How The Worst Storyline In Game Of Thrones May Have Been Created
Let’s begin with the whodunit. It’s more of a whodidn’tdoneit, really.
Imagine if you will, the summer of 2015. Barack Obama is president. Game of Thrones is between season five and six. Bigger and better than ever. It is beloved across the globe: the most pirated show of all time and it isn’t close.
We hover outside the Chateau Marmont as a mesomorph in a sailor’s cap walks with purpose up to the grand old dame of Sunset Boulevard. He has arrived in sunny southern California from points North, and he’s a man on a mission: One time, back in the 70’s when he was trying to make it as a screenwriter, he couldn’t get into the Chateau Marmont.
Because back then, he was a nobody.
These days, this nautical cave-sprite is the toast of the town, having penned the fantasy series from whence the greatest television show of the twenty-first century hath sprung.
He is somebody.
And, fulfilling a promise he made to himself in the lean years, when no one believed in or recognized his talent, he’s going to get a room at the Chateau Marmont and take a dump on the floor.
Because fuck the Chateau Marmont.
It’s sweeter because HBO is covering the cost of the Bungalow. Bungalow 3, where John Belushi OD’d and died. The first mate of television doesn’t know this, but if he did it would only enhance the deed, and somewhere, from that eternal frat house in the sky, Belushi would approve.
But first, Ahab’s cherubic heir has to have a meeting. With the two young turks who spun a big fucking pile of Rumplestiltskin’s unruly, untrackable bullion into golden Nielsen ratings in a way the world hath never seen.
And in this meeting, they need answers. Answers he’s promised them for more than a half decade. Answers about characters and plot and the conquest of fictitious nations and the foil for the greatest army ever assembled in fantasy since the Rohirrim rode onto Pelennor Fields.
Answers the naval gnome of New Jersey doesn’t have.
Imagine if you will, these young turks, family men both, trying to hide their irritation at having to drive all the way up godforsaken-tourist-thronged Sunset boulevard, a place they avoid at all costs, to take this meeting.
Imagine them, a couple of fucking choir boys when it comes down to it, hard working, focused, invested, hoping against hope that they’ll get the answers they’ve been promised. Also, kind of hoping that they very much DON’T get the answers so they can finally, blissfully break out onto their own and scaffold the honest-to-goodness professional architecture of a quality teleplay without having to wade through 3500 pages of various tree descriptions and third cousin’s slights to find a plot point.
They love the saltwater Gimli, they really do. His books launched them into a different stratosphere in this town. But man. Homey can bloat, yo.
And they have deadlines. Not book deadlines. Real Deadlines. Fucking TV deadlines. Production deadlines. They have people in eleven countries waiting for pink pages. This shit needs to be figured out, and they’ve reached the end of the printed history. Now they need to pick the brain of the oracle himself.
It’s with fondness that the three men sit down in the bungalow where Elizabeth Taylor nursed Montgomery Clift back to health after his near fatal car accident. The greetings are sincere. There’s real affection. For the man who came up with all this crazy shit. For the boys who made it soar.
They settle in. A couple of jokes, a couple of memories, a sip of an Arnold Palmer, and some happy smiles. The turks are ready. They look across the coffee table at the Fisher King, let’s call him Marty, and one of them claps, like John C. Reilly after prayers in Magnolia.
Turk 1: Okay Marty — hit us. Daenerys is finally on her ships, with the biggest army that Westeros has ever seen.
Marty: Mmm hmmm.
Turk 1: It’s pretty much everyone from Unsullied to Tyrells to Sand Snakes to Ironborn. It’s a fucking armada.
Turk 2: Who stops her?
The two turks lean forward a bit. Time slows. There is no one else in the room. There is no one else in the universe. This is the greatest TV secret since Who shot J fucking R. They are about to hear an answer that no one else on planet Earth knows.
Marty: Guys, I don’t know. Listen, I wrote this because I wanted something really cool to jerk off to. That’s it. I didn’t ever expect anyone would read it.
The Turks sit back, considering. Huh.
Marty: Then more and more people read it so I made it more and more dense. More and more convoluted. I buried the plot so far up the asses of tertiary characters that even I didn’t know where it was. I can’t believe you fucking guys know where it is. I mean, I appreciate it, but I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would wade through that much extraneous shit. For what? Fucking go to a water park or something. Drink a Miller Genuine Draft or something. Do anything. Jesus christ, you know?
Turk 1: So, you had no plans at all? Like, none?
Marty: No I did. I did. Okay, try this on for size, Dany’s army lands by the Mud Gate, and down the beach, where Stannis landed years before…
Turk 2: Yeah?
Marty: Wait for it…
Turk 1: Okay…
Marty: … A WEBBED FOOT steps out of the foam.
Turk 2: A webbed-
Marty: Foot. Yeah, it’s a whole fucking army of Mer-men. This whole thing was supposed to be about how an unknown Atlantean army saves the world of men from the Night’s king. They all have tridents and shit. It’s like ‘oh you think you’re soooo badass with your ‘snow’ and your ‘land’, but water surrounds land on all sides, y’know? Like an army gets surrounded? Eh? Eh? And the water is full of Mer-soldiers. Men mers and fucking hot as shit mermaid valkyrie fighters. And Jon Snow is like MMmmmm Mmmmmm. Gonna get me some of that hot Mer ass!
The turks look at each other, uncertain.
Marty: That’s what Game of Thrones is all about. Mer people saving everyone. It’s cool. Why do you think I wear this hat?
Turk 1: I, um-
Marty: Yeah and they ride these huge watercrows that can extinguish dragon fire.
Turk 2: Water Crows.
Marty: Yeah! Get it? Crows up high at the wall and crows down low in the sea? Now you see why I never finished the books?
I like to think about the young turks walking away from that bungalow and laughing with a sense of shock and relief and sheet-white terror about how they were going to wrap up this sprawling he-beast of a plot. But: off the hook, finally, of keeping the foosball of Marty’s unique vision in play.
And most of all, I like to think of Marty in Bungalow 3, sipping a Dr. Pepper and looking around for a really good place to break off a turd. For the old days when they made him feel less than. Because a promise is a promise, and when all is said and done, Marty is a man of the North.
And the North remembers.
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