Game of Thrones stars Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington defend controversial finale: ‘You were in denial about Daenerys’
The signs were always there, say Game of Thrones stars Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington about Daenerys Targaryen shocking villainous turn in the final season, which has divided fans and resulted in the most conflicted reviews the show has ever received.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Harington, who played Jon Snow, said “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 added that he was worried the final two episodes could be misconstrued as being sexist, a long-held criticism of the show. He said, “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? 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?”
In the season finale, Daenerys, having annihilated King’s Landing in the previous episode, is killed by her lover (and nephew) Jon Snow, who fears the monster she has become. Peter Dinklage, who played Tyrion Lannister in the show, compared her act of war to the United States’ bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War Two. He said, “That’s what war is. Did we make the right choices in war? How much longer would (WW II) have gone on if we didn’t make horrible decisions? We love Daenerys. All the fans love Daenerys, and she’s doing these things for the greater good. ‘The greater good’ has been in the headlines lately… when freeing everyone for the greater good you’re going to hurt some innocents along the way, unfortunately.”
Dinklage’s statement mirrors what his character is asked by Jon in the finale. Did we do the right thing, Jon asks. “Ask me again in 10 years,” Tyrion says.
“The signs have actually always been there,” Brienne actor Gwendoline Christie said of Daenerys. “And they’ve been there in ways we felt at the time were just mistakes or controversial. At this time, it’s important to question true motives. This show has always been about power and, more than ever, it’s an interesting illustration that people in pursuit of power can come in many different forms and we need to question everything.”
Emilia Clarke, who played Dany in the show, recalled the many times showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss would direct her to be more menacing during takes. She said it makes more sense to her now. “There’s a number of times I’ve been like: ‘Why are you giving me that note?’” Emilia said. “So yes, this has made me look back at all the notes I’ve ever had.”
She summed up Daenerys’ arc in season eight with a long answer. She said, “She (Daenerys) 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.”
Producer Bryan Cogman compared Daenerys’ fall from grace to a Greek tragedy. “I still don’t know how I feel about a lot of what happens this season and I helped write it,” Cogman said. “It’s emotionally very challenging. It’s designed to not feel good. That said, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
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