The Seven Kingdoms are winding to a close in a matter of months as HBO finally wraps Game of Thrones after eight seasons. We’ve come a long way since we first met a young Sophie Turner, Kit Harington, and Emilia Clarke, but let’s remember that Game of Thrones hasn’t always been the ratings smash it is today.
Before the credits rolled on the acclaimed season premiere in 2011, it’s well-documented that Game of Thrones had a disastrous pilot episode that screenwriter Craig Mazin called a “piece of sh*t.”
Although some of the footage was used in the episode “Winter is Coming”, 90% was reshot, there were some major recastings, and George R.R. Martin even had a cameo that was cut. Details of the maligned pilot have trickled their way online over the years, but now the whole sorry mess is out there to show what could’ve happened.
HuffPost reporter Bill Bradley took a trip to Texas A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library where Martin has been sending his work for preservation over the years. As well as manuscripts from his ongoing A Song of Ice and Fire series, the library also holds a box labelled “Game of Thrones Pilot.” Bradley became his very own Samwell Tarly to find out what’s lurking in the stacks — also ironically referred to as the Wall.
So, what did we miss? According to Bradley, the pilot contained a scene where Cersei Lannister lurked in the crypts of Winterfell and stole the feather King Robert placed on Lyanna Stark’s statue. Given that the feather featured prominently in the Season 8 teaser trailer, things would’ve been very different if Cersei had burned it all those years ago.
Elsewhere, Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo saw their relationship take a more powerful turn. Even in the early days of Thrones, the show was pretty controversial. Emilia Clarke was far more open to getting her kit off and filmed the famous scene when Drogo raped his new Khaleesi. In the pilot, it was a consensual act of sex where the empowered Dany took the reins much earlier.
Other highlights include Jaime taunting Ned Stark about his father and brother’s deaths at the hands of the Mad King, Jon Snow getting pissed, and a more confusing scene of Jaime and Cersei doing the nasty — the implication of incest apparently wasn’t highlighted enough in the early days.
Finally talking White Walkers were supposed to play a part. The books have honed in on how those frozen zombies have their own language, but in the show, we’ve yet to hear the Night King or his followers utter a word. Here’s hoping those silent snowmen finally say something in Season 8.
A pilot script has previously made its way online, but Bradley maintains that the version he found is the one HBO shot from. The Cushing copy is dated Oct. 22, 2009 — around the time the cameras started rolling on the doomed episode.
While a lot changed between the pilot and the aired “Winter is Coming”, Sean Bean was always part of the series as the bearded and brilliant Ned Stark
There’s plenty to take away from these revelations, but perhaps the biggest injustice from the unaired pilot would’ve been the title sequence. That iconic clockwork maps were supposed to be a bland screen with the words “Game of Thrones.”
Ewwww, it’s enough to make you champion your own Shireen Baratheon-inspired bonfire where all memories of the pilot are burned to a crisp.
[Featured Image: HBO]