Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: Which remaining “Game of Thrones” character would you mourn the most if they died in Season 8?
Kaitlin Thomas (@thekaitling), TVGuide.com
I’ve always been drawn to the most complicated characters, the conflicted people who aren’t wholly good but not completely beyond redemption either, because flawed characters are more realistic and usually more compelling. Too often I find that true villains lack proper motivation and are simply evil for the sake of being evil, while characters who are inherently good also tend to be incredibly boring (sorry, Jon Snow). All of this is to say then that I would mourn the death of Jaime Lannister more than any other character on “Game of Thrones.”
When the writers forced us to choose between Jaime and Daenerys this season, I was a ball of conflicting emotions. For a few brief moments I honestly didn’t care if Daenerys or Drogon died, if it meant Jaime lived. His mistakes and flaws make him feel the most human of all the show’s characters. Sure, it took him longer to break free from Cersei than I would have liked, which caused his redemption story to move slower than I’d have probably liked, but his actions in the Season 7 finale have given me hope once again. He is at his best when he’s free from Cersei’s influence, which could mean the best Jaime is yet to come. I don’t know if I think he’s going to survive the Great War necessarily, but I’ll definitely be rooting for him.
Or, you know, Ghost.
Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti), Vox
I’ve never been as upset by a “Game of Thrones” character death as I was the fall of Viserion back in Episode 6, so maybe I should answer “the other two dragons.” But I suspect that’s not what we’re doing here, and, thus, my answer must be Sansa Stark, who has gone from a naive girl who believed in the romance of stories to one of the most cunning players out there. You could practically feel everything in season seven saying, “This is as far as you go, Sansa!” and the character insisting, “No, I think I can go a bit further.” And unlike a lot of the other characters, I don’t have the faintest clue where Sansa ends up in Season 8. Presumably she’ll join the Dany/Jon alliance, but she doesn’t really need to at the moment. Maybe the entirety of the final season will feature occasional cuts to Sansa and Arya sitting in a warm room in Winterfell and laughing about how everybody else is having a rough time of it. Right before the Night King walks in and kills them.
My runner-up is The Night King. What a beautiful boy.
June Thomas (@junethomas), Slate
Brienne of Tarth might be a secondary character in the battle for the Iron Throne – her death wouldn’t reshape the history of Westeros – but she’s the person whose presence cheers me the most. She brings out the best in other people, whether it’s the Hound’s paternal feelings for Arya Stark, Arya’s respect for her as a role model, or Jaime Lannister’s long buried personal integrity. Her patient tutelage of Podrick Payne is one of the few truly mutually beneficial relationships in the whole show. “Game of Thrones” has given her much more to do with her skills and her sense of loyalty than merely look for romance, but I still enjoy Tormund Giantsbane’s appreciation of her big-and-bombness. I have to admit, though, I’m pulling for Brienne to survive the finale and to ride off into the sunset with one of the show’s undisputed hotties. I can’t be the only one shipping Brienne and Jaime – long live Brieme Tarthannister.
Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint), The Hollywood Reporter
Gurgi, for sure! I would just freak out if they killed that adorably hairy little guy with all his talk of “munchings and crunchings.” Wait. Sorry. Gurgi’s from “The Chronicles of Prydain.” But don’t you think we, as a society, are finally ready for a good TV series based on Lloyd Alexander’s books? I do. Hmmm… So if not Gurgi… I’m gonna say Gilly, who’s kinda like the Gurgi of “Game of Thrones.” Basically everybody else, with the possible exception of Hot Pie, has been engaged with the clash for the Iron Throne in some way, even Gilly’s beloved Sam. But poor Gilly just wanted to escape from the den of rape and incest that was her home beyond The Wall and all she wanted to was to give her child an opportunity she didn’t have. I don’t know if she’s ever given an opinion on any matters political and even when her research/curiosity yields information that’s incredibly crucial to the Westerosi line of succession, Sam talks over her and claims her discovery for himself. I’d say that just about everybody left in the story has made themselves an enemy of somebody powerful enough to want them dead. Not Gilly. Not poor Gilly. Everybody keep your damn murderous hands off of Gilly.
Liz Shannon Miller (@lizlet), IndieWire
The one character who has consistently been a powerhouse performer, as well as a (gasp!) genuinely decent human being is Brienne of Tarth, and if she were killed in Season 8 it could have seismic effects on the series. Maybe she has me the most nervous because she seems the most vulnerable — Lyanna Mormont would technically break my heart harder, but she seems relatively safer… or is she? “Game of Thrones” still could be capable of surprising us.
