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Staying resolute and isolated until the final few episodes, Brienne of Tarth came to embody the unblinking idealism that the noblest of Game of Thrones’ characters were capable of. Even good guys like Tyrion and Jon Snow indulged in the occasional indiscretion and personal-code violation, but Brienne always walked the knight’s path — even if it took her until Season 8 to actually become one.
Fresh off an Emmy nod for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (she submitted herself for the nomination), Brienne actor Gwendoline Christie says she’s among those Game of Thrones fans who approve of the divisive final season, especially the way her character found a new way to redefine loyalty at the very end.
“I was really delighted by it,” Christie recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “We saw a woman who decided to take control of her own destiny from the very beginning. We saw a woman who wanted to be a member of the Kingsguard, and she ends up being not just a member of the Kingsguard, but ends up as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.”
Even when Brienne decided to break down before the Battle of Winterfell and hop in bed with Jaime Lannister, it was a reasoned choice; a new experience she allowed herself on the eve of what promised to be a world-changing event. “She also allows herself the opportunity to have a sexual experience, which is her choosing,” Christie explained. “She takes responsibility for any potential outcomes of it. She allows herself to be vulnerable and emotional.”
Risking hurt feelings might have been a late, if major, milestone for as stoic a character as Brienne, but her decision to abandon her oath to Sansa Stark and stay on at King’s Landing after the final battle was perhaps her biggest breakthrough, said Christie.
“I always thought it was that Brienne has decided to stop serving other people,” she said. “She's starting to be in control. It starts being about her own intellect, her own skill, and her own ability to be in charge and be in control. And I love that her final line is ‘I think ships take precedence over brothels.’”
It’s an apt sendoff for a character who lived most of her Game of Thrones life alongside men, setting aside conventional femininity in order to shine brightest. Christie said there’s a definite connection between Brienne’s development and the way she views herself in the real world.
“I felt that my experiences as a woman, with the way that I look, and [the feeling that] my experiences of life somehow weren't relevant and didn't have a place, and somehow didn't mean success…When the job started, I was so grateful for it, just to go through the process and see all these things about myself that I had always, frankly, been ashamed of — my height, my size, scars on my face, my position in the world as a woman, what I believed in — and face all those things, and expose myself.”
We’ve got just over a month to head back to HBO to bone up on our Game of Thrones lore before the awards presenters start handing out the hardware. Christie’s nomination is one of a record 32 in total that the show’s final season has racked up ahead of the 71st Emmy awards’ Sept. 22 ceremony.