John Bradley is happy with Sam Tarly’s “proactive” role in season 7


At the end of Game of Thrones season 6, Samwell Tarly finally arrived in an environment where it looked like he’d be comfortable: the Citadel in Oldtown, basically one giant library. But as we’ve seen over the course of season 7, things didn’t work out as planned.

John Bradley spoke to HBO Making Game of Thrones blog about Sam’s arc this year, starting with his reaction when he first got the season 7 scripts:

"I was really excited. I liked that this season he’s proactively doing things that will make a difference. It’s really the first time Sam has a role at the very heart of everything: he just wants to fight it in the only way he knows how, and use his own skills in an environment where he can bring something to the table. He wants to let Jon know that sending him there was the right thing to do, and he’s going to reward him with results."

But rather than rewarding his proactivity, the archmaesters at the Citadel proved a “crushing disappointment,” and kept Sam from doing the things he felt needed to be done. “He’s come across a group of people who are very keen on giving themselves a comfortable life and concerning themselves with trivial academia for the sake of it,” Bradley said of archmaesters like Ebrose (Jim Broadbent). “Sam knows about the power of knowledge, and what a difference it can make. He thinks the maesters will share those values, but they don’t. They’re passive. And Sam doesn’t want to be that way. His passion and interest in academia is using it as a force for good.”

The final straw came in “Eastwatch,” when Sam saw a conclave of archmaesters equivocate about what to do over Bran’s warning about the coming of the army of the dead, as delivered by Maester Wolkan. “Sam thinks, ‘I appreciate they don’t have to listen to me, but this note is coming from another maester they know. They should give some credibility to him.’ But they don’t want to hear about it. You can almost see them thinking, ‘Let’s see if we can find a way to ignore this and let us off the hook.'”

"He’s not being allowed to fight the battle at the Citadel. He’s not being allowed to justify Jon’s decision. He knows he’s got to get out of there and go back to Jon’s side; he’s the only one who’s going to fly the flag of knowledge in this war. That really is the breaking point, when Sam realizes he’s talking to a brick wall. No matter what they suggest, these people aren’t in the business of saving the world, and he is."

So Sam grabs Gilly, Little Sam, and a pile of old scrolls and splits town. Like Bradley says, he’s probably on his way back to Jon. He’s certainly not going back to Horn Hill. Even if he knew the truth about Daenerys burning his father and brother alive, Bradley says that “As soon as [Sam] took that Valyrian steel sword and walked out of Horn Hill, none of that mattered anymore.”

Sam did mange do some good while at the Citadel, including curing Jorah Mormont’s (Iain Glen) greyscale, something Sam was motivated to do by the affection he had for Jorah’s father Jeor, Sam’s former Lord Commander in the Nigh’ts Watch. “Sam abandoned the scene of Lord Commander’s death, and he carries a lot of guilt for that,” Bradley said. “Now he’s got a chance to put some of those demons to bed and show what an honorable person he is.”

"It was a tough day shooting that, but no matter how tough it was for me, it was so much worse for poor Iain Glen [who plays Jorah]. To have that prosthetic applied to him, he had to get up at 2 o’clock in the morning, get to set at 3, and then sit in a chair and have it applied over the course of four or five hours. Then I’d bound onto the set around 8 o’clock ready to do a day’s work. So in that environment, you have to be as respectful as you can and try to keep the energy down between takes, because Iain has to portray a man undergoing such agony, which is such a tiring emotion to portray."

Helen Sloan – HBO

Sounds almost as painful as it was to watch.

Next: Isaac Hempstead Wright discusses Bran’s purpose and his rivalry with Littlefinger

We’ll see Sam’s next steps when Game of Thrones season 7 continues this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. EST.

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