Since HBO PR Game Of Throne’s final season’s recent episodes have made it painfully clear how little D&D care about what was established previously here’s my rewrite that helps me sleep at night. :D
Magic, Gods and Night King
• First, why are there powerful characters like Melisandre and prophecies like Azor Ahai? Why do gods pull strings behind the scenes at all? My take is simple: if there’s no people there can be no gods. Gods, magic, and beings are intertwined. White walkers wish to destroy all beings, so gods help out of self-interest.
Maybe humans have just two gods: life and death, because they are mortal. And both of those have multiple names and faces. Life is represented as Lord of Light, R’hllor, the fire god, etc. Death is known as the Many Faced God, the Drowned God, the Stranger in the Faith of the Seven, etc.
Children of the Forest, who are immortal non-human entities, might have a single god: the green gods or Old Goods. Or maybe there’s no gods and it’s just magic all the way down. The idea is a bit messy but I guess my main point is that gods or magic in this universe has a vested interest in helping humans solve this mess, so that’s why there’s characters like Melisandre trying to help people.
• Night King and White Walkers are often referenced as literal death but I propose they’re more like souls denied to the actual God of Death. A situation that the God of Death itself wishes to solve, too.
Children Of The Forest created WW/Night King as a weapon against humans. I put forward that they used their green magic together with the magic that emerges from the humans (life and death). They created the Night King (in the show) in a way that should’ve killed him, but by sticking dragon-glass (literal piece of fire aka life) into Night King’s heart they kept him going. In this universe fire and light are often referenced as life. Night and ice as death.
So this would make the Night King into a being that’s sort of in-between life and death, like something that is supposed to be dead/night/ice but is kept alive with a piece of fire/life in his heart. From what we’ve seen him do in the show, this description should fit fairly well.
All gods have vested interest in solving this anomaly:
- the God of Death wants the souls it was denied (importance of not denying it souls was highlighted by Jaqen H’ghar) and it can’t lose all of humanity to becoming undead wights anyway, thus it supports certain characters who are agents of this god: Arya, Greyjoys, etc.
- The Lord of Light wants humans to keep on living and not become some undead ice-wights, thus it helps its own agents, like the red priests, Dany, fire-wights like Beric etc.
- The green god doesn’t wish to lose all beings, or it tries to undo the mistake that was made by the CotF, so it supports the 3ER and its believers. Something like that.
Admittedly a half-baked theory but at least there’d be some overarching background logic going on with the fantasy aspects of the story compared to what the D&D has written.
Maybe this gives a little credibility to the idea of why dragon-fire didn’t kill NK, because he is literally part-fire. Doesn’t really explain why dragon-glass can kill him in the show, and I’ll address that too below, but there seems to be a certain logic to the fact that “he is death with a piece of life” and uses this life/fire in his heart to reanimate dead people. It’s as if the CotF gave a part-death-entity the power of life, along with the purpose of killing humanity, and now it makes full use of its combined power of ice/death and life to kill humans.
Why NK is after Bran?
Bran said NK wants to destroy history and Bran is that history. I propose the Night King wants Bran, so Bran would go back in time and undo what CotF did to him. We were shown that Bran changing the past is possible with Hodor and the effects became part of the present. Undoing the NK would alter the course of history and erase everything that ever happened since, effectively destroying history, just as Bran said.
Changes to the Show
Well I’d definitely change the whole plot of going beyond the wall to collect a wight from previous season but let’s go with what we’ve mostly got.
• Previous season, in Dragonstone, let’s add expediency to the situation:
Dany: “I’ll take King’s Landing first, then we’ll deal with whatever this is. I promise.”
Jon: “We can’t hold them off by our own. The Night King raises the dead, by the time he’s reached King’s Landing he’ll have added half a million to his side. Then there’s no army in the world that can stop him. It has to be happen now.”
The fact that the army of the dead grows the longer they wait is something that could be highlighted more I think, there’s bound to be a threshold after which it can’t be stopped, so the sooner a battle happens the better for the living.
• Make Bran actually useful, otherwise his plot of becoming the 3ER is utterly pointless and him saying “all the southern kings and their armies can’t stop the Night King” is simply false. He had to become the 3ER to save humanity, he’s supposed to be a vital asset and essential to winning the war with the dead. It’s been hinted clearly that this is a war that can only be won with the help of magic/the gods. He’s a greenseer, the chess piece of the the green magic/god, he should play his part. I can’t stress this enough, we’ve watched him on his adventure for 8 seasons only for him to do nothing, it’s just absurd.
