… personally, I still can’t get over this lacklustre conclusion of Jon’s story. After finding similar criticism in many of video&written reviews as well as in the comments following my past post on Watchers, the implausibility of his ‘cancelled’ showdown with the NK and final exile has become only more striking to me. (Thanks for your replies over there btw, but I just didn’t want to continue that discussion thread or I’ll never stop lamenting about how they wasted the unique potential of Jon’s journey + character.)
I can’t wrap my head around the fact that the Targaryen heritage just ends in nowhere, and that Jon – whom all the realm has to thank for surviving the Long Night, as Tyrion told everyone in S8E1 – will be forced to stay out of the 7 Kingdoms forever, without even being allowed to return to the North or Winterfell, his home. How is never seeing the Stark family or the North and its people again supposed to make him happy?
He won’t be allowed to have his own family or children either (despite this being heavily hinted at in S7), and Bran as his ‘brother’, who could pardon him after the Unsullied have left Westeros, seems to be totally fine with that. Even though he knows that Jon is the last Targaryen and Blood of the Dragon, not to say heir to the throne.
The common argument that Jon doesn’t want the throne and has no interest in power (again: it’s the same with Bran, now why is it so fitting for Bran to rule?), or that Jon would be happier in the Real North with the Freefolk is not the point. Him removing himself from the game as Maester Aemon did is also not a valid point in my opinion, because he has a totally different backstory and a long built-up role in ASOIAF, unlike Aemon.
And even Aemon went to the Wall with all the world knowing him for who he was, whereas Jon is still just Ned Stark’s bastard to the world. He himself might be fine with obscurity – but when the carefully cultivated secret of this whole story is just completely dismissed at the end without any mentioning or justification, it feels illogical and wrong.
This is why all these explanations for Jon’s ‘happy peace-out’ sound too simple (or lazy) to me, they don’t delve deep enough into the complex character of Jon Snow and the vital role he played in this epic. It’s like self-consolation on a superficial level when you know what the distressing result is and try to talk yourself into liking it.
The point is: Is Jon supposed to be removed from the world (7 Kingdoms), based on the narrative logic of GOT/ISOIAF?
The books could make the lead-up to his ending more credible, I hope. Because the show absolutely failed at offering a plausible and satisfying conclusion for a wonderfully crafted, enigmatic character. Unlike the openly dominant dragon queen Daenerys, there was always more to Jon than would meet the eye (as Tyrion said about Northern fools in S7). His character arc in previous seasons was formed by action (f. e. becoming Lord Commander, fighting WW and meeting the NK, becoming KitN…) and revelations (R+L=J, meeting Drogon, riding Rhaegal…). But he seems unnaturally hamstrung in S8, made silent and inactive by his writing, only to take action at one crucial point when he kills Dany, and afterwards to be eliminated forever through exile.
Wasting the central storyline like that is even worse than turning Dany into a villain too fast – her monumental, tragic failure was at least acceptable as a character ending, even though the way they got there was insufficiently crafted. Jon’s story arc, which was filled with prophecies, secrets, and deliberate foreshadowings ever since S1, was drained of all its power and relevance in the end. This handling was really the biggest weakness of the final season, because it’s connected to the core narration of ASOIAF.