The King of Game of Thrones
Bran Stark was the best choice to rule Westeros
May of 2019 was a different time. We could still go to school and work. Masks were something for Halloween, not each time you step out the door. And we did not yet know the end of Game of Thrones.
If you are like me (and every single person I personally know), when you watched the end credits roll for the last episode of Game of Thrones, you reflected on all that had transpired, looked to the closest person and asked, "Really?! That's the end? That made no sense?!"
I've been stuck at home for over seven months now, so I finally tried to figure out what the ending to Game of Thrones was really supposed to mean. Even with the excess of time on my hands, the boredom of quarantine never drove me back to Westeros, in a viewing sense. The flawed last season made me shake my head and I could never drive myself to venture back. I would much rather watch the repeated viewings of my daughter's favorite movies and shows, even if I have to suffer through Caillou saying, "But Mommy..." a thousand times.
Of all the choices in the last season, Bran as king seemed to weigh on me the most. I knew, in my heart, Dany was never going to rule Westeros. George R.R. Martin had repeatedly said he had based the series on the War of the Roses, a real and long feud of different families for the English crown. I had read the first book and immediately figured out Dany was meant to represent Henry VII, a banished only child with a claim to the throne. I figured Martin was making a new version of history, and he would never let the person who won in real life do it again in his tale.
In my contemplation, however, I did finally come to understand why Bran Stark became king. It was hard to understand, as Bran's visions, abilities and ties to the mystical had all but ceased in the final season. He seemed to just sit there and say odd things, and the characters who were actually doing things to move the plot along seemed to take it in stride.
Brandon Stark was able to see all; past, present and future. He knew the defining moments in each person's life, for good or bad. Bran could identify a person's desires, emotional wounds, and how their current path could unfold. Just think of him as the Doctor Strange of Westeros, and you understand.
The problem is, like most characters in the final season, Bran's true power was never demonstrated. He warged into crows during the Battle of Winterfell, but nothing happened. He managed to hold off the undead in seasons past and then, as his power grew, nothing happened to demonstrate his abilities. Dany losing Rhaegal would have been much more believable had Bran been warged, miles and miles away from the battle.
His ability to change the past, as shown in season six, lead nowhere. It was just, gone, for whatever reason. It seemed to pivotal at the time, yet nothing came of it.
The other reason Bran was never respected as a possible ruler was that there was no scene revealing the truth of his visions. Yes, he gave subtle hints along the way. He quoted Littlefinger back to himself, though he was quickly offed by Bran's own sisters. Jon and Dany seemed to take Bran's knowledge in an instant, never doubting that someone they hadn't seen or knew over the last seven seasons could know what was happening all over the place. They never sat and asked what would happen to themselves, or trying to really see if he was actually telling the truth.
And the most unbelievable part of the whole thing as that Sansa and Arya, who had spent a season around Bran, never really questioned it either. Sure, he quoted and said some things, but all of those instances he referred to had many witnesses. To Sansa, he spoke of her wedding and rape, yet Winterfell had been full of Ramsey's followers and the old families who had worked for the Starks. He refers to Arya's decision to go after Cersei, like she hadn't been telling half of Westeros she was going to kill the Queen for the last few years.
And if my little brother started talking crazy, I would have laughed in his face.
The other part that really took away from the impact was Tyrion's little, "And who has a better story than Bran the Broken?" Houses around the world erupted in laughter when that question was asked. Besides the fact that it was coming from a prisoner and no one in their right mind should have been giving him the chance to speak, it was a laughable moment. Bran was out an entire season of the show. He sat around just being weird for season after season, his words never having a true impact on the story. The best telling was a meme I saw, comparing Bran to the guy in the group project who doesn't do a damn thing and then puts his name on it and gets an A.
Bran, as king, would have been the most powerful of rulers. He could have revealed to anyone their most ardent desires, and how following him could lead them to it. He would know battle tactics of Jon, Dany and the Night King. He would know when the people were hungry or heard the whispers of rebellion. Treasures, gold, magical forces, none would go unseen by Bran.
After all is said and done, I can see where Martin was trying to go. The boy who had his life derailed adapted and became more powerful than all the soldiers and rulers he had grown up watching in awe. The problem was that we never cared for him because the show never gave him a chance.
Tyrion also said, "There's nothing more powerful than a good story." It is true, but unfortunately, in the end, the television version wasn't a good story. Hopefully, Martin will give Bran the ending he deserves.