With two shortened seasons left, HBO is trying to crystal ball their way to their next hit show by tossing pitches for not one, but four potential spinoffs. This is new ground for HBO, as the premium cable company has refrained from drawing water from the same well one too many times. Of course, HBO — or television in general — has never had a show like GoT. Entrenched in the web-weaving mind by one man over the course of many years (and counting), GoT took the fantastical to an entirely new level. Now HBO is hoping to ride those winter winds into another major hit.
Lore is something that has become intensely mandatory over the last two decades, specifically in film. Marvel’s flurrish of superhero releases provided origin stories for mostly common heroesthat the casual fan can appreciate. Peter Jackson wasn’t planning to make three Hobbit films, but the enormous response from the Lord of the Rings films pushed him onward, even if LoTR was just a bunch of people walking. For better or for worse, it’s a big reason why George Lucas revisited his space epic. Fans know something happened,, but now we want to see it happen.
While GoT isn’t a movie, it’s an enourmous saga all the same. Characters all over Westeros and Essos are often relishing in tales of those who came before that comes across as sine qua non, yet feels recondite to the audience taking it all in. A story has to begin somewhere, but there’s always a reason for why things are what they are at that place in time.
Think back through the past six seasons of GoT. How often has someone mentioned the impact of a long-dead king or soldier or maester? And the battles! There’s so many battles it’s impossible to keep up without a flowchart. It took until season six for GoT to institute the practice of flashbacks, but with fifteen episodes remaining, there’s much, much more that can be told. The expansiveness of Martin’s world so absurdly intricate that tertiary characters wind up playing some of the most important roles, even if it comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Sure the show has its high-profile characters that keep a straight ship, but the chorus of seemingly minimal add-ons are there to keep the wind in the sails as the show nears its end.
HBO has kept mum on what sort of story they want to tell, but there is one that rises above the rest. The most obvious choice is that of Dunk and Egg — a knight and a squire — who existed almost a century before the events of GoT, as told in three novellas (collected as one book in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms) by Martin. After the two meet, Dunk and Egg share adventures that eventually lead to Ser Duncan the Tall being named a member of the Kingsguard, while Egg — better known as Aegon V Targeryen — becomes king of Westeros. Now two of his descendents are about to play a incredibly important role in who will sit on the Iron Throne.
Other possible options could surround any of the world-shaping battles mentioned throughout the annals of The Citadel. Robert’s Rebellion took place just before the events of GoT which gave Jaime Lannister his maligned “Kingslayer” moniker and Robert Baratheon the Iron Throne. The battle known as Blackfyre Rebellion was a civil war between two half-brothers that lead to the division of the Seven Kingdoms. Of course we can’t forget about the Night’s King and the Children of the Forest, which was proffered explanation in season six, but come one, there’s more there.
Regardless of the direction HBO chooses to go, a spinoff is a fickle beast, and rarely in television does it last to its intended completion. The most notable and successful attempt came in the form of Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier, which lasted as many seasons as it’s predecessor, Cheers. Currently, AMC’s Better Call Saul is standing strong in its fourth season as it wades through the wake of Breaking Bad. But more often than not, one character is not enough to carry a full-fledged show.
HBO has The World’s Biggest Show on its slate for two more years. Instead of waiting to see the concluding response (because, you know, maybe people will tire of dragons and scheming and people who drink and know things. Maybe.), HBO is jumping in with both feet to keep the train moving. GoT has become a year-round event — much like the NFL– and a delay between the end of GoT and the beginning of whatever’s next causes a break in the action. For the next show to succeed, HBO needs people talking about it and more importantly, speculating about it.
What stories would you like to see played out on the next GoT show? Let us know in the comments below.
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