Season 8 of the revolutionary Game of Thrones TV adaption is set to return to screens early in 2019, with show producers David Benioff and D.B Weiss confirming that six feature-length episodes are on their way to cover the conclusive events of the World of ice and fire.
But after Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s lovechild defeats the dragon necrophile and his army of flesh in what will probably be another season in which there is a slight void where George.R.R.Martin’s writing presence should be, the author and other writers are working on some spin-off series to assumably reclaim the content from a quick-win culture.
Stop it, these aren’t going to be atypical spin-offs, we won’t be following up on The Hound opening the first fried chicken outlet in Westeros, nor will we be watching Arya Stark’s How To Look Good As Anyone, the actual spin-offs will be canon that delves deeply into other stories from the Game of Thrones universe. The fact that GRRM is involved in the writing of these projects makes us confident that this will feel like earlier seasons of Thrones, rather than the clear shift in tone the show has experienced more recently.
Compare the politicised tensions of the first season in which Martin was involved; the audience feels investment in most exchanges on-screen due to the underlying weight of tension and the conflict that emerges subtly and quite gradually. It evolves into Ned’s demise and the narrative that follows in season two paints a world of grey, where white purity heroes and the onyx black of evil stereotypes are thrown out of the genre window for more realistic characters who are full of compromise and unpredictability.
Compare this to the latest season, and particularly the gang of our most likeable characters embarking beyond the wall in order to bring a wight to Cersei and in the meantime, get saved by Dany the snow queen who arrives with her dragons and gives the Night King a rare opportunity to showcase that he was once an ancient olympian with at least a Silver medal in Javelin. More importantly, the stereotypes of absolute good and evil appear in the show even though the vacancy of these stereotypes worked so well previously.
As always, the cinematography, the scale of the production and the acting continues to impress and keeps us invested, but if you are fearful that the remaining six episodes of Game of Thrones will continue to include “the audience” as the most omniscient and catered to character, then fear not, because the creator of the World of Ice and Fire has confirmed that he is involved with assisting writers Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray in creating some spin-off series. So what could the spin-offs explore?
The Blackfyre Rebellion
“Daemon Blackfyre loved the first Daenerys, and rose in rebellion when denied her. Bittersteel and Bloodraven both loved Shiera Seastar, and the Seven Kingdoms bled.”
– Barristan Selmy – ADWD
— Nerdist (@nerdist) April 13, 2016
GRRM has already confirmed that Robert’s Rebellion would be a pointless sequence of events to cover primarily because the consequences of this rebellion are in essence the Game of Thrones show we have today. The Tower of Joy reveals throughout last season provide one of the most relevant twists from this time, when we learn about Jon Snow’s true lineage.
One rebellion that would be worth exploring would be the Blackfyre Rebellion and particularly, the story of Daemon the black dragon and Daeron the red dragon and the divisions they caused within the Targaryen house.
Daemon, the bastard son of King Aegon IV, is legitimised and given the Targaryen’s Valyrian sword Blackfyre whereas Daeron, another legitimised Bastard of King Aegon IV, ascends the throne. Without giving so much away that reading this article becomes a spoiler for shows that haven’t been made yet, this angle would allow exploration of a conflict between powerfully positioned half-brothers with Dorne (which was somewhat butchered in the main show and deserves another look) acting as a huge influencer.
There is so much we could learn from a show covering these events and the battle of the Redgrass Field would make for another visually stunning sequence. The Blackfyre Rebellion as a spin-off would also serve as a reminder that the Targaryen’s were once the rulers of Westeros, and not just emerging obscurity from the east.
The Doom of Valyria
“Valar morghulis was how they said it in Valyria of old. All men must die. And the Doom came and proved it true.”
– Oberyn Martell to Tyrion Lannister
— Kurt Arthur (@KurtArthur12) September 11, 2017
Hundreds of years before the events of Game of Thrones, Valyria was alive, well and also the most advanced civilisation to ever exist that we know of. Their practices have been lost, particularly the forgery of Valyrian Swords, a weapon that we now know is vital in defeating The Night King and the Others.
