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Westeros Blog: Blackfish Delayed

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Except how would that work? I mean, really the only way anyone of us could pick him out of a crowd would be by his black trout insignia, and if we recognize that, you'd have to assume that all the knights and assorted who's who around him are going to as well. So how do you sneak in the Blackfish without all of the other characters on screen at the time going, "Hey look! The Blackfish is here!".

Alas, a sound objection. Hmmm. Maybe he wouldn't be with the others. Somewhere upthread I visualized a situation with various lords and knights arriving separately. He could be leading a token squad of men of the Vale sent by Lysa. For the casual viewer he'd be just one of those guys in armour coming and going, they don't need to show the others' reaction to him.

And we already have a Mystery Knight with Loras at the end of aCoK (if they don't change that).

True. Also the UnRenly at the Battle of the Blackwater. But I'm using the phrase as code. He'd d be a mystery for us, not for the characters, as Mance said above. Maybe "Easter Egg" is a better definition.

OTOH, we've already been told that the Blackfish isn't appearing in S1. That probably includes the idea of him appearing mysteriously. :P

This won't stop me from spreading mayhem until I see the last scene of the last ep of S1. B)

Seriously, it's not a big deal for me, but I just like imagining scenarios; storytelling it's is second nature for me. I'm an amateur novelist ["Oh no, another one of THOSE"] and I love problem solving. Yesterday I came across a character in one of my stories who is in two different places at once. Whoops. I'm sure I'll come up with a solution that makes sense and maybe even makes the story better.

If the GOT scriptwriters peek in here and say "yeah, nice ideas but we don't WANT the Blackfish to appear in any form", fine by me. They are said to be very good and I trust their judgement. I'd also be content with "we just don't care enough about him to put him in." But I've been on forums discussing TV series where the writers' excuses for screwing up was "we didn't know how to handle the situation." EPIC FAIL. It's your JOB to "handle the situation".

If our guys decide they'd like Brynden to appear in a way that makes sense, does not confuse the viewers and does not imply a waste of money, they'll find a way. If they choose that it's better not from a storytelling poing of view, all right. But I'd be irked by any statement that includes the words "could not". Working creatively is about "finding a way if I want to".

The length of this rant implies I need food. :P

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Talking to myself because I've realized the last paragraphs above sound incredibly arrogant, considering that GRRM himself has been a scriptwriter and I sound like I want to say I'm better than him. Nothing of the sort. I'm just passionate about stuff. (Also, now I've eaten.) I'm already thankful that GRRM has given us so many great characters to cheer for; all the rest is a bonus.

But the Blackfish, grumble grumble grumble ^_^

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If our guys decide they'd like Brynden to appear in a way that makes sense, does not confuse the viewers and does not imply a waste of money, they'll find a way. If they choose that it's better not from a storytelling poing of view, all right. But I'd be irked by any statement that includes the words "could not". Working creatively is about "finding a way if I want to".

That's all fair enough. I can but agree. :) HBO has lots of very clever people working on this enterprise. Should be able to overcome most obstacles.

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In response to the idea of having the Blackfish in the background:

I think that would be a very difficult thing to pull off. 1.) He is Catelyn's uncle, are we (as the viewers) expected to believe that they wouldn't share a single scene together before the Whispering woods? 2.) It risks what I am going to call a "Nikki and Paulo situation" where the viewers a suddenly expected to CARE about these people who are placed in front of the camera and believe that they have been there the entire time. It would be worse in the case of the Blackfish because he has actual skills that would have been helpful to the cause during S1... you can't have him suddenly step up in S2 if he has been there all along.

The easter egg idea is nice, but the easter eggs are going to be all those minor characters and houses who aren't important enough to get lines. We are going to know who they are because we have read the books.

I wondered if it might be a good thing to introduce Margaery in season 1. But I'm strongly opposed to the idea that Loras should get additional screen time after the death of Renly. We could see his immediate reaction to Renly's death, and maybe also his slaying of the two Rainbow Guards. Also, a more or less explicit clue that the Reach as a whole is probably not joining with Stannis could be included.

