes the Northerners to stop and the sack of King’s Landing gradually ends. Enraged, Jon heads for the Red Keep.

On the Westeros map courtyard, a wounded Jaime confronts Cersei and the Mountain. He tells her to surrender because he doesn’t want to see her die at Dany’s hands. Cersei is on the verge of cracking when Euron Greyjoy appears and stabs Jaime in the back. As the Kingslayer lies mortally wounded, Euron approaches Cersei, triumphant. Cersei signals the Mountain and he lops Euron’s head off. Cersei cradles the dying Jaime before Qyburn and the Mountain force her to leave. As Jaime Lannister dies, his blood spreads across the map of Westeros.  

A last battalion of Lannister soldiers has formed up at the foot of the steps to the courtyard. Drogon destroys the courtyard gates and bears down on the terrified soldiers, who begin to flee towards the Red Keep. Cersei, now drained of all humanity, coldly orders that the gates be shut and retreats inside, leaving Drogon to slaughter the soldiers.

Arya and the Hound find Jaime’s body in the Westeros map courtyard. Sandor tells Arya to forget Cersei and escape before the castle collapses. He goes on without her.

Qyburn tells Cersei that the gates will hold off the dragon because they’ve been forged in wildfire, but Drogon melts them and smashes through. Dany walks through the flames and into King’s Landing, to Cercei’s horror. The Queensguard charge Dany but the Unsullied arrive and engage them. The Red Keep is crumbling.

Cersei, Qyburn and the Mountain get as far as the throne room but find all other exits blocked by debris. Dany arrives and tells Cersei she’ll let her spend her remaining days in prison across the Narrow Sea if she bends the knee. Cersei refuses and tells the mountain to kill Dany. Qyburn attempts to negotiate.

The Hound arrives, ignoring Dany to face the Mountain. Qyburn tells the Mountain to protect his Queen, but he kills him with a sweep of his arm. The throne room begins to collapse, and in the chaos, Cersei escapes through a hidden passage. A furious Dany is dragged to safety by Grey Worm. The Cleganes flee from the falling debris.

Cersei escapes down a passage, wounded. She reaches the dragon skulls in the basement of King’s Landing, where a Lannister soldier tells her to follow him to safety. They barely escape before the roof comes down and blocks their route back.

The Hound, wounded from the falling debris, makes his way up a staircase. The burning courtyard is visible outside. The Mountain catches up with him and the two fight, badly injuring each other.

Elsewhere, the Lannister soldier leads Cersei to the end of the passageway, where the boat Jaime used is visible at the shore. As they prepare to leave, Bronn arrives and warns Cersei the soldier is actually Arya Stark in disguise.

The Clegane brothers fight on the stairs, brutally wounding each other further.

Bronn and the soldier duel briefly on the shore as Cersei boards the boat. Bronn knocks the soldier unconscious and rows Cersei towards a distant ship, reminding her that she’ll have to make him the richest man in Westeros for saving her life.

The Mountain gouges the Hound’s eyes. Sandor stabs him through the head and throws them both through the crumbling wall into the burning courtyard below.

Tyrion walks through the bloodied streets of King’s Landing. He finds a group of Northerners with the dying Ser Davos. Tyrion orders the soldiers to secure the city and sits with Davos. The pair talk about the new world and what it’s cost them all. Davos dies as the sun breaks through the smoke above the Red Keep.

Jon reaches the Red Keep and orders the Unsullied to stand aside. When they don’t, Drogon’s roar forces them to part. Jon enters through the remains of the burned gates. He finds Dany in the throne room, standing by the Iron Throne. She steps away from it, giving him the option to take the seat for himself. In response, Jon bends the knee before her.

Out at sea, Bronn helps Cersei board the ship. Looking around, Cersei realises the crew are all gone. Bronn removes his face, revealing himself as Jaqen H’ghar. He tells Cersei that “a girl has spoken a name.”

From a rampart on the walls of King’s Landing, Arya Stark watches the boat and smiles.

Episode 7: The Iron Throne

From a hill at sundown, Varys and two servants looks down on Storm’s End. He tells one servant to go ahead of him and inform Lord Gendry of his arrival, saying he has an urgent message from Queen Daenerys. After she leaves, he tells the other to continue on the road to Dorne and rally support there. As the second servant leaves, dozens of ravens begin to gather on the trees around Varys, squawking incessantly. He hears the servant scream in the distance and his horse throws him off in fear, galloping away. The ravens all go quiet at once. Alone in the dark, Varys watches as Nymeria and her wolf pack emerge from the trees, surrounding him. Nymeria’s eyes are glazed white. From some distance away, we hear Varys scream.

