This show came so very close to telling a perfect story. It was so close that its failure to land in season 8 is maddening.
So on our recent podcast, which, i mean if you haven’t already, go listen to it here. I told Sam that I thought that the last season of Game of Thrones would have been better if they had changed the order of the story up a little bit. I am going to do a spec rewrite of the overall plot of season 7&8. Why am i doing this? I am arrogant and believe I can do a better job than basically everyone, at basically everything they do. (I am always wrong about this, but the arrogance still stands!)
I wanted to wait until I saw the finale so i could think about foreshadowing and plot development, and really see exactly where all the chess pieces needed to be by the end of the story. To be fair to the Double D’s (Dan Weiss and David Benioff, the show runners) I will only consider changes that leave the overall plot points and endings for the characters largely intact, and I promise not to add in anything that would have made the final 13 episodes more expensive.
Okay so first things first.
The Long Night, and the Battle of King’s Landing are going to be in reverse order.
I reviewed The Long Night here and in that review I call it Game of Thrones at its best. I stand by that, apart from the lighting, which, was bad, it was a perfect climax to the series. The buildup of the forces of the living, the sounds of the dead stomping their feet echoing through winterfell. Even the confusing action, and the sense of disorientation are excellent.
The only problem with the episode is that none of the characters story trajectories actually change in any meaningful way. IF you pull the entire Northern part of the story out of the final season, the ending wouldn't be significantly changed in anyway. All of the characters we cared about survived, and none of them seemed to be changed significantly for the better in any way. They didn’t have some sort of camaraderie that you would think would pay off later, they pretty much said, “Well, I guess we vanquished the bane of our entire species, and won a lasting victory for the living against an army of reanimated corpses, only at the last second because our Queen’s sister threw a 20 on a saving chance….. See ya later.”
Even Jamie, who seemed to really find redemption in the North, went South, to die with Cercei, like nothing had happened.
1. We are going to take that entire thing and pull it out of where it was in season 8, and set it aside for later use.
2. The whole “Dragons to the Rescue” plot from Season 7 is gonzo.
You don’t even need to do that. In fact, not to hedge anything here, but I’m going to be removing ALL of the dragons from the North. The Night King doesn’t need a Dragon. Was it ominous as all get out? YES!! Oh man, in fact if the ending of the story were different, I would say that Viserion being reanimated was my all time most terrifying moment in the entire series. However, we don’t get to change the ending for any characters, so there is no reason the dragons should be involved.
To replace the Dragon minibus scenes, Jon is going to be Dany’s prisoner on Dragonstone for a while, because he refuses to bend the knee right away. He is still asking her for the same thing, Dragonglass, but she is more hard hearted than before. This would accomplish a few things.
First, Dany and Jon would be together far more often.
Second, Jon could accompany Dany on all of her pre conquest excursions. (The burning field, and the execution of the Tarly’s specifically.)
Third, Jon isn’t on the northern excursion for the wight. In fact, the posse sent up there, which would include all the same characters except Jon, would be fulfilling a fact finding request from Queen DAENERYS STORMBORN!! That's right, in my version she’s cagey, so she’s sympathetic to Jon’s dire requests for dragonglass, but wants proof of this outlandish army of the dead.
Jon probably keeps trying to describe it to her in Jon Snow terms, but let’s face it he’s not very smart, so he can’t get the point across. “Ahf Seenit! The Night King stretches out ‘is arms and the Dead Rise! You cannot unsee sumfin like that.”
The posse brings the wight to Dragonstone, for DANY to see, and they left, let’s say, also Beric, and Jorah and anyone else that died around The Long Night, behind. This would make the evidence extremely costly, and would make Dany vow to use her dragons to “Smite the Dead.” She demands Jon bend the knee in return, which he does.
3. All the Dragon Deaths would happen, but in different places in the story.
Since we do not need ANY Dragons for the battle against the Night King, and he doesn’t need to lasso one, we do not have to waste Viserion on being Zombified! (Look it was awesome, but we can improve the story by cutting that part out! That gives us more time to spend on the good stuff, the plot.)
