The White Walkers loom over “Game of Thrones” like the specter of death itself. Sure, any given episode is stuffed with squabbling lords and ladies who think the White Walkers are a dusty old fairy tale, but viewers know better. They are the winter that is coming, and they aim to bring warm-blooded life to a cataclysmic end.
Unsurprisingly, the White Walkers’ sudden defeat in “The Long Night” is the object of much criticism. In her proposal of a better ending for “Game of Thrones,” Nneka McGuire, editor of The Lily, imagines something more depressing and more satisfying: “The Night King and his gang should have decimated the living.” The macabre appeal of such an ending can’t be denied. Moreover, it’s in keeping with the show’s themes — “Game of Thrones” loves to crush honor, hope, and goodness beneath its blood-stained heel. This is exactly the kind of destruction many fans wanted from the finale.
Moreover, planet-wide tragedy isn’t the only option here, as McGuire details. The White Walkers could ravage Westeros, only to be beaten back at tremendous cost. Then, “in the final moments of the series,” viewers would behold Craster’s sacrificed sons, now a merry band of White Walker children. One day, this ending says, winter will come again. Such a potent mingling of victory and defeat is exactly the sort of finale “Game of Thrones” deserves.