Last night on Game of Thrones there was a little something for everyone. As the title “The Queen’s Justice” implies, Cersei finally metes out her own (cruel) brand of justice and continues to reign supreme in Westeros – for now – while another queen, Daenerys, struggles to make a new ally. In a loaded episode complete with action, intrigue, vengeance, and reunions, we also witnessed a highly anticipated meeting between “ice and fire.” It’s time to break down everything that happened with some in-depth interviews and videos, so let’s take a look, shall we?
Entertainment Weekly gives us the usual round of cast interviews, starting with that historic meeting between Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. According to Kit Harington, “I predicted, like everyone, they would meet this season, but I don’t think I predicted it quite as quickly. But then again, you’ve got to take yourself out of the mindset of the viewer. As far as Jon knows, he’s just meeting this queen he’s heard of and trying to negotiate with her – he’s not meeting Daenerys, who the audience has been watching for so many years. That helps with the surprise of it.”
What do the actors have to say about their characters’ initial impressions of each other? Harington explains, “[Jon] walks into the room and doesn’t expect to see such a beautiful young woman of similar age to him. Any young man’s reaction is going to be, ‘Okay…’ but he puts that aside, because he has to.” Emilia Clarke adds, “It was fun to play – [Daenerys] doesn’t like him and she doesn’t believe him.”
Fans have long wondered how the two characters would react to each other, and bringing together two strong-willed rulers who both believe they are doing what’s right for the realm was bound to cause friction. “It was really fun to watch that scene and I thought they did a great job,” remarks showrunner David Benioff. “There isn’t instant chemistry. He’s annoying and she’s annoying and they have to figure out how to make peace.” Hopefully they’ll figure it out soon, as things are looking dire for both of them.
Read the rest at EW.
EW also brings us Indira Varma’s reaction to the “justice” her character, Ellaria Sand, receives at Cersei’s hand. Varma knew the end was coming, as she says, “Obviously there’s lots of trimming going on. It’s all coming to a head and you have to get rid of less important characters that the audience hasn’t had the chance to invest in as much. So I was expecting it. I wasn’t heartbroken. And I was like, ‘As long as I die on screen…’ and they were like ‘Yeah!’ But of course I don’t die on screen. I stay alive, I’m just not going to reappear. I think it’s really clever.”
The scene was as difficult and gut-wrenching to watch as it was intriguing. Varma admits it was just as tough for the actors, but that she enjoyed the way it was portrayed. “It’s really dark. What I love about this scene is you’re reading it and from one sentence to the next you don’t know what’s going to happen – how Cersei is going to treat her victim.” She adds, “It was hard work. A lot of blood snot and sweat and tears. Myself and Rosabell had to be shackled. They very kindly put some felt inside the handcuffs so we didn’t get bruised and battered – though we ended up doing that anyway because your acting takes over…At the end of the day I was like, ‘I’m stuck! I need somebody to help me!’ and they had to cut me out of them. All in a day’s work.
Varma gives some additional insight over at Making Game of Thrones, explaining Ellaria’s mindset as she is presented as Cersei’s gift. “I think there’s the humiliation of being caught [by Euron]…she’s absolutely gutted. Her dream was to meet Cersei head-to-head and battle it out as equals. When you’re chained up and gagged, that is not meeting someone in an equal way. So that in itself is horrendous. Then seeing the Mountain, oh my God – it’s utter shock, and it brings it all back. It’s sorrow at that point, and disbelief. She feels humiliated.”
Did Ellaria anticipate what kind of punishment Cersei had in store for them? “Poor Ellaria, I don’t think she was expecting that. She thinks of herself as the poison queen,” Varma confesses. “The idea that Cersei had figured out what her poison was – it’s the ultimate humiliation. And then to watch her lovely daughter die… It’s hell, awful, beyond your nightmares.” Despite the retribution, Varma doesn’t believe Ellaria regrets her hand in Myrcella’s death. “If you’re going to kill me and my daughter, at least I’ve done that to you. She wants to tear Cersei down, one family member at a time,” she says. “I don’t think she would try and apologize for that in order to win back her daughter. It’s too late. Too much blood has been shed.”