But to have scenes at Highgarden/Bitterbridge with Littlefinger, Loras, Mace, Margaery, and Olenna would be stupid, or at least problematic, as this would cause the need to change/restructure the climax of the season, the Battle on the Blackwater. Tywin and the Tyrells come as a surprise to KL. To uphold this surprise as a surprise you need to omit the Tyrells and the details of Littlefinger's voyage.

I don't think introducing Marge in season 1 would work, mainly because she is going to become a big character in future seasons and grabbing an actress for a small part in S1 (maybe 1 episode) and telling her "Oh but in S3 you will be a regular, at least through the end of S5" while I'm sure the actress would be delighted with that, it would still be 2 years away. Still got to make money and a new show might come up.

Giving Loras more depth in S2 than he gets in the book would, in my opinion, benefit the series in S3-5... if of course it gets that far. It would be quite a strong character arc too.

I think Stannis is more important than Renly. Renly is a big red herring and he doesn't last very long. Actually, I know some people have wondered whether the Tyrells should be introduced in S1. I'm not sure they will appear in S2 either. They might increase LF's role and thus the Tyrells would appear but given how complicated aCoK is, it might be easier to wait until S3 (hopefully) and introduce them there via Sansa. Its like the Tully's in S2. They appear at the end of aGoT but its easier to wait for a brand new season and introduce them then.

Pad, I do agree that Stannis is more important than Renly - but, the casual viewer has already been introduced to Renly in the first season. And I would go as far as to say that Renly's death is the main turning point of the war (in the CoK timeline). I think that Stannis is a really important "figure" in the first couple of books but he comes in to his own at the end of S3 at the Wall.

This being said, I really don't want to see 'Renly's peach' cut, that is my favourite scene from that sequence of chapters. Depending on what happens in ADWD, I think that Davos' role could be cut down in the series. Stannis' story for me is about Stannis and Melisandre - Davos just seems to be the person looking on, and we don't need that in the TV series - because the audience is pretty much the PoV character.

Stannis and Mel should be introduced as they are in the book. In the Prologue. It is tense, atmospheric, and weird. Stannis is probably foreshadowed a lot in season 1, so his actual introduction is not going to be a surprise. And as he is a character who lasts at least two volumes, he is rather in need of more screen time than less. If the choice is to cut Renly down or Stannis, they should always decide in favor of more Stannis scenes.

I really don't agree with that. The prologue works really well in the book, perhaps one of GRRM's best chapters, but the audience doesn't need to care about Stannis at that point. He hasn't crowned himself, he hasn't sent the letter, he hasn't burnt the gods. We don't need to see him until he starts to effect the lives of our characters. I think the best time to bring him on screen would be him meeting Renly.

If they decide to show the Shadowbaby scene then the audience is going to understand that Mel is just creepy. If they really want to put emphasis on Stannis' religion they could even show Mel's followers burning the figures of the seven from the sept where Catelyn went to pray.

Introducing Stannis before he interacts with one of the regular characters (Catelyn), means that there is yet another storyline to cover in terms of screentime and another location.

Also building up Renly's character would make his death a lot more shocking for the viewer, they would expect Stannis to die because he has only just arrived on the show. I think that there is plenty time AFTER ACoK to build up Stannis as a character, especially when the kings die in the 3rd book. Stannis should be a bit of a slow burner.

Oh, and I don't see Stannis as the 'big bad of season 2'. He is rather a (tragic) hero. I always wanted him to prevail and to take out that Lannister bastards, especially as he seems to be the only character strong enough pacify the realm again. It would be really bad if they changed his character from sad neglected younger with a terrible sense of justice to the 'evil uncle/brother'.

