‘Game of Thrones’: Women in a ‘difficult world,’ say show runners

April 21, 2014 | 2:42 p.m.
760000 got404 090213 hs dsc45641 Game of Thrones: Women in a difficult world, say show runners

The lead mutineer (Burn Gorman) threatens Bran's friends (Ellie Kendrick and Thomas Brodie-Sangster). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

759998 got mp 091113 ep402 29561 Game of Thrones: Women in a difficult world, say show runners

From left, Dean-Charles Chapman, Peter Dinklage, Jack Gleeson and Sophie Turner in "Game of Thrones." (HBO)

759998 got mp 091713 ep402 40351 Game of Thrones: Women in a difficult world, say show runners

Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) spar in "Game of Thrones." (HBO)

Anyone who watches HBO’s lavish fantasy series “Game of Thrones” understands that it’s not easy for any character to  live in the cutthroat world of Westeros, defined as it is by treachery and death. But navigating the brutal environment can be especially fraught for the women who have a central role in the narrative.

(If you missed Sunday night’s episode, “Breaker of Chains,” you might want to stop reading now.)

In the latest installment of the hit show, Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) arrived at the city of Meereen with her army of Unsullied at her back, determined to continue to free the slaves in the cities of the East. But even as she wins the affections of the underclass, she’s also making powerful enemies.

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Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) finally escaped from King’s Landing (though at great cost to Dontos the Fool) in a scheme orchestrated by Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), the slippery operative known as Littlefinger. But Cersei Lannister’s relationship with her brother Jaime took a bleak, horrifying turn as he raped her beside the body of their son Joffrey.

Reactions to the scene between Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau have played out online, but in an interview prior to the season’s launch, “Game of Thones” show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss discussed how they view the women on the show.

Tommen )Dean-Charles Chapman), Cersei (Lena Headey) stand beside the boy of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) in Sunday's episode of "Game of Thrones," titled "Breaker of Chains.  (Helen Sloan/HBO)

Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Cersei (Lena Headey) stand beside the body of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) in Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” titled “Breaker of Chains.”
(Helen Sloan / HBO)

“We always pay a lot of attention to our female characters,” Weiss said. “They’re in a difficult world, a world that doesn’t give them a whole lot of latitude for movement — certainly not as much as our world does.”

“The world of the show may not have a tremendous amount of respect for what the women of the show are capable of, but the show itself does,” he added.

Fighting to claim her rightful place in “Game of Thrones”‘ world has long been a motivating factor for Daenerys, according to Clarke.

“Fundamentally she is a leader and a survivor, and the beautiful difference between Daenerys and the rest of the cast is her ultimate goal is pure,” the actress recently told Hero Complex. “Her ultimate goal is entirely selfless. It feels much more of a bigger idea than simply I want to sit on the throne because I want to sit on the throne. She would like to rule and create an equal world.

“I think the reason why strong women have such a powerful impact is that you’ve got the strength of a man with the heart and sensitivity of a woman,” she added. “I think that is where Daenerys could go to, but, my God, she’s still learning.”

Possibilities seem to be emerging for Sansa, too, now that she’s been able to flee the Lannister stronghold, even as her sister Arya (Maisie Williams) crosses the countryside with Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann).

George R.R. Martin “created some of the greatest female characters,” Weiss said. “The Stark sisters, they both come to real turning points this season. There are big changes in store for both the Stark sisters this year.”

“It’s fascinating to see how they’ve evolved,” Benioff added. “They become so much stronger within the season in completely different ways.”

What did you think of Sunday’s episode? Let us know in the comments section.

— Gina McIntyre


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