The last scene of Game of Thrones aired months ago, but this week fans got a peek at some snippets that were left out. The scripts for Season 8 of the fantasy series were made public on Friday, revealing whole sequences that were either edited out, or never filmed at all. Some could have changed the way fans viewed the finale altogether, for better or for worse.
Warning! Spoilers for Game of Thrones are ahead!
Game of Thrones Season 8 was controversial, to say the least. After almost a decade of one of the most ambitious, far-ranging stories ever adapted to screen, the show's final installment was condemned as rushed and underdeveloped.
Most of that criticism fell on the writers, particularly creators and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The two never hired a full writing staff for the series, and handled most of the scripts on their own — particularly in the final season. Therefore, when fans were outraged by the ending, they only had two people to turn to.
The scripts for the final season have some fans looking at this outrage in a new way. All six screenplays were added to the Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library this week, allowing the public to view them in their entirety. We can now see dialogue that was edited or ad-libbed, lines that were cut or added and whole scenes that never made it to the final version. In some cases, fans wish that they had.
Here is a look at some of the scenes that could have made a real difference in Game of Thrones Season 8.
First up is an additional speaking scene for Harry Strickland (Marc Rissman), the commander of the Golden Company. At the beginning of Season 8, Euron Greyjoy sailed to Essos as Cersei's command, ferrying Strickland and his mercenary army back to King's Landing to defend Cersei's throne.
Strickland really only spoke once in his short season on the show — in the throne room, when Euron presented him to the queen. However, the scripts reveal that before that, Strickland was supposed to have another conversation with Euron on his ship.
Predictably, the conversation was just exposition about Euron's plan to sleep with Cersei, thereby cementing his own control in Westeros. Strickland remarks that Cersei's twin brother, Jaime, will not be pleased.
"She can think of him while I'm inside her," Euron was meant to say. "I don't mind."
"You're a strange man, Greyjoy," Strickland would have replied.
This scene would have at least given Strickland one more moment to speak on screen, perhaps justifying his addition in the final season. In general, fans felt that the Golden Company was under-utilized, and they questioned why they were included at all. Most assume this is a perfect example of the "check-box theory" at work — meaning that author George R. R. Martin told Benioff and Weiss that the Golden Company were supposed to end up in Westeros, and the two simply put them there like pieces on a chess board, without really thinking through how or why.
Incidentally, that scene with Strickland was supposed to lead into Euron's confrontation with his niece, who was prisoner below decks. There was dialogue cut here as well, and even a kiss. Fans were not upset by this omission.
Another side plot cut short was the redemption of Alys Karstark and her kinsman in the Battle of Winterfell. During Episode 2, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms," Karstark volunteers herself and her men to defend Bran in the Godswood, alongside Theon Greyjoy. In the script, however, this is framed more overtly as a moment of redemption for the Karstarks, who betrayed house Stark early on in the series.
"I'll go with him," Alys says to Jon in the script. "The Karstarks betrayed your House. Allow us to earn back your trust."
For those that do not recall, it was the Karstarks that killed all of the Lannister prisoners in Robb Stark's camp after Jaime Lannister was freed, back in the War of the Five Kings. Robb was forced to execute the Karstark patriarch as punishment, and the whole army began to dissolve after that. In the show, the Karstarks then sided with Ramsay Bolton during the Battle of the Bastards.
According to the script, Jon Snow "appreciates the girl's sense of honor" after Alys makes her offer. He gave her an approving nod. While this exchange did not make it to screen, Alys and her men were shown defending Bran during the battle in the next episode.
However, the script gave Alys a more shocking death than she ended up getting. She and her men were supposed to encounter a small group of wights in the Godswood. Swallowing their fear, they would have crept through the trees, finding a group of "child wights." The zombie kids would have descended on the Karstark's, killing Alys as she tried to run away.
In that same battle episode, another fight was cut short: the battle in the crypts. In the show, we saw Tyrion and Sansa ducking behind a coffin, clutching dragonglass daggers and sharing a moment of familiarity when they thought their deaths were imminent.
According to the script, we actually should have seen the two do some slashing before it was all over. The two were supposed to sneak up behind a pair of wights approaching Gilly and Baby Sam, stabbing them in the back before they could kill her. The script even notes that Sansa "stuck him with the pointy end."
This cut is a shame, as it takes away Sansa's big action moment. In a behind-the-scenes video about the episode, Sophie Turner said the scene was "really fun, because I never get to do any action."
It would have been a nice moment for Tyrion as well, since the supposed strategist made so many bad calls this season. Fans were furious that Tyrion led his people down into the crypts, saying he should have known that the wights would rise up down there. At least if he had taken a few out himself, he would have corrected his own mistake.
There were two scenes in the script that would have highlighted Grey Worm and Missandei's romance, had they not been cut out from the final version. The first would have come in the very beginning of the season premiere, as Daenerys' army was marching into Winterfell.
