Starting Sunday, HBO's Game of Thrones will air the first of six episodes that, to put it bluntly, will have to complete the story of dozens of hours of television spanning eight years. Some viewers will get the ending—or endings—they want; others won't. But when the credits roll for the final time, there will be one very hard question to answer: What did it all mean?
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Originally, Game of Thrones, and the George R.R. Martin books it is based on, was a subversion of fantasy tropes. Those who would normally be heroes in these stories—Ned Stark, Robb Stark—met bitter ends. So going into the finale, there are two ways the show can resolve itself, says Laura Hudson, WIRED's Game of Thrones recapper.
"When you've built a story, when you've built a series, on turning things upside down and not giving people what they want, how do you end it?" she asks in this season's preview episode of the Citadel Dropouts podcast. "Do you end it in a way that continues to upend things, which in this context would mean things ending in some dramatic horrible way, or do you reify those fantasy tropes? Do you go back to the well of everything that your story had been pushing against and do you give people a happy ending? I don't think there's a great answer."
No matter what that answer is, however, it will have meaning. As implied by the show's title, Thrones is a competition—there must be a winner. Who that victor (or victors) is, will say something about the show, its creators, and us. And whether it's Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, or Podrick on the Iron Throne when it's all over that person will inevitably represent a position that the show takes on what is militarily, politically, and morally right.
These are the issues Hudson, and Daily Beast senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman will be unpacking on Citadel Dropouts this season. WIRED will be hosting the podcast each Monday so stay tuned here to catch new episodes. Oh, and a reminder from Hudson: "We're not a recap podcast; if you want to know what happened, Wikipedia is there for you, too."
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