WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for the series finale of Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne," which aired Sunday on HBO.
The finale of Game of Thrones brought a definitive conclusion to the seemingly never-ending battle for the Iron Throne of Westeros. After the dust settled and the fires were put out, Queen Daenerys Targaryen fell and a new king, Bran the Broken, was crowned. Just as Daenerys wanted, the wheel of power was broken, and it changed Westeros forever. As the arcs of fan-favorite characters came to their inevitable ends, some expected and some rather surprising, certain things did come full circle.
In fact, eight years ago, Jon Snow began his journey by signing up as a member of the Night's Watch, a place he was exiled to once again in the series finale for his treasonous act. But "The Iron Throne" went further than that: The episode's final scene directly echoed the pilot's opening.
When Game of Thrones premiered in 2011 with "Winter Is Coming," fans were introduced to Westeros with an extended scene that featured none of the main characters. The series first began with the gates of the Wall opening as three members of the Night's Watch set out North of the Wall on horseback to investigate a situation involving Wildlings. As it turned out, the Wildlings had been slaughtered by White Walkers and two of the three Night's Watch knights would also fall to the Wights.
Now, here we are eight years later, as Game of Thrones' final minutes call back to the start of "Winter Is Coming." When "The Iron Throne" comes to a close, the gates of the Wall are once again opened as Jon Snow heads out North of the Wall alongside Tormund Giantsbane and a crowd of Wildlings. Yes, Game of Thrones ends as it began, with characters heading North of the Wall.
But while it all started with a dire warning about death, it ends with hope for a new future. The Wildlings, once hunted by the White Walkers, are once again free, and they are heading back to the land that once belonged to them. Better yet, they might even have a new leader in Jon Snow -- someone who will keep them safe no matter what.
In "The Iron Throne," the wheel of power was broken, yes, but there is an element of symmetry here. The wheel keeps turning as the series comes full circle, signalling the arrival of a new beginning. It's a new adventure that may not be told, but one that indicates that the lives of the characters who are now near and dear to our hearts will continue beyond what we know.
Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow