Winter Is Coming’s exclusive pilot script review!

You read that right. I was able to get my hands on a copy of the script for the pilot episode of Game of Thrones. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning right now. I just read through it and I’m going to give you my thoughts.

But wait, you might ask, why not just upload the script for everyone to see? Well honestly, when I first started this blog I told myself if I ever got a copy of the script I would leak it. But I’ve since changed my mind. First off, I don’t want to get into any hot water with HBO. I’m not sure about the legalities behind leaking a script for a project still in production but I imagine it has to violate some intellectual property laws or something. Secondly, and more importantly, Mr. Martin has been kind enough to give this blog an endorsement, of sorts, and I don’t feel like leaking a script on a project he is heavily involved in is an appropriate way to repay him.

I hope, however, that he will not begrudge a huge fan of his work a chance to share his joy and excitement over getting a sneak peek at this project and that he won’t mind if I share my thoughts on the script. So click through to read Winter Is Coming’s exclusive review of the script for the pilot of Game of Thrones!

First, a synopsis:

As already mentioned by Benioff and Weiss, we open with the prologue. Waymar, Gared and Will ranging beyond the wall when they are set up by Others.

After the prologue, the credit sequence. A raven is sent from Castle Black to King’s Landing. As it flies over Westeros we see the map, the raven dips down over points of interest (Winterfell, The Eyrie, etc.) and the map fades from view to show the actual castles. Eventually, the raven flies into the Red Keep and lands on the Iron Throne. End credits.

Next the beheading scene. Plays out almost exactly like the book, down to Theon kicking the disembodied head. Then the direwolf pups are discovered.

Cut to Dany in Pentos. Viserys and her discuss the wedding and his plan to retake Westeros. Illyrio introduces Viserys and Daenerys to Drogo.

Next, we jump to King’s Landing. The lifeless body of Jon Arryn on his deathbed. Cersei and Pycelle discuss his final words. “The seed is strong.” Cut to a brothel. Tyrion is enjoying the company of one the “employees” there. Jaime barges in, tells him they are heading to Winterfell.

Cut to Catelyn and Ned in the godswood, they talk about the King coming to Winterfell. The King and his party arrive. Robert and Ned go down to the crypts to talk. Next scene, the feast in the Great Hall. There is an exchange between Ned and Jaime that wasn’t in the book. Jon and Benjen talk about the Night’s Watch. Tyrion and Jon talk about bastards. Cut to Catelyn and Ned in their bedchamber. They receive the message from Lysa. Ned decides to accept the King’s offer. The next day, we see the Stark and Lannister boys at their sword play. All these scenes play out very closely to the book, with the exception of the Ned-Jaime encounter, albeit condensed quite a bit.

Cut back to Pentos. Drogo and Dany’s wedding feast. We see some dancing, some raping, some killing. The gifts are given. Dany and Drogo consummate the marriage.

Back to Winterfell, Robert and Ned speak before leaving to go on a hunt. Bran climbs. Spys Jaime and Cersei in the act. “The things I do for love.” Fade to black.

Winter Is Coming: Whew! That was a little more detailed than I thought it would be. To the powers that be, I hope that isn’t a problem. Now my thoughts.

The first thing I thought when reading it was, how cool is it going to be to see this on screen! I cannot wait. I also was surprised by how much they crammed into one episode. Prior to reading this, I was a bit concerned about the pacing of the episode, since in the book not a lot happens between the prologue and Bran’s fall. Benioff and Weiss have done a great job of getting all the important info in and keeping things interesting.

The other surprise to me was some of the changes to the story and additional scenes not seen in the book. With GRRM mentioning how faithful an adaptation it is, I expected it to follow the book a little more closely. For example, in the script, we don’t actually see Royce engage in combat with the Others, nor do we see undead Royce. Rather the Others surround Royce and Will and it is implied that they are killed.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was the addition of the scenes in King’s Landing. I think it works though. It is good that we are introduced to an important city in the first episode. Also introducing Tyrion in a brothel is, I think, hilarious and fits his character perfectly. Even though these scenes don’t appear in the book, Benioff and Weiss have done a great job with them, especially the dialogue between Jaime and Tyrion in the brothel. They really have captured the essence of the characters.

A few more details I found interesting. Regarding ages, Jon and Robb are listed as 17 in the script, Sansa as 13, Arya 11 and Bran as 8, Dany is listed as 15. All the other children seemed to be the same age as in the books. Was a bit odd when a 13-year old Joffrey was acting like a 17-year old Robb was no match for him. Also, the credit sequence, this very idea was proposed over at the Westeros forums. I wonder if David & Dan took it from there? Or if they had it in the script already? My script doesn’t have a date on it so I don’t know for sure. Also, no flashbacks. I think the history of the world is established well, even without the flashbacks. We get pieces of the story of the Rebellion, Robert and Lyanna, the Mad King, etc. through dialogue between characters and not through flashbacks or exposition. This is the way it should be though and it works well.

Overall, the script was great. Very tight, pacing was good. Dialogue was excellent, quite a few funny lines from Tyrion, Robert, even Jaime. Some of the dialogue is lifted word-for-word straight from the book. The characters are all established well and we really get a sense of who they are. The pilot has a healthy amount of sex, language, and gore. It is certainly faithful to the book in that respect! HBO would be crazy to pass this up. Unless they botch the production horribly or they just decide that it is too expensive. As long as neither of those two things occur, we are in for a real treat. Winter is coming and I can not wait!

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