“The Dragon and the Wolf” script review: What changed form page to screen?

“The Dragon and the Wolf,” the Game of Thrones season 7 finale, is nominated for an Emmy this year: Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. Over the weekend, the script went up on the official Emmy website, and we couldn’t wait to take a look and see what light the script can shed on the finished episode, and what — if anything — changed during the transition from page to screen.

Let’s start with a demonstration of how director Jeremy Podeswa brought the script to life; take a look at this scene from the very start of the episode, where Jaime and Bronn watch as Daenerys’ Dothraki riders form up beneath the walls of King’s Landing…

…and compare it to what we get onscreen:

While the Dothraki don’t quite “fall silent, in ready position, eerily motionless,” this bit is pretty much adapted word for word, but it won’t always be that way.

Really, most of the script is translated pretty faithfully, with few cuts — there’s a reason this was the longest episode of the show ever — but there are nice asides, like this sweet moment between the Hound and Brienne, talking about Arya:

There are some great bits of dialogue as everyone walks to the Dragonpit, but you knew that. The script takes a moment to sympathize with the Lannister guard the Hound threatens with death: “Sometimes, being a Lannister guard is just no fun at all.” Very true.

Let’s move on to the Dragonpit meeting. I was happy to see that I didn’t imagine all those stolen glances between characters; they were all scripted, such as:

Happily for Jaime, he’s saved from having to explain this by Dany’s big entrance:

“No one is in a rush to speak the first word, because bosses don’t rush” is one of my favorite lines from the script. And Lena Headey took the notes about not being impressed to heart. She doesn’t need to stand to see the dragon, thanks very much:

One difference in the Dragonpit scene happens after the Hound kicks the wight out of his box and it lunges at Cersei. In the script, the Mountain is supposed to make a move to protect his queen…

…but on the show, he can’t be bothered, or at least we don’t get a closeup of it:

Also, I don’t think the show has ever explicitly called the Mountain “undead.” Does this make it official?

Later, on Dragonstone, both Jon Snow and Ser Jorah Mormont have lay out plans for how Daenerys should arrive in the North. Jon wants Dany to sail to White Harbor while Jorah wants her to fly there directly to avoid any would-be assassins. Dany choose Jon’s path — shocker — and Jorah does what he does best: seethes respectfully.

You heard it here first: Jon is a punkass little shitburger. Benioff and Weiss write terrific little notes like this throughout; the dialogue itself may be formal, but colloquial stuff like this communicates very clearly to the actors how they should behave on camera. Onscreen, Kit Harington and Iain Glen sell their tension well, if quietly:

After Dany’s council meeting is adjourned, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) attempts to rally the remaining Ironborn still loyal to Yara. It doesn’t go well, and Theon gets his ass kicked by an Ironborn asshold named Harrag. However, his lack of genitalia finally comes in handy when Harrag knees him in the balls to no avail. As you can imagine, the description is pretty funny:

“The single greatest headbutt in the history of filmed headbutts” is a lot to live up to. Did Alfie Allen pull it off?

At Winterfell, Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) gets her own fun stage direction:

Don’t worry, I looked up The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Sansa does indeed look a lot like Meryl Streep in the 1981 drama:

Right after this scene, Arya (Maisie Williams) is brought into the Great Hall of Winterfell to await Sansa’s judgment. She doesn’t say anything, but in the script, we see that she considers her options:

How many Knights of the Vale could Arya kill before they brought her down? We’ll probably never know.

This bit is also interesting because, when the episode aired, it was unclear if Arya was in on Sansa and Bran’s plot to expose Littlefinger before it happened. This suggests she wasn’t, although later, the script notes that “[e]veryone else is in on it.” And also she jumps in with helpful tidbits about the Valyrian steel dagger. So the ambiguity continues.

It all works out well, though…unless you’re Littlefinger, who “realizes too late that the best laid plans gang aft agley, an’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,” according to the script. That’s a quote to “To a Mouse,” by Scottish poet Robert Burns; it means that plans can go wrong no matter how carefully you lay them out. Oh, Benioff and Weiss, you literature geeks.

The description of Rhaegary and Lyanna is pretty heartbreaking: “The two young lovers kiss, hopeful newlyweds who truly believe this will all work out.” Oof.

Remember the moment where Tyrion stands outside the door the Dany’s cabin and looks troubled while she and Jon get it on? Doest he script have any insight into that?

So…no. Is Tyrion worried that an affair between Jon and Dany could jeopardize her claim to the Iron Throne? Is he nursing a crush of his own on her? Both? Neither? The script sheds no new light on this question, so I’m really happy we spent time on it.

Finally, we come to the Night King’s assault on the Wall.

“[H]undreds of WHITE WALKERS officer corps”…That’s many more than we’ve ever seen on screen.

The script has a few interesting things to say about Zombie Viserion, too:

The script officially names Viserion an “ice dragon.” Also, what to make of the line about the Night King doing the same thing to Viserion that he did to Craster’s kids? It seems to imply that the Night King did more to Viserion than revive him as an undead white; did he turn the dragon into a proper White Walker?

Were there moments from the script that stood out to you? Let’s talk about it!

Next: Read the script for “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the Game of Thrones season 7 finale

Other fun bits:

  • When Cersei sees that Dany is absent from the Dragonpit meeting: “Cersei tries to keep her extreme displeasure in check, and nearly succeeds.”
  • When Euron interrupts Tyrion’s opening remarks at the Dragonpit: “Tyrion looks to Jaime: who the fuck is this guy? Jaime’s expression tells him that Jaime is not a fan.”
  • The script notes that Harrah, the Ironborn dude beats on Theon, cuts him up with rings on hand, rings for which he paid “the iron price.” The whole scene is well-written, with Benioff and Weiss making note of how the onlookers grow less and less enthusiastic the longer Theon lasts, their condescension turning into grudging respect for his persistence. “Theon looks over the men. They’re simple men. They just like to see their leaders bleed for them.”
  • The script notes that Jaime covers his golden hand on his way north to avoid identification. “He’s no longer wearing his Lannister uniform. He’s no longer commanding an army, or representing his house. He’s dressed so as not to stand out, in the manner of Bronn, a sellsword with no affiliations.”

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