Warning: This post contains spoilers from Sunday’s Game of Thrones.
The writer of tonight’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones lends EW some fascinating insights below. Read as Bryan Cogman takes our burning questions about “The Laws of Gods and Men.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Braavos! That was one amazing shot of the city you guys opened with there.
Bryan Cogman: Yeah, that was really fun. The visual effects team outdid themselves again
The giant statue at the city’s entrance reminded me of the statues on the Great River at the border of Gondor in Fellowship of the Ring. Though of course the Thrones version has us going between the warrior’s legs, which seems more appropriate for this show.
Much more appropriate! It was one of those iconic sequences and a touch of [author] George R.R. Martin’s world that we wanted to get into the show. We weren’t originally planning on going to Braavos this season, but thought the Iron Bank had been teased enough and wanted to put a face on the entity this season. Also, when mapping out the season, we wanted to delve into what it takes to get a maintain and army — no other fantasy series gets into the financial side of things, which is something George does really well.
The Stannis storyline has been stuck with him fuming at his big table in Dragonstone for awhile. It must be fun to get him out and about again.
Absolutely. That was the idea. When we first broached the subject of bringing in the Iron Bank, for awhile the version was [Iron Bank representative Tycho Nestoris] would come to Dragonstone and meet on Stannis’ turf. It just seemed like whenever we can open up this world and give the audience something new visually and take characters out of their comfort zone, the better. We thought it would be more dramatic and interesting to put Stannis in the position of having to go ask for a loan. It’s a humiliating situation. The Stannis storyline is certainly more of a slow burn, but it will pay off.
My impression of Stannis is that he would be a very just king, but would also be terrible at the job because has zero social game. How can you rule without any understanding other people’s needs and motivations?
That’s a valid question. He’s learning, though. This was a teachable episode for him and another reason why he keeps Davos around even though they don’t see eye to eye and Davos commits what Stannis sees as a little treason now and then. Davos helps him face these hard truths and through Davos he’s slowly learning some lessons. Here he has to swallow his pride. It was great fun having [actors] Liam Cunningham, Stephen Dillane and Mark Gatiss all on the set in the same scene. They have very different personas and different ways of working and it was great to see them bounce off each other.
This is Gattis’ one appearance this season. Will he be back?
I cannot confirm or deny future appearance. But I personally would love to see him again and the Iron Bank is an important part of this world.
We spoke of that great opening CGI shot earlier. We also got a dragon scene. It might be the best shot we’ve had of one on the show. Yet the dragons have been pretty off screen since the premiere, can you talk about the strategy in terms of how you’re using them this season?
The idea with those fantasy elements is it’s very important they be kept on the periphery as much as possible, so when they’re on screen they really pack a punch … [The idea] was to have a dragon rise up out of the gorge like a helicopter. That scene was meant to be a very big dramatic re-entry of the [dragon] character and serve as a way to visually and thematically tie into Dany’s [storyline in Meereen]. She’s an out-of-this-world character and she’s ventured into a culture that’s existed for thousands of years and now those two elements are bumping against each other. The other element is we’re seeing is the dragons are entering their adolescence and becoming their own thing and not tethered to their mother. They’ve grown exponentially in ferocity and size.
The dragons weren’t mentioned during Dany’s dissuasion of whether to invade Westeros last week. It’s pretty unclear to me — apart from realizing her dragons are getting more independent — how much control she has over them. Could she even use them to invade Westeros if she wanted to? Does she actually control them?
I think that’s a good observation. She has these things, they’re an incredible symbol of her power and her specialness. But they’re currently not under her absolute control. I don’t know how effective they would be in her invasion. I think she quite rightly has concluded not all the pieces are there yet.
You guys have done a good job of contextualizing her stay in Meereen as a proactive choice for the specific goal to learn how to lead, rather than the way she kind of sidled into that position in the books
Yeah, I think Dany asked a very important question: I have a right to be a ruler, but I don’t know how to be one yet. I need to go into this next step with a real track record. The [Slaver's Bay storyline] been an amazing thread to explore — it’s a “you broke it, you bought it” situation. Which is a situation we’ve found ourselves in many times throughout history.
There were also cute goats in that dragon scene, but I don’t think they’ll be any consolation for fans still longing for more Ser Pounce. Were you surprised by the intense online reaction to that cameo, and what are the odds of him returning next season since we know he’s not back this year?
I won’t lie, I was surprised. I knew he had a big of a fan following but I was not prepared for that level [of interest]. It’s great, but as usual I wasn’t thinking that we gotta get Ser Pounce in there. I was faced with this scene with Margaery and Tommen and what are they going to talk about to keep it from just being a creep-fest. Ned Stark is a character who is mentioned in nearly every episode since his death. and I daresay Joffrey will have the same kind of impact moving forward. So adding Ser Pounce was a way to bring up the difference between Tommen and Joffrey. I should say the cat was a nightmare to work with. You’ll notice you don’t actually see a wide shot of him jumping on the bed because we could never get it.
Does the online reaction increase the odds of his return?
That’s not up to me. We’ll see. No promises.
In another recent episode we also had the White Walker scene with Craster’s baby. That was a rather huge reveal at a time we least expected it, and some pointed to a seeming mistake in the online marketing that revealed the identity of that lead Walker.
I cant really comment on what it is or who that is. I will say certainly of the placement was born from the idea that we have this threat we’ve been teasing since the first scene of the first episode. The White Walker story is arguably the slowest burn we have. We’re in the fourth season, you want to feel like you’re servicing that and peeling the curtain back a little.
The scene with Theon was brutal, as they tend to be. To deny his own name when his sister came to rescue him… and Ramsay is emerging as a big new villain in the absence of Joffrey.
Ramsay is certainly emerging as the most hateful character on the show, but it’s all coming down to daddy issues. We wanted to tease this rescue mission, but these things can go to hell really quickly if the person doesn’t want to be rescued.
Then he gets in the tub and just knows Ramsay is going to do something horrible, and of course he does — messing with his mind once again, to get him to “pretend” to be Theon now that he’s accepted his Reek identity.
The physical torture is now largely complete. Now it’s the psychological trauma and we’re starting to get an idea of what this is all for and how he can be of use to Ramsay. It’s all the more creepy to watch Ramsay be kind to him.
NEXT: All about Tyrion’s trial