King Bran the Breaker of the Wheel

Image retrieved from IMDb

The ending of Game of Thrones left what seems like the majority of fans dissatisfied, especially with how many of the character arcs wrapped up. I already wrote about why I loved the final season on SiftPop, but I still have more to say when it comes to specific characters. This series will look into why many, if not all, of these arcs worked so well for me, continuing with Bran Stark. Full spoilers and adult content will be discussed.

Before I made the transition to reviewing and talking about movies, baseball was my thing. I’ve been a diehard Boston Red Sox fan my entire life. But after a while, I realized something – sports can get repetitive. If your team wins the championship, you get to celebrate and bask in it for a few months before the next season comes and everything starts all over again. As much as I love it, covering baseball wasn’t something that I could see myself doing permanently simply due to the fact that at a certain point, it will get old. In fact, I’m only 23 and it is already starting to get old.

But stories won’t get old for me. Specifically, visual stories as told on television and in movies. Stories have the ability to teach us about life in so many different ways – we can learn from our own past mistakes, the mistakes of others, see the world from points of view other than our own, experience places that we would never otherwise experience, and teach us important life lessons.

Enter, Game of Thrones.

Since The Lord of the Rings movies have been my favorite movies for as long as I can remember, with Harry Potter and Star Wars close behind it, I was ready to hop on the GoT train early on due to the fantasy elements alone. Having never read the A Song of Ice and Fire books, I wasn’t prepared for the deep themes and heavy emotional through lines that seep into the entirety of the show. To me, it is a rich text with so much to be learned from it. Beginning to end, it is my favorite television show of all time.

But unfortunately, people were ready to hate the show’s finale after the previous five episodes had been massive disappointments to most. So it didn’t surprise me when an overall negative attitude became the standard for the final season. What did surprise me, though, was what seemed to be the most universally hated plot movement – King Bran the Broken.

In a now-iconic-for-all-the-wrong-reasons speech (3:17-5:07), Tyrion Lannister says, “And who has a better story than Bran the Broken?” I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had and tweets I’ve seen that have said, “I can name fifty characters who had better stories than Bran!” I’m pretty sure that this response came from all of those viewers checking out as soon as Tyrion delivers the aforementioned line, because what follows is actually really great stuff.

Tyrion goes on to say, “He is our memory. The keeper of all our stories. The wars, weddings, births, massacres, famines, our triumphs, our defeats… Our past. Who better to lead us into the future?” By saying that Bran has the best story, he is saying that he literally holds the greatest stories in all of Westeros – he has the ability to know all of their history, which anyone would do well to learn from.

To me, this is incredibly meaningful. Growth can only come from looking back, learning from the past, and applying it to your future. If you don’t do this, you’re just destined to repeat old mistakes over and over, without ever changing. This is a wheel that needs to be broken for positive change to be enacted.

Here is exactly the reason Bran is a perfect king, metaphorically, at least. The whole point of GoT was that lust for power produced corrupt and self-serving rulers who usually had little to no interest in the betterment of the people around them. A new king who was not chosen due to birthright or because he was able to forcibly take the kingship should come as a moment of jubilation at the oppressive wheel finally being broken.

Having someone like this being in such a prominent leadership position to head into the future is literally the best case scenario. Say what you want about it as a plot point, but taken in a vacuum, this is beautiful. It encapsulates so much in so little. In a meta way, it is the very reason I enjoy things like GoT – it is a meaningful story from which I’m learning about life.

Most notably, though, out of everything that happened in the final season of GoT – good or bad, disappointing or awesome – this small little section is the one that I’ve thought about the most in the months since. It’s what I’ve spent the most time digesting and thinking about thematically, trying to apply it to my own life. I’ve spent more time looking back at my past, hoping that it can inform my future in a positive way.

So, in the ever-knowing and wise words of Tyrion Lannister, just remember this – “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story.” And when a story has the ability to bring so much positivity to someone’s life, I would certainly consider it to be good.

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