As they rode side by side, Missandei was supposed to look at Grey Worm and say that he "must be freezing." After feigning toughness for a moment, Grey Worm would have cracked a smile and said: "I am cold."
"She smiles back at him," the script says. "Boy oh boy they're in love!"
Their next big flirtation would have come after the Battle of Winterfell, as the survivors were feasting. Missandei was supposed to steal glances at Grey Worm in the subtle scene, smiling to herself until Daenerys noticed. Finally, the queen would have dismissed Grey Worm for the night, while stealing her own glances at Jon Snow.
After Grey Worm left, Missandei was supposed to ask Daenerys for permission to leave, saying she was not feeling well.
"Oh no. Your belly?" Dany was supposed to ask.
"Missandei, a terrible liar, struggles for a response, while Dany (who knows she's lying) watches her squirm," the script says. Finally, Daenerys would have suggested that Missandei has "a headache." The adviser was supposed to leave the feast, "trying not to run."
"Dany is happy for her friend. But she's also aware that everyone seems to be having fun except for her," the script goes on. "She's lonely and Varys clocks her loneliness...)"
As Daenerys prepared her forces to leave the north, there was a cut line of dialogue that was short and simple, yet it would have gone a long way to appeasing fans of the show's magical mythos. It would have come when Tyrion and Varys were discussing Jon Snow's true parentage.
In it, Varys would have questioned whether Jon really was a Targaryen. Tyrion would have made one astute observation about Jon's actions in the battle.
"He rode a dragon," Tyrion was supposed to say. "Has any non-Targaryen ever rode a dragon?"
This was a point of frustration for fans, who felt that it was not discussed enough when Jon took a ride on Rhaegal's back. In Game of Thrones and the source material novels, only people descended from the ancient civilization of Valyria could hope to ride dragons. The Targaryens are the last remaining house with dragon-riding genes, which is why they often have incestuous marriages.
The fact that Jon somehow had this ability was overlooked in Season 8 — except for this one line of dialogue on the cutting room floor.
There was another scene before that the Battle of King's Landing that had a whole lot of dialogue cut from it, and some fans think it would have been better off as it was in the script.
It was the scene where Jon and Daenerys spoke in front of the fireplace before attacking King's Landing, just after Daenerys executed Varys for treason. In it, Daenerys was supposed to ask Jon what he and Varys had been speaking of down on the beach. Jon, never a good liar, would have told her.
"I think you know," he was supposed to say. "He knew about me. And he wanted me to claim my throne."
Here, the script returns to the dialogue that did make the cut, with Daenerys admonishing Jon for telling Sansa about his parentage. When Daenerys complains that she has "no love" in Westeros, "only fear," Jon was supposed to say tht he does love her, and that she is his queen. There were more lines cut from the final product here.
"Is that all I am to you? Your Queen?" she would have asked.
"No," he was supposed to answer, thoughtfully. The two would have kissed, but the script directions note that Jon looked conflicted and uncomfortable.
"It disgusts you," Daenerys was supposed to say, referring to their incestuous relationship.
"Dany..." Jon would have said. Here, Daenerys would have delivered the line she did end up saying.
"All right then, let it be fear."
The cuts here made Daenerys' reasons for burning King's Landing a little more ambiguous, which many fans hated. On the other hand, as it was written this scene would have emphasized the fact that her breakup with Jon was a big factor in Daenerys' distress, which also outraged some fans. In many ways, there is no saving this scene, but a little more context like this might have helped.
Finally, the last big omission from the script is actually a visual moment — a close-up on Daenerys that fans might have appreciated before her death. In the penultimate episode, after the bells ring, Daenerys looks to the Red Keep, growls, and flies her dragon over the city, burning everything and everyone indiscriminately. This is the last time we get a close-up on her face. After that, she and her dragon are one.
In the script, there was actually supposed to be one more look at Daenerys' expression. It would have come when she was wrecking the castle itself. The script directions call for a shot "tight on flying Dany as she looks at the exterior of the Throne Room, the room her ancestors built."
The script called specifically for Daenerys to focus on the stained glass window with the lion sigil of House Lannister in it, where the Seven-Pointed Star of the faith once was. It was supposed to highlight how personal this family feud was, with the sigil being a "symbol of everything that has been taken from her" which "drives her to fury."0comments
From there, the destruction would have continued as it was shown, however, this moment would have brought all of the confusion and chaos back to a human level, where Daenerys was trying to get revenge for the crimes of one family against another. Still, fans ultimately still would have been upset by the Dragon Queen's disregard for human life, particularly for the smallfolk in the rest of the city.
The scripts for Game of Thrones are available to read at the Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library in Los Angeles. The show is still available to stream on HBO Go and HBO Now. Additionally, work is moving forward on two spinoff shows, also set in Westeros and also slated for release on HBO. Stay tuned for updates.
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