• So Bran is useful: Tyrion collaborates with Bran, tells him what kind of useful information to get from the past. Tyrion uses his strategic mind to utilize their greatest asset, therefore becoming useful too. Sam and Tyrion learn everything they can from Bran, about how the NK came to be, maybe ideas about how to defeat him, etc. Tyrion has been introduced as a character who “drinks wine and knows things” and Bran is the source of knowing all things — it’s sacrilege these two didn’t interact more. And Sam, who devours books of ancient wisdom doesn’t have a scene where he tries to learn more from Bran? Please.
• So Bran finds out how to make Valyrian steel: maybe one needs to melt steel with dragon-glass in dragon fire in a specific way, simple enough and all components are available. Tells that secret to Gendry, who now becomes useful too, because otherwise why have a freaking smith with the lot and make a point of saying he’s got better at it over time. Gendry will produce this new Valyrian steel stuff for everybody: arrowheads for Dothraki, spears for the unsullied, daggers, etc. If needed, add a point about it being lower quality than actual Valyrian steel if needed or whatever, as long as it gets the job done.
• Bran is even more useful, Tyrion suggests him to find out how to make wildfire, as Tyrion has experience with its power. Wildfire was made by the Alchemists’ Guild, which is similar to the Order of Maesters, so Bran tells Sam, who now became useful, too. Look at that, all these people who ended up in Winterfell become useful now. It’s as if these people are literally there for a reason.
They fill the first trench with wildfire stuff, and yes, there’s going to be multiple trenches. Pretty much anything that was shown in the previous seasons that could be helpful should be addressed. This is the endgame, stakes should be all or nothing, everything goes at this point. The people should be trying to do everything they can with the limited time that’s left.
• Sansa and Dany discuss how Dany can win over the other houses. Tyrion has always been book-smart, Sansa has become people-smart. Dany and Sansa should’ve interacted more, because Dany doesn’t want just the throne, she wants the kingdoms. Until flipping the switch she was shown as having every intention of not being the queen of ashes. This would be a good moment to show Dany’s growing impatience and paranoia as she realizes Sansa is outmatching her in politics and scheming. A slight buildup for her making decisions that rely on raw power rather than scheming.
• Battleplan at Winterfell: The whole perimeter peppered with standalone lit fires, for visibility and estimating distance, like Ramsey did in BoB. Dothraki on the very outside. First trench filled with flaming wildfire. Then the unsullied in actual phalanx formations that their spear+shield style is based on. Then the second trench, ready to be lit by regular fire. Jamie, Brianne and the lot. Trebuchets. Manned castle walls with barrels of oil prepared etc. Archers. A proper plan, all good and dandy, which won’t make any difference to the outcome. If a ridiculous plan fails, it’s obvious, there’s no tension. If a proper plan fails, it’ll be worth something.
• Melisandre arrives with a small team of red priests, otherwise what was the point of her going to Volantis? A welcome help, akin to elves arriving at Helm’s Deep, honoring an allegiance that once stood. We could have a scene where Melisandre looks at all the main characters one by one and names the god they’re serving, hinting at how much of a magical event this battle is in this universe (Drowned God: Greyjoys, Many-Faced God: Arya, Old Gods: Freefolk, Starks, New Gods: people from KL-s probably, etc etc). She could even drive the point home further by saying “we’re all here for a reason”. During previous seasons it was hinted repeatedly that this was to be a special moment, even for gods and magical powers, but again, almost nothing became of it. In this universe it should be THE event. “The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all…” :)
• The Dothraki’s flaming swords. They looked cool but what was the initial plan since they didn’t know Melisandre would show up? Either have each Dothraki a tall burning torch mounted on the horse which they can use to light their arrowheads on fire (shooting arrows from horseback is what they’re good at and this is an ideal situation to use that) or have Gendry having managed to remake their swords infused with Valyrian steel, which could be put on fire by the team of red priests/priestesses too, looking equally cool.
• Sansa and Arya dagger scene. Sansa has “outgrown” almost every companion she has had. So we could see that she has developed more by having her be the one to ask Arya for a dragon-glass piece instead of Arya giving it to her. Or Arya could offer it and Sansa could show that she already has one hidden. Sansa has stated “nobody can protect me” and she saw Shae hiding a dagger in KL on her thigh before battle — she should’ve learned from it and do the same: hide a dragon glass dagger for her own protection. This would show that Sansa has grown into a character who now has a plan b for every occasion. This is the kind of smarts that we should’ve seen her character show! The careful and calculated type you develop by being through some bad experiences.
We could still have the sisterly scene with Arya, but instead of “I don’t know how to use this” she should’ve said “I’ve never used one of these before, you know” which is true and a sort of self-reflection on her past, Arya could still tell her pointy end line, a callback to season 1, and we’d be happy to see sisterly bonding.