Have Bronn kill Viserion during the battle of the burning fields. It would make the overconfidence of the Lannisters during the lead up to the battle of King’s Landing make sense. Only Ser Bronn of the Blackwater could pull a lucky shot like that off, and so he should have. Also, it would have made Dany lose her marbles and fry the Tarley’s. Jon could be there, standing next to Tyrion, and be horrified that she would so easily burn the Tarleys. Perhaps Jon could even speak to them and say oh, Sam is my best friend, I sent him to Old Town! Then like, next scene, Dracarys!
I think that Rheagal should have died during the battle of King’s Landing, probably a stray bolt from uhh, oh I don’t know, Euron, after the surrender, making Dany just flip out and burn the whole city. (Note, this change just moves the setting a little bit, it is almost exactly what really happened but nobody has to “forget” anything.)
So we still get almost the whole of Episodes 5 and 6 intact. Her army is allowed to be pretty big because it is. Jon is aghast at Dany’s bloodlust, but her pivot from, “Freer of slaves” to “Burner of Babies’ would make sense. Her speech to her Army would be more like “Hey, Man, as you can see, we cannot trust a city under the thumb of a tyrant, we will have to burn them all to make them clean.” Something like that, right? Boom. Jon is like, oh man, she is going to commit Genocide on a massive scale, and he’s actually seen her flip like this before at the burning fields.
Jon kills her because he is terrified of her, and because nothing can stop her, He is aghast at how powerful Drogon is, and what it allows her to do. He has to kill her, but in doing so he is dooming the North. The only thing that could save the North is her Dragonfire. Oh, no, there goes Drogon, just flying away.
Okay. So that is all set up, and what is left on the plate? The Night King, who picks this moment, this perfect moment, almost like he can tell that the Realm is at its most divided, and he uses some mechanism to get around, over, or through the wall. Maybe something dropped by the band Jon sent north for the wight is important here, or maybe, as it seems possible, he swarms Castle Black, (which the wildling army almost did after all.)
Then the battle of Winterfell mostly as we saw it, and Arya kills the Night King. But everyone in the realm has already pledged themselves to PROTECT BRAN so it makes sense that they would all swear fealty to him afterward. Then we basically get the same ending we got. Negotiated Peace, freed north, Jon being punished with banishment, heck maybe even he refuses the Throne after they find proof of his lineage in the crypts, takes the black to avoid the throne like Aemon(or whatever).
Overall I think it would be more satisfying. And really it's a few things that aren’t major changes. Plus you’d get all that time between the end of the battle of King's Landing and the end of the series to show all the maneuvering that led to the Council, and it turns out that is the best part of Game of Thrones anyway. In a perfect world, they would LOSE in Winterfell, and have to stop the NK south of The Neck, but I understand budgets.
Tyrion Lannister ends up being pretty stupid after all. Every plan he hatched failed for like five years, and then he can’t even get himself fired from being Hand. Bran the Broken is essentially guaranteed to leave a bloody and brutal struggle for power in his wake.
I really thought Jamie Lannister should have had more of a heel turn prior to returning to Cercei. It just doesn’t make sense that he would risk his life to fight the dead, find happiness with Brienne and then go back to his abusive ex. It is better if he never leaves in the first place.
Am i supposed to be happy about the North being an independent kingdom? It is essentially a vast emptiness. The Starks ruled it as they pleased for the most part, why do they even want independence. Knowing what we know about how governments work, I am sure that the tax burden imposed upon the North by the… Stark who is the overarching King, wouldn’t be burdensome. In fact it is a mostly depopulated waste after the invasion of the dead, shouldn’t they welcome the influx of tax revenue and immigration from lower Westeros? I don’t know seems like Sansa wouldn’t be super upset about the north being ruled over by a…. STARK!!
IF YOU ARE A KING OF MORE THAN ONE KINGDOM YOU ARE AN EMPEROR OMG TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE THE NAME OF THE OFFICE!!
What is going on with the seasons, are they still long? Or is Winter coming in like… 9 months like on earth. Spin-offs abound! Just make more episodes, and make them brutal.
I plan on watching the prequel series, WHO’S WITH ME!
Listen to the review of the finale below!