The 'GoT' actor who seriously fought his fictional death
Even if you’ve read all five A Song of Ice and Fire books, season 5 of Game of Thrones is proving that as viewers, we still know absolutely nothing. If you didn’t catch last night’s Game of Thrones episode, “Sons of the Harpy,” turn away now, because there are spoilers ahead.
While Game of Thrones is largely based off of its source material, season 5 has so far proved that no one is safe from a brand new storyline. In a very shocking turn of events, two characters were killed during a chaotic fight scene in Meereen, even though my dad kept on reassuring me that they’d live, since they’re still alive in the books (yes, I watch Game of Thrones every week with my father, because we’re cool like that). Well, my dad was wrong. All Game of Thrones readers who assumed a different outcome for Ser Barristan (Ian McElhinney) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) were wrong. While the end of the episode was left ambiguous, according to Entertainment Weekly Barristan is dead, and things aren’t looking too good for Grey Worm. Ugh, say it ain’t so.
If you’re totally bummed that Barristan’s story has come to an end — and we didn’t get to see him sword fight nearly enough for his reputation — you’re not alone. McElhinney’s just as upset, and fought very hard to keep Barristan around for a little while longer. As McElhinney told the Huffington Post, “I did talk to [the show runners, Dan Weiss and David Benioff] about it. I gave some arguments of my own why I thought Barristan was kind of important in Daenerys’ story, important enough that he should stay in Daenerys story, and he didn’t.”
“[Weiss and Benioff’s] decision was a lot of what happens to Daenerys in this series, [and that’s] sort of predicated a bit on what happens to Barristan, so there you go,” he continues, “It’s their call at the end of the day, so you kind of have to accept whatever the decision is, but I did certainly sort of ask them further about it.”
In talking to Entertainment Weekly, he explains that he figured out he was a goner before anyone from Game of Thrones had even told him. McElhinney’s read all the books, so he knew that on the page his character is still very much alive. However, something wasn’t adding up.
“I got my [shooting] dates from my agent and I thought, ‘That doesn’t tally.’ Because there was no way if they were sticking to the books that I should be in for that number of weeks. It seemed to me they must be writing me out. So I had a word with the line producer and said, ‘Can you corroborate that they’re writing me out?’ Then the [showrunners] rang me and told me, ‘Your time is up in this series.’ So perhaps I took them by surprise that I knew.” It’s hard to pull a fast one on someone who’s read all five books — I mean, readers KNEW the Red Wedding was coming — but clearly Game of Thrones has a ton of tricks up its sleeve.
Ser Barristan is not the first deviation from the books, and it sounds like it won’t be the last. Sansa Stark’s got a new storyline this season, and according to McElhinney, we’ll “get a surprise when Episode 4 airs,” which doesn’t sound good. Guess we should be even more nervous about our Game of Thrones faves meeting a sudden end. No one is safe, not even the ones still alive on the page.