[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Game of Thrones ahead.]
Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss discuss the game-changing events in the season 7 finale – in particular the seaside hookup between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen that turns out to be more intimate than either of them expected.
One of the major developments on Game of Thrones this season was the long-anticipated meeting of two of the show’s major protagonists. The King of the North and the Breaker of Chains met in episode 3, when Jon traveled to Dragonstone to ask for Daenerys’ help in the fight against the White Walkers. The two have been slowly gaining each other’s trust and romantic eye ever since – which is complicated, as it was at least heavily suggested in season 6 that Jon is Daenerys’ nephew and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. The season 7 finale confirmed Jon’s backstory, as Bran Stark and Samwell Tarly were able to deduce Jon’s true ancestry, even as the unaware Jon and Dany consummated their budding romance aboard her boat.
In one of HBO’s post-show “Inside the Episode” featurettes, Benioff and Weiss discuss the challenges of intercutting this romantic scene with the reveal of Jon’s parental destiny. In presenting the big sequence for the season 7 finale, Benioff and Weiss struggled with making the sequence satisfying for those who had already put together this vital information back in season 6. According to Weiss, using editing to give the information a bit of a foreboding and tragic undertone was the direction that they decided to take:
“I would say the challenge with this sequence was finding a way to present information that at least a good portion of the audience already had in a way that was dramatic and exciting, and also add a new element to it. Part of the answer to how to go about doing that is the montage, inter-cut nature of it. It was about making it clear that this was almost like an information bomb that Jon was heading towards. The only way to really emphasize that was to tie those two worlds together cinematically and to have Bran actually narrating these facts over footage of Jon and Dany. Just as we’re seeing these two people come together we’re hearing the information that will inevitably, if not tear them apart at least cause real problems in their relationship. And she’s his aunt.”
Though learning that Jon has a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne is thrilling given all we’ve seen him go through over the years, Weiss smartly raises the complications that this could cause in this new alliance and romance For one thing, this sexual encounter between the two is now confirmed to be incestuous – which is a line that Game of Thrones has crossed before, but never with its so-called protagonists.
The bigger issue is that Dany has been through just as much as Jon has, as we’ve followed her satisfying rise to power throughout the seasons as well. The idea that Jon being the rightful heir could tear the two apart and force the audience to choose between who they support, might spell doom for at least one of the characters. The “real problems” that Weiss discusses could also leave the North and Dany’s army vulnerable to an attack from the Lannisters or the White Walkers.
Game of Thrones season 8 premieres in either 2018 or 2019.
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