Although I haven’t done a case-by-case comparison study, I’d be shocked if, by the end of its run, Game of Thrones didn’t go down in history as one of the most woman-centric fantasy epics ever produced. When one compares it to something like, say, The Lord of the Rings, there’s just a wealth of well-developed female characters, from the Stark sisters to the Tyrell women to Daenerys to Brienne to Cersei. The producers have even upped the ante this year by adding the Sand Snakes, although it could be debated how much they actually add to the mix (spoiler: very little).
Some of the heavyweight actresses featured on the show have been hitting the press junket of late, and have dropped some interesting nuggets about their characters. For example, Maisie Williams sat down with Entertainment Weekly and talked about Arya’s journey this year, and revealed that it can only be understood after viewing the entire season.
I think it’s the first time that Arya’s story is really only complete when you look at all 10 episodes. Obviously people only watch it a week at a time, and I think at first people are going to be like, “Where is this heading?”—until we get to the later episodes. Then they’re going to be like, “That makes sense now. I get it.”
Maybe it’s just my book-reader self doing some projecting, but I’ve found Arya’s story to be one of the more consistently compelling this year. Still, it’s good to hear that there’s some kind of structure that will reveal itself by season’s end.
Entertainment Weekly also asked Williams which character off Arya’s death list she would kill if she got the chance, and her answer wasn’t perhaps what a lot of people were expecting.
The Red Woman. She’s bad news to everyone. [Melisandre has] been underestimated. She’s got a lot of power over everyone and ultimately she can be a really dangerous person. Arya doesn’t know that, but Maisie as an audience member knows that. We are seeing cracks in Cersei, but Melisandre doesn’t look like she’s losing steam anytime soon.
That’s an interesting choice, especially given that Arya left Melisandre off her death list countdown when she ran through it in “The House of Black and White.” Let’s all hope that Melisandre was right when she spoke to Arya back in Season 3 and predicted that the two of them would meet again, because that’s a showdown I would love to see.
As it has with Arya, the show has made understated but effective use of Brienne this year, as she waits patiently for a chance to aid Sansa in her ongoing battle with the Boltons. Brienne’s steadfastness has always been an admirable trait, and when Gwendoline Christie appeared on a panel at the Denver Comic Con, she talked about how Brienne’s dedication to the older Stark sister is a result of her having fallen “in love,” so to speak, with Catelyn Stark. Just as Brienne’s relationship with Renly was based on mutual respect, so it was with Catelyn. On a show where love often gets twisted into something ugly (see Cersei lying and warping her children in attempts to protect them) and where characters are motivated of all kinds of base desires, this is downright inspiring.
Also, Christie reveals that her stunt double during the bear fight back in Season 3 was, in fact, the bear’s male trainer, who spent months practicing the scene while wearing a dress and a wig to make the bear comfortable. It’ll be hard to watch that scene in quite the same way ever again.
Finally, Entertainment Weekly brings you the media’s latest attempt to make the Sand Snakes happen. The magazine sat Keisha Castle-Hughes (Obara), Jessica Henwick (Nymeria), and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Tyene) down in one place and drilled them on how they prepared for the roles. Most of it is stuff we’ve already heard concerning their weapons of choice and the training they underwent to get into fighting shape, although the actresses do squabble amusingly when asked which daughter Oberyn liked best. Mostly though, it seems everyone’s fighting an uphill battle to make these characters interesting. We’ll see if they can redeem themselves following several underwhelming appearances in the final three episodes of the season.