Major spoiler alert! Stop reading if you don’t want to know the outcome of last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones.”
It was the moment no one saw coming (unless you read the George R.R. Martin books or have kept abreast of spoilers): In a bold, risky move, “Game of Thrones” killed off its lead character.
As Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) foreshadowed earlier in the episode: “In the game of thrones, you win or you die.” For man of honor Ned Stark (Sean Bean), that meant paying the ultimate price as he was brutally beheaded in the final moments of this season’s penultimate episode, “Baelor.”
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“It’s quite heroic, I suppose,” Bean told MTV News of Ned’s death.
“He’s such a predominant character, straight through all of it, and you think, ‘Wait a minute, what’s happening?’ He’s obviously been betrayed left and right and center, but you never thought it would come to this,” he said. “Even the shock on his face before it happens it’s like, ‘But we made a deal.’ It’s a pretty awful ending and the kids are watching as well.”
For producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, the decision to kill off Ned – a real element from the first book in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series – was one they knew they had to make from the very beginning. “It completely ups the ante for any moment when a character is in a dire situation if you know another character didn’t survive a similar situation,” Weiss told EW.
Although the loss of the drama’s lead character – and perhaps the sole moral compass – is a huge blow to fans, Weiss doesn’t believe that Ned’s bitter end will alienate viewers. “The idea is this show gets its hooks into people enough so you’re going to want to know what happens to Tyrion and Arya. So even though we lose key characters, we’re still invested in a lot of characters so you’ll want to know what happens next.”