Spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8. I had so much hope for the beautiful, wild, symbolically relevant direwolves that the Stark children discover in the first season of Game of Thrones. Each one paired to a particular Stark child, with the fate of each bound together (making the death of Sansa's direwolf, Lady, at the hands of evil Joffrey huge foreshadowing into her fate, for example) was a gorgeous and meaningful construct. But with Jon Snow officially gifting Ghost to Tormund without so much as a pat on his fluffy white head in episode 4 of season 8, I have to say it: I am so upset at the way the direwolves were handled on the show.
I know, I know: The creators have talked about how goofy it looks to have an enormous wolf via CGI (somehow weirder than the totally fake dragons? Ok.). And they thought it would be more powerful for Jon to just simply walk away (Um, no). And the direwolves belong to the North as the Starks (or at least Arya and Jon) head South—so they have to abandon their Northern selves to accept their Southern identities/potential deaths? (Sure...) And the direwolves have played less and less of a part in the show as the creators have had to jam in more content in a shorter timeframe. I get all that. But it's still the wrong way to handle it, in my opinion.
It seems like the initial purpose of the direwolves were for them to sacrifice themselves to protect their owners. I cried the most when Bran's direwolf Summer fell at the hands of wights coming for the Three Eyed Raven as Hodor held the door (sniff) and Bran made his last second escape. The brutal deaths of Rickon and Rob and their direwolves showed how cruel their enemies could be. But the metaphor and significance have just limply wilted from there. Given that Jon and Arya's direwolves are both still alive, I think that bodes sort of well for the characters making it through to the end of the series. But Bran and Sansa are still alive, so I don't think it's a one-to-one correlation. So even the metaphor has lost its significance in the lightning-quick pace of the show.
Wouldn't it have been so much better to at least have Ghost fight alongside Jon in the big battle? Or have Nymeria make a last-second return for Arya in her time of need? Fans speculate that this might still happen, but I'm not hopeful. I'd love a Ghost and Nymeria team-up to save the day for our much-beloved characters, but I doubt it. I think this is the last we've seen of the direwolves on this show, and it breaks my animal-loving heart even more than the killing off of Dany's dragons.
I suspect and hope that George R.R. Martin will do something with the direwolves in the books that will be more significant, because honestly, if that was just one big MacGuffin with no payoff at all, I will be so mad. Madder than I am already, anyways.
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