** Spoilers for season six episode eight of Game of Thrones **
Having managed to flee the Red Wedding in season three, the Blackfish wasn’t known for being the bravest warrior in Westeros (at least in the show).
However, by the time the siege of Riverrun eventually happens on screen, the Tully decides to stand his honour, fighting numerous Lannister men off while Brienne escapes.
In George RR Martin’s novels, the tale of Blackfish is very different. For starters, he was never actually at the Red Wedding, having remained in Riverrun on Robb Stark’s command. Second, and most importantly, he is still alive, having fled the siege after Edmure gave up the castle.
So, why did he die in the show? Actor Clive Russell gave some insight in an interview with Vulture: “[Blackfish] recognises in [Brienne] a bit of himself, his younger self. There's a touch of subtext in their farewell where he more or less says, ‘You're better off without me. You can do it.’
“He has the chance to run with her, and he chooses not to. The assumption is that I'm trying to stop the soldiers coming through the corridor, stop them discovering her making her escape in the little boat.
“My concern is to get Brienne out. By the time I do, the soldiers are upon me. But I'm also refusing to run. It's very much him dying honourably, fighting an enemy, which is what part of him felt he should have done at the Red Wedding.”
In the same interview, Russell also discussed how he believed the character dying off-screen was the best possible way for him to go: “It's like the blinding scene in King Lear. I did a production where that scene was done offstage, and I thought it was more effective than normal efforts to have his eyes taken out. You can have so much horror, and the violence in Game of Thrones is pretty near the edge, but I think in that case, it was absolutely right.
“What has been set up as an impregnable castle just suddenly dissolves by treachery, and that the Blackfish should die offstage is absolutely right. Plus, I didn't have to do four weeks of rehearsal and get badly injured to look like a swordsman! I'm perfectly happy with that, to be honest. I think there's something chilling with a simple line like ‘The Blackfish is dead, my lord.’”
Meanwhile, the same episode has caused some controversy for winding up Arya’s recent story on a low note (check out our discussion on whether the story was good or bad writing).
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