**Game of Thrones spoilers below, naturally*
The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones was one for the books, as several key characters fell to their ultimate fates, and the world watched as Daenerys Targaryen took the full plunge into Mad Queen territory. Although GoT hardly ever falls into the predictable, the current Iron Throne possessor's downfall was one of the biggest questions going into the final season. On Sunday, viewers saw her and Jaime Lannister crushed beneath the Red Keep, evoking a myriad of responses.
Actress Lena Headey, who has spent nearly a decade playing the villainous monarch, opened up about her character's death and how her final scene marked the first time Cersei has been "at peace."
"She starts off in this final season trapped in a web of her own making, as is usual with Cersei," Headey told Entertainment Weekly. "She’s desperately unhappy and everything that’s happened becomes more real than it ever has for her. She starts to lose control of the situation. She’s destroyed every good alliance, connection, love in her life—she was always destined to be alone. And until the very, very last minute, she is, as ever, in denial of what’s actually happening."
Cersei's final moments are spent in the arms of her fraternal twin and lover Jaime, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. As the Red Keep is crumbling above them, Jaime explores every possible escape route; since all the exits are blocked, he and his sister embrace while waiting for the rubble to crush them. Although many viewers found the twins' ending to be well-suited, Headey admits that she had "mixed" feelings about the nature of her character's death initially. "I wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody,” she explains. However, after speaking to Coster-Waldau futher, she says their final scene is characteristic of their journey together. "The more we talked about it the more it seemed like the perfect end for her," Headey says. "They came into the world together and now they leave together."
In those final moments, Headey notes that "It’s maybe the first time that Cersei has been at peace."
Sandor "The Hound" Clegane also faced a fatal finale on Sunday when he and his greatest opponent, his abusive brother Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, faced off in a long-awaited fight, aptly named Cleganebowl. Neither survived, and Rory McCann, who has portrayed the Hound since the series began, opened up about his character and the vengeful nature that ultimately killed him. "It’s a massive fight. I think it’s going to take three days to film it," McCann told Entertainment Weekly before the scene had been shot. "He’s going to be throwing me. I’m absolutely sure I’m going to be limping for months after it and that’s the reason my last filming days are the fight. It’s a glorious death. He’s laughing at it. The Hound can see that [the Mountain] can’t be killed by sticking a dagger in his eye. He has to be burnt. Of all the things Clegane has to do, he has to go into the fire. That’s the sacrifice. But his pain is over."
McCann explained that he and the character he has spent so long playing do have a lot in common, particularly when it comes to keeping to himself. "I’m very close to being the Hound," he said. "I’m not used to human touch. I’m a bit of a recluse. Now I’ve made some friends. I’ve started to relax. I’ve learned a lot. It’s been a hell of an education."
The final Game of Thrones episode will air on May 19 on HBO.