Game of Thrones Shireen death: Showrunners explain why Stannis Baratheon had to sacrifice his daughter in season 5 episode 9

'I totally understand where that visceral reaction comes from....but there's something shitty about it'

Christopher Hooton
Tuesday 09 June 2015 11:23

[*SPOILERS EVERYWHERE*] When Stannis Baratheon chose to have his daughter burned alive in last night's Game of Thrones 'The Dance of Dragons' episode, fans were inconsolable.

Showrunner Dan Weiss believes this only exposes their own hypocrisy however.

Following a dramatic scene in which Shireen realises her fate and her mother has a change of heart but fails to save her from the funeral pyre, EW caught up with Weiss and asked him: "How could you do that to Shireen?"

His reponse was to "flip the question", and ask why we only care now, when Stannis has been burning people alive since season 2.

"It’s like a two-tiered system," he said. "If a superhero knocks over a building and there are 5,000 people in the building that we can presume are now dead, does it matter? Because they’re not people we know. But if one dog we like gets run over by a car, it’s the worst thing we’ve ever seen.

"I totally understand where that visceral reaction comes from. I have that same reaction. There’s also something shitty about that. So instead of saying, ‘How could you do this to somebody you know and care about?’ maybe when it’s happening to somebody we don’t know so well, maybe then it should hit us all a bit harder."

It is these sorts of moral debates Game of Thrones stokes so well with its capricious and sudden disposal of beloved characters, as with season 3's Red Wedding, which culled a handful of beloved characters, but arguably to save the lives of thousands we don't know.

Weiss added that last night's scene said something about how religion can cloud judgement.

"People who watch Game of Thrones don’t see the same world as Stannis and Melisandre," he added.

"To those characters, magic is real and it works. That’s something fun about this genre because when magic is real and you can see it with your own eyes in the show, it gives you a window into the heads of people who believe irrational things on faith.

"I can’t really get my head around how those people operate in our world, as they’re so completely disconnected from the way I process the world. So in a strange way, fantasy is a cock-eyed window into the heads of people who would do something terrible for an irrational reason."

Game of Thrones has had two massive weeks, with the last seeing a 20-minute battle sequence that took a month to film.

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