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As I did in Season 3, I wanted to ponder what might be the focus of "Histories & Lore" animated featurettes in the Season 4 Blu-ray. These are written by Bryan Cogman and narrated by the cast in-character, and usually give a good amount of backstory from the books.
What videos can we have?
Well it's difficult to develop a "wishlist" for Season 4, because many of the major Houses were already covered in past seasons. We've had videos focusing on each Great House for Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Targaryen, Arryn, Tyrell, Greyjoy, Tully, even Frey and Bolton. The Martells are the only new one, though there is much to cover there...
Season 3 came up with the great idea of making videos on "regions", not just the Great House who rules it; explaining "these are some of the major vassal Houses in each of the Seven Kingdoms" i.e. The North has the Umbers, Mormonts, etc., the Reach has the Florents, Hightowers, Tarlys, etc. (I wish the Stormlands video had mentioned their vassals, that was the exception; it focused on the long history of wars fought by the Stormlands; sort of a House Tarth of sorts given that Brienne narrates it). They had these for the North, the Reach, the Riverlands, the Stormlands, the Vale, and the Westerlands...leaving Dorne, the Iron Islands, and the Crownlands.
Well they'd have to tie in with major events from Season 4....mostly Joffrey's assassination and aftermath, the Night's Watch and the Wall/Gift (barely touched on in the "North" video)...Daenerys had stuff in Meereen this year, but we already had two videos on Slavery's Bay/Unsullied last year so I'm not sure what more they could say. Also could use a video on the different wildling clans - similar to the "region" videos, because we've already had a few "wildlings in general" videos. This would be about how Thenns or giants differ from the other groups, etc.
Along these lines, I would like to see a video on "Guest Right and the Rat Cook" -- maybe one in which Jon Snow is narrating legends about the Wall (the frozen sentinels and that girl who joined but got raped and killed) - and talking about the Night Fort, Jon explains the story of the Rat Cook (much as Bran did, but with pictures - "there they are, both, baked in that pie!"...)...Season 4 did have that farmer highlight just how much of a sacrilege it was for the Freys to break guest right.
Bran & Co didn't do anything that particularly merits extra info from an animated featurette. Similarly, Arya and Sansa didn't have specific storylines that raise new background info.
One of the big elements they did introduce was the Kingsguard, given Jaime's renewed worry about his honor, refusal to leave his post, even introducing the White Book and mentioning Arthur Dayne and Duncan the Tall (again, but more prominently).
We could use a video on "this is how Small Council offices work", citing a few famous historical examples; perhaps narrated by Pycelle. Helps explain when Mace and Oberyn arrive at the council (Mace insisting he be Master of Ships, etc.) Possibly as part of, or relating to, another short video about what Pycelle did in Robert's Rebellion (giving backstory on "I served Maekar, Aegon V, and Aerys II, but when Aerys II went crazy the right thing was to support Tywin because he could restore order better than anyone." -- as a parallel to the Varys/ Littlefinger video last year.
I would have liked a Brotherood Without Banners video summarizing how they were founded after the Battle of Mummer's Ford, but they haven't appeared in Season 4 so it might not be pertinent.
The Second Sons & mercenary companies - while not as important this season, the Second Sons are around in the background (it could be more Daario narrating about "the life of a mercenary" in general). They've also started mentioning the Golden Company on the TV show so that might be a good chance to round that out.
Ser Barristan - I really want this one. Ser Barristan lived through much of this history, so it would be him explaining how he rose to his position, what the War of the Ninepenny Kings was (and indirectly tie into that this is how Littlefinger became a war of House Tully) - again as a parallel to the other videos where characters explain why they did what they did; that Barristan was conflicted but served Rhaegar, then got pardoned - AND that he was hiding in the crowd when Ned was executed but there was nothing he could do, and why this drove him to seek out Daenerys to restore the Targaryens. A running theme might be him highlighting that his experiences have influenced his advice that sometimes it is better to respond to injustice with mercy -- in turn, this could tie into the Defiance of Duskendale and how it was Ser Barristan who begged Aerys to spare the life of Dontos Hollard, because he was only a baby.
