[Note: This piece contains spoilers for the last season of Game of Thrones.]
Look, the Game of Thrones ending didn’t go over too well with fans. It’s currently sitting at a 4.3 rating on IMDB, and professional reviewers have savaged the last season as rushed, sloppy, and downright nonsensical.
It seems like anyone could write a more coherent last episode of Game of Thrones, which got us thinking: Why not let a neural network try?
Adam King’s Transformer is an OpenAI machine that was originally trained to predict the next word to follow a given piece of text. Incredibly, it learned how to generate coherent paragraphs (some of which are outright stolen from news sites, but hey, even computers fall prey to plagiarism on occasion).
We decided to feed the tool a few creative writing prompts (our prompts are in bold) to see how it would conclude Game of Thrones’ epic plot. The results were…interesting. Here’s a few of our favorite examples.
1. “I am glad you’re here, Bran Stark.”
First, let’s start with an obvious prompt: Brandon Stark is king, just as he is at the end of the series.
Bran Stark sighs, and accepts that he’s the king. “I can do this,” he says. “I’m Ned Stark.”
The king seems surprised by Bran’s boldness. “You’re the king,” he says. “You’ve brought our world into balance! I am glad you’re here, Bran Stark,” he says.
Bran looks at him again before making another leap at the last bit of the stone. When they reach the top of the hill, Bran realizes he’s in a room that’s not his, and the dragon inside his head has taken over. With a loud explosion, he sees the whole village staring at him and roaring, “Bran Stark!”
This doesn’t even look remotely believable, because we know for years that the dragon in Aon Greyjoy’s head is actually the bastard son of the second King Euron, the very King Aon Greyjoy that has tried to off him since the very start of the show, and with the help of the Night’s Watch, destroyed Aon so he could have him back again. When that bastard son finally found out what was going on, he went into hiding, hoping to stay one step away from his father.
That certainly subverted our expectations. We’d have never guessed that Bran Stark was actually Ned Stark, which means that Catelyn Stark was actually his…okay, let’s not read too deep, there.
2. Jaime Lannister is, indeed, alive.
What would have happened if Jaime Lannister had survived the destruction of King’s Landing? Let’s find out.
Jaime Lannister makes his way out of the rubble. “I’m alive,” he yells. “I’m alive!” His friends gasp. “I’m alive! I’m alive!”
And then Jaime turns around and sees the entire crowd cheering him on. He takes a deep breath. He stands and walks down, ignoring the fans. Jaime’s friends look at him and say that, yes, he is alive indeed. He gets into the SUV and leads them into the city.
He passes two large-scale buildings that were once residences in King’s Landing and then finds an abandoned warehouse where Jaime’s friends were sleeping. They see the huge fire which had been burning in the building just outside the entrance, burning into the roof. They see two men in black who had been there in their sleep and look into one of their eyes that has been glowing with light-magical energy.
They realize the two are Viserys and the Hound but they do not know who they are, how the other one came to be wandering the streets of King’s Landing. They look through each others’ eyes and recognize what they are looking at. They run towards it, their eyes wide in fear. The Hound leaps out of the truck and attacks Viserys the Hound.
The last episode was missing an epic battle, so The Hound versus Viserys the Hound makes sense. The SUVs also help to develop the show’s internal logic—we were wondering how the characters moved around the world so quickly after the first few seasons.
3. Cersei lives, and she’s angry.
What if Jaime’s sister, Cersei, somehow escaped her fate? She’s one of our favorite characters, and she had some of the best lines of the series. We hated the way her arc suddenly ended, and fortunately, the neural network felt the same way.
Cersei Lannister grins. “You thought you defeated me,” she says. “No.”
In the aftermath of the Battle of the Blackwater, Jaime Lannister is known to have been struck down by a wild lion.
“Lions are wild,” Cersei laughs. “You don’t tame them.”
Jaime says nothing.
