The Game of Thrones Spinoff’s Twisted Potential for Unreliable Storytellers – a video essay


According to HBO, the highly anticipated Game of Thrones spinoff about the Long Night won’t be “the story we think we know,” which begs the question… why? In this video essay I discuss the spinoff’s potential to explore historical revisionism in Westeros and what sort of prequel that might create.

What do you think? Are you hoping for a certain historical/legendary figure to feature in the spinoff? Tell us below.

20 responses

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    1. Ten Bears:

      I still go for Arya going west, entering a wormhole and send back in time. We get all those actors who were suppose to be the main role, but in secret Maissie Williams is. And then Naomi watts meets Arya when she leaves the wormhole.
      Noami watts: The princess that was promised finally arrives. The one that will defeat the White Walkers.
      Arya: Fuck, not again.

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    2. Oh my! That made me more excited about the sequel than anything.

      Given the nature of this video, I want to see some of Brienne’s ancestors 🙂 I know we know a little from A Knight of The Seven Kingdoms books (GRRM has said Duncan the Tall is related but no further than that).

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    3. This was an excellent and very thoughtful piece! Let’s hope the new series (The Long Bloody Moon, or whatever) is a retelling of what we thought was familiar history, but actually corrects our misimpressions. Ser Brienne’s rewrite of Jaime Lannister’s accomplishments was kind, but very misleading and thus really sad to anyone who had watched the series. It was a great setup for prequels in which we get a little closer to the whitewashed truth!

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    4. Petra: Not sure if you mentioned this (I have not yet watched your video essay), so I apologize if you did.
      When it comes to unreliable narrators and revisionist history, I always think back to the inversion of heroes and villains and victors and vanquished (e.g., the Braavos play and Ned “beating” Arthur Dayne in single combat), and this portentous S1e3 scene between Cersei & Joffrey after Arya and Nymeria disarmed Joffrey and exposed him as the coward he really is:

      Joffrey: “Ow!”

      Cersei: “Please, it’s nearly healed.”

      Joffrey: “It’s ugly.”

      Cersei: “A king should have scars. You fought off a direwolf. You’re a warrior like your father.”

      Joffrey: “I’m not like him. I didn’t fight off anything. It bit me and all I did was scream. And the two Stark girls saw it, both of them.”

      Cersei. “That’s not true. You killed the beast. You only spared the girl because of the love your father bears her father.”

      Joffrey: “I didn’t, I…”

      Cersei: “When Aerys Targaryen sat on the iron throne, your father was a rebel and a traitor.
      Someday you’ll sit on the throne and the truth will be what you make it.”

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    5. Ten Bears,
      Thanks for this recollection! It’s good to remember the role the victors (and survivors) play in defining what “history” was. We can add (for book readers) the serious kiss-up contribution of the singers to distorting what people learn as “history.” It’s also a reminder that this continues to happen in our own time, people still being people, and how archaeologists and historians need to root out and figure out evidence to see how it really was. Which is why history keeps changing…

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    6. Well, if you consider that Tyrion is not mentioned in the history of Westeros, despite being of public knowledge that he killed his father, or that Jaime, according to Brienne’s story, came back to save King’s Landing, which is a beautiful lie, then yes, the histories of Westeros can be easily questioned.

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    7. zandru,

      There are a host of other examples of “inversion” and exaggeration in the show. (I’m a “pre-books” fan, so I don’t know if or how this was addressed in the books.)
      Such additional examples included:
      • The CotF creating the WWs, instead of the WWs being some ancient threat pre-dating the First Men-CotF war. *
      • Rhaegar “kidnapping and raping” Lyanna Stark vs. their mutual, willing elopement.
      • Joffrey boasting “they know I saved the city; they know I won the war”, when in fact he chickened out and ran to his mommy in the middle of the decisive Battle of the Blackwater.

