Last night’s finale of Game of Thrones Season 4 brought to life some big moments that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, and fans alike, have been waiting for since well before the series began. In a number of new interviews David and Dan discuss those big moments, as well as some of the deviations, and look ahead to an intimidating Season 5.
In their interview with The Hollywood Reporter the showrunners admit that they are perpetually anxious about getting the show right, particularly last night’s finale which was so concentrated with important scenes. They also discuss their approach to deviating from the books, and looking ahead to the material for Season 5, there are some terrifyingly difficult sequences they will have to tackle.
What were you most worried about getting right for the finale?
Benioff: If we’re being honest, we worry about everything. Do you know how many anti-anxiety pills we chew every night?
A long time ago the wonderful writer Ann Patchett was my teacher in graduate school. She said a good story has to have some orange juice concentrate and some water: too much of the former and it tastes disgusting; too much of the latter and it’s watery. That was an important lesson and one we’ve tried to follow in this series. Some of our favorite scenes on the show are the quiet ones with two characters talking. But “The Children” is concentrated. From Stannis’ surprise attack to the battle with the Wights to the Brienne/Hound fight to Tyrion’s escape and the ensuing violence– on this one we just said, “F–k the water.”
Weiss: In past seasons, our final episodes have often been clean-up — exciting in their own right, but primarily concerned with addressing the aftermath of the momentous events of the episode before. This isn’t one of those. The finale of the fourth season is more blow-up than clean-up. In real life, blowing things up is usually a lot easier than cleaning them up, but on TV it’s a lot more difficult.
You broached beyond the books this season, and it was very positively received by fans. Are you able to share if we will see more of going beyond the books in season 5?
Weiss: We try not to talk about what’s coming in future seasons, especially while the current season is still airing. And when we’re not even finished writing the future seasons. I should probably be doing that right now, actually. The books are the reason we’re doing this, they’re our road map, and they provide many or most of our destinations. But there are many ways to get to each destination, and some are more appropriate for our show than others.
Benioff: We have to make a show that succeeds on its own terms, and sometimes that means veering away from the books. Some people will be upset by that. Some people will like it. Obviously we hope for more of the latter, but if we ever write a scene (or avoid writing a scene) because we’re afraid of pissing someone off, we’re sunk. As for season five, we’re still figuring out how we can afford everything we want to do. There are a few sequences that are absolutely terrifying from a production standpoint.
The pair explained some of those book deviations to Entertainment Weekly, including the brutal meeting of Brienne and The Hound, and their choice to seal Jojen’s fate a bit earlier than expected.
Let’s talk The Hound fighting Brienne. What inspired that clash?
Benioff: It felt right to us, these two pairings: The Hound and Arya; Brienne and Pod. Both are on quests. The Hound is trying to get Arya to the Eyrie; Brienne is trying to find the Stark girls. It felt right to us that those quests would collide at end of season.
Weiss: The Hound and Brienne are two people who, by the time we get them together, you’re sort of rooting for both of them, in a way. Brienne is obviously a more moral character than The Hound. But I would hope you can’t help but love The Hound in spite of yourself, a little bit. The idea they’re both going to try tooth and nail and sword to kill each other, there’s something classically epic about it. You got Achilles fighting Hector — there isn’t a good guy and a bad guy, it’s two people you’re both extremely invested in and there’s a fascination and horror of knowing that one of them is inevitably going to get the worst of this situation.
We lost a Reed in the finale! You couldn’t have possibly thought: “Well, not enough characters died this season,” so can you address that move?
Jojen is a bit like John the Baptist. He’s there to make sure a person of cosmic importance ends up where he belongs. Once Bran gets to the Three-Eyed Raven, he has served his greater purpose. It felt right to have him sacrifice himself to get Bran to his destination. Also, there are lot of wights in that frozen field. It seemed pretty unlikely they wouldn’t score at least once.
One scene that the showrunners kept relatively close to the books was Tyrion’s revenge on his lover and his father. David and Dan spoke with Deadline about how they approached Tyrion’s final moments this season.
“Both basic confrontations, Tyrion/Shae and Tyrion/Tywin, have their source in the books. It feels like the people who haven’t read the books will probably be pretty surprised by both scenes. We loved those scenes, and kept many of the broad strokes and particulars. To see Tyrion’s entire, troubled relationship with his father distilled into three minutes, that’s a lot of weight to put on two actors. It was our good fortune that the two actors in question were Peter and Charles, who are both power-lifters in this category.”
There is certainly a lot to take in from last night’s episode, and Season 4 as a whole. The stage has been set for Season 5, and David and Dan are determined to not let the audience down. “With our show, there’s sort of an unstated contract with the audience that each season will up the ante on the previous season, culminating with an ending that justifies the 70+ hours it took to get there.”
Winter Is Coming Live: Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale by Winter Is Coming
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