At Winterfell, a raven arrives with a message for Sansa that Dany has conquered Westeros. Brienne goes to tell Bran and finds him warging at the window. He is unsurprised to hear the outcome of the battle.

In King’s Landing, Daenerys emerges from the ruins of the Red Keep with Drogon behind her, wings spreading. The remainder of her Unsullied Army, a handful of Dothraki, the Northerners and the combined forces from the Bay of Dragons kneel before her. Jon and Grey Worm stand by her side as she delivers a victory speech in which she admits she believes Cersei escaped – she offers Highgarden to whoever can find her.

Elsewhere in the remains of the Red Keep, Tyrion finds Jaime’s body and weeps over him.

That night, in the ruins of the throne room, the leaders of every remaining house and army are gathered. Daenerys ascends the steps to the Iron Throne and touches the ash-covered arm of the great chair but announces she cannot take the crown as she’s not the true heir to the throne, revealing that Jon is actually a Targaryen, the son of Rhaegaer. Before everyone, she bends the knee to him.

Jon raises her back to her feet and says he will never be King while she lives. Tyrion suggests they rule together as equals, with neither taking the Iron Throne.

Outside the Red Keep, the people of King’s Landing gather to watch Jon and Dany declared rulers of Westeros. As an act of finality, Drogon melts the Iron Throne and the remains of the throne room, leaving the Red Keep to crumble. Dany announces they will rebuild King’s Landing with help from her people across the Narrow Sea, who have also sworn allegiance to the new Targaryen dynasty. Dany declares the North a separate kingdom under Queen Sansa.

In their chambers some days later, Dany tells Jon that she’s pregnant. Brienne is named Commander of the Kingsguard and writes about Jaime in the history book. Tyrion remains as Hand of the King and Queen. Sam is made the Grand Maester. Grey Worm leaves for Naath. Drogon flies away.

Some time later, King Jon arrives at Winterfell with Ghost, where he names Tormund the Warden beyond the Wall. Arya arrives and reveals to Sansa that she had Cersei killed, showing her a lock of her blonde hair. In the Godswood, Jon, Sansa, Arya and Bran talk about Ned, Catelyn, Robb and Rickon. Arya announces she’s going to explore what’s west of Westeros, after which she might take Gendry up on his offer of marriage, if it still stands. Bran reveals that The Wall is melting now the magic holding it together has been broken by the demise of the Night King.

Later, in the crypts, Jon stands before Ned’s tomb and says he’ll always be his father. Sansa is crowned Queen in the North. Arya leaves on a ship. Bran sits in the Godswood looking at the face in the tree, which is no longer weeping.  

Dany and Tyrion look out over King’s Landing, where the sun is rising and the rebuilding work is already underway. Tyrion asks if she thinks Drogon will ever come back. Dany says he’s gone home.

The story ends with a very, very old Sam closing a book entitled ‘A Song of Fire of Ice’, which he has been reading to a group of children.

SAM:               And that is the Song of Fire and Ice. Now, who wants to hear another one?

CHILD 1:         What happened to the king and queen?

SAM:               Oh. Well, they lived a long and happy life, ruling over all of Westeros together. It wasn’t without it’s trouble, mind you. There’s always trouble when you’re trying to keep the people of six kingdoms happy. But in all the years of King Jon and Queen Daenerys of House Targeryen, there has never been a war. A few skirmishes, mind you –

CHILD 1:         But what about the dragons? Where are they now?

CHILD 2:         And the Three-Eyed Raven?

SAM:               Ah yes, the dragons. Well, no-one really knows where the mighty Drogon went, in all honesty. After Dany… ahem, I mean, Queen Daenerys… took the Iron Throne, he just flew away. Some think he went to Old Valyria, others say the Shadowlands. Either way, he’s never been seen again. And Rhaegal, well, he still guards Dragonstone, though he can no longer fly. As for Bran the Broken, that remains a mystery…

During Sam’s last line, we see Bran sitting by the water in the Godswood at Winterfell. His looks to the sky with white eyes. In a flashback scene, Bran follows a hooded man down a path in the woods. The path ends at a hill overlooking a valley. In the centre of the valley is a red-leafed Godswood tree, around which the Children of the Forest are standing. The man removes his hood, revealing he’s the Night King in his formerly human form. The man doesn’t understand what he’s looking at. He turns to leave, and as he does so, Bran wargs into him. The man turns around and walks towards the Children of the Forest, with Bran following.

In the Winterfell Godswood, Bran’s chair is now empty.

Feature image: Mauricio Santos

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