      * I was sure this misconception, and the WWs’ motivations, would be further addressed when the good guys were planning their defenses against the AotD, but Bran said nothing about it. Instead, we got some mumbo jumbo about “memories.” For that matter, I thought Bran’s powers would come into play – after all, Hodor, Leaf, Jojen, and Summer died because his survival was supposedly critical – and yet Bran did nothing but space out before and during “The Long Night.” Likewise, Sam’s theft of ancient Citadel books amounted to nada.

      • On a related note, I wondered how or if history would record the extermination of House Frey. The truth would seem almost too fantastical to believe: a face-changing girl wiped out all of the Red Wedding perpetrators, peeled off her Walder mask, and strolled away. 👸🏻😬

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    8. It was a wonderful piece of hypothesizing about what the prequel will include Petra! I think the Bran being a conglomerate of characters may be true but I’m not sure we’ll see a Lan the Clever woman. It could very well happen though since Twoaif was all unreliable narrators anyway. Hardly something you can truly trust.

      It is an interesting perspective yours, about historical revisionism in Asoiaf. I didn’t think on it when it came to BloodMoon to be honest, since we have so little info to go on from that period. I mean about women influencing the Westerosi history and the racial diversity during the Long Time in Westeros that might have been revised by the time we meet our characters in the War of the Five Kings and such.

      The Hadestown quote at the end is the perfect ending conclusion for it.

      And I also look forward to fall in love with new characters.

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    9. zandru,

      Was it though? Misleading, I mean?
      Here’s what it was written (from some tumblr ):

      [quote]”Captured in the field at the Whispering Wood, set free by Lady Catelyn Stark in return for an oath to find [unreadable] her two daughters, lost…

      Took Rivverrun from the Tully revels, without loss of life. Lured the Unsullied into attacking Casterly Rock, sacrificing his childhood home in service to a greater strategy. Outwitted the Targaryen forces to seize Highgarden. Fought at the Battle of the Goldroad bravely, narrowly escaping death by dragonfire. Pledged himself to the forces of men and rode north to join them at Winterfell, alone.

      Faced the Army of the Dead and defended the castle against impossible odds until the defeat of the Night King. Escaped imprisonment and rode south in an attempt to save the capital from destruction. Died protecting his Queen.”[/quote]

      I mean there’s not a single mention of his relationships and love life and feelings, but that’s not something that Bri would ever write or any Knight would ever write about in the White Book after all.

      I think it was all true in the end and however weird we may feel at a simple enumeration, it captured the essence of Jamie. And it shows that knight oath he recited when he knighted Bri was no simple “words in the wind” oath to him.

      Personally I kind of liked that entries’ very simple truth.

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    10. TormundsWoman,

      I like that scene of Brienne filling in Jaime’s page in the KG book because it was a fitting bookend to the S4e1 scene – and the only time Joffrey made me chuckle with his sarcastic zinger at Jaime:

      Joffrey (leafing through book): “So this is the famous ‘Book of Brothers.’ All the great deeds of all the great Kingsguard. Ser Arthur Dayne. The Sword of the Morning. Led the attack on the Kingswood Brotherhood. Defeated the Smiling Knight in single combat. Ser Duncan the Tall. Four pages for Ser Duncan. He must have been quite a man.”
      Jaime: “So they say.”
      Joffrey: “‘Ser Jaime Lannister’…
      Someone forgot to write down all your great deeds!”

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    11. TormundsWoman,
      Future generations would have been most interested in “Banged his twin sister under her husband the King’s nose, producing at least four offspring.”

      Ten Bears,
      Joffrey: “‘Ser Jaime Lannister’…
      Someone forgot to write down all your great deeds!”

      Heh. This was made a point of in the books, wherein Lord Commander Ser Jaime is leafing through the White Book and notices that the former LC, good old so-honorable Ser Barristan the Bold, hadn’t written down much of anything for Jaime’s entry, but had recorded all of his own petty little tourney victories, etc. It was a nice touch for the show to have King Joffrey the Brief give the line!

