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Game of Thrones director says killing Dany's dragon in Season 7 was akin to killing a puppy

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Aug 13, 2018, 2:44 PM EDT

One of the most shocking moments in Season 7 of HBO's Game of Thrones came in the penultimate episode, "Beyond the Wall," when the Night King just wrecks one of Daenerys' dragons, Viserion. In the heartbreaking scene, he falls to an icy death, but is soon dragged up by the King's undead army and resurrected as a White Walker weapon, which then destroyed the Wall in the following episode/season finale. 

Helmed by Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys director Alan Taylor, "Beyond the Wall" is one of the most action-packed and tense episodes in Game of Thrones history. Killing off one of Dany's dragons was a very bold move, since we've seen them grow since the end of the first season, but it really struck a chord with the audience, driving home just how dangerous the Walkers can be. 

"I knew that killing a dragon was going to be like killing a puppy. [Laughs.]," Taylor told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's an emotional moment when you kill a character that's flesh and blood and human, but killing a creature that's beloved the way dragons are? I knew it would have impact."

To date, Taylor has directed seven episodes of the beloved fantasy series and is no stranger to shocking television deaths. For example, he oversaw the episode in which Ned Stark (Sean Bean) loses his head at the end of Season 1. 

"I have a history of killing beloved characters on HBO shows: I killed Ned Stark, I killed Julius Caesar [on Rome], I killed Wild Bill Hickok [on Deadwood]. As a director, it's great when you have a moment like that because you know it's going to have an impact," he said. 

When the director of the Season 7 finale, Jeremy Podeswa, read the script and discovered that the Wall, the one thing separating man from the White Walkers, was going to fall, he couldn't believe his eyes.

"When you're reading the script, you're thinking, 'Oh my God. They're really going there.' Then it was like, 'Wow. This is an enormous, spectacular sequence. How are we going to pull it off?' " he said. "There's a big question of mine about how much is real, how much is not real, how much is visual effects. You're so well-supported on a show like this with such great people that I knew I wouldn't be doing it alone."

Season 8 of Game of Thrones finished filming this summer and will air in the first half of 2019. Four of the six episodes in this final season were written by the show's creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss