SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Game of Thrones Season 7 finale.
“I think it’s one of the best episodes of Game Of Thrones I’ve seen,” says Kit Harington of tonight’s penultimate season finale. “It’s got a bit of everything, it fits with the season, and it also fits with Thrones in general, and I love it,” adds the man known as Jon Snow (or now Aegon Targaryen).
In what has been a record-breaking seventh season viewershipwise, the epic length and epic episode of the HBO blockbuster series based on George R.R. Martin’s books confirmed a new linage for the now not-bastard King of the North who the past Emmy nominee portrays. As well as seeing Snow as the true heir to the Iron Throne, Sunday’s David Benioff- and D.B. Weiss-written ‘The Dragon And The Wolf” also rolled out the death of the manipulative Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aiden Gillen) and a betrayal of family and foes by Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) after a summit of sorts to face the Night King’s Army of the Dead.
Additionally, in a cycle full of hacks and leaks, the tightly packed and deftly paced nearly 80-minute 67th episode of Thrones contained the consummation of the burgeoning lust between Snow and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the Queen to whom he has bent the knee — and who turns out to be his aunt. Then there was that little matter of the now dragon enhanced Army of the Dead breaking through the Wall on Westeros’ northern border.
In our chat, Harington addressed the sprawl and scope of the finale and how Season 7 has been building to a new kind of GoT. Moving towards the end of what has been a career-defining role, the actor also talked about what to expect for the eighth and final season next year and how he feels about Emmy winner GoT coming to an end, no matter who is on the Iron Throne.
DEADLINE: So, after what’s arguably been the biggest season of Game Of Thrones yet, where can it all go next for the final season?
HARINGTON: Well, I’m about to find that out as of quite soon when we get together and do a read-through for the final episodes, which I really can’t describe to you. Only a few people are privy to all that information but it’s what we’ve been waiting for for all these years. We’ve all been discussing in bars as actors and together on set what will happen in the final season, and very soon, we get to find out. Of course, you guys won’t get to find out for a long time.
DEADLINE: Not until next year…
HARINGTON: Exactly, but I mean, if you ask me what I think will happen, I think it’s got to end with some serious fighting. You have to presume that that Army of the Dead is going to take a little while to get south, but we just don’t know. So it’s a hell of an ending because it’s the thing that we’ve all been waiting for, they’re now south of the Wall.
DEADLINE: In a jam-packed season of sometimes longer than ever before episodes, what is the most important aspect of the Season 7 finale for you, for Jon Snow?
HARINGTON: I think it’s one of the best episodes of Game Of Thrones I’ve seen. It’s got a bit of everything, it fits with the season, and it also fits with Thrones in general, and I love it. I feel very soppy about it at the moment.
DEADLINE: No shame in that, but specifically, what do you love about it so much?
HARINGTON: You know, I think the major part of that episode, which really was really strange for all of us as actors, was being in that dragon pit and everyone being there just facing each other, like every character. I say, it’s more for us as actors with every actor in the series that we’d ever thought about working with. You have to try and remember that a lot of these people knew each other by rumor, but had never met. So I, or Jon Snow, had no idea what Cersei looks like …well, I had from the first episode of the first season, but no idea how she is, how she interacts, how she works. So that was a major thing for the episode and the series.
DEADLINE: Was that your favorite individual part of the finale?
HARINGTON: I think that the really poignant bit for me, my favorite moment really in the episode, just on a personal level, was I was getting to work with Alfie Allen again and do the scene with Theon where they meet in the Dragonstone throne room. I love that scene because I love what Alfie does with his character. I’ve loved his journey this season. I think that’s just really interesting to look at how those characters and the journeys they’ve been on since they interacted in that first season. Now here they are as men, and what’s changed, and what they’ve been through, and I think was a really interesting thing to play with me for and Alfie.
DEADLINE: In many intimate ways, it also plays to the epic quality of this season overall too…
HARINGTON: Yes and, for me, the length of it was also very important. Usually, we don’t see it until it comes out, but I watched it doing some audio commentary. I think, for me, the length of it, it being about an hour and 20, really sets up what to expect for next year. I think that was a tester, that final episode, of seeing whether we can make an episode that kind of length and with that amount of story going on.
For me, it’s a really good way of finishing the season, doing that sort of length. I think where the season has suffered a bit is that you’re trying to pack so much into seven one-hour episodes. Whereas now, with the finale and going into the final season, we’ve got a bit more time in those episodes.
DEADLINE: With that, this penultimate season has seen a real spotlight on the evolution of Jon Snow, as a King, a diplomat, a man, a lover, a warrior and who he really is. What has that been like for you as we head towards the final six-episodes next year?
