This contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones finale, but they’re not especially coherent ones.
Sunday night, HBO’s long-running, much-loved small-screen adaptation of Game of Thrones concluded, with the Daenerys Targaryen dead, the Iron Throne melted by her mournful dragon, and Bran Stark rising to power in a newly-democratic Westeros.
While the eighth and final season of the show has left many diehard fans unsatisfied, there’s no doubt that HBO’s multi-billion-dollar property will eventually produce spinoff content, and the finale left a very clear indication of where the first might come, in the storyline of the young assassin Arya Stark.
Fresh of her slaying of the fearsome Night King, Arya was a fan favorite to rise to the throne of the Seven Kingdoms — but instead, she left the series finale sailing away, in search of what mysteries lay in the uncharted lands “West of Westeros”.
What will she find there? More struggle? More dragons? More conflict, betrayal and endless bloodshed? Or will she finally find peace?
A Song of Ice and Fire author George RR Martin and I were recently hanging out, and he asked me to take on this writing, because he’s “busy” with “writing those other two books” and “definitely not just playing Madden”. I agreed. Now, for a preview, as Arya finds what lies in The West.
[Arya climbs down from her ship]
ARYA STARK: Well, here we are. The great uncharted west. No one known to man has ever laid eyes on these lands, but-
LARRY SCOTT: Actually, the PAC-12 network has very strong viewership numbers, despite what you might have heard. It’s been a big success for us, and we’re an industry leader.
ARYA: [drawing knife] who are you? are you a Lannister?
SCOTT: What? No, I’m the commissioner of the Pac-12 conference. I guess you could say I rule over all of this. You’re in Palo Alto, by the way.
ARYA: I have just come from a land of great struggle; we’ve seen defenses overrun by power-mad invaders, we’ve seen cities lain to waste, and countless struggle to no positive end/
SCOTT: Ah, the Big 12. Do you know Colorado? Great guys. Real chill. [mimes smoking] Super nice.
ARYA: I have to know this land is different. The place I came from had a sniveling boy king, an amoral sadist reviled by all who crossed his path.
SCOTT: Oh, yeah, no, he’s at FAU now. We don’t have any of those.
ARYA: We had a wasteland, full of dangerous creatures, feral, uncontrolled wildlings, and the ever-present threat of devastating peril invading our world.
SCOTT: If you join the South, you’ll only have to go to Pullman every fourth year. It’s really not that bad.
ARYA: We had creatures that once seemed cuddly develop into fearsome beasts of unimaginable destructive power, only to seem them left aimless when their parent figure was slain.
SCOTT: Yeah, it’s been a transitional period for Oregon since Kelly left, but I really think Cristobal’s got them headed back in the right direction.
ARYA: Big dogs that seemed like essential characters but didn’t really do anything in the finale?
SCOTT: That’s a “Washington in the playoff” jab, isn’t it.
ARYA: I’m known for surprise jabs.
ARYA: Great destruction was brought to all of us by the richest house in the land, an incestuous brood of scheming scoundrels finally brought down when it all collapsed on their heads.
SCOTT: [chuckling] Yeah, USC’s terrible.
ARYA: The quiet, cerebral character that always seemed peripheral to the main story ended up on top in the end?
SCOTT: Every year Stanford’s back there. I’m as surprised as you are.
ARYA: I don’t have a joke for Utah.
SCOTT: [checking notes] they aren’t in this conference, are they?
ARYA: It seems like you face many of the same challenges that I’ve just left behind in Westeros. I hoped to find a place of peace and calm, but you’ve got scheming boy-kings, fearsome beasts, squabbling houses, useless dogs, feral creatures beyond the wall. I’ve traveled all this way, and what have I found? Nothing but the same trouble.
SCOTT: Now, it’s not quite like that.
ARYA: It will always be an endless struggle for the ultimate throne!
SCOTT: I think if you’ll look at our record lately, you’ll see that none of us are involved in any challenges for the ultimate throne.
ARYA: I just want somewhere untouched by struggle, somewhere where no one cares what house you’re from, some place that will accept anyone.
SCOTT: I’ve got an idea.