*Spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8 to follow*
What a fun, turbulent, chaotic time Game of Thrones season 8 turned out to be! With a final run that is both the highest-rated and lowest-Rotten-Tomato’d in series history, post-episode discourse has pretty much turned into a fiery free-for-all with opinions flying in from all sides like a queen gone mad. And that isn’t contained to just fans, viewers, and critics, either. The large number of on-screen deaths has resulted in an equally abundant amount of exit interviews with the cast. If you’re the type of GOT fan who likes parsing for hidden clues these are a treat, because most are an exercise in reading between the lines, with the running theme being that a lot of the cast felt kind’ve ehhhhh about season 8, at least at first glance. (Full disclosure: I personally think this season is a hot sloppy mess that also has some of the most striking, beautiful fantasy imagery I’ve ever seen. Conflicted!)
Sometimes it’s simple, like in the case of the great Lena Headey after Cersei Lannister met her end under the rubble of the Red Keep in “The Bells”. Headey told EW her first reaction to the script was “mixed”, noting she “wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody.”
But then there is Nathalie Emmanuel, who played slave-turned-royal-adviser Missandei since the season 3 premiere. After Missandei was beheaded at the gates of King’s Landing in “The Last of the Starks”, Emmanuel eloquently laid out the frustrations that come with killing off one of the show’s two main characters of color.
“But generally, I understand people’s outrage, I understand people’s heartbreak, because this is the conversation around representation. It’s safe to say that Game of Thrones has been under criticism for their lack of representation and the truth of it is that Missandei and Grey Worm have represented so many people because there’s only two of them. So this is a conversation going forward about when you’re casting shows like this, that you are inclusive in your casting. I knew what it meant that she was there, I know what it means that I am existing in the spaces that I am because when I was growing up, I didn’t see people like me but it wasn’t until she was gone that I really felt what it really, truly meant until I saw the outcry and outpouring of love and outrage and upset about it, I really understood what it meant.”
Actor Conleth Hill, who played master-schemer Varys for all eight seasons, also admitted frustrations following his character’s death by dragon fire. Namely, the fact that his character went from major player to background decoration:
“I was bummed not to have any reaction to [Aidan Gillen‘s Littlefinger] dying, if he was my nemesis. That’s been my feeling the last couple seasons, that my character became more peripheral, that they concentrated on others more. That’s fine. It’s the nature of a multi-character show. It was kind of frustrating. As a whole it’s been overwhelmingly positive and brilliant but I suppose the last couple seasons weren’t my favorite.”
Hill also seemed to echo a popular online critique that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been a bit over their head in juggling Game of Thrones‘ complex world-building since leaving George R.R. Martin‘s source material behind.
“I loved the traveling with [Tyrion actor Peter Dinklage] and just the two of us in that cart. I think the stuff that was said in there understood the nature of freaks and outsiders so precisely. In a way, that was lost when we got past [the narrative in George R.R. Martin’s] books. That special niche interest in weirdos wasn’t as effective as it had been. Last season and this season there were great scenes and then I’d come in and kind of give a weather report at the end of them — ‘film at 11.’ So I thought he was losing his knowledge. If he was such an intelligent man and he had such resources, how come he didn’t know about things? That added to my dismay. It’s now being rectified with getting a great and noble ending. But that was frustrating for a couple seasons.”
Heading into the series finale, plenty of fan-favorite members of the cast are still
contractually obligated to be nice alive and well. Luckily, we’ve been blessed with a cast with a truly low amount of chill, which is where the helpful super-cut below comes in. The first bit of footage, in which Emilia Clarke sarcastically calls season 8 the “BEST SEASON EVER” while Emmanuel’s soul leaves her body, is astounding, but skip ahead to the 2:34 mark to see incredible, Emmy-winning actor Peter Dinklage fail astoundingly to put any emphasis behind the words “there are no better writers in television than Dan Weiss and David Benioff.”
Nothing but respect for MY king of the Seven Kingdoms.
For more on Game of Thrones, check out the links below:
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Guide, Week 5: Every Question We Have After “The Bells”
- ‘Game of Thrones’: Pilou Asbæk on Killing a Dragon and Euron’s Big Fight with Jaime Lannister
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Needed to Earn Daenerys’ Decision; It Failed