by Chris Harnick | Mon., Jun. 3, 2019 7:57 AM
It's been a minute since Game of Thrones ended. You've had time to sit with the ending. You've processed your thoughts about Daenerys Targaryen and her rampage through King's Landing. So, do you feel any differently about the ending yet? No? It's alright, Joe Dempsie, Gendry on the series, knew it would take time.
"I kind of expected it…Personally, I think the finale, when I read it, I remember saying at the time, ‘I don't know how well this is going to go down,'" Dempsie said during a BBC Radio 5 interview. "I think it might be the kind of ending that might need to percolate and that maybe with the passing of time, people might appreciate a little more."
The final episode featured Jon Snow (Kit Harington) killing Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) after her destruction of King's Landing. Months later, the heads of the great houses of Westeros named Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as the new ruler of the Six Kingdoms. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) got to spinoff the North as its own kingdom. Dempsie said he expected the finale to be the big battle with the White Walkers, but that happened in the third episode of the six-episode season.
“I remember saying at the time, I don’t know how well this is going to go down.”@joedempsie who played Gendry in @GameOfThrones, told @TherealNihal how he felt about the #GOT Season 8 finale. pic.twitter.com/V7P2pI4zuv— BBC Radio 5 Live (@bbc5live) May 29, 2019
"I sort of think most people thought the big climactic point to the whole story. Whereas I think…what I understood the show to be about, in my mind, was the message being we can, if we want to, come together to defeat some common enemy, whatever metaphor you want to attach to the White Walkers, whether they're sort of us with the humanity removed from them," Dempsie said. "But then history has shown us, what we tend to do is immediately go back to destroying ourselves again, tearing each other apart. The enemy isn't some other, it's not some big bad from the other side of the Wall, it's ourselves, we're our own worst enemy...Some people might have seen the finale as anticlimactic, but I think there's a real poignancy to that."
Read what else the Game of Thrones cast has said about the finale below.
In a "breathless monologue" to EW, Emilia Clarke summed up Daenerys' life and the tragedy of its end.
"She genuinely starts with the best intentions and truly hopes there isn't going to be something scuttling her greatest plans. The problem is [the Starks] don't like her and she sees it. She goes, ‘Okay, one chance.' She gives them that chance and it doesn't work and she's too far to turn around. She's made her bed, she's laying in it. It's done. And that's the thing. I don't think she realizes until it happens — the real effect of their reactions on her is: ‘I don't give a s—t.' This is my whole existence. Since birth! She literally was brought into this world going, ‘Run!' These f—kers have f—ked everything up, and now it's, ‘You're our only hope.' 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.' But she's too far down the line. She's killed so many people already. I can't turn this ship around. It's too much. 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."
In an essay for THR that sounds like it was written by a king, Isaac Hempstead-Wright shared his thoughts on Bran's rise to power.
"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 wrote. "Bran becoming king is a victory for the still and considered people of this world, who too often get side-lined by the commotion of those who are louder and more reactionary. He doesn't shout to make himself heard, but instead waits and chooses his words and actions very carefully. In that, 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."
Harington was worried that the final season would be accused of sexism, especially because of the way it ended for its two most powerful women.
"One of my worries with this is we have Cersei and Dany, two leading women, who fall," he told EW. "The justification is: Just because they're women, why should they be the goodies? They're the most interesting characters in the show. And that's what Thrones has always done. You can't just say the strong women are going to end up the good people. Dany is not a good person. It's going to open up discussion but there's nothing done in this show that isn't truthful to the characters. And when have you ever seen a woman play a dictator?"
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Kit Harington not only said critics "can go f--k themselves" earlier this season, but he's got no time for our worries that Dany's story wasn't leading to what it ultimately led to.
"But if you track Daenerys' 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 way to the audience: 'You're in denial about this woman as well. You knew something was wrong. You're culpable, you cheered her on.'"
"I see this vision, this angel, this incredible woman float towards me," Emilia Clarke told The New Yorker of a run-in at an Oscars after party. "I can't quite control myself. And Beyoncé says to me, 'Oh, my goodness, it's so wonderful to meet you. I think you're brilliant.' I just couldn't handle it! I was on the verge of tears. I could see myself reflected in her eyes. I could see her go, 'Oh, no. I misjudged this. This girl is crazy and I'm not going to have a real conversation with another celebrity. I'm having a conversation with a crazed fan who's looking at me like a rabbit in the headlights.' Which is exactly what I was. I said, 'I've seen you live in concert and I think you're amazing and wonderful! Wonderful!' And all I wanted to scream was 'Please, please still like me even though my character turns into a mass-killing dictator! Please still think that I'm representing women in a really fabulous way.'"
