NY TIMES – In Sunday’s Season 7 finale of “Game of Thrones,” after arriving at King’s Landing from Winterfell, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) bears witness to the presentation of the undead wight, the hard-won proof of the common evil all of the show’s characters will soon face.
Can opposing sides put aside their squabbles and band together to prevent the end of the world? For her part, Brienne tries to facilitate that, even if she’s rebuffed in the moment by Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), her former road trip partner. We talked with Ms. Christie about Brienne’s tête-à-tête with her gold-handed man, her reunion with a past combatant and her unusual love triangles. Following are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Sansa sent Brienne to King’s Landing as her representative, but also because she didn’t want or need her around to dispose of the Littlefinger problem. How do you feel about how that was resolved?
Back in Season 3, when she was escorting Jaime Lannister to King’s Landing, there was a farmer who witnessed them on the road. Jaime said, “That farmer knows who I am. What if he tells someone?” implying that she needed to go and kill him. And Brienne refused, because she didn’t believe it was the right thing to do. She doesn’t believe in dispatching a life unless it’s absolutely necessary. Unless it’s official. Look at the way she beheaded Stannis. She essentially read him his rights. Although it was loaded with emotion for her, she presented it in a very official, formal way, with great nobility. So I don’t know how Brienne will react to people taking matters into their own hands at Winterfell. Brienne is about a code of honor, a code of conduct, and she never kills anyone just for the sake of it.
It’s complex, though, because Brienne’s made her oath to Catelyn Stark to protect the Stark girls. It’s a little bit of a tricky situation because both Sansa and Arya have had their own journeys, and at times, some horrific experiences. I think she wishes she had been able to save them from what they had been forced to experience. We can use the word “maternal” because it has so many connotations, but what I like about it is that, in Brienne’s own way, she is expressing something of their mother to them. She’s protecting them as best she can. I think things are getting more interesting for Brienne now. I know it’s not what she wanted, to leave Sansa’s side, but being at King’s Landing as Sansa’s representative sort of upped her game. It’s going beyond the remit of what she thought her job description was.
Brienne and the Hound get a nice little reunion, considering the last time she saw him, she left him for dead.
She’s shocked when she spies him, because of course she thinks that when she defeated and dispatched him, that she killed him. And she decides to do the decent thing and go up to him, and he quite understandably gives her a bit of the cold shoulder at first. She says that she’s sorry for harming him, that she was only trying to protect Arya, and he says that’s all he was doing as well. And so they come to a sort of begrudging respectful silence. An acknowledgment of each other. Of each other’s status as warriors.
And it’s rather good to see them come together. You don’t expect the Hound to overcome the injury, not just to his physical body, but to his male pride, being nearly killed by a woman. And Brienne sees in the Hound a quality that she has, which is utter resilience, against all of the odds. What seems to be becoming clearer is this idea that they all need to overcome their differences and see the similarities in each other, to fight something that is essentially the destruction of mankind. No matter how large or how small, they need to engage with this idea of unity against a common evil.
That’s the crux of her argument with Jaime Lannister.
Why will he not give everything to overcome that? Brienne is … not heartbroken, but incredibly shocked and hurt, and that hurt makes her question the relationship and what it really means to her. Jaime sort of treats her like she’s a stranger, and fobs her off. It’s incredibly tense. Their past trust and mutual respect just seems to be meaningless. They have had this complex relationship which really can’t be defined, so it’s a really fascinating setup to move forward, for where we will go in the final season. I think although he treats her fairly coldly, what we’ve seen with Jaime Lannister is that he might respond badly to something, particularly with Brienne, but then he takes the time to reflect and think about it, and he’s sort of brought back.
Unlike Cersei, Brienne usually makes him want to be a better man. It’s kind of an inversion of the Beauty and the Beast scenario, where he is both the beauty and the one who needs to be transformed.
Yes! It’s so interesting the way the parallels are played with, in that you have a female character who isn’t cute, isn’t beautiful, isn’t sexy, isn’t conventionally attractive, but she has an incredibly attractive interior world, a world that is firmly harnessed to a moral compass. She’s very focused on dedicating her life to the good of others. She’s driven and selfless, and that’s a rare combination.
When Brienne and Jaime are together, something incredibly magnetic seems to occur. Last season, there was that scene where she tries to persuade him to allow her to speak to the Blackfish, and she’s able to communicate and negotiate with him, and be heard by him in a way that doesn’t really exist between many of the other male and female characters. In a way that’s not about manipulation, but is positive. So I’m endlessly fascinated by their dynamic. I really am.
And then there’s the dynamic with Tormund, which delights a lot of fans. He recently announced his desire to procreate with Brienne, despite the fact that she does not seem to reciprocate his affections, at all.
[Laughs] Yeah! Do you think she actually likes him? I don’t think it’s something Brienne wants! Tormund is quite a rough and ready man. He’s a man who’s bragged about having sexual intercourse with a bear, and so I question whether that is necessarily the right person for Brienne. Does that man display enough sensitivity? What do you think Tormund would have to come up with to win her heart?
Well, that’s a bit of a problem with wildling culture. The free folk believe the man should steal the woman. That’s their idea of courtship. With Brienne, he might have more success if he tried to have an actual conversation with her first.
I think he’d have to have a conversation with her for at least four years. [Laughs] She seems fairly repelled by Tormund’s strong overtures toward her. She’s more enthused by a more cerebral approach. Brienne puts her hand on Jaime’s shoulder in this episode, to stop him as he goes to walk off, and that really throws him off balance. So it’s taken them, what? Nearly five years to just put a hand on his shoulder?!
And that’s after they’ve seen each other naked!
[Laughs] They’re working from Point 10 to Point 2. Exactly. And then I think, the poor woman. Look at her choices: the man who brags about having sex with a bear, or the man who has sex with his sister! Maybe there’s another option? I really want her to have someone more stable. I don’t know. I’m a bit surprised by how much attention that the most unconventional female character on the show has garnered for her love life!