5 questions 'Game of Thrones' didn't answer in series finale

Heading into the series finale of Game of Thrones, the biggest question showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had to resolve was, “Who gets to sit on the Iron Throne?” (That query was so paramount, they even called the episode, “The Iron Throne.”) And that answer is… no one. But not in a Faceless Men kind of way. The Iron Throne will never have another occupant because it literally doesn’t exist anymore: In a moment of grief-fueled fury, Drogon destroyed the very thing his mother had fought so hard to win. And while Westeros won’t be without a ruler going forward — all hail King Bran the Broken — the symbol of royal power will have to evolve with the times. If good Maester Samwell has any say, maybe one day they’ll even have an Oval Office!

In the process of settling that particular story point, though, Benioff and Weiss neglected to address some of the questions raised by the finale, as well as several more that have built up in fans’ minds over the course of the past eight seasons. Here’s hoping George R.R. Martin decides to sew up one or more of these dangling plot threads if and when he finishes those last two books.

Who was the Night King, really?

Here’s the easy answer: He definitely isn’t Bran Stark! After the future king paid a mental visit to his zombie-raising royal counterpart in Season 6 — and acquired a scar for his troubles — the “Bran is the Night King” theory took root like House Stark’s weirwood. And even if you didn’t subscribe to that particular bit of fan speculation, there were plenty of other semi-plausible (or, at least, awesomely silly) explanations floating about. He’s one of the ancient Starks! No, he’s the Azor Ahai! No, wait! He’s Jon’s real father! Basically, fans were so starved for information about this supposedly unstoppable enemy, that they rushed in to fill the void left by Benioff and Weiss.

To be fair, the duo did offer the barest sketch of an origin story back in the sixth season, around the same time that Bran was trying to do some incognito spying on the Night King. That’s when Leaf — one of the last remaining Children of the Forest — disclosed that her ancient race had transformed one of the First Men into a being capable of raising the dead and fighting the living invaders he once called kin. Ultimately, human man and forest child were forced to unite to defeat the zombie menace the latter had created in a war known as the Long Night. In the aftermath, the White Walkers were driven into hiding for millennia, re-emerging now to erase the history that the ancient war’s victors had written.

While that answers where the Night King came from, we still don’t know — and, at this point, may never find out — who he was. Perhaps his pre-zombie identity doesn’t really matter in the long run, but the thought that this larger-than-life enemy has just been some random First Man all along is, at best, deeply unsatisfying. Just as Tyrion argues at the end of “The Iron Throne,” there’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story, and the Night King’s story had the potential to be truly mythic, showing how one person from the distant past can nevertheless shape the present and future.

RELATED: 7 'Game of Thrones' business lessons

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7 'Game of Thrones' business lessons
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7 'Game of Thrones' business lessons

Trust your instincts; your most valuable assets will "hatch" over time.

Daenerys held on to her dragon eggs and felt connected to them long before they even hatched--and right after her husband's death, the dragons were born and became her most valuable asset.

Not every investment you make or asset you own will turn over a profit or drive success right away. If your gut is telling you something is worth holding on to and fostering, it probably is.

In due time, the right investments will begin to show return.

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View disorder in the market and your challenges as an opportunity to excel your business forward. 

"Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is." -Peter Baelish

Accept the challenges that come your way and figure out how you can grow from them.

A misstep doesn't always mean a failure, so don't trap yourself into thinking that it does.

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Be cordial to everyone, even those you feel may not be able to help propel you forward

"The occasional kindness will spare you all sorts of trouble down the road." -Cersei Lannister

Ironically coming from the resident Queen of everything not-so-nice (understatement of the century), this lesson is one of the oldest in the book but still one of the most pertinent.

Treating people with kindness will take you further than arrogance will. It pays in business to treat the person you think can help you the least with just as much respect as you would the person who could help you the most.

The business world is a ever-changing, and you never know where a connection could pay off down the line.

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Draw on personal experiences to create your business model and core values.

After her brother sold her into marriage, Daenerys knew that supporting or allowing slavery was something she was adamantly against and would not allow it. She decides to sail to another city to free the Unsullied (slave warriors). 

Though it wasn't in her original "business" plan, Daenerys wanted to make sure she was engaging in affairs that were important to her and that she could relate to.

Your company values and goals should reflect things that you care about directly, even if that means (sometimes literally) adjusting your sails to go a different direction.

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Choose your battles wisely.

"A good king knows when to save his strength and when to destroy his enemies." -Cersei Lannister

You won't get along with everyone, and you'll definitley have competitors within the industry. 

You have to decide early on what's worth fighting and getting angry about and what you should let go. Either way, it pays to use both as fuel to improve your business.

