Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress.org has posted a lengthy and interesting interview with Game of Thrones writer and story editor Bryan Cogman. The whole interview is a great read, so be sure to check it out, but I’ve pulled a few salient points here.
On Ros and her role in the story:
There’s a great divide in the fan community about Ros, which I think is pretty unfair to Esme [Bianco] who’s done an absolutely terrific job playing the part…In King’s Landing, for the most part, you’re seeing things through the eyes of the nobles, and Ros gives you a window into the class of people they take for granted. It was fun this season to sort of explore those people on the margins.
On Robb and his relationship with Talisa:
We always knew we wanted to keep Robb more front and center. In the book, he’s absent except for the first chapter. He shows up in the third book married. We knew we wanted to keep Robb and Catelyn’s tenuous relationship at the forefront. We knew the portrayal of Walder Frey and the marriage to a new woman would be part of the story. Originally, it was Jeyne Westerling. In the books, Jeyne is tending his wounds, Robb gets a terrible piece of news, and they spend the night together dealing with his grief, and he marries her after that. [In the show], it isn’t just about making an honest woman out of this girl, it’s that he falls in love and chooses love over duty, which is an ongoing choice which is brought up again and again throughout the series.
On portraying the backstory elements of the series:
…there’s such a rich backstory and mythology, thousands of thousands of years of mythology that George has come up with. But as David put it, the show would collapse of the weight of all of that…One of the big themes of the books is the characters’ relationship with the past, and I want that to be a huge theme of the show. It’s one I think will emerge more strongly as the series goes on. But when you’re starting out of the gate, a lot of the long speeches about characters that existed in days gone by, it’s interesting, but it doesn’t make for very dramatic television. So you have to pick the moments where it’s going to affect what’s happening in the present to get that information out there. A character like Rhaegar Targaryen, it’s safe to say in the books you know more about Rhaegar than you do at this point in the show. That’s on purpose. We don’t want to load up the front end.
On their long-term approach to adaptation:
If you go back and look at season two from beginning to end, it’s essentially the second book. There were a lot of detours on, and things that were cut and shifted around. But it follows if not all of, most of the story beats and emotional beats of the second book. We saved things for later. Certain things had to be cut. Certain things had to be shifted. But we’re pretty much going into the third season where you are when you finish the second book. It’s not like True Blood or The Walking Dead, which completely veered off course, which I’m not necessarily saying is a bad thing or a good thing.
But I had to learn that too, I had to learn that as we were working on it. It’s okay if Jojen and Meera [Reed] don’t appear in the second season because we needed to, for a lot of reasons, slow Bran’s awareness of what’s happening to him down…[Arya], in the books, she’s at this point much more of a killer, her body count’s a lot higher than it is in the series. We’re slowing that journey down a little bit because we’re thinking of several years of a TV series. I think, while it works great in the books, it would have been very strange in my episode, in that final battle, for her to be killing those Lannister guys who are fully armored. In the context of our show, it wouldn’t have made sense. In the book, the way the scene is staged, it does make sense.
When I’m talking about changes, it’s never ‘our version was better in the book, or this didn’t work in the book.’ I would never say that. But if you’re watching our show, that moment wouldn’t have been earned by that point, so we’re delaying it.
Winter Is Coming: Thanks to Bryan for some really great answers and an interesting look into the adaptation process. As I’ve said a few times, these guys are playing a long-game. If a favorite moment or scene or line or character of yours doesn’t show up in the same spot it did in the book, it does not mean it has been cut. Best thing to do is be patient. I feel confident that all of the prophecies that were left out of the House of the Undying will appear later on in the story.