After the airing of its fourth episode, Game of Thrones Season 4 is showing no signs of slowing down. “Oathkeeper” gave us a murder mystery reveal, a gift and a goodbye, one very noble kitty, and moved onto a second act of horrors with an ending that left everyone Unsullied.
Writer and co-producer Bryan Cogman spoke with both The Hollywood Reporter and HBO to discuss the difficulties of writing the episode, and setting up for what’s to come.
The Hollywood Reporter teased us ahead of Sunday’s episode with a quote from Cogman saying that this was the most difficult episode he’s ever written. In the full interview Cogman reveals it was the horrors at Craster’s Keep that he found the most difficult, particularly Karl’s intense monologue.
“That was very difficult to write. We had to establish very quickly the horrible things that have been going on since the mutiny. It was very unpleasant. At first I had a draft that was something straight out of Apocalypse Now, with Karl being like Kurtz. I got notes back from the team and rewrote it, and we decided to make it about class. Karl had always been looked down upon, and now he finally is at the top of the food chain, and this is what he’s choosing to do.
But this was definitely a case of a brilliant rewrite from the showrunners, particularly Karl’s monologue, which was entirely scripted by David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss]. Also, it should be said that a big reason that scene works is due to the performances of the wives, many of whom were featured extras. Their “gift for the gods” chant was incredible.”
For those of us hoping that Cogman would shed some light on that final scene, tough luck. When asked about it, he simply stated, “I can’t comment on the last scene.”
For more from the interview, including Cogman’s thoughts on Lady Olenna’s motivation to kill Joffrey, and Daenerys’ choice of vengeance overy mercy, visit The Hollywood Reporter.
HBO has also released a Q&A with Cogman via Making Game of Thrones. Having the writing duties for this episode allowed Cogman to revisit some of the storylines he last left in Season 3’s “Kissed by Fire,” particularly Sansa/Littlefinger, and Jaime/Brienne.
“Sansa and Littlefinger’s scene on the ship was a lot of fun to work on in terms of finally getting Sansa out of King’s Landing and having her in new circumstances. It’s the first of many twisted mentor-protégé scenes in that Littlefinger is imparting some of his tricks of the trade in playing the game and Sansa is figuring out how his mind works.
Jaime’s arc was, is, and continues to be very complicated. The word “redemption” is thrown out a lot and I don’t know if it’s as simple as a redemption story when describing Jaime. He gives the sword that his father gave him to Brienne for a purpose… With Brienne and this mission, I don’t know if he thinks it’ll redeem anything but at least he’s trying to be the writer of his own destiny. His line, “It’s the Lord Commander’s duty to fill these pages. There’s still room left in mine,” is a key phrase for Jaime going forward.”
Cogman also introduced some important new plot threads that have laid the groundwork for what’s to come, notably at Castle Black.
“These middle episodes, which I generally end up writing, are a lot about introducing plot threads that pay off later. That’s what a lot of the Castle Black stuff is here, the going beyond the Wall, Locke’s ulterior mission to find Bran and Rickon, and there’s a reference to the “choosing.” I don’t believe we addressed yet that Lord Commanders are elected.”
Ser Pounce’s debut appearance, resulting in much fanfare, may have been his last (“filming with a cat is a nightmare”), but he was key in shaping the viewer’s perception of Tommen, and setting up a sweet but creepy scene.
“Tommen is a sweet boy with a cat named Ser Pounce, and who has found himself in incredible circumstances. He is going to be king and he is going to marry this woman. The innocence of Tommen is fun to play with because there isn’t a lot of innocence in this world.
It’s a sweet scene, but it’s also a very creepy scene. It toes a fine line. With Natalie as Margaery, the wheels are turning, but it’s very subtle. There’s nothing about her that seems insincere even though you know she has an ulterior motive.”
For more from Cogman on the scene at Craster’s, Greyworm’s call to arms, and Olenna’s lesson to Margaery, visit Making Game of Thrones.
We’re all looking forward to Episode 6, Mr. Cogman.