Game of Thrones‘ eighth season prompted many complaints, but the loudest, most unanimous fuss of all surrounded “The Long Night,” which was essentially an 82-minute cut of the Battle of Winterfell. The main problem? People couldn’t see the action because the episode was too dark, an issue that may have been arguably mitigated by a cut scene now revealed by director Miguel Sapochnik. This scene, if it had actually happened, also may have settled another chief beef that folks had, which was the lack of direwolf presence throughout the season.
On a related note, remember how Jon Snow didn’t hug Ghost goodbye a few episodes before the series ended? Despite their later reunion, this seemed like a cruel move, especially after Ghost trotted along next to Dothraki warriors during the Battle of Winterfell and lost an ear, and all he wanted to do was help defend humanity from the Night King and his army of undead. Well, Sapochnik, while speaking on the Filmmaker Toolkit podcast, revealed that Thrones writers initially included a massive pack of direwolves in the battle. 50 of them? All attacking Viserion? It sure sounds like that was the plan:
“There were many things that happened that people would’ve been so happy to happen — attacks of direwolves and crazy stuff. At a certain point you’re, like, ’50 direwolves attacking an undead dragon does not a good movie make.’ This was stuff we did not shoot; it’s part of the process.”
Assuming that this scene would have been, you know, visible, it’s hard to imagine a more joyous Westeros happening than watching a few dozen direwolves do anything, especially if they’re tearing apart an evil ice dragon. And though Sapochnik phrases the omission as a quality-related decision in terms of narrative, surely, the CGI cost involved with generating 50 scrambling direwolves, in addition to all the dragon fireworks that couldn’t be scrapped, had something to do with the omission.
Well, Sapochnik revealed other changes with the episode, including his initial plan to “kill everyone.” He wanted Jorah to die in the opening moments (which would have been sadder because at least he went out while serving Dany, which was his life’s work), and he “was up for killing absolutely everyone.” Yikes. Well, maybe that would have been better than the weird Mad Queen heel turn, but we’ll never know.