The Targaryen dynasty - a straight-up history video briefly explaining the line of Targaryen kings, more than we've already had - that is, focusing on kings after Aegon the Conqueror. Also probably narrated by Barristan, because he lived through much of this and was quite close to them.
The Kingsguard - similar to Targaryen dynasty, talks about the Kingsguard as an institution and some of the more famous historical members (from Aemon the Dragonknight to Criston Cole, the Kingmaker). Working up to talking about Duncan the Tall and Arthur Dayne.
The more obvious choices of course are that we need three videos relating to Dorne:
- House Martell specifically - talking about Nymeria and the Rhoynar invasion
- Dorne, as a region - citing some of their major vassals, of whom there are several.
- House Martell in Robert's Rebellion - parallel to how there was a general Tyrell video but then also a video specifically on recent history in Robert's Rebellion. Explaining that Oberyn's uncle died fighting alongside Rhaegar and Barristan at the Trident, how Elia was a glorified hostage but Gregor then killed her and her children (though a past video has mentioned this, this video would put it in a wider context). And how Oberyn thirsted for revenge but was urged that the war was lost and the time not opportune.
Probably could use an Iron Islands region video, though frankly they've been so barely in Season 4 that we might as well wait - that and the Iron Islands don't have as many notable sub-houses -- MAYBE it could focus on the "region" but discussing each of the seven islands:
- Pyke - current capital
- Old Wyk -first colonized
- Great Wyk - largest, only one that gains more wealth from land than from the sea
- Harlaw - second largest, but the most populous and wealthiest.
- Orkmont - old capital of House Hoare
- Blackmont - has a few who worship the Faith of the Seven
- Saltcliffe - boring as hell
I hope they'd also do a Crownlands video, to show that it's more than just King's Landing. Explaining that it was part of the Riverlands then like the rest conquered by the Stormlands, though the ironborn later pushed them out (Harren's grandfather took "the Riverlands", his father took what would later be "the Crownlands"). Brienne's storyline would have explained much of this as she searched for Dontos Hollard but this was cut from the show; might tie in with a Barristan video explaining the Defiance of Duskendale - House Hollard did come into focus on a bit of Season 4, albeit its extinct now. But also House Stokeworth, that just became important due to Bronn. And of course explaining how the islands in the Narrow Sea were actually founded by Valyrians, dominate the sea approach, that's where Stannis's supporters were mostly located, etc.
At this point we *really* need a "House Baelish" video - mostly Littlefinger, though, fully explaining his backstory with the Tullys and with Lysa in particular, and how she was also motivated by her obsession with him to start the War of the Five Kings. But "Mockingbird" also introduced mention that Baelish's great-grandfather was from Braavos, and gradually his line just worked their way up the ranks across the generations. This might be split into multiple episodes if they also want to do one from Lysa's perspective, though they might do it overlapping (as the Littlefinger/Varys one did last year).
Oh yeah, BRAAVOS and the Iron Bank - I'm not sure if they'd really need a separate video entirely on the Iron Bank. Probably just a long video on both, though it would be fine if they split it into two - we'll call it "Braavos and the Iron Bank" for now.
...hmmm....I would enjoy if there was a featurette on events around the time of the War of the Ninepenny Kings: just as Robert's Rebellion set up the events of the War of the Five Kings, the War of the Ninepenny Kings in some ways set up the even older generation of characters (Brynden Tully, Barristan Selmy, ultimately Littlefinger's father)....and unrelated to the war, Olenna's mysterious marriage betrothal to a Targaryen prince (which one?) which she managed to sneak out of by seducing Luthor Tyrell.
Perhaps a video on our new boy king, Tommen Baratheon? Narrated by Tommen? His background perspective on growing up being terrorized by Joffrey, and how Cersei was willfully blind to how utterly crazy Joffrey always was? And that Cersei ignored Joffrey's abuse of his own brother? We missed getting the full "cat speech" that Stannis gave in the books, explaining that Joffrey *carved open a pregnant cat because he wanted to see the fetuses inside, when he was around 10 years old* (what's horrifying isn't so much that he did it, but that he then walked up to Robert covered in gore, holding a cat fetus, in no way comprehending that other people found find this remotely unusual).