Stannis drives a lot of the action of the second season: he sends the letters about Cersei's kids and pretty much drives the King's Landing plot, he is responsible for the death of King Renly, he interacts with Catelyn, the battle for the blackwater. etc. But none of our regular characters are with Stannis - the ones that we have already built up sympathy for, I think Cersei will be portrayed more sympathetically then she was in the books. I think using him as a "big bad" for the season would be okay, but when I say "big bad" I don't mean painting him in a bad light whenever we meet him. More the concept of the "big bad", the one who has pulled the various storylines together for the climax of the season.

I find Stannis quite heroic too but it is difficult without having a regular character with him to warrent giving him a really big story. We just have too much going on with the characters that we already know.

Also, I assume regulars of season 1 might get featuring status in season 2. Jaime, for example, can't have the screen time he has in season 1 in season 2 (even if they add a few more scenes with him). If he has featuring status, the audience does at least realize that he is not yet dead. Also, Varys very well could be become a regular in season 2, as he features in every Tyrion chapter, if I remember correctly, whereas Littlefinger has less screen time in seasons 2 & 3 than in season 1 (if they stick to the basic story).

I would put money on Jaime being credited for all the episodes in season 2... thats why actors hire agents. If they are credited for the episode I think that they still receive some sort of money whenever the episode is screened. Someone with more industry insight probably knows more about this.

Also I depending on his presence in ADWD, Varys probably won't be upgraded to a regular character for similar reasons. Especially if he IS absent from ADWD because he would then be AWOL for 2 seasons.

Personally I wouldn't have made Bran Stark a regular character either. His storyline can be told from Theon's story in S2 and his meeting with Sam in S3. After that it would depend. It would also mean cutting the Reeds and most sadly either cutting or altering the Summerhall story telling.

Davos definately should not be made a series regular with the second season, there just isn't enough going on with his story that the audience NEEDS to understand or that connects him to the already established troubles from S1. I mean in terms of his personal character not his viewpoint.

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I'd agree about Davos. I like him a lot but he could get lost amidst everything else going on in aCoK.

And you are right that the death of Renly was a huge turning point. But i'd still rather Stannis seem to be important before Renly dies. Even though they are very different characters, I don't want it to seem that Stannis is merely replacing Renly. That reduces the impact of Renly's death.

As for how to introduce Stannis. He is in 2 chapters before he meets Catelyn (via the prologue and Davos). I would like Stannis to be introduced in the very first scene of S2 (if we get that far). Its a good time to expand the story. The letter writing scene might be a good way to insert Stannis into the series. And it means that the season is nicely bookended. Stannis declares himself king at the beginning and fails miserably at the end.

Not introducing him till the peach scene dimishes him too much. We need to see more of him. He is quite an important character.

OTOH, I see how your strategy could work. I think Renly's death will be shocking either way though. I don't think they'll have time to build up his character much more though. He'll just be feasting away in Highgarden. Stannis doesn't need many scenes before he meets Renly. He'll be mentioned a bit in S1, so this just puts a face to the name.

Without the shadowbaby scene, Renly's death becomes very strange. And having a very creepy character (Melisandre) is a positive surely?

Personally I wouldn't have made Bran Stark a regular character either. His storyline can be told from Theon's story in S2 and his meeting with Sam in S3.

Well, given we don't have POVs anymore, talking about Theon's story is a bit misleading? Bran's importance does decline in S3 but his thread in S2 is very important. Through him we appreciate the beginning of the fall of House Stark. We mourn the fall of Winterfell. If Bran is dimished too much, the fall of Winterfell wouldn't have as big an impact.

Given Osha's casting, strikes me that they want to keep Bran pretty prominent also.

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In response to the idea of having the Blackfish in the background:

I think that would be a very difficult thing to pull off. 1.) He is Catelyn's uncle, are we (as the viewers) expected to believe that they wouldn't share a single scene together before the Whispering woods?

