Even Emilia Clarke Was Totally Shocked By Daenerys' Sad Twist Ending On GoT

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Warning: spoilers for the series finale of Game of Thrones ahead.
Stabbed in the heart by the man she loves in the middle of a hopeful kiss — that’s how Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mother of Dragons, The Unburnt Breaker of Chains, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, and Protector of the Realm met her untimely end in the Game of Thrones series finale, “The Iron Throne.”
After last week’s Mad Queen twist, which saw the former fan favorite annihilate a city full of innocent civilians, it seemed inevitable that those closest to her would turn on Daenerys. (Okay, and we had spoilers.) And yet, it was shocking to see a character we’ve followed so closely for eight seasons take such a sharp turn into villain status.
Advertisement
But no one was more surprised than Emilia Clarke, who told Entertainment Weekly she had to read the script for the finale seven times before coming to terms with her character’s fate. “What, what, what, WHAT!?” she remembered thinking. “Because it comes out of fucking nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming.”
Neither did we. Daenerys’ fate was disappointing, not because of its outcome but because of how we got there. Rather than set up her slow descent into madness over several seasons, the show’s creators made it a sudden snap. It was jarring to see the woman who once locked up her dragons for eating one Meereenese child make the split-second decision that she would make thousands burn alive in the name of some utopian vision of society that hadn’t been revealed to viewers beforehand.
“I cried,” Clarke said about reading the ending. “And I went for a walk. I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn’t come back for five hours. I’m like, ‘How am I going to do this?’”
The answer, it turns out, was Kit Harington, the very man whose dagger would end Daenerys’ life. The two actors sat next to each other on the plane to Belfast, where they would shoot the final season, and didn’t discuss the plot at all, because Harington hadn’t read the script yet. “This literally sums up Kit and I’s friendship,” Clarke joked “Boy! Would you? Seriously? You’re just not?…” Once Harington finally did his homework, the two had a good cry together and mourned their respective roles.
Advertisement
Still, it's been hard to justify Daenerys' ambition leading her to become a tyrant, especially since she has become a symbol of the power of women. In an interview with the New Yorker, Clarke revealed that she recently met Beyoncé, and though she couldn't reveal the show's ending, she was terrified that her idol would no longer like her if she knew Daenerys' brutal actions.
"All I wanted to scream was ‘Please, please still like me even though my character turns into a mass-killing dictator!'" she said. "'Please still think that I’m representing women in a really fabulous way.’ ”
Oh, and she hates the term "Mad Queen."
"It’s not that I wanted to show her as 'mad,'because I really don’t like that word. I don’t enjoy fans calling me 'the Mad Queen,' she said about Daenerys' state of mind in the final scene. "But she’s is so far gone in grief, in trauma, and in pain. And yet our brains are fascinating in the way that they find a fast route to feel O.K., whether you’re relying on a substance or you’re mildly deluded."
It’s been an emotional few days for the entire cast, who have all been finding creative ways of bidding adieu to this significant chapter in their lives. Last night, Clarke posted four pictures to Instagram: The cast assembled in costume and mugging for the camera, a shot of them casually lounging around at a viewing party for the finale, a tribute to Daenerys’ intricate finale braids, and a black and white portrait of the Khaleesi.
Advertisement
“Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me,” the caption read. “The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart. I’ve sweated in the blaze of dragon fire, shed many tears at those who left our family early, and wrung my brain dry trying to do Khaleesi and the masterful words, actions (and names) I was given, justice."
Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor and as a human being. I just wish my darling dad was here now to see how far we’ve flown. But to you, dear kind magical fans, I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we’ve made and what I’ve done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams. Without you there is no us. And now our watch has ended.”
It seems that, ultimately, Clarke has made her peace with Daenerys’ arc, even if her words seem to stress that she didn't pick the ending. “I have my own feelings [about the storyline] and it’s peppered with my feelings about myself,” she told EW. “It’s gotten to that point now where you read [comments about] the character you [have to remind yourself], ‘They’re not talking about you, Emilia, they’re talking about the character.”
Advertisement
She also added that those questioning Daenerys' actions in “The Bells” should take pause and reflect on her prior storylines. She recalled that producers were careful to pepper in some set-up throughout the series, often giving her notes that she didn’t understand in the context of Daenerys’ actions at the time.
“There’s a number of times I’ve been like: ‘Why are you giving me that note?’” Clarke said. “So yes, this has made me look back at all the notes I’ve ever had.”
Indeed, our watch has ended. And it sounds like it may be time to start all over again.
Advertisement

More from TV