Also I'd wished they'd explain more about Naath in the TV show, but they at least mentioned it in dialogue. Also a new detail that Grey Worm is from the Summer Islands, as well. So I want a video on "Sothoryos" which is mostly a geography lesson of sorts, Missandei explaining that Sothoryos got wiped out from the Doom of Valyria and unchecked slavers have been attacking ever since (though they did before that, now Zamettar and Yeen were destroyed and couldn't defend anyone). Background on that the Naathi are utter pacifists whose religion forbade them to fight off the slavers, also brief mention of the Summer Islands (yeah it's not really part of any one continent, but I lump it with Sothoryos due to its climate and ethnic makeup - until we know more from the worldbook, anyway). Maybe have another video about slavery in general? Don't see what the narrative would be, exactly; they could just fit that into the "Sothoryos" video, or split it later.
- House Martell
- Dorne (regional: major Houses)
- Robert's Rebellion - Oberyn Martell's perspective
- Braavos and the Iron Bank (perhaps two videos?)
- The Wall and the Gift - a regional video like "The North" or "the Reach", Jon Snow explains some physical and geographical details about the Wall, and specific information on its nineteen castles and how in time all but three were abandoned. Also Jon giving a full explanation of how the Gift was made, because Mole's Town appears so prominently this season (though Bran explained what the Gift was last year). Explaining that Brandon the Builder established it, though also that ***Jaehaerys I Targaryen and Good Queen Alysanne rode dragons to the Wall, and impressed with their valor, bought "the New Gift" to bolster their resources - but then how they declined again and wildling raids have almost depopulated it. Maybe also mention the Battle of Long Lake, the last big wildling incursion about 100 years ago under Raymun Redbeard.
- Wildling clans - another "regional" video focusing on sub-factions: just as "the North" video was explaining who the Umbers and Manderlys were, this would explain "this is who the Thenns are", "this is who the giants are", and also namedrop hornfoots, cave people, etc.
- Legends of the Wall - Jon Snow narrates other details about the Night's Watch, the frozen sentinels and that girl who tried to join by disguising herself as a boy.
- Guest Right and the Rat Cook - specifically explaining how it is unthinkable to break Guest Right in Westeros.
- The Small Council offices - what all seven are, how they work, and some notable historical members. Perhaps narrated by Pycelle or someone else.
- Robert's Rebellion - Pycelle's perspective
- The Kingsguard - narrated by Ser Barristan. Explains the rules about no inheritance, some of the major historical Kingsguard members (Criston Cole, Aemon the Dragon-knight), ending up talking about Duncan the Tall and Arthur Dayne.
- Robert's Rebellion - Ser Barristan's perspective. Or just a straight forward videon on "Ser Barristan" - how he's been a Kingsguard to multiple kings, and to bridge the gap between when Cersei/Joffrey dismissed him and when he found Daenerys.
- The Targaryen dynasty - post Aegon the Conqueror, talking about major kings between him and the Mad King. Narrated by Ser Barristan and/or Pycelle (I'd love if if we could get Maester Aemon or Daenerys too).
- Tommen Baratheon - Tommen explains his perspective on growing up in the royal court, with crazy people like Robert and Cersei for "parents" who ignored him, how Joffrey tormented him and Myrcella and they suffered but no one would acknowledge the monster that Joffrey was. Possibly that his worldview is a bit skewed because he still sees Cersei as his mother but doesn't really know why they were fighting the Starks (and he doesn't know why, Sansa seemed nice). Joffrey's video last year was supposed to be horror/black comedy, this would be more tragic.
- "The War of the Ninepenny Kings" - Brynden Tully, Barristan Selmy, or preferably both. Bit of info on the Golden Company and the Blackfyres. Ultimately this serves to set up both of their backstories, as well as explain why Petyr's father came into favor with Hoster Tully during the war, leading to his son Petyr being made a ward at Riverrun...