Maybe he misses the battle, hence becoming known as "The Late Ser Brynden". :P

2.) It risks what I am going to call a "Nikki and Paulo situation" where the viewers a suddenly expected to CARE about these people who are placed in front of the camera and believe that they have been there the entire time. It would be worse in the case of the Blackfish because he has actual skills that would have been helpful to the cause during S1... you can't have him suddenly step up in S2 if he has been there all along.

NOOO Nikki and Paulo mentioned in the same paragraph as the Blackfish NOOO I'd rather have him killed offscreen before S1 begins. ;)

For non-LOST geeks, that was one of the lowest points of the series, when they tried to convince us that two nobodies who popped out of nowhere (welll, one of them was Xerxes) had been on the series all along. It didn't work well.

However, I still think we would not be supposed to "care" for Brynden as if he had been there all along, because he wouldn't have. Suppose that in the heat of the moment (end of S1) you see a guy with black armour, trout crest etc etc dismounting from his horse, among lots of other knights in a hurry. Quick montage, one standard here, one knight giving orders there, someone greets someone else, the established characters show their faces (Bolton and The Greatjon, hopefully), Robb is proud and overwhelmed, Cat is worried and not exactly giving attention to things...

Brynden does not need to greet Cat and Robb now. If S2 takes up where S1 left off, all of that, plus explanations about Hoster, Lysa etc, can happen later.

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As for how to introduce Stannis. He is in 2 chapters before he meets Catelyn (via the prologue and Davos). I would like Stannis to be introduced in the very first scene of S2 (if we get that far). Its a good time to expand the story. The letter writing scene might be a good way to insert Stannis into the series. And it means that the season is nicely bookended. Stannis declares himself king at the beginning and fails miserably at the end.

Introducing Stannis in the first scene of S2 could work, but I think it would have to be done very carefully. The problem is that Cressen's prologue chapter (a very strong chapter don't get me wrong) has an awful lot of exposition about Stannis in it and hinges on the fact that Cressen does not agree with the direction that Melisandre is pushing Stannis in.

I suppose one way to kind of get around this would be the opening image of S2 being the wooden statues of the gods being burnt on Dragonstone. Cressen's discomfort could be made very clear by putting a lot of emphasis on how creepy Melisandre is and showing her increasing influence on Stannis. Could she maybe crown him at that point?

Cut to: Cressen rifling around through bottles in his chambers. You could also show him praying to the Seven. Then you could have the feast scene: huge emphasis on Stannis watching the events below and the supernatural ability of Melisandre.

The problem is covering all of that in a 'teaser'. Especially when: Robb has just been declared king and Dany has just hatched some dragons. There is a lot going on, but as both of these storylines start reasonably slowly in ACOK there might be time to establish King Stannis. Incidentally: James Frain (Franklin Mott in 'True Blood' and Cromwell in 'The Tudors') as Stannis please.

Without the shadowbaby scene, Renly's death becomes very strange. And having a very creepy character (Melisandre) is a positive surely?

Yeah, I know what you mean. Having Melisandre creeping it up would definately be a good thing, although we wouldn't want her creeptastic-ness to get old before she starts interacting with our major character (Jon Snow). I think she has to be handled really carefully.

OTOH, I see how your strategy could work. I think Renly's death will be shocking either way though. I don't think they'll have time to build up his character much more though. He'll just be feasting away in Highgarden. Stannis doesn't need many scenes before he meets Renly. He'll be mentioned a bit in S1, so this just puts a face to the name.

This really depends on what episode of the season they put Stannis/Renly in. If it occurs mid-season it almost makes having Stannis in the first scene of the season really anticlimactic. You could have: Stannis in the teaser (episode 1), return to Stannis at another point in episode 1, Stannis writing his letter (Episode 2?) and then Stannis/Renly (episode 3).

Well, given we don't have POVs anymore, talking about Theon's story is a bit misleading? Bran's importance does decline in S3 but his thread in S2 is very important. Through him we appreciate the beginning of the fall of House Stark. We mourn the fall of Winterfell. If Bran is dimished too much, the fall of Winterfell wouldn't have as big an impact.

