The issues that would eventually come to bring down one of the greatest television series ever made can be felt as early as the first episode of its fifth season.
To re-write the entire series from that point however - even in treatment form - would require months if not years of meticulous planning and writing, and I've got an unrelated novel to finish.
Therefore, my re-imagining of "Game of Thrones" shall begin with Season 8 Episode 3: "The Long Night".
My reason for choosing this episode as my starting point is not a black mark on that episode as such (I want to make it absolutely clear that seeing Arya mother*cking Stark save
the world cured my depression and sealed the deal on her winning my Greatest Badass In History trophy). But for my idea of an improved series ending to work, I have to start somewhere.
My treatment proper thus begins with a new opening for Episode 3, accepting the flawed-but-functional first two episodes of the season as they are,
with a few notable exceptions which I shall summarize here (rather than having to write treatments for an additional two episodes, which I'm not in the mood for).
* The civilians do not head down to the crypts. Obviously.
Instead, Tyrion Lannister, Varys, Sansa Stark, Missandei, Samwell Tarly, Gilly, Tormund, the surviving wildlings, the civilians,
and a smaller force of 500 Dothraki and 500 Unsullied are heading south.
At the start of Episode 3 they have arrived at Castle Cerwyn,
with instructions to carry on to Riverrun if the battle would fail (a lack of a celebratory raven within a certain amount of time would be read as defeat).
* The battle preparations at Winterfell are changed.
Instead of digging one trench they have dug seven long trenches ten meters apart, each filled with sharpened oiled stakes with obsidian edges.
The catapults are on the right side of the walls, and so are the foot-soldiers.
The Dothraki are assembled on the south side of Winterfell, with the plan being that they will storm the army of the dead from the flanks in a pincer movement.
* Yara Greyjoy did not sail for the Iron Islands. She seems to have something else in mind, specifically concerning the fate of her dearest uncle.
* The Golden Company did, in fact, bring elephants.
~EPISODE 8.3 - THE LONG NIGHT~
150'000 undead soldiers are perfectly lit by the mercilessly cold light of the full-moon. Dead still, dead silent.
The harsh winds of winter rustle the remaining strands of hairs on their heads and cover their feet with snow. The dead do not react.
They are simply standing there, staring at the distant fires of Winterfell, obediently awaiting further instructions.
Spread out evenly alongside the front lines are 200 White Walkers. Most of them are mounted on horseback. Some are mounted on other things.
Huge things, vicious things, with turquoise bodies, flaming red eyes, and eight legs.
The Watchers on the Wall stare in horror. With a few notable exceptions, none of them have ever laid eyes on a dead person walking before. Nor White Walkers. Nor fucking ice-spiders.
JON SNOW and ARYA STARK turn to the Valean lord. Lord Royce isn't blinking. His gaze is locked on the undead army, sweat pouring down his forehead despite the biting cold.
Calm yourself, Royce. We need to stand fast.
Gods new and old protect us, this is the end.
My lords, we must remain ca...
NORTHERN SOLDIER #1
WE'RE ALL DONE FOR!
The panic is spreading like wildfire. Northmen and Valemen stare and scream, tearing at their faces in vain attempts to wake up from their nightmare. Some are abandoning their posts.
Many are abandoning their posts.
The panicked scream reaches across to the other side of the ice waste. We get the subtlest sense of a smirk from one of the mounted White Walkers. The fear has kicked in.
The living are vulnerable.
The harvest can begin.
IF YOU RUN, YOU DIE! STAY AT YOUR POSTS!
WE MUST STAND TOGETHER! STAY! AT! YOUR! POSTS!
The assertive voice of a hardened battle commander is enough to bring most of the soldiers back to the right side of sanity. ARYA STARK allows herself the quickest of proud smiles.
WE ARE THE SWORD IN THE DARKNESS. THE WATCHERS ON THE WALLS. WE ARE THE FIRE THAT BURNS AGAINST THE COLD, THE LIGHT THAT BRINGS THE DAWN, THE HORN THAT...
The screech brings the watchers down to their knees.
The booming nightmare voices of 150'200 undead demons fills the air with dread.
Around Winterfell, defenders drop their weapons, cover their ears, close their eyes, and scream in agony.
By the time Jon, Arya and the others have recovered, the undead army has already begun their march, approaching Winterfell. The ground is shaking under the pounding of their feet.
Birds take flight from the surrounding forests. The wind howls. The Battle of Winterfell is about to begin.
