Warning: This contains a spoiler from Sunday’s Game of Thrones.
They’re two of the most iconic characters on television, let alone on Game of Thrones: Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, two rebel outcasts from dynastic families who have never met before … until now. In a season full of unexpected character pairings, Sunday’s Thrones concluded with the most mind-blowing and eagerly anticipated partnering of them all when the fugitive Lannister revealed himself to the Breaker of Chains as she toured a fighting pit.
Showrunner David Benioff said pairing these two characters—played by Emmy winner Peter Dinklage and Emmy nominee Emilia Clarke—was one of the twists the producers most eagerly anticipated this season. “We’re really excited to see these two characters we love so much finally set eyes on each other,” Benioff said. “Creatively it made sense to us, because we wanted it to happen. They’re two of the best characters of the show. To have them come so close together this season then have them not meet felt incredibly frustrating. Also, we’re on a relatively fast pace. We don’t want to do a 10-year adaptation of the books, we don’t want to do a nine-year adaptation. We’re not going to spend four seasons in Meereen. It’s time for these two to get together. It’s hard to come up with a more eloquent explanation, but this just felt right. [Varys] puts Tyrion’s mission out there [in the season premiere] and the mission ends in Meereen.”
Tyrion and Daenerys have not yet met in George R.R. Martin’s novels upon which the series is based. But as is increasingly the case on the show, the producers opted to progress the story beyond the characters’ stopping point in Martin’s most recent book, A Dance with Dragons, in order to maintain an intense TV-friendly pace. Benioff and his fellow showrunner Dan Weiss have previously pointed out they prefer to cap the series around seven seasons.
“There will always be some fans who will think it’s blasphemy,” Benioff noted. “But we can’t not do something because we’re afraid of the reaction. I like to think we’ve always done what’s in the best interest of the show and we hope most people agree.”
Next week, Tyrion and Dany will have their first real conversation, and you can expect it to rank among the best scenes of the season. While some fans were upset by the death of Ser Barristan earlier this year, his demise means that Dany lost an experienced senior adviser with strong knowledge of Westeros at a time when her regime is under attack from insurgents. So Dany now has a real need for Tyrion’s help. But whether she can bring herself to trust the son of Tywin Lannister is a big question.
More coverage of this week’s episode: George R.R. Martin reveals which real-life religion inspired the Faith Militant, while our deep-dive recap is in progress.