‘Game of Thrones’ Showrunner Calls Last Night’s Horrible Death ‘Entirely Justified’
Game of Thrones has courted more and more controversy with each passing hour outdoing the prior for depraved violence, but a fiery end from Sunday’s “The Dance of Dragons” may have taken the cake. Now, showrunner Dan Weiss defends the brutal death, claiming “it’s supposed to be awful.”
The night is dark and full of spoilers for last night’s “The Dance of Dragons,” but those who’d predicted Shireen Baratheon’s increased Season 5 screentime would set up a fiery end proved horribly correct, as Stannis sacrificed his daughter to the Lord of Light in hopes of undoing his army’s bad luck. The camera mercifully never showed Stannis’ daughter beyond a few moments tied to a stake atop the pyre, though the desperate screams and Selyse’s attempt to undo her daughter’s fate made the scene exceptionally difficult to watch.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer and writer Dan Weiss agreed that the scene was intentionally awful, though “Horrible things happening to people in this show, and this is one that we thought was entirely [narratively] justified. It was set-up by the predicament that Stannis was in.”
Being that we’ve previously seen Stannis burning men and women alive before to curry favor with Melisandre and the Lord of Light however, Weiss argued that our own affection for Shireen cast the act in a more harsh light than before:
It’s like a two-tiered system. If a superhero knocks over a building and there are 5,000 people in the building that we can presume are now dead, does it matter? Because they’re not people we know. But if one dog we like gets run over by a car, it’s the worst thing we’ve we’ve ever seen. I totally understand where that visceral reaction comes from. I have that same reaction. There’s also something shitty about that. So instead of saying, ‘How could you do this to somebody you know and care about?’ maybe when it’s happening to somebody we don’t know so well, maybe then it should hit us all a bit harder.
Weiss also spoke to the idea of demonstrable magic in fantasy affording a window into the mindset of those who commit terrible deeds on faith in the real world, but did Shireen’s fiery end push Game of Thrones past a threshold for despicable violence? Can we at least hope for Davos to ride back into camp blazing AK-47s for sweet vengeance on Stannis? Go inside “The Dance of Dragons” below, and stay tuned for the latest on next week’s Season 5 finale.