Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan Are Tackling All Things Thrones

April 27th, 2016

As hosts of the new GoT recap show streaming on HBO NOW, Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan have a whole world to talk about. The former Grantland writers and current contributors to The Ringer are releasing After the Thrones on Mondays, breaking down the finer points of the series. The two chatted with HBO about their love for Game of Thrones, Season 6 and of course, Hot Pie.

HBO: How did you both begin covering Game of Thrones?

Andy: We first started covering the show when we were working at Grantland. I was the TV critic, and Chris and I hosted a podcast together. Both of us quickly realized that the fandom and culture surrounding each episode of Game of Thrones was just as thrilling and engaging as the show itself. We had so much fun with Game of Thrones on our podcast that for Season 5, we spun off a GoT podcast called “Watch the Thrones,” where we talked specifically about episodes, previewed episodes, gave space for fan theories and speculation, and hopefully provided some service-y bits too. We brought in our then-Grantland, now-Ringer colleagues Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion to help us out. They know literally everything that’s ever happened on the show, in the books and places we can’t even imagine, like scrolls descended from Reddit threads.

Chris: I was mostly writing and editing stuff on the sports side of Grantland. The initial podcast was kind of a lark for me, but as the show became a bigger deal, we realized it was almost like a sport. The Sunday night episode was like the game, and there were so many different angles, you could talk about it all week long.

HBO: Have you read the books?

Andy: Neither of us have read the books.

Chris: We realized there was a lane for us to fill in terms of talking about the show from a non-expert position. We were discovering things about it and acting as the audience’s proxy in that way. We’re asking questions and having fun with the world.

Andy: Despite a lot of spirited debate about that with some readers of my recaps, I was pretty adamant that my role at Grantland was covering television. I really like watching the show – I didn’t want to have too much knowledge going into each episode. That said, both of us have an enormous amount of respect for the people who have spend the time reading the books so it’s not like I would be against reading them in the future.

HBO: Who would you consider your “spirit character” – someone who embodies your personality?

Chris: I think this is inevitably a situation where you’re going to sound a bit foolish or self-aggrandizing, but my favorite character right now, and over the course of the show, has been Davos. He has the most common sense and the closest perspective I think to our world. He’s this regular guy going through these fantastical situations. I always feel like the show is making a lot of sense when he’s on camera – no matter what is happening.

Andy: If I’m being honest, I think I’m probably most like Hot Pie, Arya’s cowardly friend who just wanted to bake, live in a restaurant and not deal with fighting.

HBO: If you could travel to any point in the story – past, present of future – where would you go?

Andy: I wouldn’t mind going to see the Doom of Valyria because that’s the coolest sounding historical event I’ve ever heard of. I could find out what happened and could come back and sound a lot smarter on our TV show.

Chris: I wouldn’t mind going back to the moment where Jaime slew the Mad King and helping him with the messaging and the branding of that moment. He left a lot on the table and got a really bad rap for essentially saving millions of people. I would just go back and be like, “Hey man, tell your story. Put a spin on it.”  

HBO: What are you hoping to see in Season 6?

Andy: Chris just wants to see Cersei and Jaime work it out.

Chris: I love those guys, I think they’re great. They found love in a hopeless place.

I would probably say the Bran storyline. It’s so rare for television shows to give a character a season off and then revisit them. By all accounts, Bran’s going to be a major part of the season and for all the dragons, Red women and everything else, his kind of magic has been off to the side and taken a backseat to politics. To have one of our main characters back and going through some kind of transformation will be fascinating to see play out.

Andy: I’d also like to put in a small, outside the box pitch for a surprising spin-off starring Rickon Stark and Gendry called “Putting on Heirs.” They’re both wandering around telling everyone they’re legitimately related to the throne and everyone ignores them.

HBO: What can fans expect from After the Thrones?

Andy: We want to hit three planks in every episode: We want to be entertaining and have fun, because this show inspires a lot of conversation and lively debate.

Two: We want to be service-y and informative. We very intentionally have a segment called “Who the F**k Was That?” Obviously, this season with Jon Snow, everyone wants to talk about the possibility of resurrection, but very few people have time to rewatch all 50 episodes. We’ll take that on and say, “There’s actually been two or three examples of this happening before and here’s how, why and what’s relevant or not.” We want to help fans have the full picture of what’s going on.