No update yet on what Queen Bey thought of the finale.
In an interview with the LA Times, Clarke explained how she played the scene when Dany decides to keep destroying the city, even as the bells are ringing.
"[Director] Miguel [Sapochnik] suggested that I should play it like she's an addict," she said. "I think there's a certain kind of just needing to feel something. So you could ask that question to any addict who's sitting at the bar who has been sober and decides to take up the bottle again. What makes them do it? What makes someone turn and go, 'I know this is wrong. I know this is hurting people. I know this is painful. But I have to do it.' And that's the headspace she's in at that moment."
"And the reason why she makes the decision is a lifetime of pain, hurt, misery and disappointment and heartache and that she is never enough. Never enough for love. Never enough to get this throne she's orchestrated her entire life toward. That's where it's coming from. It provides noise when there's a deafening silence that you can't get through. If you talk to an addict, what they're escaping is their own thoughts, their own complete lack of self-worth. She's creating the noise by laying waste to people she doesn't need to lay waste to. She's just a broken woman."
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"I genuinely thought it was a joke script and that [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] sent to everyone a script with their own character ends up on the Iron Throne. 'Yeah, good one guys. Oh s--t, it's actually real?'" Hempstead-Wright told EW.
"I'm happy," he continued. "Though I did kind of want to die and get in one good death scene with an exploding head or something."
Jaime and Cersei died in each other's arms—almost a happy ending given the much more brutal ways they could have died, especially considering everything they've each done. Coster-Waldau loved it.
"I thought it was a great ending for that couple," he told EW. "She was never going to surrender. And he says it to Bronn in season 4. Bronn asked, 'How would you want it to end?"' And Jaime says, 'In the arms of the woman I love.' So this was foreshadowed and that's what happened. There's a least a moment that they do connect: 'Just look at me, just look in my eyes, it's just you and me…'"
"I just wanted to be on set with Lena again, she's good fun," Williams told EW. "And I wanted Arya to kill Cersei, even if it means [Arya] dies too. Even up to the point when Cersei's with Jaime, I thought, 'He's going to whip off his face [and reveal it's Arya]' and they're both going to die. I thought that's what Arya's drive has been."
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Like many of us, both Maisie Williams and Lena Headey thought that perhaps Cersei's end would come thanks to Arya wearing Jaime's face (because remember, Arya can do that). That's not how it happened, and Headey was a little sad that she didn't get to spend a single final season scene with Williams.
"I lived that fantasy until I read the script," she told EW. "There were chunky scenes and it was nothing that I had dreamt about. It was a bit of a come down and you have to accept that it wasn't meant to be. There is something poetic about the way it all happens in the end with her and Jaime."
Arya was actually on her way to kill Cersei, fulfilling a lot of our fantasies, until the Hound got her to turn back.
"The Hound says, 'You want to be like me? You want to live your life like me?'" Williams told EW. "In my head, the answer was: 'Yeah.' But I guess sleeping with Gendry, seeing Jon again, realizing she's not just fighting for herself anymore but also her family--it's bringing up all these human emotions that Arya hasn't felt for a long time. When the Hound asks her if she has another option, all of a sudden there are so many more things in [Arya's] life that she can live for, that she can do. It was a shock for me because that wasn't how I envisioned her arc going this year. Then I realized there were other things I could play, bringing Arya back to being a 16 year-old again."
This guy's clearly got some relationship issues.
"Um, he just doesn't like women does he?" she joked. "He keeps f—king killing them. No. If I were to put myself in his shoes I'm not sure what else he could have done aside from … oh, I dunno, maybe having a discussion with me about it? Ask my opinion? Warn me? It's like being in the middle of a phone call with your boyfriend and they just hang up and never call you again. ‘Oh, this great thing happened to me at work today—hello?' And that was 9 years ago…"
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Jaime and Brienne finally hooked up, only for him to go right back to his sister with some excuse about how he's still a bad man. It devastated fans, but Coster-Waldau told EW it always had to be that way.