Valyria’s haunting ruins make an appearance in the fifth season of Thrones, when Jorah and the kidnapped Tyrion sail through it on their way to Mereen. A spin-off could explore and explain the doom itself, as there is no knowledge as to how the Valyrians were destroyed as of yet. One interesting angle that connects one mainstream show character with the Doom of Valyria is Melisandre’s origins. Showrunner David Benioff has revealed that,
“Going back to a very early conversation with George R.R. Martin about her, she’s supposed to be several centuries old. We always wanted to show her true age, and were waiting for the right moment.”
– David Benioff
This begs the question, is Melisandre the last survivor of the Doom of Valyria? After all, the character was once a slave girl and whilst her shadowbinding skills hail from Asshai, her origins could be closer to Valyria than we currently think. A Melisandre POV would provide some initial continuity in a setting that is alien to Game of Thrones viewers and we could follow a young, slave girl into the mining pits of Valyria and finally learn what brought about its Doom. Her connection with R’hllor, the Lord of Light could be connected to the doom itself.
The Tales of Dunk and Egg
Joffrey: “So this is the famous “Book of Brothers”… all the great deeds of all the great Kingsguard…Four pages for Ser Duncan! He must have been quite a man.”
Jaime: “So they say.”
— Joffrey Baratheon and Jaime Lannister discuss Ser Duncan’s entry in The Book of Brothers.
“Close your mouth, I want none of your insolence.”
“How can I tell you with my mouth closed?”
Dunk and Egg pic.twitter.com/PqRx5SK47O
— GameofThrones Quotes (@ASOIAFQuotesGOT) September 2, 2017
The tales of Dunk and Egg follow the rise of Ser Duncan the Tall and a young Aegon Targaryen, the younger brother of blind Maester Aemon of the Nights Watch. The tales occur ninety years before the war of the five kings and after Daeron II Targaryen’s rule, suggesting that this spin-off would fit nicely as a sequel to anything covering the Blackfyre Rebellion.
Martin himself has compared the tone of Dunk and Egg to that of A Knight’s Tale, whose writer, Brian Helgeland, is one of the four Martin is working with on the Game of Thrones Spin-offs. Coincidence?
The stories relate the adventures of the hedge knight Ser Duncan the Tall, who would become a legendary member of the Kingsguard, and his squire Egg, who would become King Aegon V Targaryen of Westeros.
Three novellas have appeared so far: The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight. Six to twelve stories in the series are planned. Basically, there is plenty of content to work with and we think that this is the most likely Spin-off to go beyond being optioned by HBO.
The 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch
“He had been the thirteenth man to lead the Night’s Watch, she said; a warrior who knew no fear. ‘And that was the fault in him,’ she would add, ‘for all men must know fear.”
– Bran Stark recalling Old Nan’s stories
— Mile High Company (@milehighcompany) October 21, 2017
The Night’s King, that beloved Javelin thrower who was last seen flying his dead dragon south of a destroyed wall, was once a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Legend has it that he was seduced by a female white walker, thus initiating his dark ritualisms, which also involved human sacrifices at the Night fort atop the wall.
A story focusing on his development (ignoring the show’s Children of the Forest sacrificial creation narrative) would be hugely interesting, especially if the occultist undertones that are prevalent in scenes beyond the wall can be explored further. There is also the untold story of how Brandon the Breaker and Jaruman, the first King beyond the Wall, were able to take back the darkening influence that the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch had and bring about his demise.
A spin-off revolving around this story would really allow more lore surrounding the world beyond the Wall to be explored, although a Night’s King origins story may be influenced by what happens in season eight of A Game of Thrones, a canon based on what little we know from the book series leaves plenty of opportunity.
In conclusion, the idea of creating spin-offs within the same universe, as opposed to a continuation with the characters we have grown to love and despise in the current series, should give a breath of fresh air to the franchise and keep us engaged without it feeling like those involved are stretching out narratives just for the sake of HBO pockets. The source material is epic in depth and the decision to branch out into other eras with new characters and perspectives is surely going to give us some great projects, especially with GRRM navigating.