- "The War of the Ninepenny Kings - Olenna Tyrell" possibly titled "the Old Regime", Olenna Tyrell reflects on what the political scene was like when she was Olenna Redwyne, how "marrying Targaryens was all the rage back then" (and which we was supposed to marry), as well as that a young Brynden Tully spurned a marriage-offer to her (sister?) Bethany Redwyne. Mostly Olenna reminiscing about the gossip of all the court life and masquerade balls back then, mocking current lords like Tywin because she's older than them and remembers when they were all inexperienced children.
- "House Baelish"/Littlefinger - The founder of House Baelish was a simple Braavosi sellsword who settled in the Vale; his son was knighted; his grandson (Petyr's father) became a minor lord...who gained favor with Hoster Tully. Petyr Baelish is made a ward of the Tullys, falls for Catelyn, duels Brandon, gets seduced by Lysa, ultimately gets his revenge by manipulating the Starks and Lannisters against each other (explicitly spelling out to viewers how he did this the past three seasons).
- Robert's Rebellion - Lysa Tully's perspective; or just "Lysa Tully" - how she was obsessed with Littlefinger but her father made her abort his child, she could kind of tell he was really obsessed with Catelyn but hated to admit it; then while Catelyn got to marry Eddard, she got stuck in a loveless marriage with an older man and had many miscarriages - mixture of sympathy and horror at how bitter she became. Culminating in spelling out that Littlefinger convinced her to poison her own husband, then to write a letter to Catelyn lying and saying that the Lannisters did it, to dupe them all into fighting each other to exhaustion.
- "Sothoryos" and/or the slave trade in general - Missandei gives backstory about Sothoryos, explaining that its the third known continent, got badly damaged in the Doom of Valyria and is targeted by slaver raids. Specific backstory for Missandei, explaining what Naath is like, how her people are pacifists who get targeted by slaver raids. Maybe some stuff about Grey Worm or the Summer Islands, though we already had an Unsullied video, and a Slaver's Bay video, so I'm not sure what else there is to say about Meereen.
- The Crownlands (regional)
- The Iron Islands (regional)
That's all I can think of at the moment.
Official Season 4 Histories & Lore listing
UPDATED WITH NARRATORS:
- House Martell - Oberyn Martell
- House Baelish - Littlefinger
- Dragons - Grand Maester Pycelle
- Poisons - Oberyn Martell
- The Bastards of Westeros - Ellaria Sand
- The Iron Bank - Tycho Nestoris
- "Robert’s Rebellion - House Martell perspective" - Oberyn Martell
- Sellswords & Hedge Knights - Bronn
- The Wall - Samwell Tarly
- "The Nations of the North" - (would be better titled "Wildling Clans") - Tormund Giantsbane
- The Kingsguard - Jaime Lannister
- The Kingsguard - Bronn
- The Maester’s Chain - Qyburn
- The Death of Kings - Varys
- Valyrian Steel - Jorah Mormont
- Justice of the Seven Kingdoms - Bronn
By and large this meets many of the ones on my wishlist. We've got a House Martell and a Robert's Rebellion: Oberyn Martell's perspective. No "Dorne" regional one, but hey, we've barely introduced the Martells just yet, the regional one (about "other Dornish Houses" etc. and geography I guess) will come next year after we've actually seen Dorne, and it would overlap with the first two anyway.
House Baelish of course, and the Iron Bank of Braavos.
I suspect the one on "The Wall" will be the "regional" video for "The Wall and the Gift", explaining the different castles, how the Gift came about, and also the defensive setup of the Wall (relevant to the wildling attack in this season). This may also include the various "legends of the Wall" such as the Rat Cook, etc., hammering home that Guest Right is inviolable.
"Nations of the North" is an anachronistic name ("Nations of the north"?, as in "Beyond the Wall?", don't capitalize it that's confusing). Probably a "Wildling Clans" video (to explain the Thenns this season, etc.). Should have just called it that.
