Notice: This post contains a spoiler from Sunday’s Game of Thrones, “Book of the Stranger”…
Daenerys Targaryen added another spectacular feat to her legendary history on Sunday night’s Game of Thrones. She not only escaped her Dothraki captors, but also brought the house down — literally — with an epic fire-goddess scene that reminded everyone the Mother of Dragons is not to be trifled with.
While fans have assumed Dany would somehow eventually escape her confinement at Vaes Dothrak, the most common prediction was that Ser Jorah and Daario Naharis would simply smuggle her out, or that Drogon would swoop down to torch her enemies like at the end of season 5. But showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss concocted a far more clever, shocking, and character-driven twist.
As Clarke excitedly describes the scene to EW: “It’s so exciting, very tingly-making. Every season I get at least one spine-chilling moment. I just stand up and I go, ‘I’m hearing what you’re all saying, but funny thing, I’m going to kill you all. I forgot that I have an ace in my back pocket and now I win.’”
It’s long been assumed Dany is fireproof through some magical Targaryen bond with her dragons. We saw in the pilot that she walks into a scalding bath; later, she declares, “He was no dragon; fire cannot kill a dragon,” after her brother perishes; and eventually, she emerges Unburnt from her dragons’ birth. (In George R.R. Martin’s novels, however, Dany’s fire-immunity was apparently a one-time thing, the author has suggested.) In a way, being fireproof has been Dany’s covert superpower since the show launched.
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“That’s what’s most fun about this,” Weiss says. “You know from the first season that, as you say, it’s her ‘superpower,’ but this is not really that type of story. It’s almost like the revelation she had when Jorah and Daario come to the rescue. She’s like, ‘Wait, I can do something none of these people can do and now that these two people can help me, I can use that to my advantage.’ It’s a very simple solution, a plan where you can use three people to take out dozens in a very dramatic way by just lighting things on fire and standing there.”
And by taking out the Dothraki leadership and showing her power to their followers, the queen of Meereen potentially gains an even larger army. “She realizes that this is the missing piece,” Clarke says. “The Dothraki are the missing piece of her crew — she’s seemingly indestructible having Dothraki on her side.”
But before any assumptions are made about Clarke’s participation in the scene, there’s something the actress wants everybody to know. “I’d like to remind people the last time I took my clothes off was season 3,” she says. “That was awhile ago. It’s now season 6. But this is all me, all proud, all strong. I’m just feeling genuinely happy I said ‘Yes.’ That ain’t no body double!”
The production took pains to shoot Clarke’s portion of the scene on a private “closed set” in Belfast, while the rest of the sequence with the Dothraki actors was shot at the Vaes Dothrak village set constructed in the desert in Spain. Clarke said the set-up was preferable to, for instance, when Dany’s clothes were scorched off at the end of season 1. “Taking off my clothes is not the easiest thing, but with the magic of the effects, I don’t have to do a season 1 and go on a cliff and do it,” she notes. “I’m in control of it.”
After seeing the sequence cut together a couple months ago, Benioff said: “Emilia absolutely crushed it. It’s one of those weird scenes because it was half shot in Spain, half in Belfast. But largely due to her performance, it works brilliantly.”
It’s easy to understand why Clarke is being proactive and open about her feelings about the scene. Thrones actress Oona Chaplin once claimed an actress on the hit show didn’t like doing nude scenes (which some outlets just assumed was Clarke). Then last year a tabloid report claimed Clarke said she didn’t like doing sex scenes — which Clarke took to Instagram to correct.
“It’s difficult to be misquoted and it’s nice to have something like Instagram to say the truth,” Clarke says. “How many times has [Daario actor] Michiel Huisman been asked about the fact he’s taken his clothes off a bunch? Is that even a discussion? No. So I’m doing it this year and people can talk about it and I’m ready to answer any questions about it, basically.”
More “Book of the Stranger” coverage: See our interview with Sophie Turner where she talks Sansa’s reunion with Jon Snow, check out our deep-dive recap breaking down the episode, and subcribe and listen to our GoT Weekly podcast. (New episode below). Also, we just dropped the paywall on last week’s cover story interview with Kit Harington, read it now for free here.