One thing Game of Thrones does best is pair characters with different personalities but similar traits. There was Jaime and Brienne, Arya and the Hound, Varys and Littlefinger, even Jon and Sam. And in the show’s final episode, it couldn’t help but tease us with a paring that always seemed destined, but we never really had a chance to savor: Bran and Tyrion.
[Ed. note: this post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6.]
Brandon Stark and Tyrion Lannister aren’t the most obvious companions. Tyrion is sarcastic, difficult, and loves few things on earth more than a good cup of wine. Bran is ... none of those things, and certainly not sarcastic after his transformation into the Three-Eyed-Raven. But even with these differences they’ve shared a special bond from show’s earliest episodes.
Their first real interaction came back in season 1, episode 4, the aptly named, “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things.” Bran has recently discovered he’ll be unable to walk for the rest of his life. Tyrion brings him a special design for a saddle he can use to ride a horse without using his legs. It’s a sweet moment that Tyrion explains by telling Robb Stark that he has a tender place in his heart for “cripples, bastards and broken things.”
This line is an elegant summary of what A Song of Ice and Fire is about at its core. The idea that those who are powerless in the world have to fight for their place — and that fights are not won with swords, but with words and deeds. It’s also an echo of an earlier line from Tyrion to Jon Snow about how all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes. With these two themes, Tyrion and Bran are forever linked, even when they were continents apart.
They meet again in Winterfell in episode 2 of season 8. Both have been much changed by the years. Bran is an agent of Westerosi history now, less a person than a memory. Meanwhile, Tyrion has loved Shae and killed her, been praised by his father, and killed him too. In their new states, Tyrion recognizes the power of Bran’s story, and it provides him with the idea of making Bran the Broken Westeros’ next king.
Now, as of Game of Thrones’ final episode, these two characters unite in shaping Westerosi history. As the leader of the new Council, designed to rule a better and less brutal version of Westeros, Bran will sit as both a memory of the world’s past and a symbol of hope for its future. And beside him will be Tyrion, the formerly aimless young nobleman who learned that he had a knack for advising leaders.
While the show doesn’t give us much closure on how their reign will go, their deep empathetic connection gives us hope that they will lead Westeros to a better future.