Thirdly, we want to have a – hopefully – smart, engaged conversation about some of the weightier issues the show isn’t afraid to deal with. In the first episode we talked about the feminism that emerged in the season premiere, especially after a number of seasons in which a number of female characters were treated shabbily by other characters. We wanted to have that conversation and take it as seriously as fans and creators take the show.

One of the great things about Game of Thrones is that as dark and occasionally savage as the action can get on screen, it is still an incredibly fun experience to be a part of, talk, speculate, wonder and dream about. That vibe is one we really enjoy sharing with people. Heavy are the heads with the crowns here. People love the show and we hope we do it justice.

Watch the first episode of After the Thrones below.

Want more on the Season 6 premiere? Jason Concepcion (aka Maester) discusses “The Red Woman”. 

Guest Post: In GoT, Listen to Your Council or You Die

April 27th, 2016

As a cast member on HBO’s new Game of Thrones‘ weekly recap show, After the Thrones, Jason Concepcion plays the role of “The Maester,” the resident expert. Below, he weighs in on the Season 6 premiere episode.

Game of Thrones’ hook is its realism. Sure, this is a show about dragons and witches and giants and ice zombies set in a world where the seasons might last for decades. But the story’s verisimilitude is what makes it so addictive.

A prime example from last night’s episode: the importance of advisers. In many fantasy stories, being good at heart is the only criterion a ruler needs to be a bomb-ass king or queen. In Thrones, a leader’s power is only as effective as the quality of their counselors and their willingness to listen. President Obama is a huge fan of the show, and I bet this focus on advisers is a big reason why.

Daenerys’s ability to call on Ser Jorah of the Friendzone, Missandei, Ser Barristan (RIP), and others allowed her to escape the desolate Red Waste, raise an army, and conquer Meereen. With Tyrion Lannister and Varys in the fold, Dany now has an advisory bench capable of holding things together while she’s hanging out in the plains.

Back in Season 2, all that stood between King’s Landing and the sack was Tyrion acting in his capacity as King’s Hand to teen tyrant Joffrey Baratheon. Competency is the one trait that Tyrion inherited from Tywin Lannister, arguably the greatest bureaucrat in Westerosi history. Now, without their patriarch’s guidance, the Lannisters have been locked in an extended dive down the Red Keep’s privy, a direct result of Cersei stocking the Small Council with sycophants, dimwits, and Mace Tyrell, who magnificently straddles both descriptions.

Everyone else stays losing. Stannis’s fatal mistake was to break the Young Metro rule, which, for our purposes, I will call the “If Ser Davos don’t trust you” rule. Jon got his ass shanked not long after sending Sam on a slow boat to Oldtown. Eddard Stark was always a bit of a lone wolf, and ended up a wall ornament after ignoring trenchant warnings from Renly Baratheon. Robb was a dope field commander whose best counselor was arguably his mother, Catelyn. The best thing you could say about Cat’s advice was that it was uniformly terrible, but less damaging than the time she went behind Robb’s back to release Jaime Lannister.

Remember, kids, listen to your Small Council.

This post originally appeared in The Ringer. Dive deeper in the Season 6 premiere in After the Thrones on HBO NOW.

Read more from After the Thrones hosts Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan.

See a Storyboard of the Sand Snakes in Action

April 26th, 2016

See how the scene between Trystane Martell and Obara and Nym Sand was planned.

Take a Closer Look at Objects From Dorne

April 25th, 2016

The messenger is not the only victim in the Season 6 premiere. Get a closer look at objects from the scene in Dorne.

 The letter Prince Doran receives, informing him of Myrcella’s death.

 The wrist cuff Ellaria wears, which hides a secret dagger.  

 Ellaria's dagger, which she uses to murder Doran.

Photo Credits: Helen Sloan

Play Trivia with Your Favorite Cast Members

April 24th, 2016

Google Play and some members of the cast test your GoT knowledge. Play all three rounds below. 

A little bird told us you’d be good at #GameOfThrones #GameofTrivia. Round 1 of 3 below!

— Google Play (@GooglePlay) April 22, 2016

Calling all Littlefingers. #GameofThrones #GameofTrivia (Round 2 of 3)

— Google Play (@GooglePlay) April 22, 2016

Are you a trivia Maester? #GameofThrones #GameofTrivia (Round 3 of 3)

— Google Play (@GooglePlay) April 22, 2016