ARCHERS ON YOUR POSITIONS!
SIGNAL THE FIRESTARTERS - FIRST TRENCH!
SIGNAL THE CAVALRY - FIRST CHARGE!
The archers that have enough wits about them to knock arrows to their bows do so.
The Winterfell artillery is massive, with thousands of obsidian-tipped or burning arrows now aimed at the undead horde.
The signal is given and on the south side of Winterfell the furthest trench is set alight, while the Dothraki and mounted Valemen (now sporting burning arakhs and swords,
respectively) prepare for their charge.
The undead army reach the first trench, with the front lines pulverized by the flames. The forward momentum of the army is too much.
By the time that the army has come to a stop a thousand have already disappeared into the flames. But their bodies are now covering the first trench, allowing further passage.
The second trench is set alight, trapping the undead army on the other side.
And then the air is filled with a different kind of howl.
From the night sky descends DAENERYS TARGARYEN on DROGON with RHAEGAL in tow. Their fires consume thousands of undead in a glorious fire show, bringing swift death to the dead.
Arya stare in awe at the power of the dragon king, marveling at her luck: getting to see a real-life Visenya at work. THE HOUND, meanwhile, is not amused.
Drogon and Rhaegal do not stay; Daenerys is not willing to risk that the White Walkers are as good spear-throwers as their commander.
The dragon-fire achieves wonders, but there is nothing to nurture the flames, and so they swiftly dissipate.
But the undead army is shown no mercy, as the Winterfell cavalry now swoops down on it from both flanks, cutting down undead soldiers in their tens of thousands.
SER DAVOS SEAWORTH looks down on the battle. His focus is not on the battle itself, but on the flaming weapons.
So she's returned...
At the southern end of Winterfell SER JORAH MORMONT prepares to follow the second charge of the cavalry into the breach, when he suddenly picks up a sound. He looks up...
...and is blinded by roaring blue fire coming down upon the Earth.
THE NIGHT KING flies VISERION down upon Winterfell. Jon Snow & c:o have been too busy preparing for an attack from the north to even properly consider that their enemy could come from the south.
But now here He is, and His wrath is great.
Fiery blue death is brought down upon the cavalry, burning thousands of Dothraki and Valemen in one fell swoop. Viserion hovers, casually burning every living being in reach of his flame.
Ser Jorah was right out of reach, and is now high-tailing it out of there alongside the surviving Dothraki. There is nothing they can do here.
Viserion stays where he is and now concentrates his flames on the main gates of Winterfell, burning through the wood like it's nothing.
The power is so immense that the walls themselves are brought down, leaving a giant hole in the walls.
The way for the undead is free.
The Night King looks up, and sees two dragons approach. He smirks. He will take them on a merry chase.
Viserion disappears into the night with Daenerys and her dragons in hot pursuit.
SER BRIENNE OF TARTH, JAIME LANNISTER, PODRICK PAYNE, GENDRY and GREY WORM turn around and stare at the blue flames consuming the main gates.
Brienne is the first to step up to the plate and order the foot-soldiers to head down to the remains of the gate, with Grey Worm ordering the Unsullied to do the same.
The battle at the plains of Winterfell continue, with all surviving members of the cavalry (Jorah included) cutting down as many of the undead as they can. It's going smoothly. Very smoothly.
Jorah is the one who realizes it first, the only one not too consumed by warrior's blood to see that the main bulk of the undead are keeping their distance.
He screams for the Dothraki to pull back and starts to ride away. Some Dothraki follow him. Some. A few hundred. As for the rest...
Of course the undead have bowmen. Thousands of them. Tens of thousands. And now they are letting loose arrow after arrow, every arrow that they've come across beyond the wall.
The Dothraki are dropping like flies. Some decide that they'd like to follow Jorah after all. The rest charge towards the dead. Two hundred of these are brought down by ice-spears.
The White Walkers themselves are joining the fray, alongside ice-spiders, undead horses, undead mammoths and undead giants.
The Dothraki still out on the plains are given a spectacular final battle. But it is final.
And when things quiet down the White Walkers themselves are still standing, even if the majority of their mounts aren't. No matter.
The White Walkers stride towards the burning trenches. Arrows are fired from the battlements, but to no effect. The White Walkers spread out fairly evenly.
When they arrive at the first burning trench they stab the ground with their ice-spears. Many of the spears break, but the fire goes out. They stride forward. Next trench, same routine.