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It’s fair to say that Stannis Baratheon wasn’t exactly “World’s Greatest Dad” material. In his relentless pursuit of Westeros’s Iron Throne, the middle child of House Baratheon allowed his daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), to be sacrificed in the penultimate episode of Games of Thrones‘ fifth season. Acquiescing to the advice of his chief counsel, Lord of Light priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten), Stannis (Stephen Dillane) watches his only living child and heir being tied to a stake and set ablaze in the vain hope that it will secure his victory against the entrenched Bolton army at Winterfell. That grand triumph didn’t come to pass, though. In the Season 5 finale, “Mother’s Mercy,” Stannis’s army is handily defeated, and the would-be king himself is executed by Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), who vowed to put him six feet under for his involvement in the murder of his younger brother — and her beloved boss — Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) way back in Season 2.
In the version of “Mother’s Mercy” that aired on HBO in 2015, Stannis faced his death stoically, telling Brienne, “Go on. Do your duty.” But as an eagle-eyed Reddit fan noted and the preeminent GoT fan site Watchers on the Wall picked up, a copy of the Emmy-winning script that’s available on the official Emmys website contains an extra line cut from the episode that allows him a moment of regret for the loved ones he’s wronged. When asked by Brienne if he has any last words, Stannis replies, “Do you believe in the life to come?” His executioner nods, and he continues: “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….”
At that point, the script’s stage directions complete his unfinished thought: “Sorry doesn’t begin to cover what he feels about Shireen. The thought of it brings tears to his eyes, and he’s not going to die weeping in front of a woman he doesn’t know.” Instead, Stannis clams back up and instructs Brienne, “Do your duty.” While those excised words certainly don’t forgive Stannis’s actions, there is some small comfort in knowing that he at least felt remorse over condemning his daughter to the stake as he faced his own demise. No dad could be that heartless… except maybe Tywin Lannister.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premiers July 16 on HBO.
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