“A storm does not descend into the castle,” Cersei says, “and even if there was no wild lion, they would not have been so relentless. You can hear me. Jaime Lannister is weak. I see.”
With the help of Ser Pounce and her son, Jaime manages to escape in a tent. “When I woke up, the sun was still a little low, but the rest of the world was rising, and it was a wonderful day in the countryside…it was an amazing day for the Lannisters.”
Cersei’s words echo through the tent.
“You think it could’ve been better?” Jaime asks his brother.
Jaime turns away from his brother’s expression.
“You think it was because the enemy was strong and didn’t retreat?”
“Yes,” Jaime says.
This has some of that fantastic dialogue that characterized the show’s first seasons. But what will changes will Cersei make in King’s Landing? Ruling won’t be easy, especially since the city is…well, destroyed.
Cersei looks out over King’s Landing, which has been reduced to rubble. “I am still the queen,” she says, “and I have to stay here. How do I keep this kingdom secure?”
“Your people will continue on with their lives,” said her uncle and friend Ser Loras. “The rest of us will leave to the Seven Kingdoms, to be reunited.” Loras looks at Winterfell, and then back at the Iron Throne.
“You’ve got to be joking!” asks the King, looking at the shattered bodies of Ser Gethorne and Ser Jon Stormborn. But Cersei laughs. “You’ve got it all wrong. The Lannisters are the king of the North, and King Jon Snow is King of the North. You and your men are fools. A fool! The Targaryens, the Stark brothers, the Lannisters are all fools. And that’s why they are no longer king.”
“That’s what I heard,” sighs King Joffrey. “When you take a crown from them, you have lost all your enemies.”
“So I shall not.”
“No,” they both say in unison, “I won’t. We won.”
Sansa is in tears. “You can’t do this!”
For some reason, the neural network favors dialogue when writing for Cersei. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to know how dialogue works—something it has in common with Game of Thrones’ writers. Burn!
4. Tyrion and Grey Worm get cozy.
Speaking of which, we’d almost forgotten about Tyrion. How would a neural network help the Imp escape his imprisonment at the show’s conclusion?
Tyrion sits in prison, and Grey Worm looks at him. “You’re our prisoner, Imp,” he says. It’s been a long night for Tyrion. He’s been sleeping on Grey Worm’s chest. It’s very warm under his skin.
His legs are wet with sweat, like he’s been climbing all night, and when his eyes get back, they are dark purple, bloodshot.
“I think he fell asleep under the couch,” Tyrion says. “If you want anything you’ve got to beg me.”
Grey Worm takes a deep breath. “And, my lord,” he says, “do tell those men not to mess with us.”
Tyrion doesn’t ask for something from anyone. He doesn’t ask Grey Worm for anything to keep his prisoner safe. He gives Grey Worm his knapsack. He walks forward, towards the door. There are no doors here.
Tyrion finds the doorway and climbs in. A large room has been left empty, like the throne room of the queen. A few bedrolls are scattered on the floor, and they all lie on the floor, not sleeping. He goes for the blankets.
That was anticlimactic, although we can certainly understand why Tyrion would want to sleep on Grey Worm’s chest. And, uh, in his skin.
Grey Worm, by the way, gets a much better conclusion to his arc. As fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, we appreciate how the neural network adopted George R.R. Martin’s love of food descriptions.
Grey Worm looks out at King’s Landing. “Now that the war is over,” he says, “I will take a nap.”
“Wake up!” Arya shouts. “What’s wrong with breakfast sauce?”
She nods, eyes sparkling with excitement. “It’s butter. And eggs! That’ll be the real breakfast!”
Ramsay quickly climbs up on his chair next to Arya, holding a bowl under her left arm. He lifts the bowl, and she takes a bite of each piece. She bites it right down; the flavor is amazing even on it’s mildest setting.
“Now you know what the Lord of Winterfell is really like.”
Arya raises a raised eyebrow with a smile. “I’m curious.”
Ramsay swallows. “I was wondering the same thing, too.”