Fans have been hoping to see more Stark reunions ever since Jon and Sansa came together last season, but Bran’s homecoming wasn’t quite what we expected. “I think it’s a major shock for Sansa,” Isaac Hempstead Wright explains to EW. “She’s lost her brother once before when he fell out of that tower, and now Bran’s back but she loses him all over again. All the Starks have changed so much. Arya is like this ninja assassin. Sansa has been held captive by these tyrannical men and had to become politically cunning herself. But Bran is now this tree-raven-magic thing.”
Wright also shares his understanding of Bran’s new abilities and how they have affected him. “It’s like imagining you have all of space and time in your head. Bran is existing in thousands of planes of existence at any one time. So it’s quite difficult for Bran to have any kind of semblance of personality anymore because he’s really like a giant computer.” Adds showrunner D.B. Weiss, “One of the things we loved about Game of Thrones from the very first book is it’s not a world where magic is the primary driver of the story, it’s a world where human psychology and behavior and desire are drivers of the story…So with Bran, ideally you want to use him in a way that adds to the story and enriches the story and not in a way that’s a magic bullet to conveniently deal with things that you haven’t come up with a better way to deal with.”
Since Bran’s training was interrupted when the White Walkers attacked the Three Eyed Raven’s cave, he is still struggling to comprehend the knowledge that he’s gained. “There was supposed to be more time to learn what he needed to know and they ran out of time,” David Benioff explains. “Now Bran the Broken is broken in more ways than one. He’s got serious challenges dealing with all the stuff happening in his mind and that prevents him becoming this omniscient character.”
Hempstead Wright agrees with Benioff’s assessment. “Bran really at this stage is not the Three-Eyed Raven. He’s got the title but hasn’t had thousands of years of sitting in a cave looking through time,” he says. “Somebody put in front of him a massive encyclopedia of all of time and he’s only opened page one. He can look stuff up but doesn’t have this all-knowing all-seeing capability just yet.”
Check out the full interview at EW.
Finally, the Game of Thrones showrunners and cast member Nikolaj Coster Waldau talk to EW about the heartbreaking (yet satisfying) end for Lady Olenna Tyrell. “When we initially cast Diana Rigg, we met with Nina Gold, our legendary casting director, and we had tea with her,” David Benioff says. “Dames don’t audition for you, you audition for them. And we loved her. She was funny, she was bawdy, she was everything we wanted for that character. We’ve been very lucky to write for these legendary actors — like Diana Rigg. Max Von Sydow, Jim Broadbent, and Charles Dance – people who have been doing it for so long and are so frickin’ good at what they do. She’s one of the best in the world and [Olenna’s final scene] is one of my favorites in the whole season. She really brought it.”
D.B. Weiss agrees. “What I love about the way she plays the scene is that even though you leave the scene knowing she’s soon going to be dead shortly after you cut to black you still feel like she won. She’s probably the only character to win her own death scene.” Olenna’s confession to the murder of Joffrey clearly rattled Jaime and gave her the opportunity to deliver a final gut punch to the Lannisters before her demise.
Despite the discomfort of his character during the scene, Coster Waldau has nothing but praise for how it was portrayed. “Olenna is like Cersei in so many ways, but just from our point of view she’s been on the ‘good’ side,” he admits. “And I just love how she goes out. She goes out with bite. She’s never going to beg. She did an amazing job. It was fun to be there and when we wrapped the showrunners came around and said a few words. She’s had a huge impact on the series.” The Queen of Thorns may be gone, but she will never be forgotten.
Go to EW for the rest.
This week’s “Inside the Episode” brings us D.B. Weiss and David Benioff’s thoughts on Jon meeting Daenerys, the Lannisters’ motivations and strategy, and Olenna’s death.
Lena Headey, Indira Varma, and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers share their insight into Cersei’s punishment of Ellaria and Tyene Sand.
Last but not least, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington provide more background to the meeting of fire and ice.