• Three horn blows, the army of the dead have arrived. But they just stand there, do nothing, like the scene beyond the wall with the lake. Time passes, people realize it’s a siege but against an enemy that can wait for 8 thousand years and doesn’t have to eat. This would be a logical battle tactic for NK, he has all the time in the world, as we’ve been lead to believe.
Jon: “They can wait forever. We can’t. We have to attack.”
Dany, looking concerned, orders Jorah and the Dothraki to attack. Otherwise why would the Dothraki just charge directly at it. At least this way there would be a reason of some sort. Still a tactical mistake but a more logical one plot wise and it would show NK as smart.
• Dothraki start their screaming and charge at the dead, shooting flaming arrows from horseback and/or holding their burning Valyrian-steel infused swords. Maybe in multiple formations, flank from sides etc as would be proper. It would still look very cool from above while making sense too.
• White Walkers raise their hands in unison, NK just stands there, does nothing. This way WW-s at least seem a bit more useful. It might indicate the NK needs their combined power to bring forth such events. One of the WW-s on a horse is child-sized. A dark storm appears behind them. As the Dothraki approach, the dark winter storm + the dead engulf them, lights go out. Dothraki fall silent, Jorah and some run back because yai plot armor. A moment passes in silence, everybody looks surprised and scared how quickly the mighty Dothraki vanished. The Dothraki screaming starts to build up again but this time it’s a higher pitched, more soulless sound. The screaming undead Dothraki wights now ride towards Winterfell and it’s terrifying. They do a circle around Winterfell, everybody inside looks fearful as they hear the high-pitched Dothraki scream circling around them.
• Bran: “This isn’t enough.”
We see Bran warging into the past and him trying to do something to get the NK killed there, forcing NK to take action in the present to stop Bran. Maybe we’re shown the scene after NK was made by the CotF and some animal or a being warged by Bran attacks the NK. Either way NK realizes Bran needs to be taken out soon and there’s no time for a 8k years of siege. We already know Bran can influence the past, so what was the point of showing that unless it’s for a purpose?
• So NK points forward. The dark blizzard storm engulfs the first (wildfire) trench and the dotted fires, extinguishing and freezing them. We see that even wildfire doesn’t cut it against the WW-s. The Dothraki-wights and the dead begin to attack. Dany orders Drogon to take out the dead Dothraki, looking concerned that she has to erase what first gave rise to her power. Trebuchets start firing (wildfire maybe) as the dead are now close enough, they don’t stop firing. The dark blizzard storm covers the whole area. Cold air seeps around the feet of the standing Unsullied, people inside Winterfell see cold air pouring over the walls, like dry ice mist, freezing land as it goes. Snow blizzard starts to gain strength. The NK can control the weather and temperature, he should use this massive tactical advantage. Winter should literally be coming to Winterfell.
• The dead attack over the extinguished first trench. The Onion knight orders archers to start firing as the dead are now close enough. The Unsullied in phalanx formations between the two trenches kill so many wights that they start to pile up and jump on top of the shield box. The dead fall in between the shields and phalanx-s begun to disassemble as they’re disrupted from the inside. Unsullied retreat behind the inner trench. Snow blizzard gains strength, making it hard for dragons to do anything. Maybe we see the battlefield from high above and the storm below is in the shape of the spiral symbol that the NK has been leaving all over the place since season 1.
• Inner trench has to be lit but regular torch fire does nothing because the trench is frozen by the temperature change brought on by NK. Dragons can’t see because of blizzard. Melisandre notices, walks to the trenches, protected by the Unsullied, she tries but regular magic words are not working and wights are approaching fast. She sees there’s nothing else to do, so she removes her necklace and steps into the trench, as her body goes old, Davos sees this, looks concerned. She says some different kind of magic words and her whole body goes up in flames. She looks at Arya as she sacrifices herself and the trench goes on fire. Her death in the show was absurd, she just walked out and suicided, instead it should be of more purpose.
• Archers keep firing the dead who stand behind the lit trench while everybody retreats inside the castle walls. NK orders the dead to start marching over the fire. Walls are defended with oil and rocks dotted with dragon-glass. Jon on a Dragon tries to attack the NK, all WW-s throw spears at him, so he can’t approach. Maybe WW-s just hold hand out and grow a new spear out of ice to keep the supply going. NK looks unconcerned, maybe he’s warged, too.