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    12. Ten Bears,

      Eh, Joff was always a little bitch with a big mouth who flexed his muscle around when he knew he was super safe, otherwise not so much. Ask Arya, or Tywin…


      Lol Hearsay! Not a single first hand account to reach Bri or the posterity to prove Cersei’s kids were Jaime’s ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (unless I forgot?) The White Book is not a tabloid, Zandru! #ProvenFactsOnly

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    13. Mango:
      Ten Bears,

      Bran the Useless.

      Perfect moniker! 😀

      You got me thinking (some more) how worthless he turned out to be. They could have rewritten a few scenes to be consistent. (Excuse the tinfoil fanfic revisions…)

      Part 1

      Meera: “Hodor died for you. Jojen died for you. Summer died for you. I almost died for you.”
      Bran: “Everything you did brought me where I am now. Home.”
      Meera: “You mean everyone sacrificed themselves just so you could get back home? No superwarging or supergreenseeing solution to defeating the White Walkers?”
      Bran: “Uh, not really.”
      Meera: “You should’ve died in that cave.”
      Bran: “I’m going to go now.”
      Meera: “Bran? Bran! Hello? F*ck you, you selfish little pr*ck.”

      (S8, Pre-battle war council)
      Jon: “Okay, Bran, what intel do you have about the location of the Night King?”
      Bran: “He’s exactly where he’s supposed to be.”
      Jon: “Huh? Where’s that?”
      Bran: “I’m going to go now.”
      Jon: “What? Where? Hello!!! Don’t space out on us! Tell us something about the Night King’s objectives! What’s he after?”
      Bran: “I am memories blah blah blah.”
      Sam: “Right. Without memories we’re just animals. It’s like being dead. Memories aren’t what you read in books.”
      Jon: “And that’s all you learned from the ancient books you stole from the Citadel?”
      Sam: “Well, I can cure greyscale.”
      Jon: “Do any of us have greyscale?”
      Sam: “No.”
      Jon: “So how’s that going to help us?”
      Sam: “I didn’t say it would. I’m just answering your question.”
      Jon: “Anything else you can tell us?”
      Sam: “Yeah, I knocked up Gilly.”
      Tormund: “Mazel Tov!”
      Edd: “We’re fooked aren’t we.”
      Jon: “Sam! Nothing in your books to help us? Nothing about the Long Night? How to end it?”
      Sam: “Not really. Just some vague accounts of a warrior using a flaming sword to bring light in the dark. Some references to a ‘Prince or Princess That Was Promised’ who’ll bring the dawn. And a picture of a crescent-shaped Targaryean dagger.”
      Jon: “What’s it all mean?”
      Sam: “I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait to see how it plays out I guess.”
      Jon: “Bran, any ideas?”
      Bran: 💤

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    14. The difference between received history and actual history is a leitmotif of both books and show. Bran gets a hard lesson in this when he sees for himself his father’s storied victory over Ser Arthur Dayne. In actuality, Ned’s side greatly outnumbered Dayne’s side, and Dayne almost won anyway.

      As other commenters at this site have noted, Bran was raised in full Northern mythology, yet was shocked to learn the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers.

      I’m looking forward to learning just how much of what we ‘know’ is wrong. 😉

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    15. TormundsWoman,

      Ah, but even that fudged the truth. He didn’t escape to ride south. He’d been permitted to stay. The imprisonment, if any, was his inability to forgive himself and to view a future without Cersei. But I think Brienne is referring to the life she offered him, the chance at a different happiness that he “escaped.”

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    16. Enjoyed that Petra. I did enjoy S8 but haven’t watched it since it aired to be honest.

      Regarding the prequel I’m not sure the racial diversity for the sake of it is a good thing unless it’s organic and in line with history i.e. people from the far south will have darker skin tone and the people in the north have lighter skin tone. With the gender balance.

      You also raise a good point about the Long Night and how it may not be best the best base for a prequel but equally I’m intrigued to find out what that will mean given GRRM is involved.

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