From its premiere through its finale, the final season of Game of Thrones polarized fans and critics alike.
Now, Emilia Clarke, who played Daenerys Targaryen on the show, has weighed in on her character's arc during the show's eighth and finale season.
"I had no idea what to expect for this last season. I hoped for some juicy things to get into, as I always do for each season, but I didn’t see this coming," Clarke said in an interview with The New Yorker.
After she learned about her characters tyrannical turn, Clarke said that she struggled to keep the finale secret for 18 months.
"I couldn’t tell anyone.," she said. "I mean, I’d be sitting around the table with my family being, like, “Guys, out of curiosity, what do you think of Daenerys? Do you like her? Do you think she’s nice? Do you like her?”"
In order to make sense of her character's shocking transformation, the Game of Thrones showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, compared Daenerys' arc to Lawrence of Arabia, where a would-be savior ultimately fails.
"Every time I was faced with Daenerys having to do something pretty cold, like a mass killing, it was always with this thought that she’s headed toward her destiny. She’s gone too far to turn back now."" Clarke said. "All she's known is pain, sacrifice, and abuse. All she's known is people turning on her, people betraying her, and she's completely alone. And so, with all of that, I think that it brings us to the moment where she’s on top of the dragon and making that choice."
Despite her fiery ending, Clarke added that she wanted to highlight the softer side of Daenerys in her final moments.
"I wanted to show her as we saw her in the beginning: young, naïve, childlike, open, and full of love and hope," Clarke said. "I wanted so much for that to be the last memory of her."
Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.