Game of Thrones Finale Director On That Thing Everyone Thought Would Be There But Wasn’t (And More!)
Book readers, you know what's up.
You know. THE THING. That particular discussion is spoilery if you haven’t read the books, but we have some non-book-spoilery items as well, like George R. R. Martin and Shae actress Sibel Kikelli addressing a certain major scene and director Alex Graves chiming in yet again on the rape scene that defined much of the discussion about Game of Thrones‘ fourth season.
If you haven’t read the books, just don’t scroll past drunk Cersei and you’ll be fine. Needless to say, the entire post has major spoilers for the finale.
The big scene, of course, is when Tyrion discovers Shae has been sleeping with Tywin, kills her, and then kills Good Ole’ Dad, too. For her part, Kekilli found the scene “really emotional” and grueling to shoot: “When I see him [Tyrion] I [Edit: I left out the “I” at first. Whoops. What a difference a letter makes.] grab a knife, and I try to save myself to stay alive because I know that he is going to kill me. It was done step-by-step. There was a stunt coordinator, so it took a long time, plus that emotional scene at the end.”
Shae’s strong tendency toward self-defense is something Kekilli’s talked about before, specifically when she defended her character’s actions in the trial scene. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter she touches on that again, saying:
”Even if the fans don’t understand Shae—or some of the fans don’t—I have to understand why she is acting like that after she was loyal and did everything for [Tyrion]. She really loved him. At the end, she’s angry, hurt, and lost and maybe also blackmailed and forced into this by the Lannisters. But part of her thinks, ‘Tyrion, it’s your fault we are in this situation’… Shae is low-born. This is after Tyrion said, ‘Go away. You’re a whore.’ She was thinking, ‘I’m again where I was before I met Tyrion. Once again I’m a prostitute. Again, I’m by myself, on my own. I have to take care of myself. I have to survive.’… The fans are so great—but they can be tough on Shae. They either say ‘I love Shae or I hate you,’ whereas Tyrion is considered untouchable by the fans. Some fans might say Shae somehow deserved it because she’s in Tywin’s bed. But it’s a very emotional and complicated scene.”
I’m in the “love Shae” camp—she was in an awful situation, and she did what she thought she had to do to survive, and she did it without the added security net that being a highborn lady provides. Her actions aren’t the “””nicest,””” but screw that, my favorite character is Stannis, I don’t care about niceness. (I love Sansa, but more for her intelligence than her demeanor.) Shae’s “not a victim,” says Kekilli. “For me, calling her a victim would mean she was weak. She was low-born. She had a hard life. She had to learn how to stay alive. She was a victim of the system maybe, of life circumstances, but she was also a really strong woman.”
At Entertainment Weekly, meanwhile, Martin spoke about the emotional impact the scene has on Tyrion…
“With Shae, it’s a much more deliberate and in some ways a crueler thing. It’s not the action of a second, because he’s strangling her slowly and she’s fighting, trying to get free. He could let go at any time. But his anger and his sense of betrayal is so strong that he doesn’t stop until it’s done and that’s probably the blackest deed that he’s ever done… Now by the standards of Westeros, that’s hardly a crime at all— ‘So a lord killed a whore, big deal.’ He’s not likely to be punished for that any more than any other lords and knights who treat lowborn women and prostitutes and tavern wenches with contempt and use them and discard them. It’s nothing to the world, but it’s again something that’s going to haunt him, while the act of killing his father is something of enormous consequence that would be forever beyond the pale, for no man is as cursed as a kinslayer.”
…and the differences between book Shae and show Shae, who is (was *sobs*) a much more complex character:
“[Show] Shae is much more sincere in her affections for Tyrion. This is almost contradictory, but with the Shae in the TV series, you can tell she actually has real feelings for Tyrion—she challenges him, she defies him. The Shae in the books is a manipulative camp-follower prostitute who doesn’t give a s–t about Tyrion any more than she would any other john, but she’s very compliant, like a little teenage sex kitten, feeding all his fantasies; she’s really just in it for the money and the status.”
To wrap up the non-book-spoilery portion of this roundup, “The Children” director Alex Graves, who also directed the episode where Jaime rapes Cersei (even though Graves thought it was consensual, which no), spoke to Hero Complex about whether the fact that most of the people read the scene as rape made him see it differently:
“The thing is, it’s not one thing or another, it’s both. There’s some consensual activity, and they’ve been in love since they were children. But some people saw it differently, and I think that’s fine. It’s everyone’s show. The best thing to come from all the discussion is that it shows how invested people are in these characters and what happens to them.”
We’ve discussed that scene at length, and I think by now everyone should know our stance on “It was both rape and consensual sex,” so for this post I’m going to let judgmental Cersei serve both as a barrier before we get to the book spoiler stuff and my reaction to this quote.
The big thing everyone expected to be in the season four finale, of course, was Lady Stoneheart. So why was she a no-show? TL;DR: She was never going to be in season four at all, there was way too much stuff in there already, calm the hell down, people! Or, as Graves put it to Vulture:
I know it caught on on the internet, and people really started to believe it. I think the bottom line is that there was so much going on, at least from where I stood, that it wasn’t something to get into because, you know, when you get into taking Michelle Fairley, one of the greatest actresses around, and making her a zombie who doesn’t speak and goes around killing people, what’s the best way to integrate that into the show? I don’t think there was room for it this season… honestly, it just wasn’t talked about. It wasn’t on the radar.
The wait for zombie, Frey-killing Catelyn Stark goes on.
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