Would you watch Game of Thrones prequels?

Why We Want Game of Thrones Prequel Episodes
In a few years, the Game of Thrones HBO series might catch up to the books. So why not travel back in time and visit a younger Ned?

If there’s one thing that last week’s seminal Game of Thrones episode, “Blackwater,” showed us it’s that the already-great HBO series can benefit even more by going outside the box and breaking their established character-hopping format. While not unconventional for other TV series, “Blackwater” was certainly a stand-out chapter for Game of Thrones; focusing on one night, one set of characters and one location. And the fact that both book fans and those who haven’t read the George R. R. Martin series loved the episode proved that epic set pieces from the "Song of Ice and Fire" saga could get, for lack of a better term, a “proper” treatment on TV.

This episode also could potentially pave the way for more focused, single-story episodes in the future, which I’m sure many book fans, knowing all the big moments that still await us, are also excited about. But a fear that, I believe, readers and non-readers still share is the fact that there are still two books left in the George R. R. Martin series, and given that Martin took five and six years, respectively, between the last two published books means that this show could catch up to the books and then hit a dead end. Yes, this is a problem that we probably won’t face for years – perhaps not for six more seasons – but it’s still a concern.

So I say, let’s have some prequel episodes! If we’re not in a rush to get to the point Martin left us at in A Dance with Dragons, then let’s take some time to take a look backward. No, we don’t have to go so as far as having an entire prequel season (even though Spartacus was able to do it successfully), but I think it would be wonderful to do an about-face and actually see some of the major historical events that we’ve only, thus far, read about or heard about through expository dialogue.

Here’s just some of the greatness it could provide:

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

If one of the complaints people have bout this season is that the show is rushing through certain stories in order to try and fit Martin’s second book, A Clash of Kings, into 10 episodes, then let’s all lower our heart rates. Let’s settle into a nice, reasonable jog. Yes, creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have already said that, from now on, the series will be a bit of a shuffle and not a straight book-to-season adaptation. Book three, A Storm of Swords, will already be two seasons – but that’s not even counting the fact that there are still things they left out of Season 2, from book two, that will show up later in Season 3. And as for books 4 and 5? Well, those who read them and experienced Martin’s split-time/split-characters experiment know that the normal rules of adaptation will have to go out the window [insert Bran joke here].

So let’s go back in time. What if the last episode of each season ended with a flashback chapter? Or the first? Or both? What if they bookended the seasons? Not that the image of Daenerys, naked, holding the dragons wasn’t a powerful way to leave Season 1, but if the finale had been a flashback instead then we would have gone out on a crazy cliffhanger – Ned on the chopping block. Likewise, if the Season 2 finale was a flashback episode then we could have left off, present day, with “Blackwater.”

Or perhaps flashbacks could simply be inserted into the episodes? Like the way Lost did it? Of course that might also mean more episodes that focus mainly on one character – which I’m also not against. Just think, what if there was an episode down the line that was, say, only about Jon Snow and Daenerys? A true ice and fire split. With flashbacks spliced in for color. Now that's definitely something I would pay the "iron price" for.

Moments Big and and Small

The Game of Thrones Season 1 Blu-ray has an awesome, animated bonus feature that takes you through Westerosian history and I highly recommend checking it out. That being said, the show itself could do a whole episode on young Ned and Robert during Robert’s rebellion. Perhaps somewhere near the end that includes the Lannister Sack of King’s Landing. We could see Robert and Rhaegar clash at the Battle of the Trident. We could see Jon Arryn actually acting as their mentor/father figure. And, provided it's the right time for the reveal, we could see the story behind Ned’s bastard, Jon Snow.

But we don’t only have to check back on big, epic battles. We could spend an episode at past-Casterly Rock, with teen Cersei and Jaime and watch just how their relationship turned all twincestuous. We could take a stroll back and see a young Cat, who was originally betrothed to Ned’s older brother Brandon, have to marry Ned instead, after Mad King Aerys killed Brandon.

And I don't know about you, but I'd love to see young Tyrion's horrible summer internship as the Warden of Sewers!

There’s just so much to explore. We can look back at the life of Brienne or dip our toe into the poisonous pool of Robert and Cersei’s marriage. Or how about Littlefinger’s past with Cat and the House Tully? Flashbacks could be fun, but they also shouldn’t be over-used. Especially since the show goes to great lengths to have its characters explain, quite effectively, the things that happened to them in the past. The flashbacks should be mindful enough not to step on, or repeat, anyone’s brilliantly scripted soliloquies. Especially the ones where they're having sex and talking about dragons.

Don’t You Forget About Me

This show certainly isn’t shy about killing off major characters, but truthfully, in the years ahead, the cast will thicken a lot more than it will thin. It only gets more crowded from here. And with so many new faces and names headed your way, it might be useful to look back at the anchor characters, that the show was built around, who might not be around anymore.

And watching old, killed-off characters also provides us with two potentially fun avenues:

1. Seeing the actors reprise their roles as younger versions of their characters or...

2. Casting all new actors to play the younger versions.

But while most might want to see Sean Bean back as Ned, playing a Ned that’s 15 to 20 years younger might pose a bit of a challenge. Not a huge one, mind you, since the biggest part of us buying into it will be us actually choosing to buy into it. If we can suffer 30-year-olds playing high school students on TV, we can accept Mark Addy trying to look like a rebellion-leading Robert.

I have to say though, that a part of me kind of wants to see new actors play the roles in stories that are going to take place decades in the past. And again, that’s just as fun. This show has been so great at casting that I actually have the utmost confidence that they can find amazing junior versions of all their players.

Those Who Don’t Know History Are Doomed to Something Something

Look, this is probably the flimsiest of reasons for some prequel installments but…some TV viewers are a still confused about all the s*** that went down before the opening moments of episode one. And no matter how many times characters talk about the things that led up to the pilot, some people who watch TV simply won’t be able to process it fully unless they can see it. Yes, those of us who read the books can point and snicker at them, but the truth is that there are tons of people who watch this show just as a TV show and we don’t exactly want to leave them behind in the dust. And so while I also consider flashback episodes to be a great educational tool, I don’t see them as simplifying the saga. They would just enhance the story, while also, hopefully, providing a bit of wish-fulfillment for the book fans.

So what do you guys think? Do you just want to stick to the here and now as far as the books are concerned, leaving the past to the past? Or would you like to see some grand historical moments, or quieter character moments from yesteryear, brought to life on screen?


As much as I want to see Rhaegar, the Mad King, and what really happened at ToJ, I'd much rather read about it first and have it be canon rather than have HBO make it all up (though I'm sure they'll need GRRM's consent).