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Never underestimate yourself and the influence you can have.

"Power resides where men believe it resides. It's a trick, a shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow." -Varys

Your title has nothing to do with how much power or influence you actually have. You can be a CEO, but if you're not well-received or liked, your employees are less likely to listen to and respect you.

What wins you "power" is how much respect you earn from the people around you.

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Always pay your debts.

"A Lannister always pays their debts." 

Okay, you had to know this one was coming.

While this line is perhaps one of the most well-known from the show, it's the deeper meaning behind the lines that teaches a lesson (aside from simply encouraging business owners to literally pay off their debts, which also is sound advice).

Don't go through business and entrepreneurship asking for favors and taking advantage of people. 

When you owe something to anyone or any company, whether it's literal funding or an under-the-table favor, you eventually will have to pay it back.

Don't ask for something unless you're prepared and equipped to return back what you're asking for.

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Before you mourn the Night King all over again, keep in mind that a Game of Thrones prequel series will be entering production later this year. And the working title of that series, according to Martin anyway, is — you guessed it — The Long Night. So we may just get a name to go with that ugly face after all.

Why bother with the Night’s Watch?

Jon Snow traveled a long road to end up back where he started: a member of the Night’s Watch, with no House or family to call his own. But in a post-Night King world, what exactly is the Night’s Watch mission? The giant wall they used to protect lies in ruins, and the realm’s new Master of Coin has other construction projects he’s allotting funds for first. And it’s not like there’s anyone to keep out anymore: The White Walkers all went boom thanks to Arya’s special finishing move and the Free Folk are friends, not foes.

Even Jon seems to recognize the pointless of remaining at Castle Black, immediately following Tormund Giantsbane and the rest of the wildlings out into the thawing tundra. That’s almost certainly what Tyrion knew would happen when he persuaded Grey Worm and the other Houses to accept Snow’s permanent exile over death. If we may draw a comic book parallel, Jon gets The Dark Knight Returns ending: He’ll leave them alone now, and in return he’ll stay quiet. Living in the lands beyond the wall will be a good life. Good enough.

Where did Drogon take his mom?

In the immediate aftermath of his mother’s passing, her last surviving dragon child unleashes his rage on her killer: the Iron Throne, not Jon Snow. Part of that choice of target has to do with the fact that Jon has Targaryen blood coursing through his veins, which makes him fireproof. But we like to think that Dany’s savviest kid (sorry Rhaegal and Viserion!) groks the power of metaphor. Melting the Iron Throne is Drogon’s way of breaking the wheel that his mother spoke about, consigning that symbol of royal oppression to the past. Having accomplished that, he tenderly picks up Dany’s prone body and flies away to parts unknown.

Well, not that unknown. One of the downsides of being a giant winged creature is that it’s not all that easy to hide from royal spies or kings with warg-ing abilities. In the show’s final moments, it’s revealed that Drogon has been spotted in the east, which suggests a somber trip to the Targaryen homeland of Essos to lay Mom to rest. And after that, Drogon may head to one of his previous haunts in nearby Valyria, where some believe other dragon eggs may be hidden. All we can say is that if Drogon decides to fly west of Westeros to join Arya on her solo adventures, we’ll be there for that spinoff.

Did any of the prophecies matter?

If you think the “Prince that was promised” is a promise that was broken, you’re not alone. Many have noted that, on first glance, the prophecy of the Azor Ahai — the one who will beat back the darkness in the form of the Night King — wound up not playing a major role in the show’s endgame, at least in regards to the destiny of long-presumed Azor Ahai. After all, it was Arya who took care of Night King killing duties, thus fulfilling a portion of a separate prophecy — one spoken by Melisandre that involved brown eyes, blue eyes and green eyes — that also didn’t end up being entirely accurate. En route to closing Cersei’s green eyes forever, the young assassin was convinced by the Hound to discard her kill list. She significantly didn’t scratch Cersei’s name off and replace it with Daenerys, despite witnessing the destruction the Mad Queen wrought.

It fell to Jon to end Dany’s short reign and, in doing so, some are advancing the argument that he became the Azor Ahai after all. In this reading of the prophecy, it’s Daenerys, rather than the Night King, who represents Westeros’s true source of darkness, based on her desire to keep fighting the larger war against slavery and injustice even after triumphing in the so-called Last Battle. Not for nothing, but the Azor Ahai of legend also had to kill the woman he loved in order to bring the light back to a darkened world. Our prophecy is that fans will argue about this until the stars bleed with the scent of smoke and salt.

Will HBO fund a Season 8 do-over as millions of fans have demanded?

Not a chance, because it will make Sophie Turner angry. And you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

Game of Thrones is available to stream on HBO Go and HBO Now.

 

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