"You know he's gonna come back, and it's not gonna have a happy ending, is it? The hardest thing is the fact that they actually find the balance, because he ends up with Brienne for a brief moment. He kinda knows himself there is no alternative. For a moment he tricks himself into thinking there is an alternative to his life. As an audience you want him to succeed in taking that different route. You wonder if he's changed and if he's escaped this destructive relationship. But you realize he's so bound by this code of honor of family first, and him and Cersei have a strong bond on every level. He didn't say, 'Cersei, I don't love you anymore.' He said, 'I'm going to fight for the living because ultimately that's the only way you and the child you carry can live.' He has to go back. She's all alone. He's the last one she has. He knows he has to go back and try to save her."
"It does make sense, even though you don't want it to," he also said.
Before she joined the council (as the head of the Kingsguard, finally!) to talk about brothels and ships, we saw Brienne writing about Jaime serving his queen...which is something he basically abandoned her to do. Christie was not as bothered by that ending as many others were.
"What I like about it is that she, at that point, already has been made Commander of the Kingsguard," Christie told TVLine. "So she has gone on with her life and she has, amazingly, achieved exactly what she wanted from the very first episode of Game of Thrones. In the first episode where we're introduced to Brienne in Season 2, she is fighting—and besting—the Knight of the Flowers...in order to become part of Renly's Kingsguard. We see in the final episode that she achieves that. Again, it's part of this extraordinary character and ability that she has to do the decent thing.
Jaime Lannister was someone who knew her the best. She had the strongest and most intimate relationship with [him], out of everybody. And she also was one of the few people to see who he truly was, and the extent of the sacrifices he was prepared to go to for good, amongst all of his other complexities. I found it very heartening that she chose to do that. I'm sure it was about having a love for someone that she had deeply respected and was close to. She used her power in a positive way."
But there was one thing Christie really loved about her ending.
"I love Brienne's final line in Game of Thrones, which is, 'I think ships take precedence over brothels.' I was very happy with that."
Sansa was named Queen in the (newly independent) North at the end of the finale, and of everything that happened towards the of the series, that one thing probably made the most sense to all of us.
"I loved it. It's the only place that she really, truly feels safe," Sophie Turner told The New York Times. "It's the place that she's the most capable of ruling. She would be a fair and loving ruler, and it's what she's been striving for this whole series: to go back home, to protect her home. And finally she has that."
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When Jaime left Brienne for his sister, she cried and asked him to stay. Christie sees this not as Brienne reduced to crying over a boy, but told TVLine that it was stronger to express herself in that moment.
"I don't know where the strength always is in suppressing one's emotions, particularly a woman who's demonstrated such extraordinary physical strength and extraordinary moral strength," she said. "And Brienne chooses to have sex with Jaime Lannister. In that moment, in the scene, what I thought was so useful about it was that it's so clearly marked: There's a moment where she chooses to be in charge and to take control of her own life. Throughout the series, we haven't seen Brienne act on her own impulses very often. She's not a self-serving character. And she chooses to something for herself. Unfortunately, that doesn't work out. But who knows what it was that she really wanted or would've wanted? Because it's Brienne's first sexual experience. It's also the night after the biggest war their world has ever seen, and they have survived it.
I think that we see the final element of that character in three dimensions, which is a total emotional connectivity. And no one could be blamed for crying over pain of someone leaving you. I don't think it makes you less of a person. I don't think it makes you a weaker person. I think it makes you incredibly human. To be able to recognize those inconsistencies in one's personality does not just show the strength of character, but shows a strength in the character, in the writing of the show. Because we have seen so many different aspects of Brienne. There, we didn't see her just in service of an idea bigger than herself. We saw her as a human being."
People went a little crazy when, for the first time in several seasons, we finally saw the return of Robin Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie in the finale, and he looked very, very different. He was certainly not the strange too-old breastfeeding child we once knew. Now, he's a man, and actor Lino Facioli's phone was blowing up after the episode aired in the U.S.
"To be honest, I'm still taking it all in. My parents are just…we were laughing, we were like, This is hilarious, this is crazy. I've got friends being like, 'You've got memes about you, man.' That's their definition of fame," Facioli told Vulture.
The memes began immediately, but after growing up as the weird kid who was too old to still be breastfeeding, Facioli's a fan of the new memes.
"I'll be honest, this is the best I've ever had it in terms of memes. Being that weird kid on Game of Thrones…when I was a teenager, I was like, "How do I deal with this?" I was not that comfortable with it. But it made me get tough skin and have fun with it. Even when it's something that's mocking you, it's about just laughing at it and carrying on and enjoying it. It's a better position that I'm in now, to be able to have more confidence in terms of that critical voice when I didn't know how to deal with it."
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