Now I wanted a video on the Kingsguard by Ser Barristan - apparently unavailable - but instead we've got Jaime and Bronn each doing one. Interesting, Jaime's never done one before. Wanted Barristan's perspective on Robert's Rebellion, but Jaime was close enough to give the same information (pointing out that Barristan fought for the Mad King anyway due to his vows, was wounded at the Battle of the Trident but was pardoned, yet everyone thinks Jaime's evil because he refused to "just follow orders" but killed genocidal maniac whom Barristan refused to kill on general principle).
Let's see moving down my personal wishlist...
I'd wanted one on the "Targaryen dynasty" but it looks like the "Death of Kings" one basically is that; Varys giving a quick rundown of the major wars in Westeros's history in which kings died (Maegor, Rhaenyra, Aegon II, Daeron I, and mentioning Daemon Blackfyre aloud for the first time, plus Maelys the Monstrous Blackfyre). Still thought Barristan's perspective would have been nice (he lived through most of this personally).
Anyway, the rest of my wishlist included one by Tommen Baratheon - given that he's king now, to compliment the one Joffrey did for Season 3, but A - low on time, B - Tommen's not that big yet, C - I think later seasons will want to tease out and reveal just how bad and neglectful of a mother Cersei was, letting Joffrey terrorize his younger siblings. So that's for the main season. I wanted one or two on the older generation of characters who lived through the War of the Ninepenny Kings (Brynden Tully, Barristan Selmy, Olenna Tyrell) but I guess that's referred to indirectly in the other videos (Varys's video describes Barristan killing Maelys Blackfyre - and hey, maybe the Golden Company will be mentioned in the Sellswords video). Wanted Robert's Rebellion - Lysa Tully's perspective, but I guess that will be covered by House Baelish.
Sort of also wanted regional videos on the Crownlands and the Iron Islands, but the rest of the Crownlands have been barely mentioned (Brienne travels through them looking for Sansa but this was mostly cut), and the Iron Islands shoved on the back burner. Crud. Well, they didn't do much in book 3 either, but they REALLY need to get back to them given all of their book 4 stuff.
Also thought a video on "Sothoryos" and the slave trade in general, by Missandei, would be nice (explaining that there's places beyond just Westeros and the Free Cities). Like, artwork of what Naath looked like before the slavers devastated it. Well, maybe next year.
They did some thematic videos this time, though one I hoped for was "Small Council offices" - given how many changeups in the Small Council we have this season and mentioning titles by name. Unless "the Maester's Chain" is specifically about Grand Maester Pycelle, though...
Anyway, the 5 that weren't on my wishlist but are in there now are thematic videos:
- The Bastards of Westeros
- Sellswords & Hedge Knights
- The Maester’s Chain
- Valyrian Steel
- Justice of the Seven Kingdoms
Bastards makes sense given how prominent Ramsay and Ellaria are now...though a bit redundant with the live-action interview featurette they ALSO did on it. Might be fun if someone other than Jon Snow gets a turn at narration.
Sellswords and Hedge Knights -- good to have this formally explained in the TV universe (I kind of wonder if they read the wiki :) - though more probably they read AWOIAF, which is what we parsed as our own guide when building the place :) -- particularly because they mentioned the Golden Company for the first time. I think this video is in here for Bronn to explain how a sellsword can work his way up the ranks from being a hired hand, to a landless "hedge knight", to - rarely - managing to marry into the upper nobility. Makes sense.
The Maester's Chain - given that Luwin is dead, who would narrate this? Aemon, Pycelle, or Qyburn? I strongly suspect Qyburn, though I hope for Pycelle (to overlap with "Small Council offices" but also explain that Qyburn got thrown out of the order for human experimentation).
Valyrian Steel -- makes sense to have this given how prominently Ned's sword Ice got melted at the beginning. I wonder who will narrate it? What else is there to say about it? HOW THE HELL will they address that they described it as being a Volantene smith when a story point is that only Qohorik blacksmiths know how to rework Valyrian steel?
Justice of the Seven Kingdoms -...I suspect due to Tyrion's trial? What could they say? Perhaps to explain formally the rules of a trial by combat?
"Poison" made a lot of sense for this season given Joffrey's poisoning, as well as retroactively learning that it was really Jon Arryn's own wife Lysa who poisoned him, setting the whole narrative in motion. Wonder who will narrate.