Warning: Contains possible spoilers for the upcoming eighth season of “Game of Thrones.”
It’s been about four months since the last episode of “Game of Thrones” aired, and fans are at their wits’ end. Westeros withdrawal is a very real plight, and there’s only so many times that one can frantically rewatch the series before going insane. With its final season anticipated to air sometime next year, and no official word from HBO, fans are getting desperate. Luckily, to fill the void left by such a remarkable series, the “Advanced Screenwriting” class right here at UC Berkeley is here to help. (Insert pun about Film 181 students being knights in shining armor.)
Students in this course, taught by campus lecturer J. Mira Kopell along with course showrunner Justin Vaccaro, had a semester to collaborate and create a believable opening episode for season eight. Weaving together the myriad of “Game of Thrones” storylines into a cohesive narrative is no easy task, yet somehow these students pulled it off. This theoretical episode had its debut Friday night during a live table read. The actors/writers shuffled in front of a PowerPoint presentation (or was it just one of Bran Stark’s visions?) to create the illusion of the various settings present in the series. It gave the screenwriters the opportunity to adapt to a specific writing style and also provided the audience a welcome return back into the world of “Game of Thrones”.
And in this season eight opener, winter has definitely arrived.
This theoretical episode gave fans of the series multiple long-awaited moments. Arya Stark and Jon Snow get reunited for the first time since season one. Jaime Lannister’s solo journey is briefly followed after his dramatic departure from Cersei Lannister last season. But perhaps the most exciting ideas broached in this episode are the events concerning the army of the dead and the mystery surrounding Daenerys Targaryen and Jon’s complex relationship.
Season seven ended dramatically with the Night King using the re-animated Viserion to knock down a portion of the previously impenetrable Wall. The final moments of season seven feature the chilling image of an undead army infiltrating the North in droves. This theoretical episode, therefore, picked up by following the two characters that witnessed this traumatic event; Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion’s attempt to relay news to Jon and the rest of the northern forces. The first structure immediately in harm’s way would be Last Hearth, the castle of House Umber. Last Hearth ultimately falls to the Night King’s forces, and along with it falls a central character — Beric dies for the seventh, and final, time.
Further south in Winterfell, another concept introduced in this theoretical episode was simultaneously tantalizing and horrible — the idea that Daenerys could be pregnant with Jon’s child. After Daenerys’ stillborn son in season one, it’s been generally presumed that she is now infertile as a result of Mirri Maz Duur’s black magic. Daenerys says as much in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” but Jon, as well as many fans, aren’t convinced. Jon states that perhaps a Maegi with a grudge isn’t necessarily the most accurate source of information about Daenerys’ fertility. Fair point, Jon. Similarly, the dialogue between Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys in“Beyond the Wall” further hints at the idea that Daenerys could potentially become a literal mother one day. Overall, the show seems to indicate that there might be merit to this idea. Daenerys and Jon’s potential child would be a bastard born of incest, and it would undeniably add even more complications to their relationship.
This spicy relationship is the focus of much of the episode. Now both political and romantic allies, Daenerys comes to the conclusion that the best way would to assuage Sansa Stark’s worries would be through a marriage between herself and Jon. This is perhaps the most true-to-life moment of the entire table reading. “Game of Thrones” certainly loves to utilize dramatic irony, and it is all too easy to imagine this scene playing out in the actual series.
Daenerys and Jon may be political allies for now, but this could change when both parties become fully aware of Jon’s true parentage. Their tentative armistice may come to an end when both of them are cognizant of a claim to the Iron Throne.
Adding yet another level to this relationship was the standout performance given by the actress Kiva Uhuru in her role as Jon. Uhuru completely nailed the Jon Snow accent (“Duh-Nare-Ease”), and her performance included several moody stares off into the distance. Uhuru definitely was the comedic highlight of the night and continued to entertain even after the episode’s conclusion. After the table read, Uhuru, still in character, could be heard bellowing to the rest of the room, “It was only a one-night stand!”
Even though the episode may not have been entirely happy, this interpretation of season eight was highly enjoyable to watch. From the the plight of the Dothraki in cold Westeros weather to Tormund’s constant uttering of “Shit,” the episode rang true with the overall tone of a typical “Game of Thrones” episode. The believability of this “Game of Thrones” installment is a testament to the talent of the student-writers themselves, and this theoretical episode was more than enough to tide over fans of the series anxiously awaiting a return to Westeros.