Just because characters in Game of Thrones are busy struggling for survival in an unforgiving realm doesn’t mean they never bathe — they just often look like they never bathe. Sunday’s hour featured two dramatic pivotal scenes where major characters bared their emotions (among other things) while washing off the grime of the last two seasons.
In the first, Night’s Watch spy Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Wildling warrior Ygritte (Rose Leslie) found solace from the bitter cold and tribal infighting in a cave’s hot spring.
“That was incredible,” Harington told EW after shooting the scene. “It’s something I think we were blessed being able to shoot. That scene in this really dire, dark world where nothing good happens and there’s very little joy. That scene is one of the very few happy moments where you can escape from the grimness and horror of Westeros. We wanted to pay tribute to that scene because in [George R.R. Martin's] books it’s so beautiful.”
The scene was shot in one day and, in case you’re wondering, yes, the water was warm. “There are promises you are made on film sets about water being warm,” Harington said. “Bulls–t, you know it’s gonna be cold. But they made a lovely warm bath for us.”
Leslie called the scene “a very bizarre experience, but it was completely necessary.”
“It’s a very beautiful scene and [nice things] don’t haven very often on the show,” she said. “These characters are in their own little bubble, so to speak, there’s no corruption from the outside. It’s just two people falling in love. It’s very beautiful.”
Indeed, in a show that’s often teased about non-essential sex scenes, the use of nudity this week was character-driven and emotionally powerful. The second water-set scene, between hostages Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), had an entirely different non-romantic tone compared to the scene between Jon Snow and Ygritte, yet was arguably no less intimate. Jaime, recently gravely injured, joined his former captor during her bath and for the first time reveals why he infamously killed “Mad King” Aerys and earned the derogatory nickname “Kingslayer.”
“He has this pride, where he’s refused to talk about what he feels is the immense injustice of what’s happened to him with the Mad King,” said Coster-Waldau, who noted he had been looking forward to shooting this scene since starting on Thrones. “His pride prevents him from saying, ‘By the way…’”
Yet he chooses to share his secret after Brienne earns his respect. “He’s never met anyone like her,” he said. “He sees himself in her. He’s never met anyone so determined.”
During the scene, Brienne responds to Jaime berating her by angrily standing up in the water, exposing herself.
“The moment of nudity is an act of defiance from Brienne,” Christie explained. “In that moment she realizes the power of her womanhood without the armor, without the fighting, without killing anyone, while she’s opposite this man, who she has such a complex relationship with. He has saved her from being brutally raped and she still cannot understand him. And he pushes her in that moment. So when she stands up naked in front of him, she’s angry. She overcomes her own issues about her own femininity and vulnerably and gender and in that moment finds the power of not only what it means to be a woman, but who she is as a woman. It’s a really powerful moment.”