Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Best Off-Screen Game of Thrones Adventures

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Game of Thrones, by master storytellers David Benioff and Dan Weiss, is one of the most critically acclaimed and action-packed shows of all time. Every minute is go, go, go, even when it’s the High Sparrow pontificating on an atheist’s conception of ecclesiastical jurisprudence for the fourth time, or a montage of Sam scrubbing chamber pots. For that reason, we can’t possibly expect everything that happens to actually be shown to us, especially when not showing it makes the heart-pounding moments all the more shocking!

Therefore I give you the most epic, dramatically satisfying moments they didn’t bother to film.

Honorable Mention: Brienne Unlocking Moat Cailin’s Secrets

Moat Cailin has been a rather…unusual location in Game of Thrones. It started out as the important chokehold to the North, since it was the only way to pass through the Neck. Roose Bolton seemed to feel it was pretty important when he was trying to bring his troops back North after the Red Wedding.

“As long as the ironborn hold Moat Cailin, our armies are trapped south of the Neck.”

However, fear not: Lady Brienne found a nice loophole in the Moat Cailin system. You see, she and Pod had the wonderful idea that they could simply go around the place when they were tailing Littlefinger and Sansa back up to Winterfell in Season 5.

Don’t follow the lights!

Now, Pod noted it’d take them miles out of the way, which maybe that makes this more of his feat. Did he know the path around Moat Cailin, through the impenetrable swamp with secret routes known only by the Crannogmen, that are considered only accessible by boat? Or perhaps he had heard rumors, and Brienne somehow convinced Howland Reed in an off-screen trip to Greywater Watch. Or maybe Gollum had been following them, and they caught him with Elven rope, releasing him under the condition that he served as their guide.

However it was done, the possibilities we can imagine are endless. And moreover, Brienne’s feat unlocked this secret way to all other characters, who would go on to gleefully skip around the stronghold in the seasons to come (including herself again…twice). It may not have been the most cinematic adventure compared to the others on this list, but its impact makes it more than worthy of this honorable mention.

10. The Lannisters Sacking Highgarden

Off-screen battles are some of the best battles that Game of Thrones offers. Remember that time Stannis was defeated by Ramsay’s troops? Well, if you close your eyes you can probably see it.

However, one of the more impressive examples came in the most recent season, when Jaime Lannister miraculously sprinted across the continent, grabbed an army, and raced it down to Highgarden to capture the place  (with enough time to run back to King’s Landing with their gold). The bullet train I’m sure he commandeered is a worthy off-screen adventure of its own, but it’s more the Lannister troops successfully taking Highgarden, the regional capital of the most populous part of Westeros.

It’s true, the castle may not have had the three rings of walls as described in the books, but even still, it looked like quite the defensive stronghold with a clear, geographic advantage given the hill it sits on:

However, we all know that fighting was never the Reach’s forte, because House Tyrell’s sigil is a rose. Therefore, this sits towards the bottom of the list, even if it must have been a fairly interesting. Oh, and a shoutout to whatever vehicle transported Olenna from Dragonstone to Highgarden, too.

9. Tyrion and Bronn Set Up a Meeting

Now, I realize the description of this is particularly dull. But you have to understand something: in 7×05 “Eastwatch”, Tyrion connected with Bronn despite his being on Dragonstone and Bronn being in King’s Landing. Even more impressively, this occurred with Tyrion having no reason to think either Bronn or Jaime was alive. And he goes and tries to set up a meeting with said brother. He had just seen Jaime almost get blasted in the face by fire, and then knocked with full armor into a body of water, and apparently neither he nor Daenerys thought it’d be worthwhile to check on that and see about taking him as a hostage. Those aren’t useful.

While this situation may not sound particularly cinematic, it does suggest a telepathic connection of sorts, a la Galadriel and Elrond in another great adaptation. Just imagine Bronn and Tyrion staring wistfully into the middle distance. “Do we leave Jaime and Cersei alone? Do we leave them to their fate?”

Of course, there is a possibility that Tyrion merely located Bronn by himself in King’s Landing after getting smuggled in, no telepathy necessary (other than assuming their survival). Yet this is still a worthy off-screen feat, since Tyrion is the same guy who couldn’t even walk to his boat without being recognized.

Did he have a cellphone? Did he borrow Franken!Gregor’s GPS tracking technology? One can only wonder with amazement.

8. The Great Unsullied Trek Across Westeros

While Jaime and the Lannisters battled for Highgarden with the cameras off, Daenerys’s Unsullied forces took Casterly Rock through yet another sewer trick. We certainly were shown this, along with the trickery the Lannisters played! The place had only been left lightly garrisoned, the larders had been emptied, and to make matters worse, Euron Greyjoy showed up to torch the Unsullied’s boats.

