Benioff and Weiss on Season 7, the Night King, and “hurtling toward” the end of Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss gave a lengthy interview to Deadline where they touched on, among other things, filming “Battle of the Bastards,” the narrative necessity of killing half of King’s Landing in “The Winds of Winter,” what’s coming in Season 7 for characters like Cersei and the Night King, and what the endgame of the show may look like. It’s a big one. Let’s dive in.

“Battle of the Bastards”

On top of reiterating how damn difficult horses are to work with, the producers shared their inspiration for doing the episode. They wanted to do something onscreen that hadn’t been done before. Said Weiss:

"[T]he combination of the true brutality of that kind of conflict, and the scale and scope of that kind of conflict, we felt there was a niche there we could maybe do something new, only because we were in a position to have the scale and scope of the whole thing and to really give us a sense of what that kind of conflict really felt like on the ground. Which, from all historical accounts, was truly terrible."

I love that Game of Thrones is in the hands of people with this kind of ambition. It should make for good watching as we near an ending, which is coming all too soon.

Weiss also revealed some of the numbers behind the battle. There were around 500 extras and 50 horses that were augmented with computer graphics to look like 7000 or 8000 soldiers with “an appropriate number of horses for that cavalry charge.” Again, the ambition on display is nice.

“The Winds of Winter” and Season 7

Benioff and Weiss touched on several moments from the explosive season finale, including the bit where Arya, in disguise as a serving girl at the Twins, looks Jaime up and down. He’s not on her list, but he is a Lannister, and according to Benioff, she recognizes him as such. What’s going through her head in that moment?

"[T]he eyes she was making toward him were about who he was, and the murderous wheels of vengeance were spinning in [her] brain over how, maybe, she could get a two for one on this deal. That ends up not happening, though, and she takes care of the original target."

Many fans think that, with Walder Frey out of the way, Arya will set her sights on Cersei, but if Jaime gets in her way, he could be in danger, too.

Speaking of Cersei, she’ll apparently play a huge part in the next season. For years, her one redeeming quality has been that she loved her children. Now they’re all gone, and it’s partly her fault. Weiss takes care to point out that had Cersei not spent so much time enjoying her revenge on the High Sparrow and more time with her family, Tommen’s probably wouldn’t have committed suicide. That’s gotta be a bitter pill for her swallow. Will we see a new ruthlessness from her in Season 7? Weiss weighs in:

"Not to give a frustrating answer, but that’s what so much of next season is going to be about; finding out what Cersei’s mind-set is. Who is she? While Cersei has certainly done a lot of horrible things in her life and she could be a very cruel person, the one thing that was redemptive about her was, she genuinely loved her children. Now they’re all gone, and I think that is very interesting for us. Who is she without her children? The answer is something you’ll find out next season. That’s so much of what is to come that I’ll just give it away if I start delving into it now."

Well, that’s a bit of a frustrating answer, but I’m all for a season focused on Cersei and her contradictions, particularly when Lena Headey so consistently knocks the performance out of the park. Benioff points to these things when he says that Cersei is among the most interesting characters to write for.

Finally, Weiss meditated a little on what these last two seasons have meant for the show, and what they’re setting up:

"It’s great, because things have finally, in the past season or two, started to contract in a very positive way. It was such an expansive world for such a long time. Obviously, we’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of characters and storylines we loved a lot. The ones that are left are ones we’ve been engaged in so long. Writing for Maisie [Williams] is always great, writing for Peter [Dinklage] and Emilia [Clarke] is great, especially now that they’ve come together in the same story line. Writing all the stuff for Kit [Harington] and all of the epic stuff he went through to get to now. There isn’t anyone left we don’t love writing for, because we’ve been writing for them, for so long. We know then so well at this point."

Next: The Night King and the end of Game of Thrones