Game of Thrones season 8 has systematically torn down our heroes. Jon is a fool who was blinded by love. Tyrion is starting to make his Battle of Blackwater Bay success look like it was a fluke. Jaime chose a poisonous love over a redemptive one. Daenerys – well, Daenerys is Satan by this point.
These character decisions have proven controversial and haven’t always been handled well, largely due to the insanely short amount of time (six episodes) there has been in which to complete the various arcs.
With so many key characters now making such little sense, it’s hard to know who really to root for anymore (if not power nor revenge, what does Arya want?). But there is one character who still has my unwavering interest, and who I’m praying to the old gods and the new will return in the finale: Ser Bronn of the Blackwater.
Bronn has become like a proxy for the frustrated viewer of late, taking stock of the characters’ unpredictability and promptly sodding off. Just as we spectate on the show’s odd turns and try to just enjoy its silliness, Bronn remains resolutely on the fringes – in a tavern somewhere, trying to figure out what he can harvest out of this mess. The sellsword could so easily have been written into the Battle for Winterfell or the mission north of The Wall, but I’m glad the showrunners haven’t decided to give him a heart at the last minute, and he’s remained what he’s always been (and what’s made him such a fun character): a shrewd and selfish bastard.
There’s been a lot of talk of the show ending with Samwell Tarly writing down this period we’ve witnessed in Westerosi history – the titular Song of Ice and Fire. But maybe Bronn is the more astute – albeit foul-mouthed – historical and political analyst.
A case in point, this recent exchange he had with Jaime Lannister:
Jaime: “Highgarden will never belong to a cutthroat.”
Bronn: “No? Who were your ancestors? The ones who made your family rich? Fancy lads in silk? They were fucking cutthroats. That’s how all the great houses started, isn’t it, with a hard bastard who was good at killing people. Kill a few hundred people – they make you a lord. Kill a few thousand – they make you king. And then all your cocksucking grandsons can ruin the family with their cocksucking ways.”
This scene in episode 4, in which Bronn left two of Westeros’ most silver-tongued lords speechless, was a reminder of what made Game of Thrones good and a theme it has somewhat abandoned: the pointlessness of playing a game within a rigged system.
“I’ll come find you when the war is done,” Bronn promised/threatened when last we saw him. I don’t know how he could return in the finale, though it’s possible he could try and save Tyrion from Daenerys purely to keep his promised reward intact. Certainly, he has no interest in anything as artificial as the Iron Throne, or as involved as ruling over the realm (though that would be a pretty fun ending). But I hope he’s not one of the characters for whom there is simply no time left to adequately wrap up (see: Bran).
Make Daenerys do a 180 toward villainy if you must, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. Turn the rest of the key characters into sudden philanthropists obsessed with virtue, fine. But please, let Bronn have Highgarden and a surfeit of wine.