In other words, the Unsullied’s form of transportation was gone, and they were stuck in a place with no food. As Jaime explained to Olenna, “they’ll be forced to abandon their position and march all the way across Westeros.”

Which they did! When did they do this? We’re not sure, but they definitely were back in King’s Landing in time for the parlay by the season finale.

Did Daenerys’s Dothraki troops meet them after Loot Train Attack? It’s as possible as anything else. Or they just had a slow, methodical walk across the continent where they were apparently unmolested. I guess they just took the Gold Road, and snacked on the ashes of the provision trains that Dany had burnt down.

7. Theon’s Wrong Warp to the Iron Islands

Theon spent all of Season 5 bonding with Sansa, eventually atoning for his previous wrongs against her House by helping save her from Ramsay. So naturally it’d make sense that come Season 6, he’d want to fuck right off to help out Yara. However, he made this decision somewhere in between Winterfell and the Wall. Sansa was kind enough to give him a horse, but the rest was…all his doing.

We know given Theon’s arrival to the Iron Islands that he managed to secure passage on a boat. I just have no idea how. He didn’t have any money on him, unless Brienne slipped him some off-screen, nor can I really think of how many ships would be sailing between the riverlands and the Iron Islands and this point in the story. My best guess is that he sold his horse just before he got to Moat Cailin, went around Moat Cailin with Brienne’s helpful knowledge, and caught a ship from Seagard, since the Mallisters were one of the Houses name dropped who rose against House Frey, so maybe they’d want some sweet Ironborn trade. Why not.

Oh, it’s also worth noting he did this in record time, but that should be a given.

Again, this may not be the most cinematic off-screen journey, but it’s also possible Theon glitched onto the boat by running out of bounds in a map that’s incidentally connected.

Good job, Theon!

6. Escape from the Harpy Pit

Here we have to dip back to Season 5 for this fine adventure. In the penultimate episode, we found out that despite Daenerys doing pretty much everything she could to appease the locals, they were having none of it, and attacked in the fighting pits. Dany was spirited to safety by Drogon, but that still left Missandei, Jorah, Tyrion, Grey Worm, Daario, and a handful of Unsullied completely surrounded by the Sons of the Harpy.

Yet in the finale, they’re all chilling in one of the pyramids, apparently still in charge of the city. Being very generous, we can pretend that Drogon burned the slavers surrounding them, but we can see in the background of Dany’s joyride the control they still had over the situation.

Perhaps the rest of the Unsullied stormed the pit and bailed everyone out, even aided by the Temporarily Forgotten Dothraki. Or maybe the Evil Sex Worker of False Tears showed up and gave the Sons of the Harpy an impassioned speech about the futility of revenge. It’s also possible Daario and Jorah fought everyone off (while quipping in their buddy-cop dynamic) as Grey Worm led Missandei and Tyrion to safety. Your guess is literally as good as mine, and probably far better than Benioff or Weiss’s.

5. Arya Living as Walder Frey for Two Weeks

Arya has had a whole lot of off-screen fun we weren’t privy to, like when she learned to apply masks in the first place. However at the start of Season 7, while she was posing as Walder Frey, she hinted at one of her best yet.

“You’re wonder why I brought you all here. After all, we just had a feast. Since when does old Walder give us two feasts in a single fortnight?”

In my opinion, the best assumption is that yes, two weeks have passed since the last Frey feast, where Arya killed Walder. Which means that for 14 days, she’s been running around the Twins pretending to be Walder.

Imagine the hijinks! It’s a fun frolicking bedsharing fic with a traumatized child-bride! Maybe Arya had to fake an illness to sleep on the couch. Maybe she spent her time having very weird conversations with the help until she understood the lay of the land better, but would kill any who seemed suspicious. Maybe she spent all her time mulling a poison to place in all the wine, and had to personally see to its distribution…all while wearing the face of an octogenarian.

The sky’s the limit, and the only thing we can truly rule out in her activities is receiving news of the new King in the North. Cause who’d bother telling Frey that?

4. Blackfish Retaking Riverrun

Speaking of the Red Wedding (kind of), astute fans of the show will remember how Brynden “Blackfish” Tully accompanied his niece to The Twins, only to slip out just before all the murder thanks to his small bladder. He also managed to escape the slaughter of Robb’s troops just outside the gates, and ran away from the scene completely.

