Another day, another story about how someone on Game of Thrones doesn’t think the end of Game of Thrones was anything but great.
In an Emmy round-up interview for THR, best actor in a drama nominee Kit Harington talked in detail about his and Daenerys’ endings. In case you’ve forgotten already, after she destroyed King’s Landing with her dragon and had finally approached the Iron Throne, Jon stabbed Daenerys to death, ending her relatively short rule over the seven kingdoms and sending him into exile in the North (even though we’re still not sure how anyone knew he killed her, since Drogon immediately whisked her away).
First of all, that stabbing scene took three weeks to film.
“We felt a sense of responsibility over it,” Harington told THR. “We shot the hell out of it. It was essentially a page and a half of dialogue, and we spent three weeks filming it. They wanted to shoot every conceivable angle, every way, to make sure they got it the way they wanted it.”
“When you’re shooting the same scene for two weeks and it’s a page and a half, it becomes a long exercise in concentration,” he continued. “You have to remember the energy you’re bringing in, every day, and making sure it’s consistent. With a highly emotionally charged scene like that, it’s quite a lot, for everyone—the crew, me, and Emilia. It was tiring. It’s one of the hardest things we filmed.”
Harington says that when he read the script (for the first time at the table read) he was “completely surprised” by that “holy f–k moment,” though he does think you can see it coming.
“I was completely surprised by it even though you can kind of see the path through the season of how it was getting there—and even the previous couple of seasons before that, once you can look back. But it was still a big shock to me.”
So how does he justify the move? It all comes down to what Game of Thrones was all about from the beginning, as Jaime Lannister put it when he pushed Bran Stark out the window at the end of the pilot after the 10 year-old witnessed two siblings having sex: “the things [we] do for love.”
“It was said a long time ago, and I agree with it, that Thrones really is about dysfunctional families,” Harington said. “It’s about mothers, brothers and sisters, but it’s also about how far your blood will stretch in your decision-making. That’s the ultimate choice Jon is left with. He’s faced with someone he loves as his lover—who he is related to—but his loyalty is with the people and the part of the world where his roots are, the people who raised him.”
Harington says he looked at it similarly to Jon’s relationship with Ygritte earlier on in the show, “betraying someone he loves for the greater good.”
“It’s that horrible conflict in a relationship: ‘Do I stay or do I go?’ We’ve all been through it at some point…except this one involves a knife,” he said.
Dany doomed herself when she put herself against the Starks.
“But what it really comes down to, the real crux of it, is the decision is made when she puts it between her and his family. Jon essentially sees it as Daenerys or Sansa and Arya, and that makes his mind up for him. He chooses blood over, well, his other blood. But he chooses the people he has grown up with, the people his roots are with, the North. That’s where his loyalties lie in the end. That’s when he puts the knife in.”
Jon’s story ended with the series’ final scene, when he led the Free Folk back into the North, and Harington says that scene made him cry.
But as far as an ending for Jon Snow, this character that I loved for so many years and had grown so close to, and had meant so much to me…seeing him go beyond the Wall back to something true, something honest, something pure with these people he was always told he belongs with—the Free Folk—it felt to me like he was finally free. Instead of being chained and sent to the Wall, it felt like he was set free. It was a really sweet ending. As much as he had done a horrible thing, as much as he had felt that pain, the actual ending for him was finally being released.”
As for that other big stabbing in the final season, many fans thought it would be Jon who got to kill the Night King. Instead, it was Arya, and while Harington loved the “really great twist,” he definitely was a little jealous.
“I was a bit pissed off, only because I wanted to kill the Night King! I think I felt like everyone else did, in that it had been set up for a long time, and then I didn’t get to do it. But I was so happy for Maisie and Arya.”
Read the rest of the interview at THR.
Game of Thrones aired on HBO.