The Game of Thrones universe has an immensely in-depth history. Just ask anyone who has read the novels, and they will tell you hundreds of interesting (although mostly useless) facts about legends, magic, and numerous kings and heroes of old.

But that has not had any impact on the last couple of episodes. If you think about it, Game of Thrones is, at its core, a story about those that were cast out or oppressed by the old ruling system (think of Daenerys, Jon, or Tyrion) and then stood up to take control of their future, and that of the entire Westeros. The old world is nearing its end, and whoever claims the Iron Throne at the end will have the power to decide what future the world will head toward.

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The world is changing

Which is why Brandon Stark has to die, and it will probably happen pretty soon.

The world is changing

Before we discuss further, let’s look at the current situation:

For most of his life, Jon Snow has been looked down for being a bastard. Tyrion went through pretty much the same struggles, disdained by his father and most everybody for being a dwarf

Daenerys, meanwhile, has had to deal with men who refused to acknowledge her authority because she is a woman. She got an army of Unsullied soldiers in Essos not by using money to buy them, but by freeing them. And she has said on multiple occasions that she wants to “break the wheel,” in other words, to prevent those who hold power from stepping on the backs of those who are not so fortunate.

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Most major characters in Game of Thrones have suffered from the old system one way or another

And just in the latest episode we saw the fulfillment of Brienne’s wish to become a knight, an honor that, according to tradition, could never be bestowed upon a woman. Her ceremony was done by Jaime Lannister, as he is arguably the one who understands better than anybody why she deserves a knighthood.

So, despite all the “save the world from the undead army” talks, Game of Thrones is and has always been about those who suffer under the rules of the old system. The characters who have the highest chance to destroy the Night King are also those who wish to establish a better world rather than just saving it and leave it as it was.

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Brienne of Tarth becomes a knight

No matter how Game of Thrones ends, the world of Westeros will undoubtedly see significant changes. If Daenerys rather than Jon ends up on the Iron Throne, she will set a new system in which women can also join the line of succession. If they both rule together, as suggested by Ser Davos, then it will also be something unprecedented. Moreover, the conversation between Dany and Sansa last episode also suggested that there is a possibility that the North will separate from the kingdom an independent realm. If that happens, other regions might follow.

Whatever happens, it’s clear that the foundations of the Seven Kingdoms are crumbling. In order for a new system to rise, traditions have to die. And that’s why we’re going to have to say farewell to Brandon Stark.

Why Bran must go

As Bran himself explained, he is the living memory of Westeros. As the Three-Eyed Raven, he can see events from the past and present through the eyes of the ancient Weirwood trees, even all the way back to the great war between the First Men and the Children of the Forest, which resulted in the birth of the Night King. No significant moment escapes his sight. He knows the entirety of Westeros’ history and every of its custom.

He is tradition itself.

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Bran Stark is the living embodiment of tradition itself

The Westeros that Bran remembers is one in which the throne (or any position of power for that matter) is passed down from father to son, knighthood cannot be given to women, and bastards are left to die or sent to the Wall to join the Night’s Watch where they have to swear never to have children of their own. As long as Bran remains, Westeros will not be able to cast off its past as long as Bran is alive.

He will always try to shape the world according to what he’s seen in his visions, not because of any malicious intent, but simply because he cannot see anything else. It was him who reveals to Jon Snow his real parentage, no doubt so that he will step up and claim the Iron Throne as the rightful heir according to tradition. Clearly, the Three-Eyed Raven doesn’t plan to simply sit back and watch. He plans to take action.

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It was Bran who reveals Jon Snow's real parentage

Bran is not the antagonist here; he’s just a living embodiment of everything that was. However, that age is coming to an end.

Bran is not the Night King – despite many theories to the contrary. He doesn’t wish to destroy Westeros and all of its past and present. But still, the two are inexorably connected, like 2 sides of the same, ancient coin. They stand for both the living and the dead, and together they create the full memory of Westeros.

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Bran isn't the Night King, but they are 2 sides of the same coin

This is the reason why the upcoming Battle of Winterfell can potentially be one of the most crucial and poetic moments of the shows: Both characters must die if the show is to keep up with the themes it has spent so long to set up. A new world cannot ensue while either of them survives.

If Bran’s plan of ambushing the Night King in the Godswood success, both characters could die together. That would mean the defeat of Death, and Westeros’ past has been sacrificed for it to have a future.

The memory of the world’s tradition, and of Bran himself — would endure in the minds of those who remain. The human memory, as imperfect as it is, would become a guide for the new world, or maybe a lesson of what not to do.

If Game of Thrones is about heading toward a better future, then it must also be about leaving behind the history and traditions that would prevent that from happening. And Bran is now that history.

Which means both he and the Night King must die before the show comes to a conclusion.