• Things go as in the show. Mormont girl kills the giant, why not. Dragons are busy with the dead dragon and stronger snow blizzard. Maybe Gendry dies, so Arya becomes a Stark who will love a lost Baratheon, same as how Bobby B was left longing for a dead Stark, Lyanna. At some point the dead dragon blasts an opening through the castle wall to Godswood while other dragons try to stop it. NK starts walking towards Winterfell with WW-s. Second trench freezes as they approach. Maybe White Walkers are seen killing and resurrecting or turning people with their ice spears.
• Dany and Jon knocked off the dragon. Viserion is hurt. Jorah and Dany scene. Jorah dies. Jon calls a few men to his side, faces off the NK and the WW. Drogon returns to Dany, she jumps on. Dany sees them fighting and orders Dragon to fire on all of them… while looking concerned that she’s dooming Jon and some men but still angry about losing Jorah. Dany is thus shown as somebody willing to burn her own loved ones for a cause/victory. WW-s explode in dragon fire, humans burn gruesomely, NK weapon explodes. Since some WW-s died, a part of wights go with them. Jon and NK survive. Either NK has some sort of ice circle around him and Jon, indicating he somehow made the area around them so cold that dragon fire didn’t burn them, or they’re both naked and survived dragon fire because of the sacrifices in the form of the humans and white walkers who were with them. Yes, Jon burnt his hand in a previous season, but Dany only survived her burnings because of human sacrifice and being a Targaryen, this time both the people and WW-s were sacrificed. So it could be set up in a way that we’re left unsure if NK survived because of WW-s sacrifice or because he’s just immune and it leaves it open for the real books to decide. It could be a cool scene to show that Jon’s a Targ and that taking down NK is going to be a trickier task. Admittedly a more ambition change to the episode but it’s supposed to be the endgame, right, we’re going all in. NK then raises the dead, who separate Jon from him, and starts walking towards Bran. Maybe he creates a new ice weapon for himself while walking.
• The non-Greyjoy-affiliated dead around Bran and Theon rise up, Theon looks very concerned.
• The crypt, a damn stupid scene, but we could make it a bit better by having Tyrion say he thought these were dust by now and Sansa having to fight off some dead Starks, maybe one of her brothers. Kinda forced but it might indicate how Tyrion has become a character who is smart but makes too many assumptions. He’s supposed to have been the smartest person in the room all his life, so it would make sense if he was sometimes annoyingly assuming. Winterfell’s crypts are supposedly special in some way, colder than normal, maybe it’s something only a local would’ve known so Tyrion erred by not checking. Tyrion had an ax too I think but Sansa could still be seen as smart or at least experienced for having a backup plan as well.
• People look terrified as they’ve been fighting the whole night and the dead just rise up again, everything feels hopeless. Podric dies, let’s say protecting Brienne while fighting the injured dead dragon for example, fulfilling his arc and becoming the literal hero of legends: a knight fighting off a dragon. And Brienne, too, dies, maybe while saving Jamie. Leaving Jamie broken, it would make more sense for him to return to Cersei in this state. The dead overrun the castle WWZ style, the surviving regular heroes retreat inside the buildings and all end up hiding in separate rooms around the castle. We’re shown some regular foot-soldiers retreating somewhere too. Things quiet down, wights become less agitated. Sam, too, hides somewhere, maybe ends up between two closed doors, one leading to the crypts and the other to outside, so he hides there hearing wight noises and fighting going on behind both doors. Crypts are locked from the inside.
• Arya, Beric, and the Hound end up in a room together, same as in the show, Beric wounded beyond help. Hound yelling at Beric: “What did the priest say, tell me the words!”
Beric: “You’re not a priest of the fire god.”
Hound, something along the lines of: “I know that flaming cunt better than most!”
Beric, closes eyes, says “… Valar Morgulis.” Not the words the Hound was expecting.
Arya in the background looking like she realized something: “Valar Dohaeris”. And she takes off.
• Arya in the library, sneaking past wights, who have now become more dormant after everybody’s in hiding. Staying silent is paramount or all the wights rile up again. Library scene makes more sense at this point because why would the library be filled with idling wights beforehand.
• Bran comes out of warging, speaks to Theon. Theon runs towards NK, gets stabbed by the ice spear, dies. Jon runs towards them, stabs NK in the back with his sword, but nothing happens. NK just turns around (two swords stuck in his body?), stabs Jon with the ice spear, Jon survives. NK moves towards Bran and puts his hand on Bran’s head or finger on his heart or something along those lines. Maybe even closes eyes. All seems lost. Arya jumps on NK’s back, stabs him in the heart with the Valyrian steel dagger or pulls out the dragon-glass dagger from NK-s heart.
