Have you had your morning coffee? Good, cos after "Game of Thrones" last night, you probably needed it. It's been an eventful season on the show, what with the Purple Wedding, the fight between the Mountain and the Viper and its grisly conclusion, and the battle for the Wall, but last night's finale, "The Children," topped them all with a slew of major characters biting the dust, and more major revelations besides, as you'll know from our recap (and if you haven't read that or seen the episode, be warned that there are major spoilers below).
As is the trend now, the creators and cast of the show have given post-mortem interviews after the episode aired. We've scoured the various outlets to pick out some of the key revelations from George R. R. Martin, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, director Alex Graves, and some of the actors, some of whom had their last appearance on last night's show. Take a look below, and click through for the full interviews.
Episode director Alex Graves in Variety on the Harryhausen-style skeleton attack sequence:
One of the brilliant moves that David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] did … is they pulled this crescendo in Brandon Stark’s story up and put it into this episode. In other words, they almost jumped forward a year in what happens to Bran, because let’s face it, we’re tired of him being carried across the continent by Hodor! When I read the outline, I called David and Dan, I went straight to Hollywood and met them and I said, ‘Are we talking about the zombie guys that we’ve been doing or could these guys be viciously dangerous?’ They said, ‘Oh, yeah, that would be great.’ So they go across this snow plain and skeletons start to come out of the snow, à la Ray Harryhausen, who we sort of privately dedicated the sequence to. They come out of the snow at 90 miles per hour, and they are there to kill Brandon and Jojen before they get there, and they’ve been waiting for like a thousand years. Nobody knew about the sequence and it [wasn't] in any of the marketing, which is the most brilliant marketing move I’ve seen.
Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne, in EW on filming her brutal fight with The Hound (Rory McCann)
Rory and I were quite serious about it. We want there to be contact —rolling around in the dirt on a rock face with your hand bleeding. You’re in pain, just emotional and screaming through it, and blood is pouring out of your mouth and you’re falling over when you’re meant to and falling when you’re not meant to. I like it to be real. So certain things that are done that are very real and you’re genuinely scared because you look into the other person’s eyes and they mean it. It’s frightening—that is one of the few times I’ve not had to do any acting. I was screaming, “F–k you! Come on!” Blood everywhere, going insane. It is f–king mental. You were there on top of a mountain with this surreal landscape around you and the sun is shining and your adrenaline is pumping and you’ve got what looks like blood everywhere and you’re in pain and you’ve got swords and you’re on the floor hitting the living daylights out of each other. I actually lost it at points and would just go in screaming … There’s a beautiful arc to it.
Alex Graves in TV Guide on Stannis' intervention at the wall:
Stannis' invasion was the king of all "Well,we can't afford to do that" conversations. [Laughs] It was really like, "How much money is left? Can we do this?" That's a kind of incredibly unromantic thing, but you don't want to say it. I went to dinner with David and Dan one night and I drew on a napkin the invasion. I didn't understand how Stannis had got there with all the guys in boats. And of course David and Dan look at me like, "You're an idiot" because you've never been to Westeros like they have... Later, there was a meeting where it was, "OK, we can afford three digital effects shots." Ultimately, which is usually the case, we squeezed four out because everybody's so cool and did their best. The rest of it became the sections, which was the raid outside the trees, the attack within the trees, the chaos that allowed Stannis to then close on the camp, which denigrated to the taking of the camp. And then [there's] the scene, which was Stannis Baratheon, the one and only true king, walking up to Jon Snow and saying, "Hi, I'm part of your story now."
Sibil Kekili, who plays Shae, on her character's betrayal, in Vulture:
In that trial scene, how she's talking, searching for words, she's looking at Tyrion's sister, his father, when she says her lines. It's like, okay, she had to say that. I understood it like that. At the beginning, when she met Tyrion, it was like, she was so loyal. For four years, she did everything. She cleaned the chamber pots of Sansa, you know? Even though he married Sansa. Even though she loved Sansa. But somehow, calling her a whore, that just stepped over a line. That was like spitting on her face, when he said, "You're a whore. You can't bear my children." Of course, he did it to protect her, but somehow, it was too much, to call her a whore.
Writer/showrunner D.B. Weiss in The Hollywood Reporter on Tyrion's murder of Shae:
"I think the preparation for Tyrion's actions at the end of this season have been taking place from the very beginning of the story. Long before, really. In a world as cruel as his, his family was the one place he could have hoped to find security and support—and from the time he was born, most of his family treated him horribly. With the exception of the occasional Joffrey slap, he learned to swallow the anger and resentment that came with this rejection, and convert them into the sardonic humor that makes him who he is. But in the face of this seasons ultimate betrayal—his sister trying to have him murdered and his father backing her up on it—Tyrion decided he was mad as hell and wasn't going to take it anymore."
Creator George R. R. Martin in EW on Tyrion killing his father:
He’s lost his position in House Lannister, he’s lost his position in court, he’s lost all of his gold—which is the one thing that’s kind of sustained him throughout his life. Whatever disadvantages he’s had in terms being a dwarf, he didn’t have the sort of physical abilities to be a knight, but he had the great advantage of an ancient and powerful name and all the gold that he could want to buy things — including followers like Bronn and other people to defend him. Now he’s lost all of that and he’s also found out that Jamie — the one blood relation that he loved unreservedly and has his back, and was always on his side — played a part in this traumatic event of his life, the ultimate betrayal. He’s so hurt that he wants to hurt other people, and it’s a moment of whim when he recognizes where he is from the account that Shae has told him and he knows that just up this ladder is a chamber that was once his that now his father has usurped from him. So he goes up to see his father. And I don’t think he knows what he’s gonna say or do when he gets up there but he — some part of him feels compelled to do it. And of course then we find Shae there, that’s an additional shock to him, an additional knife in his belly.
Benioff & Weiss on the moral compromises their characters have made this season, in EW:
We wouldn’t say that the characters you mention have rejected morality. Dany tries desperately to be just, even while dealing with viciously unjust opponents. Jon Snow tries to live with honor, while knowing that honor often gets his family members murdered. And et cetera. But a lot of this story — this season especially — is about people learning to face hard truths about the world they live in, and adapt themselves to those truths. The struggle many of them face is how to do that without losing their grip on who they are. Whether or not they succeed… well, people will have to decide for themselves. This season many characters undergo drastic changes in their own identities, and are forced to reevaluate how they see themselves and their places in the world.
Writer/showrunner David Benioff in The Hollywood Reporter on Season 5:
"I think the preparation for Tyrion's actions at the end of this season have been taking place from the very beginning of the story. Long before, really. In a world as cruel as his, his family was the one place he could have hoped to find security and support — and from the time he was born, most of his family treated him horribly. With the exception of the occasional Joffrey slap, he learned to swallow the anger and resentment that came with this rejection, and convert them into the sardonic humor that makes him who he is. But in the face of this seasons ultimate betrayal -- his sister trying to have him murdered and his father backing her up on it -- Tyrion decided he was mad as hell and wasn't going to take it anymore."