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The script for the maligned first pilot of a show that has now become more legendary than the Mad King has surfaced. While there have been pieces of rumored pilot scripts lurking on the internet for years, what makes this one different is that it was just waiting to be found among George R.R. Martin’s vast collection of original manuscripts at Texas A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library in College Station, as unearthed by The Huffington Post. This gives it about as much cred as something lifted from the Stark vaults.
Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss still cringe about their onscreen prototype of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which never became the TV phenomenon that inspired way too many memes. Not to mention that it deviated pretty sharply from what eventually made it into the pilot that aired.
The surfaced pilot script reveals how Cersei wants to burn a relic of the past, and her more violent relationship with Jamie isn't as consensual as this iteration of the series makes it seem. Dany is surprisingly eager to consummate her marriage to Khal Drogo, the White Walkers talk like Gollum, Catelyn is thrilled for Sansa to be queen, Jon gets uproariously drunk, and Joffrey proves he’s actual human garbage even before Tyrion slaps him to filth.
Seven hells, that’s a ton of material that would have turned the show on its head. You can read excerpts from that doomed script right here.
By now we know how much Cersei loves setting fire to things. One of the most buzzed-about pilot scenes on the internet has her sneaking into the crypt at Winterfell and later, in the Great Hall scene, pulling the feather she stole from her inside sleeve. That feather is the same one Robert places on the statue of his late betrothed, Lyanna Stark, in the released version. In the pilot, Cersei pulls the feather out of her sleeve and tells her handmaiden to burn it.
Why does a random feather even matter? Benioff and Weiss thought the mystery of Sansa wondering about that feather so many years later (they believe it would have stayed right where it was in the absence of a cleaning crew) was much more appealing than Cersei just torching one more thing. Also, now that we know about Jon’s origins, the Season 8 teaser that shows the feather falling to the ground and freezing over is that much more significant — and eerie.
Other scenes were either changed or completely scrapped, and would have taken away from the main plot (like Joffrey showing off supreme diva-ness in a practice swordfight) or been plain confusing (dialogue overkill). Oh, and the drunk Jon scene? He trips over his own feet and knocks over an entire flagon of wine. Go home, Jon Snow.
Season 8 will begin deciding the fate of whoever is still alive in April.