When Game of Thrones ended this year there were many a tear shed. Some by die-hard loyal fans mourning the end of their favorite show, some by regular fans who sat through years of a complicated series that rapidly declined season after season just to be cheated with that terrible finale. Some went the other way and shed tears of joy instead, namely the book fans who didn’t have to see the producers butcher A Song of Ice and Fire anymore, and let’s not forget all the non-fans out there who were finally relieved that after eight years of this fantasy-drama being shoved down their throats that it was officially over. No matter where you fell on the spectrum, it was an emotional time for us all.
But with it’s Emmy breaking record of 161 nominations and its 45 million viewership, we were fools to believe HBO would let go of this cash-cow so easily. Before season seven even aired there were talks of not one, but five successor shows to this series. Now two of them met with the chopping block Ned-Stark-style, but that leaves three we have a chance of seeing, with one already wrapped up an ready to pilot.
But will we really want to watch them? After all, unnecessary sequels and prequels routinely end up tarnishing a franchise, with Star Wars and Harry Potter being the most famous casualties of this strategy. There isn’t much of GOT left that we haven’t been disappointed by, but as producers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss taught us it could always get worse.
Well, to start, let’s focus on the series we’ll actually get to see soon. Though we know the most about it out of three, details are still sparse as the network is determined not to have any plot leaks this time around, meaning knowledge on the other two is almost non-existent right now. The so-called prequel rumored to be called The Long Night/ The Longest Night/ Bloodmoon is set in the same universe as Westeros but will take place about 6,000 – 8,000 years before Aegon’s Conquest. Meaning that it’s long before the Seven Kingdoms, the Iron Throne, and before any of our favorite GOT characters ever existed.
For those of you who don’t actively memorize the expansive history of Westeros, allow me to set the scene. As the suggested title hints, The Long Night is the name of the era in the Age of Heroes when night lasted for a full generation and a great and heavy winter descended onto the population freezing and starving them out. Fans might remember Old Nan using this history lesson to try and frighten a sullen Bran. As Nan herself explains, this is said to be the time when the Others (aka the White Walkers) were created and tried to invade Westeros from the North. The conflict came to an end with the Battle for the Dawn as the First Men aligned with the Night’s Watch and the Children of the Forest, who brought their dragonglass weapons. Together they successfully pushed the Others back to the utmost North into the Land of Always Winter. Not long after, Bran the Builder, with the help of giants, assembled the Wall to keep the Others out and protect the realm.
Now, you’re probably having some flashbacks to the very similar GOT plot lines and that is fair, but given the wildly different time this will take place it seems like this show still has some surprises ahead for us. For one thing, we will finally see how the Others were created, and possibly the origins of the Night King, who was Commander of the Night’s Watch only to abandon his post when he was seduced by a woman Other. We may even get to see the founding of everyone’s favorite nobles, House Stark. Most of all though, we’ll get to see our fan theories play out in the story of the Last Hero and Azor Ahai, and finally, we’ll find out if they are in fact the same person. In addition to clearing up these long-debated plot lines, George R.R. Martin promises that the series will reveal “the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history” and that despite how much we’ve read and estimated of this time that “it’s not the story we think we know.”
Fans of Martin’s writing are used to such ominous premonitions, but no matter how much we think we can guess where this is going he always has a way of surprising readers. There’s no reason that his suspenseful well-thought storytelling would not translate into this new show since Martin is an executive producer on this series. For the record, D&D are technically executive producers on it as well, but reports so far claim that they’ve taken a backseat role this time around and have minimal involvement, meaning that we won’t have to watch them debase Martin’s profound narrative once again and it’s safe to tentatively get our hopes up for this new show.
Yet, for many fans having sat through eight years of emotional turmoil for Game of Thrones, a new show in the same world and style is still a hard sell. Most of us have had our fill of Westeros, or at least until Martin releases his next book in the series, but it’s worth remembering that this is still a fantastic story on a premiere network with a generous studio budget and a star-studded cast that includes Naomi Watts. So long as D&D stays in their place it could have a real shot.
The Long Night will air sometime in 2020 but no date has been announced yet, let’s just keep our ears open and our expectations reasonable. If the pilot does well, the likelihood of us seeing the other two successor shows, including one that is confirmed to be about the Targaryen dynasty, is looking pretty good. And if you can remember way back to the first few seasons of Game of Thrones when the plot was thrilling but still made actual sense, this show could potentially be a blessing if it can deliver that same level of quality. At the absolute least, maybe it can wash the bitter taste of that god-forsaken finale out of our mouths.