SUDDEN DEATH PREQUELS APLENTY
So, what do people mean when they say, “The next Game Of Thrones”? A big part of the reason the show became so huge is that it established early on that anything can happen, and that the good guys don’t always win. This is not a concept unique to GOT, of course, but it used this storytelling gambit for some of its most significant moments, like the stunning beheading of major character Ned Stark in the first season. Many other beloved characters were similarly killed off, but no deaths were more painful to watch than the slaughter of the Starks in “The Rains Of Castamere”, better known as the “Red Wedding”.
Game Of Thrones had a way of making you feel the maximum impact of huge moments, and this ninth episode of season three sent fans into a meltdown on social media. Readers of the books with advanced knowledge even took to filming their friends and family members watching the deliciously horrific moment when Robb and co met their bloody end, to entertaining effect.
The show also became famed for its ambitious action sequences. These would get bigger and bigger as the show progressed, levelling up from the Battle at Blackwater Bay to “Hardhome” to season six’s classic “Battle Of The Bastards”.
It used to be that only movies were capable of producing lengthy,
‘In GOT, the good guys don’t always win’
high-quality action – GOT proved otherwise. This was especially true once Daenerys’ dragons became full-grown firebreathers, which added an exciting new dimension to many an epic skirmish. Above all, though, the series was excellent at spinning a good mystery. The two longrunning storylines of the battle for the Iron Throne and the world-ending threat of the White
Walkers kept theorists guessing, while smaller storylines kept us interested and increased our love for multiple characters. Thrones’ strongest seasons got this balance just right, often rewarding fans who had been watching from the beginning with unexpected pay-offs and reveals that yielded just as many questions as they answered.
The awards bodies agreed, and the HBO show garnered an extraordinary 160 Emmy nominations, taking home a total of 59 awards by the time its eight-season run ended in 2019.
But as any true Thrones fan knows, what is dead may never die. For one thing, we’re still due another book or two from Martin, who has often lamented the fact that the show overtook his novels. Thankfully, we won’t be wanting for more Got-related content while we wait – Martin signed a five-year deal in the mid-eight figure range with HBO and
HBO Max last month, amid announcements of several spin-offs. Much like Star Wars has continued to spread its wings after The Rise Of Skywalker, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has started to go down some weirder avenues postavengers: Endgame, so, too, will Thrones look to expand its storytelling in fresh ways.
The first spin-off on the docket is House Of The Dragon. Targaryen is a name that looms large in Thrones, but with this show, we’re all set to learn much more about the family’s origins and lineage. Due in 2022, the series will star Rhys Ifans, Olivia Cooke, and Paddy Considine as Viserys I Targaryen, whose death sparks a civil war known as the Dance Of Dragons. The show will be co-run by Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik. That latter name is especially encouraging – Sapochnik has directed some of Thrones’ finest hours, including “Hardhome” and “Battle Of The Bastards”, and his involvement hints that this series will be aiming for a similar level of ambition. Dragons were one of the coolest elements of latter seasons – exactly how, when and why they show up here will be exciting to explore. Following that, we’ll get an adaptation of Martin’s Tales Of Dunk And Egg novellas, another prequel series that takes place 90 years before A Song Of Ice A nd Fire begins. This time, the focus will be on titular Dunk (Ser Duncan the Tall) and Egg (a young version of Aegon Targaryen). Prequels are definitely what HBO is most focused on right now: recently announced Thrones-related projects such as Flea Bottom, 10,000 Ships, and most intriguingly 9 Voyages – which would centre on the legendary voyages of Corlys Velaryon – all take place before the action in Game Of Thrones.
TV and books won’t be the only mediums that will host new content in the coming years. Martin’s saga is also headed to the stage in 2023, with a plot that reportedly focuses on The Great Tourney at Harrenhal, which sees the finest knights of the realm compete against each other. In addition to being frequently referenced in the A Song Of Ice And Fire novels as a significant historical tipping point for Robert Baratheon’s rebellion, further enticement comes from the fact that it takes place before the events of the series. That means a number of characters who perished in the original show – including fan favourites Ned Stark and Oberyn Martell – could return.
Whether any of these spin-off shows will manage to recapture the zeitgeist of the original series remains to be seen. But it’s clear that there’s a lot more fuel left in the tank, and a fascinating world that’s aching for more exploration. As both Marvel and the Star Wars franchises are finding out to their benefit, there is much to be gained from expanding the world and focusing on characters who have not yet had the opportunity to shine. As far as GOT goes, that may include the adventures of characters we bid farewell to at the end of season eight – what life looks like post-white Walkers, Cersei and Daenerys for the Starks is a question that surely cannot go unanswered for long.
Either way, the legacy of Game Of Thrones will continue to reverberate for a while yet. n