Spoilers for Game of Thrones.
Yes, we’re still talking about Game of Thrones. The final season of GoT premiered on Sunday (see my recap here), and that freed up some of the cast members to talk in a bit more detail about certain plotlines – because before the premiere, no one could say sh-t. John Bradley plays Samwell Tarly, the Citadel dropout and BFF to Jon Snow. Sam has always bugged me – he’s clearly the GoT avatar of George RR Martin, and as such, Sam is just given too much time within the GoT world. His storyline could be dealt with so much faster within the show. Sam was tasked by Bran to tell Jon about who he is and what he is: Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of His Name, and the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
Bran tasked Sam with telling Jon right after Daenerys broke the news to Sam that she burned the f–k out of Sam’s dad and brother. Considering how little I care about Sam and his family, I was irritated by the fact that Sam got so emotional about it – his father and brother were abusive monsters. Randyll Tarly basically sent Samwell to the Wall because Sam is overweight and likes books. Anyway, John Bradley spoke to Vanity Fair’s Still Watching podcast to explain some of the emotional notes of those scenes, and he had some sh-t to say about Daenerys.
Why he was so emotional about his father & brother’s deaths: Bradley based his performance off an article he had read awhile back about how if you have a relationship with one parent that is “strained and difficult” and with the other that is warm and loving, you’re likely to grieve more for the parent you didn’t get on with. “It sounds counterintuitive,” he acknowledges, but once that parent has died you’re left to carry so many things that are unresolved. “It’s never going to get any better,” he says. “The pain is never going to get any easier” without any happy memories to cling to…. Bradley says he sees Dickon as a victim of toxic masculinity. That all his bullying was just posturing to impress their domineering father. Both Bradley and Samwell are able to find reserves of compassion for someone like that.
He thinks the cold reaction from Daenerys Targaryen and Jorah Mormont was notable: “I’d be interested to know what Jorah’s view on Daenerys is now. In Season 2 he tells Daenerys she has a good heart and that’s why she’d be a good leader and you’re not really seeing that anymore. After all of her experiences and all she’s gone through and all that she’s withstood and the person she is now, she doesn’t seem to have that heart anymore. She seems much more—in that scene especially—she seems psychopathic almost and she seems to have regressed in terms of morality so much that I don’t know what he thinks of her anymore.”
I wonder if John Bradley is doing some GoT-approved foreshadowing about Dany and how she’s going “mad” like her father. In my GoT-rewatch, the scene where Dany executes the Tarly men seemed… like, whatever. It was notable because Tyrion tried to talk her out of it, and it was notable because Westeros-Dany is obsessed with bitches taking the knee. But really, she killed so many people that day. Those people were on the makeshift battlefield, which I know is different from executing a de facto prisoner of war. But still, I felt like the whole “the execution of the Tarly men” plot is feeling particularly overwrought at the moment. It also feels like Daenerys told Samwell straight out because she didn’t want to meet this guy and immediately lie to him. She wasn’t completely cold – she was direct and honest with him and she did her own dirty work. It’s like John Bradley is tone-policing the Dragon Queen. Next Samwell will be like “BUT HER DRAGON EMAILS.”
All that being said, it’s perfectly possible that Game of Thrones is setting Dany up to be a much more complicated person in the final act, whether you call that a flawed hero or just another villain, I don’t know. I’m worried about how she’ll react to the news about Jon/Aegon.
Photos courtesy of HBO/Game of Thrones.