Damian Holbrook (@damianholbrook), TV Guide Magazine
Let’s start with those I wouldn’t mourn: The remaining Starks because they’re all annoying and so petty now. Jon Snow because, my god, he sucks as a leader. If it weren’t for that fine, fine caboose on him, he’d be as useless as, well, a Stark. Tyrion could hurt if we lost him, but I am gonna go with Brienne of Tarth. Gwendoline Christie is the shit AND her character has the most depth of anyone we’ve met thus far. She’s loyal, forthright and even funny when she wants to be. But moreso, she’s a true warrior who isn’t rendered sexless by her abilities. It’s no wonder Sansa and Tormund are both so fond of her.
Allison Keene (@KeeneTV), Collider
The thought that was running through my mind when Cersei threatened to kill Jaime was “what a waste!” There are so many good characters in the series who haven’t been allowed to grow and develop beyond quips over the course of these last two seasons. Jaime has been reduced to Cersei’s dunderheaded plaything, while Tyrion mostly mopes around. I think Brienne still has a lot to offer as a heroic character, but the person I would be the saddest to see go – mostly because of a waste of story and potential – is Sansa Stark.
The unfairly maligned Sansa has been one of the only characters I have liked and supported since the start. The show has put her through hell so many times, and while she finally got to have some moments of triumph during and since the Battle of the Bastards, she still has plenty to give as a character (especially as one who has transformed so much). She’s the only Stark left at Winterfell who isn’t some shade of crazy, too. The North needs her! Justice for Sansa!
But the real truth is, as long as Sansa and Brienne (and Davos) get to safety, I’m #TeamNightKing all the way. Burn it all down with Frost Fire.
Tim Surette (@timsurette), TV.com
Hanh, this is an impossible question to answer and you know it! We’ve been to hell and back with so many characters that we have grown to love almost all of them, but the one name that keeps coming back to me as someone who I would lay flowers on their grave every day is Jaime Lannister. “Game of Thrones’” complex characters are the best, and no one is more complicated than Jaime. He’s navigating a tricky space between his sister-wife monster and a code of honor that’s been surprising to see, and in recent seasons has been the most respectable character in the show. Even his most notorious act — betraying his oath to earn the nickname “Kingslayer” after killing the Mad King — was the right thing to do even if people didn’t understand it at the time. Sure, he tried to push Bran out of a window, but given how weird and confusing Bran is now, we can see that Jaime was ahead of the curve even then and would have done us all a favor if he had succeeded in offing the young Stark. Jaime is the man, and I’m rooting for a Jaime-Dany endgame, with Jon and Lyanna Mormont ruling the north. I’ll also mention Ser Pounce, because I firmly believe he survived the explosion of the Sept and is probably using Fleabottom as his litterbox right now.
Gail Pennington (@gailpennington) St. Louis Post-Dispatch
I’m currently attached to everyone on “Game of Thrones,” including the two surviving dragons, except for Cersei, Euron and the Night King, in that order. Oh, and I wouldn’t cry too much for Three-Eyed Bran. This makes imagining a sad loss, well, sad. But I’d be especially unhappy if Tormund and Brienne didn’t get to make those giant babies.
April Neale (@aprilmac), Monsters & Critics
Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage. The voice of reason, a “lion’ of wit, this Lannister is the only one you want at your parties.
His counsel, insight, humor, heart and sense of reason make him liked by a wide swath of Westerosis, even unlikely allies such as Brienne of Tarth, Varys, Dany, Bronn and Jaime Lannister who has finally come to his senses we hope.
Dinklage has imbued his character with equal parts intelligence and political savvy. His emotional pain and what he has endured is heart-wrenching yet it has not embittered him nor squelched his desire for a better world that what he came into. His character is the epitome of “good people.” Everyone likes him, except Cersei. And no one seems to like her very much.
If his character was taken out early in the next/last season, it would dramatically lessen the final experience of HBO’s effort for me.
Ben Travers (@BenTTravers), IndieWire
Let them all die. While the dark sensibilities of “Game of Thrones” don’t typically appeal to me, after a predictable, safe Season 7, I’m truly hoping the final episodes offer an onslaught of death. Would it pain me to watch Tyrion fall? Yup. Does Lena Headey’s performance make her indispensable? You bet. Would it be unfair for beloved, largely heroic figures like Jon Snow, Brienne, and Bronn to be struck down? Absolutely not. If anything is to be taken away from “Game of Thrones” torturous, vengeful depiction of war, it’s that all is fair. At its core, this isn’t a series about good overcoming evil. It’s about the ravages of war and how they dramatically transform good men, women, and children — I’m looking at you, Arya. You can go, too, you bloodlusting little nutter.
Q: What is the best show currently on TV?*
A: “Twin Peaks” (three votes)
Other contenders: “The Bold Type,” “Game of Thrones,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” “Insecure,” “Killjoys,” “People of Earth,” “Ray Donovan,” “Rick and Morty” (one vote each)
*In the case of streaming services that release full seasons at once, only include shows that have premiered in the last month.