HBO has announced that it is developing a sequel to Game of Thrones centering around Jon Snow. My first big question is: Who asked for this?
I don’t mean this rhetorically. HBO has something like 97 Game of Thrones shows in development, to go by series creator George R.R. Martin’s blog postings and various other official and semi-official announcements. One of those, House of the Dragon, has not only been greenlit but will actually be airing in two months. It’s about the history of the Targaryens, a family of incestuous elf-Nazis; the hype and anticipation for it has been basically non-existent. We all remember the bad Targaryen wigs from early Game of Thrones; from what I can tell, House of the Dragon will be all bad wigs and little else.
With that show seeming set to land with a thud and the other 96 or so Thrones projects—all of them prequels, dives into esoteric lore, or similar—in various levels of incompletion, HBO has now also announced that a Game of Thrones sequel is in the works, starring the character Jon Snow, played by Kit Harrington. Harrington, for his part, doesn’t seem busy; his attempt to pivot to Marvel landed him in the lackluster Eternals movie.
There are many characters from Game of Thrones for whom I feel that certain fondness you feel when a character that you love is trapped in a narrative you do not enjoy. I miss seeing Sansa, Arya, Tyrion, the Cleganes, and Daenerys on my television screens each week, in the way that other people miss the titular friends from Friends. This makes sense: By the end of its run, Game of Thrones was a show more about seeing my old pals every week and hoping they’d live through the episode than it was about the actual plot of the throne for which they battled.
One character I have not missed at all, and who I highly doubt an appreciable number of people have missed, is Jon Snow. Snow—the bastard of the Starks who was secretly the heir to the throne (although not really, because it had been plainly established that as the bastard heir of a dynasty that had been overthrown and had no political support and as someone who had vowed to never seek political power, he had no claim—Thrones really went off the rails at the end there)—was a very boring character. His main characteristic was that he was gormless, destined to wander throughout the world without knowing his place in it. That was the tragic irony his character was based on—that he had no idea that his parentage had him (sort of? possibly?) destined for the Iron Throne. In order for the character to work he had to be an unvalued idiot, the sort of guy who would have been named Aegon even though his father already had a son named Aegon, and this was something that other characters remarked upon all the time. The closest thing he had to a catchphrase was other people saying to him, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
To put it lightly, a show about Jon Snow sounds like a bad idea. Snow is not really a well-liked character—by the end of the show he gets trapped in a particularly tedious romance plot involving him fucking his own aunt and being tempted by her offers to do genocide with her that wrung anything that might be interesting from the character in favor of him standing around being sad and/or horny. Also, by the time the show ends, the character has completely run its course. He has completely discovered his secret heritage, rejected it, and elected to go live in the woods with that knowledge totally buried. He learned literally one thing, and decided that was enough.
I suspect that by returning to Westeros after the plot of Game of Thrones has ended, the show is going to reveal way more of the fictional structure of the place than we’d like to see. For instance, now that Jon Snow has finally joined the Night’s Watch, as he’d always wanted to, what is he actually guarding beyond the wall? The Starks and their allies destroyed all the White Walkers at the end of Game of Thrones, and did so quite dramatically. Do they really need to have an additional army posted at that wall now to keep an eye on the handful of wildlings and free folk that roam beyond it? Will the first season really be about the bureaucratic justifications for an independent army that has no reason to exist, still existing? That cannot possibly be an interesting show to watch. Jon having conversations with his brother Bran, an all-seeing, omnipotent god-king, and with Tyrion, his close friend who runs the Seven Kingdoms for the god-king, could be more interesting, but they would also potentially undermine the premise of the show, as the conversations would presumably be about how these all-powerful people could easily rescue Jon from exile with a military order that existed for one purpose that has now been fulfilled.
For better or worse, Game of Thrones is over. Its story does not leave too many openings for sequels or spin-offs (though if David Lynch wants to make a show about an all-seeing, omnipotent god-king capable of simultaneously psychically enslaving everyone at all points in space and time that might be interesting), and beside that, the hunger for it isn’t really there, if the lukewarm reception to House of the Dragon says anything. After everything Jon has been through, I hope he doesn’t have another adventure. He’s earned the right to finally die like an idiot, just like he was born.