Stannis' Original 'Game Of Thrones' Death Scene Almost Gave Him Some Redemption
When it came time for Brienne to swing her sword and end Stannis Baratheon's life in the Season 5 Game of Thrones finale, it is safe to safe few fans believed he was deserving of any of the Mother's mercy. However, an intrepid Reddit user, clouddragon94, combed through the original script for the episode, and found Stannis' death scene was almost quite different than the one that aired. While Brienne was still the one to end Stannis' life, the wannabe king offers up words of remorse before the Lady of Tarth executed him. Had the scene played out the way it was written, it would have been at least a little redemptive, but did Stannis deserve even a modicum of redemption?
Instead of simply telling Brienne to "go on, do your duty," when she asked him if he had any final words, Stannis offers up a short speech. Before Brienne ends his life, Stannis says,
"Do you believe in the life to come?
I don't. But if I'm wrong, and you're right... tell Renly I'm sorry when you get there. I don't imagine I'll see him wherever I'm going. And my daughter. Tell her... tell her...
Go on, do your duty."
The script notes Stannis decides he "doesn't want to die weeping in front of woman," so he cuts himself off before finishing his thought about Shireen. It's a good speech, one the Stannis of the book series A Song of Ice and Fire would be likely to make. However, the Stannis of the show was never a man for speeches, nor was he one for remorse. He believed himself to be the rightful king of Westeros and duty demanded he pursue the throne no matter the cost — and the cost was ultimately his family and his dignity.
One of the reasons the simplicity of the Stannis' death scene works is because it stays true to the spirit of the character as he was portrayed in the show. Actor Stephen Dillane did a beautiful job of expressing Stannis' stubbornness, even as he was forced to admit defeat, with nothing but the look in his eyes and the sternness of his jawline. Even when he was facing death, he made no apologies, and he refused to verbally ask for anything approaching forgiveness.
The scene is all about two people committed to the idea of justice meeting in the woods, and each accepting their fate. Brienne was always going to swing the sword, and Stannis was always going to die — and he doesn't have to say he is deserving of execution. Both characters know it to be true, even without Brienne having knowledge of Shireen's murder.
It's interesting to see an alternate version of Stannis' final moments, but ultimately his speech would never have felt as honest as him simply telling Brienne to do her duty. That is, after all, exactly what he would have done had the roles been reversed. Having him die as he lived was the best choice the show could possible make for the character.