Thursday, May 23, 2019

Alice Shipwise's GAME OF THRONES Season Eight Spec Scripts

Once upon a time, I was a lot more interested in working in film and television than I am now and learned about something called "spec scripts." Basically if you want to get into television writing, you write scripts for shows similar to the show you'd like to write and pitch them.

Well, a television writer named Alice Shipwise wrote a bunch of spec scripts for Game of Thrones Season Eight not long after Season Seven ended. She doesn't seem to have even seen Season Eight (she explicitly asks people to avoid spoilers when discussing her episodes), so they weren't written as a critique of the canonical season. However, in light of all the criticism the season has gotten from fans (the Night King getting deal with too easily, Jaime's failed redemption, Danaerys' madness, King Bran), there seems to be a lot of interest in them.

For the record, I think if the canonical series was based on these scripts instead, it would be a much better show. Some highlights:

*Although I didn't really think anything was particularly wrong with Danaerys torching Randyll and Dickon Tarly when they wouldn't kneel to her--Ned, Robb, and Jon have all killed men for disobeying them and Jon hanged a child--killing defeated nobles instead of ransoming them, holding them hostage, or sending them to the Night's Watch (as Tyrion advised) is something that would cause political problems in a chivalric society (killing is for commoners, dontcha know), especially given how her insane and tyrannical father was particularly known for burning people. In this version it's clearer that Sam is mourning his brother Dickon more than his abusive father Randyll and the ethics of Danaerys' "Tarlyque" (I wish I'd come up with that) get discussed between Jon and Sam and Jon and Danaerys.

*Speaking of Jon, his reunion with Arya--the fellow outcast of the family--is a bit more bittersweet once he learns what kind of murder machine his tomboy kid sister has become.

*Tyrion is the delightful smart-ass he always was. His revelation to Danaerys that he knows her and Jon have become lovers (much to her discomfort) is pretty funny and I could see Peter Dinklage delivering those lines.

*Danaerys and others learning that Jon is really the son of Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark--and thus has the superior legal claim--is handled much better by everybody involved.

*The Faith of the Seven isn't forgotten after the destruction of the Great Sept. Medieval Catholicism wouldn't vanish if some Roman nobles or even the Holy Roman Emperor blew up the Vatican and the Pope. Despite her iron-fisted rule over King's Landing, Cersei has some religious problems to deal with. And religion is a potent political weapon for aspiring queens too. :)

*We see Danaerys "pressing flesh" with her new Northern subjects, starting with Arya Stark and eventually including the commoners, rather than holding herself aloof. And it's actually kind of adorable. It's more in the vein of Danaerys in the earlier seasons where she mingled with the freed slaves (up to and including crowd-surfing, which for the record I thought was ridiculous) and in the books where she cares for plague victims herself despite her advisers' pleas. If Danaerys had been a bit friendlier with the Northern public, perhaps it would've helped with the girl-drama between herself and Sansa and Arya. Speaking of Arya, the scene where Jon introduces them and Arya asks if she can ride Drogon (much to Jon's embarrassment) is pretty funny. :)

*The defense of Winterfell against the White Walkers is handled much better from a tactical perspective. Seriously, as has been discussed in a thousand think-pieces, the military strategies depicted on-screen were abysmal. What Ms. Shipwise came up with instead was pretty clever. And the Night King remains a long-term threat. :)

*There's a new character named Hodorro, a Dothraki horseman who's built up as a battle buddy for Jorah Mormont. One of the "woke" criticisms of Season Eight was that the Dothraki, in addition to their getting deployed absolutely horribly at Winterfell, was that there weren't any developed Dothraki characters. Hodorro is used to show rather than tell the evacuation of the Northern villagers from the path of the Night King and shows the limitations on the Dothraki--in the open plains they're lethal but they're not good for fighting in forests. And they have no conception of snow. :)

Although this is a vast improvement over the actual Season Eight we got, not everything in here is perfect. There's more "your dad isn't who think you think" drama beyond Jon's parentage that's kind of randomly dropped in there. And the character Tristifer Botley, who in the books come off as a bit of a clingy Nice Guy (TM) but is still loyal to Asha/Yara unto oblivion (and kind of acts as her one-man brain trust), is depicted in a much darker fashion. Oh well. Nothing's perfect.

Between the fact that a lot of the actors are outraged over the fans complaining about Season Eight and the lack of available funds (personally if I were HBO I'd permit the creation of "alternate S8" if the whiny fans were willing to put their money where their mouths were and crowd-fund it), seeing this on-screen isn't going to happen. However, it's entertaining as fan-fiction and were I a TV producer, I'd definitely be giving Ms. Shipwise a call.

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