Warning: Spoilers ahead for the series finale of “Game of Thrones.”
To be clear, I didn’t ask anyone to “bend the knee” when I arrived at work Monday. But maybe I should have.
Among my colleagues and friends, I was the one and only believer that the wheelchair-bound Bran Stark would wind up as the true and rightful ruler of the realm as the curtain fell on the the HBO series.
While my peers picked more powerful and obvious contenders such as Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen, I suspected that Bran, the young boy who came close to death after being pushed out of a high tower window in the first episode of “Game of Thrones” would somehow make his way to center throne.
And I was right on the money.
Well, maybe not exactly. Some betting on who would win the Iron Throne at the end have pointed out that even though Bran wound up as Ruler of the Six Kingdoms, he did not gain the Iron Throne, which was melted away by an anguished fire-breathing Drogon.
The kid leaves the table with all but one kingdom and there’s a quibble about iron thrones? Really?
I have been long-suffering in my Bran love, starting with meetings earlier this year as our reporters and editors mapped out our strategy for covering the highly anticipated final season.
Though he didn’t have the biggest role, I proposed a profile of Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran. Wright was 10 years old when he appeared in the first episode, and I felt his experience about what it’s been like to grow up on such a blockbuster show would be intriguing.
The reaction to my pitch was immediate.
“I don’t like Bran,” said one editor who thought the character annoying and unimportant. I tried to make my case, but more anti-Bran grumbles from others followed. Juicier pitches were made. I retreated into silence.
As the season progressed, Wright, who is based in London, came to town and I arranged for an interview. At the time, the main theory surrounding him was that he was somehow the devilish Night King.
As we chatted at a West Los Angeles hotel, the 20-year-old was warm, good-humored and extremely charming. He marveled at how he had spent his entire adolescence on “Game of Thrones” and that the experience had shaped him into the young adult he is today. He laughed at how fun it was as a kid to be pushed out of a window (“I got to do wire work”).
He was particularly enthusiastic as he spoke about his evolution into the Three-Eyed Raven: “Bran’s entire journey is a very special one. From Day 1, you think he’s not going to do very well — a disabled 10-year-old in one of the harshest universes ever. And yet against all the odds, he triumphs. He makes it beyond the Wall, he survives, he becomes the Three-Eyed Raven. He isn’t glamorous, isn’t physically strong, isn’t able to save the day on horseback. But his weapon is his mind, and that’s a great message — a character who doesn’t use brute force or strength to find their way to victory.”
In retrospect, I have even more admiration for Wright. He knew the outcome of the series, and yet nothing about his engaging demeanor betrayed that he would be the biggest winner at the end. It must have been an overwhelming secret to keep for close to a year. He deserves a crown for that alone.
My heart started racing Sunday as I and several friends watched the finale at a viewing party. When it became clear that Bran would be named ruler, my good friend Tim Shaheen leaned forward and rewarded me with a wide, knowing smile.
I received a few congratulatory greetings on Monday at work. They were nice.
But speaking as the undisputed head of House Braxton — if any of my co-workers do decide to go the extra step and “bend the knee” in the next few days, who am I to deny them?