“I’m sorry!” Arya says. “I need to ask for something.”
“Don’t worry, Arya. I’ll explain everything.”
“Thank you!” she says, a light flush spreading across her face.
“Just… not much.”
Her cheeks flush even more.
We’re not sure we like where that was headed. Moving on.
5. Daenerys discovers a portal, and Jon becomes king.
What about Jon Snow? Surely, his last scene with Daenerys could have been better. It was weirdly anticlimactic, and even though we didn’t buy into the whole “Jon loves Dany” thing, we’d have appreciated a better sendoff for one of the series’ main characters.
Jon Snow looks sadly at Daenerys. “My queen,” he says, but she just smiles warmly, and they stand still for a few moments, before she looks up at them and looks away.
“You will be soon enough. My men will soon come, to help me.” With that, she disappears through the portal.
Short and sweet. With Daenerys gone, surely Jon Snow will become king, right?
Jon Snow sits on the Iron Throne. “I am king,” he says, to nobody in particular, and all but one of his guards stand up at once and cry out in awe, not knowing who he has been referring to all along.
A crowd gathers around him, and he begins to answer them in a voice that is, you can assume, deep in his throat (though not in his head), which gives him away.
There is laughter all around him. Tyrion looks like he is just about to say “Yes, yes, but …” but then all the laughter disappears. There is no one to respond, and he says quickly, “I am queen.”
This is only slightly unsettling when you consider that everyone else has been talking like that for three hours.
Everyone else stands up, but Tyrion goes on, saying things about himself that would normally get him shot. Some people get up and tell him to calm down, but he makes no effort to. It’s a great image that he is trying to convey—if he was a king, none of this would matter.
And since he has been a king, of course the world would care, but he’s a kid.
6. The neural network gets meta.
We tried to continue Jon’s arc, but the neural network started writing criticisms of the HBO show.
Jon Snow makes his way to the Iron Throne. “I’m ready to accept my destiny,” he says, holding up his fist. There was a time when it was considered a shame. It took decades.
The last two years have seen a lot of that, many of which we weren’t expecting. But I’m finally happy we got to see him become king again. (I wish he had a bigger sword that wasn’t the one we already know he possesses, but if he was, it probably would have killed us.)
There have been no bad days for Jon Snow in the show this season, which is also a testament to the writers and the HBO team over the years. I think a year ago, HBO was like a bunch of children with a box of Barbies. They’re not the same anymore and they were like the Barbies but with worse teeth. But after five years and a lot of blood, I think HBO is finally getting what they wanted with Jon.
“Like the Barbies but with worse teeth,” is a pretty apt description of this season’s plotlines.
That prompted another question: What does the neural network think of the final season?
My opinion of the final season of Game of Thrones was pretty good from the very first episode I watched, where Tyrion finally has his face lifted off of his brother’s corpse and begins to discuss his plans for Westeros.
We agree, that was a pretty stunning moment. What about the last episode?
The last episode of Game of Thrones was called “The Door”. In the next show it’s called “The Wall”. The title is based on the Wall Wall.
So that means the door to the secret door isn’t necessarily in the Wall. It might of been out there somewhere. It could’ve been some other location, a different kind of place, or it’s a completely made-up fictional place.
In fact, we haven’t found any of Daenerys’s other doors in her journey, but if we were to find anything, I can only guess. It’s possible Daenerys has been trying to find them for some time but never found them until now. The door that opens to Dragonstone is in fact the one with the door from Braavos to Highgarden. This is another example where Daenerys finds something at last.
We’re not sure if “The Door” is just a reference for Jon’s quest and the door on the wall is really just a door that just needs to be opened on one of his journeys, but it is quite possible. Let’s keep checking on this.
Now let’s talk about dragons.
That’s unquestionably the greatest piece of television criticism ever written. Thanks to Adam King for developing this tool; try it out here, but note that some of its responses are, uh, slightly crude.