TV

We Absolutely Need To Talk About Bran Stark

He was the weirdest part of the 'Game of Thrones' finale.

Bran Stark Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6

Let’s talk about Bran Stark, Bran the Broken, first of his name, King of the Andals, Ruler of the Six Kingdoms, and magic psychopath who can use his brain to transform into crows.

Let’s have a big old chat. Let’s have a yarn. Let’s discuss. Let’s flap our jaws until the thin layer of skin that hides our skull sloughs off with fatigue.

Yikes. OK, this is whole thing is a choice.

If you haven’t already seen the finale of Game of Thrones, it’s really odd that you’ve decided to read this article, but you do you! But if you have, you’ll know that ultimately the surprise winner of the melted puddle of slag that used to be the Iron Throne, the titular Throne of which the Game is played for, is none other than Bran Stark.

Bran Stark.

What a surprise! What a subversion! What a bizarre and unfortunately hilarious plot point.

I’ve been suspicious about Bran’s fate for this entire season, and not because of any narrative reasons. Rather, when I was at a Game of Thrones press junket in February, we were given interviews with pairs of talent: Nikolaj and Gwendoline, Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner, etc. The only person offered on their own was the actor who played Bran, Isaac Hempstead-Wright.. despite the fact he was hardly central to the story as we knew it at that time.

I decided that it implied Bran was going to die early on. The journalist next to me just thought maybe nobody liked him.

Then, a few months later, I’m offered interviews in Australia with Isaac. I just thought maybe he wanted to travel, see a Koala, marvel at our big bridge. Little did I know, I was being offered an interview with the future winner of the Game of Thrones.

Even Isaac Hempstead-Wright isn’t immune to this feeling, saying in an interview, “I genuinely thought it was a joke script” when he was sent his pages for the finale.

We have to ask: why on earth would they choose Bran for this? And did it need to happen?

Why On Earth Would Bran Stark Win The Throne?

Right, so in the final episode, stinky prison Tyrion comes to a gathering of “everyone left in the show” and tells them that they should nominate a king.

Everyone goes along with this, even Grey Worm who seems mostly interested in executing the people who betrayed and killed his queen, but I guess he just loves monarchy? I dunno. After a couple of dud ideas: Edmure Tully and democracy, Tyrion decides that BRAN STARK out of all people should become the king of the Seven Kingdoms, minus one.

And why? Because Tyrion believes stories are powerful, and that Bran has a powerful story.

There’s a brief comical moment of pause, before everyone just wholeheartedly goes for it, in the bemused fashion of a group of old friends trying out a new brunch location.

It’s genuinely hilarious. I laughed long and hard.

Why Is It So Funny?

This is legitimately a sketch I could imagine on a slower episode of Saturday Night Live. 

Just picture it, one of the bigger Game of Thrones cast, a newly shaved Kit Harrington or a de-wigged Emilia Clarke hosting, and they’re doing one of those vaguely tired show-themed sketches. The go through all the remaining characters, basically playing the game of who would be least suitable to be a monarch. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of comedy that Bran is the ultimate choice.

It’s not hugely funny, but hey, it’s SNL.

He is a comical choice — he speaks like a robot, and his major bit is telling more dynamic characters that he’s the “Three Eyed-Raven” and nobody understanding what that means. Sometimes, as a bit of a catch-phrase, he says things like “Bran Stark is dead” or “I no longer want things anymore”.

He is legitimately an unfriendly, magical-teen, whose entire purpose in the show is slightly mysterious. Did he help stop the Night King with his special knowledge powers? Or was he mostly just a cunt to everyone?

It’s inherently funny to think he would be a good king.

Comedy is often about juxtaposition — the idea of this cryptic robot child in a position of power is basically a sketch of opposites. Where does Bran belong? Attached to a huge tree, spouting confusing prophecies. Where would it be funny to put him? On the Iron Throne.

Plus, this show has literally been about the brutal, gory, conniving and ultimately tragic race for power, the titular ‘Game of Thrones’ — it’s funny, in a sad anticlimactic way, that the eventual winner was a spooky bowl-cut.

Also, His Story Isn’t Even Good

But, let’s move beyond the humour of the whole situation.

I’m just baffled by this decision, because Tyrion’s entire logic was that Bran will for some reason be perfect for the role because of his “remarkable story”. I’m not saying he didn’t have a pretty good plotline — I cannot stress this enough, but he can become crows with his mind. Cool!

But this idea that the people of Westeros are captivated by his story, and that it will somehow translate into a kind of ironclad PR campaign for him? That’s so weird.

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT HIM.

Here’s his arc — he was a tiny boy, and he was pushed out of a window when he caught some hot twincest. He lay in a coma for ages. Then he rode around on a giant simpleton’s shoulders for a bit, doing very little.

Then, it looked like he was killed, but in actuality he was SECRETLY sledded across the wall, where he did some secret and unseen adventures  and became the magic boy. Then he came back, was unfriendly, and spent a bunch of episodes left outside by whoever was pushing him around. He stared at people.

The majority of his “adventures” were unwitnessed by pretty much anyone at all.

Plus, Tyrion had the gall to say this next to Arya Stark, the magic assassin, and Sansa Stark, the Queen in the North. They each had stories as, if not more, epic than Bran’s.

It doesn’t truck!

And you know who definitely had a better story than Bran’s? Meera Reed. The fierce, un-thanked warrior who dragged his shitty, sociopathic, magical butt all over the North in a sled, before disappearing.

Name her queen! She’s the daughter of a lord. She’s not a creep!

The John Hughes Of It All

I’m not saying that Bran couldn’t have somehow been made narratively worthy of being elected King — even though I still think the entire process of elected monarchy in Westeros was inherently dumb.

But, like many decision in this last season, a lot of things felt rushed, and Bran’s worthiness was more surprise than anything else. Unlike Dany’s transformation in the Mad Queen, we didn’t even have foreshadowing to lead us in.

His ascension is in stark contrast with the rest of his siblings (lol, good pun), who definitely worked and suffered long enough to be eligible for their happy ever afters.

Jon only ever wanted to be free of his bastardry, so he’s gone north with the Wildlings where family names (even Targaryen ones) don’t matter. Arya just wanted to escape the confines of being a Lady, so she’s off to the sea. Sansa wanted to the a lady of the court, and now she IS the court.

It’s nice, I’m glad they got these endings — it felt like we’d all suffered enough with them. Jon’s fate even felt bittersweet, especially for the man who could have been king. These are worthy endings.

As far as I was concerned, the child who had been Bran Stark was essentially dead, and what had taken his place was something bigger and less human. The Three-Eyed Raven wasn’t a human concept, but something stranger. The show implied that he was emotionless, unconcerned with the day-to-day struggles of lesser humanity. At one point he says that he mostly “lives in the past now”.

None of this seems… great for leading a nation.

Also, the idea that a mystical force now rules is kinda… odd.

As far as I can tell, Bran was fated to live grafted to a tree for the next few millennia. Oh well! Long live Bran the Broken.

At least we have Sansa’s perfect crowning to remember.


Patrick Lenton is the Entertainment Editor at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton. Click this button to buy him a spray of fabulous jewels.