As it turned out, he managed to gather a group of people that was no more than one tenth of the Frey forces, and take Riverrun from them! Are there any defensive strongholds that do a damn thing on this show?

According to the Freys, it was because he knew the castle better than they did. Perhaps the Blackfish also employed a clever ruse through the sewers, since that’s a guaranteed weakness of anywhere.

But lest you think Blackfish’s off-screen heroics ended with this miraculous military feat, there was also his off-screen fight to the death. It sounded very good. “He died fighting.” Exciting!

3. The Sand Snakes Pursue Their Cousin

Who doesn’t love the Sand Snakes? These dames get up to lots of adventures off-screen, like the time they dragged a ship captain into the middle of the desert, buried him, and stuck a bucket over his head because he provided them with helpful information.

However, the most miraculous one of all, of all the Snakes’ journeys large and small, is the one I thought could never be: their magical teleportation onto Trystane’s ship, anchored outside of King’s Landing in the Season 6 opener. You see, we closed Season 5 with the Sand Snakes and Ellaria waving goodbye at this ship, knowing they had successfully murdered Myrcella. But rather than any one of them giving Trystane a kiss goodbye with the same exact poison, they opted to send Nymeria and Obara after the ship, where they could knock on his cabin door and demand a fight for the death.


How did they know they’d have an opportunity to corner Trystane on a dock ship without Jaime there? I haven’t the foggiest! I also have no clue if they immediately stripped off their flowery pink dress and bathrobe of sex appeal, donned their action outfits, and hopped into the sea to swim after the ship, or if they merely found a way to beat it out by land. It’s completely impossible to tell. But one thing’s for sure: it must have been grippingly dramatic!

2. The Septa Spoonella Extraction Mission

We’re really getting to the cream of the crop now. At the end of Season 6, Cersei finished off her controlled demolition project with a victory lap that included wine-boarding Septa Unella (lovingly nicknamed “Spoonella”) as revenge for the Walk of Shame at the end of Season 5. However, throughout the rest of Season 6, Unella had been assigned to Margaery-duty. This included overzealous scripture reading when she was still in the cells, standing on the steps with her bell for the Walk of Shame fake-out, and then tailing Margaery after she was out on bail to make sure she didn’t have any worthwhile conversations with her grandmother. All in service of the Faith.

Now, it’s true that we here at the Fandomentals haven’t been able to make heads or tails of why Unella needed to follow Margaery around, but what was clear is that the woman was a damn walking shadow.

So how was it that Cersei, who was under house arrest at the time and actually someone facing a trial in a few days, managed to kidnap Unella without Margaery’s noticing? The obvious choice here is Zombie!Gregor, though when Cersei first introduced him to Unella, she acted like she hadn’t seen him before. So…Qyburn’s birds? Qyburn himself? Did someone just jump out and chloroform-rag her while Margaery’s back was turned?

The planning must have been immaculate, and boy was the payoff worth it. Thank the gods Cersei didn’t use this kind of cunning to target someone like the High Sparrow. Unella was the true villain.

1. Arya Todd’s Meat Pies

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, perlease?
Did the Season 6 ending fill you with glee, as Arya murdered a man on her list of just three?
Yes it did, I can see.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, how she completed it was no breeze!
There was teleportation, murders by the pair, then commandeering a kitchen to use its bakeware.
Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t imagine the excitement and gall… just inside of Frey’s hall.
There, Frey sampled Arya Todd’s meat pies, savory and sweet pies made from his sons. He, who cheats…lies, gobbled up the treat pies, ignoring her discrete guise, so she won.

In all seriousness though, while Arya’s swift sailing and sprint across Westeros were probably exciting, nothing beats her finding Black Walder and Lothar, recognizing them, murdering them without anyone noticing, taking their bodies into some kitchen someone where she was able to grind them into meat pies, fully baking these pies, and then sneaking all of this into The Twins. A slightly less convoluted version is that it was the kitchen in The Twins that she used, but then the “how” begins to feel even more ludicrous. Perhaps the server-girl’s face she had was someone who already had a rapport around The Twins (RIP, I guess), and everyone trusted her implicitly when she shoved two bodies into a meat grinder.

What’s clear though, is that this is hands-down the best Game of Thrones adventure they didn’t bother showing us. It combines distance with fighting with revenge. But hey, at least the shock was preserved.


Game of Thrones may not be returning for another year. But thankfully, the more you think about this show, the more you’ll realize how many off-screen adventures had to have taken place just so the dramatic satisfaction we watched could occur. This wasn’t even touching political meetings and arrangements! What a masterpiece.

Images courtesy of HBO

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