I don't think the Winterfell story is required until Theon takes it. Theon starts with Robb, has his own adventure on the IIs, then betrays the Starks and takes Winterfell. I think one of the big emotional moments of ACoK is when Catelyn discovers her sons are "dead" and it was through her that I felt the emotion of Winterfell being sacked. I think that both Bran and Theon should have "equal" perspectives on the situation and all the events of the 'Bran' and 'Theon' chapters should be shown. The last image should definately be Winterfell burning... (which would mirror the 7 burning for the first image of the prologue).

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The Sopranos or The Wire are good examples on how could be added easily in new seassons players to the game of thrones.

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Makes a lot of sense Loras.

I like having them show the burning of the wooden statues, as a way to introduce Stannis and the menacing Melisandre. While i'd agree that they may find it easier to just skip the Cressen part. I think GRRM does a good job handling Melisandre, by not letting her dominate things. But yes, if they introduce Stannis early in S2, they need tabs on him until he surprises us all and ends up in Storms End. A few quick scenes could do that.

You are probably right that they don't need Winterfell scenes pre-Theon but I suspect they will not totally leave it out until Theon returns. So much times will have been spent in Winterfell before hand that I can't see it be forgotten for half a season. We'll also see Rodrik Cassel return there, to join Luwin, Hodor and Osha. Too many cast members are there. And I still think the fall of Winterfell will have more of an impact if we are aware of life there before the storm hits.

Actually, just struck me that they might combine Osha with the Reeds. That would be a pity but its an easy way to keep the number of roles down.

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You are probably right that they don't need Winterfell scenes pre-Theon but I suspect they will not totally leave it out until Theon returns. So much times will have been spent in Winterfell before hand that I can't see it be forgotten for half a season. We'll also see Rodrik Cassel return there, to join Luwin, Hodor and Osha. Too many cast members are there. And I still think the fall of Winterfell will have more of an impact if we are aware of life there before the storm hits.

Actually, just struck me that they might combine Osha with the Reeds. That would be a pity but its an easy way to keep the number of roles down.

I don't think it would be possible to merge Osha with the Reeds due to the fact that the reason that Osha is at Winterfell is because she was fleeing the North. I don't think you could change her motivations enough so that she would agree to take Bran beyond the wall. Instead I think that they will merge Meera and Jojen together.

A bigger deal might be made of Jojen's green dreams. I have to hold my hands up here, I'm very guilty of not paying attention to Bran chapters so please correct me if I am wrong. Jojen dreams that Winterfell will be flooded does he not? Could this be made his primary motivation for coming north in the first place? It would be interesting to see how our characters reacted to this dream - it would be an even split; Rodrick and Luwin would dismiss it but Bran and Osha would put some weight in it.

Could that be some kind of foreshadowing - albeit blatent - for Theon taking Winterfell? It would also allow the storyline to be built up more, giving it support in the form of screentime in another location. The power of "dreams" and "visions" is a good recurring theme in the second book: Green dreams, Melisandre's fires, (again correct me if I'm wrong) the wolf dreams start, Dany's visions in the house of the undying, Catelyn's dream that all of her children are reunited.

To strengthen that further bring forward Cersei's prophecy from Maggy the Frog? She could discuss it with Lancel or someone, or even flashback. She spends a lot of time with Tyrion, Jaime - her protecter - has been taken prisoner and Stannis has written his letter revealing the truth about her children. It'd be as good a time as any to bring it in.

Just more musings...

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Yes, Jogen dreams of the flooding of Winterfell. Luwin does dismiss the dream actually. Mainly because they don't interpret it correctly.

Merging Meera and Jogen is possible. The only issue with combining characters is what happens to Rickon at the end of any S2. I'm almost surprised they cast Osha but now that she is there, i'm thinking about what she can do. But does make better sense for her to stay with Rickon.

I don't recall Catelyn's dream that her kids are reunited? But yes, if they are going to have Maggy the Frog prophecy, the sooner they introduce it the better.

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