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We know precious little about what’s coming up in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the season-seven finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones. The episode’s title certainly hints at some major developments for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington), especially in the King in the North’s case. What’s more, the preview for the installment features what looks like the biggest meeting ever between main characters: Houses Stark, Targaryen and Lannister, plus their supporters, all in the same space at the same time, their stories finally converging as the cold threat of the White Walkers begins to breath right against the back of Westeros‘ neck.
Without revealing what we can expect from that climactic scene, leave it to actor Iain Glen to build up the emotional hype for what’s involved when Daenerys, Jon and Cersei (Lena Headey) bring all of their forces together under one proverbial roof. It’s not just a massive event for the story of Game of Thrones. It was a massive milestone for the production as well, given how disparate the stories are from one another, and therefore how disparate the actors often are as well.
“It was really surreal,” says Glen, who plays the solemn Ser Jorah Mormont. “I think it’s hard for fans to appreciate how dissipated and separated we’ve all been over the course of seven or eight years. There are large numbers of these actors who have never acted together before. We’ve all been part of this thing that’s turned into an extraordinary success, and we’ve met at premieres and we’ve met at read-throughs and we’ll bump into each other in trailers. It’s been a very complicated process. You have two units operating at the same time, with actors flying from one unit to another — from Spain to Croatia back to Ireland on the next Wednesday. You pass each other, but to actually be able to be in the same space, to have fun together, to live in the same hotels, to act in the scenes primarily? For me, it felt like it was part of the beginning of the end in a very good way. In a very lovely way.”
He continues, “The reason we’re starting to group together and all starting to be part of the same storylines is because the end is nigh. That’s the movement towards it. What you do as actors is you say, ‘Fucking hell. Can you believe how this has been?’ You share your delight and how much of a ball the whole gig has been. Sometimes it’s easy to think, ‘Is it just me?’ And then you bump into all of the other actors and we all feel the same. It’s very hard, because we know it’s not going to be there for much longer. It’s all going to go at some point — well, we know at what point. You want to relish it while it’s there, man. It’s a lovely feeling. It’s like someone you have known for a great deal of time but you’ve never had the chance to really see them and shake their hand and be part of the same thing and give them a hug. For everyone, it was a special time.”
For some actors, it’s potentially the last time. Given the season-seven finale’s 80-minute running time, it feels like a foregone conclusion that one or more major players won’t make it out of the season alive. Perhaps the people worth worrying about the most are the ones who still walk along the Wall: Beric Dondarrion, played by Richard Dormer, for instance. The Lightning Lord is on his final life, now that his good friend Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) has passed away. Whether or not the true death awaits Beric in the finale, Dormer can at least attest to the scale of what we’re about to feast our eyes on.
“I think what everybody imagines, they’re going to get it, and maybe even a little bit more,” says the actor. “It’s the last episode, so things are really ramping up. It’s going to be truly epic. You’re going to wish you were watching on a massive cinema screen.”
Find one if you can, then — “or sit really, really close to your 50-inch TV,” Dormer advises.
“It’s going to be interesting, I can tell you that,” says Kristofer Hivju, who plays Tormund Giantsbane, about what’s coming up in the finale. “It’s like Game of Thrones is competing with Game of Thrones, in the way that we feel everybody has to take it up another notch to make the fans happy. I really think they have done that this year. When you have a battle in episode two, and a huge one in episode four … these are big, big sequences. Somehow, it feels like the thing on Game of Thrones now is, if anybody comes up with a [great] idea, whatever the cost, the ambition, everyone has to say yes. We’re competing with ourselves. Episode seven is maybe the longest one. We’re talking about a feature-length episode.”
Indeed, even Alan Taylor, who directed last week’s sprawling penultimate episode, “Beyond the Wall,” says he was in awe of the scale of the coming season finale — and even more so, the scale of the season at large.
“When I heard I was going to be doing the penultimate episode of the season, I went, ‘Oh, good! That’s the big one!’ In most HBO shows’ story-arcs, and on Game of Thrones usually, the penultimate is the big one and then you coast down in the final episode,” says the filmmaker, who counts Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys among his feature film credits. “I got to Belfast and started looking at the other scripts and went, ‘Oh, mine’s not the big one. That’s the big one.’ Every episode I started to realize was big. The loot train was huge. The sea battle was huge. This season, it keeps hitting a bar of scale throughout. What becomes more important is not so much the scale of the action as it is the scale of the story point. I was lucky to have a major one like the Night King going nuclear and having the weapons the good guys have. I can say the next episode that finishes this short season, the plot point evolves in an even more dramatic way. It takes a huge leap forward. It keeps building.”
A huge leap forward past an ice dragon? It’s hard to imagine such a thing — unless it involves said ice dragon crossing from the realm beyond the Wall into the Seven Kingdoms themselves. Whatever the show has up its sleeve next, the reveal is on its way. Game of Thrones season seven concludes on Aug. 27, and once it wraps, only six episodes remain before this song of ice and fire hits its final note.
Watch the video below for the Game of Thrones cast’s preview of season seven’s battles.
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