SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s episode of Game Of Thrones.
If you’re searching for an understatement, rock royalty Queen’s “another one bites the dust” could sum up the events of tonight’s Game Of Thrones. But it wasn’t just anyone who bites the dust: it was a King who was killed on the second episode of the blockbuster HBO series’ fourth season. Granted it was a crazed sadistic boy King whom no one besides his mother/sister loved, but it was a death early in the season that most shows would have saved for a finale. However, as fans familiar with the books by George R.R. Martin on which the HBO fantasy drama are based know, the blood soaked Red Wedding that served as the shocking penultimate episode of Season 3 of GoT was just the opening act for the poisoning of Joffrey at the Purple Wedding in tonight’s episode. Joffrey’s death is quickly succeeded by the accusation that his uncle Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage) is the murderer and from that, the fallout will follow for the rest of the season – a season that started on April 6 with record high viewership. In short, intrigue and bloodshed have been taken to a whole new level on a show already drenched in both.
Director Alex Graves, who helmed tonight’s episode and three others for GoT this cycle, spoke with me about “shaking up” the season with the killing of the odious Joffrey so early on. Graves also teased what EPs David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have planned for the rest of Season 4 and what to expect for the season finale, which he also directed.
DEADLINE: A lot of shows would not kill off a major character the second week in to their new season. Pretty unique way to handle things and not something we’ve really seen before on Game Of Thrones.
GRAVES: Well, David and Dan really made a smart choice which is that while they could have drawn it out to the point where Joffrey died later in the season, they were excited about shaking up the way the seasons normally go and really getting off to a bang of a start. And then so much happens in the latter part of the season that is so massive, there’s no way they would have been able to fit it in and to adjust it.
DEADLINE: How do you think fans are going to react to tonight’s show and the killing of Joffrey?
GRAVES: Well, I hope they enjoyed it. I was really glad after the Red Wedding for the first time to find out that Joffrey was killed because it just seemed fair. But I hope that they are surprised and I hope that they are amazed at how much happened in the episode and I hope they can perceive how incredible all of the work that went in to it was.
DEADLINE: Unlike the Red Wedding massacre of last season, there was really only one death at the Purple Wedding – though granted, it was a big death.
GRAVES: I think the Purple Wedding was really meant to be different from the Red Wedding. It was a poisoning and the death was very much about what the result of his death will be in the story, which is expansive. And also the fact that after all of the horrific twisted fireworks of Joffrey, somebody got in to that wedding and poisoned him from the inside. And it’s just that simple and it’s just for that devious. And that also plays in to where things are heading.
DEADLINE: What are we going to see as the aftermath of Joffrey’s death now moving forward for the rest of the season?
GRAVES: I think the thing is that like any death in Game of Thrones and Ned Stark’s being a great example, every death is not an end to a story; it is the beginning of a story. Joffrey’s death turns a new page in the book but oh, what a page it turns to. And the season basically starts there and loses total control.
DEADLINE: That’s a pretty big statement for Game of Thrones where the bodies fall fast and the blood flows frequently.
GRAVES: I think that this season is going to be the most exciting season that they’ve ever done. I will say that as somebody who directed 4 out of the 10 episodes this year, episode 2 is the smallest episode I directed. It’s hard to talk more about it without starting to give away things because the spoilers and the secrets in this season are many and are big.
DEADLINE: So EPs David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have more surprises planned in Westeros and Essos?
GRAVES: It’s the largest season and most challenging season that they’ve mounted, not only physically and technically. It’s the first of what happens with the actors and the reason for that is that basically the end of a new season is the turning point in the middle of the story and a lot happened.
DEADLINE: Tonight’s episode once again showed us the power that Tywin Lannister (played by Charles Dance) holds over the Iron Throne, even if he lost a grandson King.
GRAVES: On the one hand the Red Wedding has placed Tywin in a place where he has now pretty much won the war for five kings. The Purple Wedding is meant to be a very in-your-face celebration of that fact and the fact that Joffrey took a hit during the wedding is not going to stop Tywin Lannister from gaining ultimate power if he has any say in it.
DEADLINE: So what are we going to see next with Tyrion Lannister? First humiliated by his nephew the King and then accused of his murder, how long are we going to see Peter Dinklage in prison?
GRAVES: Well, you’re going to see things play out between Mr. Dance and Mr. Dinklage throughout the season until the end.
DEADLINE: And there will be a confrontation between the father Tywin and the son Tyrion?
GRAVES: Yeah, there’s a confrontation between the father and son but that’s in the final episode. Episode 10 of the season is, you know, as David and Dan will tell you, it’s the first true finale they’ve ever done and it’s really the episode to end all episodes. It’s the largest episode they’ve ever made.
DEADLINE: Are we going to see some new characters joining this season?
GRAVES: You’ll see Oberyn (a Prince in the House Martell who appeared in the first episode of Season 4 to attend the Purple Wedding) and there’s several new characters but this season is actually very focused on following through with what’s been going on and heading in to a new direction on a scale that I don’t think the audience has any idea is coming.
DEADLINE: The show is getting close to almost completely catching up to George R.R. Martin’s books. Where can we go for the rest of the season and the other two seasons that HBO has renewed the show for?
GRAVES: I have to be careful how I answer that. First of all the show is still in the books and it won’t be out of the books here for another season and hopefully by then the first of the last book will be done. But I can only say that David and Dan and George have it all very well in hand.
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