If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones or read the novel, please stop reading now. There are major SPOILERS just ahead for this week’s penultimate season one episode. (And if you haven’t read the book, get to a library or bookstore immediately, get a copy and start reading!)
Those of us who have read the novel Game of Thrones knew about this week’s shocking twist before the season began. But that doesn’t mean the scene lost any of its power and impact when it played out Sunday night.
In the episode’s waning moments, Ned Stark confessed to treason and was supposed to have his title and lands stripped from him by King Joffrey and then sent to be part of the Night Watch. But Joffrey had other ideas, instead ordering the execution of Ned as Ned’s daughters looked on in horror. The episode ended with Ned literally losing his head.
Actor Sean Bean said that he knew Ned’s fate before the series began production because he’d read the novel.
“It’s quite heroic, I suppose,” Bean told MTV News of the lead into his character’s shocking death scene. “I didn’t just get knocked off and nobody notices. Plenty of people noticed,” he said with a smile. “It was a good one.”
“He’s such a predominant character, straight through all of it, and you think, ‘Wait a minute, what’s happening?’ He’s obviously been betrayed left and right and center, but you never thought it would come to this,” he admitted. “Even the shock on his face before it happens it’s like, ‘But we made a deal.’ It’s a pretty awful ending and the kids are watching as well.”
Bean said that the short-lived role was amazing to play, and the filming of his final scene was appropriately epic and ambitious.
“We were in Malta in the middle of a big square,” he recalled. “A big piazza with hundreds and hundreds of people on a raised platform, I’m making a last speech, I have my hands tied behind back. I kind of say that I have betrayed the realm and I have been a traitor in order to save my children. … It’s real heartbreaking stuff.”
But as Martin fans well know, this doesn’t mean the end of shocking twists in the series, because, as Cersei Lannister put it, “In the game of thrones, you win, or you die.”