Could this be a spoiler for The Winds of Winter? The original script for Stannis’ death in Season 5 has surfaced, and it was very different.
One of the most fascinating things for people who are really into a show is to get their hands on the original scripts for the episodes before they were shot. One is the outline, provided by the showrunners, where the writer fills in the dialogue. But the final product comes from the actual shooting of the scene, where the showrunners, the actors and the directors decide how close they’re going to stick to that original mandate.
That can range from slavishly faithful to the words on the page, to something very different, due to a number of factors. The actor could read the lines in a way that makes them not work, or insist his character wouldn’t talk like that. The director could have a brain wave on how to stage it, rendering parts of the dialogue moot. The showrunners could decide that what they originally spec’d doesn’t work.
Recently, the Emmys released some of the scripts for Game of Thrones Season 5, which were submitted in 2015 for Emmy consideration, and the wealth of material, and comparisons to how the scene ended up playing on screen, have been fantastic to go over.
One of them, “Mother’s Mercy” the Season 5 finale, which was submitted for (and won) Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series among other things that year, is available in full on line. Among the changes that fans noted when they dove in was Stannis’ final scene, where Brienne kills him, partly out of mercy (he’s dying anyway) and partly to have her revenge for what he did to her beloved Renly back in Season 2.\
Here’s the script version:
"BRIENNE: “Do you have any last words?”Stannis considers.STANNIS: “Do you believe in the life to come?”Brienne nods.STANNIS: “I don’t. But if I’m wrong, and you’re right… tell Renly I’m sorry when you get there. I don’t imagine I’ll see him wherever I’m going. (beat) And my daughter. Tell her… tell her…”“Sorry” doesn’t begin to cover what he feels about Shireen. The thought of it brings tears to his eyes, and he’s not going to die weeping in front of a woman he doesn’t know. Stannis stares up at her.STANNIS: “Go on. Do your duty.”Brienne raises her sword and brings it down with a mighty swing."
Here’s how the scene wound up on screen:
When it came time to film the scene, most of that dialogue was cut. Now, for the on screen version, I think this was the right call, and I think most fans would agree with that too. Stannis, as portrayed by Stephen Dillane rally never showed those sorts of emotions or regret. He might have felt them, but he kept them locked deep.
The question is though, was that the original script because the outline, (which was taken from George R.R. Martin’s own sketch of the major points of The Winds of Winter) called for it?For those who haven’t read the books, you may not know this, but Stannis, who has been dead for more than a season now, is still quite alive on the page. So is Shireen, for that matter. That burning of her by Melisandre for Stannis to make his final, foolish run at Winterfell will all occur somewhere in the first half of The Winds of Winter. Are these spoilers for how that scene will go down on the page?
Maybe, if Martin gets the book out by the end of 2017, we’ll find out.