HARINGTON: It’s funny you say that, because I had a theory, and I don’t know how David and Dan work it, that they compartmentalize this season to be around an essential character or around a couple of them. For this season I thought, actually, it was around Daenerys, and it was last season that was around Jon with “The Battle Of Bastards” and what have you. So, the more I look at it, the more I think that what’s just happening is that they’re crystalizing on some of these lead characters.
DEADLINE: I have to ask — What’s it like for you, after the seventh season and going into the eighth and final one, as this all comes to an eventual end?
HARINGTON: Oh Dominic, it’s been on my mind a lot recently, obviously, and it’s kind of very much in my consciousness and I think in my subconsciousness. I’m already feeling very emotional about it. This is beyond what many actors experience in their lifetime, a kind of phenomenon like this, and I experienced right at the start of my career. I think I just want to do a really good job in the final season. I want to finish it well. That’s what I care about right now.
DEADLINE: As an actor, having played this role for some many years and even come back from the dead, does it feel right?
HARINGTON: When it gets to the end, I’ll know for sure and tell you. I can tell you now it’ll feel like the right time. I think right now how perfect this feels as a time to end.
I think if it had ended this season, it would feel too short. I think if it went on any more seasons, I would be sick of it. To me, now, it feels like the right amount of time for a show like this and the right amount of time for this kind of job. So I’m just looking forward to getting stuck in it for the final season. I know I’m going to have a ton of fighting. I’m sure I will, and I love that, so I’m going to really get stuck into that and do it and enjoy being knackered every day.
DEADLINE: Leave nothing on the field?
HARINGTON: (Laughs) It’s a massive exhalation, you know. This can never end the way that Thrones started. It always had to end big, and if we can do that, if we can pull it off, not with some tricks-y storytelling, but with some really kind of big, in-your-face movie stuff, with all the characters because there are so few left.
And the thing is, with so few characters left, they (the viewers) should get used to and get ready for next year is Thrones returning to form and killing its main characters quickly. They’re going to go, and they’re going to go fast, and I think that the payoff of our characters not being in great peril this year will be that, next year, it’s going to be a bloodbath.
DEADLINE: With giant bloody battles, a dead dragon and more, it wasn’t like this season was particularly restrained, was it?
HARINGTON: Well, true, but that scene with Littlefinger is going to be one of the standout scenes of the whole of Thrones, in my opinion. I don’t think they will be expecting it, because he somehow feels immortal. There were rumors early on that Littlefinger would be the one on the throne at the end, you know.
Looking at it, it really comes back to what the root of Thrones is, seeing someone face their own mortality and see who they really are in that moment. I think, you know, we see this terrified little worm come out, and actually, I felt sorry for him. I felt for him, you know, and it was incredible, beautiful acting from Aidan Gillen. I think the show will miss him next year.
DEADLINE: This season, with its epic battles and epic lengths, really seems to have epitomized the journey Thrones has traveled since it debuted in early 2011 and the massive shift in the Game Of Thrones that is the television industry. Inside, do you think the scale and scope has grown appropriately?
HARINGTON: I guess if you’re looking at what Thrones is, and what it’s become over the years, and what it’s been at the forefront of is blending, and merging. To me, the show has made the difference between film and TV not as easy to decipher. Actually, the endgame for us in some way, I think, is to make a movie for TV, but which is TV because you know these characters over seven years.
For me, that’s a kind of really exciting goal, is in this golden age of TV as it keeps being called, how can we put something really special out there? I hope that this last six episodes in the final season is going to be put on movie screens, you know, and it becomes both. It becomes in your home and in cinema. I hope that that happens. I think it’s already happening at times, and that really is the blending of long-form story and an epic kind of spectacle.
DEADLINE: You once said that, and I am paraphrasing a bit, that you often like to put yourself in the minds of the viewers. So with that Bran Stark power employed, what do you think they will think of the Season 7 finale and lurching into Season 8?
HARINGTON: I hope this ends it for them in the penultimate in the right way. I think this has been a lot of like holding of breath this season, a lot of kind of huge amount of adrenaline that they’ve gone through, more so than most. You know, usually, there’s a lot of around-the-table talking and small cogs, slow cogs moving into place. That’s what we’re used to from Thrones. Then out of nowhere, we hit them with this very, very, very fast-paced, incredibly adrenaline-filled season where everyone meets, and a lot of things happen, and the dragons go batsh*t crazy.
I hope that instead of it being a slow roller coaster, I think that they’ll have enjoyed the pace that it’s picked up on, and then they’ll now know what they’re in for for the last one. They’ll now be used to this Thrones, which is a slightly different Thrones, but one where it always had to end. It had to end on this massive level.