After nine eventful years, during which time we've watched eight seasons and 73 episodes worth of betrayal, murder and wine – lots and lots of wine – Game of Thrones finally wrapped up this chapter for good – we say this chapter because the world-building is set to continue with the upcoming spin-offs (or 'successors', as George RR Martin insists).
One of those spin-offs, which was first rumoured to be titled 'The Long Night', and then recently 'Bloodmoon' (neither have been confirmed), will focus on how the White Walkers came to be – something that a number of fans are exceedingly happy about given just how rapidly they were disposed of in the final season, Arya shoving her Valyrian steel blade into the demon kingpin and in turn, shattering both him and his henchwalkers into a million pieces.
"Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world's descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour," reads the pilot description. "And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros's history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend… it's not the story we think we know."
The fact that the Thrones universe is set to head in that direction and delve into the conflict between the Children of the Forest and the First Men feels appropriate, not only given the heavy interest in the White Walkers and the multitude of mysteries left to unpack, but also because of the way in which the fantasy saga bowed out.
In the final scene, Jon Snow, Tormund and Ghost leave the walls of Castle Black, followed by a crowd of wildlings, and together they all head into the Haunted Forest, the wooded expanse which lies beyond the Wall.
(If you're one of those viewers wondering how they rebuilt the Wall so quickly, it's because the Night King toppled it at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, way over on the coast, and not at Castle Black at all).
It's not clear if they are simply heading out to explore or if they're leaving forever – and we'll never know, which is either highly irritating or somewhat poetic, depending on how you choose to interpret it.
But significantly, the season-eight conclusion also mirrors how the show first burst onto our screens, albeit in very different circumstances.
In the first episode, three members of the Night's Watch emerge on horseback from the gates of Castle Black and also make their way into the Haunted Forest.
Will, a member of the Night's Watch, discovers the dismembered bodies of a number of wildlings who fell victim to the White Walkers, but said bodies are gone when Will shows the other two what he stumbled across. Then, out of nowhere, one of the other men is killed by a White Walker, and after trying to escape his other companion has his head lopped off.
Will survives, but only because he has been spared. But he is eventually beheaded by Ned Stark for being a deserter.
When Jon, Tormund and the rest of the clan leave Castle Black, the threat of the White Walkers is seemingly no more, but just like those members of the Night's Watch were at the beginning of one particular path, so is Jon, although we are left only to imagine what that path is.
But whereas the atmosphere before was one of fear and doom, heightened by the ominous score, here it has lifted, impacted by the choir singing the 'Song of Ice and Fire' instrumental, a subtle change designed to mark the beginning of a new age.
What is entirely deliberate is the way in which the show has been bookended by those two moments. Both promise very different travels into the land beyond the Wall – into the unknown. While one is clearly signifying the start of that particular journey, Jon's quest is a different story for another day.
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