Kit Harington has some thoughts about that Game of Thrones finale. While the hit HBO series has clearly been building to an ending that revolves around who “wins” the Game of Thrones, the series’ final season was somewhat overshadowed by another major question: what’s happening with Daenerys? The Mother of Dragons—once positioned as a born leader and liberator destined for greatness—devolved into an emotional, petulant monster over the course of just a couple of episodes, after Harington’s Jon Snow revealed to her his true parentage, and thus took away her blood-born claim to the Throne.
It just kept going downhill from there, as Dany’s closest friends died off one by one, further isolating her until she sat atop the walls of King’s Landing and decided to murder men, women, and children in the city despite their complete and total surrender because… reasons?
That turn, and Dany going full Hitler in the opening moments of the finale, led to Jon Snow stabbing Dany in the heart with his tongue still down her throat. It was a moment that was meant to be tragic and heartbreaking, but for viewers like myself who felt this whole character turn was rushed beyond reason, it fell kinda flat.
So what did Jon Snow himself think of this big twist? Harington spoke to EW while on set filming Game of Thrones Season 8, and though he admitted Dany’s arc in the final season would likely divide fans, he laid out why it made sense:
“I think it’s going to divide,” Harington says of the finale’s fan reaction. “But 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.’”
I wouldn’t necessarily say the audience is in denial—the previous seven seasons have had moments of Dany going a bit too far, sure, but the series still positioned her as a protagonist worth rooting for. Until this final season, that is.
The subtext of both Dany and Cersei’s swift deaths was also not lost on Harington either:
Harington adds he worries the final two episodes will be accused of being sexist, an ongoing criticism of GoT that has recently resurfaced perhaps more pointedly than ever before. “One of my worries with this is we have Cersei and Dany, two leading women, who fall,” he says. “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?”
While it’s true that writing complex female characters is admirable, the series’ history of misogyny (both subtle and unsubtle) can’t go ignored, and thus makes the whole “Female protagonist gets too emotional, goes on murderous rampage, gets Iron Throne taken from her and given to a dude” series of events that much more striking.
To be honest, Dany’s descent into fascism may have tracked if told differently, and as many have pointed out, the issues with these final two seasons have been less to do with the major story beats and more to do with how that story was told. If we had had a full 10 episodes for Seasons 7 and 8, or even an additional season, we could have watched Dany’s turn happen more gradually, and thus it would have been more believable. But as-is, she goes from doe-eyed, benevolent queen in the Season 8 premiere to, essentially, the Mad Queen just five episodes later.
Regardless, Harington notes that killing Dany wasn’t something Jon wanted to do, and pointed out how it parallels his other major romance on the series:
“This is the second woman he’s fallen in love with who dies in his arms and he cradles her in the same way,” Harington notes. “That’s an awful thing. In some ways, Jon did the same thing to [his Wildling lover] Ygritte by training the boy who kills her. This destroys Jon to do this.”
As for Clarke, well, she also spoke to EW and had some different thoughts on how that final scene went down:
Back in Clarke’s dressing room, the actress is preparing to film one of her final scenes on the series. Understandably, she can’t quite bring herself to feel sorry for Jon Snow.
“Um, he just doesn’t like women does he?” Clarke quips. “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…”
I mean, she’s not wrong…
For more on the Game of Thrones finale, click on the links below:
- ‘Game of Thrones’: What Was the Point of All That?
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Guide, Week 6: Every Question We Have After “The Iron Throne”
- Isaac Hempstead Wright Reacts to That ‘Game of Thrones’ Finale
- ‘Game of Thrones’: “The Iron Throne” Was a CliffsNotes Version of a Series Finale