A Lukewarm Take on Season Eight of GOT

Not to beat a dead horse, but season 8 of Game of Thrones sucked. I know, I’m almost a year late to the party, and even worse, I didn’t even watch the entire show, but with the news that George R.R. Martin is planning a new ending in the books that diverges from the show’s, I thought there was no better time to open up old wounds. 


I am not the foremost expert on what went wrong with season 8—most arguments are subjective anyway. Whether it be that Dany was evil all along or that Cersei was killed by a bunch of rocks—all of this played a part in ruining a beloved TV show. But the issue that has stayed with me the longest, the problem I keep coming back to, is Bran should NEVER have been made king. Yes, I know, not really much of a hot take, but I think I can offer some philosophical analysis on the subject. 


Somewhere in season 8 of the show, Bran says he doesn’t “really want anymore,” and then in the last episode of the series it’s revealed he knew he was going to be king all along! These conjoined ideas majorly ruin the ending themes of “breaking the wheel” and “absolute power corrupts” because of the simple principal of Epicurus' trilemma; if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then he cannot be all-good. Our all-knowing three-eyed raven is going to be our stand in for God in this analysis.


Does Bran want nothing because he is all-knowing? Does being all-knowing take away free will and created destiny, is his fate sealed and unchangeable? If this is true; it completely undermines the series arc’s for other characters. If Daenerys’ arc is to show that power corrupts, her journey to her fall is completely voided. Her final decision to burn down King’s Landing is meaningless. Every character’s decision is meaningless. If free will does not exist there is no point in life—we are vessels of nothing. The Raven saying he doesn’t want any more is an admission of lack of free will in his own life and others. 


At what point of knowledge do we start to lose free will? 


At what level of power, do we lose morality? 


In Epicurus’ Trilemma, most would argue God is “all-good” and “all-knowing” because being “all-powerful” is too closely linked with evil, because evil exists if only two of the Trilemma can be chosen. If God is all-knowing and all-good, he isn't not powerful enough to stop evil; if god is all-powerful and all-knowing, evil exists since he is not all-good; if god is all-good and all-powerful (which fundamentally he cannot be because evil exists), he may be able to stop all evil, but he cannot prevent it. Humans have nowhere near this level of "power" to be all of one thing; the closest we can get as a mortal is to be all-good. 


But, Evil will always triumph over good because there is no line evil wont cross to succeed. If you are fighting for good using whatever means necessary; then you are not all-good. You have levels to your decisions and can be corrupted. Therefore, evil will always prevail if there is no free will. 


Now, does this mean evil will not prevail if there is free will? Well, not necessarily because people would have the freedom of choice, levels of morality, and the ability to “cross a line” (all-good people would not cross lines). Mostly good may be all we can strive for. 


So, what does this mean in GOT terms: evil will always persist no matter what, but only in the case of being "mostly good" will evil lose overall. Mostly good is only capable when “choice” exists because if we are simply vessels then our choices are not ours and good and evil cannot exist. So, for the Raven to be allowed to be king for not wanting, good and evil would not be allowed to exist as everything and everyone is predetermined, which means that every other major conclusion of the series is made null. Breaking the wheel means nothing if it was always going to happen, power can't corrupt because evil does not exist.



I think you must “want” for something to be a good leader because of the necessity of having a firm stance on morality. “Wanting” leads to decisions—making a decision is integral to a leader’s job. The raven saying, he wants for nothing, so therefore he should be king is active passivity, which is a coward’s move. The best connection I can make is to the idea of Swiss neutrality in past wars—it is fundamentally problematic because of the unequivocal evil of one side. Not having an opinion is an opinion that has consequences as much as everything else. A strong sense of right and wrong, and then acting for what is right makes a leader. Being all knowing and not acting is allowing evil to persist despite a possible positive future. The statement the Raven makes is flawed; if he is all knowing, but not all powerful, then he can still be good. Yet Bran is not. He does almost nothing the entire series!


Bran is all-knowing, hence he is powerful (not all-powerful, but knowledge is power). So, if he does not act with "good" then he has let his power corrupt his moral center. Morality looks different to everyone and is shades of gray, but to let such obvious evils persist on such a large-scale way, as it often does in Westeros, is not “good” and is in fact evil.  


Well, here’s to hoping that George R.R. Martin can fix this mess in the final two books


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