After eight seasons, Game of Thrones has finally come to an end. We may never see its like again. The series finale “The Iron Throne” showed us the corrupting influence of power and the hard choices that are sometimes necessary to protect the realm and the ones you love. Daenerys won, but lost everything. The Iron Throne is no more, and out of the ashes a new order arises. Let’s take one last deep dive together with our final round of episode interviews.
Entertainment Weekly brings us several interviews, starting with Emilia Clarke. She understandably has much to say about Daenerys’ fate, admitting she “completely flipped out” upon reading the final script because “it comes out of f—king nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming.”
Despite her shock at her character’s turn, Clarke does have sympathy for Daenerys and believes there was a reason for it. “She genuinely starts with the best intentions and truly hopes there isn’t going to be something scuttling her greatest plans…There’s so much she’s taken on in her duty in life to rectify, so much she’s seen and witnessed and been through and lost and suffered and hurt. Suddenly these people are turning around and saying, ‘We don’t accept you.’” She adds, “One by one, you see all these strings being cut. And there’s just this last thread she’s holding onto: There’s this boy. And she thinks, ‘He loves me, and I think that’s enough.’ But is it enough? Is it? And it’s just that hope and wishing that finally there is someone who accepts her for everything she is and … he f—king doesn’t.”
Co-executive producer Bryan Cogman has mixed feelings as well. “I still don’t know how I feel about a lot of what happens this season and I helped write it. It’s emotionally very challenging. It’s designed to not feel good. That said, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.” He also contends Daenerys isn’t really a villain, but “a tragic figure in a very Shakespearean and Greek sense. When Jon asks Tyrion [in the finale] if they were wrong and Tyrion says, ‘Ask me again in 10 years,’ I think that’s valid.”
Kit Harington has a harsher view on Daenerys, saying that “if you track her story all the way back, she does some terrible things. She crucifies people. She burns people alive. This has been building. So, we have to say to the audience: ‘You’re in denial about this woman as well. You knew something was wrong. You’re culpable, you cheered her on.” He adds, “One of my worries with this is we have Cersei and Dany, two leading women, who fall. The justification is: Just because they’re women, why should they be the goodies?…It’s going to open up discussion but there’s nothing done in this show that isn’t truthful to the characters.”
Clarke also spoke to The New Yorker about Dany’s end, and confesses that as much as she might want her to triumph, “I’m not sure it could [end that way]. Even for a part that I’ve given so much to and I’ve felt so much for, and for a character that’s seen and lived through so much, I don’t know that there was any other way.” For her final moments, Clarke “wanted to show that softer side of Daenerys—or more textured…I wanted to show her as we saw her in the beginning: young, naïve, childlike, open, and full of love and hope. I wanted so much for that to be the last memory of her.”
The surprise winner (I suppose) of the episode was Bran, who was elected King of Westeros – except for the once again independent North. Isaac Hempstead Wright tells EW, “When I got to the [Dragonpit scene] in the last episode and they’re like, ‘What about Bran?’ I had to get up and pace around the room. I genuinely thought it was a joke script and that [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] sent to everyone a script with their own character ends up on the Iron Throne. ‘Yeah, good one guys. Oh s—, it’s actually real?’” He adds, “I’m happy, though I kind of did want to die and get in one good death scene with an exploding head or something.”
Does Hempstead Wright believe Bran is up to the task of ruling? “I think he’ll be a really good king actually. Perhaps there will be something missing in having real emotive leader, which is a useful quality in a king or queen as well. At the same time, you can’t really argue with Bran. He’s like, ‘No, I know everything.’” All hail King Brandon Stark!
Hempstead Wright also wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter reflecting on the years he has spent on Game of Thrones. He recalls his last week on set, which was the council in the Dragonpit scene. “When it came to the very final shot, it all dawned on me. This was to be the death of my character; it would be the last time I would ever breathe life into him, the last time I would sit in my costume on a Game of Thrones set and think about what it feels like to be Bran…The camera was so far away you could hardly see it and we had a rare chance to act directly across from one another with no machinery or lighting in the way, as if we were on stage. It was a very special goodbye to my character.”
As for the end of the story, he is “thrilled with the way the show ends. At the beginning of the show, Bran is a disabled 10-year-old with slim chances of surviving in this harsh universe. He will never be the warrior who comes in on horseback and saves the day, but he is resilient…I find it an extraordinary character arc to see him go from a vulnerable character totally dependent on others to the one person who holds all the keys to understanding the world.” He adds, “I think Bran presents a valuable reminder to us all in this day and age where sensationalism is rife and anybody can voice an opinion to millions, to sit and consider things a little more carefully.”
The entire piece is a lovely look at Hempstead Wright’s Thrones journey – be sure to read it here.
Bran may be King of Westeros, but Sansa is now Queen in the North. Would she have preferred Sansa over Bran to rule it all? Sophie Turner tells EW that she “wasn’t bummed at all” at the way it ended. “Because ever since the end of season 1, Sansa has not been about the capital or being queen. She doesn’t believe she could rule and doesn’t want to.” I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment given her proven ability to lead during the past two seasons, but I can’t blame her for wanting to stay away from King’s Landing.
Turner continues, “She knows her place is in the North and she can rule the people of the North and rule Winterfell. She’d probably be capable [of being queen of the Seven Kingdoms] with the help of her family and advisors like Tyrion. But she has no desire to be ruler of all of the Seven Kingdoms.” Given how tragically it has worked out for every monarch since Mad King Aerys, that’s probably the smarter option! Hopefully it will go better for Bran…
There are no “Inside the Episode” or “The Game Revealed” videos this week, but there is a video of the cast saying their farewells.
Although the finale has aired, our watch is not quite ended – the 2 hour Game of Thrones documentary “The Last Watch” airs on Sunday, May 26th at 9 pm ET. Check out the preview below.