Sunday’s Game of Thrones concluded with an abrupt and shocking act of violence: A band of mercenaries cut off the right hand of the infamous knight Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The scene then smash-cut to black and over the credits played a rocking rendition of “The Bear and Maiden Fair,” a popular tavern song in the world of the show, performed by indie band The Hold Steady. Coster-Waldau and Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss spoke to EW about this week’s big moment.
“Jaime comes from a family where, if all else fails, yo1 can always buy your way out of a situation,” Coster-Waldau says. “Then he meets a man where that doesn’t work.”
That man is Locke,* a henchman aligned with one of Robb Stark’s bannermen, House Bolton. And what’s quite important is that Jaime is right handed. The kingslayer lost his “sword hand,” the one that’s helped him gain a reputation as one of the deadliest swordsmen in Westeros. Coster-Waldau teases that the loss is going to be very tough for Jaime to handle (so to speak).
“It’s a horrifying experience and the question is, ‘Can he deal with that?'” Coster-Waldau says. “He’s defined as one of the greatest swordsman of all time. He draws a lot of confidence from that. And if you have something that so clearly defines you — not only the way you see yourself, but also the way the world sees you, and then you lose it … Now anyone can kill him! And it’s not like he’s the most popular guy.”
When we first reported the news that The Hold Steady would perform “The Bear and Maiden Fair” in season three, we teased that the song would not be used where fans of George R.R. Martin’s novels might expect. It’s tough to imagine a more unexpected moment than right after Locke slams a giant knife onto Jaime’s wrist. The wildly mismatched pairing of the violence and a rock song by a contemporary band was a very deliberate move.
“It’s such a shocking ending and when we read the scene in the books it was so shocking to us,” Weiss says. “To really hammer home the shock of that moment you need something unexpected. There’s no version of a traditional score that would keep you as off balance as we wanted that scene to leaving you feeling.”
“I can’t imagine having that conversation with Ramin [Djawadi] our composer — ‘Now we need the Jaime-gets-his-hand-chopped-off music,'” adds Benioff. who made his directorial debut with this episode. “What we always loved in An American Werewolf in London, we see our hero shot and killed and then his lover runs to embrace his dead body — it’s a sad ending — but then we cut to black and it’s [the bouncy 1961 Marcell’s hit] ‘Blue Moon.’ And that jarring juxtaposition was fantastic.”