Interview with Game of Thrones Story Editor, Bryan Cogman about Season 2

Probably the most interesting interview from the people involved with the show I’ve read in a long while. Lots of stuff about the choices made by the producers.

On Ros’ prominence on the show, and how her character started out in the original script of Season 1:

Ros was originally Red Headed Whore Number 1 in the pilot. In the very original [draft], Tyrion was in a brothel in King’s Landing as a way to introduce him and get a little download of information about John Arryn. […] With season 2, there’s a character in the book named Alyaya, who we didn’t end up keeping. We knew that Ros would serve that function in the latter part of the season where Cersei thinks she’s caught Tyrion’s girlfriend but actually has caught Ros and doesn’t know who she is. […] And then, the other thing that we sort of built into the show was the rivalry between Littlefinger and Varys…Ros seemed to be the perfect person for Varys to have an insider in Littlefinger’s company…she came to Littlefinger’s, trusted him, thought she had a rapport, and sort of had a rude awakening about who she is, and who she is in Littlefinger’s eyes.

On Tyrion and the complexity of his character:

The thing that’s interesting to me about Tyrion, is Tyrion of all the Lannisters, has the most compassion, the most empathetic worldview. But he’s still a Lannister. He’s still going to keep the class below him at arm’s length…Being a Lannister, he still uses his position when he needs to, and can behave selfishly. He’s not necessarily a white knight kind of hero. I certainly think that yes, there is that kind of empathy and compassion for prostitutes, but there’s also a real distrust. He had his first wife, Tysha, who he found out was actually a whore, but he got emotionally invested in her, and had his heart ripped out.

On Brienne’s brutality on the show, compared to the books:

I agree it does differ from the book. That’s a decision David and Dan made when writing the scripts…I think she still operates under a code, but it’s important to remember that a) these guys were going to botch the plan and the mission and probably kill them both, and b) they have admitted to torturing innocent women. I think in the books, Brienne’s first kill doesn’t happen until much later.

On the changes to Robb’s storyline (involving who he marries, and why):

We always new we wanted to keep Robb more front and center. In the book, he’s absent except for the first chapter. He shows up in the third book married. We knew we wanted to keep Robb and Catelyn’s tenuous relationship at the forefront.We knew the portrayal of Walder Frey and the marriage to a new woman would be part of the story. Originally, it was Jeyne Westerling. In the books, Jeyne is tending his wounds, Robb gets a terrible piece of news, and they spend the night together dealing with his grief, and he marries her after that. [In the show], it isn’t just about making an honest woman out of this girl, it’s that he falls in love and chooses love over duty, which is an ongoing choice which is brought up again and again throughout the series. Maester Aemon tells Jon Snow that love is the death of duty. And I think that was something that they really wanted to explore, that it was a relationship that developed, and that we would see develop, and Robb would make the choice.

On introducing new characters, and dealing with the characters backstory:

We try different things with different characters. A character like Stannis, and his relationships with Davos and Melisandre, this season we trusted that the audience would go with it, and we didn’t load those early scenes up with a lot of backstory. If anything there was a bit of mystery this season. We didn’t really get the full story of how Davos met Stannis and why he’s serving him until the eighth episode…That was very much on purpose to feed the backstory over the season and trust that the audience would understand their dynamic enough to be invested in them. And of course a lot of it is Stephen [Dillane] and Liam [Cunningham], too. They don’t get a lot of screen time, but they both have this incredible presence and a deep understanding of what makes these guys tick, so that even though they were on the scene for comparatively few minutes compared to other characters, they made an impression.

On how his relationship with the books has changed since he started working on the show:

In a way, it makes me a little sad. I couldn’t enjoy A Dance With Dragons, unfortunately. Of course, I enjoyed it, but it was the first of the books I read as a writer on Game of Thrones, so all I could do is think “we’re going to have to shift that, we won’t be able to afford that, or that’s a great scene.” I couldn’t just escape and enjoy. I’m fine, I’m doing fine, I’ll be okay. But it’s definitely a different reading experience.

Full interview here:

You know, I think when Maester Aemon was telling Jon Snow about love being the death of duty, he’s talking about love for your family, not for someone you’ve only just met. Robb was adamant about choosing his duty to his men over the fate of his own siblings, (“nope, definitely can’t trade Jaime Lannister for my sisters, I have duty to my bannermen, you know!”) but it’s okay to forget his duty for a woman he just met? Well, I guess love for a smoking hot woman is harder to resist than love for his siblings.

The Davos-Stannis backstory not fully explained until the eighth episode doesn’t really bother me, you kinda get the bond from the beginning. It was already hinted at in the second episode anyway, with Sallador Saan talking about how could Davos be loyal to a guy who chopped his fingers, Davos saying Stannis is his god, the one who gave him and his family everything, etc etc. The Melisandre-Stannis relationship is where it really falls short, the show didn’t really explore it at all, except a little bit in the last episode.

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