NK was shown to viewers as having been made by CotF pushing a dragon-glass piece into his heart. It’s that piece of draggon-glass in his heart that needs to be destroyed in order to kill the NK, it makes the most sense. Simple, clear, and a bit cliche but these were the details shown in the show and it’s only logical — magic piece went in, magic piece comes out. So NK crumbles along with all the wights and WW-s.
If we want to make it even more magical: In the middle of the battle Arya’s direwolf appears with its pack of wolves, starts attacking WW-s, wights and hound sized ice spiders that were promised, and maybe other undead animals if there’s cgi budget :). Perhaps some red priests reanimate a few of the dead people back to life, while trying to keep up with the oncoming wights. It’s literally supposed to be the living (and gods) against this abnormality that is the NK, so we should’ve been shown all of the living fighting for one cause.
And ballsy is what we’re going with, we could have NK kill Bran and then Arya killing NK. End of 3ER, end of Night King, end of CotF — poetic. Let’s be honest, Bran is OP as hell, it would make sense if he died along with NK.
Most of Dany’s army must have died from the NK’s attack. None of this “half survived” respawning shit. Dany’s side must be at a big disadvantage in numbers. But on the other hand they still have dragons, along with new Valyrian steel weapons too.
There should be a stronger focus on how Dany sees that everybody congratulates Jon for saving the North and not her. She should be shown becoming more paranoid of Jon having a better claim to the throne and spiteful for Westeros people not treating her like a savior. It should be clear that she lost more of her men than the Northerners did. Just a few details would help. Like for example having people raise a toast to the main characters involved in killing the NK: “to Arya!”, “to Jon!”, “to Theon!” and then somebody adds “and to dragons!” and Jon goes “and Mother of Dragons!” But she sees it as if her army was just cannon-fodder. Some callback to how she was treated after liberating other cities in the East could be made by showing people treating Jon the same way. It was addressed in the show but it should have a much-much higher importance due to things to come. Maybe it’d be a it too much but what if some young northerner kid that hid in the crypts would address Jon as Father Jon when thanking him, this would tie in with how Dany was called mhysa/mother after liberating slaves.
I haven’t fully fleshed out the changes I’d make to the KL scenes but the burning of the city is definitely something I’d do differently:
Golden company and Lannister armies fall back into the city and it becomes a guerilla warfare in urban environment where local population is mixed with the defending military forces. Locals believe Cersei’s propaganda about Dany being mad and there to destroy them, so they help and hide the and Lannister army, who use these people as shields. Dany’s side doesn’t have the numbers to deal with this type of warfare. It’s known that urban warfare is a nightmare, we’ve seen it in real world in Middle-East for example, King’s Landing is supposed to be the most urbanized place there is in Westeros, an urban guerilla warfare should be the most logical thing to happen. Their mobile scorpions should be hidden among regular population, same as RPG-s are used by terrorists, a threat to her child/dragon could come from anywhere. Dany’s army should be low in numbers and this would’ve been a good way to reason why Dany resorts to different tactics. They don’t have the numbers to go through every building one by one and throw out the defending forces.
Throughout her development arc she has only had to deal with cities where there was a clear separation between slaves and masters. In Mereen she was forced to deal with self-serving masters who schemed behind her back and it was obvious she wasn’t good at handling that. In Westeros there’s no slaves, the whole population is full of self-serving scheming people. There’s nobody to liberate in King’s Landing, there’s nobody who would love her for it. It’s like trying to take over a city full of scheming Masters, compared to her previous conquests. She was just betrayed by Vary’s, a schemer, so her state of mind should be of being annoyed with the schemers, the local people supporting Lannisters, paranoia for a potential scorpion bolt coming from anywhere, paranoia for Jon being loved and having a better claim, sadness, guilt and rage for losing Jorah, Missandei, etc.
She could say something along the lines of “so be it”, akin to Cersei’s “I choose violence”, and then start mowing down whole streets, to clear the city of the defending army hiding in houses, burning locals in the process. For her and Greyworm, it should’ve been like killing Masters and their armies, for Jon it should’ve looked like a massacre of the innocent.
At some point her dragon fire hits underground wildfire caches, which destroys most of the city. Jon sees this massacre and realizes how much sideways it went.
Bonus: If Missandei’s capturing scene would’ve involved boarding the boat by the much larger Euron’s fleet, Missandei could’ve offered herself to be captured as a replacement for somebody else who she’d deem to be more relevant help to Dany’s rule in Westeros than her. She could’ve said “I’m just a translator”. And that somebody she replaced could’ve been Vary’s, who ended up betraying Dany later. Grey Worm would’ve then had a more justified reason to hate others alongside Dany.
Thanks for reading, if you liked it hit clap for each citizen of King’s Landing perished. :)