There were a lot of interesting ideas in Game of Thrones’ final episode, albeit ones dramatically rushed into, with disregard for actually setting them up over the course of a season (or several seasons) of television. Now, you can see some of the processes behind getting to where we got at the end of all things Game of Thrones yourself, via the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. And it’s...something.
Thanks to Thrones’ metric shedload of Emmy nominations earlier this month – or rather specifically, thanks to “The Iron Throne” being a nominee in the Outstanding Writing For a Drama Series category – the Academy’s official website has uploaded David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’s script for the episode for people to read. And boy howdy does it contain some choices.
This is beyond the actual text of the dialogue, which is of course, what we all got to see unfold on screen back in May. What is most... interesting about direct access to the script is getting to see Benioff and Weiss’ stage direction.
Tonally, it’s all over the place. The writers wax and wane between the pathos of the moment – that this is the end of Game of Thrones – likening the scenes of destruction in King’s Landing post-Dany’s rampage to the real-world imagery of the Holocaust and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, to weirdly chipper gags, like one about Sansa and Jon’s faces looking like they “both failed geography” when Arya asks the pertinent question of what lies beyond Westeros’ western shores.
These are two different asides from the same script!
But they do occasionally offer some intriguing insight. One of the largest passages of direction comes in describing the moment Drogon mournfully renders the Iron Throne a pile of slag before carrying Daenerys’ freshly-stabbed body away into the unknown. In the time since the finale, it’s a moment that has become in equal parts a beautiful piece of symbolism, a child destroying the thing that was ultimately responsible for the death of its mother, and also has kind of a hilarious meme where fans retconned it as Drogon earnestly believing Daenerys had been stabbed to death by a spikey, sword-studded chair. In Weiss and Benioff’s direction, however?
It’s nothing. Drogon isn’t aiming for the throne at all. He’s not aiming at Jon, or anything, really. He was... setting the wall on fire.
If trading evocative symbolism for “a dumb bystander caught up in the conflagration” isn’t a damning indicator of just where Game of Thrones’ finale went wrong, well, I don’t know what could be.
You can read the full script for “The Iron Throne” here, ahead of the Emmy Awards telecast on September 22nd. Benioff and Weiss are currently working on their Star Wars project along with whatever else Hollywood decides to throw before their feet.